"I asked you to marry me," she responded a bit hoarsely. She was fidgeting with the ends of her pink sweater. She was clearly nervous, but there was a look in her eyes that couldn't be explained. Was it fear? Was it determination?

Luke swallowed hard and stood for a moment, stunned. He tried to figure out the look in her eyes. What he found in there was sincerity. She wasn't kidding. This wasn't an attempt to get him to stop his rant. He'd once tried the same ploy on her all those years ago. He shoved his hands deep into his back pockets somehow hoping he might pull out a coherent thought from his jumbled brain.

"Luke," she said again standing and approaching him. He took a step backwards as she encroached on his space. "Are you okay? Did you hear me?"

She made her way to him and placed her hands on his forearm. The feel of her hand on his arm made the moment real and he suddenly realized he wasn't dreaming.

"Yeah, yeah I heard you," he said turning his body from her slightly. "Are you serious about this?"

She forced him to stop and look at her. She took his face in her hand and looked him in the eyes. "I've never been more serious about anything."

"Why?" he replied.

"Why what?" she asked pulling her hand back.

"Why do you want to get married?" he asked her.

She pulled away from him and walked back over to the table. "You know it's a good thing I didn't have any childish fantasies about what your reaction might be to my proposal," she tried to joke. "I might be disappointed right now."

"I'm sorry I just don't know how to respond to all this," Luke said. She had turned her back to him and he let out a heavy sigh. "Lorelai," he said walking over to her and placing his strong hands on her petite shoulders. "I just need to know where all this is coming from. One minute you're telling me Rory dropped out of college and the next you're asking me to marry you. That's quite a mental jump even for you."

"I know," she said feeling the warmth of his body so close to hers. She didn't really feel like talking anymore. She just wanted to wrap herself up in the warmth of his body and his voice. She wanted him to tell her that everything would be okay, but she that was just wishful thinking. She had thrown the gauntlet and now she had to explain herself. She scratched her forehead and thought for a moment before turning toward him.

"Once again everything in my life seemed to be falling apart," she said. "First Rory got arrested and then she dropped out of Yale. One minute I thought my parents were on my side and then they completely bailed on me. But then I came here. I came to see you and you're just the same Luke. No matter what happens you're always there to build me back up. You're the one person who always believes in me. You're the one person I can always count on and I suddenly realized that I don't want to live without that."

He rubbed her shoulders gently as she spoke and she looked away shyly toward the end of her speech. It was almost as if she was self-conscious about her honesty.

"I don't know what to say," Luke replied honestly.

"How about saying yes?" Lorelai said in a small voice. She took his hands in her own and leaned closer to him. She pressed her forehead gently to his. "You just said I can talk anyone into anything," she said softly in a playful tone.

"You have no idea how tempting an offer this is," he admitted. He rested his forehead against hers for a moment but eventually he pulled his head back and took a step backwards. Their hands were still intertwined, but he made sure to put a bit of space between them. "But Lorelai, we have so much that we need to think about, to talk about, before we decide anything. I've already rushed into one marriage and look how that ended. I don't want that for us."

"Neither do I," she scoffed. "This is different though. We're not rushing into anything."

She did her best to pout him into submission, but he resisted. Instead he pulled away from her and sat down at the table. He gestured to the chair she had once occupied and she grudging sat down as she gave him a patented Lorelai Gilmore eye roll.

"I think we are rushing," he said. "There's so much we haven't talked about. A few days ago you were still mulling over selling the inn."

"I wasn't seriously mulling," she protested. "I told you I was just half-mulling."

"You took a meeting with that Armstrong guy without even telling me about it," Luke replied as he leaned forward on the table.

"You told me to meet with him," Lorelai insisted.

"Telling you to meet with someone and actually meeting are two different things," he said. "And why didn't you tell me about it?"

"There was nothing to tell," she said feebly.

"Nothing to tell?" he said getting more animated. "Please, the guy talked about taking over the inn and having you travel all over the world. He sent you an arsenal of travel amenities for Pete's sake."

"Luke why are you so upset about this?" she asked surprised by his fervor. "I'm not going anywhere."

"But you thought about it," he shot back. "You thought about it and you didn't even tell me. You were thinking about making a life-altering decision and you didn't even tell me."

"Well what about you?" she said turning on him. "You were going to move without telling me."

"What?" Luke said suddenly. He felt his stomach drop to the floor and he felt slightly ill.

"See any columns you like on the Twickham House, Luke?" she asked him haughtily.

"How do you know about that?" he asked. He thought about it for a moment and then added, "I am gonna kill Taylor."

"It wasn't Taylor. It was Miss Patty, Babette, Kirk, Andrew, Gypsy, need I go on? Did you forget where we live?" she replied. Luke shook his head. "Although if you were trying to keep it a secret you shouldn't been playing Hutch to Taylor's Starsky for the last few weeks."

"So you know about the house," he said. "At least the move I was planning was a block away, not a continent."

"Was planning?" she said. "You're not buying the house now?"

"No, I stopped the paperwork," he said moping slightly.

"Why?" she pressed him.

"Because you told me you were mulling," he said exasperated.

"What does that have to do with the house?" she asked him oblivious.

He simply looked up and stared at her. Suddenly it dawned on her that wasn't just buying the house for himself. He was buying the house for them.

"The kids," she whispered under her breath.

"What was that?" Luke asked.

"When I said I was thinking about the job offer you said 'what about the kids,'" she said stunned. "You meant our kids."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Luke dismissed her as he leaned back in his chair.

"You were buying the house for us?" she asked him gently.

"I was thinking about it," he said trying to evade her question.

"Wow," she said. They sat in silence for a moment, neither moving, neither saying anything. "We haven't told each other anything."

"We should definitely work on talking more," he said. And then the meaning of what he'd just said washed over him and he added, "I never thought I'd ever tell you that."

"I think you're right. I don't think we're ready for marriage. We were both so busy making plans without each other," she replied.

Lorelai stood up and smoothed out her dress. She started to pick her purse up off the table. Luke saw her movement and he quickly stood up and rushed over to the door. He positioned himself in between Lorelai and the door.

"You can't go yet," he told her. "We need to talk about this."

"What's there to say? You were right," she said defeated. "I was rushing into this. We don't even tell each other basic information. How did I think we could get married?"

She tried to push past him, but being bigger and stronger, he was easily able to detain her.

"Please Luke I want to get home. It's late and I just can't deal with anything else today," she pleaded.

He had her by the arms and he bent down a little to look her in the eyes. "I don't want you to leave," he said. "We don't have to talk about this anymore. You've got enough to deal with right now with Rory and your parents. Just stay and we can figure out what we're gonna do about Rory."

"I appreciate the offer," she sighed. "But I thought the kidnapping plan, though a bit eccentric, might prove to be one of the better plans. So see there's nothing to discuss."

Luke could tell by the look on her face that this discussion was over. She was going home and nothing he said could change that. He let go of her and stepped to the side to let her pass through the doorway.

"Are we okay?" he asked.

"We're great," she replied. "I think we might have to work on our communication skills, but we're good."

"I'm here for you if you need me," he told her.

"I know," she smiled sadly. "You always are."

"You're sure you won't stay?" he asked her one last time.

"Positive, but thanks for the offer," she said. She leaned in gave him a quick peck on the lips. Their lips touched only briefly, but it was just long enough to make them both ache.

Lorelai swung her purse over her shoulder and opened the door. She turned to leave when Luke impulsively reached out and grabbed her hand. He kissed her passionately and her back pressed into the doorway. It was reminiscent of their first kiss. Luke's arms were wrapped around her waist and he pulled her to him. She didn't hesitate and it seemed for a moment as if their bodies were made to mold as one.

Luke pulled away and looked her square in the eye. "I love you," he said huskily. "I don't think I've ever told you that, but I do, and I have for a very long time."

She was lost in the moment and stayed silent until finally she replied, "I love you too."

"Good to know," he smiled at her.

"I kind of like this new communication thing we have here," she whispered as she bit her bottom lip.

"Me too," he smiled.

He let go of her waist and she stood staring at him for a minute. It was as if she had to figure out if what happened was real. She thought she must have reacted to Luke as he had when she proposed to him. In truth she felt almost dizzy and she needed a moment to collect herself. She finally regained her composure and her equilibrium and set off into the evening air.

Luke watched her as she walked away still disbelieving what had happened that night. Her proposal had taken him by surprise and it took everything in him to refuse her. Although marrying Lorelai was a thought that had floated through his mind for weeks, she had some major family issues to deal with and Luke knew that being engaged wouldn't help matters. He felt badly about turning her down, but he'd felt better knowing he'd told her exactly how he felt. His heart felt lighter when she said she loved him in return. He waited until the pink speck turned down Peach Street and he flicked off the diner lights.

TBC