Disclaimer:They haven't been mine through the first six chapters, and they ain't mine now.
Author's Notes:This is the end of "The Good One." More notes at the end. Romantique: Nope, no implication, just a shameless BC reference because that's the school I go to.
The World Is Overrated
Well I've been afraid of changing
Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older, too
I'm getting older, too…
Years passed, and Luke and Lorelai had been married for twenty-five years. The twins had been out of college for a few years. Mia, who had graduated from UConn, was living in a townhouse in Stars Hollow and teaching first grade at Stars Hollow Elementary. Will, who had graduated from Yale and gotten his MBA, was also living in Stars Hollow while working for a company in Hartford.
Earlier that year, Luke had gone to the doctor, and afterwards, had said to his wife and children, "I need to go back to the doctor. They need to run some tests." His palms had sweated as he swallowed hard, a horrible feeling of déjà vu hitting him. "There's a possibility that I might have cancer, and I just wanted to let you know so that you won't be surprised if I do."
The day his father had said almost the same thing to him was coming back to haunt him. All his life, he had hoped to be half the man Bill Danes had been. But the one thing he had hoped to rectify was his father's short life. Although Luke was older than the age his father had lived to—Rory, who was forty-six now, was closer to it—Mia and Will weren't much older than he had been when his father had died. Luke hoped as hard as he could that the tests would turn out negative. It would be too horrible, too ironic for him to have cancer as his parents had. It just couldn't happen.
But a doctor's solemn gaze told him that it could.
And the doctor's grave face that came months later, after he'd endured the pain of chemotherapy, after Stars Hollow had come rushing to help out in any way they could, after his family had done extra work at the diner and fought successfully to keep it alive despite Luke's absence, with the news that the cancer had metastasized beyond the point where they could treat it, confirmed that his worst fears were possible as well.
He was numb. He was sixty-eight years old—not young by any means, but still too young to be dying. Lorelai was sixty-three, and in less than a year, she would be a widow. The twins were twenty-five, just beginning to get the hang of adulthood. He wouldn't be alive to see them marry or have children. He wouldn't be able to walk Mia down the aisle at her wedding. Rory was an award-winning newspaper columnist and the author of a bestselling book. Caddy was eighteen, and going to start at Yale in the fall. He wouldn't live to see the rest of the great things his daughter and granddaughter would accomplish.
He was worried about Lorelai more than anything else. He was afraid she hadn't really let the news sink in. When Richard had died suddenly of a heart attack three years earlier, she'd first snapped into action, planning the funeral, comforting her mother, and only afterwards had cried and let her emotions go. But she had seemed completely blank when they had gotten the news about Luke. Now she wasn't talking about it at all, but she wasn't going about her business as usual, either. She was just quiet and contemplative all the time, and that made him sadder than anything. She was quiet when he told their children, and quiet when a hospital bed was brought into their house, so he could die at home.
It was horrible. He was used to the Lorelai he had fallen in love with, the happy, in-love-with-the-world woman who just blurted out whatever she was thinking. And now, as he was dying, when what he wanted more than anything was the old Lorelai, she was gone.
Then one day he found her in their bedroom, staring at a plastic cup.
She heard him come in and turned around, revealing the tears in her eyes. "It's the punch cup from the first night we kissed," she sobbed. "During the fireworks. On the bridge. I saved it."
And Luke felt tears welling up in his own eyes. He went over and hugged his wife, rubbing her back as she sobbed.
"I always thought I'd be the first to go," she blubbered into his flannel shirt. "And you'd be yelling at me, telling me I should have listened to you and not eaten all that junk, and you'd be able to say 'I told you so.'"
He kissed her forehead, stroking her hair.
"I hate seeing you sick," she sniffled. "I hate that you have to suffer so much."
"But maybe this is better," he said gently. "We have time to prepare for it."
Lorelai wiped her eyes. "God," she said. "I never thought I'd have to plan your funeral." She paused. "How should I plan your funeral?"
Luke sighed. "Honestly?" he said. "I'll be dead. I want you to do whatever is easiest for you."
"It won't be easy if I'm worrying about whether I'm doing what you would have wanted."
Luke was quiet for a moment. Then he sighed. "No flowers," he said. "I hate flowers. They're useless. They're pretty for about two days, and then they rot and smell up the house. Please, tell people not to bring flowers."
Lorelai nodded slowly, and he could tell she was finally letting the reality of the situation sink in. "Do you want them to make contributions to a charity in your name or something?"
"If that's what makes them feel good, they can go for it," he replied. "I'm not forcing anyone to give money to anything."
"Okay…" she said. "What else?"
"Cheapest coffin you can find," he said. "The damn coffin-sellers try to guilt you into spending a fortune on a really nice coffin. Well, I'll be dead and it'll be a waste of money, so please ignore whatever they say and buy a cheap one."
"What about inside the coffin?" She looked at him. "Is there anything you want to be buried with you?"
Luke was silent, thinking about it. Then he took the hat he was wearing off his head and said, "This."
Lorelai blinked. "The hat?"
"The hat you bought me for Christmas, years ago," he said. "I want to hang onto this. But nothing else."
She began to cry again. "I love you, Luke," she said, burying her face in his shirt.
"I love you, too," he said. He tilted her chin up and wiped some of the tears away.
"What am I going to do without you?" she sobbed. "I don't know what I'll do!"
"Hey," he said, almost sternly. "Don't say that. The Lorelai I know and love can handle this. I love that you can…find joy everywhere, no matter what the circumstance. You got pregnant at sixteen but managed to be a great mom and a successful innkeeper. You got the Dragonfly up and running from nothing. You helped repair your relationship with your parents after things between you got bad." He looked at her seriously. "And you can live without me. And even if it doesn't feel that way now, you will be happy again."
"I know," she said, almost inaudibly. She rested her head against him again. "I'll just miss you so much."
It was July 3rd, and Luke was remembering the moments he'd spent with his family recently.
How he'd sat with Mia in the gazebo, and Mia, a tall, thin, beautiful woman who looked very much like her mother, had cried and told him how grateful she was to have a father whom she could talk to about anything. In middle school and high school, she'd said, she'd had nothing to say when her friends complained about their parents. Luke had hugged her and told her how much he loved her and how proud he was of her as he cried with his beautiful youngest daughter.
How he'd gone with Will to Johnson's Ice Cream, like he had when Will was young, and he'd asked Will how work was going. Will, who had his father's eyes, had been silent. Luke had known for awhile that Will hadn't been enjoying the work he'd been doing, and he'd said, "You were never meant to be a suit, Will. Find something that makes you happy." Will had said, "I love you, Dad," and Luke had hugged him, this son who was so like him but so unlike him at the same time, but who had always needed him so badly, and choked out, "Take good care of your mother, Will. She likes to handle things on her own, but…there will be times when she'll need you, and I know you can be there."
How he'd made Rory chocolate chip pancakes with extra chocolate, and Rory had cried, and remembered when Luke had baked her a coffee cake and blown up balloons for her birthday thirty years ago. "You were always there for me and my mom," she sobbed, "even when you didn't have to be." She'd hugged him and continued, "You were more of a father to me than anyone's ever been. I love you, Luke." He'd hugged her back, his sweet little girl who had grown up into an amazing writer and a loving wife and mother, and said, "I love you, Rory."
How he'd gone for a walk with Caddy down by the lake. Caddy, who was a young woman now, slim with Rory's big, innocent eyes, had cried and told him she loved him. He had hugged her and told her how proud he was of her and how much he loved her, too.
How Jess and his family had come up to see him. He'd seen his grandniece, Elsa, who was studying English in college, which her parents had never gotten to do. Jess had said, sounding almost amazed and on the verge of tears, "I can't even imagine where I'd be without you." Luke had hugged him and said, for the first time he could remember, "I love you, Jess."
How he and Liz had walked through their old neighborhood, and Liz had reminisced with him ("Remember when I used to make popsicle-stick castles all the time? Remember when you wore that Star Trek shirt every day? Remember when you threw toilet paper all over the gazebo?") before she had stopped and looked at him and said, "All those times I got into trouble, all those times I needed help, I just kept thinking, 'This time he's not going to help me. This time he won't care." She'd stopped to catch her breath, her odd eyes shining with tears, before she continued. "But you always did." He'd said, gently, "Of course I did. You're my sister. I love you," and they'd hugged and cried together. "You've always been my hero," Liz had said.
"Hey." The voice startled him, and he looked up to see Lorelai standing there. She was holding the plastic punch cup. She managed a smile. "It's July 3rd," she said. "I know a place where we could have our own private fireworks show."
And so they sat there on the bridge, a couple in their sixties watching fireworks together as they had years before, when they'd shared their first kiss.
He looked at her. Years had passed, but she was still Lorelai, and he still loved her more than he had ever thought possible. He reached over and squeezed her hand. "You're the most beautiful person in the world," he said sincerely. "How did I get so lucky?"
"I'm the lucky one," Lorelai said, squeezing back. She sighed. "I can barely remember a time when you weren't there," she said, her voice breaking. "That's who you've always been. The guy who's there, no matter what."
"I'll still be there," he said softly. "My parents are still here with me sometimes. And I'll be here for you." He leaned in and kissed her.
She was silent for a minute, thinking. "We had a lot of great times, didn't we?"
"Yes," he said. "We did." Another moment of quiet. "I love you, Lorelai."
"I love you, Luke." They sat there in silence for awhile. Then Lorelai rested her head on his shoulder and said, "Do you ever think about heaven?"
He put his arm around her. "Sometimes," he said. "There are times when I try to imagine it."
Above them was a burst of blue, then a burst of orange. He looked at her and repeated the words she'd said to him years ago, at Christmas, after she'd given him the hat he'd be buried with, as they stood in the diner together: "But it's hard to imagine living anyplace else, isn't it?"
Lucas Danes, Owner of Luke's Diner, 68
Lucas William "Luke" Danes, a lifelong Stars Hollow resident, died July 20, 2031, after a long illness. He was 68.
Mr. Danes was born March 28, 1963 in Hartford, Connecticut, son of the late William Danes and the late Sheila (Hoffman) Danes. He graduated from Stars Hollow High School in 1981 and from Southern Connecticut State University in 1985. That same year, he established Luke's Diner, a prominent Stars Hollow eatery, in the building that had been his father's hardware store. He was the husband of Lorelai Gilmore Danes, with whom he celebrated over twenty-five years of marriage.
Mr. Danes enjoyed baseball, fishing, and spending time with his family and loved ones.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Mia Elizabeth Danes; a son, John William Danes; a stepdaughter, Rory Callahan and her husband Gabriel; a granddaughter, Candace Lorelai Callahan; and a sister, Elizabeth Jordan and her husband Gary, all of Stars Hollow. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Emily Gilmore of Hartford; a nephew, Jess Mariano and his wife Leanne of Tampa, Florida; and a grandniece, Elsa Mariano of Tampa.
Heaven was as good as he'd heard, and.he found that he could, in fact, see his family from heaven as clearly as if he was there with them. He remembered what Lorelai had said to him before his Uncle Louie's funeral, about his father: He's got the big Luke picture screen on twenty-four hours a day, and he watches and smiles.
He had picture screens of his own now: the Lorelai screen, the Rory screen, the Mia screen, the Will screen, the Caddy screen, the Jess screen, the Liz screen, the Stars Hollow screen. And what he saw on them was something he'd never anticipated: the sheer number of people who came to his wake and funeral. It was like watching his father's wake all over again.
"He was a good man, your father," the good people of Stars Hollow were saying to Mia and Will, and he knew they were sincere. In heaven, you didn't wonder, you knew.
He was watching as people shared their stories: "He took you to the hospital when your father was sick." "He found those lost Easter eggs and let me take the credit." "He dropped everything to come help me when I needed it." "He gave me a chance when no one else would." "He helped out me and my mom even when he didn't have to." "He gave me a job, and then he gave it right back to me after I quit." "He came and fixed things around the house." "He gave me money when I needed it." "He came to watch me dance, even though he had to sit through the whole thing." "He found me sitting on the bridge, and he just picked me up and carried me all the way home."
He was watching when Rory's column won a Pulitzer Prize a few years later.
He was watching when Mia got married the following year and had a baby boy named for him.
He was watching when the town came rushing to do whatever they could for Lorelai, and he was thrilled when, finally, although she would always miss him, Lorelai was able to smile again, and to go back to the woman she was.
He was watching when Will, the son who was so much like him, stood one day in the empty diner, looking around, deep in thought.
And when Will quit his job in Hartford, knowing, as Luke had told him, that he wasn't really a suit.
And when Will moved into the apartment above the diner, and came downstairs one morning, unlocked the door, and said with a smile to a new customer, "Welcome to Luke's. First time's on the house."
A/N: Yeah, I know, I hated doing it. Because Luke is the man, and as my sister would say, "You can't kill the man!"
But can I just say that I had an absolute blast writing this fanfic? I'd never done a WIP before, and the support I got while writing it was just mind-blowing. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who gave reviews, and please, keep them coming. I don't even care if you yell at me for the way I ended it. The nicest thing is that I'm getting reviews from a lot of authors who I really respect, so just the fact that you're reading this means a lot.
Thank you so much to everyone at the TWoP boards. My goal as a fanfic writer was to be mentioned in TWoP's fanfic thread, and you guys made it happen. I love you for it.
Thank you to Christina, who, when I told her I was having trouble writing Lorelai realistically, replied, "Just think of something I would say!" Love ya, hon, even if you do mercilessly make fun of my fic-addic (dirty!).
By the way, I made a playlist of all the songs whose lyrics begin the chapters. In case you were wondering, here's "The Good One" playlist:
1. "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell
2. "When I Look at the World" by U2
3. "Brilliant Disguise" by Bruce Springsteen
4. "Pale Blue Eyes" by Velvet Underground
5. "You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth" by Meat Loaf
6. "Coming Around Again" by Carly Simon
7. "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac
Writing this was a great exercise- at least, that's what I tell myself to justify it, so that I'm not wasting time. But contrary to popular opinion, I do have something resembling a life, so I need to get back to it. I want to get some original stuff written, but hopefully I'll also write at least a couple of new fanfics by the end of the summer.
Lyrics by Stevie Nicks