Disclaimer I own nothing. If I did, I wouldn't take credit for season 6. Who said that? It's all WB and AS-P or CW and DR. Either way, it's not me.

OK, peoples, first fic here. Just had an idea that I felt the need to get on paper. Then on the computer. Then on Hope you all enjoy.

Respecting Today

The phone fell to the floor and smashed open upon contact. She grasped the table as she tried her best to remain standing. That became harder by the second since her legs seemed to turn to Jello beneath her. She stumbled a bit until her back hit the wall nearest to the table, and she slumped slowly down, depending on the wall to be her support.

Lorelai had never been the type to have great organization where her thoughts were concerned. She wondered briefly how Liz had gotten her number. The thought was pushed forcefully out of her mind as she used all quarters of her brain as a blanket. She tried to wrap her mind around it. She replayed the words that came from Liz- the wonderfully kooky sister of Luke. Luke. She closed her eyes and focused.

"Luke was in an accident. He died instantly."

She reopened her eyes and took note of the panicky feeling that began to creep slowly through her body. She brought her hands to her temples as her elbows rested on her raised knees.

"It's a joke," she said in a whisper. "Of course, it's a joke."

She found her strength again as she sprung up from her floor position and started scanning her living room for her cell. The house phone was officially unusable. Spotting it, she swallowed a huge lump in her throat as she shakily worked on hitting speed dial #2. Number 1 gave her quick connection to Rory, while number 2 was her lifeline to the coffee kingdom also known as Luke's diner. This was the first time that, as she waited for an answer, she didn't prepare herself to sniff the air hoping that the coffee would magically overcome all rules of science and travel through the phone lines and give her instant nasal gratification.

She shifted nervously on her feet as she waited for an answer. No one picked up. The time was 9 am, and no one was answering at Luke's. Hell officially had snow flurries. She took the phone from her ear and slammed it shut a little harder than Margie probably preferred. Ordinarily, she'd take a moment or two and apologize to her phone, but now just wasn't the time. She would understand.

She had no idea what she was going to do, but she found herself growing slightly agitated as she wondered how far they were going to take this joke. There was no humor to be found. If Lorelai Victoria Gilmore couldn't find the humor, then there truly was no humor to be found.

Knowing that she couldn't just sit there, Lorelai grabbed her car keys and headed for the door. Upon opening it, she was shocked to see Rory standing at the entryway. Her head was bowed and she looked as if she was contemplating whether or not to enter.

"Rory?" Lorelai asked. She noticed the trails of tears on her daughter's face, and she noticed the tears gearing up to follow suit. With that, she knew. She knew, but still, she refused to believe.

Rory's in on it. Yeah. She's getting me back for that little white lie that I told her when she was 9. I told her that if you eat ten marshmallows in one day, the Michelin Man would come and get revenge. Nobody likes to have their relatives eaten in large consumptions. It was wrong, but she was getting ready to eat the last marshmallow in her S'more. Desperate measures. When she realized that my intentions weren't honorable (or truthful), she swore revenge. For ten years, I'd been on the lookout. Now, she was getting even. Though, I'd argue that this was a bit extreme.

"Rory, what's wrong?" Lorelai inquired. Her heartbeat kicked into overdrive as Rory's bloodshot eyes moved upward and focused on her face. Lorelai's lip quivered uncontrollably as she silently begged Rory to put an end to the charade "Rory, please!" Lorelai heard herself screech. Her eyes were filling with tears and she blinked them away so they wouldn't block her view.

Rory stared her in the eyes as she slowly shook her head side to side. Her small body shook as she stifled a sob. She opened her mouth to speak, thinking that composure had surfaced. Her tear-filled voice proved otherwise.

"Jess called. Luke is dead, Mom."

Lorelai's keys fell to the floor, and she backed slowly into the foyer.

"Stop. Stop. Just please, stop!" She was crying by this point. "This isn't funny!"

Upon seeing her mother lose control, Rory broke out crying too. She walked toward her with outstretched arms, ready to envelope her. She wanted to comfort her mom, and after driving for 30 minutes, she needed comfort of her own. She knew she should have gotten a friend or Paris to drive her, but her mind went blank, and all she could think about was getting to Stars Hollow. To her mom.

Lorelai continued to cry, her legs growing weak once again. Without warning, she hit the floor. Hard. Apparently, her bones had gone into mourning also. Rory rushed over and joined her. She tried to keep her own emotions under control as it became abundantly clear that Lorelai would need the strength. All of hers seemed to leave her body as she lay crumpled on the floor.

"Luke!" She called out. Rory held her tightly, almost trying to soak up some of the pain that was overtaking her mom. She had never seen her like this torn before. It was breaking her heart. Lorelai, whose hands had been balled into tight fists, started using them to weakly crawl toward the front door, all the while, calling Luke's name frantically. Rory's firm grip on her allowed her little movement, though.

Finally, Lorelai gave up and let out a piercing scream. She sat up and threw her arms weakly around her daughter as her body convulsed rapidly. She continued to sniffle out Luke's name until it was nothing but a low whisper.

"Oink!" Lorelai continued to sob quietly as the new sound worked its way into her senses. "Oink!" She pushed herself gently from Rory's shoulder and looked at her daughter through puffy eyes. "Oink!" She saw and heard the sound come from Rory's lips. Rory looked back at her sadly. "Oink!" She cocked her head to the side and looked at Rory quizzically. Tears continued to roll down her face. "Oink!" Suddenly, Rory disappeared, but the sound remained. "Oink!" She closed her eyes and slipped away.

Lorelai jolted up in the bed and looked around her room with wide eyes. Her piggy alarm clock continued to sing out. "Oink, oink, oink!" She reached over and gently pushed the pig's 'off' button. Usually Babe would get knocked or thrown to the floor as she tried to sleepily stop the Oinkings, but the violent morning routine got put aside this particular morning. Lorelai was preoccupied with wondering what exactly had occurred. Her cheeks were wet. She reached up and wiped away the tears. It didn't take long for her to remember what had caused them, and it was a great relief to realize that it was just a dream.

She brought her hand up to her left arm and began to randomly pinch; she had to make sure THIS was, indeed, reality. Relieved, she laid her head back down on the pillow and covered her face with her hands. The tears reappeared. Even though the occurrences were a dream, it still didn't prevent her from reliving the hurt in the dream. As she thought more about it, she cried more. Luke had died. Just associating Luke with the word 'dead' led her to cry harder.

"Oh my God!" She said somewhat loudly. "It was a dream! He's fine!"

She straightened her body on the bed. It was almost as if she thought that stiffening her body would stiffen her emotions as well. "Stop crying," she said forcefully. At least she tried to sound forceful. It came out sounding forcefully forceful. It also didn't help that it was followed by more tears. She sat straight up and tilted her head back.

"OK, I'll make a deal with you," she said to her tears. "If you stay in there and don't make me seem like such a wimp, I promise to go to the gym and sweat buckets so that you'll have some way to escape." She waited a beat. "Deal?" She brought her head back down and the tears continued to steadily fall. She shook her head and climbed off of the bed. She smiled sadly to herself. "Stupid smart tears."

She went to the bathroom and relieved herself before standing in front of the mirror. She scanned her face, taking in her sad appearance. "I am seriously crying over something that never even happened," she deadpanned while staring into her own eyes. "This is ridiculous." She walked back into her bedroom, instantly picking up the phone. After dialing the number that she could rattle off in her sleep, she placed it to her ear and waited.

"Hello, you've reached Rory. If you're wondering why I didn't pick up the phone, wonder no more. I was up until 4:37 am finishing my British Lit. Review, and I was exhausted on twenty different levels, so I've made plans to sleep until I have to go to my 2 pm class. Sad, yes. But, still, very true. If this is an emergency, please call my dorm room. If it's not an emergency, do not call because you'll wake Paris, and her yelling will wake me, and that'll suck. So, bottom line, leave a message, and I'll get back to you. Thank you."

Lorelai smiled into the phone. She waited for the beep before speaking. "Hey Hon. You really need to work on lengthening your voicemail message. It's annoyingly short. I hope you're getting some good dream-filled sleep right now since you can't pick up the phone for Mommy. You know, uh, REM sleep. Why do they call it rapid eye movement? Your eye's not moving. It's your eyelid that's doing all the blinking. It should be called RELM. Realm sleep." She chuckled. "Anyway," Her voice gained seriousness usually foreign to her. "I just called to say that I love you." She paused. Those three words that had never been muttered to anyone except Rory and her parents (when she was young) just didn't seem like they were enough when being directed toward her kid. She breathed deep, going back into her normal tone. "Well, call me later. By the way, try not to stay up 'til 4:37 in the morning, OK? Round it up to 5:00. It'll give you a sense of accomplishment. Talk to ya later."

She hung up the phone and relaxed onto the floor. She was sitting Indian-style, leaning against her bed. She was planning on using the day to run some errands for the Inn, which was the reason for her early awakening. 8:15 am. The list of things to do got pushed from her mind as she sat thinking about the dream that seemed just a little too real for her taste. Happy that the waterworks had stopped, she quickly tried to change focus to prevent any further crying.

Coffee. The reason morning time hadn't gotten voted off of the island. She went to her closet and rifled through it so that she could shower, dress, and head out to get to her liquid love.

By 9:30, Lorelai was standing in front of the diner. She didn't feel like dressing up today so she was casual with some tennis shoes. They were practically new since she hardly ever wore them. Luke moved toward the window and an instant smile formed on Lorelai's lips. He's alright. She felt like bawling just at the sight of him, but control was hers once again. Luke spotted her and rolled his eyes at her as she stood just staring at him. He motioned for her to enter, and she walked in, the smile still present.

"Hey Luke," she said upon entering.

"Hey," he said casually, moving back toward the counter with the coffee pot attached to his hand. She sat down at the counter and placed her purse in the seat next to her. "Coffee and what else?" Luke asked, already pouring her a cup.

"Just coffee," she answered softly. He returned the pot back to the heating base and turned back around, catching Lorelai's eye.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Like what?" She asked in the same soft tone, looking intently at him.

"Like that," Luke said, motioning toward her with his head.

She blinked and cast her eyes downward to her coffee cup. "Oh, sorry." She brought her hands to the cup and took a sip.

He picked up his order pad and started jotting some things down. "You OK?" He asked, trying to sound distracted and indifferent.

"I'm fine, Luke." She looked at him once again and smiled faintly.

"A little short-witted today, aren't we?" He asked her.

"I've decided to give the town a break. You know, give them time to catch up. One day should suffice. Whaddya think?"

His response was a frown and a slight nod. He put the pad down and took a quick glance around the diner. Addressing Caesar in the back, he yelled, "I'm going in the storeroom for a minute. Watch the diner, will ya?"

"Sure boss," came Caesar's reply.

Luke looked at Lorelai and tilted his head quickly in the direction of the storeroom before heading in there. She didn't know if he was letting her know that's where he was going or if he wanted her to follow him. She slid off of the stool and moved toward the back. When she got in there, he didn't seem surprised or mad at her presence so she came fully into the chilly room.

"You seem a little distant. What's wrong?" He was unpacking jars of pickles and he barely looked at her as he said the words. She stood off to the side of him watching his every move. She shook her head and tried to smile again. It was made a little more difficult as her lips quivered. Luke noticed this. He stopped unpacking and made a small move toward her. "Lorelai?" He sounded so worried, and this is what broke her. Crying seemed to have quickly become her MO.

"I'm fine, Luke," she said, waving her hand and chuckling through her tears.

"I can tell," he said sarcastically. He looked around the small room and spotted a box of tissues. He picked it up and brought it to Lorelai, closing the distance between them just a bit more.

She laughed as she took a couple. "You get a lot of women crying in here?"

A corner of his mouth turned up as he regarded her thoughtfully. "Well, it's a very emotional storeroom."

She closed her eyes and wiped at her face briefly before staring back at him. He shifted uncomfortably under her gaze and shoved his hands in his back pockets. "You want to talk about it?" He asked. Without anything in front of him to show his contrived nonchalance, his voice dripped with concern and tenderness.

She didn't look sad. Mainly because she wasn't. It could have been a happy cry, but since she kept replaying the sentence by dream-Liz, 'He died instantly', happiness wasn't accurate either. She hardly felt happy upon hearing that. The truth was she didn't know exactly what she was feeling. Relieved would have been an understatement.

"Luke?" She asked hesitantly.

"Yeah," he answered eagerly.

"Uh," she started to stutter, unsure of what to say. "Can I just….?" She reached her arms out and walked over to him quickly. Her arms wrapped tightly around his midsection, and her head lay comfortably on his chest as she cried softly.

At first a little taken back by Lorelai's affectionate gesture, Luke held his arms uncomfortably by his side. That only lasted for a second as one hand found a place in her hair and the other around her back. He pulled her tightly to him as her body shook from her whimpers.

"It's gonna be OK," he said reassuringly. "Let it out." His voice was low and full of emotion as he, himself, grew weak with his inability to take away her pain. He bent his head down slightly and caught a tiny whiff of her hair, noticing, by no fault of his own, the strong scent of sweet berry type something or another. Her shampoo, maybe. The irony was not lost on him how she'd use fruit substances for her hair but wouldn't dare let it pass her lips. Unless, of course, it was accompanied by something that'd clog an artery and prevent it from going somewhere good in her body.

When Lorelai heard a small sniffle over her head, she pulled back enough so that she could see Luke. He loosened his grip but diverted his eyes quickly to a corner in the room. "Are you OK?" Lorelai asked him trying to meet his gaze. She slid her hands around his waist and up to his chest. One of her hands moved up, but hung unsurely in the air as she felt the urge to touch his two or three-day stubble-covered cheek. Not coming to a firm decision, she decided to settle for his shoulder. "Luke?" She asked after of few seconds of silence.

He took a deep breath and blinked several times before meeting her eyes. "Yeah, I'm fine," he answered hurriedly, his jaw clenching tightly. Her wide expression softened as she felt her heart swell in her chest for the sheer emotion that was emanating from the man in front of her. He stood there, his feet shoulder length apart, and though their embrace placed them uncharacteristically close, Lorelai took a few steps until their pelvises met, her feet between both of his. She brought her arms up and wrapped them around his neck, pulling herself up until she was almost on her tip-toes. She was careful not to disturb his ever-present baseball cap as she hugged him close.

"I didn't mean to depress you too," she said to lighten the mood.

He cleared his throat and lifted his mouth from her shoulder. "You're not depressing me," he deadpanned. Yet, he tightened his new grip around her waist. They stood that way for minutes, neither saying anything, but both willing to take in the other's feelings. Verbal or otherwise. This was easily the best conversation they'd ever had with one another--a close second being the actual one that took place on the floor behind the counter of the diner.

Neither of them were sure when, but they had begun to sway. A subtle rock from left to right led them to close their eyes, and it gave silent permission to surrender to the moment.

Luke brought his left hand up and gently pushed Lorelai's hair back. She drew in a breath. He brought his hand back down to her waist and pulled her tight, closing any distance that may have resulted from his movement. Lorelai felt his breath on her neck and though her sobs had subsided all together, her body still shook. He brought his lips to her neck and let them rest there.

Up until now, their entire bodies swayed, sort of like a bonded pendulum. But suddenly, without any forethought, Lorelai began to very slowly and very skillfully maneuver her hips. Given their close proximity, there wasn't much doubt as to which part of his body would notice the movements first. She hadn't done this purposefully, but the sensation made her not want to stop. She wasn't even aware that she had caused the new feeling. A soft moan escaped her lips, and Luke knew he would not be able to control his body much longer. If this were twenty years ago, he would have, not only been at full attention, but he would, no doubt, have emptied his barrel too. He definitely didn't miss those days.

Slowly, he dragged his arms from her back until his hands rested idly on her sides. He lifted his head as he gently pushed her away from his body. She reluctantly stepped back and looked like she'd just been woken from a pleasurable dream.

He reached his hand up to her temple so softly that it felt to Lorelai like a nice and deliberate wind. He drew his finger down and around her face to behind her ear as he deposited her hair there.

They held each other's gaze even as Lorelai stepped back to him and placed both hands gently over his heart. She felt an indescribable desire to touch him. He was real. Standing right here. Not dead.

Caesar appeared in the doorway. They both had heard him walking back, but neither made a move to break away. He seemed to have had no clue or care as to what was going on as he stated breathlessly, "Uh, boss, the diner's getting a little packed. I was handling it, but then Kirk started asking for special coffee mixtures, and Andrew started to complain about- -"

"OK Caesar. I'll be right out," Luke said cutting him off. He left just as quickly as he had come.

Lorelai was now staring at her hands as they lay unmoving on top of his flannel. He remained still, trying not to disturb the placement of her hands. "Lorelai?" He asked tenderly. She looked into his eyes, still amazed at how she'd never taken the time to notice that they were blue. A dark beautiful blue. "You OK?" He asked again.

"I will be," she said bringing her hands down to rest in his. "Just—" She paused. She tried to arrange her thoughts, which was easier said than done, especially in the mind of Lorelai. Luke waited patiently for her to continue. "I hope you know that you mean a lot to me."

He looked at her confusedly before slowly nodding his head. She noticed his confusion so she attempted to elaborate. "I mean, you're an important person in my life, Luke. Really important. And I care about you and your well-being. A lot." She stopped, thinking that if she continued, she would break down.

Luke looked down and then back at her responding, "Am I dying?" His tone was teasing. A definite rarity.

"God, I hope not," she whispered with a straight face.

He recognized that she was being serious, so he decided to join her. "Well, you mean a lot to me too. You and Rory," he said, squeezing her hands in his.

"Good," she said.

"Good," he concluded. She smiled and released her hands from his. He wondered what had prompted her to reveal all of this to him, but it was easier for him not to ask. So, he just took comfort in knowing that she didn't just view him as the coffee supplier. He actually meant something to someone in this creepy, fairytale hell of a town. He meant something to Lorelai. They both released a huge sigh simultaneously.

"Well, I'm gonna…" He pointed a finger in the direction of the diner and Lorelai nodded knowingly. He had a diner to run.

Instead of leaving, though, he moved toward her so that she could hear his soft statement. He placed both hands on either side of her arms as he spoke to her. "If you need to talk or…" His voice drifted away. He knew that she would be able to pick up on the millions of things that he meant to follow the 'or'. "I'm here," he said simply. That was Luke. Always said so little but communicated so much. She nodded understandably. "Anytime," he added.

"Same here," she said in a joking tone. But they both knew she meant it. With every fiber of her being, she meant it.

"OK," he said, satisfied at the outcome. He started to walk away but felt compelled to do something that he wasn't sure he had the right to do. It seemed like lines had been crossed, or at least blurred, but he wasn't willing to assume. After all, he was still Luke. He decided to throw caution to the wind and do it anyway. He closed the distance between them and brought his lips to her forehead. He closed his eyes and kissed the skin there. Is it possible for a forehead to be this smooth and soft? He thought this as his lips lingered on her forehead. He broke away and walked briskly back into the diner.

Lorelai stood there with her eyes still closed. They had automatically shut as soon as he made contact. She sensed he was gone because his body heat no longer surrounded her. She swallowed hard, and with her eyes still closed, she brought her hand slowly up to the spot where Luke had kissed. She fingered the area lightly before sluggishly opening her eyes. She glanced around the room.

"Well, that was new," she said distractedly. She wiped her face one last time, removing any traces of tears before making her way out of the storeroom.


First off, I'd like to say that I appreciate anyone who has read or will read this. It's ten or fifteen minutes taken out of your life for me...a stranger. It means a lot. Secondly, this was originally supposed to be a one-shot, but if interest levels are high, who knows? If not, then, it's been fun. Either way, click on that pretty little purple button for me. Peace.