"All right, I don't go to Yale or anything, but I'm pretty sure that pink lip gloss was not an essential element of seduction in that particular time period," laughed Lorelai as she and Luke walked the path to her front porch.
"Well, I don't go to Yale either, but I think we could safely say that you were lucky if any hygiene at all was in use then," responded Luke with a smile.
"So historical accuracy was not the reason to see that movie?" asked Lorelai.
"Well, my reason to see that movie was to be with you," he told her.
Lorelai smiled at that.
They stood at the bottom step of her porch now, she swinging her purse slightly, he with his hands in his pockets. They looked at one another.
"So," began Lorelai, "I had a good time."
"Me too. I was afraid you would cancel."
"Well, I didn't get to see you last night after we.. And you were so distracted at the Inn today... so I was kinda thinking..."
"No, Luke, no... Last night, the me and you part... Well, I'm glad about that... truly.. Over the Moon, even..." she smiled. "A little pissed at Kirk maybe..." she added.
"Over the moon, hunh?" he smiled.
"Yes, over the moon and back down here to Stars Hollow..."
"Well, good.. But there's something going on with you...other than orbital trips.... You caught that dish of eggs benedict pretty spectacularly at breakfast this morning..."
"Which would have been more impressive if I hadn't knocked it over in the first place," Lorelai looked away in consternation, "I've turned into a flippin' jumping bean lately."
"Are you okay?" he asked putting a hand on her forearm.
"Yes," Lorelai sat down on the steps before her and paused a moment, "No" she added.
Luke sat next to her, leaning on his knees, "Did I do something?"
Lorelai smiled thinly, "No, Luke, you have been great." He had to smile at that. "It's me and Rory. Rory did something. Something big. And I can't talk about it with you... not yet anyway," she bit her lip.
"Okay." said Luke.
"So this me and you thing... It's a little weird, and maybe partially responsible for my jumping bean act." Lorelai changed the subject.
"I don't want it to be weird. And I don't want you to jump... I don't want to make you uncomfortable." Luke returned gazing at her.
"No, me either... I like it—this..." sighed Lorelai, slipping her arms through his and leaning her head on his shoulder, "I'm glad... you... I'm glad you—trust me..."
Luke leaned his cheek against her hair, then turned his head to kiss her forehead, "I need to say that I don't want you think this is some sort of rebound thing for me, Lorelai..."
"Luke, you don't need to..."
"I do, I do need to..." he said into her hair.
"Okay," she returned softly from his shoulder.
"I've thought about this... about us... It's been a long time coming, I think..."
"Maybe it has," Lorelai nodded.
"It's something I really want to try," he said simply.
"Me too," she lifted her head to look at him now.
He leaned in then and kissed her softly then pulled back and looked into her eyes again, "God, Lorelai..."
"I know," she nodded.
He put an arm around her then and pulled her in close; she lay her head on his shoulder again and wrapped her arms about his waist. They sat in the quiet spring evening like this for awhile and listened to the crickets.
"How does Rory feel about this...?" he finally asked.
Lorelai pulled herself out of the momentary bliss and looked up at him, "We haven't talked about it yet, Luke. Last night she...Oh, it was awful... I never thought..." "You know it's killing me not to ask what happened, right?"
"I know," nodded Lorelai, "I just can't, not yet..."
"Is she all right?" he asked.
"She will be. She has a helluva learning curve to climb right now, but she'll do it...I hope. I just didn't want her to have to ever learn this lesson... She shouldn't have to, damn it... God, I hate being angry with her. When is it that your job as a parent ends? I mean the imprint you try to give, the person you try to be for them...When is that over and your child is only left with being responsible for herself?" Lorelai asked no one in particular.
"Okay, without knowing any details.... I don't know," said Luke.
Lorelai had to smile through the shine in her eyes at that, "Crap." she said.
"Sorry," said Luke.
"Yeah, well we will work this out... somehow.."
"I know," he agreed.
Lorelai took a deep breath.
"So... me and you...Wow." she changed tacks.
"Yes, me and you," Luke returned with a twinkle in his eye.
"We are good," affirmed Lorelai with a high wattage smile.
"We are great... You are great," concluded Luke.
"Wow, me and Luke? You and me?"
"Us," nodded Luke.
"Yeah, 'us.' I like the sound of that..." Lorelai smiled again, "Now, I was thinking, you've been doing all the work..."
"The work?" asked Luke with a grin, wondering where this was going.
"Yeah, the dancing, the asking out, the flowers..."
"Ah, the 'work'" nodded Luke.
"So 'not work'..." said Luke slipping his hands behind her neck and into her hair, pulling her in. He began to softly kiss her lips repeatedly until she moaned in response which thrilled them both. They opened their mouths then and began tentative stroking with their tongues. Then pulled away in wonder, breathing.
"Wow..." said Lorelai.
"You keep saying that," smiled Luke.
"There is something... here... between us," Lorelai gestured back and forth between them a little amazed.
"Yeah," acknowledged Luke and leaned in to kiss her again.
"Okay, we have to stop now," breathed Lorelai at last, "This is fast...."
"Ten years of build-up is a lot to work out," countered Luke.
Lorelai laughed, "So, as I was saying, you have been doing all the work and now I want to do something for you..."
"Hmmm, what did you have in mind?" asked Luke as he wound his fingers into a lock of her hair.
"Well, could I take you to dinner Wednesday night?" she asked.
"Absolutely," he said happily.
"Great!" said Lorelai and stood up. Luke joined her.
"I better go in and check on Rory," said Lorelai, "She says she wants to be alone, made me come tonight even, but..."
"It's okay," he comforted, "Go to her. Will I see you in the morning?"
"I'll try," she promised and leaned in for a last kiss, "I had a great time... Thank you."
"Good night," Lorelai turned to go up the stairs.
"Good night," Luke took one last look before walking out to his truck, he watched her smile and turn to go up the stairs and was so caught up in that last look in her eyes that he did not see, until it was too late, her heel catch on the stair below her. He was too late, as well, to grab her before she fell to her knees and could only watch helplessly, and as if in slow motion, her head knock into the top stair. She'd managed to turn it sideways somehow just before the impact.
"Oh, my God! Lorelai!" Luke hurried up and grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her into a sitting position.
"I'm fine... really..." she mumbled dazedly and rubbed the side of her head.
"Let me look," he said leaning in closer from his kneeling position to move her hand away from her head. He probed the tender spot gently.
"Ow!" she complained.
"You're going to have quite a bump..." said Luke, "Lorelai, look at me.. Are you all right?"
Loreali looked up at him, "Yes, Doctor Kasey. I'm pretty embarrassed, but I think I'll live...The Inn better succeed though, cause I think I should give up on my Rockette back-up plan." She rubbed her head again ruefully.
"This isn't like you..." Luke shook his head.
"Mom?" The front door opened to reveal Rory in her pajamas, "I heard a yell... Are you all right? Oh, my God, what happened?" She hurried over.
"I'm fine..." Lorelai smiled at her daughter, glad she was talking to her, even over something as stupid as tripping over her own foot.
"Rory, she hit her head, could you help me get her in. We should put some ice on it," said Luke pulling Lorelai to her feet.
Once they had Lorelai settled on the couch with an ice bag on her head, Rory took a moment to watch her mother and Luke.
"Luke, you should go home... it's late and you have to get up early," said Lorelai.
"I think you need to see a doctor," Luke told her.
"What? You hate doctors."
"That doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge a need for them and I'm worried about you."
"Luke, I tripped."
"You've been doing that a lot lately."
"Yeah, well... I've been tired and stressed and distracted.... This making your dreams come true stuff is hard work, Mister."
"Go home, Luke, I am fine. I'll try to come by tomorrow."
Luke sighed knowing defeat was a fact now.
Once he was gone, Rory sat next to her mother and watched her as she leaned back against the sofa, eyes closed, ice bag held to the side of her head.
"You two..." she began, "You're the same, but different."
Lorelai opened her eyes and looked at her daughter, "Yes, we are different."
"Mom, I've been thinking..."
"I've decided to take that trip with Grandma."
"Rory, what is this Peyton Place?–You're going to run to Europe to avoid this mess?" asked Lorelai seriously.
"Okay, I know I probably deserved that.." said Rory fighting the tears.
"No, honey, you didn't, I'm sorry.. My head hurts and I'm still upset about everything...."
"I know. I know. But I need some time to think. I need some time to think away from you."
"Rory..." Lorelai felt her own tears welling then.
"I'm not saying this to hurt you, Mom, really. I know I've done something wrong. But I need to work it out. Me. If nothing else, you have shown me that... independence... well, it's just what I need to do."
Lorelai took a long look at Rory, "All right. You're right. This is yours. But I'd like to have you closer than an ocean away in case you need me."
"I know you would, but... it can't be like that... God, this whole year has been about me needing you and trying to resist that..." Rory put her head in her hands.
"Honey, why? You shouldn't resist that... I'm here for you..."
"I know you are. But, I've got to be here for myself, Mom. I don't know how else to explain it," she looked into her mother's eyes then, willing her to understand.
"Oh, God, why do I have to understand that?" lamented Lorelai.
"Because that's how you and I are," said Rory.
Lorelai sighed and put her arms around her beautiful daughter. She had to support her by letting her go this alone. Damn, what a roller coaster night.
"I will go with Grandma for a month. I talked to her this evening about it."
"Whoa! What? So fast?"
"Yes, I'm sorry..."
"God, I hate change, especially fast change," moaned Lorelai.
"When I come back, I'm getting a least two jobs, maybe three... I'll need the money, and the work will help."
"Rory, what about Dean?" asked Lorelai quietly.
"I've written him a letter. Clearly I don't have any business seeing him..."
"That's how it is, Mom. How it's going to be." stated Rory decisively.
"All right, all right."
"We're leaving Tuesday."
"What?" Lorelai sat up quickly and grabbed her throbbing head, "Tuesday? As in the day after tomorrow?"
"Yes. I know I'll miss the official opening, but..."
"Yeah, you will..."
"Gah! Rory! Okay, okay, clearly you've made your decision, your plans even, without even talking to me. I understand your need to work this out on your own, I really do, but, Jeez kid, could you have at least talked to me a little...?"
"I'm sorry, Mom, I love you... but I need to do this... myself."
Lorelai tried to decide if there was a part of her body that didn't hurt as her heels clicked past the square en route to Luke's the next morning. She sighed. Oh! Her tongue! Her tongue didn't hurt. She smiled a little then, because of Luke of course, and then frowned once more when the jangling bell over the diner door re-woke every damn pain nerve she had. Man-o-man, pain sucks. She slumped onto a stool at the counter, and put her head down on her arms.
"Hey," she heard as a mug of coffee appeared magically before her. She clasped its comforting warmth and drank deeply, "How are you doing?"
She looked up then and into his dear face. He was peering down, his concern plain.
"I'm fine," she told him, sitting up, "How are you this morning?"
"Are you sure you're fine?" he asked doubtfully.
"Luke..." she began.
"Hey, Luke, two chocolate doughnuts to go!"
"Hold on, Ed!" Luke called back.
"Luke, I'm fine, now go work," she shooed him away.
She sat awhile then, sipping coffee and munching bacon, and reading over the comment cards from the weekend. She laughed at Taylor's request for less dust on the road and compliments of the shine on the brass sconces in his room. Kirk's itemized report of accessible sharp objects in his room was also hysterical. Miss Patty and Babette suggested that she provide each room with an annotated copy of the Karma Sutra to be placed inside the bedside table right next to the Bible.
By the time things had quieted down and Luke had returned to her side, she was grinning.
"What are you so happy about?" he asked as he sat on the stool next to her.
"I love this town!" she laughed at him.
"O-okay. Are you sure you didn't hit your head a little harder than I thought?"
"Look at this," she said and handed him Patty and Babette's card. She watched his face flush slightly as he read it.
"Ah, Jeez. I did not need that added to the already burned-on-my-brain mental image of Babette's robe flashing."
Lorelai laughed again. The sound made Luke happy whatever the crazy reason.
"So..." said Luke.
"So..." said Lorelai.
"Are we still on for Wednesday?"
"Absolutely," she assured him.
"Where are you going to take me?" he asked smiling.
"Hmmm... I think that should be a surprise."
"So, you don't know yet?"
"Yeah, that's pretty much it. Hey, um, I haven't told you yet but Rory is going to go to Europe tomorrow... with my Mom."
"That seems sudden."
"It is." said Lorelai quietly.
"I'm still not supposed to ask, am I?"
"I'm sorry, Luke... I want to talk to you, but.."
"Lorelai, it's okay. So, how's your head feeling now?" He asked as he crossed around the counter to the coffee pot and gave her a refill.
"Well, it hurts much more than a splinter but way less than childbirth," she told him into her sip.
"Is it really that bad?"
"What? My head?"
Luke looked both ways to check for eavesdroppers before answering, Lorelai followed his eyes in confusion, "Childbirth?—Is it that bad?" he clarified.
"Yes." she affirmed
"Why?" she asked.
"I guess it's not something you'd ever want to do again, then..." he offered without meeting her eyes.
Lorelai gulped at the implication here, "W-w-well," she began, "It was pretty awful for me, but I was sixteen..."
"Right." Luke shifted uncomfortably.
"Not that I think that if I did it again it would be a bed of roses or something..."
"Because there is just no way that having your feet in stirrups while you..."
"You know, I was just asking..."
They both paused, not meeting each other's eyes.
"But since you did...ask, that is" began Lorelai, looking up at him,
"Yeah?" his eyes met hers.
"I'd have to say that, while it's not fun, you know...it's worth it...the result, that is.."
"Oh, right. The result."
"But, I am getting pretty old," she joked lamely.
"Lorelai..." he began, but was interrupted by the ringing of her phone.
He pointed to his sign, as was customary, and she reached in her purse for her phone, grabbed it and headed outside.
"Loreali, I need to know what's going on."
"I'm fine, Mom. How are you?" Lorelai frowned in frustration. Luke watched from inside the diner as her expression changed.
"Don't 'How are you?' me, Lorelai Victoria," snapped Emily.
"Why has Rory made this sudden decision to go to Europe with me?" Emily cut to the chase.
"You'd have to ask her about that, Mom."
"I am asking you, her mother."
"Have you changed your mind about going?" asked Lorelai.
"Of course not. There is just something about this...urgency...that has me concerned. Has something happened?'
"Mom, Rory is a young woman now," in more ways than one, she thought ruefully, "So you really need to talk to her if you have questions."
"I knew something was going on!" said Emily triumphantly.
"Gah! Mom, is there something else you needed? Because I really need to get to work."
"No, just tell Rory that I've hired a car. The driver and I will pick her up at three tomorrow morning."
"Three in the morning?!"
"It's an international flight leaving from New York, Lorelai. We'll need to be there at least three hours early for the security check in alone..."
"Right. Okay, fine."
Luke looked up as she came back into the diner to collect her purse.
"Everything all right?" he asked.
"No, it was my mother."
"Look, I really need to get to the Inn. There is so much to do. I've almost got two weeks before the first official guests come and I've got to take care of that dust problem on the road. What do you think? Gravel? Because I can't really afford asphalt and I want to keep that period look, anyway..."
"Hey, would you call me later?" she asked looking up.
"Sure, if you want me to..."he responded, wondering what was going on now.
"I mean, you don't have to, if you're busy..."
"No, it's fine..."
"I just thought..."
"I mean, it would be nice to hear your voice," she stated looking at him meaningfully.
"Then I'll call you. It'd be nice to hear your voice too." he said, looking back.
"Well, good..." she turned to go, but not before bumping into a chair on her way, "There I go again," she said, "Padded room... it's the only answer...Well, 'bye..." she called over her shoulder and left the diner hurriedly.
"'Bye," Luke just had time to say, before the door closed behind her.