Notes: Gilmore Girls and characters herein property of not me. Not for profit. Much thanks to Mosca and Circusgirl.


When Lorelai stopped singing her brilliant as Harry Chapin could dream of composing packing song to the tune of 'Sledgehammer,' Luke looked up. "Hey, don't stop on my account."

"Did you hide a little present for me as a reward?" Lorelai had found a wrapped gift in one of Luke's endless boxes of pipe fitters and random copper things. The gift almost made her forget the box of Star Trek paperbacks, but she wrote a note on her hand.

"Oh, that." He said, "It was for your graduation."

She blinked. "Three years ago?"

"I bought it a few weeks before. Figured you probably wouldn't fail your finals." He walked over and sat down next to her.

"And never gave it to me."

"We did have a little disagreement around then."

She looked down at the package. "Oooooh, yeah. The Garfield stationery go to hell fight --"

"Is that what you call it?"

"I bet you have a different name for it."

"I haven't actually named the fight."

She said, "I would have invited you, if we hadn't been fighting, you know. The graduation, not the ceremony where I named our fight."

"And I would have gone. To your graduation."

"There's a short film of that ceremony that actually won a prize in the Berlin Film Festival last year." He stared at her and, of course, she continued. Way better than packing. Or reading Star Trek novels. "My parents hired this guy to film the ceremony and he cut it all up, added this amazing soundtrack made up entirely of accordions and bird calls and subtitles from the Iliad."

"Ah, you're not serious."

"I am, a little. He submitted the film to the Berlin Film Festival and it was shown, but no prize. They didn't get it, I think. So behind the times, those crazy Berliners. No wonder JFK thought being a Berliner meant being a donut."

He pointed at the gift still in her lap. "You can open it, if you want."

"You could have given it to me when we made up."

He glanced at her. "When did you get patient?"

"Well, I'm getting older, treasuring every moment --"

"Getting out of packing." He took the gift from her as she nodded. Damn his ability to see through her. "I shoved it in a box and then I thought I'd give it to Jess when he graduated which turned out to be a stupid idea."

"I can't believe you were going to give my gift to Jess. Also, I can't believe that you bought something that Jess and I would both like. He likes a chunky heel, I like a wedge or a stiletto; he likes rayon, I prefer silk." She snatched back the gift. "I am no longer patient. Screw treasuring moments, I want gifts."

She opened it and said, "It's a book. You bought me the complete Shakespeare. Wow."

"We were talking in the diner before your graduation, you were joking about something, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Here," he said, taking it, "I'll get you store credit at Andrew's."

"No, you won't." She snatched it back. "It's mine, you got it for me." She kissed his cheek and started flipping through it. "I'm going to read this whole thing. Start to finish, just you watch."

"Instead of helping me pack, right? Pack for our place?"

She said, "sssssssssh" and opened the book. "I'm trying to read here, Luke."


They had lunch now. Stilted polite lunches like Lorelai was Emily and Rory was Lorelai. It was better than when they weren't talking at all, but only by a little, a teeny smidge of better. At least, Lorelai thought, it wasn't Emily.

They had their talking like they were strangers hellos and how are things at your job and how are things at yours and it was like talking to a guest at the Inn. Worse, it was a lot like talking to Emily.

Rory said, "Were you actually reading when I came in?"

"I was actually reading. An actual book with big words and paragraphs and footnotes and even a glossary. You're surprised?"

"I'm not surprised, just, you're usually not so engrossed in a book that you bring it with you. Is there a Bangles biography out? Really thick Jimmy Choo catalog?" Rory even threw a smile so it didn't sound quite as condescending as it was. She had that over Emily, she could still smile and look like a friendly kitten.

"It's the complete works of Shakespeare and I've already finished all the sonnets and the poems. I started at the back, now I'm reading the plays in random order. Is there a Bangles biography out? Because if there is, I want to get to it right after this."

"I have no idea," Rory said. "Why are you reading Shakespeare?"

"It's my graduation gift. From Luke."

"Kinda late."

"We found it when we were packing his apartment up. He was packing, I was entertaining. And then I was reading."

Rory stared for a moment. They used to have a rhythm, Lorelai thought. Even when answers were surprising, and now it was awkward silence, awkward talk, awkward silence. Soundtrack by Philip Glass.

Then Rory said, "So it's like a Proust thing, huh? Figure this time you'll be able to finish the book, because I wouldn't lay odds on that one."

"And that was what she said right before I marched straight out," Lorelai told Sookie. "Nice, huh? Great kid I raised."

"You marched out?"

Lorelai sighed. "I told her that was nice and I was leaving now and that she could pay for lunch this time. And then I marched out."

Sookie looked sad. "Maybe she didn't mean it that way. Maybe she meant she wouldn't bet on you finishing because you so obviously would." When Lorelai didn't answer, Sookie said, "What's the Proust connection? Should I know that?"

Lorelai fidgeted. "Max lent me this Proust book, I never finished it, I tried to return it to him, we broke up. The first time. Not the broken engagement time."

"Ah," Sookie said. "So it was not only a mean thing to say but an insightful thing to say. Those are the meanest of all."

"They so are. And, it was like she was using classified information against me. I'm undercover for the CIA, she's Karl Rove."

"She's just angry," Sookie said. "And it's completely different. Max, Luke. You know that, right?"

"Yeah, I do." Sookie kept looking with her big I'm listening eyes and Lorelai kept smiling and not opening her mouth.

Finally, Sookie said, "So how far are you in the book?"

"Only twenty plays to go."


Every night was movie night now. If Lorelai was going to read plays that were meant to be performed, she was going to see them with actors who knew the Prime Directive. Luke said, "So what item from the menu is going to be crossed out after tonight?"

"Hey, I said I was sorry. I thought you'd enjoy the movie, it had Captain Picard. I know you love those Starfleet captains."

Luke said, "You'd read the play. You didn't warn me."

"I didn't actually anticipate that you would be so grossed out by Titus Andronicus that you would get rid of any kind of meat pie on your menu. I'm sorry." She had anticipated a little grossing out, though, so that had been extra fun.

"And the part where you started saying I could serve pie made from Taylor, that wasn't a factor at all." Luke sighed and sat down next to her. "Jeez, I'm still grossed out."

"This movie has Keanu Reeves," she said, grinning.

He tapped the book and said, "You're color-coding."

"I am. Pink for ones I liked, yellow for 'eh' and red for 'this makes me wants to die it's so boring.' Or awful. Or gross."

"Titus Andronicus is red, right?"

"Oh, yeah. Especially since I had the Taylor pie thoughts before I even saw the movie."

"Please, I will pay you to never say those two words together again."

"Taylor and --"

"Don't," he said. "Start the movie. Keanu Reeves, right?"

She liked to tell him about the plays in the morning over breakfast at the diner. This one was actually funny, this one made her fall asleep, this one actually did have a perfect part for Keanu Reeves.

She said, "I have now read the world's greatest stage direction. And I already knew it, but I've now read it in context."

"You're very proud of yourself." Luke filled her coffee and waited for the rest.

"Yes, I am. I only have ten plays left to read. I will soon to be able to say I've read everything Shakespeare ever wrote. If I ever meet Kenneth Branagh? We'll be able to talk for hours and hours. Favorite sonnets, favorite plays. Oh, those Wars of the Roses. That Warwick. We'll laugh and laugh and it's all thanks to you."

"Glad I could help. So, what is the world's greatest stage direction?"

She said, "Can I get a pie, Luke? A special pie? With a special ingredient? Can I get Taylor --"

"Get out," he said. She leaned against the counter and kissed him.

"You should follow me out, then it works better."

"Just pretend I did, okay?"

She pretended to run and as she opened the door she said, "Exit, pursued by a bear. See? Greatest stage direction ever. That Willy, he could really write."


Lorelai had called Sookie about Inn business. As she walked from the house to the diner, she was thinking of something else and she said, "I want to be Anne Bancroft. But I don't know if I can."

"Sweetie? You know Anne Bancroft just died, right?"

Lorelai shook her head. "No, I know, it's a tragedy. But she was married for years and years and years to Mel Brooks, she made that work."

Sookie said, "I think you should want to be Joanne Woodward."

"Married to Paul Newman?"

"Married to Paul Newman and still alive. I think if you're striving to be someone it should absolutely be someone who is still alive. Not that Anne Bancroft wasn't a wonderful woman and very sexy. But Paul Newman has a better ass."

"All that race car driving, he better have. You don't see Mel Brooks going 200 miles per hour. I bet Anne Bancroft appreciated that."

Sookie giggled. "Sure, but I still say Joanne Woodward. She's a good role model and you can be her. You have that in you and more."

"I'm Wonder Woman," Lorelai said. "How many divorces has Linda Carter had?"

"Not really up on that one. It doesn't matter. You're you and you don't need to worry."

Lorelai stopped in front of the diner. "I've had some bumps recently with my super-powers there. Look at the fruit of my loins. Look at --"

"I'm not listening to the list. Go be Joanne Woodward!"

"Anne Bancroft," she said as she walked into the diner, "because Mel Brooks is brilliant at more than salad dressing and acting and probably has a fantastic ass." Luke looked up with a glare and she made an 'oh, please' face. "Bye." Then she said to Luke, "We were done. I wasn't giving in to your weak little glare."

She sat down at the counter and pulled out her book. She said, "I need to go to Doose's --"

Luke put a new red highlighter on the counter. "You're still reading the history ones, right? Richard the Third, Henry the Eighth, all that?"

She took the pen and smiled. "I so should not have saved those for the last."

"Eat your vegetables first," he said.

"Never eat them at all," she said, leaning over to kiss him.


She was reading on the couch when he got home. To their place, their very very fine place with no cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard. He sat down next to her and said, "We're done with the Shakespeare movies now, right?"

"The ones I can find on Netflix, yes. But we still have the Shakespeare-*derived* ones. Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Ran. Guess which one is tonight?"

"None, please." He put his feet up on the table and lay back.

"You guessed right. Stupid mailman. Makes me miss Kirk." She sighed. "Rory didn't think I could finish reading this book."

She waited for him to say something, but what was there? He finally said, "She was wrong, wasn't she? You're almost done."

And that wasn't exactly the point even if it was one of the points. "It's funny how people always quote Polonius, like my Gran, me, and he's so the Taylor of Denmark. No one should ever quote Taylor." Luke kept looking at her and he was much harder to resist than Sookie.

She said, "I used to think that there was this one thing I did right, not too many mistakes, got that one thing down and now I think I'm Polonius. I've got Hamlet all figured out, he just loves my daughter Ophelia and hey, here's a good idea, I'm going to hide behind this curtain. La, la, la, I'm so smart, hey, don't borrow anything either. Maybe I'm worse, maybe I'm Emily and did she want those things or did I and what am I doing?"

He said, "But you've nearly finished that book."

She laughed and looked down. "That I have. Last play. You're right." She pushed her glasses up on her nose and said, "And you're reading this next."

He pulled her closer and muttered, "No way, no how."


It was an excellent omen for the horrifying ordeal ahead of her. Awkward Lunch with Rory was, at Rory's request, Awkward Brunch with Rory and the evil grandparents. Did Shakespeare even mention Polonius's parents? Lorelai rang the bell at her parents' door and thought, cry havoc and all that. Which was Richard III and not Hamlet at all but nobody was going to call her on that. Rory hadn't learned pedantic telepathy. They probably taught that in the third year of Yale and so Rory missed out there.

She made it through the first five minutes by singing "When You're A Jet" in her head. Then Emily bleated, "Lorelai, why is your purse so heavy? Are you carrying all your money in silver dollars now?"

"No, Mother, it's a book."

Rory said, "You're still reading the Shakespeare?" She was smiling but Lorelai didn't trust that she could read Rory anymore so who knew what that meant.

"I'm not reading it anymore, since I finished it. This morning. Henry VIII, ended with 'if they hold when their ladies bid them clap.' Didn't think I'd get that far, did you?"

Emily said, "And you memorized the last line. How impressive, Lorelai."

"You're just thinking I flipped ahead to the last line and only read that."

"Did you know that performing Henry VIII is the play that burned down the Globe Theater?" Emily looked particularly evil as she said it, like she'd held the match in question. "They shot off cannons at the end and the wood theater went up in the conflagration."

Rory sat up and said, "I did. How do you, Grandma?"

"Doesn't everyone? Didn't you, Lorelai?"

Lorelai rolled her eyes and said, "No, I didn't. I missed that special on the Theater Disaster Channel, darn that cable package."

"You did know, Mom," Rory said. "When I took that test at Chilton, you quizzed me on it. You even made a joke about not hiring an unfrozen caveman as a stage manager because who else wouldn't know that fire plus wood was bad? Outside a fireplace, of course." She said, "I'm glad you finished it, Mom."

"Really? Not upset you lost on that bet, kiddo?"

"Completely not upset. The opposite of upset," she said quickly. Like there was rhythm.

"Shouldn't the opposite of upset be downset?"

"If it were, I'd be the definition of downset. Really, Mom," she said, "Bid them ladies to start clapping."

Emily stood up and said, "I'm going to find Richard and make sure he doesn't miss all the applause."

After she'd left the room, Rory said, "I am sorry I said that."

"So sorry you didn't feel like mentioning it the four times we've seen each other since then?"

Rory found an interesting spot on the carpet to memorize. "Well, yes."

"So you weren't waiting to see if I actually finished it to apologize?"

"No, absolutely no." Rory finally looked up. "It's been a weird summer, I guess."

And that was all she'd get, Lorelai was pretty sure. For now. She finished the book, she could be Joanne Woodward. She took a deep breath and said, "Hey, guess what new job Kirk has this week."


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