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property of NBC and Dick Wolf. Gilmore Girls is the property of Warner Bros.
FANDOMS/PAIRING: Gilmore Girls/Law & Order: SVU Lorelai/Alex(Claire)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Lorelai just happened to be at the front desk when the stranger walked in, bedraggled and haphazard from the autumn rain, like something out of Clue or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lorelai put on her fake welcome-to-my-business-how-will-you-be-spending-your-money smile. Michel scooted around to grab the woman's bags. Freed from burden, the stranger raised herself to full height and said, in a flat and cold voice, "I have a reservation."
Michel positively beamed. "You must be Claire."
Claire nodded. Her coat was made of warm and sturdy wool. Her leather purse shone with polish. The two items combined might have cost as much as a monthly payment on the inn. If Lorelai were on T.V., she'd be able to name the brands, appropriately obscure and elegant, but all she could think was "purse," "coat," so instead she asked, "You're here alone?"
Claire's cheeks deepened in color. She gazed at Lorelai.
Michel tsked. "Let me check you in. Go away, Lorelai."
The front door opened again. Emily Gilmore swept in and waved at Lorelai.
Lorelai stared down at the carpet, wondering if she could get underneath. Or perhaps just stick her head under.
Emily said, "I have some papers to drop off for Rory."
Lorelai looked up again, at Claire, who was standing straight at the registration desk. Her blonde hair hung limp around her shoulders. Lorelai glanced outside to see if it was still raining.
"Oh, you're still here." Lorelai offered her mother a smile.
"Honestly," Emily said.
"Why didn't you just mail them?"
"Isn't she staying over tonight? Better to get them now than in three days. And I assumed I wasn't invited."
"Well, you assumed right," Lorelai said.
Emily slapped her in the chest with the papers. "Are you very busy? Perhaps we could have lunch."
Claire walked to the stairs. At the banister, she turned around and faintly smiled at Lorelai.
Lorelai kept her eyes on Claire as she said, "I'm busy. Very, very busy."
Emily looked around. "Doing what?"
"Busy becoming a lesbian, mom," Lorelai said, and enjoyed the bliss of shocked silence.
Emily rallied. "You know, I had almost rather hoped you'd become a lesbian as a teenager, instead of..." She gestured dismissively at the lobby, and the papers Lorelai held.
"Well, it certainly would have prevented you from getting pregnant. And whatever else those boys were doing to you. If it had continued up through college... Then you would have had your whole life open after that. To do whatever you wanted."
Lorelai gripped the edge of the desk. "I am doing what I want." She looked at the staircase, but it was empty.
"I suppose you could have done it better," Emily sighed. The sound filled the lobby.
"If I'd become a lesbian?"
Emily huffed, and left via the front door. Lorelai wrinkled her nose. Claire came down the stairs. "Mother?"
Lorelai nodded. "Do you have one?"
"Don't we all."
Rory had in fact come over for dinner. Since Emily knew about it and had given Lorelai an errand, Lorelai felt as if Emily had arranged it. She pointed this out to Rory with such pique that Rory allowed her to forgo spinach on her pizza.
Lorelai, full of pizza and wine, decided the best revenge would be truth. And the look on Rory's face was worth it.
Rory actually dropped a plate. "Grandma said that?"
"What?" Lorelai bent down to pick up the ceramic shards.
"That's so gross!"
Lorelai straightened. "Look, Rory, I raised--"
"No, no. Yes. Rah, rah. Gay pride. I went on marches with you, remember? I signed petitions. I am a safe zone. I am one with the Yale sisterhood. But you're...my mom! You can't--You can't, it's gross!"
"Yale sisterhood? Is that why mom and dad wanted you to go there?"
"I am not having this conversation with you."
Rory covered her ears. "La, la, la."
"Look, I am not going to go dancing naked under the stars. I just thought it would make for amusing dinner conversation. The interesting thing that happened to me today. My mom told me she wished I was a lesbian. Okay?"
Rory stopped singing and squinted at her.
"So, who do you like?"
"Come on. Something must have prompted this. Someone. Someshe."
"Well, the new guest at the inn is rather intriguing. Claire." Lorelai looked away, out the window.
"Really? Her? I saw her ordering at Starbucks this afternoon. She seems so cold."
"Yeah. Distant. Like she's somewhere else. Like she's not really here."
Lorelai looked back at Rory. A frown creased her brow. "Huh. I hadn't noticed. Maybe she just likes to displace when at Starbucks. For ethical reasons, or something."
Rory rolled her eyes.
"So, how was your day, daughter dearest?"
"My mom told me her mom wanted her to become a lesbian."
"Oh, just bite me."
Morning had passed without incident. At noon, Sookie came into the Dragonfly lobby, waving a paper. "Lorelai!"
Lorelai came out from behind the desk.
"Lorelai, I was thinking, we should start advertising on some of these gay bed & breakfast websites. Maybe advertise ourselves as gay friendly. You know, given your newfound--"
"My newfound what?" Lorelai glanced around the lobby to see who was overhearing.
"It's all right, Lorelai. We're modern women. We all read The First Wives Club. Your mother is even thinking of having a party. She asked me to cater and--"
"For the last time, I am not a lesbian!"
Sookie froze. In the silence that followed, Lorelai heard someone clear a throat. Claire stood at the top of the staircase. "Oh," Claire said, taking the first step. "I was just going to see if you wanted drinks. But I guess--"
"I could use a drink," Lorelai said.
"I could use a drink right now." She stomped behind the counter to grab her coat.
Claire descended the stairs. "Sookie, thank you so much for dinner last night. I apologize for how late it was."
Sookie nodded and painfully smiled at her.
Lorelai shrugged into her coat and, with a grunt at Sookie, offered Claire her arm.
Claire took it.
"So, Lorelai?" Sookie regained her voice. "What about the websites?"
"Yes. List us." Lorelai threw up her free hand and waved behind her.
Claire leaned into her shoulder. "You know, I've heard talk of a parade. They're thinking of asking you to be grand marshal."
"You're supposed to be rescuing me from all of this."
"Good point. Let me take you away."
"So, does this happen often?" Claire asked, when they were settled into Luke's, because lunch had sounded better than drinks, because drinks would have required driving to the city.
"What? Me shouting incoherent things in public? Yes. My newfound rumored lesbianism? Only recently. My mother driving me batshit insane? Always."
Claire nodded. "Do you and your mother get along?"
"No, we don't get along." At Claire's wistful expression, Lorelai amended, uncomfortably, "Not that mothers can't get along. They can be great. Do you get along with yours?"
Claire looked down at her dinner roll. She was tearing it into tiny pieces. "No."
"Oh." Lorelai reached over and covered Claire's hand with her own. "Then, do you want to talk--"
She was interrupted by Luke's arrival. He set down two platters of portobello burgers, and then looked meaningfully at their linked hands. "Look, I support you and all, but do you have to bring it here? Is this kind of signal? Because I'm not getting it, Lorelai."
Luke shrugged and sighed. "I don't want to watch, if that's what you're after."
Claire smirked. Lorelai put her head in her free hand. Claire squeezed her fingers and laughed.
Luke grunted and went back to the counter.
"Is it always like this?" Claire asked.
"I've been here a day. Small towns. Knowing everything. It's just... in the big city, no one even makes eye-contact. Much less ever asks a personal question."
Lorelai lifted her head. "How would you ever get to know anyone?"
"You don't." Claire looked out the window. "Not ever."
"What city did you say you were from again?" After wine and pizza, Rory had stayed up late, listing all of the possibilities for a mysterious and icy stranger to come alone to Stars Hollow. They had agreed on spy. Lorelai wanted to be seduced by a secret agent. Maybe Claire could introduce her.
There it was; that hesitation, Claire looking away. "Los Angeles."
Lorelai had seen enough C.S.I. to know when someone was lying to her.
Claire continued. "I wanted to get as far away as possible."
"So, what, this is like death?" Lorelai was smiling, but she felt pissy about the lie. She sat back, releasing Claire's hand. She picked up a French fry.
Claire smiled back, and met her eyes. "This is like heaven."
Lorelai bit into her fry. Girl knew what to say, how to act, how to smile. Lorelai swallowed. "So, what are you, used car salesman, or lawyer?"
Claire leaned forward. "Let's just say, I was the best."
Lorelai took her to the park in the early afternoon, because Claire had wanted to see the park, and Lorelai had wanted to see more of Claire.
"So tell me," Lorelai said, her tone casual, "How do you come to stroll on a weekday afternoon? Are you independently wealthy? Are you dying and blowing your IRA? Wait, that's too personal. Don't answer that." She walked with her shoulder brushing Claire's.
Claire laughed. "I just work from home. Or rather, your home. I'm a publishing editor at Wolfram and Hart."
"The law firm?"
"They're actually publishers of speculative fiction. And self-help books."
"I hear self-help books are where the money's at."
"Any title in particular you'd want to see? You can be a focus group." Claire smiled at her.
Lorelai's face flushed. She plucked an orange leaf from a tree she passed. "Are there books on patience?"
"I suspect you wouldn't be patient enough to read them."
"You know that much about me already? And here I don't know a thing about you."
Claire stopped walking, and faced Lorelai. "What do you want to know?" Her voice was cool, and her eyes were narrowed and focused intently on Lorelai's.
Lorelai tucked the leaf behind her ear, sighed, and asked, "So, are you?"
"Am I what?"
"Gay? Am I gay? Or am I a lawyer, or a used car salesman? Am I Claire? Do I work for a secret society of demons in Los Angeles, or behind that facade, is it all completely ordinary? Completely fucking meaningless. I'm not anything, Lorelai. I'm not even a woman taking a break from the city."
Lorelai mulled that over, and said, "So, you've been with other women."
Claire looked just to the left of eye-contact, at the leaf behind Lorelai's ear. "Yes."
"Because you're a big city girl."
"But your mother never, unlike mine, encouraged it."
"Never." Claire looked down at her hands.
"What would your mother think of this, then?" Lorelai reached out and clasped her fingers. She pulled them down, so that Claire had to step closer. Their hands were between them.
Claire's eyes filled with tears. She blinked, and when she looked away from Lorelai, her jaw setting, Lorelai let go of her hands to wrap herself around Claire's waist. "Hey, it's okay. Whatever it is. You're not about to go religious on me, are you?"
"Hardly." Claire gave a short laugh, and looked back at Lorelai.
Claire settled her hands on Lorelai's upper arms, and sighed.
"What is it?"
Claire tugged her closer, and Lorelai's chin pressed into Claire's shoulder. Claire smelled like perfume, like actual perfume that must have cost real money, and Lorelai sniffed Claire's neck. Repeatedly.
"I hate this place," Claire said, holding her more tightly. "I hate that I'm here."
Claire inhaled, and pulled back far enough to see Lorelai's face. "I'm sorry. We were supposed to kiss, weren't we?"
"Um." Lorelai touched her cheek, flicked tears from her skin.
"Maybe next time?"
"Are you asking me out on a date?" Claire's skin was soft, and Lorelai couldn't quite talk her hand into retreating. She traced soft lips, and then tapped Claire on the nose.
"Well, I'm free...anytime. You're the only person I know."
Lorelai dropped her hand, and stuck it out for Claire to shake. "Trust me, it's best this way. How's Friday night?"
"I have... oh, Friday's great."
"You know grandma is going to be so pissed at you," Rory said over the cell phone as she drove toward Stars Hollow.
Lorelai drummed her fingers on the registration desk and stared at the upper landing. She willed Claire to appear with her brain. "Just tell her I'm on a date with that woman."
Rory's sigh vibrated in her ear. "Do you want to kill her?"
"I'll just tell her you hate her. That'll go over more easily."
Rory hung up on her.
Dinner had been ordered in. Chinese boxes littered Claire's antique bed, and Lorelai was sitting against the headboard, flipping through the channels. "I'm sorry we can't afford to pay for more cable."
"Mm?" Claire put down her chopsticks. "It's fine."
"Do you like formulaic box shows about lawyers in New York City?"
Claire winced. "No."
Lorelai turned the television off.
Claire hugged a pillow. "You know... were I back in... Los Angeles, I'd be so busy with work tonight I wouldn't even think of the TV. Or a date. The concept of free time is...terrifying."
"What, in particular, is terrifying about it?"
Claire rolled her head to the side. "Knowing I can do anything I want, and not quite knowing what to do."
"I could make suggestions."
"I'm all ears."
Lorelai stretched. "Well, I'm on a date. On a Friday night. In a hotel room."
"No need to connect the dots, then. Have you ever kissed a girl?" Claire asked.
Lorelai grinned. "Never while sober."
"You're not sober now."
"That's a good point." Lorelai wriggled against the couch, and tilted her chin back to look at Claire.
"So, maybe we should wait until you are."
Lorelai cupped Claire's chin. "I'm sober enough."
Claire kissed her. Her lips were cool and precise. Lorelai languished in just being kissed, until Claire's tongue parted her lips, and she was coaxed to respond. She leaned forward, offering Claire her tongue. Claire deepened the kiss, and when they broke, Lorelai found her arm curled around Claire's neck, and her body half on Claire's.
She panted. "I know... you hate it here. But I'm glad you're here, anyway."
Claire leaned back against the headboard and raised her eyebrow. "Why's that?"
"You know. Gives me something to do."
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