"Dear God, what did I get myself into?" Luke mused out loud to himself.
"You're referring to the movie, of course, and not the general concept of a social engagement with me, sometimes known as a date?" Lorelai asked.
They were entering the movie theater, where Luke examined the promotional poster for the movie A Clockwork Orange. "Works either way, doesn't it?" he replied dryly. "This is supposed to be a date movie?"
"Absolutely, and here's hoping it makes for a memorable one," Lorelai replied.
"'Memorable' does not necessarily equate to 'good,'" Luke informed her as he went to buy some popcorn and Lorelai found them some seats. Luke joined her a few minutes later with a large container of popcorn, which he offered to her.
"You got the large size?" she asked disdainfully.
"With you along I figured it was the safest bet," Luke replied.
"Oh. OK," Lorelai replied in a tone that clearly indicated otherwise.
"Is there a problem?" he asked in an exasperated tone.
"It's the butter," Lorelai said, then paused. "You did get butter on it, didn't you?"
"You know, it's not really butter," Luke objected. "It's probably coconut oil, laden with a three-day allowance of saturated fat; you might as well eat lard straight out of the container. And yes, I did get it. What's the problem?"
"Well," Lorelai explained, "the problem is that they fill up the container and then they squirt on the butter, so only the popcorn on top actually gets butter on it. So the larger the container, the more popcorn there is without butter. That's why Rory and I usually get a small container each."
Luke raised an eyebrow at her.
"OK, two small containers each, but my point still stands."
Just then the lights dimmed as the movie started, silencing both of them as they watched.
The movie finished, and Luke and Lorelai made their way out of the theater, Luke with a blank, shell-shocked expression on his face. They walked in silence for a few minutes.
"And you thought this movie was a good idea…why?" Luke asked finally.
"It's a classic cult movie," Lorelai replied. "It's a thought-provoking social commentary that you know you'll never forget."
"Just what I wanted for a first date," Luke replied ironically. "I think I need some eye drops. And I know I'll never listen to Beethoven the same way again."
"Like you ever did listen to Beethoven," Lorelai said sarcastically. "So I guess this was 'bad memorable' then?"
"The jury's still out," Luke replied as they strolled together towards the diner.
When they got there, Caesar still had the place open, and Kirk was sitting alone at one of the tables eating a sandwich. Upon seeing them, he pulled out a walkie-talkie and covertly muttered, "The eagle has landed," into it.
Lorelai sat down at the counter and Luke went behind it. "Something to eat?" he offered.
"Pie, pie, coffee, pie, a donut, oh, and while you're at it, how about some pie?" she replied eagerly.
"Apple, blueberry or cherry?" Luke asked. "What am I saying, how about I just bring over the entire selection?"
"Now you're talking," Lorelai said playfully.
Caesar emerged from the kitchen with his jacket on, practically running for the door. "Luke, I'm taking off," he announced, heading out the door before Luke had a chance to object.
They both watched him go, then Lorelai turned to Luke. "Obviously you run a tight ship around here," she commented.
Just then, Babette and Miss Patty entered the diner, sly grins pasted onto both their faces.
Miss Patty sauntered over to stand next to Lorelai. "And how was the date, dear?" she asked.
"Well, it is still going on, so I can't give you anything conclusive yet," Lorelai began.
"That's a good sign," Babette said hopefully. "You're not trying to get away from each other yet."
"The best is yet to come," Miss Patty said knowingly.
"How's he doing, sugar?" Babette wondered. "What's Luke like on a date? Did he pay? Did he hold the door for you?"
"Does his breath smell?" Kirk interjected. "Did he accidentally trip on any furniture and make you spill your coffee on him, giving him second degree burns?"
They all stopped and looked at him.
"Not that I ever did that," Kirk backtracked sheepishly.
"Did he keep the conversation flowing?" Miss Patty wondered. "Did he compliment your outfit?"
"He's standing right here," Luke objected from behind the counter.
"I'll handle this, Luke." Lorelai waved him off and proceeded to answer their questions. "He was right on time; he made a general-but-not-too-specific compliment on my appearance."
"He didn't notice those shoes?" Babette wondered, surprised. "Those are fabulous, sugar."
"I'm not RuPaul," Luke objected.
"And we can all thank God for that," Lorelai commented. Then she continued her recap of the date. "Anyway, he did pay for the movie. I don't think he held the door, but I honestly could care less about that."
"Luke," Babette rebuked him.
"I never know if I'm supposed to hold doors these days or not," Luke protested. "Not that it's any of your business."
"Chivalry is always fashionable," Miss Patty informed him. "Didn't your father teach you anything?"
By this point, Luke had clearly had enough. "Are you going to order anything?" he demanded of Miss Patty and Babette.
"Oh, no sugar, Maury made us a fabulous pot roast and strawberry shortcake earlier, I couldn't eat another bite," Babette replied.
Miss Patty also shook her head.
"Then it's time to go," Luke ordered, pointing to the door. "This place is for paying customers only."
"Love a man taking charge," Miss Patty swooned. She gave Lorelai a nudge. "We're off; you two have a nice evening." Miss Patty and Babette headed out the door of the diner.
Kirk remained at his table, still working on his sandwich. "By the way, I have a number of items for sale that you two might be interested in," he offered.
"What?" Luke asked, perplexed.
"Just a few things people often forget on a date," Kirk explained. "It really pays to be prepared. I have Binaca, condoms, a reasonable selection of lingerie items, and a pocket-size book of conversation-starters just in case you need things jump-started. I only charge a 15 markup."
"15 markup?" Lorelai asked.
"Hey, if you want to throw cold water on your special evening by dashing out to the store, that's your business," Kirk explained. "Personally, I think it's worth the extra 15 to be able to buy it in the here & now."
"That's it," Luke announced. "We're closed. Time to go."
"I'm still eating my Reuben," Kirk protested.
"Hurry up and finish it," Luke ordered.
"Actually, I've been making it a point to eat my meals slowly," Kirk explained. "Studies have shown that slower eating often translates to eating less and losing weight." He demonstrated by taking a small, leisurely bite.
"Kirk, you're the last person in the world who needs to worry about losing weight," Lorelai interjected.
"It also helps with my digestion," Kirk added. "I've been much less gassy since starting this."
"That's it," Luke announced. "Time to go. I'm refunding your money," Luke replied, taking the dish away from Kirk.
"I don't want my money back, I want my Reuben," Kirk objected. "I just worked a fourteen hour day, three jobs, all the while thinking about the wonderful juxtaposition of sour and salty flavors that is a Reuben sandwich."
"Fine, you can have it to go," Luke groused as he went to get a container to put the sandwich in.
"But it's not the same eating it at home without the whole diner ambiance," Kirk protested.
"OUT!" Luke bellowed, tossing the container at him.
Kirk reluctantly took it and left, and Luke locked the door behind him. Then he turned to Lorelai. "Come on," he beckoned, heading towards the hallway that led upstairs to his apartment.
Lorelai paused for a moment. "I can't – you know – stay all night," she said tentatively.
Luke sighed in frustration at being misunderstood. "Just trying to get away from the paparazzi," he explained.
Lorelai complied and followed him upstairs and into the apartment. "OK, first thing we need to do is find you a place to live," she announced as she surveyed the place.
"No we don't." Luke replied.
"You already have a place?"
"Yes. This one," Luke replied.
"Here?" Lorelai asked in amazement. "I mean, I guess it's fine if you're into the whole Henry David Thoreau-minimalist thing, but come on…" she trailed off.
"What's wrong with the place?" I lived here for years before…" Luke trailed off.
"Anna," Lorelai finished his sentence. "Luke, it's not a dirty word. She's the mother of your daughter; her name is bound to come up on occasion."
"Sorry," he said. "I guess I'm still getting used to the whole thing."
"So are you going to tell me what happened with her, or am I going to have to strap you down and force you to listen to boy-band music for 48 hours straight?"
Luke sighed. "Liz," he replied enigmatically.
"My sister. She's been up visiting. We needed to go pick up the rings at the jewelers and Liz volunteered to watch April while we went."
"And this led to the end of your engagement…how?" Lorelai wondered.
"Well, Anna was never that crazy about Liz," Luke informed her.
"Is this the plastic-wishbone-macrobiotic sister?" Lorelai recalled.
"Only sister I've got," Luke replied. "And yeah, she can be a little…"
"Capricious?" Lorelai offered.
"Yeah, she's done some crazy things, made some bad choices, but she's basically OK, you know?" Luke explained. "It's not like she's an ax murderer or doped up on heroin or anything. Put all the sharp objects out of reach, give her a couple of Dr. Seuss books and she'd be fine babysitting. She's got her own kid and he's still alive. That should count for something."
"But Anna objected?" Lorelai guessed.
"To put it mildly," Luke said. "She actually listed her many reasons why she objected, right to Liz's face. She really laid into her; she actually had her in tears."
"I guess the phrase 'no thank you' never occurred to her?" Lorelai said.
"So Liz ran out crying, and I was biting my tongue like usual, and Anna just looked at me and said 'what?' And I just snapped, you know?"
"You were defending your little sister," Lorelai said affectionately.
"I was defending my sanity," Luke corrected her. "So one thing led to another, we talked, and it turned out she was having doubts too, and so here we are."
"What about April?" Lorelai asked.
"I've got her every afternoon after daycare, and every other weekend."
"Oh, Luke, I'm so glad you could work that out," Lorelai said.
"It's not the same," Luke said, a hint of sadness in his voice. "But I guess we're all better off." He poured two glasses of wine and brought one over to Lorelai, who had settled herself on the couch. As he sat down next to her, she snuggled in close and he obliged by lifting his arm up and around her shoulders.
"So I don't know if we're going to be able to do this again," Lorelai informed him.
"What?" Luke asked, taken aback.
"This whole evening-out-just-the-two-of-us thing," Lorelai elaborated. "Rory's with her dad tonight, but just because he's suddenly decided he wants to be a real father doesn't mean it's going to stick."
"I can't believe you compared me to that guy," Luke groused.
"I was making a point, and by the looks of things, I did a pretty good job of it," Lorelai replied. "Anyway, you've got Anna to take April every other weekend, but I'm usually on my own with Rory, so I don't know how this whole dating thing is going to work."
"We'll manage," Luke replied as he idly twirled a lock of her hair with his free hand.
"I know that my fascinating wit and sparkling personality are hard to live without," Lorelai added, "but you wouldn't be the first guy to give up on me," she said.
"I'm not giving up on you."
"I'm a single mother," she continued as if she hadn't heard him. "My daughter has to come first. Most guys don't get that."
"Lorelai, I have a kid too," he reminded her. "I get it."
A grin spread across her face as she gasped happily. "Oh, my God, you're right! If this works out, we could be like The Brady Bunch. Well, except that we'd be about 4 kids short. Of course The Brady Bunch was based on the far superior movie Yours, Mine and Ours, I mean, who wouldn't prefer Lucille Ball over Florence Henderson, anyway? Florence Henderson is a one-hit wonder. Lucille Ball was an icon. I seriously don't think I would've survived growing up in my parents' house without her to look up to. A woman who was once fired from her job at an ice cream shop because she kept forgetting to put bananas in the banana splits, and then goes on to become the greatest TV star of all time, I mean forget Emily Gilmore, there was a real role model. Did you know she wasn't really…"
"Lorelai," Luke interrupted her.
"Mm?" she looked up at him.
"Shut up," he said, leaning in towards her for a kiss.
For one hideous moment, Lorelai remembered the burrito night at the Inn and paused, half expecting Luke to pull away from her.
And then it all came back to her. She remembered Mia telling her that the wedding was off, and Luke's smile upon seeing her at the diner, and his lovable awkwardness when he asked her out almost immediately afterwards, and the deep, intent look in his blue eyes, hopeful that she would accept, and the wonderful time she had had that evening. And she knew that that nagging voice in the back of her mind could go away once and for all.
She leaned in and whole-heartedly returned Luke's kiss, knowing that everything was going to be just fine.