When Luke opened his eyes, he couldn't see anything at all. During the wee hours, the fire had died down to dark ash and the lamp had burned out. Truth be told, he completely forgot where he was. It was normal for him to wake up each day at 5:30am, in the dark, about five minutes before his alarm went off. Luke was a vivid dreamer, and he often spent those few fuzzy minutes trying to remember what he'd been dreaming about, and making up theories about what his dreams might mean. Like the time that he'd dreamed about trying to build Lorelai's wedding chuppah, and the nails were all melty and stuck together like gummy bears that had been left out in the sun. Or the time that he'd dreamt that Jess was really his father in disguise, come back from the grave to taunt him and make him question all of his choices in life. And then there was his recurring favorite – a fishing dream. Except that he wasn't trying to catch just any fish, he was trying to catch two dazzlingly beautiful exotic fish – one older and one younger – who seemed to know everything he was thinking before he thought it. He would stand in the stream all day in his dream, wearing an apron and baiting his lures with coffee grounds, and the beautiful fish would swim all around him but cleverly avoid being caught. As frustrated as he was, he admired those fish for their beauty and intelligence. He wondered if he would regret catching them, but he never seemed to stop trying.
This morning, Luke thought about whose day it was to open the diner, and decided that he'd go downstairs around 7am and help Caesar with the breakfast crowd. Everyone thought he was nuts when he came in early on days when he wasn't expected in until 9 or 11 o'clock, but nobody complained about the extra pair of hands. It was his diner, he thought. His father had always told him that that was one of the great luxuries of being self-employed: you set your own hours and keep them only when it suits you. He wondered what his dad would think of the diner if he could see it today. Chances are, he'd be proud as hell.
Luke smiled to himself and repositioned his head on the pillow. He breathed in the sweet smell of Lorelai's hair and exhaled with a sigh. Absently, he nuzzled the nape of her neck as he thought about what the breakfast special should be this morning.
Suddenly, he froze. His eyes snapped wide open and he held his breath. All at once, he'd come to the crashing realization that he was NOT in his bed. And he was NOT ALONE. Lorelai was asleep beside him – so close beside him, in fact, that there were barely any parts of his body that weren't in direct contact with hers. He was mortified about the nuzzling thing. Had she felt that, or was she totally asleep? His brow was furrowed with worry that she might be lying there wondering what the heck he was trying to do. He didn't move a muscle, waiting to see if she was going to haul off and smack him, asleep or no.
Several seconds had passed. Then a minute. There was no clock in the cabin, and Luke didn't dare look at his watch, but he was sure that it had been at least three or four minutes since the nuzzling incident, and Lorelai appeared to be completely unaware of his advances. He started to relax. She was out like a light. Come on, this is Lorelai! She could sleep through a train wreck, she certainly wasn't going to wake up from a little innocent – and, he added mentally, completely unintentional – nuzzling. Besides, nuzzling is sort of… affectionate, right? People nuzzle babies and cute, fluffy pets. Friends are affectionate sometimes, aren't they? Nothing inappropriate about nuzzling.
He laid his head back down on the pillow beside hers, being careful not to lie on her hair. That was what had caused this whole problem in the first place! One near-escape per night was more than enough for him. He started to drowse a little. No sense in getting out of bed before dawn, he definitely wouldn't be helping Caesar out this morning regardless of how early he got up. He wished he could move away from Lorelai a little, to make sure that he wouldn't accidentally… uh, touch something, but she was crammed right up against him in the tiny bed and his back was almost against the wall of the cabin as it was. Cozy, he thought. At least being so close together had made it nice and warm under the blankets. Luke wasn't relishing the idea of getting out of bed into the frosty air of the cabin. Maybe just another hour…
Lorelai wasn't much of a dreamer. Nine nights out of ten, she'd roll groggily out of bed in the morning after fifteen minutes of 'snoozing' her alarm clock, with absolutely no recollection of any dream she might've had during the night. Rory was always telling her that dreaming is automatic – everyone does it every night of their lives, but Lorelai had to accept the fact that the majority of those nightly dreams would never make their way into her conscious brain. Oh, there were exceptions, of course. The strange twin dream was a marvelous example. Dreams like that were enough to convince Lorelai that she probably didn't want to know what she was dreaming about every night! When Rory had first moved away to college, Lorelai had suffered for weeks with outlandish nightmares about everything from freak earthquakes to campus axe murderers to Rory having the wrong kind of trashcan for her dorm room and being rejected by all the other kids.
She knew the nightmares were ridiculous – at least as ridiculous as the twin dream, possibly even more – but it didn't make them stop. Sometime in the fall, she'd just stopped having them (or stopped remembering that she was having them, same difference), and she couldn't remember a single dream she'd had since then. Oh, except for that crazy dream that she was always having about the tree house, but she'd been having that one for years. It wasn't a nightmare, but it was still pretty odd. In the dream, she was always admiring this beautiful tree house, but she couldn't get close enough to it to see inside. When she stood back and looked at it, the windows were warm and inviting and the most delicious smells of coffee and baked goods were always drifting down to tempt her. All she wanted to do was to climb up to the house, find out who really lived there, and maybe stay awhile if it was nice. But there was no way up. She'd had the dream a hundred times, but she could never find the way up to that stupid little house! Frustrating dream. Always made her wake up craving coffee and cinnamon rolls. Not that that was a bad thing, in Lorelai's book.
Tonight was one of the dreamless nights for Lorelai. She was warm, comfortable, and for some reason she was sleeping more soundly than she had since Rory had moved away. Deep down, she felt a familiar kind of home-sweet-home sensation that she'd always had when she knew that Rory was sleeping soundly in the bedroom below her own. She didn't know or care what was bringing that sensation back when Rory was over an hour away, sleeping in a dorm room at Yale. Lorelai had missed that feeling. She didn't want to think too hard about it because she was afraid that she'd scare it off and it wouldn't come back. Warm, soft, nuzzling at the back of her neck. Mmmmm. If this was a dream, she was going to make damn sure that she didn't hear her alarm this morning. Michel was a capable guy, as obnoxious as he was. No need to go wrecking a perfectly good dream when there was an odious Frenchman on hand to staff the front desk at the inn until … oh, at least 9am. She snuggled into the warm covers. Maybe even 10am, she thought.
After finally recovering his composure after the "nuzzling incident" (as he'd come to think of it), Luke had dozed off again. Confident that his lapse of propriety had gone unnoticed, he'd given up on the idea of getting up early for work and drifted back off to sleep. True to his word, he didn't snore even a little, in spite of the musty bedding and close quarters. The two of them slumbered peacefully on, as the sky outside changed gradually from black to iron gray. The snow had finally stopped and the tiny cabin sat snugly under its thick mantle of white.
At some point later, in the dim gray light of the dawn, Luke stirred in his sleep. Almost simultaneously, as if his presence had reminded her sleeping body that it needed to move too, Lorelai stretched languidly in the tiny bed. She arched her back and sighed, unaware that she was pressing herself back against the only part of Luke that was actually awake at this hour of the day. Like any healthy male, that part of Luke didn't need a lot of enticement to get its attention. And Luke was a very healthy guy.
"Mmmmmmm" Lorelai exhaled in her sleep. The home-sweet-home sensation wasn't gone, but it was being overshadowed by another sensation that she liked just as much. And that sensation was trailing sparks through her entire body, igniting a reaction that she hadn't felt in a very long time. Too long. This dream was getting better by the minute, and she couldn't imagine how it would do any harm to indulge herself a little. She drew her hand up against her bare belly, underneath her sweater. Mmmmmmmm, that was nice. Her breathing was a little deeper, her cheeks slightly flushed.
Luke's imagination was having a hayday with him, but he really didn't mind. He pressed tentatively back against the form that had brushed against him so teasingly just a moment ago. He renewed the contact, causing his blood to rush urgently through his body. From far away, he heard a woman sigh and he pressed more firmly. He smelled her hair, her flushed skin so close to his own. She drew his hand smoothly under her soft cashmere top, and he moaned inwardly when he felt the heat of her soft skin under his fingers. She pressed back against him again, and he brought his lips to the suppleness of her neck.
The kisses behind her ear, along her hairline, and down the side of her neck were almost too real. The dream seemed to fade away moment by moment, but the sensations didn't seem to be going with it. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and she couldn't think about anything except the soft, teasing kisses on her skin. In one fluid motion, she eased herself onto her back and met those kisses in the way that they were undeniably asking her to. The hand on her belly wasn't her own after all, because her hands were both somehow in his hair as their kisses grew deeper. The dream was gone. She was awake, and she was kissing Luke. Kissing him because they were in bed together. Of course, how obvious. With her body pressed firmly against his, and their kisses flowing seamlessly together into one long, passionate expression of their mutual desire, she was amazed to find that she wasn't the least bit surprised.
There was no way for Luke to deny the real-life presence of the dream woman any longer. Even in his sleep, he'd known exactly who could elicit this kind of response from him. He didn't need to be conscious to feel the familiar rush he had when he was close to her, when he touched her. But he staunchly refused to let reality interfere with what was easily the most vivid fantasy he'd ever had. There was no way that this could be real – the way that she responded so eagerly in his arms, the way that their bodies fit so perfectly together. Surely it wasn't possible that he was stroking her bare skin under her shirt. That could never happen in reality. He kissed her neck, to be sure that she wasn't real, but once he started, he couldn't bring himself to stop. She lifted her chin, offering him the length of her velvety neck and he lost all ability to think. He was drowning in pleasure, and didn't care if he ever came up for air again. When she brought her lips softly to his, and kissed him with all the intensity that he'd seen in her from the first day that they met, he was completely undone. Fantasy, reality… who said there had to be any distinction between those two things? As impossible as it was, he was awake. And he was kissing Lorelai.
At long last, the kisses ended and they gazed at one another for a long minute without saying a word. Sleepy smiles adorned both of their faces. Neither one made a move to get out of bed, or even untangle themselves from their intimate embrace.
"It's you." whispered Lorelai.
"Yeah, me." he replied with a smile.
She arched a concerned eyebrow. "Is this…" she paused, "Okay?"
He looked at her eyes. Her mouth. The curve of her cheekbone. He closed his eyes and gently shook his head.
"No" he said softly. "This is so much better than okay that they don't even have a word for it."
She reached up to his face, brushing her thumb briefly across the fullness of his lower lip. Words? Who needed words?
Yeah, okay, so they're still in a cabin in the middle of nowhere! But you're saying that like it's a bad thing! What if they LIKE it in the cabin? Huh? What if they wait until spring to go back to Stars Hollow? What if nobody even cares about the stupid Christmas tree for the inn?? What if it took me so long to finish this poor story that I completely abandoned the Christmas theme because it just doesn't seem seasonal anymore? Hee hee. Don't like it? Flame me in the reviews! I can take it J
You guys have been great! Thanks for suspending your disbelief long enough for me to get these two characters together (in bed, but not in an NC-17 kind of way, hopefully). Thanks for hanging in there through the loooooong wait for updates. I think I'm sort of getting the hang of this fanfic thing, and I might try it again soon!