AliCatter is the collaborative work of authors catterwall and aliross33.
And we're both eternally indebted to FauxFrancie/George Eliot, our wonderful (and frighteningly thorough) beta.
Luke had caught sight of her earlier in the day, striding by the diner windows in a blue dress. So he knew what to watch out for.
He assumed Lorelai and Rory had arrived already, though he carefully refrained from scanning the crowd as he drove past. As he slowed down for the caterers marching out from behind the building, he felt completely self-conscious of his cargo; though he'd tied the chuppah down as securely as possible, the dirt road caused a rattling that failed to go unnoticed.
Everyone at the service entrance turned and stared at the scruffy guy with the fruity-looking poles. He sighed, staring up at the carvings. He recalled how lovingly he had shaped each piece for her, as a way to let go, to work his frustrations out with his hands. Keeping her face in his mind for hours as he tooled away, tapping and hammering and picturing her happy.
Then, predictably, she had found a way to discard it, calling off the wedding, letting his handiwork rot in her disheveled front yard. He felt as though, when he first gave it to her, it was his way of getting in the last word on their relationship. Then she'd screwed with him again by continuing on as before, keeping him at arm's length.
And now, there it stood; a majestic, overly-elaborate golden archway framing the uselessness of his existence, as well as the faded exterior of his truck, as it pulled behind the inn's main walkway.
Yesterday morning was the last time Lorelai had spoken to him, asking him again to accept her apology. For jumping down his throat the way she did. For screaming at him, for hitting such a high pitch that her voice sounded like a connecting modem. For blaming him when he didn't deserve it.
He had refused her quietly. Mainly because he wanted her to keep asking.
Luke motioned over one of the vase-holding guys, the two of them sliding the chuppah onto its palettes and closing the bed of the truck.
Now, where was Sookie.
Luke craned his neck, hands jammed in his pockets, trying to pick her out. Couldn't see a single white dress. Saw Jackson wearing a skirt, though. That was weird. Kirk singing at the piano. Saw the whole damn town getting drunk and milling around. Actually, he was glad to be headed back to the diner. As soon as he could find someone to take this thing off his hands. But still no Sookie.
He didn't particularly want to haul it down the hill to where the ceremony was taking place, though he could clearly see where it was to be inserted on the lawn: in front of the rows of chairs, next to the pile of flowers, right by the woman in the blue dress.
There she was, standing with Rory's dad, her head thrown back in laughter. His arm was around her waist, trying to get her to dance by the piano, getting her to set down her glass. Luke watched him paw at her, watched her respond with her body; he wanted to move, but found himself unable to tear his eyes away.
Once he'd focused on her, her laugh was the only thing he could hear, floating up to him from the crowd.
They hadn't been on good terms in weeks. Lorelai was Christopher's problem now, not his. Though the thought wasn't as comforting as he would've liked it to be.
He watched as she tried to walk away from him, undoubtedly giving some excuse involving Rory, seeing her laugh as he grabbed her arm and led her back to the piano.
Lorelai would move on, whether Luke openly forgave her or not. He understood that suddenly, feeling the full weight of it settle into his chest.
Christopher spun her out of his arms and she snapped back, clutching his lapels as he dipped her toward the ground. She was laughing so hard with him that Luke could hear her gasping for breath.
He closed his eyes for a moment then marched back to the truck. He pulled the wheeled palettes toward the lawn and down the hill, throwing all his pent-up energy into staring straight ahead, keeping his mind clear. Mobilizing the solid wooden structure through so many blades of grass. He figured if he had any of that energy left over later he could put some of it into spinning his own noose when he got home.
Lorelai saw Gilbert the Goat sliding past her, upside-down, as Christopher steadied her lower back somewhere around his knee. She quickly righted herself, almost taking her dance partner down in the process, just in time to see Luke pulling her precious gift across the lawn.
Her instinct was to yell after him, to let go of Christopher and find out where he was going. Her voice, however, caught in her throat as she stared after him.
She wanted to know if he was taking the thing back, since she hadn't married Max, and was now giving it to Jackson and Sookie instead. Maybe he'd found out that she'd slept with Rory's dad, and this was his way of telling her. She wondered instinctually if, maybe, quite possibly, this time he'd forgive her if she asked. If maybe now he'd just call her a raving lunatic and squeeze her shoulder as he walked away, his eyes crinkling into a smile as he glanced back at her, stumbling over himself a little bit.
And as Christopher took her hand and led her back toward the bar, she couldn't help but turn and watch Luke as he adorned her chuppah with the flowers laid nearby. The way he threaded the vines so delicately, covering the thin, sturdy columns with pink buds.
Christopher squeezed her hand, bringing her back, flashing her that smile she was so comfortable in, that she was used to being the cause of, and the fluttery feeling in her stomach made another appearance.
"Hey Lor," he tugged on her hand, looking satisfied with himself. "Have you seen Rory? I should find her before the ceremony starts."
She smiled against his mouth, then backed away from him, letting go of his hand. "I'll go find her for you. I think she's in the woods with Dean."
He smiled, then flipped his wrist over, glancing down at the watch Sherry had given him for his birthday. "Don't worry about it. It's better that I talk to her alone."
Lorelai nodded, understanding. "I'm gonna go check on Sookie, then. I'll see you at the ceremony?"
They kissed again, then headed in different directions. Chris in the direction of the woods, Lorelai back across the lawn and to the parlor of the inn.
Luke was kneeling to anchor the chuppah to the ground, his broad back turned away from her. She noticed the beads of sweat tracing down from under his cap as he worked.
She wanted to offer him something to drink, but couldn't will him to look up.