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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.
Where you thirst and you hunger for justice and right,
And your heart is a pure flame of man's constant night,
In your eyes, faint
As the singing of a lark.
- No Frontiers
Lorelai sank lower in her chair. The chair's soft velvet seemed to swallow her up and hold her in place in front of the play onstage. Her senses were overloaded from the bright colors and loud music. She'd expected The Wizard of Oz, not The Wizard of Oz cracked out with songs she didn't know the lyrics to and two women with ridiculous hair.
Well, one woman with ridiculous hair. The other woman was just green.
Rory poked her shoulder. Lorelai tried to poke her back, but the chair held her fast. This excursion to the city had been Rory's thing. She'd won tickets through her school, and had invited Paris and given Lorelai two tickets. Lorelai had given one to Luke, who sat next to her. He seemed comfortable in his chair. In fact...
He looked riveted.
Paris looked bored, like herself, probably because this was her third viewing of Wicked. She'd announced as much on the train, and was only coming because these were good seats, and because she didn't want Rory to embarrass herself in New York. Or maybe she did want Rory to embarrass herself, and just wanted to witness it. Lorelai wouldn't put it past her.
Rory didn't want Lorelai to embarrass herself, and Lorelai didn't want Luke to embarrass himself, and so it was a perfect world. Except for the chair. And the play. Lorelai sighed.
Rory poked her again. "Try not to snore."
Lorelai narrowed her eyes at her daughter. "Sorry. I didn't know it would be so... um... gay."
Rory glanced at the stage, and then back at Lorelai. "Didn't you read the book?"
"Did it have a woman with a ripped bodice on the cover? Or was perhaps called Cosmopolitan?"
"Then I did not read it."
Lorelai grunted and went back to sulking. She considered escaping to the bathroom. Damn Rory for winning center seats. She craned her neck to look around. To her right, above Luke's head, there were balcony seats along the wall. Too bad Rory hadn't swung those, because then Lorelai could chill.
The urge to toss popcorn at the actresses would be overwhelming, though, from up there. She supposed that's why they didn't sell popcorn at the theater. They did sell alcohol... She could throw ice.
Imagining ice raining down cheered her. She was about to turn around and fantasize about melting the wicked witch when a woman caught her eye. Blonde, and leaning over the railing to see the stage, which exposed her to the peripheral lighting. Everyone else in her balcony box was silhouetted, so it was a trick of the light that Lorelai saw her at all.
Later, Lorelai would blame it on the psychedelic experience of theater, because the woman in the light was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Hard, narrow features, smooth skin--or maybe that was just the light--and hair that cascaded over her shoulders like--okay, that was definitely the light.
Delicate frames that accentuated her cheekbones and made her look wickedly intelligent. Lorelai knew she was looking at a woman who might know everything. Like Eve.
Okay, wrong play.
Lorelai kept staring. The woman looked down, seemingly right at her, just as the house lights came up.
"Intermission, mom." Rory tugged on her shoulder.
Lorelai turned around and swatted, and then looked back at the balcony. The woman was still looking straight at her.
"My name is Lorelai," Lorelai mouthed.
"I know that, dork," said Rory.
"What?" The woman mouthed back. Someone in the balcony called to her, and she stood, keeping her eyes on Lorelai.
"Lorelai," Lorelai mouthed.
Someone behind the woman said something, and the woman turned away and disappeared through the curtains.
"Mom, this is your only chance to pee for the next two hours."
"I'm coming, I'm coming."
In the lobby, Lorelai trailed behind Rory and Paris, who were holding hands. She found this odd, but was distracted by looking around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the blonde.
"Will you buy us a drink, mom?" Rory asked.
Paris grinned, and said, "Yeah, mom."
"I will buy you a soda. That's like, half a Seven and Seven right there! Half a rum and coke!"
Rory groaned and walked off with Paris.
"I don't like her," said Lorelai.
Luke wandered up to her side. "Who, Paris?"
Lorelai grunted. "I think she's taking advantage of my daughter."
"I'm going to hit the can," Luke said.
Lorelai kept pushing her way through the throngs of well-dressed people to the center of the lobby. On the grand stairway that led down from the balcony, Lorelai saw her again. Different lighting, same blonde.
A lump formed in her throat and her stomach twisted. She tried to work up the courage to move forward, but her legs were frozen. So she just stood in the middle of the lobby and stared as people moved around her.
The woman was looking around, staring furtively into the corners of the room, scanning heads. Lorelai realized the woman was looking for her. She took a step forward. And that's when she saw the other woman. The stupid, tall and dark-featured and classically beautiful woman that Lorelai hated immediately, just for standing next to the blonde. Lorelai was glad that the other woman's beauty didn't make her heart pound the same way the blonde's did, because then she'd have a heart attack right in the middle of Broadway and Rory would never forgive her.
The dark woman held the blonde's elbow. Lorelai thought of looking away.
The blonde found Lorelai in the crowd. Their eyes met, and held.
The dark woman whispered something in the blonde's ear, and then looked in her direction. Lorelai's gaze traveled to her face. Black eyes stared at her. The back of Lorelai's neck tingled. The dark woman made her feel exposed, and like she was going to be killed if she moved an inch.
The blonde took another step down the stairs, coming toward her. Half-smiling. Flanked by the dark woman.
Lorelai turned and fled.
She pushed through the crowd to the theater exit, and onto the street. The air's coldness shocked her. She took deep breaths, filling her lungs with ice, and then looked over her shoulder. The theater doors remained closed.
A few men stood by an alleyway, smoking. In front of her, four lanes of traffic moved and honked and glowed yellow and red. She stumbled sideways, and found a tree, spindley and half-dead from pollution. A little fence protected its tiny square of earth. She stepped over the fence, and hugged the tree. She clung to the wood, and pressed her cheek against the knots, and tried to relive what had just happened. This time, without the fear.
Olivia looked at Alex. "Who was that?"
"I've never seen her before in my life."
"What made you see her now?"
Alex took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "She seemed... nice."
"I guess. Definitely not a lawyer. Or a cop. She looked...earthy. Like she was from Wisconsin or something."
Alex nudged her.
Olivia shrugged. "Whoever she is... She's not from around here."
"Going to follow her?"
"I think I scared her."
"I can't imagine how."
Alex looked one more time at the doorway, and then followed Olivia back to their seats.
Lorelai's cell phone vibrated against her thigh. She let go of the tree and dug the phone out of her pocket. On the display was a text message from Rory, reading "wtf."
Painstakingly, Lorelai typed back, "Don't use that kind of language. I'm getting some fresh air."
Rory replied, "If you're worried about the gay, there's some hot, black dude onstage now."
"Get his number." Lorelai snapped the phone shut. Times Square. She could have fun at Broadway and Times Square. She started walking.
A man waved at her from the entrance to a peep show. "Looking for a good time?"
"Not that kind of good time."
The man grinned. "Just good clean fun, I promise."
"I've heard that one before," she said, but she started toward him anyway, crossing the street. Her thoughts were jumbled inside of her head and if she just kept walking, she'd go crazy. A peep show might help her decide if seeing a woman in a balcony and wanting to be with her right then meant that she was gay. Peep shows were full of attractive, naked women, as far as she knew. And she wasn't gay, right? It was just the play. Or P.M.S.
"How much?" She said, as the man ushered her into the small, well-lit shop.
"Twenty-five cents a peep."
Lorelai blinked. "Are you kidding?"
He grinned. "Well, that's for 20 seconds."
She dug a few quarters out of her purse. He showed her how to situate herself into the cubicle and feed the money in. Then a blonde woman appeared, completely naked, with fake breasts and a bikini wax that Lorelai winced to see. She was gyrating to music Lorelai couldn't hear. As Lorelai watched, the woman spread her asscheeks and ground in front of Lorelai's cube.
Lorelai grunted. "Latte?"
"Well, it's reheated McDonalds stuff."
She accepted the styrofoam cup that was pushed into her hand, but didn't take her eyes off the dancing until the cubicle went dark again.
"What did you think?" The man asked.
"I don't think I'm gay."
He chuckled. "Is that good?"
"Yes. It's good. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that. Tonight... it's good."
"Score one for the moral majority."
"Now, now. I did just medically justify the need for peep shows."
"And I thank you very much."
She crept out from the cubicle, and let herself be waved into an old, overstuffed chair with three legs and a brick.
The man was well-dressed, and held a cup of coffee. "Play not any good?"
Lorelai grinned. "Do you see a lot of people at intermission?"
"Oh, sure. Most of my trade is tourists." He tapped a postcard rack. "And you definitely look like a tourist."
"Let me guess."
He folded his arms, and said, "Connecticut."
"How'd you know?"
"You took the train in, because if you'd flown, you'd have just gone straight back to your hotel. And you don't have the nasal pitch of the Jersey shore. They usually come up for matinees, anyhow."
"Actually, my daughter won the tickets." She looked him over, and then dug in her purse. "I run a bed in breakfast. You and your girls ever think about getting away from the city, you should come on down. Best food in the mid-Atlantic." She offered him a card.
He took it. "Lorelai Gilmore."
He tucked the card into his suit pocket.
Her phone vibrated. She unsnapped it and read the message. "My daughter's waiting outside. I guess I'd better go."
"We do have a mother-daughter special."
Lorelai grinned and wrinkled her nose. "Ew. Thanks for the coffee."
He took her cup from her, and held open the door. "Enjoy the rest of your trip."
Rory, Paris, and Luke were across the street. She waved. Rory waved back, and then squinted at the man beside her. When Lorelai had rejoined the group, Rory said, "What were you doing with a pimp?"
"He wasn't a pimp. He was a nice, normal businessman."
"He didn't have a feather boa..."
"I invited him to the Dragonfly."
Lorelai wrapped her arm around Rory's waist. "How was the show?"
"The good thing about theater," Paris said, "Is that it's a different experience every time."
"That's a good thing?"
"It's what makes life exciting." Paris spoke with the confidence that only came from wealthy, spoiled teenagers who thought themselves the next coming of Plato.
Lorelai wrapped her free arm around Paris's waist. "One could use a little less excitement."
Luke grunted his agreement.
Lorelai smiled. She was going to go home, pop The Wizard of Oz into her VCR, and think of New York as a crazy dream. She'd feel better that way. The night had been an apparition.
People who looked that sexy in glasses only existed on television, anyway.
Of all the bed and breakfasts in all of Connecticut, the blonde walked into the Dragonfly at twilight. Lorelai didn't see her right away, because she was standing on a stepladder trying to affix a star to the top of a Christmas tree. Michel's voice caught her attention.
"What did you say your reservation was under?"
A woman stumbled over her words. "Bowes. Clara Bowes."
Lorelai looked around the tree.
The blonde stood casually next to Michel's reception desk. A balding man stood next to her. He shifted his weight while Michel typed into the computer.
Lorelai took a step down the ladder, and missed the rung.
She landed hard on her ass, and cried out. Michel ran around the desk. "Lorelai! I told you that you should have had a spotter."
"The ladder's only three feet high," Lorelai said, and cringed. She looked again, and the woman was still there. Lorelai had already forgotten the name she'd given at the desk. Michel helped her up. Lorelai blinked. The woman was still there. Lorelai closed her eyes and counted to ten. When she opened them, the blonde woman was staring at her.
The balding man took the woman's elbow. "Do you know her?" He hissed.
"I've never seen her before in my life," said the woman. With obvious effort, she looked away from Lorelai, and back at Michel.
"This is important," the man said.
"I've never seen her."
"Perhaps on the promotional brochures," Michel suggested.
The woman exhaled.
The man nodded. "Perhaps there."
"Can you take care of this? I need to freshen up," the woman said, heading toward the bathroom.
Michel took the man's credit card. "Thank you, Mr. Hammond."
Hammond smiled politely.
Lorelai waited another ten seconds, and then dashed to the bathroom.
The woman stood at the counter. Her eyes were red, and she stared at herself in the mirror. The sink was running.
"You," Lorelai said.
The woman inhaled. Her breath sounded choked with tears. "You can't tell anyone."
The woman twisted and came to her, covering her mouth and pushing her against the bathroom door. "You can't tell anyone it's me. Please."
Lorelai tried to breathe. She pulled away from the woman's hand, coughing. "You remember me."
"You can't tell anyone."
Lorelai gasped. "I don't even know who you are."
The woman's tears fell from her cheeks onto her wrist. Lorelai reached up and grabbed the hand that had been covering her mouth, and was now on her cheek. "Who are you?"
"I don't know."
Lorelai straightened, pushing away from the door. "What do I call you?"
The woman turned away. Lorelai followed her, unwilling to let go of her, to let her disappear and be unreal again. She kept her hand on the woman's wrist, and wrapped her other around the woman's waist, pressing against her back. "Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck."
"This wasn't what I expected, either." The woman let out a short, hoarse laugh. "Claire. Call me Claire."
Claire turned around in Lorelai's arms, and gripped her shoulders. "I never thought I'd see you again."
Lorelai leaned in, pressing her forehead to Claire's. "Maybe this isn't real."
Claire chuckled, bitterly. "My life isn't real. Hasn't been real."
"Then..." Lorelai swallowed.
"I hope you're thinking about kissing me, because I've been thinking about that for years."
"Years? It wasn't last night I was walking on Broadway?"
"You know, I have the original cast recording. I remember the song that was playing when I saw you. It was--"
Lorelai kissed her. Claire opened her mouth and moaned. The weight on Lorelai's shoulders increased as Claire sagged, and Lorelai pivoted them, pushing Claire against the doorway She kissed Claire open mouth to open mouth. Claire's heart beat rapidly under her hand.
"Oh god," Claire said, when she wrenched her mouth away. "We can't--"
"It's not safe."
"Is that man outside your husband?"
Claire's eyes widened, and she seemed to be aware of her surroundings for the first time. She kept her hands on Lorelai's shoulders, but she was looking around the bathroom. "No, he's not my husband. He's leaving as soon as I'm checked in."
"Then... don't worry."
Claire smiled. She let go of Lorelai long enough to adjust her glasses. "You don't know who I am?"
"I've never kissed a woman in my life."
"Okay, that's a total lie."
"You're a bad liar. That could... be bad."
"I still don't know who you are," Lorelai said. She found it hard to breathe. Her hands would be trembling if she weren't gripping Claire so hard.
"Fair enough." Claire kissed her, cupping her cheeks in her hands and nipping at her mouth until Lorelai parted her lips. Claire's tongue slid along hers and Lorelai closed her eyes. She drew back only when her knees were beginning to buckle.
"Okay, I've never kissed a woman like that."
Claire smirked. Her skin had faded to back a paleness, as if she had never been crying.
Lorelai stepped back, and took Claire's hand. "Come to dinner with me."
"Do you like diners?"
If Lorelai's lips weren't so swollen, and Claire's grip on her hand so tight, she could have sworn Claire looked a little dismayed.
"You have a kid?" Claire asked, as they walked hand in hand toward Luke's.
"Just one. She's going to Yale."
"Yale. You have a kid that's going to Yale."
Claire stopped. "I'd like to kiss you."
"People will see."
Claire nodded, and looked at the streetlights.
"Maybe you could just pretend to kiss me."
"What would that entail?"
"Close your eyes."
Claire closed her eyes.
Lorelai kissed her fingers, and then pressed them to Claire's lips. Claire smiled against them. When she tried to draw back, Claire captured her wrist, and held her hand against her mouth, and kissed her palm.
"Fake kissing," Lorelai said, "Can be pretty awesome."
"This is the strangest town."
"That's how I felt in New York," Lorelai said, taking Claire's hand in hers again.
"Did you ever go back?"
"Never. A thousand times."
Claire looked at Luke's.
Lorelai frowned. "Are you going back?"
"I don't know. Someday. To die."
Lorelai remembered that Claire hadn't come to Stars Hollow just to see her. She bit her tongue until it hurt to keep herself from asking the real reason. Whatever it was, she didn't want to know. Already jealousy twisted in her stomach. She pushed open the door to Luke's and ushered Claire to the booth where Paris and Rory were waiting. "This is Claire."
"Hi, Claire," Rory said.
Claire sat in the inside of the booth, resting her temple against the window. Lorelai sat close enough so that their legs were touching, and that was enough. She could pretend to pay attention to what Rory and Paris were saying. Luke brought dinner. Claire was looking out at night in Stars Hollow, and she was smiling faintly.
Lorelai took Claire's hand, and marveled that in all the times she'd thought of Claire, had seen her in dreams and on street corners, she had never imagined Claire happy.
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