A/N: I know, I know, I should focusing on Making Their Way right now, but I thought of this twist the other day and I happen to like it. Tell me what you think.
"He called, he called!" Sookie squealed, running in from the kitchen.
"And?" Lorelai asked with a grin.
"I asked him if he would like to go out to Chez Fleur for dinner on Sunday, and he said he would love to!"
"Oh, honey, that's great!" Lorelai exclaimed. "I'm so happy for you, and don't worry, everything's going…to…be…why are you looking at me like that?"
Sookie bit her lip, wringing her hands nervously. "Well, see," she began, her voice pitched unusually high, "I kinda freaked out at the last minute and I suggested that we double date."
Lorelai eyed her warily. "With who?"
"Me? Sookie, I don't have a date for Sunday!"
"Can you find one?"
"I'm sorry," Sookie whimpered. "But I really, really like him, and I'm so nervous. I'll need emotional support, I just know it."
"Oh, please, Lorelai? I'll be your best friend!"
"You are my best friend."
"And what are best friends for…?"
"Oh, all right," Lorelai huffed. "But if I can't find a date, I'm not going. No way am I playing third wheel."
"Oh, thank you so much! You'll be richly rewarded!"
"I'd better be," Lorelai grumbled as Sookie rushed back to the kitchen. She turned to a smirking Michel. "Watch it, or I'll make you come with me."
Lorelai slumped into Luke's Diner and plopped onto one of the stools at the counter. "Coffee."
"One liquid death," Luke grunted.
"And a log with ants."
He poured coffee into a mug and walked around the counter to deliver food to a table. Lorelai watched him pensively, cradling the coffee mug in her hands. When Luke returned to the counter and instinctively picked up the coffee pot to refill her mug, she hadn't even taken a sip. He put the pot down, looking concerned.
"Hmm?" She shook her head to clear it.
"You haven't touched your coffee."
"Oh." She looked down into the mug. "I was trying to inhale it. Didn't work very well."
"Might lead to drowning."
"Possibly." Lorelai brought the cup to her lips, and then put it down. "So I have a really crazy favor to ask you."
"Never a good opening line," Luke sighed.
"There's kind of a great story attached. See, Sookie asked Jackson out."
"No kidding," he said, surprised. "Took her long enough."
"I know, right? I mean, everyone could see it. He'd come in, she'd demand her stuff, he'd try to sell her something different – it was this weird Freudian thing they did."
"Anyway, she finally asked him out to dinner on Sunday. Except she had a minor freak out moment and suggested that they double date."
"With me…and my date."
The flicker in Luke's eyes was almost indiscernible. "Really. You have a date on Sunday?"
"No," Lorelai laughed dryly. "That's the funny part."
"Exactly. So…I was wondering…" Lorelai circled the rim of her mug with her finger. "Maybe…you would…"
"Oh, come on, Luke, please?"
"Are you crazy? Sit in a restaurant witnessing the customarily awkward first date, two people so nervous about being together that they can't even talk to each other? The first date is almost completely counterproductive."
"And he's off…" Lorelai muttered as Luke continued to rant about the outmoded dating system. When he paused for breath, she jumped in. "Please?"
"Ask Kirk. That guy'd do anything for the smallest bit of action."
"If you dare use the words 'Kirk' and 'action' that close together ever again, I'll – I'll gag you with your baseball cap!"
"Kirk'll do it. I'll ask him if you want." Luke started to walk around the corner, a smirk on his face.
"I don't want to go with Kirk; I want to go with you!" Lorelai whined.
Luke turned towards her, eyebrows raised. Lorelai blushed and backpedaled quickly. "Purely…for…chaperoning purposes, of course. Really, Kirk needs his own chaperone…" He said nothing. "Please, Luke? Please, please, please?" She caught herself. "I can't believe I'm sitting here begging you to go out with me."
"All right," Luke said suddenly.
"You will? You're the best, Luke. The best friend a girl with a crazy best friend and a hopeless caffeine addiction could possibly have."
"Pick me up at seven?"
Sookie sat nervously in Lorelai's vanity chair as Lorelai applied blush and eyeshadows.
"I should cancel," she muttered.
Lorelai blew on her blush brush and swept it across Sookie's cheekbones.
"He doesn't want to go," Sookie continued. "What if he thinks he didn't have a choice? I cornered him! He had to say yes!"
"He didn't have to say yes," Lorelai countered firmly. "Look up."
"He did! Technically, I'm his employer! I buy his wares! I'm a sexual harasser!"
"Sookie, stop!" Lorelai demanded, grabbing her by the shoulders. "You are not a sexual harasser. He was not forced into accepting your dinner invitation. He likes you, okay? You walk in a room and he lights up. Trust me on this one. Tonight is a good thing."
Sookie relaxed. "Okay."
"Look down," Lorelai instructed. "Besides, after all the work I went through to get a date tonight, there's no way I'm letting you cancel."
"Speaking of which," Sookie indicated Lorelai's deep purple dress that made her eyes seem crystal blue, "you look really great tonight. Who did you rope into this?"
Lorelai paused infinitesimally. "Luke."
Sookie's eyes popped open. "Luke. Well."
"Just…don't lead the poor guy on, okay? I mean, you and Rory do have to eat."
"Don't lay the blame on me. If you hadn't roped me into this, I wouldn't have had to rope him into it." She dabbed glittery moisturizer on Sookie's temples. "And I'm not leading him on, because he doesn't want to be led."
"If I tell you that Luke is crazy about you and has been for years, you're not going to listen to me, are you?"
"Did you ever see Gigli? It's like the worst movie in the world."
When Jackson walked up to Lorelai's front porch, Luke was already standing there, staring pensively at his shoes.
"Hi, Luke," Jackson said, sounding a bit surprised. "I didn't know you were dating Lorelai."
"Uh…well, technically, uh…we just started not too long ago." Like three days ago.
"Right." Silence reigned. Jackson checked his watch. "Well, seven o'clock," he said. He reached out to knock on the door, but Luke grabbed his arm.
"But Sookie said to pick her up at seven," Jackson said, confused.
"That means seven-ten or seven-fifteen," Luke explained. "Trust me on this one."
"Why are you so early, then?"
"To stop you from knocking too early."
"Oh. Thanks." Jackson laughed nervously. "I guess you've gotten this down by now."
"What, expecting Lorelai to be at least ten minutes behind schedule? It's sort of reflex. My brain is programmed that way, I think."
The door opened, and both men looked up in surprise. Rory and Lane walked out, chattering excitedly, but they stopped short.
"Hi, Jackson," Rory said, and then her eye was caught by Luke and she looked surprised. "Oh! Hi, Luke."
"Hey, Rory." He shifted his weight uncomfortably.
"So you're why my mom's been primping for, like, the past hour?"
A ghost of a smile appeared on Luke's face. "Primping?"
"Like a fiend."
Lane cleared her throat impatiently.
"Oh, right," Rory said with a start. "We'd better get going. Have fun!" And they were off.
"Do fiends primp?" Jackson asked as Rory and Lane ran off down the walk. Luke didn't answer him. He was too busy processing the information that Lorelai had been primping.
"Okay, I think it's safe to knock now," Luke said a few minutes later. Jackson raised a fist, hesitated, and then rapped on the door. After a few seconds the door swung open and Lorelai stood there in a simple sheath dress with a draped neckline and knee-length skirt. The deep purple made her hair look rich and lustrous as it curled around her shoulders.
"Hey," she said with a smile.
"Sorry we're late," Jackson said. Luke was momentarily incapable of speech.
"Oh, that's okay, gives us girls more time to primp." Luke smirked at that. Sookie walked up to the door, dressed in a deep orange dress with a printed skirt, her hair piled in a mass of curls on her head.
Sookie, hi," Jackson said nervously, his voice a little higher than normal.
"Okay!" Lorelai exclaimed when it became obvious that they weren't going to break the cycle anytime soon. "Do you guys want to come in?"
"Oh, sure," Jackson stammered.
Luke followed him through the door, and Lorelai blinked twice. "Hi, Luke."
"Hey," he said uncomfortably.
Lorelai blinked again, registering the fact that in dark wash jeans and a white oxford shirt – no flannel or baseball cap in sight – Luke Danes was an alarmingly handsome man. Why had that little tidbit of information never come to her attention before?
"They're, uh, doing it again," Luke said with a small smile, indicating Sookie and Jackson.
"How are you?"
"Fine, fine. How are you?"
"I'm doing okay. How are you?"
"I'm just great. How are you?"
Lorelai rolled her eyes. "So, we should probably get going," she said loudly.
"Oh! Right," Jackson said abruptly. He let Sookie walk out first, and then walked beside her to his car. Luke hung back to walk beside Lorelai. He glanced at her, caught her eye, and looked away quickly.
"You, uh, look nice," he muttered.
Lorelai smothered a grin. "Luke, we can use this night as a bit of a tutorial. On a date, a woman never looks 'nice.'"
He glared at her. "I don't need a dating tutorial, thank you very much. Anyway, I didn't think we were on a date, technically."
She shrugged, still grinning. "Okay."
When they reached Jackson's car, Luke opened the rear passenger door for Lorelai, and as she went to get in, he leaned closer. "You look beautiful tonight, Lorelai." Startled, she looked up and met his eyes. He was smiling smugly at her sudden speechlessness, and before she could think of a comeback, he shut the door and walked around to the driver's side.
Lorelai twisted her napkin in her lap, shooting an occasional glower at Luke, who was eating his salad with perfect unconcern. The night was not going the way it was supposed to, and it was all his fault.
When they'd arrived at the restaurant, he'd done everything she'd ever hated having men do: he'd opened the car and restaurant doors for her, helped her with her coat, pulled out her chair. The problem was that he did it all so automatically, so matter-of-factly, that she couldn't say anything. He wasn't being condescending or assuming she couldn't do anything for herself, and so she couldn't attack him for it. When they'd sat down, he hadn't asked her what she wanted and then ordered for her, as Max had always insisted on doing, and he hadn't pointed out the price of her selection, as Christopher always had. He had told her, very firmly, that he would be picking up the check, and not to argue or he wouldn't give her coffee the next day, and only the threat of losing the nectar of the gods had silenced her complaints. But that wasn't what was upsetting her.
He'd monopolized her attention all night, to give Sookie and Jackson no choice but to talk to each other. They'd bantered, as usual. Shared information about their respective days. Discussed Rory and the amazing way she was adapting to Chilton. Teased each other and laughed and joked. This was not supposed to happen.
This was not supposed to feel like a date.
But obviously he didn't know that he was doing anything wrong. How could he, when the only thing he was doing wrong was that he was doing everything right? Not to mention that he could have no idea how absolutely incredible he looked, or exactly how much effect his appearance had on her. He would say something, she would laugh, and then he would smile, and her knees would melt. This was insane.
"Um, Sookie?" she asked, annoyed that her voice shook a little. Sookie dragged her gaze away from Jackson's and focused on her best friend. "Could we, um, go…powder our noses?"
"Oh…sure," Sookie said, looking confused. "Excuse us," she said to Jackson and Luke, as Lorelai was already in the hall. Sookie caught up with her. "Honey, what's the matter?"
"He's driving me crazy!" Lorelai hissed, waving her hand in Luke's general direction.
"Why, what's wrong?"
"Nothing! That's what's wrong."
Sookie blinked a few times. "Okay, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to elaborate."
"This," Lorelai waved her arms, indicating the restaurant in general, "was not supposed to be a date. This was a favor he was doing me so I could do you a favor. He's not supposed to be…so…good."
"Good?" Sookie bit her lip. "What do you mean?"
"Just…it feels like a date. Like I like him. Like he likes me. And, God, does he look good tonight." She peeked around the corner at the table, where Luke was laughing at something Jackson had said. "Doesn't he?"
Sookie hid her smile. "Yeah, he does."
"What's the matter with me, Sookie? What's going on in this crazy, sick head of mine?"
"Oh, sweetie, you two have been dancing around each other for years," Sookie said with a short laugh. "It's like waiting for a volcano to erupt or something."
"Of Mt. St. Helens proportions."
"So we're a natural disaster?"
"You're something, that's for sure."
"So what do I do?"
Lorelai gaped at her. "What?"
"You heard me. Give in. You like him. A lot. Just accept it. Do something about it if it feels right."
"Right…" Lorelai took a deep breath. "Okay. Okay, let's go."
"Just one more thing," Sookie said, taking Lorelai's elbow before they walked back into the restaurant. "Before we go in, clear your head, and watch Luke's face when you walk in. And again when you smile at him. I swear, the man glows when you're around."
"Luke glows?" Lorelai giggled.
"Well, maybe 'glows' is too strong of a word. But you'll see in a minute."
They walked back in, Lorelai watching Luke guardedly. When he caught sight of her, his eyes lit as if someone had struck a match behind them, and Lorelai nearly stopped in her tracks.
"I'll never get why women go to the bathroom in pairs," he grumbled as she sat down beside him. "What, does Noah stand at the door and make sure you're going in two by two?" He paused as he noticed that Lorelai was grinning at him. "What?"
She glanced at the tablecloth and blushed. "Nothing. Just…I'm really glad you came with me tonight."
He gave her a half-smile. "Yeah?"
She looked up at that, but his expression was unreadable and he was drumming his fingers on the table nervously. Without thinking, she reached out and covered his hand with hers. "That has the potential to be really annoying."
He looked sheepish. "Sorry."
She shrugged and studied her food again, suddenly not very hungry.
"I vote for coffee," Lorelai said as they piled into the car. "And pie."
Luke rolled his eyes. "You can't possibly be hungry. I saw how much food you packed away."
"I am never too full for coffee. Or pie."
Luke shook his head. "Amazing woman."
Lorelai grinned. "That's the second time you've called me that."
"It's a nicer word than 'insane.'"
"You'll just have to make it up to me. With coffee. And…"
"Pie, I know. Jeez."
"You know me so well."
Luke grunted. "Jackson, go by the diner. We'll have coffee on me."
"Thanks, Luke," Jackson chuckled.
Caesar had gotten a kick out of serving his boss peppermint tea at the counter. Sookie and Jackson sat at a table near a window, and when Lorelai made to follow them, Luke called her attention, indicating a table on the other side of the door. Grinning, she sat next to him. She watched her best friend while Luke studied the diner from his new perspective.
"This is weird," he said finally.
"Sitting here. Seeing it this way. Weird."
"Do you want to go back behind the counter? Get your bearings?"
"Nah," he said, glancing sideways at her. "I'm okay where I am."
Lorelai propped her chin on one hand and smiled. "I think I'll wear blue to their wedding."
"It does seem to be going really well."
"Yeah. Kinda makes me jealous though…"
Luke eyed her. "If you tell me that you have a thing for Jackson…"
"No!" She choked on her coffee. "It just makes me think…about…Max…"
Beside her, she felt him tense. "You've been thinking about Max tonight?"
Oops. Never, never mention one guy while you're with another. "No. I'm just remembering that whole…beginning of the relationship glow…it's nice."
"It is at that."
She'd hurt his feelings. She could tell. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded. It's just that Max was my most recent boyfriend. I haven't been thinking about him tonight." He looked at her warily. "I haven't."
He was going to be Monosyllabic Man again. She took a deep breath. "Did I tell you that you look really good tonight?"
"Good healthy?" he muttered darkly, picking at the tabletop.
"No. Good good."
He glanced at her, a small smile on his lips. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." She blushed and averted her eyes.
"Y'know," Luke said after a moment of silence, "I doubt that Sookie and Jackson are planning on leaving any time soon."
"Or if they are, they don't plan on taking me with them," Lorelai answered with a grin.
Luke grimaced. "Ah, jeez."
"I think I'll get home," she said, standing up. "It's gorgeous out, so I'll just walk."
"I'll walk with you." Luke had risen, too.
"Oh, you don't have to do that…"
"It's dark out."
She rolled her eyes. "Right, don't want to walk around this wild town after dark."
He held her coat out for her, eyebrows raised, and she rolled her eyes as she slipped her arms into it. She said goodbye to Sookie and Jackson, and then walked outside with Luke.
Lorelai sniffed the air. "It smells like snow."
"If you say so."
"I do." They walked a little while in silence. "I love the snow," she said suddenly.
"I know. Magical things happen to you when it snows. When you were a kid, sick…Rory's first steps…"
"You remember," she said, surprised.
"…Rory's teacher's car magically breaking down." She said nothing. "Why couldn't he come with you on this double date?" The words flew out of his mouth as if he'd been holding them back.
"We broke up a little while ago," she answered quietly. "It wasn't working out."
"Me too. Kind of."
He raised one eyebrow. "Kind of?"
"Well," she said deliberately, easing her arm into his, "if we hadn't broken up, I wouldn't have had to ask you to come on this double date with me." He was tense beside her, as if waiting for more. "And that's good," she informed him.
He relaxed. "Ah." He glanced down at her hands. "You're not wearing gloves."
Deliberately he removed her arm and enveloped her hand in his. "Keeping it warm," he said, blushing slightly. She said nothing, but twined their fingers together.
As they slowly climbed her porch steps, Lorelai took a deep breath and turned to face him.
"I had fun."
"A lot of fun."
"Again, me too." Luke had dropped her hand and shoved his own hands into his pockets, studying the porch. He cleared his throat. "We should do this again sometime."
"Chaperone someone's first date?"
He glared at her. "Go out."
She swallowed. "I'd like that."
Lorelai blinked. "That soon?"
He grinned sheepishly. "Waiting's never worked out too well for me."
"That's good, because patience isn't exactly one of my many attributes."
"I do know that."
"Although I do have a myriad of other assets that I think counteract that one minor flaw."
"Like my enormous wit and my sparkling vivacity and my incredible sense of…" She was cut off by Luke's lips on hers. When he pulled away, much too soon to her way of thinking, all she could say was, "wow."
He took her hands and pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her waist. This time when he kissed her, she was prepared. She locked her arms around his neck and kissed him back, knocking the rating up to PG before breaking away for air. He leaned his forehead on hers.
"Do you…uh…want to come in?" she whispered. "I don't have any tea, but I do have water. Not bottled, but I have lots of cute little glasses with dinosaurs on them for tap water, and…"
She fumbled with the doorknob, and when they crossed the threshold, Luke pulled her into his arms again, kicking the door shut with one foot. He pushed her coat off her shoulders and onto the floor, and she fumbled with the zipper of his army jacket. He ran his hands down her back, and she felt the heat of his palms through the delicate material of her dress.
"God, you're beautiful," he whispered into her hair. She shivered.
"You're not so bad yourself." She ran her hands up his arms, over his shoulders and down the front of his shirt, where she began working the buttons loose. She had undone half of them and bumped her foot against the bottom step when the phone rang.
"Leave it," Luke groaned.
"I intend to," she answered, stepping up on the bottom step to lead him up the stairs.
The machine picked up, and then Mrs. Kim's voice rang throughout the house. "Lorelai? Rory? Lane? This is the fourth time I have called, and no answer! Where are you?"
Lorelai broke away from Luke. "I'm sorry; I have to talk to her." She snatched up the cordless phone. "Mrs. Kim? Lorelai…um, no, I was on a date…you're kidding…they're at the movies…Dean…well, Dean is Rory's boyfriend…I'm so sorry, I thought you knew…all right, I'm coming, too…uh huh…right…I'm so sorry…bye." She turned to Luke. "I have to go."
"No, it's okay," he said awkwardly. "I'll just…go…"
"Yeah…believe me, I do not want to go."
"Well, that's good…because I really don't want you to go either." He pulled her into another kiss. She moaned, pulling away.
"Keep doing that and I won't be able to leave. I really have to go."
"Right. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Definitely. Don't forget about Friday."
"I asked you about Friday, remember?"
"I know…but don't forget."
"Couldn't if I wanted to."
Lorelai grinned, and they parted ways at the end of her sidewalk. Suddenly, she loved double dates.