Author's Note: Thank you for sticking with me on this story. I hope it has been as fun to read as it was to write. All reviews are appreciated.
After a long talk, a few tears and a hundred 'I'm sorry for this. I'm sorry for that,' Rory emerged from the diner feeling happier than she'd felt in months. She hadn't realized how long they'd sat and talked until she saw that the twinkle lights in the town square were beginning to turn on for the evening. She took a deep breath and she felt lighter than she thought she ever would again.
The plan was to let Rory explain her decision to Emily and Richard. Lorelai wanted no part of it and Rory really couldn't blame her. It seemed that her Grandparents offered her help and then turned on her. Rory could see why talking to them about Rory moving back home might pose a problem. As much as she was dreading that inevitable conversation she still felt optimistic. She knew Emily and Richard wouldn't be mad at her decision to go back to school, so they shouldn't be upset that she was moving back home. She planned to hold on to that theory until she actually confronted them.
Rory reached the gazebo and scanned the crowd looking for Logan. She pulled out her cell phone and saw that he hadn't called her and she was surprised. She thought he was supposed to meet her at the gazebo by six. It was well after six and she didn't see any sign of him. She hit her speed dial button and waited for him to answer.
"Hello?" Logan said.
"Logan, where are you?" Rory said.
"Rory," Logan replied as if he just remembered that he was supposed to meet her. "I'm not there."
"I noticed," Rory replied. "Where are you?"
"I, uh, well I kind of forgot," Logan stumbled over his words.
Rory noticed a kind of slurred speech and she wondered if he'd been drinking. She knew he was meeting with his father that afternoon and she wondered what had happened.
"Are you okay? You sound drunk," Rory said.
"Take it off!" a voice in background yelled.
"Shh," Logan said putting his hand over the receiver.
"Where are you Logan?" Rory asked unable to ignore the shouting in the background.
"I'm," Logan started to lie and realized it was futile. "I'm with Finn."
"You're with Finn?"
"Yeah," Logan sighed. "The meeting with my Dad didn't go so well and I needed a pick-me-up."
"So you blew me off to meet Finn," Rory finished for him.
"I didn't blow you off," Logan insisted. "I'm on my way right now I swear."
"It sounds like you've been drinking," Rory said.
"I had a meeting with my Father, of course I've been drinking," Logan replied as if it were a reasonable reaction to seeing Mitchum.
"Well then you shouldn't drive here," Rory said firmly.
"No, I promised I meet you at the Plum Day or whatever it's called," Logan said.
"It's the Peach Festival," Rory replied not laughing.
"Right," Logan said through giggles. "Finn says hello by the way."
"Great, tell him I said hi," Rory said starting to get irritated. "Look, don't worry about coming out here tonight. I'll just meet you tomorrow."
"Are you sure?" Logan asked not fighting the issue.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I have plenty to do here and you shouldn't be driving anyway."
"Ace," Logan said seriously as if he had sobered up for the moment, "You are the best."
"Thanks," Rory mumbled.
"No, I mean it. You're a goddess among mortals Ace. I'm sorry about tonight. I'll give you a call tomorrow. I'll have a whole bushel of peaches flown in from Georgia for you."
"Okay," Rory said unconvinced. "Bye."
Rory hung up the phone and saw all the happy children eating peach cobbler and laughing and as happy as she felt Logan somehow had a way of making her mood fall a little. She tried to push it from her mind as she made her way through the crowd to find Lorelai. She knew she couldn't have gotten far.
"So you and Rory are?" Luke asked as he cleared their coffee mugs.
"We're bosom buddies again," Lorelai confirmed. "She needed to do a lot of talking and I needed to do less judging and somehow we made it work."
"That's great. I'm really glad things are better with you two," Luke smiled brightly.
"Me too. I feel like this weight has been lifted. Rory still has community service and she can't go back to school until next semester, but I feel like things are on track again."
"So she's going back to school," Luke said.
"Yeah, she's too late to get back this fall, but in the spring she'll start again. She was already talking about taking some class at the community college so she doesn't lose her ability to be a student."
"That sounds like Rory," Luke said.
"Yes, it does," Lorelai smiled at him.
"Let's go where?" Lorelai asked intrigued by his sudden change of subject.
"Out," he said coming around the counter and taking her hand.
"Are we going to the Peach Festival?" Lorelai asked excitedly.
"Just follow me, please?" Luke asked.
For once in her life Lorelai felt carefree and happy enough to follow Luke without question. He held her hand in his and they walked along the street as the sun slowly faded.
"Is Rory moving home?" Luke asked making conversation.
"Yeah," Lorelai smiled as she responded. "I told her she had to be the one to break it to my parents though. I'd take a bullet for Rory, but telling my parents she's moving back home? No thank you."
"Is she okay with me living there?" Luke asked still walking as if he were on a mission.
"Yeah," Lorelai confirmed. "She seemed especially sold on the idea when I told her that breakfast is made to order on the weekends. She's really okay with it."
"Good, I'm glad," Luke said.
"Are you okay with it? I mean you're gonna have two Gilmore women to contend with now. It's a good thing you're already kind of grizzly or I'd worry for your manliness."
"I'll be fine," Luke chuckled. "Besides Rory was always the saner of you anyway. She might bring some much-needed sanity to our house.
"Hey, you just called it 'our house,'" Lorelai said.
"I guess I did," Luke replied. "It feels like our house now, should I still say your house? Because technically it is your house, I just moved in and--"
"I like that you called it our house," Lorelai cut him off.
"Okay," Luke gave her a small nod.
"Where are we going anyway?"
"It's a surprise," Luke replied.
"It looks like we're going to the inn."
"It's a surprise."
Luke led Lorelai down a path through some trees.
"In case you hadn't noticed these shoes are not equipped for wilderness," Lorelai reminded him.
"We're almost there," Luke said leading her down the path through the clearing.
"We're at the Dragonfly," Lorelai said when they emerged. "Why are we here?"
Luke said nothing as he led Lorelai to the porch and positioned her in front of him in the doorway.
"I don't get it," Lorelai said with a quizzical look. "I was here not four hours ago. What are we doing here?"
Luke took a deep breath and rubbed his palms together. He summoned his courage and pressed forward through Lorelai's questions.
"Okay, so we've been together a little over a year and now we live together and that's going great. In fact I think it's going much better than either of us anticipated."
Lorelai gave him an affirmative nod and Luke continued.
"And then that day, in the diner a few months ago when you asked me to marry you, I really thought about it. I thought about it but I knew it would stupid to say yes because you and Rory were fighting and you might have only asked me so that you didn't have to dwell on the Rory thing. But then you asked me to move in and I thought that seemed harmless enough so I said yes and we've been living together for a few weeks and I've been thinking."
"You've been thinking," Lorelai repeated.
"Yes. I've been thinking that I like living with you. I like that I can make you omelets on Sunday in your kitchen. I like that my flannel shirts are hanging in your closet. I like that I have someone to go home to every night and some one there in the morning when I wake up because as much as I thought I liked living alone I really didn't."
Lorelai smiled and she felt a warm feeling radiate through her chest.
"But," Luke said.
"But?" Lorelai said suddenly alarmed.
"But things with you and Rory have been bad. I'm glad things are better now but you put me through the wringer there for a while. Right now you're not talking to your parents and you've got a lot of things going on in your life right now."
Lorelai swallowed hard and tried to wrap her brain around what Luke was getting at.
"Since things have been so stressful I didn't want to burden you with more big decisions so I waited, but now that you're telling me that things with Rory are better I want to ask you something."
"Yeah?" Lorelai grinned foolishly feeling the warm sensation return.
Luke stepped forward and dug into his pocket. He produced a small velvet box and held it out. "I was wondering how you felt about being Mrs. Backwards Baseball Cap?"
Lorelai threw her arms around his neck and pressed her lips firmly on his. Luke clutched the ring in his palm, but managed to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her toward him. He kissed her passionately and with all the love he had to give until he pulled his head back.
"Is that a yes?" he asked.
Lorelai smiled and nodded. "That is a yes."
"You know you didn't even look at the ring," Luke said.
"It doesn't matter," Lorelai replied.
"What if it's not a diamond," Luke teased her.
"Why wouldn't it be?" she asked still not undraping her arms from his neck.
"Well the diamond trade is dangerous. These fat cat jewelers are ripping a natural resource that takes years to form out of mines in countries that could use the wealth build a stable nation, but no. The rich industrialists come in and take over their mines and pay them slave wages to mine these stones that someone decided were worth thousand of dollars."
"Luke?" Lorelai said cutting him off.
"Huh?" he said as if he were pulled out of a dream.
"Shut up and kiss me," Lorelai said.
"I can do that," Luke said as he leaned forward and kissed her again. Once they broke apart Luke opened the jewelry box and sure enough the vintage white gold ring had a large diamond in the center.
"Luke, it's beautiful," Lorelai said as she felt slightly short of breath. He slipped it on her ring finger and they both took a moment to let the gravity of the last few minutes wash over them. Lorelai's eyes sparkled brightly just like the diamond on her finger and she knew that this was what true happiness felt like.
"So this is really happening?" Lorelai asked.
"It's really happening," Luke replied. "At least in my reality anyway."
"Can I ask you something?"
"I've told you I wear boxers. You're never going to sell me on the boxer brief concept," he kidded her.
"Thank you, I know it's boxers," Lorelai replied. "I was going to ask you why you brought me to the inn."
Luke took a deep breath. "Well I'm not Fabio's idea of Mr. Romance," Luke replied. "I just thought, since a pretty significant event happened here, that we should keep the trend going."
"Our first kiss," Lorelai repeated.
"That would be the significant event," Luke affirmed.
"And you brought me flowers here."
"Which I'd never done before," Luke finished.
"This old porch is pretty significant," Lorelai said thoughtfully. "Although…never mind."
"What?" Luke pressed.
"Nothing," she played coy.
"What?" Luke asked again.
"I always had this weird fantasy of you proposing under the chuppah," Lorelai said finally.
"The chuppah?" Luke asked. When Lorelai nodded in the affirmative Luke continued, "The chuppah I built for you and another man?"
"Well you built it for me," Lorelai insisted.
"For your wedding to another guy."
"But you didn't want me to marry him so you built it for me."
"No, I built it for you so you'd know I was okay with you marrying him."
"You were not okay with it," Lorelai scoffed.
"That's not the point," Luke countered.
"Well I thought it was special because you built it for me," Lorelai said. "You didn't have to, but you did and it really meant a lot to me, especially since you never really liked Max and--"
"Lorelai," Luke interrupted her.
"Shut up and kiss me," Luke replied before pulling her into a kiss that seemed to mark the beginning for forever.
"So you're really going back to school?" Marty asked as he packed up the crayons.
"Yeah, I just registered for the spring semester yesterday," Rory said giving him a hand.
"That's great," Marty smiled. "If anyone belongs at Yale it's you."
"Thanks. I feel a little nervous about going back, but I'm really looking forward to it. January can't seem to get here fast enough."
"Well we'll have to institute the Breakfast Club again," Marty suggested.
"Oh, I miss make your own omelet day," Rory reminisced.
It had been a few months since the Peach Festival. Rory had moved back home with Lorelai and Luke and although Rory thought it would be odd to have Luke in the house she realized it wasn't much different than when he was just there fixing things at odd hours of the day. She had gotten quite used to his cooking as well.
The hardest part of moving back home was of course telling Emily and Richard about the plan to move back home. She thought Emily would try to get her to stay, but surprisingly, she just nodded and said she understood and that she was welcome back in the pool house any time. Richard had also seemed relieved that she was planning to go back home and eventually return to Yale. All in all things seemed to be returning to normal. Lorelai had called her parents to tell them about her engagement to Luke and the icy waters seemed to thaw slightly between everyone.
"It's Friday night," Rory said. "Any big plans?"
"It's actually my anniversary today," Marty said rather sheepishly. "We're going to that fancy place on Third Avenue."
"Swanky," Rory said as she gave Marty a shoulder nudge.
"Yeah," he replied almost embarrassed. "It's been six months. For me, that's a record."
"Well I'm happy for you," Rory said.
She wished she'd honestly meant it, but she didn't. Over the last months Rory had discovered what a great guy Marty really was. She didn't begrudge him happiness, but part of her remembered how she blew him off to be with Logan. There was a time when she only had eyes for Logan and now she wondered if she was blinded by lust and confusion. Her relationship with Logan had seemed strained as of late and hanging out with Colin and Finn was wearing thin.
"How are things with Logan?" Marty asked as if he were reading her mind.
"Oh you know," Rory tried to deflect the question. "Things are the same."
"I'm sorry," Marty replied. "I know he's been out of town a lot."
"Yeah," Rory said. "Well at least I'm almost done with community service though. Only 20 hours left."
"You'll be done in no time," Marty said. "What do you say to having a Marx Brothers marathon to celebrate the end of community service?"
"I say that sounds like a great idea," Rory said.
"Okay," Marty replied. "Well I have to get ready for tonight. I guess I'll see you next week."
"Next week," Rory nodded. She watched as Marty left the room and she wondered what that feeling in the pit of her stomach was. She liked Marty's company and she always thought he was a nice guy, but lately, when he left she felt something that she couldn't quite name and it confused her.
Rory's life seemed to be moving forward and for that she was grateful. The confusion and hurt she had felt for months had disappeared and she knew that going back to school was her true purpose. She was happy for Luke and her mother. She was content living at home and having the boat incident in the past, but her eyes revealed something more. They revealed a longing that she wasn't really aware of. Rory picked up her coat and pulled her phone out the pocket.
"Mom?" Rory asked before the voice could say a word.
"No, it's Luke," he replied. "Are you okay Rory?"
"I'm okay," Rory said as she made small-talk.
"You sure?" Luke asked. "Can I help with anything?"
"No," Rory bit her lower lip. "I was just wondering if my Mom was around."
"Yeah, she's here," Luke replied. "Hold on a minute."
"Thanks," Rory said as she waited. Although this feeling in the pit of her stomach made her nervous she was happy to be able to turn to her mother. It was the first time in months that she felt she could speak freely.
"Hon?" Lorelai said picking up the phone. "Are you okay? Luke said you sound funny."
"I'm okay," Rory said. "I was just wondering if we could talk for a minute."
"Any time, you know that," Lorelai said settling in on the couch next to Luke.
"It's about a boy," Rory said tentatively.
"Okay," Lorelai said leaning next to Luke. "Shoot."
For the first time in months Lorelai smiled as Rory explained her conflicted feelings over Marty. It seemed that the misunderstandings and stubborn communication were finally behind them. Nothing cemented that fact more than this conversation.
Luke looked over at Lorelai between commercials and noted the light in her eyes had returned to serene blue sparkle he remembered so well. He tapped her knee lightly and she smiled at him as she spoke. It was finally, at long last, a perfect evening.