No, life aint always beautiful Life aint always beautiful And I wish for just one minute
Tears will fall sometimes
Life aint always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride
Some days I miss your smile
I get tired of walkin' all these lonely miles
I could see your pretty face
Guess I can dream, but life dont work that way
Life aint always beautiful
And I wish for just one minute
But the struggles makes me stronger No, life aint always beautiful
And the changes make me wise
And happiness has it's own way of takin' its sweet time
But I know I'll be fine
Hey, life aint always beautiful
But its a beautiful ride
What a beautiful ride
No, life aint always beautiful
- Gary Allen, "Life Ain't Always Beautiful"
It was the best week of his life in many years, maybe ten to be exact. Some part of him, a part of him that had long been broken didn't feel so shattered any more. He was accepted, he was part of something… something he couldn't quite identify.
He had explained it to Jess one afternoon. The overwhelming feeling of acceptance despite all he had done wrong. Jess gave him an incredulous look before answering in an explanatory way, "That's what family is."
He had thought about at the close of the week and felt a bit stupid for missing it. He had been part of a family once, he knew what it was like… but he had forgotten. Luke's family life had fallen away so long ago. First his mom died, then his father, who he had been so close too, combined with his sister running off and only showing up again sporadically throughout his life from the next several years.
Those last few years before Lorelai had died he had gotten a tiny taste of it again. Jess was sent to live with him, Liz moved back into town and got married, he found a lost-lost daughter, he was engaged and was just one in a big messed up extended family-like thing centered in this wacked up little town.
"You know," said Rory, breaking Luke from his thoughts. "If you ever want to come back for real, the diner is always waiting for you."
He glanced up at here from his stool to where she was standing behind the counter, a bit surprised at this declaration.
"It's called Luke's for a reason."
He glanced about the diner. To Caesar in the kitchen, to the cheery, gossiping customers, and then to the bulletin board of photographs Rory had put on the wall. Each picture held a ghost of a moment of a world he belonged to…he used to belong to.
He looked back up at Rory's attentive face, "No, I don't think I will. Plus, this is your life now…"
Rory observed him thoughtfully for a moment before answering with a small grin, "I guess it is…"
"You know Rory, over the last week I have been doing a lot of thinking. About why I left after Lorelai died…"
"Okay…," she said, a bit confused at Luke's confession.
"I- I couldn't face it back then-"
"You couldn't hold on," stated Rory simply.
"What?" asked Luke, his turn to be confused on how Rory found the words to put what happened to him so perfectly.
She sighed, resting her elbows on the counter. "I've thought about it too," she said is a rough whisper. "I've thought about it for years until I finally got it. You couldn't hold on. That's what made it so hard for you. Staying in Stars Hollow was too much to face because life shouldn't have been as it had been before…"
"Exactly," agreed Luke, "I thought something should have changed. She was gone, so something in this world should have changed. But Stars Hollow wasn't changing, it never really does, so I had to be the one to change."
Rory nodded in agreement and added, "For me, I couldn't let go of this world. I needed to hold on because without Mom, so much had changed and I was fighting to find something to grab onto to tell me that everything would be okay, that life would be normal again, and something hadn't changed.
"That's how I felt after my dad passed," Luke muttered.
"Yeah, that why I did all these silly things like living in the apartment that was once an office upstairs, leaving the hardware sign out there, keeping the boat, having my, what do the townies call it, 'My Dark Day.'"
"I always wondered abut that stuff. I guess it makes sense now. It's one of those things you only understand if you've been through it… I wonder which way is better, not being able to hold on or not being able to let ago."
"Neither," replied Luke swiftly, earning him a stranger look from Rory. "I've done both, remember. By themselves neither of them work, because you never move on."
Rory crossed her arms protectively around her chest. "Never?" she asked in quiet despair.
Luke gave the girl a reassuring smile. "I wouldn't worry if I were you, Rory. You've got your life figured out."
Rory raised her eyebrows. "Do I?"
"Yes," said Luke, nodding his head.
"How do you know?" she asked desperately, seeking reassurance.
"Earlier this week I asked you if you were happy. You had Jess and you had Ethan and you told me you were. That's having your life figured out, everything else is just details."
Rory held back a laugh, "That's very philosophical of you, Luke."
"Well, we all have are moments…." He retorted with a playful grin.
"I guess we do."
Luke stood from his stool, "Well, I should go pack my bags. I have to leave tomorrow."
"I wished you'd stay longer," requested Rory.
"You know I can't. I've already been here a week."
"It's too short."
"I know, but I'll be back. I promise," said Luke beginning to edge to the door.
"I'll hold you to that."
"Don't goooooo," whined Ethan, having latched himself onto Luke's leg.
"I'll be back," Luke comforted, "For Thanksgiving and then Christmas where I will have t o make up for - years of presents.
This idea seemed to subdue Ethan's worries so he loosened his grip on Luke enough for Jess to scoop him up.
"You're going to spoil him, Uncle Luke," commented Jess with a smile, Ethan squirming in his arms.
"Like you already don't," cut in Rory with a smirk. Jess pretended he hadn't heard her.
Luke through the last of his bags into the bed of this truck and turned to the small family waiting outside with him.
"So, I guess I should get going."
"Take care, alright?" farewelled Jess, clapping him on the shoulder.
"And don't go running off somewhere else just because you gave us your phone number."
"I –um- won't."
"Or come back here just to break your car out of the shed…"
"What?!" asked Luke, perplexed.
"Oh, wait," said Jess with mock contemplative expression, "That's my life."
"Bye Jess," said Luke, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. "Bye Ethan." The little boy pouted in his father's arms. Luke ruffled his hair with one hand, earning his a glare in return.
"Rory?" Luke asked. She had been standing in the background of his little farewell.
She walked around her husband and son and gave Luke a hug. "Don't be a stranger," she whispered.
"I won't be," he promised. He stepped back and opened his car door.
"Luke?" she asked tentatively.
"Yes," he said, turning back towards her.
She took a step forward. "No one promised that life was going to be good, that it is going to be happy, and that it is going to fair. But in the end, none of that matters." She glanced back over her shoulder at Jess and Ethan. "Because it is how you deal with the bad things and how you live your life despite its short comings which makes living a beautiful thing."
Luke smiled, "That's very philosophical of you."
She shrugged. "We all have our moments." Luke nodded and got n this truck and pulled out of the driveway. Before he left the street, he looked back at the small family standing on the lawn, Ethan waving wildly, before driving away.
He was headed out of Stars Hollow, but this time, it wasn't a bitter, sad leaving. He knew he would be back and he would be coming home happily because he would be coming back to family.
His hands tense on the steering wheel as he approached the graveyard.
He tried to ignore it, but it was impossible to disregard nagging feelings of guilt in his gut. With a sigh, he pulled over.
A moment later he was staring down at Lorelai's gravestone.
"I don't know if you can hear me here more than anywhere else… or if you can hear me at all. I'm leaving again, not for ten years like last time, but still… I thought I should say goodbye to you too."
He paused and looked up at the clear blue sky. The flurries that had came pouring down several days prior had long ago vanished and Connecticut was covered in a late autumn warm front.
"Last time I was here, I said I had to hold on. That's true. But it is not necessarily a bad thing. I know you'd want me to be happy, but I am never going to let go of you. You were my everything. Knowing that we had it, just for year or two, is enough.
"I can move on from the grief, from the bitterness, from blaming myself. It took me ten years to do it, but I have. But I won't ever move on from loving you."
He got back in his car and drove to the end of town with a bit of regret. He had missed ten precious years he was never going to get them back. This week he had found his family, he had found his life, and he had found his hope. Most importantly he figured it out moving on ain't so easy, especially when you lose the most important person in your life. But life wasn't supposed to be easy, and he was okay with that now.
I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons I've lived in this place and I know all the faces I'm movin' on I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't I'm movin' on
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on
I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
I'm movin' on
I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
I'm movin' on
- Rascall Flatts, "Moving On"
Aki- As I wrote last chapter I didn't realize that this would be the last one. Only as I sat down to write did I think 'what's left to cover?' and realize that the ending was all that was left. When I write fanfics and other long stories I always think of different events I want to occur and then fill in the spaces. I covered everything I wanted to cover with this fic.
Also, during the first half of this story, many of the readers wanted some Rory- Luke interaction so they could help each other deal with Lorelai's death and find closure. I hope the se3cond half of this story (and this chapter) fulfilled that.
I also want to thank all the readers that made it to the end and all the reviewers especially. Thanx for your support and your dedication and your feedback.
Pleez check out the C2 I am the manager of, it's for oneshots. If you have any suggestions of great oneshots, pleez put it in an email or in a review.
Now this is the last chapter of the story, you have to review for this one guys.