Amy owns them. I'm just moving them around a little. (Reposted from my site, for the few of you who saw it there first. I had to wait for the 3-day waiting period after I'd joined ff.)
Luke had a plan. It wasn't much of a plan, admittedly, but when he found himself pacing in his apartment for the millionth time, when he knew that if he kept going like he'd been going, the pain was not going to stop until he stopped breathing, he knew he had to make a choice. He couldn't even remember if he'd locked the diner. He was out in the cold night air before he realized his feet had carried him there, and he was halfway to her house before he acknowledged to himself where he was really going, and he was on her doorstep, banging on her door before he formed the plan.
He was going to be eloquent, goddamnit. And then she opened the door. She'd been watching some stupid sappy movie; he knew it from the singing drifting over the threshold, knew it the moment she opened her door with one hand, drying her cheek with the other. He knew a thousand things in that moment, and there were no words. He, simply, belonged to her. He knew no other way to be, and he knew he had to show her, really show her, so she didn't have any doubts.
When he stepped in and kissed her, he couldn't let go. He felt her shock and then her relief, and then her joy flooding into him, knowing then she belonged to him, and she closed the door, not willing to pull away from him. Later, and for all he knew it may have been decades later after they'd tumbled onto the sofa, he eased her back a little, so he could contemplate her face.
The tear tracks shredded his heart.
"Your mother," he said, not sure where to start, but knowing they had to start somewhere, "is a freaking lunatic."
"Hey, that works for me," she laughed, studying him. Waiting.
"No, I'm serious. A fucking lunatic. You are not some thing to be won."
"Okay, Scarecrow, and while I'm really enjoying Oz here with you saying all of that, I'm just warning you, if you ask me to put on the red shoes later, I am not clicking them and going back to whatever it was that I had here before."
"I am not the Scarecrow."
"Oh, I don't know about that," she said softly, touching his face, tracing the hollows of his cheeks. "You haven't been sleeping, Luke."
"You either." He wondered if she knew how many times he'd sat across the street, worried about her, watching for her light to go off so that he knew she was at least trying to sleep. They touched foreheads, and he closed his eyes, breathing in everything that was Lorelai. There was the faint smell of cinnamon, and the clean scent of that mango bath stuff she used that made him want more than he even knew was humanly possible to take her right there, right then, skip all the talk, skip the painful stuff, and go straight to her mouth, her skin, the taste of her. But she needed something else. He knew she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. She wanted to hide from the fear, and what better way than enticing him, but it wasn't what she needed, even though she might argue the point with him.
"I'm probably more the Cowardly Lion," he said, so low, he wasn't sure she'd heard, except that she jerked back from him, blue eyes flaring.
"No you don't, Luke. You are not taking the blame here, my friend. Not for my stupidity, not for Emily. I'm not letting you do that. My mother—"
"Came to see me tonight," he said, interrupting her, and immediately he felt her muscles tense and vibrate with fury. He held onto her, pulling her more into his lap. Normally when she was this furious, she'd bounce around the room, all the emotion radiating from her, and she would rant or he would rant and they'd stand toe-to-toe and usually, even though he was sometimes ready to wring her neck because she was being so stubborn, he was secretly delighted in her backbone, her determination, her animation. Right now, though, he couldn't bear it. Not tonight. He needed to hold her through this. He needed her to feel him there, to feel the weight of him. To feel the permanence.
"You. Talked? To my Mother?"
"No, actually, I did not. Except to tell her I was busy and to try to pointedly ignore her. And before your head starts spinning and I have to start mopping up green pea soup, I want you to understand something."
He waited. She was breathing hard from the anger, but she hadn't pulled away. In fact, if anything, she seemed to be holding his hand as tightly as she could, afraid that this was all going to backfire on her somehow. And of course, that's what she was used to.
"She's a fucking loon," he said, knowing that wasn't even the beginning of what he needed to say to her.
"Okay, Mr. Thesaurus, I second the loon and raise you a control freak, but you better tell me you're not here because of something she said."
"No, it wasn't something she said, as much as it was the fact that she showed up."
This time, she tensed so much, she popped up to a standing position and started pacing, arms swinging. He stood to hold her, but the rage in the blue eyes stopped him short.
"I can't believe this, Luke. I can't believe you'd come here because of her. What did she try to do, get into your good graces? Tell you it was all a vast mistake? That I misunderstood? Or better, that you misunderstood, because really, she was just trying to do what she thought was best? Poor, poor, misunderstood Emily! I'm sure if she tried hard enough, she somehow could manage to blame all of this on the weather, or the fact that, oh, I don't know, the maid walked across the room with too much force?"
"Are you through?"
"No, I am not through, do I look like I'm through?"
"You wanna beep when you're through?"
"I will not beep when I'm through!"
"Are you sure? Because the beeping—"
"I am not going to beep." She glared at him, and he saw the crinkle of a smile battling to be set free.
"Well, then, maybe you wanna listen?"
"So you can tell me how my poor mother really didn't mean—"
"Did you not hear the fucking loon part?"
She stopped the pacing, snapping around to face him, and he could see it… the fear that it was all going to happen all over again. He was never, ever going to forget that look, as long as he lived. If he had any doubt as to whether or not she'd been in the same sort of hell he'd been living in, that abject fear saturating every beautiful curve of her face told him that she had, and he hated what he'd done to her. He stepped over, taking both hands in his and he kissed each one, and then pulled her close, holding her hands to his heart.
"Lorelai, she showed up. The woman showed up in my diner and told me I'd "won," as if we were having some sort of war, only I didn't know we were even at battle and we were fighting over some thing. And I realized something…" He looked away. He was going to find the words, this time, goddamnit. He was going to make her see. He was going to take that look of fear out of her eyes. Forever. "I realized right then what you'd grown up with."
Damnit, that wasn't good enough. That wasn't what he was trying to say. There was so much more. He gazed back into her blue, blue eyes, and he felt her holding her breath.
"We were both stupid, Lorelai. You didn't tell me something," he stopped her from speaking, "and I know. You tried to explain at Doose's, but I couldn't hear it. I just couldn't. And I was stupid, too. I walked away."
"Luke, no. I hurt you." She had tears again, and it was destroying him. "I hurt you more than I ever thought I could, and it's killed me every single day. I never knew, in my whole life, what it would feel like to hurt the man I…" she swallowed hard, and pulled her shoulders a little, trying to be brave. "To hurt the man I love. I love you, Luke. And when I realized what I'd done, I would have rather stood in front of a truck than hurt you like that."
"I know, Lorelai." He kissed away the tears from her cheeks. He leaned back a little so he could catch her gaze and hold it. She needed that. He needed that.
"You've never had someone love you, Lorelai, without playing games, except for Rory. It's like... it's like in football."
"Whoa. Are you seriously expecting me to follow that?"
"Well, there are football movies."
"Not in my universe."
"You are not helping."
"It's like in football. The quarterback's got to trust that the linebacker's gonna block for him. He can't be constantly watching out of the corner of his eye to see if that guy's doing his job."
"Hey, Cheech, did you take up glue sniffing this last month?"
He tried to press on. This had to work. "See, if he can't trust that guy, he can't do his job. And if he's got some guy who's out there that he can't trust, he never knows when he's gonna step back and get sacked and in the process, wreck an arm or a knee."
"Luke, honey, are you sure you're feeling okay?"
"Damnit, Lorelai, your mom's like that lineman. She's supposed to help you. Take care of you. You know, protect you. And she didn't! She doesn't do that." He felt himself building up steam now, ranting. "And you're that quarterback, never knowing when to trust, so you're jumpy and you weren't watching the thing you were supposed to be watching. You've never been able to tell your mother anything – I get that now – without always wondering when she was going to use it against you. When she came in the diner, I suddenly understood that she was using this as a strategy… she wanted only to win. It's like you're in the middle of a big play and you think she's out there protecting you and she purposely stands up and lets a flying tackle nail you and then just shrugs and says, 'oops.' She couldn't have cared less if what she did was the wrong thing to do or if she'd hurt you or me or us. And in your world, you were used to innocent things being used as a weapon. But love isn't like that, Lorelai. You're not like that. We," he said, as tenderly as he knew how, "shouldn't be like that."
She started shaking with small sobs, and he guided her back to the sofa, holding her for a long, long moment, until she could listen.
"I'm not very good with words," he said, but she interrupted.
"Oh, you're pretty damned good from where I'm sitting, buster."
"Yeah?" he grinned. "Well, not usually. But I realized right then that the whole swirling mess of that night had flipped way-the-hell out of proportion because of what she'd done. And as bad as it was to hear about you going to see Chris like that," he had to stop her from interrupting, "as bad as that was, I didn't help any, either."
"You cannot seriously try to sit there and tell me you have some blame in this, Luke."
"I do, and I am."
"And have you been drinking the cooking sherry? Because this reeks of Ripple."
He chuckled, and kissed the top of her head. "No, Lorelai, there was no alcohol abuse going on during the processing of these thoughts."
"Then how on earth can you take some of the blame?"
"Because I shut you out."
"You were hurt! You were just trying to—"
He moved her where he could face her. "You bailed me out of jail when I kicked the hell out of the sock-man's car."
"And still the car won."
He grimaced. "That's what kept you from telling me the truth. You didn't know what I would do."
She didn't answer, but then, she didn't have to.
"Never again, Lorelai. Never again. It's safe here," he motioned between their hearts. "If you or I do something dumb, we'll work it out. We'll yell. Or I'll sulk and then you'll kick me in the butt and then we'll yell."
"We do that so well, you and me," she said, and he felt the lightness in her voice, the relief.
"Among many other things," he growled, and she laughed. "But I am never, ever, going to use loving you – or you loving me – as a weapon. It's my fault you felt afraid. It's my fault you didn't know I love you. And how much I love you." He held her face in his hands, wiping the tears away. "I love you, Lorelai. I can't breathe, think, stand, cook, anything, unless you're in my life."
He kissed her. Gentle, at first, and just the taste of her again, after so long apart, sent him spiraling, dizzy, and he realized what he'd almost lost forever. He drew back only long enough to whisper, "We're a team, you and me." And the kiss he gave her then told her of his hunger, told her just how much he'd ached for her, and she matched it in force, in urgency. They melted into each other, somehow remembering how to walk, somehow making it to her bedroom, somehow pulling each other's clothes off frantically, and lying together, stretched out across her bed, and he could feel the length of her, the curves pressing against him.
Several times that night, he felt her crying, even though she was trying desperately not to wake him. And each time, he'd gather her into his arms and kiss her, gently, tenderly, until the fear was gone and she drifted back to sleep. It would be months before the fear was completely erased from her eyes. He'd catch it every once-in-a-while, when she'd done something thoughtless or careless, or was just not feeling well and wanting to take it out on the world, or mostly, him, since he was nearest and strong enough to take it. Then she'd catch herself and look at him with apprehension, and he could tell she was wondering if that was going to be the moment he'd re-think this forever thing. Or he'd have an extra heaping of grumpiness from some annoyance or the other, and he'd snap at her and she'd hold her breath, waiting for the other anvil to drop, and he'd rant a little, but he'd kiss her somewhere in the middle of the rant, just so she'd get it. And she did.
Mostly, that first night, he knew that he would finish the boat. Maybe he'd name it Lorelai. God knows he wasn't going to let her name it because he'd end up sailing a boat named Little Winky or something else she thought up to torment him. But they would name it and sail it, and he'd bring along his mother's ring, and they'd get official, and Lorelai and Rory would drive him nuts with a thousand wedding details, and he'd secretly love it.
"Luke?" she asked, somewhere around three in the morning, when she snuggled into the crook of his arm, breathing into the nape of his neck.
"You are way better than ruby red slippers."
He grinned, realizing she was half asleep. "You're not so bad yourself, Dorothy. Go to sleep. We're home now."
She smiled, her eyes still closed as she snuggled closer.