"Ahh, home sweet home," Lorelai said to herself as she finally found the key to unlock the Crap Shack. "Anybody home?" She opened the front door. After a long day at the inn, she was ready to relax with her family. Instead of hearing that annoying French accent in her ear, she wanted to hear the voices of the people she loved so much.
It was extremely odd for her to have a silent household lately. Rory was always visiting, getting ready to graduate Yale, and Luke was always drilling or hammering something, if not watching the ballgame on TV. It was a compromise Lorelai made for him occasionally, when a cheesy movie wasn't on TV she could be watching instead.
And then there was Lorelai and Luke's son, Nolan. He had turned out to be a lot like his mother in the chattiness factor, but like Luke in everything else. It was almost like there was a force attracting him to follow his father all day. Nolan loved being around his dad.
Lorelai walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee. "Ahh, coffee. My true love," she said, positioning the cup under her nose to take in the aroma. "Okay, I'm talking to my coffee. It's a sign that I'm going insane or a sign that I really need socialization. Or both… Hello? Rory? Luke? Paul Anka? Anybody?"
She sat at the kitchen table, wondering where her family had gone. "Luuukeeeee! Hellooooooo!" Lorelai called again, drumming her fingers against the side of the mug. Where was everybody?
All of a sudden, she heard giggling outside. She slowly made her way to the window looking out to the backyard. "Ah! There they are! I'm surprised I didn't see them when I pulled in!" Lorelai smiled as she watched her husband and son playing outside.
"Let's play baseball, Daddy!" four-year-old Nolan shouted, jumping up and down and giggling.
Lorelai stepped to the left just a little, to avoid being seen.
"You want to play baseball, Nolan?" Luke asked. Nolan nodded in approval.
"Either Luke has a huge influence on this kid, or the Red Sox jersey he got for Christmas last year has super powers, compelling him to want to play baseball 24/7!" Lorelai watched as Luke set up a tee for Nolan to hit off of, and tried not to laugh when she saw Nolan with the Wiffle Bat.
"Luke, that thing is bigger than he is!" She whispered to herself, giggling slightly.
"All right, buddy, after you hit the ball, where do you run?" Luke asked, crouching down to Nolan's level.
Nolan put his finger to his cheek in an obvious thought process and paused for a moment before answering. "HOME!" he shouted in delight.
Luke shrugged. "Technically, yeah, you eventually run home, but where do you go first?" he asked patiently.
Lorelai rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Luke, I don't think he remembers without some sort of hint. You've been trying to teach him since he could walk!" She took a sip of coffee and pulled up a chair to watch the events that followed.
Nolan picked up the wiffle bat and began poking a sleeping Paul Anka with the handle as he searched for the correct answer. He giggled as he saw the dog's reaction to the unexpected awakening.
"Nolan, don't poke the dog, you gotta pay attention. Where do you run after you hit the ball, before you run home?" Luke asked as he gently confiscated the bat.
"First base," Nolan replied, pointing to the piece of cardboard directly to his right.
"And then?" Luke asked, gripping the bat in his hands and making a swinging motion.
Lorelai tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. She loved spying on Luke when he was mushy with their son. There was something about Luke when he was with Rory, or April, or Nolan that was so different from his normal self. He became a protector, a softie, and a funny, caring father. Lorelai loved that side of Luke.
"Huh?" Nolan asked.
Lorelai couldn't help but laugh when she saw Luke's heavy sigh of frustration. She was right. He had taught Nolan what the bases were called and which order to run them in countless times, but all Nolan ever really wanted to do was take the shortcut, running around and jumping on home plate when he felt like it. Luke loved baseball so much, and Lorelai thought it was so sweet how he tried to share his passion with Nolan.
"What base is after first?" Luke repeated. "You run to first, then to…?"
"Second!" Nolan answered enthusiastically.
"Right! And then?"
Nolan smiled. "Third, and then you go HOME!" he said, staring up at Luke, seeking approval.
"Right, good job, buddy," Luke said, adjusting Nolan's Red Sox cap. "Now, I'll help you hit the ball, but you're going to run, okay?" Luke asked, stepping to the right side of the tee.
"Okay!" Nolan shouted, following his father.
"Now, make your home run face," Luke instructed. "We're gonna scare that pitcher, aren't we?"
Nolan made a face and growled, trying to look intimidating. He dug his feet into the ground and assumed his stance, mentally scaring the invisible pitcher. Instead of being scary, he looked just plain hysterical.
Lorelai covered her mouth with her right hand, trying to prevent the coffee she had just sipped from coming out. She swallowed and laughed out loud. "Nolan, dude, you really aren't going to scare someone that's way taller and scarier than you. Your dad is just trying to fool you," she said to the empty house.
"Ready to hit?" Luke asked, looking down at Nolan.
Nolan gripped the yellow bat. "Ready," he insisted.
"Put this hand here… good. Put that hand here. All right. On the count of three. One… Two… Three… SWING!"
Luke helped Nolan to tap the white ball off the tee. "Run, Nolan!" Luke coached. "Where do you go first?"
Nolan was off and running. "Go, Nolan, run to second!" Luke instructed. Nolan ran as fast as he could. He hopped on first base, paused, and heard Luke's calls. He finally made his way to second base.
"Go, Nolan go! Third base, buddy!" Luke waved his arm like a third base coach, even though the ball sat inches from the tee.
Nolan nearly missed second base, but managed to fall on top of it before getting up and attempting to tag third base.
"And now run home! Hurry! Go, go, go!" Luke cheered.
Lorelai found herself jumping up and down, trying not to spill her coffee. "Run, Nolan! Go, before the ball hits…the thing… aww Jeez, I have no idea what I'm saying, just RUN!"
Nolan finally made his way home, jumping on the cardboard and throwing his hat on the ground. Luke swept him up and ruffled his hair. "And Nolan Danes hits a walkoff home run to win it for the Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th Inning! Can you believe it? The Fenway Faithful are going insane! Danes has done it again, ladies and gentlemen!"
Luke's attempt at being a baseball commentator amused Lorelai. "Oh, do I have something to hold against him now," she thought. She knew if anyone saw the two playing baseball out there and heard Luke's commentary, Luke would be mortified.
It wasn't long before Luke and Nolan needed a water break. Lorelai ran into the kitchen and sat down with her coffee, trying not to look guilty for spying.
"Hey, Lorelai, I didn't know you were home!" Luke said, putting Nolan down and opening the refrigerator.
"Why, yes, I just arrived. You playing outside with Dad, Nolan?" she asked her son.
Nolan sat himself down in a chair at the kitchen table and swung his legs back and forth. "Yeah, Mommy, I hit a home run!" he said.
Lorelai held up her hand to give her son a high five. "Way to go! That's pretty cool!" she said as she helped Nolan get comfortable in the seat to her left.
"Lorelai, do you even know what a home run is?" Luke asked. He kissed her on the cheek and refilled her coffee.
"Why, thank you, Coffee God! And yes, a matter of fact, I do. It's when the guy that's hitting hits the ball, and… then… runs… no, I don't," she admitted.
Luke straddled the nearest chair and rested his arms on the back. He pulled it to Lorelai's right. "Yeah, I figured as much," Luke said.
"But I do know that Nolan is an amazing ballplayer and he definitely lives up to his name, hitting all those home runs and stuff," Lorelai added, trying to sound like she knew what she was talking about.
"Nolan Ryan was a pitcher, Lorelai. You know, the one that throws the ball?" Luke corrected.
"Ah, hey, what can I say? I know Nolan Ryan was a ballplayer, at least, and I know talent when I see it. I just… don't know what he's doing… exactly," Lorelai insisted.
"You know Nolan Ryan was a ballplayer because when Rory suggested the name Nolan, she gave you all the facts about the name. You liked it and decided to use it, but you didn't really listen to anything except 'Nolan Ryan was a baseball player.' Seriously, Lorelai, nice try. You could have fooled Kirk with that one, but you're dealing with me, here," Luke teased, taking Lorelai's hand.
Nolan tapped his mother's arm. "I'll teach you how to play baseball, Mommy!" he insisted. "And then I can teach Rory! She'd love being taught how to play! Then you'll both know what I'm doing!"
Luke smiled an evil smile. "That's a great idea, buddy! Why don't you go fix the bases, and set up the tee, and Mommy and I will be out in a sec?" Nolan ran outside, eager to begin instruction.
Lorelai's jaw dropped. "You are so mean, mister!" she insisted, poking Luke in the chest and pouting. "I speak for Rory and for myself when I say… you are evil! Pure, unadulterated evil… except when you give us coffee," she insisted.
"Terrible. So cruel," Luke sarcastically agreed. Luke pulled Lorelai out of her seat and placed his arm around her waist.
"I'll make it up to you, somehow, I promise," he said, kissing her on the cheek.
"Ooh! Dirty!" Lorelai giggled.
"Aww, Jeez!" Luke said as he rolled his eyes. He helped Lorelai put on her jacket.
"You were spying on us, weren't you Lorelai?" Luke asked.
Lorelai giggled nervously. "Call it even?" she pleaded.
She leaned up against Luke and allowed him to lead her into the backyard.