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
The stench of coffee was overpowering, even to a seasoned caffeine addict. Blinking a few times Diana stepped into the kitchen and cleared her throat behind Lorelai who was drinking a mug of what appeared to be pure coffee granules. 'I think for it to actually be considered a drink it has to contain some sort of liquid.'
Lorelai turned and raised an eyebrow. 'I didn't have you down as pedantic.'
'Well, there's a few things you don't know about me,' she returned. 'Can I get a cup of that actually? With water if possible.'
'Sit down before I toss my coffee at you,' Lorelai advised, busying herself with adding a little more liquid to the mass of sludge. 'It's slimy! Did you sleep okay?'
'Not really. I'm as apprehensive about this as you are.'
'Really? You do need some coffee then.'
As the phone rang, Diana moved to answer it, sending, 'I told you, I want water with mine,' back over her shoulder. Picking up her handset, she said, 'Hello, Diana Skouis.'
'Good morning, Richard Gilmore here!'
She glanced over to Lorelai. 'Mr Gilmore, hello.'
'Please, call me Richard. Just to let you know, Rory and I are on our way, we should be with you just after lunchtime.'
'That sounds fine. Is everything okay?'
'Yes. Yes, I think so.' His voice betrayed slight apprehension. 'Rory's very excited.'
'Well, I'm glad to hear that. Do you want to eat with us? I mean, it won't be anything fancy but '
'I appreciate the invitation, we'd be delighted.'
'Alright. We'll see you in a while then.' After hanging up she looked to Lorelai who was purposefully stirring the slime in her mug round and round. 'Are you okay?'
'Have you seen the colour of this? That can't be normal.'
'No,' she conceded. 'Probably not. I'll make another pot.'
'Thanks, I think I'll take a shower if you don't mind.'
'Of course not. Do you want some breakfast?'
'I don't think I could. But thanks for the offer.'
'Anything, Lorelai, you know that.' She watched her guest into the bathroom then sighed to herself. What she really needed was to stop showing her hand to everyone who came along. Jarvis and Tom had both seen right through her in regards to Lorelai. What was it Jarvis had said? That Lorelai had 'really got to her'. Was that true? Well, she had to admit it was a possibility.
When the bathroom door reopened and Lorelai emerged with a towel wrapped around her Diana had almost put the finishing touches to a bit of a novelty plate. Seeing the barely covered body set her back a few steps though. It was only fortunate she realised she was staring before Lorelai did.
'What's that?' the returnee questioned, looking over her shoulder.
'Oh, erm ' Swallowing at the closeness of their bodies she quickly handed the plate over. 'Happy food. Works for Maia.'
'Hey, it's got a little smile! Thanks.'
'Go eat,' she said dismissively. 'I've gotta get Maia up.'
'So, what are you two up to today?' Lorelai questioned as she sat down at the kitchen table.
Diana glanced back. 'Maia's going swimming with a friend.'
'Well, I've If I'm honest I '
'It's just that,' Lorelai interrupted quickly. 'If you haven't got anything on I'd really appreciate you staying.' Confession done, the returnee stared into her coffee.
'As it happens Rory asked me to do the same thing yesterday. I didn't want you to think I was intruding.' Smiling, she carried on into her daughter's room. 'Try and eat something.'
'Calm down, you look fine.'
'I look like hell!'
'Gilmore, come on! I've seen your photo albums, you've looked a lot worse.'
Lorelai glared over at her from her position in front of the bedroom mirror, posing with hands on hips. 'Gee, thanks.'
Diana stepped forward and offered her the hairbrush again. 'Just flatten the hair and try a little thing normal people do called smiling.'
'Huh, when was the last time you smiled?'
In all honesty, she couldn't answer that without embarrassment so she pressed the brush into the outstretched hand and said, 'I'm just gonna check the living room's okay.'
'Alright, but don't make it look immaculate! How am I gonna look next to sparkling tableware?'
'Equally as dazzling,' she replied as she left.
It wasn't long before the doorbell rang. Diana glanced over her shoulder as Lorelai emerged tentatively from the bedroom. She looked more than adequate, in fact she looked pretty amazing. Nodding encouragingly, Diana went to answer the door.
Richard and Rory Gilmore both wore similar expressions of happy apprehension. Allowing them in, Diana closed the door and watched the family tableau carefully.
Loerlai was staring- there was no other word for it- at her daughter in awe. It was easy to see why. Since their last meeting Rory had indeed grown and matured in ways her mother would barely have been able to imagine. Understandably, Lorelai was having trouble adjusting to these changes so quickly. Rory, for her part, had her eyes trained solely on her mother's eyes, watching intently. Richard was practically invisible to both of them, though Diana was pleased to note his eyes were moistening.
'Mom ' Rory finally murmured uncertainly.
In that moment, as Lorelai opened her arms and allowed her daughter to fall into them, the kitchen lights sizzled and died. Looking upwards, Diana frowned. 'Must be a fuse.'
Only Richard had heard her, she supposed. Lorelai was holding Rory tightly as if afraid she was about to lose her again whilst the teenager was audibly sobbing. Diana felt her own emotions rise to the surface but immediately tired to battle them away.
When a sodden Rory pulled her head back a few minutes later, she was muttering, 'I'm so sorry! I can't believe what '
Lorelai was equally as teary. 'Rory, honey, don't.' The returnee raised her eyes briefly to meet Diana's then moved them to her father. 'Hey, Daddy.'
He nodded with measured emotion. 'Lorelai.'
With some effort, Lorelai managed to guide her and Rory to the couch. 'You grew your hair.'
'It's the same as when you last saw me!'
'I know, but you had to grow it to cut it, right?' Lorelai grinned apologetically then stroked the said hair gently. 'God, I've missed you so much.'
'I've missed you too. And I'm sorry I ever thought you were '
'What were you supposed to think? If anyone should be apologising it's me. I should've come straight back but I was ' She looked over to her father. 'It was taken out of my hands.'
Richard Gilmore moved over to sit in the armchair near his daughter and granddaughter. 'We understand that.'
Lorelai looked back to her daughter. 'English exams? Science competitions? World Bagel Records?'
The teenager grinned bashfully. 'Well, I had to do something to keep me busy.'
'And here was me predicting you'd eat loads of chocolate and get fat.'
'That was my second choice.'
'So how's Chilton? Have you made any friends? Do the rich kids think they're better than you?'
Rory laughed nervously. 'You're asking me so many questions.'
'Sorry, I just ' Lorelai shrugged. 'You know me, I'm nosy.'
'And I inherited that! What have you been up to since you got back? Where've you been?'
'Oh, I just Erm '
Recognising the returnee to be struggling, Diana quickly asked, 'Does anyone want a coffee or something?'
Perhaps Richard saw his daughter's discomfort, at any rate he said briskly, 'Coffee would be much appreciated. It has been rather a long journey and the refreshments on airplanes are...'
'I'll give you a hand,' Lorelai said unexpectedly, jumping up. 'I need a caffeine hit.'
Rory smiled. 'Some things never change.'
When they were at the sink, Diana squeezed Lorelai's arm reassuringly. 'You're doing great.'
'Am I? I feel like I'm sticking my foot deeper in my mouth with everything I say.'
'Nothing new there then,' Diana quipped before raising her hand to gently stoke the returnee's cheek. 'Seriously, you're making me proud.'
'I couldn't do this without you here, I hope you know that.'
'Glad to be of service.'
Lorelai nodded then reached for the coffee pot. 'Caffeine!'
'Caffeine,' Diana repeated. 'Of course.'
Sat back down, each with steaming coffee, a silence fell over the quartet. Rory was looking at her mother questioningly while Lorelai herself was burning her hands on the mug. Richard seemed to be unaware of the awkwardness of the situation, his eyes were trained delicately on his daughter.
It was down to her then. 'How's Sookie, Rory?'
Lorelai lifted her head as Rory replied, 'She's great, really upset she couldn't be here. She married Jackson, you know,' she added, looking to her mother. 'And she just told me she's pregnant.'
'Jackson?' Lorelai stifled a laugh. 'Wow, the last time I saw those two they were tearing each other's hair out. Not that Jackson had any but you know what I mean.' She paused. 'Actually, I couldn't tell you if he had hair, I've never seen him without his hat.'
'I'm not sure Sookie has either.'
'Great, that's my girl. So she's pregnant, huh?'
'Three months, she's already hyperventilating.'
'Of course she is. That's all the world needs, another neurotic. Is she still working at the Inn?'
Rory nodded. 'Yeah, everything's the same in Stars Hollow. Apart from you not being there. That kind of put a dent in the community.'
'Yeah, I'm sure it did. Taylor cried into his apron nights, didn't he?'
'Not that he'd admit it. Oh, Luke said to tell you that his takings are down and he totally blames you. I think his exact phrase was, 'hurry up and come home, I need to renovate my apartment'.'
'Glad to see he missed my personality.' Lorelai paused and sipped her coffee. 'Rory, honey, I know you want to know what's been going on since I got back but the truth is, I haven't done much of anything. Mostly I just hung around bars and watched other people get drunk.'
The teen glanced downwards. 'Part of me wants to be glad you didn't have any big adventures but Just the thought of you alone all the time.'
'I was alone,' Lorelai conceded. 'But I'm not anymore.' Diana smiled when she looked over. 'I got rescued.'
'Yes,' Richard agreed. 'And we don't know how to express our gratitude.'
She blushed. 'Not mentioning it again would be advantageous.'
'She's very modest,' Lorelai supplied.
'Not a term that could ever be applied to you,' Diana shot back, receiving smiles from both Lorelai and Rory for her trouble. 'Now, can I get anyone some lunch? Unfortunately, due to someone eating me out of house and home, it'll only be sandwiches.'
Richard raised an eyebrow. 'I wonder who that could be. Thank you, Diana, that would be wonderful.'
'Okay, I'll get right on it.'
Half an hour later the group were seated at the kitchen table, tucking into Diana's meagre offering. Richard kept glancing to his daughter, obviously wanting to get something off his chest but not feeling able to. Diana couldn't really blame him- Lorelai did have a history of running off if things got difficult. Still, they were going to have to talk at some point, there were plenty of unresolved issues hanging in the air.
'I was thinking, Rory,' Lorelai said suddenly. 'Would you like to catch a movie or something tonight?'
The teen's face immediately brightened. 'Yeah, that'd be ' She trailed off and looked to her grandfather. 'I can't just abandon Grandpa though.'
He shook his head. 'Of course you can. I should probably meet some of my friends in the city anyway.'
'Okay, if you're sure,' said Rory, glancing excitedly to her mother. 'What do you wanna see?'
'Nothing animated,' Diana warned. 'She doesn't need any encouragement in that department.'
'I keep telling you, there's nothing wrong with The Flintstones!' replied Lorelai with mock frustration. 'Diana, you call yourself a human being?'
'I call myself sane,' she argued mildly.
'You know, I never have. Saves problems.'
After they'd finished eating Richard checked his watch. 'I should be getting along. I'll see you back at the hotel later, Rory?
'Yeah, sure,' the teen answered, glancing to her mother.
As Richard approached the door, Lorelai tentatively stood and followed him. 'Dad?'
He turned, a soft look on his face. 'Yes?'
'Thanks for looking after Rory. Even if I didn't agree with it I knew that she'd be taken care of and loved. It was nice knowing that.'
Her father nodded. 'I only wish things had been different.'
'You and me both. But thanks anyway.' With evident awkwardness she walked towards him and hugged him. It was only after his arm wrapped around her shoulder that she began to cry.
Diana looked over to Rory and swung her head in the direction of Maia's bedroom. After she'd closed the door on the father-daughter reunion, Diana looked to the girl. 'How are you doing?'
'I think I'm okay. It's a bit weird but it's kinda like nothing's changed.'
'Is that a good thing?'
'I don't know. She's trying really hard isn't she?'
'Well, I know she's terrified of messing this up,' Diana said evenly.
'Should I mention Grandma do you think?' Rory asked.
'That's your choice. But just take things at your own pace, she'll understand if you don't want to go out with her later.'
'No, I really do. I mean, you've met my grandparents, I haven't exactly been an Odeon regular in the last few years. Anyway, have you heard my Mom's running commentary through films? It's worth the entry fee alone.'
'She managed to keep it buttoned through The Wizard of Oz,' said Diana. 'Is that a good thing or not?'
'Good thing definitely, why ruin the film?'
Judging that Richard should have left by now, Diana opened the door and listened. Sure enough, Lorelai was humming gently to herself so she beckoned to Rory and they went back into the living room. The returnee was clearing the table, Diana found. 'Hey, you don't have to do that.'
'About time I earned my keep,' Lorelai answered.
'Grandpa gone?' Rory questioned.
'Yeah, he said he'd see you later. When I've done the washing up do you want to head down to the movie theatre, check out our options?'
As Rory nodded Diana said, 'Don't even think about finishing the washing up. Get your coat and get out of here.'
Lorelai smiled and nodded. 'Well, I owe you one.'
'I've stopped keeping track, I suggest you do the same.'
It was nearing eight when Diana heard the key in the lock. With a certain amount of apprehension, she looked over as both Lorelai and Rory entered.
'I promised Rory I'd introduce her to Maia,' Lorelai replied to her unasked question. 'Is she still awake?'
'Reading as far as I'm aware. Go right in.'
Watching them into her daughter's room Diana proceeded to tidy up the remnants of her Saturday working and then plopped back down on the couch. When the pair came back out, Rory was grinning. 'She likes you.'
Lorelai shrugged. 'Well, I do try. Better get you that cab, hun.'
Rory nodded. 'Yeah, Grandpa'll be wondering where I am. See you tomorrow?'
'You betcha. I'll meet you at the hotel about ten?'
'Sounds great.' The teen smiled and glanced over to where Diana was sat. 'Thanks for letting me invade your apartment.'
'I'll let you in on a secret,' Diana answered. 'I enjoyed it.'
Lorelai stuck an arm around her daughter's shoulder. 'I'll walk you down.'
'Bye, Diana,' said Rory.
'See you soon,' she returned, waving a little as the duo disappeared.
By the time Lorelai returned she had poured them both hot coffee and was sat expectantly at the kitchen table. The returnee grinned when she came back in. 'You know me so well.'
As Lorelai sat down, Diana shrugged. 'Call me intuitive. So how did it go?'
'It was a little awkward I guess. She's practically grown up, shouldn't be going to the movies with her old mom, but I think we got past it. She's furious with my mother though.'
'Can't say I blame her.'
'No, me neither but She's gotta live with her, you know? And my Mom can make life pretty difficult for the people she's getting on with.'
'What did she say about the living arrangements?' Diana asked carefully.
'Oh, um, she wants me to move back to Stars Hollow,' Lorelai answered, suddenly lifting her cup to her lips. 'And I want that except '
'Except?' Diana probed.
The returnee didn't quite meet her eye. 'I don't think I can go back to Stars Hollow, not after everything that's happened. I mean, Sookie's pregnant, someone else owns my house '
'Yeah, Rory said. See, I have no chance of getting it back!'
Diana shook her head. 'Come on, what's the real reason, Lorelai? You know as well as I do that your dad'll get you back that house or buy you another one if he has to. And Sookie would probably give her left leg for you to be near her during the pregnancy, she misses you like crazy.'
'Do you want rid of me?' asked Lorelai softly.
'No, I Of course I don't. But it's important for you to be where Rory is, you've missed so much already. You can't let a little thing like fear get the better of you.'
'Yeah, you're right. Government official, always right.'
'Don't say that near my office, you'll give 'em all big heads.'
'So I should go.'
'You should go,' Diana repeated, looking into the depths of her cup.
When Lorelai returned from her day with Rory on Sunday evening, Maia was already asleep and Diana was almost at that stage too. From her position dozing on Lorelai's makeshift bed, she barely heard the door open. Pulling herself into a sitting position she checked her watch. She knew without a doubt that Rory and Richard must have left for Hartford hours ago so what had Lorelai been doing all that time?
Clearing her throat as the figure attempted to cross the gloomy room to the kitchen, Diana questioned, 'What happened? Get abducted again on the way home?'
Lorelai halted. 'Something like that.'
The lack of humour in the returnee's voice was a bad sign. Diana frowned. 'Lorelai, what's wrong? What is it?'
'Nothing, I just ' Putting her keys down on the table, Lorelai took a moment. 'I talked to Rory and Dad about going back to Going home.'
Diana nodded, biting her lip painfully. 'Yeah? How did that go?'
Well, er Dad, he booked me a bus ticket for Tuesday.'
'Yeah, I told him I'd have to square things with NTAC but they were pretty pleased.'
'I'll bet they were.' She paused. 'Maia's going to miss you.'
'I'm planning on keeping in contact. You know, if that's alright with you.'
'Of course it is. I think Maia would be devastated if you didn't.'
'I wouldn't want that,' Lorelai replied, sweeping her hand back and forth across the table.
After a brief inner debate Diana stood tentatively and approached her friend. 'There's something you're not telling me.'
'Look, I'm just It's tiredness, that's all.'
Resting her hand on the returnee's arm, Diana shook her head. 'No, it really isn't. What's going on?'
For a moment it looked as though Lorelai would bolt but instead she did the most unpredictable thing- she moved forward and pressed their lips together.
In that second, as Diana contemplated what on earth she should do, the lights around hissed and then died. She took the opportunity to step back with uncertainty.
After a moment Lorelai whispered, 'I think I did that.'
There was fear in the tone, Diana recognised it and sympathised. She reached out again and took Lorelai's hand. 'I'm glad you brought it up.' As her eyes became accustomed to the dark, she moved away. 'I'll get a torch.'
'Your keys are on the kitchen counter,' Lorelai supplied helpfully, feeling her way to the couch.
So they were. Flicking on the torch, Diana found her own way to the couch and sat down, placing a careful distance between them. 'I think if you calm down it should be okay.'
'Are you an expert?'
'No, and I don't claim to be. But I think you experience intense emotions that you can't- or won't- deal with.'
'Diana, what happened in the restaurant '
'It's not just about that,' she interrupted quickly, sensing the discomfort in Lorelai's voice. 'Yesterday, with Rory, I don't even know if you noticed, but the lights blew as soon as you touched her. I checked my fuse box after- everything was fine. This power surge or whatever it was, it was temporary. Honed, it could be a formidable weapon.'
'I'm a weapon now?'
'Well, you could be considered as one,' Diana answered evenly. After a few moments of silence in darkness, she questioned, 'Not calming down?'
'Not so much.'
'Right.' Diana gave it another twenty seconds or so then turned her head sideways and threw her lips against Lorelai's. There was brief resistance then a yielding and in that defining moment, as tongues discovered each other, the electricity returned to the apartment.
Diana hardly noticed. Running her hand gently through smooth hair, she was only really aware of one thing. Lorelai briefly pulled away to suggest, 'How about we move this into '
Waking up alone was never a good feeling but when you'd just spent the night with someone it was a downright horrible feeling. Diana accustomed herself to the thought and the possibilities it threw up before she slid into her dressing gown and went into the kitchen.
No sign of Lorelai, nor any indication of where she might've gone. Her keys were still on the table though; either that was a deliberate mistake or the returnee's one focus had been getting out of the apartment. Which was the lesser evil?
A door opened behind her; spinning on her heel she found it to be Maia emerging from the bathroom. 'Hi, honey. You're up early aren't you?'
'Couldn't sleep,' her daughter answered, flopping down onto the couch and the unkempt blankets . 'Where's Lorelai?'
'Oh, she wanted a breath of fresh air, she should be back soon.'
'Okay. Can I have Pop Tarts for breakfast?'
Diana frowned. 'I've never bought Pop Tarts.'
'Alright.' Diana watched as Maia grinned and trotted into the kitchen. 'Watch your hands on the toaster!'
Then she glanced back around the living room and shivered. She'd almost known the feeling of being wanted was too good to last. But Lorelai's running away was so much in character it was unbelievable. The question was, would she come back this time?
'You just missed her,' Tom said when she walked into their shared office just before eight.
'No, Lorelai. She came in to sign her papers.' He frowned. 'I thought you brought her or something.'
'Um, no. Was she okay?'
'Little bit agitated, now you mention it. I just put it down to being back in the building that tried to kidnap her.'
She attempted a smile. 'Yeah, that's probably all it was. Did she say where she was going?'
'Think she said something about the movies.'
'That sounds about right. So, what've we got?'
He stood. 'Medical anomaly downstairs. Coming?'
'I'll get you one on the way.'
By the end of the say Diana could safely say that she'd ventured through every possible Lorelaien reaction to their night together and come out the other side of the tunnel more perplexed than when she entered. As much as she liked to think she knew the returnee, the truth was that she was still an enigma who could surprise anyone. A shared evening didn't change that fact.
Tom had complained more than once than she seemed distracted. They weren't in the stage of friendship where she'd confide something like this in him; in fact, she wasn't certain there was anyone she knew who she would talk to about this situation. Perhaps April, but her sister was miles away painting who-knew-what onto big hairy men; Diana didn't even have a means of contact if she'd wanted one.
Fastening her seatbelt she sat still for a minute then tapped her hands in resolution on the steering wheel. Starting the vehicle she drove the familiar route out of NTAC, nodding at the guard who buzzed her out. Just as she was about to pull onto the main road, though, she spotted a figure wrapped in a black coat approach the pedestrian entrance hesitantly then turn back. Diana wasn't completely focussed on Lorelai, however; watching a car turn in unison with the figure her interests were more than piqued.
Braking next to Lorelai, she rolled down the window. 'Get in.'
The returnee didn't deliberate, she slid into the passenger seat, clicking her belt into place quickly. 'Hi.'
That was all she got, a greeting? Diana kept her eyes trained on her rear view mirror as she pulled out into traffic. Sure enough, the car followed them. 'Lorelai, where've you been today?'
She shrugged. 'Caught a double classics feature, it was Audrey Hepburn day. Then I've just been walking.'
'I'm sorry,' Diana muttered, painfully aware of the distance between them. 'You know, that you felt you had to go out this morning.'
'Yeah, well, I ' As Diana swerved into an alley, Lorelai trailed off. 'Um, Diana?'
'When you were walking around today,' said Diana quickly. 'Did you happen to see a black Mercedes at all?'
Lorelai glanced over her shoulder as the car followed them into the alley. 'That thing? Yeah, I saw it when I when I came out of the movie theatre. Who is it, NTAC?'
'No, we might be many things but we can usually manage discreet. I don't know who it could be.' She pursed her lips and glanced at the returnee carefully. 'Only one way to find out..'
When she got out of the car though the Mercedes reversed speedily and screeched out of sight. With a frustrated sigh she hopped back into the driver's seat.
Lorelai was chewing on her lip. 'That was weird, right?'
'No weirder than disappearing and coming back in a ball of light,' Diana reasoned, masking her own concern with humour. After manoeuvring them delicately out of the alley and onto the road, she said, 'So, are you looking forward to tomorrow?'
Her friend glanced at her then went back to staring out of the window. 'Yeah, can't wait.'
'Good. What time's your bus?'
'Um, ticket's for one so '
'Well, I'll take a long lunch if you want.'
'You don't have to do that.'
'I want to,' she replied. 'You know, it'll be pretty quiet without you around.'
'Thanks.' After a long few minutes of silence during which Diana concentrated on the road, Lorelai sighed. 'I'm sorry I ran out on you.'
'It doesn't matter '
'No,' the returnee interrupted. 'It matters a lot. I just ' For the first time since she'd gotten into the car Lorelai looked directly at her. 'I woke up this morning and I saw you and I realised that I was happy with another human being for the first time in ages. But I'm leaving tomorrow and I Diana, I don't know what to do.'
They were nearly home. Pulling into her regular parking spot, Diana switched off the engine and shifted to face her friend. 'Listen, yes, you're leaving, but it's not the end of the world. We can still see each other on weekends and in the holidays I mean, if that's what you '
'Diana,' Lorelai said softly. 'I wanna make this work, I really do, but '
'No buts,' she said firmly. 'Come on, let's go inside and talk about this.'
When Lorelai nodded, they both got out of the car, Diana checking around them for any sign of a black Mercedes. Satisfied they were alone, she led them up into the apartment. Thankfully, Maia was having another flute lesson so the only thing that greeted them was an eerie silence.
'Do you want a coffee?'
'Please,' Lorelai answered, sitting down on the couch.
A couple of minutes later Diana handed her a mug and tentatively sat down close beside her. 'You know, last night meant a lot to me. I haven't let myself be near anyone for a long time. I'm glad it was you.'
Lorelai nodded, looking at her briefly. 'I'm really sorry about this morning. I wanted to wake you up but I didn't know what to say. I mean, I'm not educated in this kind of etiquette. Every other kind my mother drummed into me but not this one.'
'Surprising,' Diana said, reaching out and stroking a defined cheek then hesitantly drew closer for a lingering kiss. 'Lorelai, I think I'm fa '
A loud knock on the door brought her attentions back to the real world. Inwardly cursing, she stood, smiling apologetically and, placing her own coffee down on the table as she went, moved to answer it. The person standing on the other side of the threshold shocked her, more than most things that had happened in the last few weeks.
'Mrs Gilmore, what '
'I want to speak to Lorelai please,' the woman answered, smoothing out her jacket impatiently.
Lorelai was already on her feet, Diana walked backwards, partly to allow Emily in but also to be reassuringly close to Lorelai. 'Mom, what do you want?'
'If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to talk to you in private,' Emily said.
'No, Mom, Diana stays.'
Diana felt the disdain radiating from the matriarch's face even before she muttered, 'Oh, yes, you've got someone to hide behind now haven't you? I suppose it's to be expected, you never were one for fighting your own battles. It's always either running away or letting someone else speak for you isn't it?'
'Mrs Gilmore,' Diana said quickly. 'Lorelai didn't send me to Hartford, I went of my own accord.'
'Yes, well, if that's your story '
Lorelai shook her head. 'You know, Mom, you could at least apologise for what you did.'
'What I did?' Emily repeated. 'I took in your daughter, looked after her, gave her a roof over her head, fed her; which is probably a damn sight more than you ever did.'
'Oh, yeah, because you're so perfect, aren't you, Mom? You never did anything like lie to your only granddaughter, not to mention your husband, that your daughter was dead.'
'I did what I thought was right! I didn't believe what had happened to you and for that I'm ' She paused and looked down, obviously struggling with the words. 'For that, I'm truly sorry.'
A small snort came from Lorelai's direction. 'The only reason you're sorry is because you're living in the pool house and Dad and Rory won't talk to you. You've never been sorry for anything you've ever done to me in my life, Mom, why break the habit of a lifetime?'
'Lorelai, please! I've been trying all day to find the words '
'So it was your car that's been following me around?' Lorelai interjected angrily. 'It's not enough that you rob me of a year with my daughter but then you have to go and start stalking me as well?'
Emily frowned and stepped back towards the door. 'I can see that this was a mistake.'
'Damn right it was a mistake! You're just trying to stop me going back to Connecticut tomorrow, that's all this is.'
The elder woman halted. 'You're You're coming home?'
Lorelai failed to answer that so Diana moved ever closer to the returnee and answered, 'Richard bought her a ticket when he was here.'
'Right. I see.' She reached into her handbag and removed a set of keys. 'I had the locks changed because everybody in the town seemed to have a key. Here you go.'
Taking them with narrowed eyes, Lorelai said, 'You're just giving me it back?'
'Of course, it's your house, Lorelai.'
Recognising the uncertainty on the returnee's face, Diana took over. 'Mrs Gilmore, I should probably apologise for what happened with Rory. I wasn't thinking clearly and I understand I acted out of turn.'
'Yes,' she agreed. 'You did.'
'She was only trying to help, Mom,' Lorelai said edgily.
'Well, I can see you two are friends,' Emily answered. 'I suppose that clouded your judgement, it happens to the best.'
It was obvious that Emily was trying to forget those events in order to win points with Lorelai. The way that Diana had sat back while Rory told Richard the truth wasn't something likely to be forgotten and Diana mentally reminded herself not to get locked in an empty room with the woman currently stood opposite her. 'All the same,' she offered. 'I'm sorry.'
'Why did you really come all this way, Mom?' Lorelai questioned after a few moments of silence. 'Somehow I don't think it really was to give me my house back.'
'What you believe is irrelevant, Lorelai,' Emily replied. 'And since it's so obviously what you want, I'll leave. I hope to see you sometime.'
'Yeah, we might bump into each other when I pick Rory up. Then again, I might not come round the back so '
'Goodbye, Lorelai. Diana.'
With that, she left. Diana looked to Lorelai. 'You okay?'
'And I thought if NTAC were following me it was a bad thing. I shouldn't have mentioned her name, she probably heard me and flew right over.'
'Drink your coffee, I've got to pick up Maia. Will you be alright?'
'I might lock the door. You know, just in case.'
Lorelai was joking it all away, Diana couldn't see any real harm in that. She herself didn't particularly want to think about Emily Gilmore at that moment; why would the woman she had so deeply mistreated care to entertain the thought of her either?
Her daughter tore her gaze away from the moving scenery outside and asked, 'What?'
Diana glanced sideways. 'You knew Lorelai wasn't going to stay forever.'
The girl's face fell, but only slightly. 'I know. When?'
'Um Tomorrow. Are you alright with that?'
'Will we see her again?'
Smiling, Diana nodded. 'I'm sure of it.'
Dinner had been a little strange. Diana wasn't overly certain where to look and each time she made accidental eye-contact with Lorelai she felt a blush rise on her cheeks. She hoped that if Maia noticed anything she just put it down to the fact Lorelai was leaving, though she couldn't be sure that her daughter didn't know the entire story. But Lorelai, it seemed was having almost identical trouble and Diana had to admit that she looked particularly appealing when a delicate shade of pink.
Finally, Maia dismissed herself to do her homework and Diana found herself alone on the sofa with Lorelai and a cup of coffee. 'How are you doing?'
'Hmm ' Lorelai said thoughtfully before shrugged. 'I've got no idea.'
'Good. Me neither.' Diana reached across to take her hand. Before your mother so kindly interrupted us, I was trying to tell you something.'
Lorelai's blush returned to her cheeks. 'You don't have to '
'I was trying,' Diana interjected calmly. 'To explain that somewhere in all this mess I discovered that I was falling for you. And I'm not going to be embarrassed by that fact.'
Chuckling, Lorelai said, 'That sounded planned.'
'No, I just usually talk like that.'
'Oh, of course. Well, unlike you I know exactly when it started.'
'Enlighten me,' Diana said, leaning closer so their shoulders were touching.
'Okay. It was when you brought me the chocolate. But I think you knew that.'
The returnee wrapped an arm around her. 'Yeah, you did.'
Leaning into the kiss, Diana very nearly upset the table. When they pulled apart a few minutes later it was with reluctance. 'I'm really going to miss you, I hope you know that.'
'Ditto,' Lorelai replied then moved back out of reach. 'Do you want me to do the washing up?'
'Let's just leave it,' Diana muttered. 'Come on.'
A glance at the flashing green display told her it was just after midnight. Turning her attentions back to the figure she was cradling, she smoothed a hair back, finding it wet. 'Are you crying?'
'No,' answered a voice obviously thick with tears.
'Oh, come here.' Closing her eyes Diana held Lorelai against her, at least until the shuddering breaths had receded. Then she turned her over and examined the tear-stained face. 'What is it?'
Lorelai shrugged and attempted a watery smile. 'Nothing.'
'Yeah, right. You might as well tell me, I'll get it out of you.'
'Okay, Miss Interrogation,' the returnee muttered with a false frown. 'I'm angry, I guess. That I'm leaving tomorrow, that I've got to face my mother and everyone in Stars Hollow.' She snorted. 'And I can't believe this: us.'
Diana took a moment before answering. 'Well, neither can I. So we're even on that one. As for you going back to Stars Hollow You'll be fine.'
'You hesitated!' Lorelai slumped down a little further. 'God, what am I doing?'
'Aside from being insane?'
Smiling, Diana manoeuvred herself down beside the returnee and wrapped an arm around her waist. 'Lorelai, listen to me; everything'll be fine tomorrow. You'll pick up Rory, you'll see Sookie, you'll get coffee in Luke's and you'll be interrogated by Taylor. You'll feel like you've never been away.'
'But I have,' she said quietly. 'I can't erase that, can I?'
'No,' Diana said evenly. 'But you couldn't help what happened. You didn't choose it.'
After a few moments of silence, Lorelai queried, 'And what about the lights thing? What if I hurt someone- Rory?'
'There's no evidence to suggest that'll happen!'
'You said it happens when I get emotional whatevers! I get a lot of them!'
'Yeah, I'm realising that. But so far it's just short bursts of energy. I really don't see what harm they can do.'
'I'm probably gonna come face-to-face with my mother again,' Lorelai reminded her. 'I'm not sure my body can take that.'
'Well, it did alright earlier.'
'Yeah, but You were there.'
Not quite knowing what to say to that, Diana stayed silent whilst stroking Lorelai's hair back.
This time Lorelai was there when she awoke. The mixture of relief and happiness this induced was quickly diluted by the thought that this wouldn't be happening again anytime soon. Checking her clock she realised the alarm would be going off in approximately ten minutes so she dislodged herself from Lorelai's arm and disabled it before leaving the room.
After a shower and breakfast that consisted of two parts eating and eight parts staring into space, Diana found she was actually now running behind. She quickly woke Maia with instructions to shower then went back into her own room and sat down on the edge of the bed. 'Lorelai?'
It took a while but eventually the eyes opened, albeit blearily. 'Don't tell me it's morning already.'
'That tends to happen when you fall asleep,' Diana replied, keeping her voice as upbeat as possible. 'Anyway, me and Maia'll be going soon and I thought you might want to say goodbye.'
Lorelai nodded. 'Sure. Hang on, does she know I'm in here?'
'I hadn't thought of that. Come on,' she added, practically dragging the returnee out of the bed and out into the hall. She could still hear running water so they were safe. 'Sorry about that.'
Flopping down on the couch, Lorelai answered, 'You know, she's a smart kid.'
'Who's got enough going on in her life at the moment.'
'It's okay. I wasn't actually planning on telling Rory straight away. It won't help the reunion if she thinks they altered my brain. I think power surges she could deal with but '
Diana smiled. 'I'll pick you up just after twelve, is that okay?'
'Yeah, I'll be ready. Now,' she continued, standing. 'You woke me up, I presume you had coffee ready. '
'Of course, I'm not an idiot.'
Leaving Lorelai to her addiction fulfilment, Diana went to pack her briefcase. She was supposed to be giving Jarvis an update of recent inquiries before lunch; she wasn't anticipating a great day, all things considered. When she went back into the lounge she saw Maia eating her cereal at the kitchen table with Lorelai sat next to her. Not making her presence known straight away, she watched and listened.
'I'm really going to miss being here, you know,' Lorelai said, smiling reflectively and sipping her coffee.
'And you'll miss me?' Maia questioned.
'Now, you have to ask? Of course I'll miss you, kid. But I'll be back, don't worry.'
Maia grinned and continued with her breakfast. Diana walked forward and cleared her throat. 'You'd better hurry up, young lady.'
'I'm nearly done.'
Five minutes later Diana watched as Maia gave Lorelai a farewell hug. She could've sworn her daughter whispered something that made the returnee redden but since neither of them brought attention to it she didn't either.
'Come on, honey,' she said finally. 'We really have to go.'
Her daughter nodded and pulled away. 'Bye, Lorelai.'
'See you,' Lorelai replied, still a blush on her face. 'I'll see you at twelve okay, Diana?'
'Sure. Bye.' When they were in the car she looked to Maia. 'Do you want to tell me what that was about?'
'Nothing,' she said, starting the engine. 'Apparently.'
'Have you forgotten you've got that meeting with Jarvis?'
'Hmm?' She looked up from her computer screen, though she hadn't really been concentrating. So much so that it had automatically switched to screensaver after being inactive for too long. 'Oh, I've got ages yet.'
Tom nodded to the clock above the door. 'More like you're five minutes late.'
'What?' Quickly standing she managed to knock her lukewarm coffee onto the floor. 'Damn!'
'I've got it, you go. And when you get back you're telling me what's going on.'
She grimaced. 'I can't. I have to take Lorelai to the bus station.'
'At twelve, you said. There's time.'
'Not when Jarvis has finished with me,' she replied, grabbing her briefcase and dashing out of the door. Stopping short of barging into the office, she instead knocked and was admitted with a frown. 'I know I'm late, I'm sorry.'
Nina Jarvis merely crossed her arms. 'Well, I wouldn't like to interrupt any important work. What were you doing?'
Thinking on her feet, she answered, 'Reading a memo from Marco about something.'
'Just an argument about ability manifestation, I'm not really clear on it myself otherwise I'd explain it.'
Jarvis nodded with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. 'That's how Marco's theories usually work. Still, if it does prove to be anything remotely interesting, I'd like to know.'
Diana nodded. 'Of course. Now, you wanted to go through some of my reports? I didn't think there was anything amiss.'
'No, no, there isn't. Just want clarification on a few points.'
'There was the man who you interviewed last week, Patrick Flyte. You stated in your report that you think he's hiding something but you didn't go into detail.'
'Well, there was none to go into,' Diana answered. 'It was merely speculation on my part and I suggested a watch be kept on him just in case. I'm sure it'll turn out to be an illegitimate child or an affair that he's trying to keep secret.'
'That wouldn't affect his Government status.'
'No, but it might affect his personal one and that could be more important to him.'
Jarvis seemed satisfied. 'Fine. Secondly, 3459.'
Recognising the baiting tone, Diana played along. 'She does have a name.'
'It's impossible to learn them all.'
'Well, Lorelai's not a problem. She's reunited with her family, and I'm aware of no other issues.'
'She's leaving town?' Jarvis said with a touch of surprise, though doubtless she knew of it in advance. 'That must be difficult for you.'
Diana prevented her snort from being audible, but only just. 'Why do you say that?'
'It's obvious you two have become close, abduction usually indicates that.'
'I thought this was an update about work,' she replied calmly.
'You know,' Jarvis said, leaning forward. 'I may be many things, Diana, but I'm not naïve. Don't treat me like I am.'
After a moment's thought, she questioned, 'What do you want me to say? Perhaps then I'll know which particular line I'm footing.'
'I'd just like the truth.'
'You want the truth,' she repeated slowly. 'Well, in that case I can't help you. Did you have any other concerns?'
Jarvis shook her head. 'Diana, you might '
'Good.' She got to her feet. 'I do have somewhere to be. If there's any update on Patrick Flyte, you'll be the first to know. Have a nice day.'
Making her escape, she crashed back into her office chair with such strength that Tom actually stood up. 'Are you okay?'
'Sick of being quizzed about my personal life, that's all.'
'Well, that stops me talking for the rest of the day,' he answered, passing her a fresh coffee. 'Got you this, didn't think you'd be long somehow.'
'Thanks,' she answered gratefully, taking it. 'You know, I'm getting tired of this.'
'What, coffee? I could get you herbal tea.'
Diana smiled slightly. 'How did you cope, when everyone was studying Kyle and asking you dozens of questions about things that were nothing to do with them?'
'Tough question,' he replied, sitting back down. 'Well, I got mad, quite a lot actually. But I had to deal with it. And I had this really nice partner who kept me grounded.'
'If you're meaning me, I tried, but I didn't get very far.'
Tom shrugged. 'Maybe. Seriously, though, what's going on? I might be able to help.'
'Nothing,' she said quickly and then frowned. 'Actually, I It's Lorelai Gilmore.'
'I thought she was leaving town today.'
'Yeah, she is. That's the problem. You see ' She was having extreme difficulty with the words but she'd started so why not go the whole way? 'Me and Lorelai, we're sort of Together, I suppose.'
He raised an eyebrow and coughed. 'Oh, erm ' After clearing his throat he laughed a little. 'Sorry, that's not what I was expecting.'
'What were you expecting?' she asked, hopeful that he wasn't taking it too badly.
'I don't actually know.' He paused. 'So, is this what Jarvis is getting on your back about?'
'Well, she thinks she knows. In reality, she's just shooting in the dark but '
'I can see why it's getting on your nerves,' he answered. 'When they weren't poking and prodding my son they were delving into my personal life, asking me questions I didn't know how to answer. I just had to deal with it.'
'Oh, she's just doing this for her own pleasure now,' Diana argued. 'Likes seeing me squirm. To be honest, Tom, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. You know, if I thought we were helping the 4400, if I thought we were making a difference, I might be more inclined to '
'What?' he prompted her.
'I don't know,' she admitted, looking at the clock. 'But I've got to go.'
'I hope you've got everything.'
Lorelai glanced over from the passenger seat. 'Why? Wouldn't you want to travel hundreds of miles to bring me something?'
'Well, when you put it that way ' Diana answered, pulling into the car park and drawing to a halt. 'I hope you've left lots behind.'
'I'm very forgetful. Forget my head if it wasn't screwed on, and sometimes it's actually not.'
'Yeah, I know.' After turning off the engine, Diana turned towards the returnee. 'I wanted to ask you something.'
'Really? I can be of use?'
'It's still debatable but I'll ask anyway. What did Maia say to you this morning? You blushed and she wouldn't tell me why.'
The redness crept back into Lorelai's cheeks. 'She said it was okay if I wanted to kiss you goodbye and that she wouldn't mind.'
Diana let out her breath and looked out of the window towards the bus ranks. 'That takes away my dilemma.'
'Just a bit. I'm sorry, I know you didn't '
'Hey,' she said quickly. 'It was nothing to do with you, I didn't know whether she could handle it. But, apparently, I was mistaken.'
'She seems to manage most things,' Lorelai agreed with a shrug. 'I could do with a bit of whatever she's got.'
'You've got it, you just haven't found it yet. I've got no doubt you'll find it the moment you see Rory.'
'With a bit of luck. And maybe a couple of martinis on the way.'
Diana nodded then noticed a bus pulling in. 'I think that's you.'
Lorelai grimaced. 'I hate goodbyes.'
'Yeah, me too,' she admitted, leaning across to hug her. 'You'll call me as soon as you get there won't you?'
'I might call you on the way there.'
'Well, only if you feel the urge,' Diana answered, pulling back and kissing her deeply. 'But I am always here if you need me.'
'Ditto,' Lorelai replied, tears playing at the corners of her eyes. 'Don't let that cow get you down, okay?'
Diana smiled. 'Ditto.'
'Neat,' said Lorelai with a grin, glancing towards the bus. 'I have to go.'
'I I'll call you.'
She nodded quickly. 'Go on. Go.'
Lorelai kissed her once more then pulled her back from the back seat and jumped out of the car. Diana watched her to the bus, saw her board it and take the back seat. She waited for ten minutes until it departed; catching the gleam of a swollen face as it moved off. Then she crunched the car into life and reversed.
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