Characters: Lorelai & Emily
Spoilers: set post-series
Word Count: 1,659
Summary: Emily is sick. Lorelai brings her soup. In a totally non-gloaty fashion.
Author's Note: For The Bechdel Test Comment Ficathon -- more specifically, blackfrancine's prompt 'Gilmore Girls - Emily, Lorelai - That's not the way I remember it.' This got rambly, as them crazy Gilmores tend to!
Emily Gilmore is sick, which -- just between you and Lorelai -- is kind of terrific. And if that sounds a little evil, well, hear her out here.
Emily Gilmore is no mere mortal. Emily Gilmore does not allow sickness to pass through the threshold of her home. Emily Gilmore finds something about being sick vaguely distasteful, like it comes from the same crude impulse as chewing with your mouth open or keeping your shoes on inside the house, like you could choose to not get sick if you weren't quite so plebeian. (Rory's word-of-the-day calendar strikes Lorelai's subconscious again. Zing!) 'Really, Lorelai? Another ear infection?' Do you know how many times Lorelai heard that little gem during her formative years? Do you? Answer: a lot. And it's not like four year old Lorelai was really scheming to get as many ear infections as possible, for the sole purpose of inconveniencing her mother.
Lorelai didn't reach those levels of diabolical frenzy 'til age six at least.
So. Emily Gilmore with a relentless cold = actually kind of awesome. Not that Lorelai's going over to her parents' house to gloat. That would just be unseemly. Even if last Friday's dinner involved a half hour of her mom and Luke bonding (bonding! What is this mad world!) over Lorelai's repulsive eating habits, and now Luke refuses to make her chili cheese fries. But Lorelai Gilmore is not out for vengeance! No sir! She is taking the high road. That's all. And if it turns out Emily's taking the higher road because she's cracked out on cough syrup -- well, that's just an added bonus.
Lorelai steps into her parents' room with a bowl of recently microwaved, totally kickass chicken noodle soup from Sookie. Luke sent some over too, but that went straight into the fridge, with all its vegetables and nutritional value. Bah! She is so not gonna help to further along this creepy, unnatural Mom And Luke Are Buds thing.
Emily is in bed, looking unfairly queenly even in pj's with her hair all messy and a mountain of tissues next to her. Or maybe they're handkerchiefs embroidered by blind nuns in convents. Lorelai doesn't get the chance to ponder this for very long, though, because Emily is also reading--
"Is that a romance novel?"
The book gets shoved under a pillow.
"What? Lorelai, don't be ridiculous. It was -- recommended by Oprah." (Lorelai has always thought that if anyone could sustain a legit rivalry with Oprah, it's Emily Gilmore. They should give her her own afternoon talk show, except instead of helping and inspiring people, she can berate them and break them into pieces and make them question their choice in footware.) "And Rory."
"Yeah, well, Rory has always been bonkers for Fabio. When she was a kid, she went through this weird two week stage where she actually liked to dress up like Fabio. It was all very Shakespeare comedy heroine. Or Amanda Bynes flick, depending on who you ask. Anyway, I think she mostly just did it because she liked that they had the same hair."
"What on earth is a Fabio?" Emily demands.
Emily levels her with a prime disdainful Your voice comes out in Monkey in my head stare. Obviously a trifling thing like illness can't weaken her powers in that department.
"He's on the cover of your -- Oprah recommended ...--" Ah, screw it. "I brought you soup!"
"From Luke?" Ugh. What is that? Is that eagerness? It's at least some pretty hearty approval.
"Guh, no, Mom. From Sookie."
"You and Luke are all right, aren't you?"
"Yes, Mom, we are all right. You revoking his right to make me chili cheese fries hasn't broken us yet. But I won't lie to you, times are tough."
"Oh, Lorelai," Emily says, rolling her eyes. Jeez. Where is this alleged sickness, and when is it gonna show up and cripple her powers of disdain? ... Lorelai thinks, very compassionately.
"Anyway, Sookie's soup is perfection, I promise. A feat of sheer gustatory beauty." (Word of the day calendar strikes again! Having a Yale educated kid is so cramping her style.)
"I won't deny your friend is talented," Emily says, eyeing the soup bowl in Lorelai's hands warily. "But food in the bedroom? Really, Lorelai?"
"I know, I know. I won't let it slip to the DAR ladies, Mom, I swear."
"You'd better not," Emily says, like this is in any way a real threat, like Lorelai gets together with the gals all the time. "But -- well. It does smell very good."
"It is very good." Lorelai pops off the Tupperware lid and sets it on the dresser. Emily cringes like she just got impaled. It's a testament to just how amazing the soup smells that Lorelai doesn't get a twenty minute long lecture, or drawn and quartered.
"Do you need me to feed you?" Lorelai asks, sinking down on the other side of the bed and brandishing a spoon. "I feel like we don't walk that cute-creepy mother/daughter line nearly enough."
"Heaven knows you and Rory have it covered."
"Oh, totally. We once went like forty-five hours where we fed each other, in fact. And if one of us slipped up and put food into our own mouth by accident, the punishment was having to watch a fifteen-minute section of Sweet November."
"Feeding each other. Like newlyweds with cake," Emily surmises flatly.
"Shut up," Lorelai orders, glaring. "You are emphasizing the creepy and 100% downplaying the cute."
Emily snorts, somehow with the grace of a Degas ballerina. "I'm still capable of feeding myself, thank you, Lorelai. It's touching, by the way, that you have so much faith in your decrepit old mother's abilities."
Lorelai snorts. No ballerinas involved. "Oh, please. You're still going to be striking awe into hearts everywhere while I'm gray and bedridden and dying because I lack the required nutrients scientists will eventually discover are only provided by chili cheese fries. You're like the Terminator in high heels."
Emily smiles faintly, clearly getting wayyyy too much satisfaction out of that mental picture.
"Not that you're actually immortal," Lorelai adds. "... you're not immortal, are you?"
"A lady never tells," Emily answers regally, and gets to work on that soup.
There's a nice calm stretch of quiet, where Emily does the rich people equivalent of soup-slurping and Lorelai tries to be nonchalant about digging the romance novel out from under the pillow. She's juuuust about to manage it when--
"Do you remember the time when you hurt your back and I came over to keep an eye on you?" Emily asks.
"Uh, you mean the time when Rory stayed out all night and you were furious at me because you were convinced she'd come home with eight tattoos, three kids, and a toothless redneck husband named Bobby Joe? Yeah. I'd say that incident is pretty damn burned into my brain for all eternity."
Why, Lorelai thinks, does she always, always do this?
She's not sure whether the 'she' in question is her or her mother.
"Yes," Emily says, proving that tones can be bone-chillingly frosty even when they're also congested. "That."
"Good times," Lorelai deadpans after an awkward silence.
She thinks that maybe the discussion's over, and that, hey, maybe she should head back to the inn before Michel starts an all-out rivalry with the couple in room seven who keep leaving their towels in weird places, because guess what, she doesn't really want to get sued because Michel challenges some guy to a duel over towels. Even if one was draped on the ceiling fan. And the other one was in the fireplace.
And then, so stiffly and quietly that Lorelai almost thinks she's hallucinating, Emily says, "That's not the way I remember it."
Lorelai doesn't know what to do. This thing -- this trying to be a better daughter thing, this wanting to be a better daughter thing -- is so much harder than towels.
"It's not?" she asks, and sounds stupidly young.
Emily is quiet for a long time. Then, more steadily: "How could it be, with that awful mashed-bananas-on-toast monstrosity casting a pall over everything?"
"Ahhh, yes," Lorelai says, starting to smile. "The mashed bananas on toast. Your invention, by the way, might I add."
"I never thought it sounded appealing. You were the one who enjoyed it when you were a child! Clearly your tastebuds were malfunctioning."
"Yeah, um, that's not the way I remember it, Mummy dearest--..."
Somehow, this turns into the longest discussion they've had in awhile. They talk about the unholy banana toast and Lorelai's irrational childhood phobia of house plants and the time that she caught some of Dracula on TV and spent one very eventful afternoon convinced that Emily was a vampire and that green dress that was the only article of clothing the two of them have ever loved with equal fervor and how Lorelai used to hide her teeth around the house as she lost them to keep the tooth fairy on her toes. For the first time in ages, her childhood doesn't seem like a grave cautionary tale for kids who are born with the wrong parents.
They’re actually in the middle of laughing – laughing, both of them, together, rather than callously at the other’s misfortune – when her dad walks in.
"Lorelai! I didn't expect to see you here. To what do we owe the pleasure?"
"Oh, I just thought I'd drop by to bring the invalid some soup for lunch."
"Invalid," Emily scoffs, not unsmilingly. "How nice."
"Lunch?" Richard says, and consults his watch. "Why, it's nearly four thirty."
The three of them go quiet in unspoken acknowledgment of this minor -- no, you know what, major -- miracle.
"Yeah, well," Lorelai says at last. "Time flies when you're having fun, huh, Mom?"
Emily (sound the alarm, mark your calendars) actually smiles. "Yes. Something like that."