|The Third Option - 2013 Redux
Author: moonmama PM
A story about love and parenthood and all the baggage that comes along with it. Lots of fics have dealt with what would've happened if Lorelai had married Christopher when she got pregnant. This story deals with Luke's 'what if'.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 8 - Words: 24,886 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 05-11-13 - Published: 02-01-13 - id: 8969202
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Saturday mornings are for sleeping in. Especially in December in Connecticut, when the nights are stretching ever longer and the human impulse is to curl up and hibernate, but modern life just doesn't allow it, with work and school and holiday preparations. At least there's still Saturday mornings to cherish, to luxuriate in the soft warmth of one's own bed and sleep till noon.
Lorelai loves Saturday mornings.
Except this one.
This particular Saturday morning, something is jostling her awake far, far before she's ready.
"Mom, I need to throw an egg off the roof."
She's curled up on her side, her back to Rory who's kneeling next to her on the bed. Lorelai waves her arm aimlessly in a pathetic attempt at batting at her. "Go away," she murmurs.
"Mom," Rory prods, bouncing on the bed, which has the desired effect of waking Lorelai up fully. "Mom, come on."
Lorelai rolls onto her back and opens one eye at her daughter. "What?" she asks stupidly.
"I need to throw an egg off the roof," Rory repeats.
She shuts her eyes again and rolls back onto her side, away from Rory. "OK, hon," she mutters dismissively. "While you work on that, I'll be beating a watermelon with a baseball bat."
Lorelai presses her face into her pillow and takes a deep breath. "Well it's just as random as 'throwing an egg off the roof'."
Rory grasps Lorelai's shoulder and jostles it. "Mom, I'm serious. It's a science project for school. I need some help."
Lorelai lets out a groan and rolls onto her back once again. "Hon, if you're asking me for help you must be in real trouble."
"It's throwing things. You'll love it," Rory insists.
Lorelai raises an eyebrow. "And just what is the purpose of this project?"
"I have to wrap the egg up so it won't break when it's tossed off the roof," Rory explains. "On Monday the principal is going to climb onto the roof of the school and toss everyone's eggs down and see whose break and whose don't."
Lorelai acknowledges surrender by sitting up in bed with a sigh. "OK, any ideas what to wrap it in?"
"I was thinking maybe some bubble wrap, or maybe I could try making a parachute out of a plastic bag."
Lorelai taps her fingers, pondering. "My padded bra would probably work."
Rory bounces impatiently on the bed. "Mom," she complains.
"Cotton balls!" Lorelai cries. "How about a bunch of cotton balls in a plastic bag?" Fully awake now, she leaps out of bed, finds a pad of paper and begins compiling a list of supplies.
A short time later, they're dressed and eating breakfast at the tiny table in the corner of their one-room home. "OK, so where are we going to practice this?" Lorelai asks. She shovels a spoonful of Lucky Charms into her mouth.
Rory thinks for a moment. "We need a place that's at least as high as the roof of the school. I want this to be a real, realistic test."
"I don't think this garden shed is going to fit the bill," Lorelai shakes her head. "And Mia might object to us throwing eggs onto the heads of the customers at the Inn. We're going to have to find somewhere else."
"Where else can we go? Nobody's going to let us climb on their roof and throw eggs down," Rory complains.
"How about the church in town?" Lorelai offers.
"But we don't go there."
Rory rolls her eyes. "So you want to walk in there and tell the minister 'sorry, we have no interest in your religion, we just want to toss eggs out the window?'"
"It's for a school project, isn't it?"
Rory sighs. "OK, but you're doing the talking."
A half hour later, the breakfast dishes have been washed, they're both dressed, and Rory is waiting impatiently at the door, her egg-wrapping supplies in hand.
And Lorelai cannot find her coat.
"Can we hurry up and do this before I'm old enough to wear your padded bra myself?" Rory complains, arms folded over her chest.
Lorelai is on her hands and knees as she peers under the bed. "I think I left my coat at Sookie's yesterday."
Rory frowns. "How could you forget your coat in December in Connecticut?"
Lorelai gets to her feet and dusts herself off. "Never mind, I'll go without it." She retrieves an extra shirt from the closet, pulls it on and buttons it up. "Ready to go?"
"I've been ready for ten minutes," Rory grumbles.
Lorelai pulls her shoes on and runs a comb through her hair. "OK, let's hurry up and get this done. Sookie loaned me season one of The Partridge Family, we have 25 episodes to get through this weekend." They head out the door and down towards the Inn.
It's wet out from recent rains, with a chill in the air that goes right through to Lorelai's bones, making it feel colder than it really is. They cross into the Inn's parking lot, and she throws a longing glance in the direction of her car, but proceeds on foot down to the sidewalk and towards town. "Out of gas until payday," she explains to Rory's questioning look. "It's only half a mile, we can walk." She quickens her pace as she folds her arms more tightly across her chest to ward off the cold.
They reach the center of town and enter the church, where Lorelai is thankful to be able to get warm. She goes into the office and explains their errand to the office worker on duty. Then she and Rory agree that Lorelai will go up into the tower to be the egg-tosser, while Rory will stay outside to survey the results.
Lorelai climbs up to the balcony and sticks her head out the window. "Oh, Romeo, Romeo…" she laments.
"Will you just toss it?" Rory insists from down below.
Lorelai begins with the cotton-balled egg, picks it up and hurls it as hard as she can towards the ground.
The egg shatters, and the bag and all its contents are strewn over the sidewalk in a mess of gooey, yellowed cottony fluff. Rory hastens over to the mess and starts trying to pick up the debris. "No fair," she calls up to Lorelai. "You're supposed to drop it gently, not hurl it full force at the ground."
"Who's to say the principal won't do the same thing?" Lorelai calls from above. "Maybe he was Curt Schilling in a previous life."
"Except for the fact that Curt Schilling is alive and well," Rory points out. "Can we please switch places?"
"OK, but no spitting," Lorelai says.
"I make no promises," Rory replies.
They swap places, Rory now poking her head out of the window of the tower and Lorelai shivering on the sidewalk below. A light rain is starting to fall. "Hey hon?" she asks, putting on her best Spanish accent. "I do not suppose you can speed things up?"
"Keep your shirt on, Inigo," Rory replies, as she futzes with the next bundle. "I'm going to try the parachute one now."
"OK, but let's get a move on please? This isn't exactly a refreshing spring rain."
The words are just barely out of her mouth when Lorelai is suddenly hit with an icy deluge that makes her scream and almost knocks her off her feet. She turns to see a car pulling away after driving through a puddle and splattering her almost from head to foot.
Gesticulating wildly, she hops up and down and shouts obscenities at the disappearing vehicle.
And that's when something hard hits her on the back of her head.
There's a crack and then there's wet goo in her hair, and it takes her a moment to realize that Rory's egg has just made contact with her head. The remnants slide down onto the ground, a mess of broken shell, egg glop and the plastic parachute, still fluttering in the wind.
Unformed obscenities turn to shock and then to indignation as she turns up towards her daughter. "You hit me!" she accuses.
"Sorry," Rory apologizes meekly.
"You're not supposed to hit me, you throw like a girl. You can't throw a ball to save your life! How on earth did you manage to pummel mewith an egg?"
"Beginner's luck," Rory replies. "Are you OK?"
Lorelai sticks her tongue out and licks at some of the egg that's trickling down her cheek. "Needs Hollandaise sauce," she says.
"Did you know that raw egg is actually really good for your hair?" Lorelai asks.
"Will you freeze to death if I just try one more?"
Lorelai thinks she just might; her chill is starting to give way to involuntary shivers, but she replies, "OK, but if I start hallucinating midgets serving me orange marmalade on melba toast, can you please call me an ambulance?"
"Do you think it's a bad sign that my fingers are turning blue?"
Rory ignores her. "OK, here comes the bubble wrap." She tosses the last egg out the window.
Third time proves to be a charm. The egg bounces lightly in its container and settles on the sidewalk. Rory whoops with excitement and starts down from the church tower to join Lorelai.
Lorelai hops up and down, trying to get her blood pumping as she waits.
The voice comes from behind her. She turns around to see who it is, and finds, of all people, Luke Danes. He's standing there, arms folded over his chest, one eyebrow raised as he looks her up & down inquisitively.
This is just too much. "Oh, so now you recognize me?" she accuses, waggling an indignant finger at him. "I was dressed perfect and professional last time we met and you had no idea who I was, but douse me in slush and crack an egg on my head and we have immediate recognition."
There's a twitch around his mouth, and a gleam in his eyes; an expression that somehow doesn't belong on this particular countenance. It's so out of place and Lorelai's mind is so addled with cold that it takes her ridiculously long to process the fact that it's a look of amusement. "What the hell happened to you?" he asks finally.
"Oh, it's a mom thing," Lorelai explains, motioning to where Rory is emerging from the church. "I was helping my daughter with a school project and I guess you could say she blinded me with science. Rory, this is Luke Danes."
"Hi," says Rory.
"You might want to get some, uh, dry clothes on," Luke suggests, motioning vaguely at her wet shirt.
Lorelai looks down at her clothes and realizes that her top is clinging to her in a most immodest fashion. If she had any blood flow left, she'd be blushing right now. She motions to her daughter. "Come on, Rory, let's get going before I start shivering so much I won't be able to walk straight."
"That's a bad sign," Luke says, watching her involuntary shivers increase. "How far away is your car?"
"Not near enough," Lorelai says. "We walked here."
"You're going to get pneumonia walking back like that," Luke objects. "Come in the diner and get warm."
"Do you have a license for porn?" Lorelai asks. "Because you might need one with me looking like this. Besides, I didn't bring my wallet, I can't buy anything."
"Come," Luke orders.
Desperate for some warmth, Lorelai blindly obeys and follows him, with Rory trailing behind. He leads them into the diner, through to a back stairway, and finally upstairs to a door that reads 'Williams Hardware.'"
"So what's the deal with Williams Hardware, anyway?" Lorelai asks. It's a relief to be indoors; the cold is no longer biting at her, but her wet clothes are still keeping her thoroughly chilled.
Luke unlocks the door. "This place used to be my dad's hardware store," he explains tersely as he motions for them to enter. "The bathroom is over there if you want to grab a shower, there's towels in the closet, and there should be some of Anna's clothes in the dresser for you to wear."
"Luke, thank you…" Lorelai begins.
"No going through my file cabinet," Luke grouses. He turns and disappears back downstairs.
Rory frowns at her questioningly. "And who is this person?"
"Client from the Inn," Lorelai explains. "Honestly I thought he was a bit of a jerk before, but right now I'm thinking he might as well be Mother Teresa."
The shower is heavenly. Lorelai lingers under the hot spray until she's thoroughly warmed, and quite a bit longer than that, until Rory complains, saying she's finished the book she brought and doesn't have anything else to do. So Lorelai gets out and dries off. She finds some clothes in the dresser drawers – Anna isn't as tall as she is, but there's a pair of roomy sweatpants that she can get by with, and a very cute fuzzy pink top. She even finds a hairdryer, dries her hair, and finally she and Rory head back down to the diner.
It's late morning and the place is almost empty. Luke is behind the counter, adding up receipts. When he spots them, he reaches down, grabs two mugs and slides them over in their direction. "What can I get you? Coffee?"
Lorelai shakes her head. "No thanks. I just wanted to let you know that I thank you, Rory thanks you, and now that I won't have to go see her, my doctor thanks you. Ever since I tried singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" into her stethoscope that one time I don't think she's too keen on having me in her office."
Rory is hovering over a dish on the counter. "Is that cherry pie?"
"Rhubarb cherry," Luke corrects her. "Can I get you a piece?"
"Um…no money on me," Lorelai reminds her.
Luke waves a hand at her dismissively. "So wipe up the table when you're done and we'll call it even." He lifts the cover and serves up a slice. "And no sneezing on the salt shakers," he adds.
That was another joke, she realizes in surprise. Luke has a sense of humor. How had she missed this before? It must be wedding planning that makes him grouchy. She stops herself from contemplating any other alternatives; it's really none of her business anyway.
She wonders how far she can push him. "Though I suppose you do owe me for the wet T-shirt show I just put on for you," she prods.
"I'll stuff some singles into your pants," Luke deadpans, not missing a beat.
"Or you could pour me some more of that coffee," Lorelai replies, taking a seat at the counter. She motions for Rory to join her. "So do you guys live up there?" She nods in the direction of the upstairs apartment.
"Not really," Luke explains as he fills up her cup. "I used to, but I moved into Anna's place when April came along. Still comes in handy to have it, though; we spend the night here every once in a while when I have an early delivery, or the weather's bad, or sometimes Anna watches April up there while I'm working." He locates some hot chocolate mix and fixes a cup for Rory, then cuts another slice of pie for Lorelai.
Lorelai takes a bite and turns to her daughter. "OK, so are we all done with the homework for the weekend? Or do we have to hurl a china doll out of a tree now too?"
"All done," Rory assures her. "We can go watch your marathon now."
Luke is back adding up receipts, but this catches his attention enough so that he looks up questioningly.
"Season one of The Partridge Family," Lorelai explains. "Twenty-five episodes of fun-filled family frolicking."
"Hey, nice alliteration," interjects Rory.
"You're going to spend twelve hours watching a bunch of people dressed in velvet with fluffy collars lip-sync and drive around in a crazy painted bus?" Luke asks.
"Oh, my God, you're totally missing the point," Lorelai objects. "The Partridge Family was so ahead of its time. It had a single mother of five kids, she was a strong parental figure, all the women were well-written and intelligent, and they dealt with real-life issues without being preachy like the Bradys did." Lorelai feigns gagging herself with her finger at the mention of the Bradys.
Luke raises a skeptical eyebrow.
Lorelai grins playfully. "Plus David Cassidy was just a major hunk and always will be," she adds, leaning over to put an arm around Rory. "It's so important to teach good taste to the younger generation."
Luke rolls his eyes.
Despite his instructions to clean up after themselves, when Lorelai and Rory are done, Luke collects their dishes and wipes the table down himself. Then he pours a cup of coffee to go and hands it to Lorelai. "Since you seem to like it so much," he explains.
She takes the cup and sets it down on the counter, then dons the sweatshirt she'd found among Anna's clothes. "Drug pusher," she accuses, "giving me the first one for free."
"First two," he corrects her. "And they're not really the first, you were here the other day. You don't have to take it if you don't want it."
"Oh, I'm taking it," she assures him, picking up the cup and holding it protectively, "but you can be damn sure I'm paying you back next time I see you."
"I charge 200% interest, compounded hourly," Luke says.
She ignores him. "Hey – thanks again," she says sincerely, making her way over to the door where Rory is waiting impatiently. "You've been a lifesaver today, almost literally."
"No problem," Luke replies.
"I'll get Anna's clothes back to her the next time I see her," Lorelai adds as she steps out the door. "I may even wash them."
"Nice meeting you," Rory says in farewell.
Luke waves, the two of them exit the diner and start their way down the street. "Are you warm enough to make it back home now?" Rory asks.
Lorelai nods. "First thing, I need to pick up my coat at Sookie's. Then we can go get Partridged."
As they continue on their way down the street, Lorelai surreptitiously sneaks a glance back at the diner as she ponders the events of the past hour.
That was unexpected.