"Snapshots" Chapter Two

Season1, episode 2

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It was a good day. The diner wasn't overly packed, though business was steady. The only dark spot marring the day so far was the stupid toaster he was trying to fix. Seemed like the damn thing stopped working at least once a week, but he wasn't gonna waste money on a new one when he could fix the one he already had.

Still, a good day so far.

Lorelai came in, talking a mile a minute.

"There's no coffee," he said.

"That's not funny."

Funny, because he thought it was pretty funny. He managed to keep a straight face, though.

He offered her herbal tea, even a balance bar, but she was having none of it.

"Please, please, please tell me you're kidding," she said.

"I'm kidding," he said, and dropped the screwdriver he was using so he could fetch her some coffee.

He barely listened as she complained about him, and she barely listened as he complained about her coffee consumption. It was their thing, their normal banter, and he would never let on, but he sorta liked it.

She was obviously having a bad day, so he asked her what was wrong.

It was hard to believe Rory was starting Chilton already, that she wasn't gonna be a Stars Hollow High girl anymore. Being a private school student was right for her, though, she was so smart. She deserved the best education she could get. He wanted all of her dreams to come true. He was proud of her.

It occurred to him that Lorelai would've dropped Rory off at school that morning. He eyed up her outfit, a pink tie dyed top and cut off shorts.

He managed to bite his tongue until she asked him what he was thinking.

"That's how you dressed to take Rory to Chilton? I mean, that's a fancy school."

"My clothes were at the cleaners, and I had the fuzzy clock, and it didn't purr on time!" she said.

"It didn't purr?"

"It's fuzzy. It purrs." Now she sounded irritated. "You know what? Never mind. I gotta go. I had a plan, damn it," she muttered.

"Me too. Next time, you're getting tea," he said, picking up his screwdriver again.

Lorelai glared at him as she walked out.

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She came back. He wasn't expecting her to come in again so soon.

They nearly ran into each other when she walked in. The diner had gotten busy. He squeezed past, trying his best not to brush up against her. He wasn't used to being so close to her. It was definitely a situation that would make him uncomfortable fast.

He headed behind the counter and poured her a cup of coffee before she even sat down.

"Thank you," she said.

"You're welcome."

"No lectures?"

"My blood sugar's low. I'll eat an apple and get back to you," he said. He felt bad about how they had left things that morning. She had left the diner upset. He hadn't meant to make her feel that way, and hated that he had. He could give her some coffee without complaint if it would cheer her up a little.

"God, this has been one hectic, bizzaro day for me," she said. "This morning with the being late, and my mother with her existing. Oh, and this father, this father from Chilton, he drove out to the inn all the way from Hartford just to ask me out."

He had been listening patiently, but that stopped him in his tracks. He tried to act nonchalant as he looked at her.

"Really? Are you going?" He looked back down. "Be cool, Luke," he thought.

"No. He's got a kid in school with Rory, and the whole thing just seemed a little weird," she said.

"Good," he said, without thinking.

"Good?"

"Yeah, I think it's good that you turned him down," he replied, trying to think of something to say to cover up his mistake.

"Okay." She was looking at him like he was crazy.

"I mean, he's probably old, right?"

"Old?" She sounded a bit offended.

"Yeah, I mean, he's got a kid in high school." He knew he was messing up bad. Why couldn't he stop putting his foot in his mouth?

"Well, so do I," she said.

"Yeah, but you were young when you had Rory. Most people aren't that young. Most people are..." He trailed off.

"Old," she said.

"Yeah."

"Like this guy who asked me out."

"But you're not going," he said, and he couldn't stop the note of concern in his voice.

"No, I'm not going," she said, looking down, seeming a little shy.

She looked up, and their eyes met. Held. For just a moment. He had to look away. He couldn't handle the intensity of her eyes when they were focused on him like that.

Her phone rang, and he pointed to his "no cell phone" sign without a word. He knew it wouldn't make a difference. She ignored him every time, but he still had to make the effort in the hopes that one day she would respect the rules of his establishment.

"I have to go," she said, pulling out her wallet.

"Keep it. I gave you decaf," he said.

She gave him the nastiest look on her way out. He supposed tricking her into drinking the dreaded decaf wasn't going to help her mood any, but it had been worth a try.

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He saw the girls walking by the diner that night.

It was closing time. The last customers had just left, and he was cleaning up the tables. He glanced up and saw them out the window.

Lorelai looked so pretty. She was smiling at Rory, her hair down and tucked behind her ears. He loved when her hair was down. Now that he wasn't busy with customers he could take more than a quick moment to appreciate her beauty.

He thought about earlier that day, when their eyes met, and it seemed like there was a moment between them. It felt like she had looked at him, finally, as maybe more than a friend. As a man who might be interested in her in other ways.

They were walking past. It suddenly occurred to him to go out and ask them if they wanted to come in, maybe for some pie or something. He headed out, but they were already past the diner and crossing the street.

He stood in the doorway for a moment, feeling silly, watching them walk away. Then he turned, flipped the sign to closed, and went back in the diner. He would just see them tomorrow. Maybe that moment had meant more to him than it did to her. Maybe he was reading too much into things. Better to wait and see what developed. Better to not act on a stupid spur of the moment impulse.

Better to wait.