A/N: As you've probably noticed, the chapters are starting to connect to each other in various ways, and I figured a timeline would be useful. Things will be filled in as the story progresses.

1. Raincoats and Recipes (May of 2004)

2. Education and Intricacy (Two weeks later - June of 2004)

3. The Breakup (Summer of 2005)

4. Despondence (September 2005)

5. Scintillation (June of 2006)

6. Incandescence (December of 2006)

I feel like I haven't shown a lot of appreciation for the reviews I've gotten, and I'd just like to give everyone who has been reviewing a sincere thank you. Thank you.

Chapter 5 – { … despondence … }

Despondence (noun) – feeling downcast and disheartened and hopeless.

The rain was coming down in torrents, serving as a great distraction from Taylor's latest proposal. Claps of thunder accompanied by flashes of lightning came at regular intervals; it didn't look like anybody would be leaving the town meeting anytime soon.

Lorelai put a hand to her throbbing head; a headache was forming near her temporal lobe, the place where she retained her memories. The rain brought a specific memory rushing to the top of her thoughts, drowning out Taylor's monotonous voice.

He moved his hand up and down her bare back, pressing gently on her spine as he did so. She spoke with her cheek against his skin, her warm breath caressing the hairs on his shoulders.

She finished her story with a fabulous punch line – or so she thought – and waited for Luke's sarcastic remark. When he was quiet, she repeated the line, and his response this time was, "I don't get it." She said, "Don't worry about it. I'm just rambling." She laughed a hollow laugh, as if to prove to him (and herself) that she honestly never found the story funny to begin with.

She felt guilty; she never asked how he was doing, what he was up to.

"So, what's going on with you?"

"Nothing, really."

"Oh, well, nothing can be good sometimes."

She pulled the worn polyester comforter closer to them and noted that they had managed to kick the sheets to the bottom of the bed. He said that he noticed too, and even though he didn't have the energy to pull them back up completely, he used his feet and managed to get the crisp linen around their ankles.

She took his hand and held it up in front of her. She slowly bent his pinkie at the different joints, making sure that he was still there, human and alive. Her fingers wandered to the creases in his palm, her nails following the deeper ones.

"I think it would be fun to be a palm reader."

"Where did that come from?"

"I don't know; it's just an idea."

"You'd probably make a good one."

"You think so?"

"Sure, if you knew what you were doing."

She traced his life line, the indentation stemming from the middle of his wrist and traveling to the place between his thumb and forefinger.

"This is your life line. It's more shallow than deep, so that means that sometimes, you have a tendency to let others control your life, but you have a good thing going anyway."

"Always good to know."

She continued, pointing to a line leading up to his middle finger. "And this is your fate line. Since it's connected to the life line, it says that you're a self-made individual, someone who knows what they want out of life and gets started on it early." She squinted in the dim light, and concluded that there were no smaller lines branching from it. "That really does sound like you."

"It does. Where did you get all of this from anyway?"

"Magazines. Rory and I used to do this, along with fortune telling. Of course, we never really knew what we were talking about as far as that went."


"Last one. Now I'm going to find your heart line." Before she could find it, thunder rumbled overhead, and the lights went out, throwing them into darkness. Sheet lightning crackled and became a backlight to the raging storm.

Startled by the power outage, she dropped his hand. She tried to recover her bearings, heart still beating at twice the normal rate.

"That was freaky."

He kissed her hair and said quietly, "It was. At least we weren't using any appliances."

"True. Very true."

"Are you going to finish my palm reading?"

She grinned, amused that he was subtly expressing his intrigue. "Sure."

She fumbled around in the dark, searching the bed for his hand, and came up empty. He laughed as he moved his hand all over the pillows, away from her reach. When she finally caught his hand, it was by the wrist, and she could feel his pulse beating against her palm, against her life, fate, and heart lines.

She couldn't see his heart line in the darkness, so she felt for it with the tips of her fingers, reading his hand like a sheet of Braille. After a minute, she couldn't find it and was internally panicking a bit.

"Find it yet?"

"No, actually."

"Don't worry about it; you can do it in the morning. We should probably get some sleep, anyhow."

"No, I have to find it! You have to have a heart line; everyone does. It defines how you love."

"I'm sure I have one. It's just dark and what not. Come on, it doesn't matter; it'll be okay."

Despondence and fatigue washed over her, and she reluctantly closed his hand in a fist and covered it with her hand. He promised that he'd remind her to find it as soon as they woke up the next day. She didn't know what to say to that, so she left an eerie silence sitting between them.

She should've known then, when neither of them had much to say to each other, that things were changing. The door that they had walked through was warping, expanding and contracting in the frame until one day, it wouldn't be able to close properly, and the cold wind would whoosh through, freezing everything within.

She shut her eyes and whispered, "I love you." He pulled her closer to him, like she was drifting away, and said, "I know."

Lorelai snapped out of her reverie, only to find herself staring at the lines on her hands, questioning whether or not he really knew she loved him, considering that the next morning, they were late in rising, and in the frantic attempts to get ready for work, he had forgotten about his promise entirely.

Luke returned to the diner, sopping wet from the rain. The town meeting had been a waste of time, as it always was, but he went because he never knew what ridiculous plan Taylor was concocting otherwise. Or maybe because he knew he'd see Lorelai.

He went into the kitchen to clean the ovens, and told his latest hire, Aileen, to wipe down the counter. Aileen was affable and was brought up in a Southern town, evident by the slight twang in her voice.

"I know I said you could leave early tomorrow, but would you close tomorrow and you can leave early Friday?"

"Of course not, Mr. Danes. I'd be happy to."

"You ever going to call me Luke?"

"Nope." She smiled. "Calling adults by their first names is something I never got used to."

"I see."

He fiddled with some knobs, and was thankful for self-cleaning ovens. The whirring noise began, and Luke made his way to the storeroom where he proceeded to open the boxes of croutons and bacon bits he had received earlier. After stepping on a few bags and tripping over a crate, he yelled out to Aileen.

"Did we get any saltine crackers today?"

"I don't think so. Anything delivered is in front of you."

"Oh, okay, just wondering."

He rifled through several more cardboard cartons, but to no avail. He was supposed to have gotten them days ago; where were they? Luke was contemplating whom he should call about this when he heard something shatter. He brought his head around the doorframe.


When she didn't answer, he flipped the storeroom light off and walked behind the counter where he found Aileen bent over something on the floor, tears streaming down her face.

He moved to be in front of her, and said her name again. "Aileen?"

Her two brown pigtails hung limply against her face, and she turned to face him.

"I-I was wiping down the inside of the counter and figured I could just do one big sweep, because nothing's ever there. I mean, at least not in this section. And then, I did, and before I knew it, it was on the floor. I didn't mean to; I didn't see it. Honestly, I didn't!"

With desperate eyes, she held out her hands for Luke to see. Lying in her palms were the pieces of a green coffee cup, the white ceramic exposed where it had broken.

He tensed, and it must have been visible, because Aileen began to ramble again. "I can try to glue it back together; I mean, it's not that many pieces. There's only about five or six. Or if you like, I'll pay for it or – "

Luke cut her off. "Don't worry about it. It's just a cup. You can't glue it back anyhow." He waved his hand over the small chips at their feet. "It won't fit together without these pieces, and they're way too small for you to glue."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. Go home and rest, Aileen. I'll see you tomorrow, okay? I'll close up."

She stood up and wiped her face with her sleeve. "Thanks Luke. I really am sorry."

"I know you are." He gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Hey, I got a first name."

Aileen sniffled and laughed. "Awkward, but I can do it again."

"Good. Do it again. Tomorrow, though. Go on."

She left with a small wave, and Luke sighed as he slumped down against the wall. He held one of the larger pieces in his hand, staring at the fingerprints he was creating in the thin layer of dust. He ran his palm against the edge, feeling the crevices that air bubbles had once inhabited.

His mind strayed, and as a result, he forgot that the corners of ceramic were undoubtedly sharp. The corner sliced through his hand, and he dropped the piece, cursing as it smashed into the floor for a second time.

It was a small cut that didn't require a bandage, but it hurt nevertheless and he knew it would leave a scar. As he was sweeping up the pieces of the broken cup, his throat tightened with vulnerability. She was right; up until a few months ago, he'd never kept anything under the counter. Back then, he'd assumed that the cup would be moved by now, perhaps finding a home in the "Luke Box" that dwelled in Lorelai's closet.

The cut was in the top right corner of his hand, scarring the loose flesh below his middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. It crossed over a deep line that extended from his middle finger to the right side of the palm, seemingly dividing it in two. He tried to remember what she had said about that line, what she had said about the other lines and the smaller lines that branched off of those. In his memory, he couldn't recall her ever commenting on this particular one; he knew her fingers had touched it, but she'd never identified it or traced it with a neatly manicured nail.

It took him a while, because he couldn't remember the names of the lines, but when it dawned on him, he felt like choking, or throwing up. So many things had been broken tonight, and he didn't think they had been made to be. Aileen's composure, the cup, his spirit…

He figured out that this was his heart line, and now, it was broken too.