Author's Note: I have to send out the most amazing thanks to my betas, JeSouhaite, CineFille, and Bridges. They endured a million questions and multiple drafts and managed to be wonderfully encouraging and honest at the same time.
The lyrics are from Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day. It's old, overplayed, and brings back sad memories of Scott Anspaugh, but the lyrics sounded like the April situation and are therefore entirely responsible for inspiring this story
Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road.
The words make me numb. I've got a kid – a daughter. Even though Luke is blameless in the timing – it's not like he knew before - there's just this ache of suddenness. I feel like we've just gotten here, just jumped over the hurdles put in our way and fate conspires to send us another one. Not that she's a hurdle, but it's just so out of the blue. Twelve years. Twelve years, and no one ever told him.
"When did? How did…?" My voice trails off with a lack of coherence and my hands drop limply on the couch next to me.
He winces and I'm not sure why until I hear Science Fair and before Thanksgiving. Over a month and a half ago, my brain screams. He's known about this for at least six weeks. Hurt and rage roll over the numbness and spit words out of my mouth before I can think. "How could you keep that from me? After telling me we have to tell each other everything. 'That's the only way this is going to work,' you said." My voice is hateful, venomous, everything coming out as anger, because I don't know how to process the other things I'm feeling – disappointment, fear, jealousy, pity.
"Lorelai, I needed to figure it out. I needed to confirm. I needed…"
He keeps saying 'I,' and it's like a knife in the gut. We've spent so much time becoming a 'we,' and now he wants to be an 'I' again.
I haven't even heard the last bit of what he's saying when I start throwing it back at him. "'I?' What about us? Can't you see that this affects both of us? We're getting married. We've been waiting to get married-" I stop suddenly because now I get it. He's been quiet about the wedding date since Rory came back, less excited than I expected him to be – not exactly resisting, but not doing anything to push it forward. In my realization, I've stopped throwing words at him and he edges closer to me on the couch, reaching out a hand for my arm.
"Lorelai," he pleads, "can we talk? Please? Let me explain."
I shrug him away and lift my eyes to his. My voice is softer now, more pained, "How could you not tell me?" I hold his gaze, silently challenging him for an answer. He doesn't respond, dropping his head in a gesture of defeat. Giving an impatient sigh, I stand up and walk away, letting my feet thud heavily across the floor and up the steps as I head for 'our' room. I don't slam the door, but I shut it soundly so that he knows not to follow me. I fall onto the bed as my other feelings catch up to the anger. Six weeks. Six weeks without telling me. Twelve years. Twelve years without telling him.
Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.
I have no idea how much time has passed. I'm lying in the middle of the bed, trying not to think. I started out with numbness again, then there was crying and possibly sleep. There must have been sleep, because the room is darker now as evening approaches. I feel anxious, not wanting to deal with what's beyond the door, not wanting to leave this sanctuary, but impatient at the same time. The restlessness overtakes me and I rise, pacing across the floor. Starting toward the door, I hesitate, then spin around toward the bathroom, heading straight for the shower and turning it as hot as I can stand it. Stripping down, I climb in and let the water beat away my outrage and the venom and soothe away the hurt.
A few minutes later, I'm dried and dressed and contemplating the door again. I have no idea if Luke is still here. He's been basically moved in since the renovations finished, but he's still got a few things at his apartment. I try not to think about his recent hesitance to move the last few bits of his life here, and the other tiny ways he's distanced himself from me in the last several weeks. I try to swallow my fear about what's going to happen, about why he's pulled away from me. But pushing back the fear renews the resentment at his not telling me – at his hypocrisy.
I turn the knob silently, slipping out in my sock feet and starting down the stairs. Halfway down, I see him, sitting on the couch, resting his elbows on his knees and gripping his hands tightly together. He looks as though he's been there since I left. As I continue down the stairs, he lifts his head to me and the pain in his eyes puts a chink in the anger with which I've armored myself. I can see him start to speak and then stop, as though he's afraid I'm a vision that will dissipate if he acknowledges it.
I walk across the floor, holding his gaze, and stop in front of him, my arms folded across my chest, projecting all the pain and frustration I'm feeling.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I ask accusingly, trying to hide the hurt I feel. "Why did you hide it from me? You said…you said no secrets…"
He leans his head against his fingers for long moments while I wait impatiently for his response. Finally he speaks quietly, looking up to meet my eyes at the end of his statement. "I needed to figure out what I was going to be asking of you." He takes a deep breath and buries his head in his hands again. "And after all that, I still don't even know…" When I don't respond he adds, his voice choked, "Cause I don't think that they really want me around." I swear that I see a smear of wetness on his cheek, but he's not looking up at me, so I'm not sure. It hits me again, the unfairness of it all, how much he's been hurt. I'm torn between the desire to take care of him and wanting to scream at him for not including me.
I find myself asking, "Why didn't you need me?"
He looks up quizzically and I see that it is, in fact, a tear glistening on his cheek. "What?" he asks, his confusion clear.
"You didn't have to have it all figured out. You could have let me help." Now I feel tears brimming because I'm looking at him and seeing how hurt he is, how hurt he was and he didn't ask for my help. He didn't reach out. Concern for him has taken over and I can no longer even summon anger. "Why didn't you let me help you?"
"I wanted to tell you. I just…I was so afraid this would change everything."
I let out a long sigh. "It will change things, Luke, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We're still us. It's not going to change us." He's looking down at his tightly clenched hands. I reach out and tip his chin up so I can look at him. "It's not going to change us," I insist gently.
He just looks back at me, looking hopeful but unsure, before pulling me into his arms. He hugs me tightly, burying his head in my shoulder and murmuring over and over, "I'm sorry. I should have told you. I'm sorry."
And even though the only thing I can do in return is hold him and whisper, "It's okay. It's going to be okay," I know that right now that's all he needs.
So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.
I hear the phone click into the receiver and Luke's footsteps as he heads back and settles onto the couch. I wait a few minutes before making my way downstairs so he doesn't know how anxiously I've been waiting for his phone call to end.
It's the first time he's talked to Anna since he told me about April a few days ago. In fact, he'd had very little contact with them since finding out about April. He's not sure what his role should be and it sounds like they're not being very forthcoming with him. He's been letting the situation hang in a limbo of sorts, but now that he's told me about his daughter, I can sense that he desperately wants to start to figure out what it's going to mean for him, and for us.
He's sitting on the couch, looking defeated, an expression I've seen a lot recently. Wordlessly, I slide in next to him, and he wraps his arms around me, pulling me back into his chest. We've had lots of moments like this in the past few days, as if Luke needs reassurance that I'm here, and I'm happy to let him lean on me for a change.
Since I learned about April, I've felt the distance close between us, not because we've done much talking, but because he's been around more. He's showing me his sadness, and letting me take care of him, even though much of the time that just means reaching out and holding him. We've talked a bit about April, about his lack of confidence that he can be a father. He's been less open with details about Anna, about why she kept April from him, making me wonder if he's even discussed it with Anna at all.
For a long time we sit like this, content to just be together. It's so peaceful that I'm surprised when he speaks. "After you had Rory," he starts, then takes a deep breath before continuing, "did you want Christopher around?"
I can't help it. I tense up when he mentions Christopher, because as much I think we've moved past the jealousy, Christopher will always be a source of unease between us. I turn toward him, trying to read his face, but since he's still wearing that numb look, I know that this question really doesn't have anything to do with Christopher and me. So I answer honestly, "Yeah, I did…but he wanted to be around on his terms. When I told him I wouldn't marry him, that changed everything for him. He took it as permission to be absent. And while I did want him around, I didn't want to fight over the hows, so I let him drift in and out."
"Was it easier without him?"
I snort reflexively. "Nothing was easy at the beginning. We were just so young. I'd spent nine months learning what it would mean to be a parent. He never really did get it." I shift so I can look at him, running my fingers across the back of his wrist. "Hey, tell me what this is about."
"I just don't know what I'm supposed to be to them…if they even want me to be anything." This is the part that makes me hurt for him. Knowing him as a do, I know it's killing him that he missed so much of April's life, but he's also reluctant to push his way in uninvited.
"What do you want?" I say gently.
He looks at me for a long moment before ducking his head and answering, "I wanted to get her a Christmas present." His voice is deep with regret as he goes on, stumbling over his words, "But I don't even know…I don't even know what she would like…what she has."
I'm feeling physical pain for him right now, knowing what it takes for him to admit how hurt he is. I reach out and envelop him in my arms, telling him as clearly as I can that I'm here for him. He tightens his arms around me like I'm his lifeline and I feel a shaky breath against my neck. I run my fingers reassuringly through the back of his hair until he gives a long sigh and loosens his grip. I pull back so that I can look him in the eye, "Well, then you'll have to get to know her," I say matter-of-factly.
When he gives me that defeated look again and starts to say something about how they might not want to get to know him, I cut him off with a hand on his forearm and say, "She came to find you."
"For her science fair project," he says dully.
I reach out to cup his face in my palm and look directly into his eyes, saying firmly, "She came to find her dad."
He still looks skeptical, but his protesting ends there and the next time he talks to Anna, it's to ask if he can take April to dinner.
In the days leading up to his dinner with April, Luke is a nervous wreck. I can see how badly he wants to impress her and how worried he is that somehow he won't pass the test.
He takes her to Sniffy's and while I'm a little jealous that Maizie and Buddy get to meet her before I do, I understand that for now it needs to be just the two of them.
It also saves me from having to meet Anna just yet. I'm not sure how to process my thoughts about her. I haven't even met her and I'm already irrationally angry with her for not telling Luke about April. At the same time, it disturbs me that I can understand her reluctance – that to tell Luke about April would have required telling him that she couldn't be sure April was his. That she'd have to admit that the presence of the on-again, off-again college boyfriend was not as innocent as she'd claimed. I'm not sure that Luke has shared all the details with me, but what he's told me of the situation hits closer to home than I'd like to admit. I know what it's like to have someone who repeatedly charms their way back into your life. But then I remind myself that she didn't have to see his tears when he wondered if his daughter wanted him in her life, and the anger floods back again.
When he returns, I'm watching a movie, but I flip off the television as soon as he walks in. "So?" I ask, giving him an encouraging look.
He gives a half-hearted smile, "It was fine," he says, but my heart sinks as his expression turns grim.
I cross the room and rest my hands on his chest, "Hey. Talk to me."
And then he spills, "I don't know what to talk to her about. We kept running out of things to say. She doesn't talk much."
"Ah, so she's like her Dad," I say brightly and he eyes me wryly. "Seriously, Luke, it's going to take a little time to get to know each other. You're going to have dinner again next week, right?"
He nods, but then gives a resigned shrug. "I'm not sure she even wants to. She said, sure, if I wanted to, but…"
"She wants to, Luke. And you'll find things to talk about. You're both just nervous."
"Or she doesn't care."
"Of course she cares."
He doesn't look convinced, but he stops protesting and lets me lead him to the couch and drag details out of him until he's cracked a reluctant smile.
The dinners become a weekly thing, and though Luke always needs reassurance upon his return, he seems just a little less nervous and intimidated as he leaves each week. It helps that during the second dinner she tells him about a previous science project in which she'd analyzed baseball statistics to try to correlate particular statistics with the likelihood of winning a game. That gives them a topic of conversation for at least three more dinners.
The fourth week Luke invites April to dinner at our house to meet me and I start to understand the uncertainty he's been feeling. She has this air of nonchalance, and even though I can see her warming up to Luke, it's easy to see why he thought she didn't want him around. The more I watch the two of them together, though, the more I think that it's her way of protecting herself, the way she's convinced herself over the years that she didn't need a father.
Because of that indifference she projects, it's surprising that when we invite Rory to have dinner with us a few weeks later April warms up to her almost immediately. Luke and I talk about it that night and try to figure out what it is about Rory that pulls April out of her shell. Maybe it's the 'smart girl' vibe, or Yale, or the fact that Rory's neither as reserved as Luke nor as freakishly chatty as me, or maybe it's just that she's younger. Whatever the reason, that night is the most comfortable visit we've had with April. Luke smiles more, April laughs, and Rory and I share these knowing glances as we watch this man we've known forever with his daughter we've known only for a short time.
It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.
Throughout the winter, Luke is moody, though his bouts of uncertainty are interspersed with periods of confidence. He's alternatively excited about seeing April and discouraged by her detached attitude. During his crankier moments, he takes out his frustration on me, snapping unnecessarily or walking away in the middle of conversations. Though it sucks being the recipient of his irritation, and I don't always manage to not snap back or storm out myself, I do recognize that it's a sign of him opening up to me.
We're having one of those moments right now – arguing about the music at the wedding. Even though I know he doesn't mean it when he says he doesn't care – even though I know this really has nothing to do with wedding planning – I'm hurt and angry and after a few rounds of not-quite yelling at each other, I retreat to our bedroom.
It's not always about the wedding. Sometimes it's about the laundry on the floor or the dishes in the sink, but it's never about what's really upsetting him.
Today though, it's the wedding that's triggered it. Specifically, my mother reminding us, in her passive-aggressive way, that decisions about the music are holding up the rest of the planning. My parents have always been a sensitive issue, but especially so since finding out about April. Though I made it clear to my mother in no uncertain terms that I will turn around and walk away if she puts Luke down in any way, the disdainful looks that are so much a part of her remain and I know Luke feels them.
I know it won't be long before he comes upstairs to apologize. He doesn't stew very long before the guilt takes over. I'm sitting on our bed, facing away from the door, but I hear his steps on the stairs and the creak of the floor as he crosses the room. He rests his hands on my shoulders and takes in a breath, "I'm-"
"I know," I say, cutting him off before he can finish his apology. "I know you are, and so am I." I turn to look at him, and continue gently, "But Luke, we can't keep doing this. I don't want to fight about this. I don't want to fight at all."
He lets out a long sigh, sitting down behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist before resting his chin on my shoulder. "I don't want to fight either. And I do care about the wedding. I just…there's so much little stuff."
I understand what he means. He's actually been great about the planning, showing more interest than I would have expected, but it's the little details that trip him up. It's like they're too small to keep track of with all of the other stuff he's got going on in his head. I rest my arms on his and take his hands in mine. "Just talk to me when it's too much."
I mean more than just the wedding stuff, and I think that he knows this because he holds me tightly for a moment before whispering, "I'll try."
As much strain as all the bickering has put on our relationship, I can tell that the feelings of inadequacy and guilt are taking even more of a toll on Luke. I want to do something for him, a gesture to let him know that I'm really okay with all of this. I've had an idea recently, and I think that it's time to share it with him.
The next night, when Luke and I are snuggled up on the couch together watching some ridiculous TV movie, I casually ask, "Hey Luke, do you think that April would like to be in the wedding?"
Luke immediately pulls his attention from the TV and turns to look at me, surprise all over his face. He asks softly, "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Do you think she'd want to?"
He gets that unsure expression on his face again, that look that says that he's not satisfied with not knowing the answer to the question, and he responds, "I don't know…I can ask her."
"Okay," I say, resting my hand reassuringly on his arm, "why don't you ask her and let me know?"
He nods, and I lean back against his chest. He puts his arms around me, holding tight and whispering into my hair, "Thank you."
Several minutes pass, then Luke speaks up again, "Is Rory okay with it?"
"With what?" Confused, I turn to look at him.
"With April being in the wedding." There is concern in his voice and I am quick to respond.
"Well, I didn't actually ask her, but I know she'll be happy about it. She really likes April." Luke smiles at that, but still looks uneasy.
"Is she really okay with everything?" he asks.
"With what everything?" He gives me a look and I clarify, "You mean about April?" At his small nod I continue, "There's nothing to be not okay with. She's your daughter. She's your family. She's going to be our family." I say it like that, because in my head it's become that cut and dried.
"But," he persists, his brow wrinkling in concentration, "I don't want for Rory to feel left out. Do you think that she feels left out? Because I've been spending so much time with April?"
His concern is sweet beyond words and I can't resist the urge to grab his face in my hands and give him a kiss. I pull back and grin at him, but he's still not satisfied.
"I'd like to do something for her," he hesitates, as if he's not sure he wants to say what he's thinking. "I was thinking of taking her to dinner."
"Yeah, I'd like to get a chance to…and Maizie and Buddy were asking when they'd get to meet her."
"You aren't going to overwhelm them with surrogate grandchildren, are you?" I joke, then I stop, wondering if I've been too presumptuous, but he just looks back at me wistfully.
"No, they love it," he says, in all seriousness.
I don't hear any significant details about the dinner, from either one of them, but Luke walks around for days afterwards with this small smile on his face, and for the next few weeks he seems better able to weather the occasional uncertainties of his relationship with April.
When I ask Rory what she said to him to make him smile so much, she just shrugs and says, "I just told him that he's doing it right. That he's a good dad."
And all I can do is hug her, because I've told him that so many times he's beginning to tune me out, so he needs another voice of reassurance.
A few days later, Rory's home for the weekend and we've moved into the living room after eating a dinner Luke cooked for us, which is not at all unusual. What is unusual is the nervous look on his face and the serious tone in his voice when he asks, "Hey, Rory?"
He's standing with his palms pressed together, eyes glued to the floor for a moment before he looks up and responds, "I was wondering…I was going to ask for your advice…It's April's birthday soon and I want to get her something that she'll like."
Actually, I correct him in my head, it's not for two months, but Luke's not going to let another gift-giving opportunity pass him by.
"She's smart and good at science, and you're smart too, but I know that science isn't your thing. Well, not that you're not good at science, because you're good at everything, but you're more of a reader, and I think that April's more into science and math. Not that she doesn't read, but…anyway, you're both smart. I was wondering-"
"Luke," Rory responds, cutting off his stammering, "I can help you."
I'm about to break in here and remind Luke that in my day I was considered smart too, but he's so freaking cute when he's nervous, and it's adorable that he's asking Rory for help, so I let it go.
Rory continues, "Did you have any specific ideas?"
Luke looks flustered. "I don't know. I guess there might be books she would like, or maybe there's some science thing. I just…everything I think of seems too old or too young for her."
Rory catches on quick to how uncomfortable Luke is admitting his ignorance about what April would like, and suggests, "Well, let's see if we can find some options and then you can choose what you think would be best." She's already moved to pick up and open her laptop, and she gestures for Luke to join her. He looks a little intimidated, but he leans over her shoulder and watches as Rory navigates through what I can only assume is I can see him nod periodically or shake his head.
When I've recovered from the cuteness of this scenario enough to notice his awkward stance, I interrupt them to call out, "Hey, hon, why don't you pull up a chair or something and make yourself comfortable."
He gives me a blank look, then looks over at the armchair and pulls it next to Rory and leans back in toward the computer. I can tell that they are browsing books, CDs, and DVDs, and I've seen Luke doing a lot more shaking of his head than nodding. When they move onto games, I suddenly get a brainstorm and call again from across the room, "Hey Luke, how about if you take her to a baseball game?"
He gives me a look I recognize as his 'you can't be serious' face. "I don't know if she likes baseball," he says, as if that settles the matter.
I make another attempt. "Well, she likes baseball statistics, and based on previous evidence you two can talk about that for hours, so if she hates the game you still have that. Besides, you like baseball."
Luke brushes off the idea with a shrug before turning back to the computer, but I can see that the idea intrigues him, and after at least an hour of searching through the options Rory can bring up on the screen, he comes back to the idea. "Well maybe she'd like that."
It's been a slow process, this getting to know the daughter he never knew he had. It hasn't helped that she's so much like him, reserved and wary, both of them afraid of opening up and putting themselves out there.
I've been trying as hard as I can to be supportive, but it's moments like this, when he's stumbling over himself in his eagerness to please his daughter on her birthday, that I'm jealous at his reaction to her simply existing. It took several years for Luke admit how he felt about me and stammer through the initial phases of our relationship, and while I'm glad we're beyond that, I can't help but notice that she's there immediately.
I'll never tell Luke this, but I've known for a long time that I had a special place in his heart. Even before we started dating, our friendship went beyond normal boundaries, and I've always felt privileged to have a piece of him that no one else did. Learning about April shook that confidence and gave me pangs of resentment I didn't want to admit having. I'm starting to figure out that Luke has room in that piece of his heart for both of us, and that Rory is in there too – has always been, in fact.
He's learning too. He's trusting me in new ways – with his insecurities and with his fears. Fears that April doesn't want him around the way he wants to be around. Fears that having found out about her he'll only lose her again, to a move or worse.
He does end up getting April tickets to a Red Sox game, determining through some logic only he understands, that she'd prefer the Red Sox to the Yankees. Since I have some vague memory that Nicole liked the Yankees, the choice sounds good to me too. He also buys her a book and CD that Rory helped him choose, and Rory and I convince him to give her one of the necklaces that Liz has made, over his protestations that he doesn't think she wears jewelry.
And though Luke is typically insecure about admitting it, in her understated way, April likes everything. I have to point out to him the number of times they've talked about the baseball game since their trip to Boston. I let him know what I heard her tell Rory about the book and CD. And one night when we all go out to Sniffy's together, I make sure that he sees that she's wearing the necklace.
It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
It's Rory who suggests that we invite April to stay with us the night before the wedding, the night we'd set aside for some mother/daughter bonding. She then looks at me thoughtfully, asking, "Is that okay? I just thought…"
Moved by both the suggestion and her consideration, I respond with a smile, "It's a great idea. And yes, I do want to have some time with you, but weddings are about bringing families together. Besides," I add, "Luke would love it if we included April."
Luke does love it. And when I tell him that Rory had suggested it he beams, seriously beams.
The night of our sleepover, he stops by to bring us provisions, casually asking what we're going to be doing. I show him the selection of wedding movies we're going to choose from and then mention manicures, pedicures and facials just to tease him. He's trying to make it an informal stop-by, but I know he's here because most of the important people in his life are under this roof and he can't really stay away. If I didn't know that he had Jess to keep him company back at the apartment, I'd have a hard time letting him go.
As it is, I can tell he is reluctant to leave, but he hugs Rory and April, kissing them both on their temples. Then he turns to me, pulling me into a hug and whispering into my hair, "I'm gonna miss you."
"Me too," I whisper back, then pull back and grin at him, "but I can't wait to see you in that tux."
He grimaces, but then softens and says, "See you tomorrow."
Though it's said casually, I can feel the weight of what's happening tomorrow in his words, and when run the back of my fingers along his jaw and reply, "Yeah, tomorrow," I can see in his eyes that he feels it as well.
I watch him out the door until I can't see him anymore and Rory pulls me back into the living room where we settle on The Wedding Singer, a winner for the mockery value alone. April is a little shocked at the junk food spread, but Luke has included a salad in the bag of food just for her.
It's not quite the same as a patented Lorelai/Rory movie night, but April's gotten more comfortable with me and she completely admires Rory, so we do more than muddle through. I wasn't kidding about the manicures and pedicures, and after watching Rory and I, April lets us paint her nails the palest shade of pink ever. Then later, the three of us fall asleep in our sleeping bags before the third movie is over.
The morning is a blur of activity. Sookie rouses us out of bed early with breakfast, so we're at the inn by the time Emily shows up mid-morning with her hairdresser, who clucks on and on and about how much work it's going to be to make us presentable. Once we've passed Emily's inspection, the photographer arrives to take the requisite 'bride getting ready' pictures, again at Emily's insistence. I'm just relieved that the bustle of preparations makes the day feel shorter and that each minute of combing, brushing, and tweaking brings me that much closer to seeing Luke again - and in a tux to boot!
I'd been prepared to bring out the big guns to convince Luke that he needed to wear a tux. I was going to tell him that if he thought my lingerie selections turned him on, then he would begin to understand what seeing him in a tux would do to me. To my slight disappointment, I didn't have to work hard at all. Things have been like that for quite a while now, with him feeling like he has grievances to atone for and while I normally try to convince him otherwise, for this I let him indulge me.
Finally, the hair is done, we are dressed, and the guests have gathered on the lawn. I wait in the foyer of the inn, watching first April, then Sookie, then Rory walk gracefully down the aisle. The music changes and my father and I step out the door and down the steps. I look up as I reach the chairs to see Luke looking at me in awe. I smile back at him, managing to maintain my poise, though my inner twelve-year-old is doing cartwheels at the wonder in his eye. When my father gives my hand to Luke, he holds it tightly for the rest of the ceremony.
As we had agreed, the ceremony itself is brief, though full of heartfelt words. It isn't until Reverend Skinner begins a short homily about finding your life partner that I feel Luke fidget. He reaches up to tug on his bowtie at almost the same instant that April pulls on the short sleeves of her dress, and I can't help but smile at the things these two share without even realizing it. I catch Rory's eye and know she sees the same thing.
It's only a few more minutes before the Reverend pronounces us husband and wife, and I don't waste any time reaching up to pull him in for a kiss. Given Luke's shyness about public displays of affection, I'm going to let him off the hook and save the good macking for when we're alone, but he's holding me tightly so I make the most of it until the guests break out in applause and Luke pulls away, blushing.
Between the pictures and the receiving line, we don't really have a chance to be talk until our first dance. Though he's as graceful as ever, I can tell he's not quite comfortable being the center of attention. As usual he tries to deflect the attention away from himself. "Have I told you how incredible you look?" he says softly into my ear.
"Not out loud, but I got it." I pull away enough to look him in the eye and smile.
He blushes at this and turns his attention to Rory and April, standing together at the side of the dance floor. "They look beautiful." The admiration in his voice almost kills me dead. This proud-father Luke is one I can't really get enough of.
I just smile back at him, "Well, they're both really happy to be here for you. Now are you ready to take your daughter for a spin around the dance floor?"
He looks at me with surprise. "What?"
I shrug. "Well, you left Rory and me in charge of everything music related, and then she went and convinced me I had to dance with my father, so…" I smile up at him encouragingly, adding, "Besides, who better to teach her to dance than her father?"
At that our song ends, and as strains of What a Wonderful World begin, Rory urges April onto the floor and I pull my father up from his seat.
I smile to myself as I watch Luke gently instructing April while she nervously circles the floor with him. Looking at them together, it's hard to believe I ever doubted he'd want to be a father.
There seem to be two trains of thought by everyone who knows us. Several people have hinted indirectly that maybe April takes the pressure off us to reproduce, that since Luke has a child of his own, maybe we won't need to have another.
Sookie's taken a different view, pitying me for losing the chance to bear Luke's first child, that I'm somehow the only one meant for that role. I'll admit I felt a touch of that initially, but the way I feel now is neither of those.
Watching Luke become a dad, seeing him build a relationship with April, makes me even more determined to have a child with him. Not to stake my claim or mark my territory, but because I want to give him what he missed out on. I want to give him a baby to raise. Because I know he'll be a great dad. I know he is a great dad, now that he's been given a chance.
Thoughts of dads pull me out of my reverie and I look at my own dad and smile.
He returns my smile as he expertly leads me around the dance floor. "Congratulations, Lorelai," he says, his tone formal, but then it softens. "I must say, you look quite happy."
"I am Daddy. I am."
When I look back to Luke and April, I can see that they've relaxed and she is smiling up at him, and he's smiling back. As they turn toward us, I catch Luke's eye and it's glistening with emotion as he smiles back at me.
Authors Note: While Lorelai's part of this story is finished, I've let myself be talked into telling more of the story that couldn't be told in Lorelai's POV. At the very least, I've promised JeSouhaite the Luke/Rory dinner. We'll see what happens after that.