* * * * *
Lorelai sat in the Jeep drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, looking across the street at Luke's. How many people in there now? Five? Six? She had waited a whole forty-three minutes after opening, and she thought that was more than respectably patient. Now she was trying to decide just how many customers had to be in the diner before she went in. If a lot of people were there, maybe it would keep her from doing anything impulsive or embarrassing. Then again, maybe it would just be more people to be embarrassed in front of. But if she'd gone in too early, that might have seemed suspicious, and she might have forgotten there was anyone else there, and thus done something embarrassing. She wasn't really sure what said embarrassing action might entail. They hadn't even discussed what their public relations policy was going to be. But she thought it was probably safe to assume that Luke didn't want to be the major source of town gossip before noon, and she could respect that. Though asking her to hold off until dinner might be pushing it.
All right, screw patience. This was ridiculous. If she sat out here much longer people would start to notice, and she'd come off as a crazy stalker, and there goes the whole avoiding gossip thing.
She slammed the jeep door confidently and strode across the street, smiling. Was she smiling too much? Too much smiling could be suspicious. But so would not smiling. So she should smile just enough. Just try to look normal, Lorelai. Just use your perfectly normal, everyday, nothing out of the ordinary, 'certainly didn't have sex with that guy right there last night' smile. Good morning, fair citizens of Stars Hollow! Isn't it lovely how nothing is different this morning than it was yesterday? Notice how I'm smiling in a perfectly normal fashion, and most definitely not grinning like a big goofy idiot because I just caught a glimpse of him through the window and -
Okay, still outside. Going in now.
She pushed through the door and it made its cheerful little jingle. The door made her happy. The diner was warm and inviting and smelled like breakfast, and that made her happy. Luke was behind the counter filling a napkin dispenser, and that made her wonder if her knees had been replaced with Jell-O and think, "Lucky napkin dispenser." And also happy.
She plopped onto a stool, tossed her purse on the counter as if it were any other day, and proclaimed, "I desire pancakes!"
Hm. Well. She had not intended on using that particular verb.
Luke put down the napkins and turned to her, and she felt at once fluttery and gratified to notice that he seemed to be having trouble with the whole degree-of-smiling problem, too. 'Suppress it,' she wanted to say. 'Grimace or smirk or hey, smoldering would be good, but the smile is mine.'
"You desire... pancakes."
"Yes." She swallowed. "Pancakes are what I desire."
Well. Interesting. "How considerate of you to ask. I would also like a side of bacon." Oh, what the hell. She sultrified her voice a little. "Hot, salty bacon."
He swallowed. "Anything else?"
Oh, lots of things. "I desire coffee. Now begins the perfunctory debate."
"No coffee for you."
"Yes coffee for me."
"Here's your coffee." He poured her a cup, and their eyes met, and it was this wonderful, intimate moment.
She sighed and watched him as he walked to the kitchen, then impulsively called out, "Luke!"
He re-approached her and she leaned over the counter conspiratorially. "What?" he asked, and he was nervous that people were watching and god, it was so cute she just wanted to grab him and make with the smoochies, but all she did was quickly open her jacket and flash him the flannel she was wearing underneath it and over her sweater.
"That's all." She grinned, and took a long swig of her coffee.
"Right," he said, and he didn't even make sure no one was looking before her gave her the smile. "Pancakes coming right up."
She had to work to keep herself from bouncing.
She was finished with her pancakes and trying very hard to watch Luke for a maximum of thirty seconds out of every minute when Miss Patty sat down next to her.
"Good morning, Lorelai dear."
"Morning, Patty," she answered absently.
"Just morning? Not a good morning?"
The problem with Patty's knowing smirk was that it was knowing whether it really knew anything or not, or whether there was actually anything to know. Lorelai swallowed a mouthful of coffee and proceeded casually. "Yes, Patty. It's a very nice morning. Beautiful, glorious morning."
"I thought so. And my, don't you look lovely today. Practically..."
Lorelai rolled her eyes and broke in before Patty could say "glowing". "Practically late for work, actually. I should get going."
She was digging through her purse for her wallet when she heard Patty say, "Luke! How's your morning, hmm?"
"Fine." Ah, brevity. Good tactic. Proven effective.
"I was just telling Lorelai that she's practically glowing today, don't you think?"
"Hadn't noticed," he mumbled.
"It must be that bracing March chill in the air. So invigorating. So...stimulating."
Lorelai watched for his reaction. He considered just walking away. For a few seconds he tried to come up with something surly to say. Then, "Oh, for..." He threw down the towel he was holding and marched around the counter. "That's it." Lorelai swiveled on her stool to follow his progress, and then half-stumbled off it when he grabbed her hand and said, "You. Come here."
He drew her out into the middle of the floor and placed his hands at her waist. She gave him a 'you sure?' eyebrow quirk, and he answered her with a kiss that said 'damn sure.' Her arms went around his neck. His hands slid down to her hips. Stars Hollow flickered, wavered, and disappeared until they needed to breathe again. Luke nodded decisively and exited to the kitchen, stopping only to demand, "And don't any of you even think about clapping."
Lorelai settled back on her stool and took a long, satisfying swallow of caffeinated heaven. She grinned at Patty, who seemed to be in a mild state of shock. "Ahh. Damn good morning!"