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Physics of the Spin

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Summary: Rory Gilmore always thought she was Christopher Hayden's daughter, but things are a little more complicated than that... (Gilmore Girls/Stargate xover)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Gilmore Girls
Stargate > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories > Crossover: Other
(Past Donor)MhalachaiFR1321125,802150701188,1112 Jan 0812 Oct 09No

Secret Keeper

Rory pressed her cell phone to her ear, listening to the ringing at the other end of the line. One ring. Three rings. Five rings. Voicemail.

"Hey, this is Lorelai-- Down, Paul Anka! Off the Hello Kitty lamp! Leave a message!"

Beep.

"Hi Mom, it's Rory. I wanted to... well, I was wondering if--"

The phone chimed in her ear. Rory pulled it away from her head long enough to see that another call was coming in, from...

"And now you're calling me back," Rory spoke quickly into the phone before hitting the button to transfer her to the incoming call. "Mom?"

"Rory! Sorry I missed your call but the phone was in my bag and there was this horrible coffee cup incident and anyway. How are you?"

"I'm good, Mom. I'm great." Rory took a deep breath. "I know it's Friday night and you're probably on your way to Grandma and Grandpa's..."

"I'm just pulling into the driveway. But let me turn off the engine and we can talk. I'll be late for drinks, but for you, sobriety is a sacrifice I'm willing to live with."

The reflection of the jeep bounced and flashed in the rearview mirror of Rory's rental car. Biting back a nervous smile, Rory said, "How about you turn off the car and I'll do you one better?"

"What are you talking about?"

Rory opened her car door and stepped out onto the paving stone driveway. "How about we talk in person?" she suggested.

Lorelai's squeal was deafening. Rory was halfway across the courtyard when Lorelai tripped out of the Jeep and bolted toward her.

"You're here!" Lorelai exclaimed, hugging Rory so tightly her ribs protested.

"Too tight bear-hug, Mom!" Rory gasped, an echo of her childhood trickling back to her in this place. "I missed you!"

"I missed you more!" Lorelai pressed a kiss onto Rory's hair before pulling back. "You've even grown a little!"

"It's the shoes," Rory said, pushing her hair back into a semblance of order. Lorelai was the same as always, new hairstyle and that Mom grin, and a totally inappropriate t-shirt not quite hidden under her unzipped jacket. "You trying to give Grandma a heart attack?"

"What?"

Rory indicated the shirt. "Morning Wood Lumber Company?"

Lorelai just grinned. "She won't get it, and if she does, two hundred years of repressed inbreeding will keep her from saying anything." Lorelai took Rory's arm and pulled her towards the house. "Come on, I've got some drinking to do while you tell me what's up and why you're here and how long you're staying and what you've been doing for the Air Force."

"That's an awful lot to talk about over drinks."

"Luckily my liver can take it." Lorelai giggled suddenly. "You should have seen Luke's face when I wore this shirt into the diner this morning. Lane took pictures."

Rory let herself be carried along in the torrent of words, to be washed up against the front door with Lorelai ringing the bell. The sound reverberated in her head, so unlike the klaxons she'd heard just a few days before at Stargate Command.

She had a moment of vertigo, worlds spinning together in a cacophony of stars, then the door opened and a smartly dressed maid admitted the Lorelais to the house.

Even though she had only been gone a short time, Rory was dimly surprised that the house had not changed. She handed over her coat, keeping her purse slung over her shoulder. Her new blackberry rested at the bottom of the small bag, along with her identification and airplane ticket and the keys to her borrowed apartment. Her new life, narrowed down to small bits of technology and plastic, and all of it saying nothing about who she had become.

Lorelai stopped her before they entered the sitting room, winking as she made Rory stand back from the entrance. Only then did Lorelai step into the open doorway. "Hi Mom, hi Dad," she burbled.

"Lorelai, we were beginning to think you weren't coming," Emily's disapproving voice drifted on the air. "You are old enough now to call when you are going to be late for an engagement, honestly. Richard, tell her."

"I'm sure Lorelai knows how old she is, Emily."

"I know, but I've got something to make up for it," Lorelai said, on the edge of breaking out into laughter. "A limited time offer, get it while you can, your very own Rory Gilmore!"

Rory stepped into the entranceway beside her mother, smiling nervously as her mother applauded wildly. "Um, hi."

Emily was surprised and Richard was shocked, but in an instant Emily was on her feet. "Rory!" she exclaimed. "We had no idea-- Lorelai, why didn't you tell us?"

"She only found out a few minutes ago, that I was here, I mean," Rory stammered. She accepted her grandmother's brief hug. "I didn't know if I'd get here in time so I didn't want to break any plans."

"But she's here now," Lorelai said, hugging Rory again. "So it's okay that I'm late."

"Not really," Emily said in an undertone that Lorelai pretended to ignore.

Behind Emily, Richard had laid aside his paper and stood. "Rory, it's good to see you," he said, voice full of things he would never say. "So very good."

"It's good to be here," Rory said. A lump formed in her throat and breathing became difficult for a few moments. Instead of words, she stepped around the coffee table and hugged him, yet another familiar thing that was oddly different than she remembered it.

"Well, I'll go tell Sandra to set another place for dinner," Emily said briskly. "If you're staying for dinner."

Rory's throat constricted. "Yes, if it's not too much trouble," she said, responding in kind to her grandmother's tone.

"It's not too much trouble," Lorelai interjected. "Right, Mom?"

Emily hesitated for an exquisitely expressive moment. "Of course not. Excuse me."

The memory of klaxons from the emergency lock-down skittered across Rory's mind, drawing her over to the couch. She sat in her customary spot, legs crossed at the knee, demure under her black skirt, as a proper granddaughter would sit in Emily Gilmore's house.

"Can I get either of you lovely ladies a drink?" Richard asked.

"A martini, Dad," Lorelai replied, yanking off her jacket and flopping onto the couch beside Rory.

"I'll have soda water," Rory said.

Richard eyed Lorelai's shirt with unvoiced disapproval. "Drinks, coming right up."

Emily returned as Richard was handing out the drinks. "Dinner is settled," she said.

Lorelai's shoulders went back, ready for battle. "Good to know that your granddaughter showing up for dinner isn't going to ruin your night."

"Lorelai--"

Klaxons, heralding the end of the world. "Stop!" Rory exclaimed, setting her drink down on the coffee table with a clatter. "I'm only going to be here for a few hours, so stop arguing!" She wiped her fingers on her shirtsleeve, trying to concentrate on the moment and not let her mind slip back to the work on zero-point energy that had consumed her life for the last seven weeks.

Work shatters to obsession, and nothing will put the pieces back together again.

"Grandma, I'm sorry I didn't call ahead. Mom, I can take care of myself." Rory folded her shaking hands on her lap, the proper submissive girl she thought she'd left behind, in a past without Rodney McKay and Stargates and the potential to hold the power of a trillion stars in the palms of her cupped hands.

The room was silent. Were Gilmores without words truly Gilmores?

Rory took a deep breath, mindful of why she was there. "I would like to say that I am here for a visit alone, but there is something I need to ask of Grandma and Grandpa. A favor."

The sharp exhalation of breath came from Emily's direction. Rory couldn't keep her gaze from dancing over the sparkle of candles on the mantle.

"And it will make more sense if you know what I've been doing in Colorado."

Richard cleared his throat. "Lorelai tells us that you are working with the Air Force."

"I am." Rory reached for her drink again. "But it's a little more complicated than that."

"You didn't join up, did you?" Lorelai interrupted.

"No, I'm not. I'm working as a researcher at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base. I'm still a civilian, though." Rory forced out a smile. "And I'm part of their long-term training program, so I'll be working towards a doctoral degree while I'm there."

"Wait, what?" Lorelai sat forward. "You're working on your PhD?"

"Yes." Rory rested her glass against her knee to stop her shaking hands. She could do this. She shouldn't be afraid of disappointing her mother. "I'll be taking a few classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs in the summer, and then a full slate in the fall semester. Then three more years working with the Air Force and there you go. Dr. Gilmore. Well, there's more to it than that but that's not really relevant."

Lorelai was openly gaping at Rory. "Isn't this a little sudden?"

"Lorelai," Emily warned. "Rory, dear, that's wonderful news. We're so proud of you."

"Indeed we are," Richard said, practically beaming. "I'll get some champagne so we can celebrate."

"I mean, one day you're serving burgers at Luke's, then the next you're moving to Colorado to go back to school? In what, journalism? You haven't written anything in months."

"Lorelai, enough!" Emily's voice was sharp, but Rory knew that tone wouldn't work on Lorelai. It never had.

"I'm not getting my degree in Journalism," Rory spoke over Emily.

"Then what? Political science? History? What?"

"It's the end of the world as we know it," Dr. Freyd (Dr. Freyd was my mother, Rory. We're going to be working together for years, so call me Francis) had sung as the lab quickly shut down their computers, pagers, phones, everything in advance of the impending EMP two floors down, then the klaxon drowned out the lyrics and the panicked breathing and everything gone except the blast of sound.

"Theoretical high energy physics," Rory said.

Lorelai stared for a moment, then downed the remainder of her martini. "What the hell is that?"

"It's..." Rory fought down the rising panic. This wasn't going the way she had envisioned, not at all. "It's a field of physics, Mom, a very important field. It's the study of how everything-- well, the study of everything."

"Here we go!" Bill Lee shouted, turning off the lights just as the klaxons went silent. The EMP wasn't like in the movies, no crackling light or nifty sound effects, but the hair rose on the back of Rory's neck for a moment and she stopped breathing.

Stop.

"I think that's it," Bill said cautiously. "No one move until they turn the main power back on, though."

A cough, and Rory closed her eyes and thought of light and crystals and not of the panic rising in her throat, of being so far underground in the dark.


Lorelai's stunned silence lasted too long. "What about journalism?" she finally demanded. "You spent your whole life wanting to be a writer!"

"Not my whole life--"

"You were three years old! You couldn't even read yet and you told me that one day you were going to write books like I read to you! That's pretty much your whole damned life!"

"Mom..."

"All that we went through, with Chilton and Yale and everything and you're just throwing that away?"

Stories below them, at the very bottom of the base, the naked Stargate sat amid the silent klaxons, iris broken, drawing power and no one knew how to stop it. Below them, soldiers stood, guns raised, waiting for something to cross the event horizon and knowing that if someone pushed a missile or a bomb through the Gate, they would all die, and yet they stood there.

Stories below them, soldiers stood there, knowing they might die, but on guard until the last. It was what they did, what they were, actions defining them.

Rory held her breath and thought of light and death, and wondered how anyone could keep from screaming in this mad, mad world.


"I'm not throwing anything away."

"You are--"

"I'm not!" Rory was on her feet, glass slammed down on the table and she didn't know how she got there. Why she was there at all. "My life's not what we planned it would be, but when does anything work according to plan? This is where I am now--"

"And how did you get there?" Lorelai shot to her feet, squaring off against her daughter and everything about this was making Rory sick to her stomach. She didn't know if she could handle being on the receiving end of her mother's sharp tongue, especially when Lorelai didn't understand. "Rory, you're a writer, one of the best, and you're throwing it away for a subject you didn't even take in college?"

Rory could have backed away from the fight, but that would have meant denying what she had become, who she was. She stepped back, spine straight. "I may be a good writer, Mom, but I'm a great physicist. The Air Force does not hire people as a gesture of pity, or based on potential! I proved myself to them, I keep on proving myself every day I'm at work, every single time I do anything!"

Lorelai refused to back down. Arms crossed over her chest, she demanded, "And what exactly are you doing?"

The dark went on, the unnatural stillness, the shallow breathing hidden in corners. Stories below, their fate was being decided, and Rory hadn't believed them until now when they had said that half the secret to surviving the SGC was pure, unadulterated luck.

Even the thoughts of light and crystals dimmed as the black pressed in on her, miles underground. If the base was destroyed, if they all died, no one at home would ever know.

Rory didn't want to die, and there was nothing she could do to save herself. Her life was in the hands of others, dozens of soldiers with guns raised, waiting for something to cross the event horizon, and she didn't even know their names.

It wasn't right, not to know the names of those who held guns between her and nameless dangers.


"I can't talk about my work," Rory said, words like ice crystals falling to earth.

"What?"

It was the wrong way to explain, but Rory couldn't take back the words. "The projects I'm working on are classified."

"What kind of stuff could you be working on that's classified?"

"Also classified."

"Stop saying that!"

"Lorelai, Rory!" Emily interjected. "Enough! This is a reunion dinner and there will be no raised voices in this house!"

"Since when can't we yell in this house?" Lorelai demanded.

"Don't you raise your voice at me, young lady!"

Rory turned on her heel and stalked out of the living room. The door to the backyard opened easily under her fingers, releasing her into the soft May evening.

This wasn't the way things were supposed to have gone. And if Lorelai was this upset over a change in academic direction, Rory didn't know how she was going to explain about Rodney McKay.

Flashlights bounced in the dark of the hallway, male voices raised in crisp tones.

"Is there a problem?" Francis whispered. Bill murmured something under his breath, but another voice in the room hushed them.

Rory wondered if this was what prayer was, hoping so hard in the deafening dark for a glimmer of hope that today would not be the day of one's death.

The call came again, then again. "What are they saying?" Francis insisted.

And again, but this time it was audible. "Clear!"

Rory dug her fingers into her pant leg, not daring to breathe.

"Clear!" the voice came again. Lights bounced into the lab, casting the man in the doorway into silhouette. "Dr. Lee? We're all clear. Main power will go back on in a few minutes. Any problems?"

"None," Bill said, voice higher than normal. "Is the Gate off?"

"Yes sir. Two minutes ago. No casualties and only a few injuries."

"One minute to main power restoration!" another voice called, and the doorway cleared.

Rory let the air out of her lungs slowly, wishing she could reach out and touch the dancing spots of light in her field of vision. "We're going to be-- I mean, everything's fine."

"Yeah," Bill said. "Five bucks says it was SG1."

"You're on," Francis retorted. "It always used to be them, but since Carter went to Atlantis, SG6 has been pulling ahead."

It seemed wrong to joke about things of this matter, so soon after all the danger and the darkness, but Rory held her tongue.

She couldn't speak when she hadn't done a single thing to help.


Rory stared out at the darkened pool house and wondered about the path that had brought her to Stargate Command. She'd had to revisit the past so much in the past few weeks, with the paperwork for her background check and related security clearance.

So much had happened since Rory learned about her real father that her old life seemed far away. As if it had all happened to another girl.

"Hey," Lorelai said in greeting as she came up beside Rory. "So, what happened in there kind of sucked."

Rory remained silent.

"Can I get a do-over?"

"If you want," Rory murmured. Her head ached. Who was she supposed to be in this place? The dutiful granddaughter? Lorelai's feisty daughter? A McKay? Or the woman who had spent the last seven weeks working on physics beyond anything the world knew?

"Good." Lorelai stepped into Rory's line of sight, cutting off the view of the pool house. The worried expression on her face didn't quite fade as she smiled. "It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Mom." Rory let Lorelai pull her into a hug.

"It's just that we always tell each other everything," Lorelai said. "I got used to it."

"We can still talk about stuff, just not what I'm working on." Rory pulled away. She had thought that coming home would help her cope with what she had seen in the last week, but instead it was just making everything worse.

Hours later, while Francis and Bill still argued about how to reboot the server and Rory sat curled up in the corner, Teal'c came to them. Bloodstained white bandages ran up his arm, a startling contrast against his dark skin.

Bill was the one to speak. "Teal'c? What happened? Lt. Hutchinson said no one was killed--"

"And that was indeed so," Teal'c said. His voice, deep and certain, a rock standing in the flow of humanity, held no hint of his injury. "My injuries are superficial." His eyes moved across the room to where Rory huddled against the cabinet. "Vala has asked for your presence in the infirmary."

Only a few injuries, the lieutenant had said. No casualties. Rory held onto those words as they threatened to slip into the dark. "What happened to Vala?"

Teal'c's glance never wavered. "As the wormhole started to collapse, several projectiles came through the Gate. Vala pushed Sgt. Siler to safety, but one of the projectiles entered her shoulder. It has been removed and she will make a full recovery. Now she is awake and asking for you."

The concrete floor was curiously soft under Rory's foot as she stood. The world wasn't supposed to be like this. Friends weren't supposed to throw themselves into danger and almost die saving others. It was supposed to be about the numbers and making things pretty on paper, not the scraps of blood and metal that danced in Rory's mind.

"We'll be okay here," Bill said. "We'll have the server up by tomorrow so we can get a few days of work in before you have to go to Connecticut."

"Thank you," Rory said automatically, manners with her until the end. Teal'c waited until she was in the doorway before stepping to her side.

Around them, the SGC looked the same as it always did; florescent lights glaring coldly off the concrete walls and pipes, people scurrying to and fro. Even the people moved the same as always, as if death had not come tiptoeing up to their door on little cat feet.

"Is she really okay?"

"Indeed," Teal'c replied. "Her actions on this day saved many lives."

"I thought you said she was shot."

"The projectile was aimed directly at the naquadah reactor used to power the EMP generator," Teal'c said. "Dr. Lam has confirmed that the projectile was made of a material that, had it impacted the reactor, would have caused catastrophic overload."

"Oh," Rory said. Something was happening, her mind was shutting down, refusing to focus on details. Teal'c's words were supposed to mean something, but all she could focus on was that Vala had been hurt. "That's bad, right?"

"It would have destroyed this base and quite possibly the Stargate."

Darkness pressing against her, even in the bright light. Rory clenched her hands into fists to keep from screaming. Even she knew that if the Stargate was caught up in the naquadah explosion, most of the state of Colorado would have been wiped off the map.

"We are almost there," Teal'c continued.

"Right," Rory said. She took a deep breath to chase back the screaming. She hadn't done anything that day except hide in the dark, while Vala had saved them all.


"When did you get into physics?" Lorelai asked, following Rory around the pool. "It's just a strange thing, you know? You never were that into physics in high school."

Rory stared into the lit pool, water sparkling blue, a reminder of the event horizon on the Stargate, and she wanted to go back. To the SGC, to her work, to her new friends to whom almost dying to save the world was normal.

"I scored 800 in math on the SAT," Rory said suddenly.

Lorelai stopped moving. "What? When? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because the verbal score was all that mattered to me then." Rory pulled her purse around to her side so she could have something to do with her hand. "And the math wasn't going to help me find what I wanted then."

Lorelai's expression was inscrutable . "When you went to college?" Rory nodded. "What did you want?"

"Answers." Rory shook her head, hair falling in her eyes. "But there aren't any answers in words, because there is no common language in words. Everyone thinks differently, sees the world differently, that's human nature and it's messy and there is no way to find an answer in that."

"Is that why you quit your job back in December?"

How had Rory forgotten that under the quips and airy facade, her mother was so scarily perceptive on human nature? "Part of the reason," she admitted. "I... I think I was waiting for something. The other shoe to drop on my life."

"And did it?"

The memory of Christopher Hayden telling Rory that he was not her father hit like a blow to the chest. "Yes."

"Was it that thing with Chris?"

Rory's head jerked up. Did Lorelai-- could she know? How could she know?

More importantly, how could she not know? How could Lorelai look at Rory and not see Rodney McKay? Every time Rory looked in the mirror, she saw her father's face staring back at her. Hadn't her mother ever wondered at Rory's early birth, at her intelligence, at all the little things that added up to raising the wrong man's child?

"It's scary when your dad almost dies," Lorelai confessed. She crossed her arms over her chest. "I mean, when Dad had his heart attacks... But Chris is okay now, the transplant took and he's home from chemo and he's got GiGi to keep him company."

Rory's heart pounded. Lorelai was only talking about Chris's leukemia. Not about Rory's mistaken paternity.

How could Lorelai not know?

Vala lay on her side, bandaged shoulder up in the air. Her uninjured hand waved patterns in the air as her eyes vainly tried to focus.

"What's wrong with her?" Rory asked Dr. Lam in a whisper. She'd never seen Vala act this way before.

"She's drugged up," the doctor said bluntly. "The bullet is a material that reacts badly with our anesthesia, so we couldn't put her under for the operation. The drugs will wear off in a little while and we can put her back onto morphine."

Rory nodded as the doctor hurried off. She pulled up a chair next to Vala's bed and sat down. "Hi, Vala."

It took a moment for Vala's eyes to focus. "I know you," she said, pointing her finger at Rory accusingly. "Do I know you?"

"It's Rory. Teal'c said you wanted to see me."

"Rory..." Vala mused. "You're not a Rory. You should go by that other name."

"What other name?"

"Lorelai." Vala slurred the vowels together, drawing out the name in a way that sent shivers down Rory's spine. "I like it better."

"It's my mom's name."

"I want to meet your mother," Vala said. "Pack me in your handbag and take me to Connecticut."

"I don't think they make purses that big." Rory caught Vala's waving hand. The woman's skin was clammy. "How do you feel? Do you need the doctor?"

"I feel fine." Vala blinked at Rory for a minute. "You're going to be a doctor."

"Not that kind of doctor."

"You'll be a great doctor. All of everyone says that, even the airman." She chuckled. "We should get some sailors down here, so instead of airmen we'd have seamen."

Rory couldn't help smiling. "And you'd get to say 'Hey Sailor' a lot. That's one that gets you noticed."

"Hey, sailor." Vala closed her eyes. "Why am I here?"

"You were shot. Saving the world." The words should have sounded ridiculous, but they were just... normal.

This was all becoming normal, and that was the maddest thing of all.

"I saved the world." Vala smiled sleepily. "I'm totally awesome."

"You sure are." Rory gently settled Vala's hand back on the bed. "Are you going to sleep now?"

"I hope so." A few minutes passed in quiet. Rory was about to leave the infirmary when she heard Vala whisper, "I wish Adria had been like you."

Rory settled back onto her chair and watched Vala sleep, light curving softly around her body and trickling down to earth.

For Rory knew about Adria, and the Ori, and it made her wonder.


"Dinner is served," Emily announced from the doorway. "Come inside before you catch cold!"

"Mom, it's the beginning of May!"

"All the more reason to come inside!"

Rory shook off her stupor. Lorelai had no idea that Rory wasn't a Hayden child, but a McKay, and there was no way for Rory to explain, not in her grandparents' back yard.

She knew what others would think. If Lorelai had raised the wrong man's child, there were some who would call her a slut, one of those girls who slept around, but that wasn't it at all. Rory knew her mother, knew that Lorelai would never be able to lie about something as important as Rory's real father. Lorelai could never lie about this to Christopher, and certainly not to Rory herself.

And in that, she was a better person than Rory.

"Come on, Mom," Rory said. She put her arm through Lorelai's, pulling her mother toward the house. "The food they had on the plane was horrible."

"You work for the Air Force and they made you fly commercial?" Lorelai tisked under her breath. "Those meanies."

"Not everyone in the Air Force is a Top Gun pilot."

"There go years of fantasizing about Val Kilmer in uniform."

"Although I think those were Navy pilots."

"And there's a phrase that makes no sense." Lorelai pulled the door closed behind her and hurried Rory towards the living room. "Hungry now."

Rory's chair was in the same place as always, table perfectly set. Rory settled on the edge of her seat and waited.

Like clockwork, the questions came with the salad course. "So, Rory, you said you had wanted a favor from us," Richard began.

"Can't this wait until after the first course?" Lorelai asked.

"No, Mom, it's okay." Rory poked at the avocado in her salad and wondered if Emily had asked for them on purpose. Lorelai had always loathed avocado. "The Air Force is working to give me a certain level of security clearance--"

"What does that mean?" Lorelai asked.

"Don't interrupt the girl, let her answer!" Emily said.

"A high level of security clearance," Rory said, not sure she wanted her mother knowing that she was being fast-tracked toward top secret clearance. "And as such, they need to do a thorough background check. They are going to need to talk to Grandpa and Grandma, as you're holding all that money from Great-Grandmother in trust for me."

"Are they going to talk to me?" Lorelai asked.

"It depends on how much they want to know about our foreign travels. I can't make any promises."

Lorelai pouted. "But I'd be excellent at it. Would it be those nice Air Force men? Homeland security?"

"The FBI."

"The men in black?"

Rory's heart skipped a beat. Lorelai was just being cute, not actually asking about aliens on earth. "Or women," Rory said. "Remember the X-Files, they do have women in the FBI now."

"Go girl power."

"Of course we'll answer any questions," Richard interrupted smoothly. "Anything you need."

"Good." Rory took up her fork again. "But... don't try and play me up. Just tell the truth, even if it's not all that pretty. I can't afford any complications on the clearance."

Richard and Emily exchanged a glance. "What does that mean?" Richard asked.

Rory took a moment to chew and swallow a bite of tomato. "It means that I need this to go smoothly. So if they ask anything embarrassing, just answer it. Please."

"How embarrassing?" Lorelai asked. "Like you only scored an A- on a high school Latin test?"

"Like I dropped out of Yale for a semester," Rory said. She focused on the artfully arranged lettuce in front of her, and tried to remember all that she would be returning to the next day. "Or that I lived with Logan for a while, or that thing with Dean."

Lorelai slowly stopped chewing. Rory couldn't do more than glance at her mother, couldn't take the weight of unasked questions in her eyes.

"So, please, just be honest," Rory said again. "This is very, very important to me."

Rory needed the top-secret level clearance. She needed it for access to the secret files the SGC had on zero point energy, the ones she wasn't allowed to see yet, and Dr. Lee wasn't allowed to discuss with her.

It was the only way to see what had been happening at Atlantis and all their experiments with zero point energy.

It was the only way she'd get to Atlantis.

It was the only way she'd be able to understand.
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