Aki- This started as one of my small ideas combined with the preview for next weeks Gilmore Girls' episode and it just grew…

The Proposal

"Marry me?" This was the moment she had been waiting for. The perfect romantic proposal. In Paris, the city of love, in a fancy restaurant with the Eiffel Tower lit up on the horizon. Something planned, at a least a little bit, not the spontatious or obligatory ones she had had before.

"No," Lorelai answered before she had a chance to realize what she was saying. But the more she though about it, the more she knew it was the correct answer.

Christopher's face fell, hopeful and happy to shocked, maybe even horrified. He looked completely crestfallen. "Wha- Why?" he asked unsure, hoping she would take it back.

Lorelai sniffed and looked out window at the Eiffel Tower, trying and failing not to cry. She looked back at Chris and his hurt eyes and said, tears threatening to fall, "Because you don't deserve to be second."

"I- I don't understand…"

"It would be unfair to you if I married you-,"

"No," protested Chris, "It would be the best thing in my life." He tried to reach across the table and take her hand, but she removed them from his reach and set them on her lap.

"It would be unfair to you," persisted Lorelai in a stronger voice, "Because I never chose you first. I chose everything over you. Whatever excuse I had back then, I chose independence over you, I chose Rory over you, I chose Max over you, I chose Luke over you… I don't want you to have to be my second choice…." It was like she was speaking from her subconscioucious. Things that she had known for so long, but never wanted to admit, even to herself.

"Lorelai …"

"You have been so good to me recently and I have just been stringing you along." Lorelai was almost sobbing, but no tears were shed. This was almost said more to herself than Chris, who was observing her with a sort of mix between disappoint, pity, and a final understanding. She was trying to rationalize it. She was trying to forgive herself for doing this to the man sitting across from her.

"Lorelai," he said again, demanding her attention in a firm, yet sincere way.

She looked him in the eye hesitantly.

"You're still in love with him, aren't you?" he asked, although he already knew the answer.

The first, single tear rolled slowly down Lorelai's cheek. She nodded biting her lip. "I'm so sorry," she whispered hoarsely. "I didn't even realize until right now." She hid her face in her hands, attempting to stifle and conceal her sobs. She was crying in face of the cold, hard truth. Because she had to hurt Christopher. Because she seemed to have ruined all of her relationships. Because she knew she could never be happy because she had lost Luke forever and was too damn honest and prideful to take Chris as a great substitute.

Of course Chris was upset, but he wasn't mad. How could he be as he watched Lorelai pitifully weep across the table from him. He couldn't be mad at her for playing with his heart when she hadn't known what she was doing, and, truth be admitted, in the past he had done the same thing to her. He couldn't give her what she wanted. How could he be angry with her for losing something he never even really had in the first place?

LINE

"They have a ticket waiting for you at the airport for your early flight home," stated Chris matter-of-factly early the next morning at the hotel.

"Thank," Lorelai muttered as she zipped up her bag. Her hair, which had been perfectly curled as she had left the hotel for diner the night pervious, was not pulled up into a tangled ponytail. She was wearing a simple t-shirt and slacks and though her eyes were no longer red or puffy from crying, a demeanor of sadness and regret surrounded her. Regret for not taking her chance with Christopher when she had it? Regret for ruining it with Luke? Regret for the way she had been acting over the last several months?

"I already called a cab, it should be here in an hour, give or take," stated Chris, turning to the window and opening the blinds to reveal a city that looked dead. The architecture and market shops that had seemed just days ago as quaint, historic, and beautiful now appeared drab, outdated, and depressing as they lay under the gray, sunless sky.

He felt Lorelai's presence close behind him and turned around to face her.

"Chris," she said slowly, "I'm sor-"

He put up a hand to stop her. "Don't say it. You've already said it a hundred times. It's okay…" Was it? Was it really okay? Eventually, maybe. But if she kept apologizing he would actually have to forgive her aloud. He didn't blame her for it, but he just wasn't quite ready to forgive yet.

"Just-," Lorelai gave a shrug and a little half-grin, the only real expression on her face the whole morning, "Just don't be a stranger. We've through stuff like this before, but you are still Rory's dad and you are still my friend."

'Great,' Chris thought to himself, 'The "let's just be friends" bit.' It was a sarcastic joke for himself really. He knew Lorelai meant it and in a whole different way. Things would never be the same between them again, but, hey, they never had such a great relationship to start with.

LINE

It seemed that forever and no time at all had passed before Lorelai was in her house at Star's Hollow again. Forever because all she could think about were the events that had transpired over and over again, but no time at all because she was dreading coming back. She hadn't called and told anyone she was coming back and no one noticed at this time of day….hopefully. She if anyone found out she was back early from her trip to France, that would lead to the inevitable and painful question of why.

Lorelai abandoned her suitcase in the living room and trudged up the stairs slowly. She collapsed on her bed, laying flat on her back, open eyed, staring at the ceiling. A cloud rolled across the sun, blocking sunlight from pouring in the shaded window, matching Lorelai mood perfectly.

Some where along the line, somewhere recently, life went wrong. Only a few years ago she had her life together, or at least she thought so. For so long all she had concentrated on was raising Rory, getting her into the schools she wanted, and after Rory went away, opening the Dragonfly. Guys, though usually having a presence in her life, had always been second priority in her life, until lately.

Just around the time of Luke. Oh, where had it gone wrong… It didn't even matter now. Lorelai was too worn out to blame Luke anymore. In the end, it was she who had done the final straw; it was she who had broke them up. She had loved Luke. She still loved Luke. She hadn't loved Max or Chris in that way, this much. But it was too late now… it was too late and she could only blame herself.

LINE

Luke was alone in his empty diner, having just closed it up after Kirk finally left. He started routinely stacking the chairs onto the table when the phone rang. He wanted to ignore it, but with Liz pregnant, he always wanted to be sure everything was okay.

"Luke's" he said in a rather unenthusiastic greeting.

"Don't hang up," replied the voice on the other line.

"What?- Who is this?" That voice was so familiar. Luke knew he had heard it before.

"It's also best if you don't interrupt either. This is long distance."

"Chris?" asked Luke incredulously, too shocked to even try to be mad. "Why are you calling me?"

"Lorelai," answered Chris with no more explanation. None was needed.

Luke said nothing.

"You know we went to France?"

"I heard a rumor," Luke replied. It was true, but you hear a lot of rumors in Stars Hollow.

"We were getting along great," said Christopher in an almost unrelated way. "Me and Lorelai. Me and Rory. All of us together, finally being a sort of finally."
"What's your point, Chris?" asked Luke irritably. He didn't want to be in this conversation right now although he was not sure which way it was going. Was Chris bragging or about to ask him for relationship advice?

"I proposed," explained Chris bluntly. Talk about cut to the chase.

Luke's heart skipped a beat. Why was Christopher telling him this?

"She said no," continued Chris after a short pause.

"Why are you telling me this?" asked Luke, this time –what?- surprised, relieved.

"Take her back."

"What?"

"Take her back," repeated Chris slowly, emphasizing each word.

Luke didn't understand what was going. Why would Chris be telling him this? "If this is some sort of joke…"

"It's not," stated Christopher in dead seriousness. "I don't joke about love… Yes, love. She still loves you. Take her back."

"I can't. It's…complicated."

"No, it's only as complicated as you make it. I don't know what exactly happened to break you two up, but you are going to have to find away around it. Fix it and forgive."

"It's not that easy," Luke almost yelled into the phone. "After all that has happened, what reasons do-"

Chris cut Luke off, replying angrily. "For the same reason you were going to marry her. For the same reason you drove to Hartford and punched me in the face. For the same reason she wouldn't marry me. For the same reason she complains daily for not having a decent cup of coffee in months. For the same reason she still has her engagement ring. Because you love her and she loves you."

"Chris…"

"I wanted to give her the world," his voice cracked over the phone and for the first time he sounded upset, resigned, tired. "I wanted to give her the world and would have been happy to do so, …but that's not what she wanted. She wanted you. And if I can give that last wish of hers and get you two back together so that my love in not in total vain, then so be it."

"I never tried to steal her from you." Luke wasn't quite sure what he meant by it or why he said it. It was some empty consolidation to another man who had fallen head over heels for a certain blue eyed, black hair beauty, a man, for the first time, he felt a little sorry for.

"I know you didn't and wish I could say the same for me, but I can't. I can't say I didn't wish for to leave you to come to me, but... Don't mess this up. It's a lucky man who gets a first chance with Lorelai Gilmore. It's a God damn blessed one who gets second one."

"Thanks," said Luke quietly. Thanks for telling me what happened. Thanks for giving me the go ahead. Thanks for sharing my pain. Thanks for convincing me to try again. He didn't have to say it aloud.

"Yeah, well… just don't let me hear of you hurting her again or I will hunt and kick your ass."

Luke tried to disguise his laugh as a cough.

"Okay, I'll just put a hit on you."

Chris hung up the phone. He wasn't going to chase after Lorelai, not this time. Yeah, she was the only girl in the world for him, but Luke was the only guy in the world for her…

LINE

Lorelai awoke later after an unrestful nap. It was already dark, but a quick glance at her clock on the bedside table told her it was still fairly early in the evening. She sat up reluctantly in bed. Should would have rather just lain there and let the covers swallow her up for all eternity, but her stomach growled and her throat was parched, she hadn't eaten anything real since her dinner with Chris, and their was not denying those sort of physical yearnings.

She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat there for a moment, just staring at her room. No their room. It was supposed to be their room and she was sitting on their bed… She suddenly wondered what it would be like to be married. To come home to the same man everyday. To sleep in bed with him every night. To wake up with him every morning and have him make breakfast. It seemed perfect, no more wondering, no more dating. To have someone to grow old together with. To be married forty years plus like her parents. Then hard reality suddenly hit her. Would she ever have that? Was she too old? Was she too late? She almost had it with Max and Luke and Chris. What were the chances she would find someone else after she had already found three? Would she even want someone else?

Lorelai stood and walked over to her dresser counter. She gently opened a carved wooden jewelry box to reveal a ring sitting in it. Her engagement ring from Luke. She picked it up and let it rest in her palm. It felt cold, just like the emptiness inside her.

She slid it loosely on her pointer finger and closed her fist, making sure it would not fall off, and she walked down stairs, flicking on the hallway light, but no others. She looked absently around the kitchen before taking a glass out of the cupboard and filling it with lukewarm water from the sink and took a sip before setting it down on the table.

A sudden sob took hold of her. Her body wracked with pain and her face contorted in a mix of despairing emotions. She sat down uneasily on one of the kitchen chairs, wrapping her arms around her waste as though it could stifle the pain. Her breathing became rough and erratic. No tears fell, it was just dry sobs. This was what her life had come to. She was alone, sleeping during the day, waking at night, drinking tap water. She couldn't talk to anyone and had become dependent on anyone else but herself. She was pathetic.

Her sobs subsided after a few minutes and she just sat their at her kitchen table, her head resting on her arms. The only light was the dimness flowing through the door way from the staircase light. She felt miserable.

That's when she heard a knocking at the door. Her first inclination was not to answer it. She was still supposed to be in France and she really did not feel like dealing with any nosy townspeople at the moment. But the knocking continued.

She stood reluctantly from the table and walked to the door, all the while hoping whoever it was going to go away before she reached it. No such luck. She opened the door slowly to find, to her surprise, standing their was …

"Luke," she said as if it were a fact and not a greeting of some sort. What had he come here for? To yell at her? To tell her he had moved on? To wish her happiness with Chris? All of which would destroy her at the moment.

"Lorelai…," he replied, wanting to say more. Lorelai was stunned by the way he said it, he was scared, he was sincere.

"I have three things I need to say to you," he continued after a moment, but rather slowly. It appeared that he had thought this all out yet still did not know if he was saying it right. "I'm sorry. I forgive you. I love you."

Lorelai stared at him, trying to comprehend what he was saying. No, this couldn't be true. It was just a cruel dream teasing her of what she would never have. Of what would never happen. It was fake. But yet, it was all too real. The ring digging into her hand because she was clenching it so tight. The cold breeze that made her shiver as it came through the open doorway. The anxiousness and fear between the two of them. The expression on Luke's face, the feeling she was feeling right now. It had to be real.

"I-," she didn't know what to say. Repeat the same things back? Accept his testament of love? Ask him was he was doing this? "Luke, I…I don't know what to say." It was the truth.

He shrugged, "I don't know what to either. That was all I had. I thought I could wing it from here."

A tiniest smile dancing on Lorelai's lips, but it was hidden from Luke by the darkness.

"If you want me to go…" Luke took a half step back, interpreting Loelai's silence as a rejection.

"No!" she replied swiftly, reaching out to. The engagement ring fell from her hand, catching the light for a brief second before it clattered on the porch floor.

Luke leaned down and picked it up in his fingers. He hadn't even realized that Lorelai had kept this until Chris had mentioned it on the phone. He hadn't bee focused on the loss of an engagement ring, but an engagement.

Then an idea popped into his head. He hadn't been planning o n it. Hell, he hadn't even thought about it. But here he was, kneeling on the ground in front of Lorelai with a diamond ring in his hand.

"Lorelai," he said, looking up in her eyes. "Marry me."

Lorelai started down at him, open mouthed in surprise. She wasn't at her most articulate today.

Even without her answer Luke took her unresisting hand and slipped the ring easily onto her finger. He stood up slowly, taking a mount to look Lorelai in the eyes again, hoping she would not refuse his request.

"Marry me," he repeated again.

Lorelai looked down at her hand, staring at the ring on her finger. Tears involuntarily filled her eyes and his tried to blink them back futilely.

She looked up at hopefully Luke her cheeks wet. "This is all I ever wanted in the first place."

"I know," Luke stated simply. He stepped closer to Lorelai and lifted up hand, wiping away her tears with a thumb. It was too out of character for him. Too gentle, too romantic, too personal. But Luke knew it was the right thing to do, because words could only do so much. He wasn't going to screw this up this time.

"Why are you giving me this second chance?" asked Lorelai. No, she had it all wrong. For Luke, it was his second chance.

"It's our second chance," he corrected.

"So what are we going to do? Start over?"

"No," corrected Luke again, "We are going to pick up where we left off."

Lorelai smiled, a real smile, a happy smile filled with joy and perfection. "I will marry you Luke Danes, if you promise me we will get married this time."

"We will."

"Even if I want to elope."

"That's fine."

"Or wait."

"That works too."

"I don't want to be pushed away again."

"You wouldn't be."

"We've gotta talk."

"We will."

"I'm all in."

"I'm all in too," Luke said with a smile.

"I'm getting a new dress."

"If that's what you want."

She wanted it. All of it. And she was finally getting it. They weren't going to make the same mistakes again. She'd make sure of it. She wasn't going to him up on them and Luke wasn't going to push her away.

This was it. The perfect proposal she wanted all of her life.