Happy Independence Day, Stars Hollow
It has been two weeks since Luke learned of his impending fatherhood.
He has not seen Lorelai, his child-to-be's incubator, in that time. She has not gone walking through town, she has not come into the diner, and they have not spoken over the phone.
He is unsure of what his next move should be.
Everyday he looks at the little flannel outfit and sonogram she gave him on Father's Day and thinks about his child.
His son, that's what she had written. She had written he, so it was a boy. A son, a Danes man but maybe not… maybe he'll be a Gilmore boy.
He wants to know what she is going to do about that, how much she is going to let him be involved. He wants to see him, wants to take him fishing and show him how to catch a ball and hit a pitch. He wants to do so much with his son; he wonders how much he's going to be allowed to.
He thinks about her too. He wants to marry her, maybe a part of him thinks that it would be good for the baby so that he can be there always but he knows that's not all. He wants to hold her hair when she has morning sickness, wants to rub her back when it is sore from the extra weight and kiss away her tears when the weepy hormones come out to play. He wants to make love to her and feel her growing belly. He wants her to wake him up in the middle of the night and put his hand on her stomach as their baby kicks around inside. He wants to hold her hand and be yelled at as she gives birth. He wants to kiss her and cry with her over their beautiful newborn. He wants to raise their son together.
He wants to grow old with her. He wants to die in the same moment as she does.
In the past two weeks he has picked up the phone a total of twenty seven times and pressed the familiar numbers… he's only made it to all seven of them once; he got the machine and didn't leave a message. Nine times he has, in the middle of the night, gotten out of bed and walked towards her house; twice he made it to the bottom of her porch steps.
Luke Danes is a man in limbo, uncertain of what to do and how to be a father to his new child and a husband to his now ex-fiancée.
Lorelai awakens early on Saturday, the first day of July. Too early in her opinion and doesn't understand why, and then it happens; A lurch deep within her stomach and a quick tightening of her throat. She pushes herself from the bed with great force and barely makes it to the toilet before loosing the entire contents of her stomach. She wretches over and over again until there is nothing left and her throat is burning and tears from the strain are rolling down her cheeks. She grabs a wad of toilet paper and wipes her mouth, then flushes it all away and leans against a wall. Her breathing is heavy but shallow, the morning's exertions have worn her out and she doesn't think she has the strength to even crawl back to her bed.
Morning sickness this time around has been near hellish. Every morning, afternoon, and night she has a bout of it and must rest for an hour before her body can even stand again. Somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind she thinks it is punishment from her child within for the misdeeds that have occurred since its conception.
She doesn't blame it.
Forget the copious amounts of alcohol taken in at Lane's wedding, the stress of her ultimatum, and the insanity of her night with Christopher her biggest offence has been not talking to Luke since she told him, or rather showed him, she was going to have his child.
She does not know his reaction; his thoughts and feelings on the subject are mystery to her. She doesn't know what to do now. She thinks that maybe if they talked he'd want to be with her again for the baby and that is not what she wants. She wants him in their child's life. She wants to see her little boy elated with the thought of fishing or camping or playing ball with his father.
Mostly, she wants to be a part of that and not just a spectator, the single mother who watches her child go off with his father on the weekends and becomes bitter of their time together. She wants to wave happily to them as they go off and be waiting for them when they return. She wants Luke to grumble and rant and cook for her and hold her in his arms at night because he loves her.
Forty-five minutes after her morning sickness has subsided she feels okay enough to get up and get ready for the day, Tuesday is the Fourth and the inn is packed to capacity which is good for business and also to keep her distracted.
Tuesday comes fast and before she knows it she is in the town square celebrating Independence with her fellow denizens of Stars Hollow, her family.
She is happier than she has been in a while. Today it is bright and sunny and a good festival always makes her happy.
There are many booths and games setup around the square and the only colors she can see are bright reds and blues and crisp whites. Everyone is dressed from head to toe in American flag apparel; she loves the quaintness of it all.
No one, apart from Sookie, Rory and Luke, knows about the baby. She is keeping it quiet for now. She knows there will be questions and townspeople poking into her life and making things harder for her even though they mean well. She doesn't want that but knows soon she will have to say something because it will be extremely obvious that she isn't just gaining weight. Luckily the shirt she has picked out for today hides the tell-tale signs of her pregnancy. She had woken up yesterday to a palpable swell and had scrambled to find clothing that would suitably hide it.
She continued around the square with a smile on her face until she stopped in her tracks, not everyone was dressed in the requisite Fourth of July uniform. There, about twenty feet from her stood Luke Danes.
Momentarily she panicked and wondered why he was there because everyone knows Luke Danes does not voluntarily go to town festivals. After the initial panic she calmed and then saw his reason for coming, running to him with a smile and a shiny Fourth of July tiara was April. She saw them talk and was about to turn and walk away when April caught her eye and ran over to her yelling out her name.
"Lorelai! Hi, I didn't know you were going to be here. Are you going to hang out with Luke and me?"
"Hey, April. No I don't think so; I was actually just about to leave."
"Aw, why? I want you to stay. You have to stay, they're having fire works tonight, and it'll be great. Fireworks are very fascinating; you know the Chinese have been using them for centuries?"
"Have they? Wow. I bet they will be amazing but I think maybe I should go…"
"No, stay, 'hang' with us" She was startled by Luke's voice and realized that he had followed April over. His face showed no emotion beyond its usual gruff diner man persona.
"I don't know…"
"Come on Lorelai, please?" April's voice has just enough pleading sweetness to get her to nod her head and agree. The trio walks together in an uncomfortable silence. Uncomfortable for Lorelai that is, Luke and April seem just fine.
"I really wanted to thank you for my party Lorelai. It was really awesome; all my friends can't stop talking about how cool you are."
"Oh yeah? Well, I'm glad you had fun and I love doing parties so it was really fun for me too." She smiled at the young girl.
"Yeah, I bet your wedding is going to be just beautiful and amazing." Lorelai's head snapped up then and she looked to Luke. Their eyes met for a second before he bowed his head. So many confusing thoughts ran through her head, she couldn't figure out the reason for him not telling April that they were no longer together.
They walked around and she and April talked about a lot of things, safe things that Lorelai brought up not wedding things that April brought up. Luke mainly stayed silent only interjecting his opinion a couple of times. Then April decided that she wanted to go off a bit on her own with some girls that she knew from town. Luke was okay with it and handed her a twenty 'just in case' and off she went, waving to the two of them.
Luke and Lorelai walked silently for a few minutes when she could no longer take the quiet.
"Why does she think we're still getting married?" Luke sighed and stopped.
"I didn't want to say anything yet."
"Because, we don't know that we're not… We don't know what's going to happen."
"Oh, I'm sorry I thought that it was pretty clear that we weren't getting married. After all, you said no."
"No, I didn't. I said not right then. God, are we just going to fight about this every time we talk?"
"Maybe. And what do you mean we don't know what's going to happen? Do you mean with the baby? Because we both know we're not getting married just because of it, if that is what you're getting at." She spoke in a forceful low tone so as not to be heard but to get her irritation across.
"That's not what I'm getting at. But there is no need to tell her that we're not getting married so quickly if things might change."
"What's going to change, Luke?"
"I don't know. Maybe, something will." She shook her head at him and looked away.
"I don't see how anything is going to change. You can't trust me and I'm not sure I can trust you. That's not exactly the best way to start out a marriage is it?"
"That can change, I just need time I can trust you again. The thing with Christopher hurts but I think that…"
"It's not about the 'thing' with Christopher, Luke. You didn't trust me enough to tell me about April, you didn't trust me enough to be apart of that and to help you."
"I trusted you!" Their voices were growing louder and a couple of people near them looked at them but the noise of the festival drowned out most of their conversation.
Somewhere Lorelai could here than Banyan boys running around wreaking havoc but she was too busy yelling at Luke to pay attention to them, so when she was drenched by cold water thrown on her by the hell raisers she had not seen it coming and yelled out in surprise.
She stood there for a moment, in shock; until she heard Babette's voice.
"Lorelai… sugar, you got a bun in the oven or what?" She looked at her with wide eyes and then glanced down to her stomach; her wet t-shirt was hanging to every curve of her body, EVERY one. Around her she saw that nearly everyone was staring at her, gaping. She looked up at Luke and his concerned face then turned and ran as fast as she could to her house.
Luke was shocked, maybe just as shocked as Lorelai, he wanted to go after her but he didn't think his body would respond to his want. He looked around to the townspeople staring at him and then he saw April, eyes wide and mouth opened in awe. He quickly awoke from his trance and walked over to her and led her to the diner.
Once inside he locked the door and sat down. She stared at him, wondering if she should speak or not. She chose to speak.
"Luke, did you know she was having a baby?"
"Yeah, uhm I found out a little over two weeks ago."
"Oh. That's cool. Is it going to be a brother or a sister?" She smiled at him, the excited smile of a girl who just found out she was going to be a big sister, never mind how.
"She said it's a boy." He responded in an uncharacteristically soft voice.
"Is there something wrong?"
"No, I mean yes… or no… I'm not sure."
"April… I have to tell you. Lorelai and I aren't really… Lorelai and I right now."
"Well, we had a fight about something I was doing that hurt her and then she did something to hurt me, not on purpose but… it happened and now, with the baby and everything we really aren't sure what's going to happen."
"Oh…" She was silent for a moment and then looked up at him with a serious face. "Well, I think you should apologize for what you did wrong and just forget about what she did. You love her, I can tell."
"Yeah, I do but it's not that easy."
"Sure it is."
"No, it's not. I don't expect you to understand and I hope that you'll never have too."
"Fine, baby me like my mom does. She's wrong when she does it and so are you. She tries to make all these rules about people being in my life. Do you know that she once dated a guy for six months before I met him? It's ridiculous. She told me she didn't want me to get attached if it wasn't something 'serious'. I think that's absurd, I'm thirteen, people will come and go in my life and some of them I might be sad about but I'll get over it… that's life right? It's growing up."
"I think you're being stupid. You love her, she loves you. I can tell. People in town talk to me you know, they tell me about you guys. It'd be really stupid to throw away something a decade in the making, but do whatever you want, be stubborn about it. Can I go back outside now?" He looked at her a long time before slowly nodding his head yes. When she opened the door and walked out he sat down in a chair, sighed and placed his head in his hands.
Lorelai sat on the couch in her dark living room. She has changed from drenched clothes and now wore her most comfortably worn jeans and an oversized shirt. A million thoughts were racing in her mind, each on threatening to take the others over. There was a questioning knock on her front door but she ignored it, not wanting to answer to anyone right now.
A few moments later, Luke walked into the living room.
"Hey… I uh, still have a key."
"Oh." Her voice was soft and her eyes never left the spot on the wall they were intently fixated on. He came to sit beside her and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Lorelai, are you okay?"
"Yeah, fine." Her quaky voice betrayed her words. He brings his hand up to stoke her hair and then places his lips on her forehead.
"Talk to me."
"Don't. Just don't, Luke. Don't play Mr. supportive. Don't try to make things all better. You can't"
"Hey, what's wrong? It wasn't that bad. And they know now. I don't see what the problem is."
"Of course you don't. Do you see how they look at me now? They know it's all my fault. And hey this is just another Lorelai Gilmore screw up."
"No, it's not. This is not a screw up. I'm sure everyone is going to be so happy about the baby."
"Right, they're going to be just as frakkin' elated as you are." He took her head in his hands and turned her face to look at him.
"I AM elated. I am so, so happy about the baby, Lorelai. Never question that."
"It shouldn't have been like this. It was supposed to be different. We were supposed to be married. I shouldn't be getting ready to be a single mother again." Tears fell freely from her eyes and he held her close to him.
"No it ISN'T! Nothing is okay. Nothing is ever going to be okay again, because I pushed you and I was stupid and I messed up like I always do."
"You don't always mess up. People make mistakes. You just have to do your best to overcome them."
"How? How do you suggest that I overcome losing you?" Her eyes were shiny and pleading with him for answer that'd make some of her pain go away.
"You don't because it's not necessary. We can overcome what happened together."
"No, you're just saying that for the baby."
"No, I'm not! I'm saying it because I love you and because over a year ago you asked me to marry you and I said yes and I plan on marrying you."
"It's not going to be as easy as that Luke!"
"And that's okay; I'm up for a challenge. The question is, are you?"
Later that evening after the fireworks were set back half an hour for some reason or another, Kirk was sporting an awfully questionable wrapping around his right hand; Lorelai sat on the steps of the diner next to April and watched the beautiful explosive spectacle unfold. April, for being such a smart kid, was enthralled by the fireworks. As she watched the girls face Lorelai could see the colors bouncing of her of glasses and her small mouth fixed in a permanent O shape.
She and Luke had come back from her house an hour ago and she was relieved when no one came up to comment on what had happened earlier that day. She supposes that they will at some point pounce on her, perhaps at the next town meeting, but for today they seem content with letting her be. From the look that Luke and Sookie shared upon their return she guesses that they had something to do with the townsfolk's' lack of questioning and for that she is grateful.
April however was too excited about the prospect of a baby brother and in the seclusion that the diner entrance provided them she began to ask a myriad of questions. Luke had started to stop her but Lorelai had shook her head and paid rapt attention to the girl's inquiries, answering her when April had stopped long enough for her to interject. The three had stayed there talking until the first boom of a firework forced their attentions heavenward.
April was now silent, mystified by the ancient art form being displayed. Lorelai glanced up at Luke and noticed him starring at her; he gave her a small smile and then looked upward. She reached for his hand, interlacing hers with his and softly rubbing the tops of his fingers, he looked down at her again and from the look that crossed between them any bystander would know that they would soon be okay. When his attentions went aloft once more Lorelai looked over at April again and placed her arm around the young girl's shoulders hugging her to her side, April smiled at her briefly and then resumed her look of awe and wonder.
Finally, Lorelai looked up as the grand finale of the night erupted in fantastic lumination and a menagerie of claps and booms.
She smiled and then let out a comfortable sigh.
"Happy Independence Day, Stars Hollow."