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
By CharmedLassie


Part 5

'Hi, can I speak to Lorelai Gilmore please?' Diana asked politely when the phone was finally answered by a voice she recognised as the French desk clerk at the Inn.

'No one of that name here. Thank you, goodbye.'

'Hey!' Rolling her eyes at Tom across the room, she switched ears. 'Listen, I know she's working today.'

'Lorelai is missing, presumed dead. Would you like to book a room?'

'I'd like to speak to Lorelai.'

'Are you a medium?'

As she was about to retort, there was an angry echo on the other end of the phone. 'Michel! You give me that phone.'

'I'm dealing with it,' he answered. 'I'm telling her to go away.'

'No, see,' Lorelai said slowly. 'That isn't what we do here. Give me it.'

'I won't!'

'Do I hear unemployment calling?'

The scowl was evident in his voice. 'It's like you've never been away.'

'Mmm,' Lorelai answered. 'Great, isn't it?' There was a pause while she obviously took hold of the phone. 'Hello?'

'You'll be happy to know my lunch hour's nearly over,' Diana said with a smile.

Lorelai's voice instantly softened. 'Hey!' Then the tone evolved slightly. 'Wait, you're calling to say you're not coming tomorrow, aren't you?'

'You've been waiting a month for that watch you left on my bedside table, of course I'm coming. How are things?'

'Oh, you mean apart from Michel still telling everyone who asks that I'm deader than Jefferson?'

'Apart from.'

'Well, Sookie almost souffléd herself, for the third consecutive week I might add. Oh, and one of the housekeeping staff came back after a holiday and hasn't stopped poking me all morning. On the plus side, the church choir stopped camping out in reception as of ten o'clock. I told them about a visitation in Luke's.'

Diana laughed. 'I bet he loved that.'

'I'll have to ask him when I go in after work.'

'If you're not barred.'

'He wouldn't. We're working together to get him a new kitchen, he needs me,' Lorelai said. 'What about you, what's work like?'

'Oh, well,' Diana said, glancing over the room. 'Tom's being an absolute pain. You know, the man has no sense of authority, people walk right over him.'

'Uh-huh. He's standing right there isn't he?'

Watching the amused expression on Tom's face as he stood, she answered, 'He is. And he's leaving now.' When he'd pulled the door closed behind him, she went on, 'Okay, he's gone.'

'So how're things really?' Lorelai queried.

'Pretty much the same. She actually had me going across town twice yesterday because she misplaced the one copy of a report that she'd demanded to see before I could photocopy it. I honestly don't know why I stick it out sometimes.'

'Well, Maia has a powerful urge to eat.'

'Ah, yes! That's the reason!' Diana smiled then pondered whether to raise the issue that was playing on her mind a little. Yes, it could wait, but she was finding her inquisitive streak difficult to keep sheathed since Lorelai had come into her life. Apart from wanting to know most things about the returnee there was also the fact that Lorelai herself was as nosy as they came, and it was very infectious. 'I meant to ask, anymore incidents with the electricity?'

'Not since I nearly electrocuted my mother,' Lorelai replied brightly.

Right, yes. Emily had been in the pool when Lorelai had finally come face to face with her after a dinner with Rory and her father. It was fortunate Mrs Gilmore had just been stepping out of the pool when the power shorted and the lights inside blew to smithereens. Or unfortunate, if you took Lorelai's word for it, though Diana wasn't certain how truthful that opinion was. 'That's good.'

'I think I might have it under control. It isn't tripping out every time I see Michel, and believe me, I've got cause.'

'I bet,' answered Diana, grinning then checking her watch. 'Listen, I'll have to get going, don't want to give you-know-who another reason to hate me.'

'See, I always find that part fun.'

'You would. We'll be there pretty late tomorrow, okay? Just to warn you. I mean, don't keep Rory up or anything.'

'Two points- one, Rory's looking forward to seeing Maia again. Oh, and she doesn't mind you too much either.'

'Thank you.'

'And second, Rory's going out with her boyfriend tomorrow night.'

'Boyfriend?' Diana repeated.

'Uh-huh. And I won't tell you the full story till you get here.'

'You know that's mean?'

'I know,' Lorelai replied. 'I'll see you tomorrow.'

'Bye, Lorelai.'

'Maia, you'll have to calm down, honey. We've still got the flight to get through.' Diana was attempting to sound authoritative but it was tricky when her own insides were somersaulting. 'Please?'

'Aren't you excited?'

Smiling, she kept her eyes fixed on the road ahead. 'Well, maybe just a little,' she answered as her cell phone began ringing. Pressing the hands-free button on the dashboard, she said, 'Hello?'

'Diana? Tom. Where are you?'

She almost felt her heart plummet. 'On the way to the airport. Why, what's going on?' she continued, glancing to Maia who looked as apprehensive at the interruption as she felt.

'Jarvis has called a meeting for tomorrow morning, wants all staff present.'

'Well, sorry, but I won't be there.'

'She told me to call you,' he said. 'I'll tell her your cell was off, I suggest you keep it that way all weekend.'

'Thanks for the heads-up,' she replied. 'Do you know what's going on?'

'Marco might've mentioned something.'

Diana smiled. 'Marco? More illegal hacking, huh? He's setting a bad example.'

'Yeah, well, he's useful sometimes. Anyway, he says they're planning a mass recall of returnees with abilities, if they can swing it with Washington. That's Alana and…'

'Maia,' she went on, frowning and looking sideways at her daughter who, she found, wasn't appearing at all surprised by the news. Inwardly, she was also contemplating Lorelai, though she was certain no one else knew about her ability and so she shouldn't be one of the recalled. 'Why?'

'That's what I'm hoping to find out. I'll let you know, huh?'

'Thanks, Tom.'

'You have a good weekend, okay?'

'That is the intention. Bye.' After pressing the button to end the call, Diana was silent for a minute or more before she looked to her daughter. 'Honey, I won't let it happen. I'll do everything in my power to stop it.'

Maia nodded slowly but inclined her head so she was watching the scenery out of the window. Feeling a little helpless, Diana concentrated on her driving, though her mind was busy turning things over. The thought of Maia, and Lorelai, being locked back in a sterile unit with constant observation and prodding at the whim of Nina Jarvis was infuriating to her, as she suspected it was to Tom.

Still, she didn't want it to ruin the weekend. Jarvis could be dealt with on Monday.

Maia had been subdued for the remainder of the journey, something Diana didn't think boded well for the weekend as a whole. She herself tried to keep up a steady stream of conversation: Maia, bless her, had done her best to seem interested but it was obvious her heart wasn't in it.

By the time they reached Stars Hollow in the hire car they'd collected at the airport darkness had fallen and Maia was beginning to look decidedly tired. It was a wonder, Diana realised then, that she hadn't fallen asleep on the way, but she rather thought that her daughter desperately wanted to see Lorelai and was battling to stay awake. It was slightly worrying, the idea that she'd attached herself to someone so quickly. Not, of course, that she had a problem with any kind of bond between Lorelai and Maia, but the fact they were living in different states to one another might be a bit of an obstacle.

Pulling up into Lorelai's drive she was pleased to note that all lights in the house were blazing. It was so different to the last time she had seen it, desolate and abandoned: now it looked like a home again.

Maia was out of her seatbelt and the car before Diana had chance to notice. Quickly, she followed suit, catching up with her daughter before she knocked. 'Hey, what's the big rush?'

The young girl shrugged. 'Nothing.'

Unconvinced, Diana nodded. 'Okay.' Hearing voices from inside, though, she refrained from knocking.

'Mom, if you don't stop asking me questions…' Rory.

'You'll beam me up?' Lorelai.

Rory emitted an audible growl. 'You're hopeless!'

'I'm your mother!'

'You're my mother and you're hopeless!'

'Now, now, I'm taking an interest.'

'You're being nosy!'

'Yes. It's called taking an interest!'

Smiling, Diana finally knocked. A few seconds later a shadow appeared in the glass and then opened the door. 'Hey, Rory!'

'Diana!' The teenager immediately hugged her then looked down to Maia. 'Hey you.'

At least Maia was looking a little happier. 'Hi.'

'Come in,' Rory instructed, letting them both by. 'Mom, they're here.'

Lorelai bounded in from the kitchen; looking radiant, Diana had to confess. She hugged Maia first. 'Hi, sweetie.' Then she glanced up and Diana felt a blush rising on her cheeks and saw it mirrored on Lorelai's face. 'Hi.'

'Hi,' she replied, at a sudden loss. 'Um, I've got some bags in the car. I should get them.'

'I'll do that,' Rory offered.

'No, hey!' Lorelai butted in. 'You were just about to tell me about Dean.'

'No, I wasn't. I'm getting the bags.'

Lorelai held out an arm. 'I think you'll find you were.'

Rory shook her head. 'Diana, can you tell her to keep her big fat nose out, please?'

Diana shrugged. 'I'm not sure I can do that. I'm kind of curious myself.'

Growling again, Rory disappeared out towards the car.

Following Lorelai into the kitchen with Maia at her side, Diana sat down at the table. 'She wouldn't tell you anything, huh?'

'Don't worry, I have my ways. Now,' she went on, kneeling down in front of Maia. 'What can I get you, young lady?' Instead of answering, the girl burrowed herself in Lorelai's arms. 'Hey, what's wrong?'

When the returnee glanced to her for some kind of explanation Diana just found herself staring in bewilderment. 'Maia?'

As her daughter began sobbing, Lorelai took charge. 'Okay, here's what's gonna happen. Me and you are gonna go in Rory's room and talk. Is that alright?'

Maia nodded and pulled away, though she kept her eyes lowered. Lorelai slipped an arm around her shoulders and began guiding her, though as she passed she held out a hand to touch Diana's shoulder. Despite her concern over Maia's sudden breakdown, she couldn't help but tingle at the very simple touch.

When Rory came back in a few minutes later with two holdalls and dropped the car keys on the table, Diana barely registered the action.

Rory sat down beside her. 'Are you okay? Where's Mom and Maia?'

She attempted a smile. 'Oh, they're in your room. Maia just seemed to get upset all of a sudden and your Mom's looking after her. I'm sure it'll be fine. It's just been a long journey, that's all.'

'Yeah… Do you want a drink or something?'

'No, I'm okay, Rory, thanks.' Diana tried to shake away the thoughts of Maia crying and questioned, 'So, how are you? How's Dean?'

'Don't you start,' the teen warned.

'Okay, well, how about the first one? How have things been since you got back?'

Rory smiled slightly then shrugged. 'Same as ever, I guess. It's like she's never been away. And she's really trying. She's even agreed to come to a poetry reading at school on Sunday. If you don't mind tagging along, that is.'

'No, I'd love to,' Diana assured her. 'You write poetry now?'

'Badly. But, apparently, it's the effort that counts.'

'Ah. That's what they always say.'

'You know,' said Rory after a moment. 'I'm glad you came. It's really great to see you.'

'I'm glad to be here,' she replied as the door behind her opened. Turning, she saw Lorelai pulling the door to. 'What's going on? Is she alright?'

'Yep. Fine. Rory, could you go set up the camp-bed for her?'

'Sure, Mom.'

When her daughter had gone into the bedroom, Lorelai motioned for Diana to follow her into the living room. 'What's wrong with her?' Diana questioned as they sat down on the couch.

'Well, she mentioned something about being taken by your bosses and locked up in a room.'

Diana buried her head in her hands. 'I've already told her, I won't let that happen.'

Lorelai placed a hand on her knee. 'Have you thought that maybe she knows something you don't?'

She hadn't, actually. 'Well, this better be one of those visions we can change because it won't happen.'

'And that's what I told her,' said Lorelai.

'Was there anything else wrong?'

'No. You know, I think she was just a bit overwhelmed by being here, that's all. And she's tired and… I'm here and that's always overwhelming.'

Diana nodded. 'Mmm. I'd noticed that.'

'Catty,' Lorelai retorted, lifting up a hand to stroke her cheek. 'You have no idea how much I've missed you.'

She shrugged. 'I think I do actually. So, how was it? You know, bringing Rory home? You didn't go into detail.'

'No, every time I picked up the phone she started stalking me. I mean, I tried the roof but you should've seen her, strapped to a chimney stack with her hand behind her ear.'

'You didn't want to tell me over the phone.'

'I didn't want to tell you over the phone,' repeated Lorelai, pursing her lips. 'You know, you can work me right out.'

'No, I wish I could,' she said, only half-joking. 'Seriously, did something happen? What's this Dean business? She never mentioned him before.'

'Well, she met him the day she came back, in Doose's Market. I sent her out for potato chips…'

'Wait, wait,' Diana said quickly. 'You picked her up, brought her back to Stars Hollow and then sent her for potato chips?'

'Okay, I don't like that tone!'

'Oh, I'll stop shall I?' Diana asked, raising an eyebrow mockingly.

'Please, yes.'

'Right, so you sent her to the shop because…'

'Because,' Lorelai said slowly. 'The electricians who Dad hired to inspect the place before I moved back in forgot to flick the switch. I didn't want Rory groping around in the dark and hurting herself. I was just…'

Diana nodded apologetically. 'Being a good mother.'

'Yep. Got ya.'

'Yeah, you did.'

After sneaking a glance over her shoulder at the closed bedroom door, Lorelai leaned in to kiss her gently. 'That's it, you're not leaving. I'm gonna lock you in my closest.'

It took quite a lot of her willpower but Diana backed away. 'Lorelai, we… I'm sorry.'

The returnee sighed and stood. 'I know. Let's get the kids tucked in bed, huh?'

She couldn't bring herself to pour cold water on that idea, so she just nodded. 'By the way, how long had you been bombarding Rory with questions before we got here?'

'Oh, not long. Half an hour or so. In fact, it's time for round two!'

Maia hadn't really looked at her when they'd said goodnight, something Diana found new and not particularly enticing. She couldn't help but think the worst; what if Lorelai was right and Maia had seen something unchangeable in the future? It had happened before on this scale, she'd predicted Jordan Collier's death with shocking accuracy. If something like that was about to happen again… Well, she wanted to know about it. She couldn't do anything about it if she was in the dark.

With Maia asleep, Rory came to sit with them. As Lorelai opened her mouth, Rory warned, 'One more word and I'll make you sit through a marathon of 'I Love Lucy' without the sound on.'

Lorelai pouted. 'Sneaky.'

'Think you got her,' Diana commented watching Rory spread herself out across her mother. 'Gotta teach me how to do that someday.'

'Oh, it takes years of practice.'

'And plenty of patience,' Lorelai chipped in.

Rory nodded. 'It's kinda like training a puppy. You know, with the treats and eventually you get her so relaxed that she slips up and gets lulled into a…'

'False sense of security,' finished Diana thoughtfully. 'Yeah, I can see why that might work.'

'Excuse me,' muttered Lorelai. 'I am still…'

'Shush!' Rory said. 'We're talking, can't you see?'

'See talking? Now didn't Chilton teach you anything about paradox? Anyway, since that didn't make grammatical sense, it didn't count. So I can keep talking. And talking. And talking. And yodelling if I so wish.'

After exchanging a glance with Rory, Diana reached behind her and pulled out the cushion, throwing it at the babbling figure. 'I hear one yodel and you'll know about it.'

Lorelai snickered. 'Oh, will I?'

Rory nudged her with a foot. 'Be nice, she's a guest.'

'No, you see, once they're over the threshold that's it! You stop being nice because they can't do anything about it. I taught you that when you were six.'

The teen groaned. 'You had to bring that up.'

'What happened?' Diana queried dubiously.

'I brought home my first friend from school,' Rory explained. 'Funny, she never talked to me again after Mom finished breaking her ears.'

'Breaking her…'

'She always makes it sound worse than it was,' Lorelai shrugged. 'You know, they looked so fake, I thought they were clip-ons.'

Diana tried unsuccessfully to stop her smile. 'Oh.'

'But relating to the point,' Rory said after a second.

'What point?' her mother questioned. 'Oh, yeah! Well, she was rude about it. Completely over the top.'

'She was bleeding,' supplied Rory.

'She was scratching, that made it worse!'

Nodding, Diana said, 'Of course.'

'You're laughing at me,' Lorelai said accusingly.

'Because you assaulted a first-grader? Now, why would I do that?'

'Anyway. She was rude, I was rude, her mother was rude and Rory didn't make friends with her. Which is lucky because the kid's ears never did look normal. Gummie Bear?' she concluded, offering the box.

Diana exchanged a look with Rory. 'Erm… I'll pass.'

When Rory went to bed a couple of hours later it was after a television marathon consisting mainly of some foreign and unsubtitled movie which mother and daughter had assigned a plot to. Personally, Diana thought the idea of the bald limping man trying to kill the blonde who kept following him around due to him being sick of her advances was a little over the top but Lorelai and Rory seemed happy.

Moving over to take Rory's vacated space next to Lorelai on the sofa, she asked, 'Are you okay? I noticed you sort of disappeared for a little bit.'

'Yeah, I was thinking that Candy really shouldn't have worn that dress when she went to the races. Too billowy.'

'I was thinking that she didn't look like a Candy.'

'We had to name them!'

'Well, you two have got one-track minds.'

'Mr Goodbar was a perfectly reasonable name choice!'

'If you say so,' Diana concurred then paused. 'But that wasn't it really was it? What's going on?'

Lorelai shot her a look before shrugging. 'I had a phone call from my mother today. And, no,' she added quickly, correctly anticipating the first question. 'I haven't told Rory. I didn't wanna upset her.'

'Understandable. So what did she want?'

'She said to see how I was.'

Diana bit her lip. 'Maybe that was all there was to it.'

'No, I know my mother. She's up to something.'

'Is that you jumping to conclusions?'

'Just reliving my childhood, that's all,' Lorelai replied, slipping her hand over onto Diana's knee. 'I don't want her getting to Rory though. She's got enough going on.'

'With Dean.'

'With Dean,' Lorelai repeated. 'And whatever else's going on in her life at the moment.'

Diana shifted so they were facing each other, though she didn't nudge away the hand slowly caressing her thigh. 'Like what?'

'I don't know, she hasn't exactly told me. But I get the feeling that she might be getting some stick at school. You know, dead mom turning up in the last year and messing things up for her.'

'Lorelai, you haven't…' Diana began but was cut off.

'Come on, I've brought her back here, away from everyone at school. And I know those Hartford snobs- they'll all be like, 'You know her mother's come back and dragged her into the slums again? It's terrible'.'


'No, I mean it. You know, I haven't got a clue what's going on with her anymore. I can't make up for two years in a month.'

'Rory seems to think you're doing okay,' said Diana quietly.

'Well, she's a sweet kid.'

'And you're doing the best you can. Don't let your mother, or anyone else for that matter, tell you otherwise.'

Lorelai smiled. 'See, this is why I needed you here.'

'Oh, I…' Diana reached into her pocket and pulled out the item she'd supposedly travelled all this way to deliver. 'Your watch.'

'My…' Lorelai's grin grew and she tossed it over her shoulder. 'Thanks.'

'I'm so glad I drove all this way,' she quipped, barely restraining her desire to lean forward.

It was academic anyway, as Lorelai closed the distance between them gently. For a few minutes they stayed like that on the couch, Diana not wanting to pull away but slightly wary of getting any closer due to the girls being so close. However, she was being swept away in the moment, finding herself actually unable to remove her lips from Lorelai's. Running her hand upwards into the flowing hair she felt Lorelai's grip tighten on her hand. Part of her knew she had to stop this and finally she wrenched herself away, still breathless.

'Okay, I've missed that,' Lorelai said with a smile.

'You didn't have much to remember,' Diana informed her.

'That's half the problem. I need more memories.'

She swallowed. 'Yeah, me too.'

Lorelai's hand snaked up to her cheek, rubbing her skin gently with her thumb. 'I know what you're thinking and I don't particularly like it either but…' She trailed off and shrugged. 'Oh, come on!'

Diana couldn't help laughing, despite her stomach flipping. 'Okay,' she said finally.


'Okay,' she repeated, enjoying watching Lorelai's eyes widen and lips slowly part. Irresistible, really. She moved forward to kiss her again then smiled. 'Okay.'

The knocking awoke her suddenly. For a few moments she was completely disorientated but then the weight of Lorelai's arm resting loosely over her stomach and the fact that she was naked below the thin sheet alerted her to the fact that she was in Stars Hollow, next to a Lorelai Gilmore who was somehow- miraculously- sleeping through the door being battered down.

'Lorelai,' she hissed, turning onto her side and shaking the returnee. 'Wake up!'

The resting arm reached up and swatted her. 'Go away! Sleepy.'

Outside, Rory obviously thought she was the one being addressed. 'Mom, it's me!'

Lorelai sat bolt upright. 'What?'

Diana winced at the look of sheer panic on her face as Rory asked, 'Have you locked the door?'

Moving quickly to pick up some clothes, Lorelai muttered, 'Yeah, the key tends to do that. What's up?'

'Um, Diana's not on the sofa. Do you know where she's gone?'

'Oh, erm… She couldn't stand the couch so she slept in my bed last night.'

'Where did you sleep?'

'The floor. Still better than the couch, hun.' After catching the flannel shirt Diana lobbed at her, she questioned, 'Anything else?'

'Just wondered if I could take Maia to Luke's.'

'Erm…' Diana nodded to her. 'Yeah, you do that. And we'll be over in a little while.'

Hearing footsteps padding down the stairs, Diane let her breath out in relief and flopped backwards. 'Thank you for remembering to lock the door.'

Lorelai pulled on her shirt. 'Bit of a surprise actually.'

'Don't tell me things like that!' Diana warned then softened. 'Lorelai?'

The returnee broke away from dressing- which was surprisingly amusing considering the arm hole didn't appear to want to accommodate the arm. 'Yeah?'

She shook her head at the sight. 'Nothing.'

Walking into Luke's Diner with Lorelai at her side, Diana felt… Well, she couldn't think of an adjective to describe what she felt at that present moment; but it was a warm feeling. They seated themselves at the large table Rory and Maia had chosen by the window while Luke looked up with slight interest, though he was masking it fairly well.

'Hey, you two,' Lorelai said brightly. 'Have you ordered?'

'He's changed the special,' Rory said with deadly seriousness.

Diana smiled as Lorelai turned with such speed it should have rightly given her a mild form of whiplash. 'He what?'

'Surely it's not that big a deal,' Diana commented.

'No, you don't understand,' answered Lorelai. 'The one thing in town that hasn't changed in two years was that specials board! Luke's own special scrambled eggs with his own special sauce, served in his own very special bowls!'

'They're unbelievable,' Rory agreed with another look at the board hanging on the far wall. 'But the pancakes…'

'No, no, no, don't even think about finishing that sentence,' her mother interrupted warningly. 'I taught you many things, Rory, but what was the most important?'

'That breath mints don't actually cover bodily smells?'

'That's number two! Number one is that Luke's special eggs with his own special sauce are to kill for. This you will learn now, disciple.'

As Lorelai stood and moved to the counter Diana exchanged an amused look with Rory. Luke looked up when his customer approached the counter. 'Wanna order?'

'Yeah, I want the special.'

He picked up his pad and started writing. 'Pancakes, what else?'

'No, the real special.'

'That is the special.'

'No, the old special. The eggs.'

He dropped the pad to the counter heavily. 'That's not on the menu.'

Lorelai merely smiled. 'You always have special eggs.'

'And now they're in the shape of a pancake. That's life.'

'Well, I think the eggs were the definitive Luke special. How could you change it?'

'It's a special- it changes! That's what it does!'

'I, for one, think it shouldn't!'

'What the hell is it to do with you anyhow?' he replied, frustrated.

Lorelai seemed unflapped. 'I'm eating it.'

'Just pick something else,' Luke implored. 'Anything.'


'Except the eggs.'

'Huh. That's just not fair.'

'That's the way it is.'

'Right.' Lorelai looked around for a minute. 'Maia, come here a sec.'

Diana watched as her daughter complied with the request. Luke just appeared more annoyed than ever. 'What are you doing?'

'Come here, honey,' said the returnee, helping her onto a stool. 'Now, look at this face. Can you say no to this face?'

His bottom lip worked for a moment then he nodded over to the table. 'What do they want?'

'Just toast and coffee,' Diana answered loudly. 'Rory?'


'Okay,' Luke said, picking up his pad again. 'Two toasts and coffees and two specials. What drinks?'

Lorelai smiled inanely. 'You have to ask?'

He shrugged. 'It's courteous.'

'I'll have an orange juice,' Maia supplied quietly. 'Please.'

Luke came down to her level for a moment. 'Not a problem. Okay, anything else?'

'Just one thing,' replied Lorelai. 'Just make that one special, the kid'll have a muffin.'

It took a second for Luke to answer. 'So you're the only one having the special?'


'I don't believe you sometimes!'

'Well, you've already agreed to it!'

He seemed about to retort then just disappeared into the back. Lorelai nudged Maia over to the display cases as Diana turned to Rory. 'How does she do that?'

The teen was grinning. 'No idea.'

'Does she always get away with it?'

'Mostly. Nice to see she hasn't lost it.' She looked down as her cell phone began ringing and pulled it out of her pocket. Taking one look at the display, she rejected the call.

'Rory?' Diana questioned quietly, glancing over to check that Lorelai and Maia were still occupied.

She took a moment to hear her. 'Sorry? Oh, it's nothing.'

Leaning further across the table, Diana said, 'I can hazard a guess at who that was, you know.'

'I wish she'd just leave me alone!' Rory finally said. 'I've already told her I don't want to see her again.'

'Well, you're not the only one she's been bothering. Your mom had a call yesterday as well.'

'She did? Why didn't she tell me?'

'I think she thought it would upset you.'

'Damn right it would! Hasn't she done enough to us?'

'Okay, Rory,' Diana said, quietening her. 'I know how you feel but…'

'Don't tell me it's in the past,' the teen warned. 'I'll never forgive her for what she did.'

Hearing Lorelai and Maia returning, Diana didn't answer. Instead, she fixed on a smile ready to greet them. 'That was tricksy.'

Lorelai grinned. 'I know.'

A moment later Luke came over with the coffee and addressed Diana herself. 'Yours is on the house if you take her back where she came from.'

'I can't believe Rory forgot to give you the tour last time!'

'Come on,' Rory objected. 'I had other things on my mind!'

'No excuse,' Lorelai replied. 'It's an unwritten law- everyone who comes through here has to be put through the Stars Hollow torture. Even if they're just looking for a gas station.'

'You're not exactly filling me with confidence,' Diana said as they stopped on the street.

The returnee threw her a mischievous glance. 'I know. Come on.'

She looked down to Maia beside her who was smiling widely and gave in to it. She couldn't actually pretend she wasn't enjoying this. It had been a while since she'd felt part of any unit. Ever since April had left town she'd been lonely, but in all reality, what she had now was different. She wasn't chaperoning her messed up sister; she was having a great time in a little Connecticut town with people she really cared about. At the back of her mind was the nagging spectre of Jarvis and her plans for the returnees but she tried to brush it away. Jarvis could- and would- be dealt with after the weekend was over.

Bending down to converse with Maia, Lorelai suddenly said, 'Look, you two go ahead. We'll catch you up.'

Rory looked at her mother quizzically. 'You'll miss all the good stuff.'

'Well, hon, you need the practice. Don't let her enjoy herself, alright?' Lorelai glanced upwards, a small smile playing on her lips. 'Have fun.'

After Maia and Lorelai had disappeared around a corner, Rory started walking. 'You know, we could just go for another coffee and I could tell you everything about the town.'

'Won't we get into trouble for that? Will there be a test or something?' Diana queried, letting her eyes scan the aspects of the town she could see. Something over the other side of the square caught her attention. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out some money. 'Why don't you get us some take-out coffees. It'll ease the pain.'

Rory grinned. 'You're learning.'

'I've been spending too much time with your mother, that's all.'

Taking the bills, Rory went back into Luke's. Diana, on the other hand, sauntered into the middle of the town square and took a seat on a bench. It didn't take long for what she had anticipated occurring to actually happen.

The figure that sat down beside her didn't look towards her. 'Agent Skouris.'

Diana also didn't look in the direction of her new companion. 'When are you going to leave them alone?'

'I want to explain.'

'Well, I don't think they're inclined to listen.'

'Your influence, no doubt,' Emily said distastefully. 'Why are you here? You've done your civic duty.'

'It was never about duty,' Diana replied. 'I didn't do what I did because it was the right thing to do; I did it for Lorelai.'

Emily paused. 'They won't answer my calls.'

'Did you seriously expect them to?'

'Perhaps not. But I need to speak to them. Rory needs to…'

'She won't understand,' Diana interjected. 'And I think that you'd be…'

'Don't presume to tell me what I should and shouldn't do, Agent Skouris,' warned Emily immediately. 'You know nothing about me.'

'No,' she conceded, glancing over to make sure Rory hadn't left Luke's yet. 'But I'm getting to know Rory.'

'Oh, you just want to see me fail.'

'Well, if that's what you think…' Diana left the statement hanging in the air as she stood. 'I can't change your mind.'

'Wait,' Emily requested before she moved. 'After what you did I can't seriously believe you'd want to help.'

'In my humble opinion,' she answered. 'You need to give them time. They're getting to know each other again, you intruding on that won't make things any better.'

'Well, thank you for your opinion. I won't say I value it…'

'You blame me,' Diana said. 'I completely understand it. But whatever you think, Lorelai didn't send me to Hartford. When I met her she'd already thrown in the towel. And no doubt if I hadn't have met her you'd never have laid eyes on her again. I suppose that's what you wanted.'

Emily also rose. 'You've no idea what I went through everyday.'

'You didn't exactly clamour to put things right though, did you?'

'And how would you have suggested I do that? A lie is a lie. It spirals out of control and then you're trapped. I made one mistake and believe me, it's never stopped haunting me.'

Diana took a moment. 'If you give Lorelai time I'm sure she'll talk to you. I can't guarantee it'll be pretty but…'

'And Rory?' Emily asked quietly.

Glancing over to the diner again, Diana replied, 'I don't know. She needs time too. Goodbye, Emily.'

Before she could move the elder Gilmore halted her with, 'Why exactly are you here, Agent Skouris?'

She shrugged. 'I'm visiting friends.'

Leaving Emily behind Diana quickly proceeded over to the other side of the square. It was too late though; Rory had already exited the diner and was watching her… and her grandmother who was returning to her car.

'What the hell was that?' she demanded as soon as Diana drew near.

'Okay, Rory, I realise it looks bad but…'

'Damn right it does! I thought you knew how we felt, both me and Mom.'

'Of course I do! I just… Look, if someone hadn't talked to her she'd probably have been following you for days. I didn't want you or your mom to see her.'

The teenager frowned then pushed the coffee cup into her hands and started walking. 'Don't let it get cold.'

Letting out her breath Diana quickly caught up with her. 'I'm sorry.'

'What did she want?'

'To explain, I think.'

'Well, that should be interesting,' Rory answered with disdain.

'I'm not about to condone what she did but I think… I get the feeling she truly wants to make amends.'

'She's feeling sorry for herself,' said Rory dismissively.

'That as may be, but as far as she's concerned she's lost everything. I can see where she's coming from.'

'It was her own fault! She should have thought about that.'

Obviously, Rory wasn't even prepared to discuss it. Diana couldn't really blame her but there was still something she needed to say. 'Can we keep this just between us? I don't want your mom…'

'Overreacting?' Rory supplied. 'Yeah, sure.'

'Right. Now, what about this tour?'

The teen nodded and picked up the pace. Conversely, Diana glanced over to the road where the familiar black car was making its way out of town. Inexplicably, she felt sorry for Emily Gilmore. Well, she'd have to shake that one.

'Where have you two been?'

No matter how wide that grin was on Lorelai's face, Diana wasn't going to be fooled. 'Nowhere.'

'Long time in nowhere,' she commented as Maia hopped onto the bench next to her. 'You missed the whole tour.'

'Did Rory do a good job?' Lorelai queried, budging her own daughter along and sitting down herself. 'I mean, you're not crying, she can't have done it right.'

'Do you enjoy inflicting pain, Lorelai?'

The returnee scoffed. 'I advocate experience!'

'Uh-huh. That's very kind of you.'

Lorelai shrugged her shoulders. 'Well, I thought so.'

'What have you two been up to?' Diana asked, looking at Maia's wide smile.

'Anyone would think you didn't trust me,' answered Lorelai.

Rory laughed. 'Wouldn't that be a travesty?'

'Oh, wouldn't it?'

'Come on,' Maia said, jumping to her feet. 'Is there a bookshop here?'

Lorelai nudged her daughter. 'Your department, hun.'

'My pleasure.' She took Maia's hand. 'We'll find you later.'

After they left, Lorelai sat innocently twiddling her thumbs in her lap for a few minutes. Diana finally grew tired of it and asked, 'Are you going to tell me what's going on?'

'You're imagining things.'

'Yeah, I must be.'

'Do you mind if we stop by the Inn?' Lorelai said suddenly. 'We had a big party in and…'

'You never actually said how you got your job back,' Diana said as they began walking.

'Well, Mia hadn't really employed a permanent manager since I left. According to Sookie she was just so sure I was coming back.'

'And she happened to be right.'

'Mmm. Just lucky for me she had some belief in me. Y'know, I'd love you to meet Mia, she's been like a…' Lorelai trailed off, focussing instead on the negotiating the path ahead.

'So it was nice and easy then?' Diana said, steering her away from the unspoken subject.

'The only thing that was,' Lorelai affirmed as her cell phone began ringing. 'Oh, hang on.' She looked at the display then answered it. 'Hey, Dad, what's up?' She frowned. 'What, now? Well, I am kinda… Okay, then… I was just going over to the Inn, maybe you could… Right. I'll see you…' With a quizzical look, she snapped the phone closed. 'Soon. That was weird.'

'He's coming over?'

'Apparently. He sounded… Strange. You know, more than usual.'

'You think something's wrong?'

'Yeah,' she admitted with a concerned smile. 'Come on.'

Part 6

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