Disclaimer: I'm broke and it's tax season. Sue the IRS.
Notes: There were so many stories about the night they got back together that I just didn't think I could do it justice, especially after two or three absolutely outstanding ones I read. This is a bit different, and I hope it's up to par.
Rating: I wondered if I should slap an "R" rating on it, but decided all the descriptions were vague enough.
Enjoy, as always!
The bed is cold. The covers have slipped down to rest in a bunch over her waist. Her hands hug his pillow and her own as her eyes struggle to deal with the blinding sunshine pouring in. The blinds are still up, the alarm clock is off and the trail of clothing that lined a path from the top of the stairs to her side of the bed has been neatly folded into a pile on the chair.
All things she would have noticed if she'd looked around or paid attention to her tactile abilities. Instead, the first thing she's aware of is the smell of hot coffee permeating the air. She knows it's all the way downstairs, which probably means she's able to smell caffeine on a scale of parts per million, putting her in the same category as a blood hound.
Familiarity helps kick her brain into gear, pointing out the glaring absence of a second warm body in her now tepid bed. It makes her heart beat a little faster, her eyes scan the room a little wilder, and her breaths come a little quicker. She sits up quickly, passively noting the really good soreness in her hips and the way her hair sticks to her neck.
That's when his footsteps come down hard on the wooden stairs, and as she sees him approaching, she's suddenly terribly shy, worse even than the morning after the first time with Chris when she blushed like a true school girl sitting next to him in Algebra class. She couldn't meet his eyes until lunch without remembering all the places his hands touched her the night before. It wasn't until fourth period she'd said a single word to him.
This was infinitely worse, and she grabbed for the sheet pooled by her belly, to create a bit of modesty. It's why her olfactory senses didn't even pick up the fact the coffee was also nearing, along with the man who made it.
His greeting is soft and casual. Is it too casual? She doesn't know, but she does recognize his surprise at the way she's clutching a thin piece of cotton around the breasts he cupped, licked, nipped and kissed better all night long. There's no way any normal person would act this way, she decides, but can't drop the sheet either.
She's slept with him many times before.
And truth be told, she was in love with him probably every one of those times.
But she hadn't said it to herself, not in her mind and not out loud and now that she knew it was true and she'd spent the last four weeks walking around in a daze of 'I love this man' the nakedness was all symbolic and overwhelming.
"Hi," she greets him quietly, sparing a brilliant smile, a shy smile.
He puts the coffee mug down on her dresser and leans over to kiss her forehead, breathing her in, then her cheek, and her mouth. She sighs against his lips and finds herself lost, like last night, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck, pulling him closer. Stubble scrapes soft skin. Fingers tangle in hair. Palms smooth over the soft curves of her body, and the tight lines of his upper arms.
It's how the sheet ends up dropped down between them, forgotten and discarded.
When Luke pulls away, she's secretly pleased his breathing is laboured, but she loves that he's holding her face in his large hands, resting his forehead against his. Like she's the anchor here, and not the tiny, lightweight boat hanging on for dear life.
He kisses her quickly once more before he stands up.
"I'm sorry, I have to get going. If I'd known about last night, I'd have gotten Cesar to open."
She just nods at him, wide eyed.
"I had a very nice night with you." He says softly and it surprises her. It's not the kind of thing she'd expect from him.
"Even with all the talking?"
"Had to be done."
"Yeah." She agrees.
He made love with her four times. She remembers each time acutely, and she knows she cried in the intervals between.
Tears and a million apologies. One after another, many of them for the same thing. Around 3 in the morning, he'd begged her not to say she's sorry again, that he'd forgiven her before he'd even walked out of her parents' awful party in Hartford a month ago. When he told her about Emily coming to see him, he took his turn at apologizing. For not telling her right away. For not telling her mother that she was being an old battle-ax. For being a stupid man who took way too long to go after the woman he'd wanted more than anything in the first place and then doing the exact same thing again. And then he'd made love to her, stretching languidly over her body, his fingertips as light as feathers over her puckered nipples and moist folds, his tongue taking over when skin touching skin became too much for her to take and the pleasure and pain waged a war. She dug her nails into his back, let his name escape her lips in a strangled breath and lifted her hips to meet his midway. She listened to him calling out for her, and saw dark haired, blue eyed children climbing the chuppah like a favorite playground toy.
Remembering that last bit is excruciating and exquisite for her all at once, and probably the reason she feels so self-conscious around him this morning.
"Are you – will we see each other later?" She asks.
"It works for me. Come over?"
"You'll be bearing gifts?"
"If that's what you call dinner, then yes."
"Yes." She smiles, and then looks at him thoughtfully. "How about tomorrow?"
"How about it?"
"I was thinking about staying home. I've worked a lot, late, the last few weeks. I can take a day."
"And you want to spend it with me?" He asks hopefully.
"I think – maybe we need some time together. If you want."
He sits next to her, taking in her features, cupping her cheek in his right hand, stroking it with his thumb, waiting for her pulse to slow.
She looks down sheepishly, feeling like a virgin on her prom date, and then he gets it, because he turns around, reaches over to the chair and grabs the white tank top she wore under her hoodie last night, and pulls it over her head, down past her breasts.
And if she didn't know it before, she would know.
She loves this man.
She's jittery as she approaches the Inn, and she purposely stops before her hand grips the cool chrome of the front door handle, trying to calm herself. Of course she knows she's creating needless panic, or at the very least, she hopes that is the case. As she walks in, past the front desk, past Michel in a deep blue silk shirt, past the dining room, at which point she sheds her coat, she also knows that it is a rather unremarkable day.
None of that changes the fact that there is a small, but tightly packed ball of anxiety in her gut that's threatening to take over.
The hardest thing about this morning was walking downstairs with him, and then having to stay on her porch, her arms tightly wrapped around her chest while he crossed her lawn and disappeared down the street.
It killed her that they were always leaving. She had a slight inclination to sit there and wait for him to get back after work, just so she could see him coming home, and not his broad back getting smaller and smaller as the distance between them increased.
Then there was always the possibility he'd come to his senses, and see what was right in front of him: a crazy woman who had broken his heart into a million pieces and would probably do it 5 more times before the sun set on the horizon today. And there were a lot of todays left in their middle. It was obvious then, that he should see this and channel his inner Butch and run the hell in the opposite direction (even if that led him to Hartford, or the depths of Mordor, whichever was worse).
By lunch she's had 3 more cups of substandard coffee, although she praises it loudly for Sookie's benefit. By her afternoon break she is buzzing on caffeine and mini Toblerone bars and the heavenly hardened bits of honey inside them that were sticking like hot heaven to her teeth.
It was this jittery, naturally high mess of a woman that sits on her couch, her knees pulled up to her chest, waiting for her white knight to return all the while wondering whether he hasn't found himself a more appropriate Princess. The kind who could sleep on a bed of mattresses and down and still feel a tiny green pea in her back.
He knocks just after seven, and she chuckles at his manners.
"You have to stop doing that." She tells him after kissing him thoroughly.
"The knocking. Just come in."
"Well, it could be locked."
"Whose house do you think you're in?" She asks him playfully, hoping the ease of the banter would loosen her nerves.
"Why don't you humor me, Lorelai, and lock the doors?"
She's taken aback by how serious his tone is, how sincere the question seems to be, and how completely devoid of any joking his face is.
"This is important to you?"
"Yes. Maybe it's caveman of me, but it would make me feel better."
"That my door is locked?"
"That you're safe."
She nods at him and watches his eyes as they smile. It's amazing what details you pick up about a person when you have them on your mind every moment of the day.
"What about when you're here? Like now?"
He turns around and locks the door behind him.
"And here I thought it would be the easiest way to get you to stay."
She's joking when she says it, but not really and he knows that. He knows it because of the way her tongue nervously licks her bottom lip as she waits for him to respond.
"You don't want to stay?" She asks; her voice tiny in the hollow of the foyer.
Instead of saying anything, he takes her hands in his, leads her to the couch and gently pushes her to sit down. He then takes a seat on the coffee table immediately across her, their knees colliding, brushing against one another. His hands rest on her things and he coaxes her to look at him.
"I want to stay, but I want to tell you why."
"It might be long."
"By Luke standards?" She guesses, smiling.
"You know, I practiced the story in my head all day."
"Sorry, go on."
He sighs. "Yes, by Luke standards."
She leans over and kisses him softly, then withdraws just an inch.
He takes a long, deep breath and his fingers dig softly into the denim of her jeans.
"Remember I got so upset about the boat? When you bought it?"
"You can bring the boat back." She jumps in. "Is that what this is about? Luke, you know that garage is goddamn ugly now."
"Thank you. I will, this weekend. But that wasn't actually my point, although, thank you for reminding me. I already got 2 parking tickets for the thing."
"Sorry about that."
He just waves her off.
"Anyway, I think the boat wasn't about me and you. I was angry with my father still, and angry with myself. Mostly, I hated how he left me with it, this huge responsibility, and I'd forever feel beholden to him. And he hadn't worked on the damn thing himself either, for at least 5 years before he died."
"You're not beholden, Luke. You're a good son."
"I hated my old man the last few years. It sounds – well, it must sound awful, but I did. After my mother died, he didn't care anymore. He took care of us, sure, but himself? Not really. He just sat there, like he was waiting for her. We had this huge fight once, about something stupid, as usual, and Patty told me: 'your father has a broken heart'."
"Leave it to her, huh?"
"The town's Dr. Phil." He agrees and she impulsively leans over to kiss his forehead. He revels in the feeling and she hopes it's better than offering some trite commentary.
"Then you and I broke up."
That's a crazy skip forward of some two decades, she thinks, but allows him to go on without protest.
"And I became like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You must have heard the stories. I became mean, Lorelai. And I'm not a mean guy – grumpy, yes, but not mean to people. I don't throw things at them or yell at my best employee or charge customers for terrible food. It's not who I am, you know that."
"I know that." She assures him.
"And you know what occurred to me?"
He meets her eyes, watching her blink slowly as she shakes her head.
"I'm a better man when I'm with you, Lorelai."
"It's true. And my father was a better man when he was with my mother. And I could see it now and I understood him. It sucked to share that fate, but at least I got it. Finally. And it was okay. It was alright. There was no shame in that. He was a good man on his own, but together, they were better people. Do you think that's how it should be?"
She starts off hesitantly, and he waits for her to continue on her own terms.
"I don't know how to say this exactly, you know, so it's perfect. And that's weird, because usually, the words are faithful friends, they don't desert me. Good times and bad, I talk, talk, talk. I stayed in bed a week, didn't eat, but by God, I still recorded a rambling message on your machine. That's me at my best. Or worst. And now, I'm at a loss. Because here I am, I'm 36 years old with a mother I'm not speaking with, with this feeling like I'll be good enough for everyone but my own family, up to my ears in debt, a really screwed up relationship with the father of my child that I had at 16, and this guy, this man in front of me that is just…amazing. You were there, for so many years, and without any expectation of anything in return and I didn't see it, or I ignored it. And you did it anyway. I don't make you a better man, Luke. You are that all on your own. You were born that way. I'm just…I just stumbled upon you and got lucky."
"Do you think that's what this is about, Lorelai? Who deserves who more?"
"I hope not." She tells him softly. "Because that's one that I can't win, or tie."
"Do you want to run around in a circle with me while we try to catch our tails?"
"Sorry?" She asks, not sure where he's taking this line of thinking.
"I don't want to be a coward and I don't want to be a mean guy. That's who I was without you, so if you don't have any objections, I'd rather be with you."
"If I don't have any objections?" She asks, incredulous.
"Well, do you?"
She exhales slowly, covering his fingers with her slim hands, rubbing against them, enjoying the friction between.
"It's taken me 36 years to fall in love. But I got lucky, you see, because I struck gold the first time. Like winning the lottery on the first try ever. I fell in love with you, and here I am, that girl, the one who doesn't care that the whole world can see her goofy smile, the one who spent all day worrying that the man she loves would suddenly see her for what she really was. I'm her, because we're here and I can't be any other way anymore. I can't not love you and I definitely can't not be in love with you. And if that means that I am going crazy and seeing toddlers on your engraved handiwork, then I guess I have to take that for what it is also. I'm her. And so, I love you, I just do."
She's not aware of how quickly she's said all that. How the words tumbled out, one at a time, falling like droplets of rain onto a filthy street puddle. Splattering and sloshing and making it bigger and wetter.
"You, oh, all that…"
"Yeah." She nods.
"The toddler bit too?"
"So help me God."
"Me too, apparently." He chuckles.
"And? What do you think?" She prods, because it's guts or glory time now.
"That maybe I wasn't such a schmuck for being in love with you since the day I met you."
The coffeemaker slows down to a steady drip, and Luke turns his back to the rest of the diner, to refill it for a new batch. He allows himself a secret smile, ear to ear, remembering the day they spent in bed yesterday, and looking forward to returning back there tonight.
If he were any less of a man, he'd be humming along.
When he turns around and sees him sitting at the counter for the first time in a month, he knows he's much, much less a man than he thought, because there are cheesy 50s pop tunes, soft jazz and lullabies in his head, just waiting to break out in a glorious medley.
She smiles that Lorelai smile, when her eyes sparkle, and she drops her head just a bit, shy about that big heart of hers that she's wearing on her sleeve. There is a coffee cup from Weston's she places in front of her, and then pushes it towards him with her index finger.
"Sookie got it for me."
They'd been too busy enjoying their time together to let the world know that this amazing thing between them was back on. Patty nudged Babette at the corner table and so the secret would be out shortly, but just in case it wasn't, Luke grabs the Weston's cup and dumps it ceremoniously in the trash behind him, then gives her one of his own.
"It didn't seem right." He tells her and shrugs.
"Didn't taste right either."