A/N's: This was written for the LL 2006 Summer Ficathon for llano. (prompt at the end.) Many, many thanks to my beta pOnDeReSqUe. She is lovely.
Sorry that this is a little on the short side. My computer access was very limited because my home computer is passworded, which resulted in me riding my bike two miles to the library every time I wanted to use the computer. Oh, and points to those who know where the title comes from.
"I honestly can't believe it. I mean, what is wrong with kids today?"
"Mom," Rory reprimanded, an index finger pointed reproachfully in the air, "This is exactly why you shouldn't eavesdrop. You get so wrapped up in other people's business."
Lorelai held up her hands in mock surrender. "I wasn't trying to eavesdrop. I couldn't help it. The guy was standing two feet away from me. I'm surprised every single person in that room didn't stop what they were doing and just stand there with their mouths hanging open."
"Believe it or not, not everyone is as musically blessed as you are."
"Well, I know that, but I didn't think people could be as musically challenged as this kid was."
"I can't listen to this anymore." Rory said, shaking her head as she wandered into the kitchen to look for food, particularly of the pizza variety.
Ignoring Rory's statement, Lorelai stood up, followed her to the kitchen and sat down at the table.
"I never, in my life, would have thought that those words could have come out in a sentence. His friend just simply asked him, 'Do you like David Bowie' and this kid seriously just looked at him and said 'Who's David Bowie?' Admit it, there's something wrong with that."
"Mom, I completely agree with you, but you've definitely exhausted this subject for today, so let's move on to something else."
"Fine," Lorelai pouted, picking at the chipped pink nail polish on her fingernail.
Rory pulled a pizza box out from the fridge and set it on the table. When she opened it and the thin layer of blue fuzz was detected, it was immediately determined that this particular box of pizza was not the one from a few days ago, as she had hoped. Her nose quickly wrinkled.
"Ugh, mom. I thought you threw this away."
Lorelai shrugged as innocently as a woman who was trying her best not to vomit possibly could.
"I'm starving and the only thing we have in the fridge is half a roll of cookie dough and a nice box of mold. Mold that should have been taken care of weeks ago. Mold kills, mom." Rory put a hand on a hip.
This, too, was met with an innocent shrug.
Lorelai never was one for cleaning. Except for the fact that she used to be a maid, but those skills in no way transferred over into the cleaning of her own house. I mean, she had an inn to run. A daughter to feed. A million things to do. Plus, she always had to make room for those unexpected, spur of the moment 'I need to buy new shoes' shopping trips. However, since her little encounter with Luke earlier today, she was wishing she had made some time to make sure there was edible food in the fridge, knowing what Rory would suggest.
"Let's go to Luke's."
Lorelai stood up abruptly. Her chair clattered loudly. "Uh, Luke's? Why don't we go to Al's? We go to Luke's too much anyway."
Rory eyed her strangely. "Since when do you not want to go to Luke's?"
"Since now." Nice comeback, Lorelai. Why did Rory always know when something wasn't right? Stupid brilliant genes; why didn't any go to her?
"Did you guys have a fight? Mom, this is definitely not a good time for you two to fight. School is really hard, and I almost got suspended for ringing a bell. And I cannot deal with those things unless I have my Luke fix. And I cannot get my Luke fix while you two are fighting. How bad is it? What'd you do?"
"Whoa, slow down. I did not do anything. And we are not fighting." Lorelai glanced away, her eyes settling on a crumb by the end of the table.
Rory's eyebrow lifted accusingly. "Well, I know something happened. You have that 'I-did-something-stupid-and-I'm-trying-to-hide-it' look on your face."
Lorelai was now aggressively focused on the wall. It was just now occurring to her that she should have repainted the walls in the kitchen. The pale yellow wasn't exactly her favorite. There were too many bodily fluids associated with pale yellow, really. Actually it wasn't really 'pale yellow'. The painting book she borrowed referred to it as 'Cockatoo' or 'Corksilk' or something equally ridiculous. It looked too light to be 'Golden Feather'. Perhaps it was 'Indian Saffron'? Who the hell comes up with these names? And what does one have to do to become employed to come up with paint names? Was there a college degree involved? Preoccupied with paint names, Lorelai didn't notice the withering stare she was receiving from Rory.
"Mom? Come on. Tell me. What happened?"
"Nothing happened." She said in her most convincing voice. "I was just thinking that we haven't had Moroccan food in a while, so I wanted to go to Al's. But I guess it's your turn to choose."
A still skeptical Rory finally spoke, "Okay, since it's my choice, let's go to Luke's."
And she could swear she saw her mother flinch.
The walk to Luke's was a particularly difficult one. Lorelai made several pointed glances at the sign, "NOW SERVING MOROCCAN!" right in front of AL's, all of which Rory deftly ignored. She couldn't stop thinking about how stupid she felt for accusing Luke of dating Ava. So what if he was dating a Chilton mom? It's not like she was jealous or anything.
When the bells above the diner door jingled, Luke paused in his typical wiping of the counter to see who his newest customer was. He was surprised when he saw that familiar curly brown hair and those piercing blue eyes. Usually, on days when he and Lorelai had petty fights, she wasn't anywhere to be seen around the diner until the next day or so.
He watched the mother-daughter team take a seat at the nearest table. Lorelai, putting her elbows on the table and resting her head on her hands, let a loud sigh escape her lips. Sensing that something was a little off with Lorelai, (their disagreement earlier, perhaps?) he walked over to the table armed with a coffee pot. It always seemed that caffeine was his best defense.
Staring off into space was something that Lorelai was getting a lot of practice at today, so when Luke asked, "Coffee?" she jumped, clutching at her heart.
"Geez, Luke!" she said, peering up at him. "Don't scare me like that."
She was acting even more paranoid than usual. "You mean by asking you for coffee?"
"No. For sneaking up on me like that." Mental note: Get Luke a cowbell. "And yes."
"Yes, I would like some coffee. Rory too. Right, babe?"
Rory gave Luke an enthusiastic nod as he set down the mugs and began pouring the coffee. Rory cheerfully brought the hot liquid to her lips as Lorelai sat, blankly looking at nails that no longer had any polish on them. She was doing anything she could to avoid Luke's eyes. His pretty blue eyes. Not that she noticed or anything.
Luke was also trying to escape Lorelai's gaze. He cleared his throat awkwardly as she tapped her nails impatiently against her empty mug, which he quickly filled. This brand of weirdness between them was becoming almost familiar. Every time another man or woman came into the picture (see example one: Max), things were awkward between them. Something in their relationship shifted.
Rory, being the observant person that she was, noticed the hesitation and silence between her mother and Luke. This was definitely unusual. Where was the talking, the banter, the laughter? Something was, without doubt, not right. Rory silently observed as Luke retreated from the sudden gawky atmosphere, and Lorelai sat tracing her finger around the rim of her coffee cup, her eyes locked on its black depths.
Rory was going to get to the bottom of this. "Okay. What is going on with you and Luke? I thought something was wrong earlier, at home, but I dismissed it. You were trying to avoid the diner and Luke, and I want to know why."
"Well..." Lorelai drew out the word to give herself more time to think. "It's kinda a long story."
Rory glanced at her watch. "I've got time."
"Actually, honey, you've got school."
"That didn't seem to matter yesterday when you were deeply entrenched in our Danish-eating contest."
Lorelai made a vague, disgruntled noise and downed her mug of coffee in three consecutive gulps.
Rory was nothing if not a patient person. "Mom, just give me the cliff notes version."
Lorelai sighed, glaring at Rory. She looked seconds from pulling out the mom card and grounding her.
"You know what? Fine. If you're not going to tell me, why don't I just go ask Luke?"
Rory pushed away from the table, and Lorelai grabbed her arm roughly. "Fine!" she said, her voice ridden with a hint of panic. "Just don't make fun of me. Okay?" She slowly unclenched her grip on her daughter's forearm.
Smirking, Rory agreed. "Okay."
Lorelai breathed deeply. "So, remember that fashion show at the inn that the booster club sponsored?"
"Okay, well, Luke was there."
"Why was Luke there?" she questioned, puzzled.
"'Cause the runway thing was tilting, and he fixed it."
After taking a sip of her coffee, Rory asked, "Doesn't the Inn have its own handyman that could have fixed it?"
"Well, yeah, but he was slow. Luke does it way better." Lorelai cringed half a beat later. Rory, on the other hand, was deeply amused.
"Dirty," she said, laughing and sputtering coffee.
"Stop it! That's not what I meant!" she said defensively.
Rory wiped the corners of her mouth demurely, suddenly sporting a serious expression. "Sorry. Keep going."
"Anyway, after the show I saw Luke talking to Ava, who's also in the booster club, and it looked like he was asking her out or something. So earlier, when I was here, I was talking to Luke, and I told him that it would be weird if he dated a Chilton mom, so he got all mad and told me that I have no right telling him who he can and cannot date and then I got mad and then he finally told me that he was just telling her how to get back to Hartford," Lorelai paused quickly to take a breath. "And then I felt like an idiot for getting into an argument over something that stupid and embarrassing."
Rory just sat there staring at her mother. Lorelai asked, "Well?"
"You're jealous." Rory stated simply.
"I am not!"
"Yes, you are. But you shouldn't worry. The only Chilton mom that Luke would want to date is you."
Lorelai looked at Rory as if she had two heads.
"You are absolutely insane!"
"No I'm not. You're the one that needs to get her feelings sorted out."
Just as Lorelai was about to say something, Luke appeared at their table. "You want anything to eat?"
Rory piped up this time. "Mom was just talking about how starving she is. I have to go to school, so I can't stay. Maybe you can keep her company?"
Ignoring the looks from Lorelai, which ranged from imploring to hostile, Rory kissed her mother on the cheek and wished them both a good day. When Luke looked away Rory winked and mouthed, "Go for it." And before they knew it she was out the door, the jingling of the door's bells resounding after her.
So what if she was kind of- maybe- a little jealous. Fine, she would admit as much; she was jealous. She was jealous of Ava; a woman that Luke had no interest in, and was simply giving directions to. She was jealous of Rachel when she came back into Luke's life; she was jealous of Rachel even when she wasn't in Stars Hollow. That didn't mean she liked Luke, did it? She just wanted him with the right person. He was her best friend.
But now she was thinking that maybe the right person was her.
It turned out that the prying, meddling eyes of Stars Hollow were right. She, Lorelai Gilmore, master shoe-buyer and greasy food eater, had feelings for Luke. Everyone had told her. 'She has feelings for him, he has feelings for her.' But she could never acknowledge that fact at the consideration of rejection. What if the town was wrong? What if she did something to ruin their delicately balanced friendship and fell flat on her face? She massaged her temples vigorously, wishing her brain would snap into brisk decision-making mode. She weakly acknowledged one thing; she couldn't just keep pushing these feelings to the back of her mind.
It was hard enough admitting it to herself; how was she going to tell Luke?
With all these thoughts running around in her head like some crazed hamster on its wheel, she didn't notice Luke calling her name.
"Lorelai. Hello? Lorelai?"
She snapped her head up to look at Luke, who had at some point sat down in the seat beside her.
"Sorry. I, uh, was just thinking about some stuff. And you know when all that stuff is just there, floating around in your head, you get distracted, and, uh, you know." She coughed awkwardly.
"Um, okay." Something was definitely wrong. "Are you feeling okay? You're acting even weirder than normal."
"Oh, yeah. I'm completely fine. There's nothing wrong here. I'm great. You know, kind of like Tony the Tiger? Well, you probably don't know, 'cause you don't seem like the kind of person who knows about cartoon animals. Especially ones that represent sugar. Tony is pro-sugar. Cereal, that is, cause his flakes are frosted. Hm, that was kind of dirty, but anyway, you are definitely not pro-sugar cereal, cause you like healthy stuff and you probably don't buy sugary cereal. But I do, cause I like sugar." She paused momentarily. "I actually need to go to the store."
Lorelai mentally slapped herself. Why was she being so stupid? She normally didn't babble that much. She turned to look at Luke and couldn't help but notice that the puzzled expression that was stuck on his face was actually kind of amusing and cute.
"Uh, Lorelai, do you want to talk? You seem a little off today. More than usual."
"Well... uh, yeah, sure. Let's talk."
"Go on up to my apartment. I'll bring up some doughnuts."
Lorelai started walking toward the staircase as she watched Luke put some doughnuts on a plate. He always does take care of me. With each step she took, a new wave of nervousness washed over her. She finally reached the apartment door, and she heard Luke approaching her, his steps echoing hollowly. She looked at her hand and dimly realized it was shaking.
After they entered, they made their way over to the couch and both sat down. They were sitting close to each other, close enough that their knees lightly touched, and if she leaned over just a few more inches…
Lorelai felt warmth spread down her body. Giddily, she tried in vain to identify what it was she was feeling.
Luke looked over at Lorelai, watching her pick individual sprinkles off her doughnut and put them in her mouth, gingerly avoiding his eyes.
"Lorelai, what's going on with you? You've been acting weird ever since the other day when we had that fight. Are you still mad at me?"
"No, Luke. I'm not mad at you," she said, bravely locking into his gaze.
"Then why were you avoiding the diner?"
"I just felt like such an idiot. Getting in an argument over nothing. And it was my fault. I shouldn't have said anything, it's just that… I don't want you to date Ava."
Now Luke was confused. "I'm not going to date her, but why would it matter?"
"Because, Luke. I don't want anything to ruin our friendship. If you dated her it would be awkward."
Luke entertained the possibility of dating Lorelai. He knew the thought was always lingering at the back of his mind; he'd written it away as hopeless as he watched Lorelai enter relationships with, it seemed, everyone but him. But today…today he registered something different in the way she acted toward him. There was something present today, right now, that was better than a fluttering idea in the back of his mind.
Hopefully she would be one Chilton mom he was allowed to date.
Luke took a chance, which he didn't do very often. He decided to be bold and a bit forward and asked, "Why? Were you jealous?"
This threw Lorelai off completely. Luke was not supposed to have control of this conversation. She was. This new boldness shook her; now the only thing she could think to do is confess.
Gulping and shakily keeping eye contact, she admitted, "Maybe."
Now Luke was the one that was flustered. He flattened his hair out with a hand nervously. Did Lorelai just say that she was jealous? Would that mean that she had feelings for him; the same ones the town had been hinting at for years? The answer yes to both of these questions suddenly seemed very possible.
There was only one way to find out, and the only thing he could think to do was kiss her.
So he did.
I wanted to tell you
What you did for me
I wanted to need you
'Cause I needed to know
One thing you would like to see in the story: Pre-R&R
One thing you don't want to see in the story: No angsty ending, please. My heart can't take it.