SPOILERS: minor for Paris is Burning
PAIRING: Lorelai/Max
SUMMARY: It's Rory's graduation day, and Max reenters Lorelai's life.
DISCLAIMER: Gilmore Girls doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the WB, Dorothy Parker Drank Here, and maybe a few other people all of whom are emphatically not me.

Graduation Day

by FGWriter

Wow. It was hard to believe it was all over. It was also hard to believe that stuffy old Chilton could look so cheerful, with balloons and bunting and flowers everywhere. Rory had told her Graduation Day was a ceremony that outdid all others, but Lorelai hadn't believed her. Sookie was beside herself with delight at it all, and even Michel was impressed in his dryly sarcastic French way.

"Oh, look, gargoyles," he'd drawled as they drove up. "Where are the dungeons?"

"Where I'll put you if you don't tell Rory what a good job she's done," she'd snapped back.

Emily and Richard were taking roll after roll of pictures of their "little valedictorian," some of them with Rory flaunting her high school diploma, others with the now-tattered letter of acceptance to Harvard. Lorelai left them to it and went in search of punch. Saying "I'm so proud of you!" every 15 nanoseconds really made your mouth go dry.

She was halfway to the refreshment tables when she saw Max. He was standing by a door squinting into the crowd as if he was looking for someone. It couldn't be her. She knew it couldn't be her. She hadn't dared go back to Chilton for a parent-teacher anything for the rest of Rory's sophomore year, and all through Jr year Emily accompanied them both like some sort of particularly chilly chaperone. Even so, Lorelai hadn't dared go to the lit classes until Sr year. It had still been a mistake. It hurt like a slap to see him even after all that time, they stared at each other like a couple of star-struck teenagers, and he must have misspelled or misspoke a dozen words in that one wretched hour. Rory said the students called him "George W Medina" for the rest of the year.

They hadn't even talked on the phone. Nor had she been able to give that stupid book back yet. She'd waited for a new Chilton scandal to distract Il Duce and the rest of the prigs before she sent the book to school with Rory, but Rory came back and said he'd been waving a new copy in class and she hadn't dared take the original one out of her backpack. So that stupid gilt-edged, leather-bound thing sat among her paperbacks, looking like Emily at her stuffiest sitting among a set of casual kids at a slumber party. Every time Lorelai looked at it, she was reminded of two things.

She really, really liked Max Medina. And she really, really, *really* hated Proust.

This was ridiculous. She was a grown woman. He was a grown man. They could be mature about this. He stepped forward.

She scrambled up a set of stairs and hid behind a particularly ugly gargoyle.

She scowled between the gargoyle's ears as Max headed in her direction, but he stopped before he reached the stairs and started talking to someone. She couldn't see the other person, but there was no mistaking Il Duce's dry pompous tones. It was hard to hear, she shouldn't be eavesdropping anyway... and she almost strained something trying to make out every wind-whipped word.

"...passed my probation with flying colors..."

"...highly irregular..."

"...no question of favoritism or anything else dubious, you have to admit that..."


"... no rule against it. Not anymore..."

"You're determined."

"Yes. And I want to know what you will do. 'Cause I'm ready to do anything..."

"You're right, I can't stop you. But you're making a mistake..."

"Not this time."

Well that made a load of sense. Not!

She was just about to come out of her hiding hole when she saw Max head across the perfectly manicured lawn to her parents and her daughter.

Emily got that nasty lemon-sucking tight-lipped look when he walked up. Lorelai knew that look all too well; it was usually aimed at her when she'd done something particularly outrageous. But to her surprise, Emily had, for once, forgiven her for the Max thing, even though she did all in her considerable power to make sure they were kept as far apart as possible. In one of those rare, rare moments of true emotion Emily had told her that she wasn't mad at Lorelai for kissing Max anymore - she was mad at Max for breaking Lorelai's heart. The feeling hadn't lasted, of course - Lorelai had soon done something stupid and gotten on her mother's bad side again - but still she treasured that tiny moment of maternal tenderness.

Max was smiling at Rory, probably congratulating her. Then he said something to Richard and Emily that added a case of lemons and three grapefruits to Emily's expression and made Richard get all stiff and proper. He started explaining himself with many gestures, and as he talked Richard started to look a little more human. Sookie and Rory started bouncing up and down.

She shouldn't see him. She shouldn't talk to him. It hurt too much.

She scrambled down the stairs and ran across the lawn.

Everyone turned and stared at her as she came up, and she almost ran back to the comfort of that gargoyle. Sookie and Rory grabbed their hands together and watched her with wide eyes. Richard looked almost happy. Emily looked like the usual poker up her butt had shrunk a few sizes. Michel looked above it all.

"Hi." //That was the worst attempt at casual you've ever done, Lorelai.//

"Uh, hi." //Oh, good, he's embarrassed too. So why is he here?// "I was just here to tell Rory congratulations."

"And now you have." She said it as nastily as possible. But it was impossible to be nasty to him. Not to Max. Not to the man she'd missed for two and a half aching years. Why had she been so stupid back then? Typical Lorelai, get yourself and everyone you care for in trouble.

He took a step closer. "I was just telling your parents that we're very punctual at Chilton."

"Yeah, I know."

Another step. Why were her knees weak? Stupid knees! "Five o'clock sharp, and the ceremony's over. Rory isn't a student here anymore." Another step. "And you won't be a Chilton mother anymore. There won't be any reason we can't see each other if we want. We could even get married if we wanted." The last step put them almost nose to nose. She was staring at his lips and couldn't rip her eyes away. He finished on a whisper. "I want. Do you?"

There was a rushing in her ears. Oh God, oh God, oh God, what did she want? What was she going to do? What was that noise? Oh God, it was the tower clock going "Bong" in some officious stuffy Chilton way. Stupid clock. Bong. Everyone was staring at her. Bong. Oh God. What did she want? Bong. She wanted what she'd wanted for the last two and a half years, what she'd cried her heart out over after that terrible, horrible, awful Parent's Day. Bong. Too much pressure. Run. Run! No, she'd tried to run from him and it just hurt them both worse. Bong. Oh God, Oh God. It was five o'clock.

Rory and Sookie squealed. Michel sniffed. Emily tsked.

"Honestly, Lorelai, it's public displays of affection like this that got you into trouble in the first place."