What Ducks Do: Him
For author notes and disclaimers and whatnot, see the previous chapter.
I've done some pretty damn stupid things during the course of my life. There was skating into a tree and breaking my nose, trying to scratch the itch with a pencil when I broke my arm, and getting into a fight with Vince Williams when I was in sixth grade because he called me a doody-head. These were fairly high on the list. But by far the stupidest decisions I've made in my life were the romantic ones.
Rachel was the love of my twenties. We were great together. She was so caring and loving. And she had this great way of making see the beauty in things. We could be anywhere – including the dump (and this actually did happen) – when she would point something out. And suddenly something as simple as a tree branch or a piece of trash would, in the right light and from the right angle, look completely amazing. Although this may be a common skill for photographers, I really think that Rachel's talent for this was quite refined.
I probably would have married her if she'd stuck around. I have no doubt that she loved me – after all, she kept coming back – but she didn't love me enough not to leave. But she wouldn't have been Rachel is she'd been content with life in Stars Hollow. She needed to see the world with her photographic eye. And maybe if I'd gone with her life she'd asked, we would've gotten married, but I couldn't have done that any more than she could've stayed. Being a small-town guy is so ingrained in my personality that I wouldn't be Luke anywhere else.
Don't get me wrong, it was good while it lasted. But her trips away got longer and longer and then one time she just didn't come back. It hurt like hell for a long time. I remember feeling like garbage – used and easily discarded. Not very fair of me to think that – it hurt her like hell to leave me – but at the time I was nursing a broken heart and I was feeling a little bitter.
Eventually the days got easier to face and the ache began to subside. The whole in my life was filled with other things: fishing, the diner and its irritating customers, and, of course, fighting with Taylor. I functioned as a human being again and not like a wounded bear with a head cold. It was nice.
Before too long came the day where I could remove "the Rachel box" from the back of my closet. After she left, I stormed around my apartment in one of those fits of temper I'm so prone to and threw everything she'd left behind into a box. I told myself that when the blinding rage and crushing ache went away I'd do a proper post-mortem and burn it all in effigy or something. I'd never gotten around to doing that. By the time I could deal with it all, I'd forgotten all about the damn box.
And so it jut sat there. Years later when the town was having its rummage sake, I came across the box and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get rid of it. I sent it off without even looking inside it. Figured that there wasn't anything important inside, otherwise I would've missed it long before. I'd like to say that getting rid of the box was a cathartic moment for me, allowing for a final sense of closure, but that would be a pile of crap. I don't do closure, I just ignore it until the pain doesn't cripple me.
And Rachel came back, sending my life into chaos again. She talked a good talk about how she was ready to settle down, how she was tired of travelling. Yeah, right. It wasn't fate that put her on that plane to Hartford, but rather a sick and twisted coincidence. But eventually she (and the cheerleading squad she'd recruited) wore me down and part of me began to believe that this time might be different.
We were good for a while. I'd cleared her a drawer and given her a set of keys. I'd even braved Le Chat Club to buy her a birthday present. Granted, I took it back, but the thought was there. The only thing I couldn't do was brave the mall – nothing on God's green earth could make me do that.
Then suddenly things seemed to change. I found myself pulling back, creating some distance between us. Was I tiring of the relationship? Was a I afraid of letting myself commit wholeheartedly to her? Was I sensing a withdrawal on her part and this was simply my own reaction? Was I bailing on her before she could bail on me? Who knows? I just started looking for reasons to be out of the apartment and away from the diner. And in true Danes fashion, with emotional turbulence comes home repair initiative. It's what I do.
Rachel's departure lacked the drama that the previous ones had. There were no tears, no angry or hurt feelings, no spiteful "You'll be back." It just was. Somewhat anti-climactic. Just some foolish advice and she was gone. Maybe this was the closure that I needed. Proof that we'd grown so far apart that we just didn't work together anymore.
After that, there was a long dry spell. Of course, Stars Hollow is a small town and I'd just as soon not make myself a source of gossip. And God only knows that living with my nephew in a one room apartment with no privacy is not at all considered a pro in the dating column. Nothing like some time by yourself to put some desperation into perspective.
I shouldn't say that. I mean, of course, Nicole was a lawyer and therefore automatically not my type, but she was nice and funny and, let's face it, not at all bad on the eyes. But she was married to her job. She liked musicals – very big on Broadway stuff – and big cities. And although I can tolerate both in small doses, I'd rather not be in the company of either for too long.
Dating her had its good point though. She was more grounded and stable than Rachel, and far more serious and sophisticated than other women I knew. Plus, she was somewhat athletic – she skied! Nicole was my break from the ordinary. It was never supposed to be as serious as it got.
The cruise was the turning point. Well, hell, I should just face facts and accept that it really was the entire goddamn downfall. Apparently, I am highly susceptible to excess food, drink, and power of suggestion.
I am a damn fool.
Bad enough that we got married, started divorce proceedings, which were bad enough that I almost wanted to stay married if in name only, but then we had to start "dating" again. How do you date your own wife? Apparently I did it.
Looking back, I think it was a bad idea from the start. We were getting divorced and I think that somehow I'd already accepted that we were not soul-mates destined to spend our lives together. But we did have fun dating, so I think I was clinging to that.
But dating your wife is much different than dating your girlfriend. Nicole seemed to expect a much different level of commitment this time around, which makes sense I guess, considering the whole marriage thing. But before I knew it, I was giving up everything that made me, well, me. I was living in a townhouse in Litchfield, away from Stars Hollow for the first time in my life. She actually mentioned leasing out the diner and finding a chef's job in the city. This was my entire life she was talking about and she wanted me to leave it all behind? I panicked. I stopped moving my stuff over there. I started spending nights back at my place. I withdrew, I admit it. But that in no way excuses her for what she did.
When I first discovered that I was wearing someone else's socks, I felt sick. I thought I was going to throw up right then and there. And then my mind tried to rationalize it all. Maybe they were her brother's. Maybe Nicole had picked them up by mistake at the gym. Maybe they were hers. Maybe she bought them for me, thinking that I needed some variety in my sock choice. But none of them convinced me.
So I turned into Luke Danes, Private Investigator. I lay in wait and spied on my wife. And sure enough, she brought him back to our home. Our home! I put bookshelves up there for God's sake! I sat there as she led him inside and I was overcome with this blind rage. I came so close to going in there and tearing him apart, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I knew what was going on, but I sure as hell didn't want to see it.
The car, however, made a perfect target. Unfortunately, with those damn dent resistant side panels, the only evidence of my rage is the mug shot. Nicole and her sockman were too engrossed in each other to notice the ruckus outside, let alone the big green truck parked across the street. How the hell did she miss me? It's not as though I blended in our neighbourhood.
For the first and only time in my life, I entered a Starbucks. I packed up what few belongings I had at the townhouse (I left the damn bookshelves behind) and met up with Nicole to give her back the keys. It was a bit surreal. She was being an atypical detached lawyer and I was trying to control my temper and not throw my tea across the room. Eventually I sat on my hands and developed an eye twitch. Signing the divorce papers was a relief. Finally, it was over.
I walk through the town square thinking how I need to make some changes in my life and I hear someone call my name. I look over and see Lorelai and I stop so she can catch up. She walks over and stands right in front of me. There's something she wants to say. I can tell.
"I -" and she falters. I have no idea what she's trying to say, so I just stare. "I care what the hell ducks do." She smiles this beautiful shy smile. "I want to be a duck."
Ducks? What the hell? And it hits me like a ton of bricks... ducks!
Her face falls and betrays her insecurities. I realise she's as much a damn fool as I am.
I smile so big it feels like my face will break and I take her hand. This is great.
Being a duck is good.
Okay, now that this is done, I really hope that I didn't go with the most obscure line in the series. Review and let me know what you think!