And here we have it folks, the reason for this ficathon (yeah, this was for the reunion smutficathon forever ago), and how many chapters in? And how late? Sorry for taking so long in finishing this — to think, at one point I was almost caught up with the dates so that I would have been posting in 'real time.' Oh well, life happens. Also, a word of caution to those well-versed in smuttiness — in the past I've always gone for a more abstract version of the L/L lovin'. Apologies if this attempt at upping the smut-factor ended up a little too porny or 'insert tab A into slot B' or just generally not to your liking :)

Thanks as always to all the reviewers for their kind words, and to Filo for the beta and for making me laugh with her comments :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lorelai sat stiffly on her couch, hands clasped together and elbows on her knees as she leaned forward, staring intently on the thin manila envelope that sat before her. The one that had sat there since exactly a week ago. The one that contained the papers officially declaring the dissolution of her marriage to Christopher.

That was the way the lawyers had put it, which Lorelai had found odd. Never divorce, never annulment, always 'dissolution,' as if the other words were just getting too common and blasé to use anymore. Not that dissolution wasn't fitting, however, she admitted. Dissolution, like dissolve. Which was basically how the whole thing with Christopher had gone. Like Alka-seltzer, a whole lot of fizz and excitement right at the beginning, but it just petered out until you suddenly realized there was nothing left. Nothing there at all.

And so it was. Christopher and Gigi were officially out of her life and off to Paris, likely to be seen again only on the off-chance they popped over to London at the same time she was across the Pond to see Rory. They were gone, Rory was heading off to be with Logan, and she, regular old single Lorelai Gilmore once again, was all alone.

Except for that envelope.

It had come a full week ago, and now it was Wednesday again. And she knew what her next step had to be, she just wasn't quite sure how to proceed. Hell, she still wasn't completely convinced that the incident in her office at the Dragonfly with Luke hadn't been a complete fabrication of her overactive imagination. And even allowing that it hadn't been, Lorelai just couldn't for a moment believe that Luke would really ever be willing to give her — them — another chance. Her ill-fated visit to the diner two weeks ago had done nothing to clear things up or reassure her — Luke hadn't even had enough faith in her to keep someone else on to work if she showed up. That hardly boded well for a reunion.

In all honesty, it really just meant that she had no idea where they stood now that Connecticut had officially declared her marriage to Christopher null and void.

She wasn't ready for this. Divorce in Connecticut was supposed to take at least four to six months. She was supposed to have four to six months before anything Luke had said that day at the Inn could possibly even begin to come to fruition. Six months would have made things much easier. But apparently you don't get six months when you get run off to France on a whim and end up in a marriage that isn't even technically legal in the state you actually live in. Which turned out to be the case, as Lorelai's lawyer had notified her just a few days ago. So instead of a divorce that took six months, less than a few weeks later, with no waiting periods to be found, Lorelai was sitting in her living room faced with annulment papers and agonizing over what to do next.

Even so, she still had to tell him. Luke. She'd been so resolute in her determination to tell him that she was splitting up with Chris in the first place, she had to follow through and tell him things were official. Whatever that would bring. And she couldn't put it off any longer. When the papers had arrived last Wednesday, she knew there was no way she could face Luke, or anyone that matter, right away. But a week later, and having stood Luke up one Wednesday already, and that after she'd gotten so upset over his neglecting to keep their Wednesday tradition, she had to go see him. What it would bring, she didn't know.

To be honest, a part of her was actually afraid of Luke letting her back in. They were doing so, so well as what they had been since the Wednesdays started, just friends. The best of friends, with whom she could talk about almost anything. If the fact that she and Luke had actually discussed her marital problems with Christopher in a completely rational and civil manner didn't show how much progress they'd made on the friend front, she had no idea what would. But a relationship? To try again? While Lorelai would have given her right arm to be able to magically be back where they'd been at the best of times, so much had changed. She being one of those things — she knew now, more than ever, if given the chance she would throw herself, heart and soul, into making it work with Luke. But things happened. Things out of anyone's control, and she was so afraid that if they got started once again…

Lorelai didn't get to finish that particular thought, however, for from the direction of the front hallway, she heard a small whimper and the sound of a paw raking over the carved wood of the door.

Pulling herself up off the couch reluctantly, she peered into the foyer. There, as she suspected, was a desperate looking Paul Anka doing his 'I-have-to-pee' shuffle while he gazed longingly at his leash hanging by the door.

Leave it to him to not leave her any options. Oh well, she sighed, might as well get it over with…

It was only about ten minutes later, Paul Anka's bladder freshly emptied, when the pair found themselves on the now familiar route around the back of the diner, through the back door, and up the stairs. Unlike some of the more recent weeks, Lorelai couldn't bring herself to barge in. She cast a desperate glance down at Paul Anka, hoping for some canine show of solidarity, but he just wagged his tail and sniffed at the crack beneath the door.

Just get it over with, she scolded herself, what's the worst that could happen? But given the spectrum of Luke's possible reactions to hearing about the divorce — annulment, she corrected in her head - Lorelai wasn't even sure what would be considered 'the worst' — a non-reaction that said he was content with just being friends? Or an indication that he would be willing to try one more time? Quite frankly, Lorelai wasn't sure her heart would be able to handle either. But she had to know. Besides, the trepidation of not knowing Luke's thoughts was doing a number of her stomach, and if she didn't do something, the 'go in or not go in' debate would be moot, because she'd end up in the hospital with ulcers or something.

So she took a deep breath that did nothing to calm her nerves, and then she lifted her hand, rapping on the frosted glass a few times.

The door flew open a few seconds later, a rather harried Luke clutching a sudsy coffee pot declaring, "You don't have to knock."

Lorelai opened her mouth, prepared to offer some sort of weak explanation, but no words came. Not that it particularly mattered, for as suddenly as Luke had appeared in the doorway, he was off across the room again, back at the sink and rinsing off the coffee pot. Even Paul Anka abandoned her there in the entry as he scampered across to April's side of the apartment, curling up in the cozy chair in the corner.

Absently, she realized that if he was rinsing out a coffee pot, he must have been waiting for her. Meaning that he was waiting for her even after she'd failed to show up the week before. Her stomach fluttered at the thought of what that could mean.

After shaking herself out of her daze, Lorelai finally did manage to make it into the apartment and close the door behind her, but beyond that, she could do nothing more than linger uncomfortably near the entryway.

Luke must have had a busy day leading up to her visit; he was obviously behind schedule, still in the midst of preparing the coffee he usually had already waiting for her when she arrived. Which was probably why he didn't notice her standing there, awkwardly silent, until he'd put the now-clean pot on to brew and turned towards the table expecting her to have already sat down. And he certainly had no idea what would be coming — he knew as well as she did of the legal waiting periods required for marriages gone wrong. He had to be under the assumption that it was a divorce she was still waiting for.

Wiping any remaining dampness from his hands with a paper towel, Luke eyed Lorelai curiously. "You okay?" he asked.

"I-" Lorelai began, the words catching in her throat.

"You…" Luke coaxed gently, concern evident in his expression.

"I'm divorced," she finally blurted out, mentally bracing herself against whatever might follow.

Nothing did.

"Annulled, actually," she amended with a forced laugh in an attempt to break the horribly awkward silence.

Still nothing.

Forcing herself to look up at Luke, she found him frozen, much like herself, trying to process the words she'd just spoken. Lorelai could practically see the gears turning in his mind as his mouth opened and then closed again without a word. The paper towel had fallen, forgotten, to the floor, and Luke's hand rested limply on the back of a kitchen chair.

"It's official," she confirmed uncomfortably after a moment, trying to force some sort of playful lilt into her voice, "No waiting periods for annulments." Trying to play it off as a just a passing comment, not one that may or may not have had weighty implications for their friendship. Relationship. Engagement? Whatever it was.

The words hadn't been out of her mouth half a second before Luke was striding across the room towards her. The look on his face so intense, so focused, for a moment Lorelai almost thought he was angry again, gearing up for a repeat of the outburst at the Dragonfly.

But he wasn't. Upon reaching Lorelai, he was anything but. Staring down at her, he lifted a hand, gently, almost reverently brushing it along the side of her face, pushing away a stray lock of hair. And then he pressed his lips softly to hers, in a move that Lorelai hadn't been sure if she'd been hoping for or dreading.

But now she knew; when Luke pulled back, it was altogether too soon for Lorelai, though she surprised even herself when she found fistfuls of flannel held tightly in her grip.

With both of his hands now framing her face, Luke gazed intently into her eyes. "You're divorced," he echoed, searching for confirmation.

Her lips still tingling from Luke's kiss, any apprehensions Lorelai might have had about making the transition back to a full-blown romantic relationship fell by the wayside, dwarfed by the excitement and joy she felt bubbling in her chest. "Annulled," she corrected as a giddy smile threatened to overtake her face. "Either way, not married."

The next thing she knew, a similar grin had broken out on Luke's face, and he'd pulled her into the tightest hug imaginable. She threw her arms around his neck, burying her face against his chest as he lifted her from the floor, simply reveling in the feeling of once again being in Luke's embrace.

Lorelai didn't even notice, lost in the emotion of the moment, that she'd begun to cry. Only when Luke set her back down and carefully wiped her cheeks with his thumb did she realize that she'd left small dark spots on his shirt. "Sorry, I…" she apologized sheepishly, running a hand over the dampness.

"I missed you." Luke cut her off, his voice thick with the weight of his own unshed tears.

Utterly overwhelmed, Lorelai felt her eyes spill over, her cheeks quickly covered with hot, wet streaks yet again. "Luke, I-" she sniffled.

But she didn't get to finish that sentence she so desperately wanted to say, for before she could reciprocate, or explain, or apologize, Luke's mouth was back on her own, warm and insistent with a kiss that held all the promise of what was to come. Lorelai knew, without a doubt, as her legs went shaky when she felt Luke's tongue part her lips to slide over her own, that he was intent on showing her exactly how he felt about her, about the fact that Christopher was no longer a factor, and that he, Luke, was.

And despite that nagging voice in her head urging her to put on the brakes, to take things slowly, it had been too, too long, and she missed him just as much as he had her; even if she'd wanted to, there was no way she could summon the willpower to tell Luke to slow down.

Luke's mouth eventually left hers, leaving her breathless as he trailed kisses along her jaw, traced lazy patterns with his tongue over her neck and collarbone. Lorelai was helpless, unable to do anything but let out soft noises of approval from the back of her throat as Luke slipped her jacket from her shoulders, skimming feather-light touches along the length of her bare arms.

When his lips met with the skin of her shoulder, his hands deftly pushing aside the straps of her camisole and bra, Lorelai pressed her lips to Luke's neck and grasped frantically at his shirt, already losing herself to the feel of him. It had been so long… So long. Needing to feel his lips on hers again, she shrugged him off her shoulder, urging him back to her with a soft plea, "Luke…"

He obliged willingly, meeting her in a teasing kiss, nipping at her lower lip even as she fought him for more. His hands slipped beneath Lorelai's shirt, inching it upward as he raked his nails gently over the slight goose bumps that his own touch had induced. Lorelai shivered beneath his hands and, her mouth still dueling playfully with Luke's, reached for the buttons on his flannel to level the playing field.

But Luke would have none of that; he yanked his hands from her stomach, gently pushing her hands away. Instead, he guided her arms above her head, breaking their kiss only to slip the gauzy shirt off Lorelai's body.

Pulled immediately into yet another searing kiss, Lorelai barely had the chance to register that Luke had made quick work of her bra as well, sliding the satiny garment deftly down her arms. The next thing she knew, she was pulling back from Luke's lips, letting out a hiss of pleasure as he ran his hands over her bare chest, his thumbs brushing tauntingly over her nipples.

But Luke always knew how to push her; she was breathing even harder a split second later when she felt his mouth, hot and wet, on her breast. Lorelai's head lolled forward, her eyes fluttering closed as Luke teased, alternately licking, nipping, sucking, and blowing cool air over the damp, heated skin left in the wake of his mouth. It was all she could do to run her fingers through his hair, breathing in his scent as he continued his ministrations, abandoning her left breast in favor of getting reacquainted with the right.

Lorelai let out a soft whimper of protest when she felt him pull away. But upon opening her eyes, she had less to complain about, seeing him sink down to his knees in front of her. She gripped his shoulder for balance as he gingerly slipped her sandal from one foot, then the other. Her belt came next, followed by the button and zipper of her jeans, with Luke, all the while, pressing soft kisses around her belly button.

Pushing her jeans down just below her hips, Luke reached between Lorelai's legs, as he almost always did, teasing, taunting, running his fingers along the damp fabric of her simple cotton bikinis — she hadn't exactly expected this, after all. But she didn't have time to regret her choice of underwear, nor to wax nostalgic by relishing the feel of Luke returning to old habits; in one swift motion Luke had all her remaining clothing puddled around her ankles, and his hand had been replaced by his tongue.

Lorelai's knees nearly buckled and she yelped a weak "Ungh!" of surprise that quickly faded into an incoherent murmur of pleasure. Luke's hands coaxed her thighs apart further as he lapped at her fervently, burying his face between her legs as best he could, tasting and licking and swirling his tongue, drinking her in as if he'd never get the chance again.

Lorelai could have died just like that — had the end of the world come at that moment, she might not have cared. But with her feet still tangled in the legs of her jeans, and her legs feeling ever more like jello as she doubled over, her nails digging into Luke's shoulders for support, she knew that standing up under her own power wouldn't last much longer, and careening to the floor awkwardly was not how she wanted things to end. "Luke," she managed to whisper, tugging on his hair, "Luke, you have to…"

He was on his feet in a second, lips on lips again, allowing Lorelai to taste that mingling of the two of them that she hadn't even allowed herself to realize that she'd missed so much.

But she wanted more. She missed him. Luke was still completely dressed, and having come this far, she knew she wasn't going to let him have all the fun. Breaking the kiss, she stepped back from Luke, kicking her pants away and raising her eyebrows impishly. She reached for the buttons on his flannel, slowly unfastening them one by one. Luke, for his part, stood still, content to watch and let her have her way.

The shirt finally open, Lorelai leaned in to Luke, dropping kisses in the stubble of his neck and chin as she slid the flannel over his shoulders. The t-shirt he wore beneath the flannel was the next casualty, Lorelai yanking it over his head, conveniently catching the hat with it and sending them both sailing to the floor. Though she was fully intent on repaying the favor and getting her turn to have her way with him, she faltered at the first sight of him bare-chested before her.

She wanted to think he hadn't changed, that a year hadn't made all that much of a difference, but it had, in a myriad of ways. Seeing Luke there, a few extra gray hairs sprinkled over his chest just exemplifying their lengthy separation. Or maybe those grays had always been there… What saddened Lorelai the most was the fact that she couldn't be quite sure. That it had been so long that her memories of him had blurred, perhaps tainted as well with the many times since that it had been another man's chest in front of her. Her heart ached for the time they had lost.

But in many ways, Luke was still the Luke she remembered, seeing right away that she was drifting, her mind getting lost somewhere she didn't necessarily want it to be. Before she could dwell on the wave of tears that threatened once again, Luke had pulled her to him, bare skin to bare skin, his fiery kiss urging her to forget everything but his hand at her waist, the other gently massaging her rear. "Stay with me," he breathed in her ear.

Eyes squeezed closed, Lorelai rested her forehead on Luke's, taking a moment to gather herself and remember that the past didn't necessarily matter — she had him there with her again, and she wasn't going to take it for granted. Flashing him a mildly embarrassed smile of apology, she reached for his belt.

She stood impossibly close to him as she slid his jeans down over his hips, purposely touching him as little as possible, except for one strategic brush of her hand across the front of his boxers. Luke hissed in response, eliciting a smirk from Lorelai, any depressing thoughts effectively expelled from her mind. She stepped back momentarily to let Luke kick off his boots, socks, and jeans.

Once he stood wearing only his boxers, his arousal more than evident beneath them, Lorelai moved back in, running her hands over his chest. And never taking her eyes from Luke's as he watched her, she began trailing wet, messy kisses from his collarbone, down over his stomach as she lowered herself until she was face to face with the waistband of his boxers. With a wicked grin back up to Luke, she gripped his cotton-shrouded length exhaling her warm breath over the head. It earned her a shudder from Luke, prompting her to graze her fingers back and forth over the soft fabric again. When she noticed, in between strokes, the tiny damp spot on the fabric at the tip, her own arousal soared. Done with the teasing, she released Luke, reaching instead for the elastic around his waist. Easing the boxers down over his hardness, she ducked her head, preparing to take him in her mouth.

Before she could, however, Luke placed a hand gently on the top of her head, nudging her away. Confused, Lorelai turned her head up to face Luke, her eyes questioning. He just shook his head, gesturing for her to stand back up. "Luke, wha-"

He silenced her with his lips, pressing them fiercely to hers. When they parted, his hands were tangled in her hair, his tired blue eyes boring into hers, pleading. And Lorelai understood. He was in charge; she'd been the one to ultimately leave him, to find someone else. He felt he had to win her back, prove himself to her. This was his seduction, his reclaiming of what should have always been his.

If that's what he needed, she was more than willing to let him take the lead. Lorelai nodded her acquiescence, giving her silent agreement to his request with a gentle kiss placed on his cheek.

Luke took her hand, stepping out of his boxers before leading her slowly to his bed. More used to the way things had normally gone between them — the pair of them tumbling to the bed together in a frenzy of kisses and clothes — Lorelai hung back, curious as to where he was taking things this time, almost shy at the thought of being exposed — but not touched — after so long. As she'd noticed his grays, had he taken notice of the (more than a) few extra pints of Ben and Jerry's that had found their way to her lower half during some of the rough times with Chris? The extra wrinkles she was sure the stress of her doomed marriage had put on her face?

If he had, he paid them no mind; Luke eased himself down on the bed, inching backwards toward the head of the bed as he shoved pillows out of the way. Once he was situated, his back against the headboard, his legs stretched out in front of him, he beckoned to Lorelai, reaching for her hand once more.

Though more flummoxed than ever, Lorelai obeyed, taking his hand and crawling on her knees to him. They'd had more than their fair share of escapades in that position, her on Luke's lap, but it was generally her show — those times when she was feeling particularly playful or precocious and Luke was content to be a bystander. But he'd already indicated that that wasn't his goal here, not today, not their first time back together.

"Luke, I don't…" She trailed off, her quizzical inquiry put to rest when Luke did, in fact, pull her to straddle his lap. A giggle escaped Lorelai's mouth at the unexpected move on Luke's part, "Luke, wha-"

Again she was cut off by Luke's mouth, his tongue dancing languorously with hers. Smiling into the kiss, Lorelai slid forward on Luke's thighs, trapping his erection between their midsections. Luke groaned into Lorelai's mouth, eliciting yet another giggle from her as she wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him even closer. Luke's payback was to reach between them, slipping a finger into Lorelai without warning only to remove it far too soon.

"Mean," Lorelai glowered breathily, intending to pull away from Luke, but apparently her pout was merely an invitation for Luke to recapture her lower lip between his teeth.

Growing tired of what suddenly seemed like endless foreplay, Lorelai broke the kiss and lifted herself off Luke's legs. Kneeling above him, she reached for him, readying herself to take him in.

But once more, her efforts were thwarted by whatever it was Luke had in mind. Grasping at her legs, he refused to let her lower herself onto him; rather, he angled her back towards his knees, running his hands tenderly over her calves and resituating them behind him so that Lorelai's legs were wrapped around his waist. Behind her, he folded his legs up as well, so that she was sitting on his crossed legs. Only then did Luke lift her hips up, positioning himself beneath her.

Lorelai went limp, letting out a throaty "OhGodLuke" as he slid into her, easing her down onto him at an achingly slow pace. She gripped his shoulders, making every effort to remain perfectly still as her body readjusted to accommodate him; it was a feeling she wasn't ready to let go of.

But Luke's hands skimmed up her sides, coming to rest just beneath her breasts. Lorelai sucked in a sharp breath as his thumbs made contact with her already sensitive nipples. The sensation was overwhelming, and her hips bucked of their own accord as her body sought to ease some of the rapidly building tension within.

Their new position left her with very little leverage; whereas on her knees, the pace would have been hers to set, now all she could do was squirm helplessly atop Luke, weakly thrusting her hips towards his or pulling him to her as best she could by constricting her legs tightly around him. She whimpered aloud, begging for Luke move, to do something. He simply pressed his lips to hers, silencing her with a kiss as he placed his hands on her hips.

Guiding her movements on him, Luke settled their movements into a slow, sensual rhythm. Lorelai pulled away from the kiss, and her forehead dropped to his shoulder as, in the midst of their gentle rocking against each other, Luke let his thumb drift ever so slightly away from where it originally rested, gripping her hips. With each pitch forward of her hips, the thumb was perfectly positioned for just the slightest increase in pressure where it mattered most. That delicious friction in combination with the heady feeling of Luke's subtle motions within her was very nearly overwhelming.

Lorelai was silent for a few moments more as she let herself get lost in Luke again and her nails dug into his back as she fought to get as much of him as she could. Before long, she was biting her lip, her eyes fluttering closed as she found the wave of sensation that already threatened. After so many screw ups and wrong turns in their relationship, after so long apart, she was unwilling to let go, unwilling to have it be over so quickly.

"Luke…" she whispered in his ear as she fought to still her hips, "Luke…"

Without further words, Luke obliged her silent plea. After he pulled her into yet another fiery kiss, his hands abandoned her lower body and drifted upwards once more, teasing her already overly-sensitive nipples once more. Lorelai let out a guttural moan in response, yet again fighting off her body's reaction to his ministrations. "Luke…" she protested again.

This time, Luke allowed her to slide off him, easing her down to the pillows beside them. And though she'd initiated it, Lorelai whimpered at the initial loss of contact, and once situated on the bed, she immediately pulled him down to her. Her legs fell open as Luke settled his hips between them, and already needing his touch again, she threw her arms around his neck and sought out his lips with hers.

And though she writhed anxiously beneath him, Luke held back from sliding into her. Breaking their kiss, he propped himself up on his elbows and let his hands frame her face, his fingers tangling in her hair as it splayed out over the pillow.

Lorelai looked up at him, her eyes wide and questioning.

Gazing down at her, his voice gravelly as he spoke, Luke said simply, "God I love you."

Lorelai's view of Luke blurred almost immediately as tears sprang to her eyes. Her chest felt tight, and she couldn't be sure if it was regret over how horribly she'd treated him and all their lost time, or simply her heart swelling with the intensity of the emotion she felt for him. Her own voice shaky, she replied softly, "Me too. So much."

With that, Luke leaned down, kissed her fiercely, and reached down to guide himself into her.

Lorelai sucked in a quick breath at the feeling of Luke burying his full length in her. She wrapped her legs tightly around his waist, pulling him deeper, wanting him closer, wanting that heightened connection between them.

They held onto that initial sensation for a moment, Lorelai's grip eventually loosening and Luke's pace evolved into long, full, sensuous strokes. Lorelai met him halfway each time, her hips bucking up to him of their own accord. Hands wandered, lips and tongues met, and before long, Lorelai was at the brink again, her senses heightened and the tension deep inside her building. Her breath came in short gasps and her hands fell from Luke's back to grip the sheets beside her.

Luke, she knew, must have been fighting as well, for as soon as she'd whimpered his name and given herself over to the impending wave of sensation, he'd reached between them to her center, caressing her and giving her the final push she needed to come crashing down around him.

She gave a strangled cry at his touch, and was lost. Everything inside her seemed to explode at once. She clenched down around him, riding out the staggering intensity of it all with incomprehensible moans and sighs as she felt Luke follow close behind.

Lorelai's legs had made their way back around his waist at some point, and now, after, she clung to him, still unwilling to let go. Coaxing him into lowering his upper body onto hers, she drew Luke into a slow, dreamy kiss.

For the rest of her life, she never wanted to move from exactly where she was.

When they finally parted, Luke slid off Lorelai, settling himself on the bed, with both of them on their sides as he spooned up behind her. With a deep sigh, he buried his face in her hair, breathing in her scent. He told himself he was just happy to have her there again and wanted to relish every bit of her, but he couldn't deny that there might have been a part of him that just wanted to use every sense that he possibly could to confirm that she was actually there with him again, and that it wasn't simply one of the many dreams of her that had haunted him since things had gone wrong.

He wasn't sure if he drifted to sleep or not, but the next thing he was aware of was a soft sniffling sound. Luke knew he'd seen the beginning of tears in her eyes earlier; he himself hadn't been unaffected by the power of their reunion.

But that had been in the heat of the moment, 'I love you's having just been uttered. But now?

"Hey, hey," he whispered soothingly. Sliding backwards a bit, he gently placed a hand on Lorelai's bare shoulder and wordlessly urged her to face him.

Sure enough, when she gave in and rolled onto her back, her eyes were rimmed with red and her cheeks damp with tears, though she was hastily trying to wipe them away. With another sniffle, she clenched her eyes closed and said, pained, "It's too soon."

Still not understanding the cause of the tears, Luke was left unable to utter anything but a baffled "What is-?"

"We shouldn't have-" Lorelai attempted to explain shakily. "This," she clarified, her voice growing stronger as she gestured vaguely down to their bodies. "It's too soon."

Recognizing Lorelai's insecurity and tendency to run rearing its ugly head and threatening to ruin what was, in all honesty, probably the best turn of events for him in recent memory, Luke protested immediately in an attempt to calm her down. "Lorelai, hey, come on," he started.

But he was cut off, his protest apparently serving only to strengthen Lorelai's determination. "No," she said, shaking her head vehemently as she sat up and moved to swing her feet down to the floor. "We shouldn't have done this."

Sitting up himself, Luke's hand shot out to grab her arm. "Hey," he said sternly, "first of all, would you stop? Why are you saying all this?"

Lorelai's face wrinkled as she conceded and placed her feet back on the bed, her resolve obviously crumbling. "Because it's too soon," she wailed, "and apparently I have the willpower of a 16 year old boy on Viagra, and I wasn't thinking, and it's just going to mess everything up." She finished contritely, her voice soft as she added, "It's too fast."

"Too fast for what?" Luke asked, already having a hunch where she was going with her reasoning.

"Us," she admitted, fiddling with her nails and unable to look him in the eyes. "I didn't want to screw this up again."

Luke nodded in acknowledgement, but he took a deep breath and assured her to the contrary. "It won't."

Lorelai jerked her head to face him. "You don't think it was too soon?" she asked, her voice tinged with doubt.

"No," Luke replied matter-of-factly.

"But…" she stumbled over her words, obviously fighting to put her rationale into a coherent sentence. "I… missed you, so much, and I…," she spluttered, "love you, and I wanted this so badly, but Luke," she insisted, more composed, "there was a reason for us not working last time."

"I know that," Luke acknowledged solemnly, keeping his words to a minimum, preferring to let Lorelai work through things for herself.

Lorelai looked at him incredulously. "And that's not a problem for you?" she cried.

"Should it be?" he countered.

"We can't just-" Lorelai began to protest, before pausing in a search for words. "Fall back into this — back into bed!" she blurted out, "— without even trying to change things. We're just gonna end up with the same problems. And I don't want that, this is what I was so afrai-"

In the midst of her tirade, Lorelai had again begun her move to creep out of bed, away from him, so once she reached the point of swinging her feet to the floor again, Luke cut in with a stern "Lorelai."

She was more steadfast this time; she did pause, but with her feet on the floor and her back to him. With a resolute shake of her head, she reiterated, "We shouldn't have done this. Not like this, not so soon."

More sternly this time, and reaching roughly for her arm, Luke repeated, "Lorelai."

She shrugged him off, though she remained on the bed. "What?" she asked, sounding exasperated as she turned her body around to face him.

"Hey, hey," Luke said, softening his approach, "calm down." Taking her decision to remain on the bed and actually look at him as a crack in her resolve, he slid across the mattress towards her and pulled her into a hug. "Come 'ere."

Lorelai conceded, letting herself be folded into his arms as she buried her face against his chest. "I don't want it to turn out like last time," she mumbled, her voice muffled against his skin.

Luke understood her point, but he was desperate to make her see that he honestly didn't feel they would have the same issues this time around. Releasing her from his embrace, he moved himself up the mattress until he sat with his back against the headboard and gestured for her to follow suit. After a second of hesitation, Lorelai crawled up beside him and slipped beneath the sheet.

Looking down at her, Luke asked frankly, "What do you think our problem was last time?"

Lorelai's gaze immediately shot up to meet his, a hint of panic evident in her eyes. "Luke…" she protested weakly.

"Tell me," he urged, giving her fabric-covered knee an encouraging rub.

She still hesitated, fidgeting uncomfortably and drawing the sheet up around her bare chest securely. "I think…" she eventually hedged. "Well," she finally said bluntly, "April."

Luke nodded his agreement, but remained quiet in hopes that she would expand.

Her gaze falling away from his once more, Lorelai did continue hesitantly. "You didn't tell me, and then later, you just kept her away, and…"

Knowing she was holding back, Luke prompted, "What else?"

"And it felt like you were pushing me away," she finally blurted out. "The wedding got postponed, and half the time it seemed like April and Anna were more important than anything that had to do with us."

Luke had known something of the sort was coming, though he made sure to point out, "Which you never really told me."

"Yeah," Lorelai said glumly, continuing on a sarcastic rant, "I never said anything. I just watched us self-destruct. And then I had to go and-"

"Ok, yeah, we know how that ends," Luke cut her off before making his own case. "But even before that, you and Rory?" he pointed out. "She was your thing to deal with? The going back to Yale and everything? You didn't let me in there. And I didn't push it. Maybe I should have," he acknowledged. "Maybe that's why I thought it was okay to keep April separate."

Though Lorelai didn't dispute his claims — rather, she appeared to consider them thoughtfully for a moment — she did pose the question, "How do you know it's all not gonna happen again?"

"I-"

Luke had barely gotten a breath out before Lorelai jumped back in. "Not with April and Rory, because, God, I hope you don't have any more kids running around out there that we don't know about, and if Rory bails on school again… But-"

It was Luke's turn to jump in, as he was unwilling to let Lorelai spin any tales of crazy possibilities in her head. "A)," he began plainly, "I won't let myself lose you again, and B) Think about it. You agree that our problems mostly came from not talking to each other? Not saying exactly what felt wrong when and hiding things? Even the first time at your parents' thing?"

"I guess," Lorelai conceded, though obviously unsure where he was leading.

Twisting his torso to face her directly, Luke took the opportunity to brush a wayward lock of hair tenderly from Lorelai's face. "What do you call what we've been doing at least once a week for the past five months?"

Confusion still tainting her features, Lorelai offered the answer she must have figured he was fishing for, "Talking?"

"About?" he led.

"April," Lorelai said first, before pausing for a moment. Luke could see the beginnings of realization setting in as she continued, "Rory. The restaurant. Chris..." she trailed off as she spoke her ex-husband's name, full comprehension of exactly how far they'd come to be able to talk about him more than plain on her face. "Everything," she finished with a mildly astonished whisper.

"Yeah," Luke agreed with a grin.

Lorelai remained quiet, numbly letting her own realization settle in.

But lest she work herself into a frenzy again, Luke reinforced his point. "I know we haven't dealt specifically with what happened," he admitted. "We should. And we will," he promised, when Lorelai caught his gaze at the end of his sentence. "But Lorelai," he asked, almost as a plea, "what else would you change?"

She took a breath as if to speak, but said nothing, her brow furrowing slightly instead. Finally, with a defeated grin, she shrugged, admitting honestly, "I wouldn't."

A grin of his own spread quickly on Luke's face, and the two of them leaned into each other, lips seeking lips automatically. Whatever he had left in him, Luke poured into the kiss, trying to convince her, if his words had not, that they would be fine.

A moment later, Lorelai pressed her palm against his chest and, breathing heavily, pushed him away. With a sly smirk, she traced lazy patterns over his torso and said coyly, "Actually, there is."

"Oh yeah?" Luke responded, his voice teasing, but the kiss he placed on her hand after removing it from his chest sincere.

Blushing at the simple gesture, Lorelai voiced her complaint plainly. "Seeing you once a week isn't enough."

Sliding down the headboard from his sitting position to rest his head on the pillows, Luke chuckled. "That can be fixed pretty easily."

"Good," Lorelai said, giving him a wan smile. Resituating herself so she was curled up against him, she poked his side softly. "Did you mean what you said in my office that day?"

"If you want it," Luke answered.

Lifting her head so their gazes met, Lorelai replied earnestly, "I do. Maybe not all of it at warp speed like we got here," she conceded with a smile, "but… April could have Gigi's bed."

"And me?" Luke kept his voice light, meaning for it to be a teasing comment.

"We can move," she said hurriedly, "if you don't-"

Luke silenced her with a finger placed on her lips. "You don't have to move," he insisted. "You don't want to move. We've been here before," he reminded her.

"Yeah, but-" she protested.

"We can redecorate," he compromised, still not letting her finish. "Again," he rephrased with a grin. "New paint, new furniture, whatever you wa-"

Lorelai eyed him skeptically. "You really want to go through picking paint colors again?" she teased.

Luke shrugged playfully, "Well, I do remember seeing some purple wallpaper somewhere…"

"Really?" Lorelai gasped, her eyes lighting up.

Luke rolled his eyes, reconsidering. "We'll see-" He stopped when he felt a heavy weight on his feet. "What the-?" He peered down the bed, kicking a bit, only to see Paul Anka sitting in the middle of the bed, staring right back at him. "Jeez," he groaned, "he was here the whole time?"

"Yup," Lorelai giggled, reaching down to give the dog a scratch on the head, "we just scarred him for life. Or, well, I don't know," she added, smirking in Luke's direction, "he looks pretty happy, maybe he liked the show."

Luke rolled his eyes dramatically, "Aw, Jee-"

"Oh stop," Lorelai laughed, slapping his leg playfully, "he was asleep. He's just happy because he missed you too."

"He's seen me every week," Luke scoffed.

"He still missed you," Lorelai insisted, though Luke now realized she might not have been talking about the dog.

Paul Anka curled up near their feet, the two of them wrapped in each other's arms as their lips met yet again, Luke couldn't help but think how much better things were looking.

The End

Why are you weeping?
Yes, I still love you.
We fight and fall down
And mend.

Jann Arden, "Mend"

Epilogue and original ficathon requests still to come. Stay tuned.