A/N: So this is a one-shot response to another challenge on my beloved board! The challenge was to write about a character's reflection on a hard time in their life, in more than 2200 words. Enjoy, and press that lovely button and leave me some feedback!
Luke remembered standing in the front of the diner, speechless, hurt, and confused, as he watched Lorelai walk away. That was an ultimatum. Usually Luke's choices were simple, and they weren't so momentous, or life changing. They usually weren't followed with a sick, empty, and disgusted feeling in the pit of his stomach, either. This time, the choice was made, and he had to live with the consequences. He chose his pride, his guilty conscience, and himself over his future wife.
And as a result, she was gone. Lorelai Gilmore had just walked away from him, and he didn't run to stop her. She wouldn't stop for him, anyway. Not after the jerk he had been to her lately, at least. She had her mind made up, and there was nothing Luke could do to change that. He was the one that turned down the offer to elope. No chance of getting that moment back now, it was gone as fast as Lorelai was. Luke knew he shouldn't beat himself up over something that he couldn't change, but he did anyway. He forcefully slammed the door to the diner, almost breaking it out of frustration and anger. If Taylor had been sitting there, he would have had Luke in anger management right away. Shutting the door like that took away almost all of the energy he had.
He trudged upstairs to his apartment, and threw his hat onto the nearby table. Luke pulled a beer out from the refrigerator and sat down. He took a long sip and sighed. Why did he subject himself to the hurt he was feeling? There were so many ways he could have avoided any sort of conflict. Each one of those ways seemed to haunt him, and take over his mind, until he just couldn't stand it anymore.
Luke Danes screwed up. It was extremely difficult to face it, but Luke had to at some point. He lied to Lorelai Gilmore, the one good thing that had happened to him in a long time. He withheld crucial information, life-changing news, and he hurt Lorelai. He could tell himself the truth a thousand different times, in a thousand different ways, and no matter how he justified it, or how he cleaned it up to make it look a little less… well, selfish, it was still a lie. It was still a secret he kept from his fiancée for months.
Luke took out the horoscope from his wallet. The famous horoscope, the one that never left his pocket, was the symbol of the beginning of the Luke and Lorelai saga. It was wrinkled, creased, and fading, but still legible. Lorelai's handwriting was the part that stuck out the most. You will meet an annoying woman today. Give her coffee, and she'll go away. Looking at the familiar handwriting made him want to tear the slip of paper up, yet it made him miss Lorelai at the same time.
Luke placed the horoscope back in his wallet, trying to avoid the consequences, the pain he felt. Maybe someday things would turn out all right. The universe would re-align itself and things would be the way they should have been all along. Luke shook his head, because at this point, he was starting to think like Liz would think. For years, he treasured the slip of paper, hoping one day to show it to his grandchildren. But his weakness got in the way of a future with Lorelai in it.
It was getting harder and harder to imagine life without Lorelai. Life without Lorelai would be scary. Lorelai was a woman who had been in Luke's life for so long, first as a friend, then a confidante, a business partner… and most of all, a woman he loved so much. She was just Lorelai. Their relationship seemed so indescribable. It just didn't seem fair, or right, or… meant to be, that she was essentially moving on. He didn't know that, at least not that night, but that's what he told himself, along with the tangled ball of lies and truths he ran through his mind. But things got worse when Lorelai declared that she had slept with Christopher. The words that came out of Lorelai's mouth stung as they floated through the air and broke his heart. The words constituted an action that was already committed, and not able to be taken back.
She slept with Christopher.
The idea of it made Luke sick to his stomach, more so than he had been lately. If life were a comic book, he would be Luke's evil nemesis that tried to take over the world. But life wasn't a comic book, and that wasn't a thought that was even appropriate to be floating around in Luke's head. As much as Luke hated it, he could not cover up what had happened, and he could not erase his guilt.
Christopher was Rory's father, yes. Lorelai was always going to have some sort of relationship with him, and that was inevitable. She had always said that she had wished things had worked out with her and Christopher. Christopher was Lorelai's first love. It would have had to be that way for the rest of Lorelai's life, with Luke, or without Luke. But after Lorelai confessed, and revealed to Luke what she had done, Luke felt like he had been kicked while he was down, and then buried in the dirt. Luke was the man that brought Rory mashed potatoes when she had the chicken pox. He was there for the funeral of the caterpillar. Every time there was a situation that warranted it, these things came up. Truth be told, he was the only one that was there when Lorelai truly needed someone. Why did she turn to someone who left her with nothing but a disconnected phone number, and countless empty promises, time and time again?
Luke knew he was so much better than that at one point in his life. He had been better than Christopher had for all those years, sure, but he had also been a better man himself. At one point, he was a man who didn't promise something unless he fully intended to follow through. If he needed to be the knight in shining armor, riding in on the white horse to save Lorelai, he would. He would do it in a heartbeat, because Lorelai was the woman he hoped and planned to spend the rest of his life with. All of the things Christopher Hayden wasn't, Luke was. At least before things got crazy and someone, or something, misguided Luke to the notion that keeping a secret, an important secret, from Lorelai was the right thing to do. Would things ever be the same?
This was almost worse than a Dark Day. It was a time for Luke where things just didn't seem to want to get better. The state of the diner when Kirk crashed into it was like the state of his heart since that ultimatum. It was crumbling, broken, and falling apart. It was in pitiful shape, and there seemed to be no way to repair it. No tool in the world could fix the problem he had created for himself.
Lorelai was the woman who made him want to wake up every morning. As much as he hated to admit it, he found Lorelai to be one of the funniest people he had ever met. She was the person he always tried his best to protect. She was a challenge he loved to take on.
For a long time, Luke had himself believing that Lorelai Gilmore would never come into his diner again. This meant a coffee surplus and a very lonely diner owner. It also meant that there would be no mother-daughter banter between Rory and Lorelai in the morning at breakfast. There would be no banter at night, either. They wouldn't come by anymore. They would resort to new routes around town, pink ribbons, and Weston's coffee and Danishes for breakfast.
He tried to remember what made him fall in love with Lorelai. There were so many things to think about. She had beautiful eyes, a gorgeous smile, and she was a beautiful woman. But Luke Danes fell in love with Lorelai Gilmore because of her love for life. It was something he envied, wanted, and tried to capture for so long. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and her laugh was infectious. She was fearless, strong, and independent. She was everything he wasn't, and had always secretly hoped to be. She was generous, thoughtful, and dedicated.
As Luke sat, ruminating over the emptiness he was experiencing and thinking about Lorelai, he didn't know what to do. He wasn't sure about crying. Crying didn't seem like the right thing to do when he was so angry with himself. He wasn't sure about being angry with Lorelai, either. He was definitely angry with Christopher, because he was an obvious scapegoat. He was the one Luke could easily place all the blame on, and then call it a day, relieving himself of any guilt or any blame.
Maybe that was the problem in all of this. It was a web of lies, insecurities, and self-doubt the two of them had created since the relationship went sour. Placing the blame on others, instead of seeing his own faults, was always a common practice for Luke. Blaming Taylor, or Kirk, or in more serious situations Christopher, wasn't working out. That was becoming very clear.
With a clear head, and a clear heart, Luke made a decision. He would get Lorelai back, no matter what it took. Sitting in his apartment above the diner wasn't the way to go about it, and he knew that. He needed to become honest with himself before he could become honest with Lorelai. He just hoped she would believe him, and accept his apologies and promises. He knew they wouldn't be useless words said to appease her or to tell her what she wanted to hear. It would be words from his heart, and they would be repentant, meaningful, and worth more than any trip to Paris she would ever take. Then he promised himself that the horoscope story would be told to anyone in the family that ever wanted to hear it, because it would be a story that meant something to him. It would mean something in the long history of Luke and Lorelai, and things would finally be right again.
It took a long time for Luke to stop lying to himself and face the consequences. It seemed like the moment the metaphorical light bulb went off in his head, the heavy burden he carried was removed and was gone forever. Because that's when, as Liz would say, fate took over and gave Luke the second chance he needed to prove his worthiness.
The time that Luke was without Lorelai was one of the most difficult in his life. He had seen tragedy, having lost both his parents. He had been hurt before, but there was something about this particular loss that made him see life in general through a new perspective. Now, he found himself sitting on the porch, holding Lorelai's hand as he reflected on all of these experiences. The anger, hurt, and grief he felt were all in the past, and he was so thankful that things ended up going his way.
"You okay, Luke?" Lorelai asked, putting her head on his shoulder.
Luke looked at his wife and sighed.
"You gave me a second chance. Why on earth would you give me a second chance, after I kept the fact that April existed from you like that? It was really, really selfish of me. But you still gave me a second chance."
Lorelai nodded. "Of course I did, Luke. I gave you a second chance because I love you. I always have, and I always will. You gave me a second chance, too. And you know what? After thinking about it, it was easy to give you that chance. I messed up, too, and holding someone's screw up against them when you've screwed up too is just so… hypocritical. I'm not a hypocrite, or at least I hope not."
Luke felt a tap on his shoulder as a giggle echoed from behind him.
"I found you, Daddy! You're bad at this game. I win," three year old Hannah proclaimed, squeezing her way between her mother and father's legs and promptly sitting between the two.
Lorelai opened her arms for a hug from her daughter, and Hannah obliged. Lorelai pulled Hannah onto her lap. She curled herself up, leaning up against her mother. Lorelai ran her hands through the little girl's curly brown hair and turned Hannah to face her father. Hannah's famous big blue eyes, among all of the other features she had inherited from Lorelai made Luke extremely grateful for his second chance.
"Thanks for that second chance. Thanks for… everything," Luke said, gesturing toward Hannah.
Lorelai smiled at Luke. She gently pushed Hannah toward Luke. Hannah stood in front of her father, leaning in and placing a quick kiss on his nose.
"Thank you," Luke mouthed to Lorelai as he tickled Hannah.
Lorelai shook her head. "No, thank you."