A/N I own nothing, I only wish the last two seasons had not happened.

Chapter 1 Like Breathing

Rory was trying to refocus after receiving her first "D" ever. She had found herself down by the bridge and spent a chunk of the afternoon trying to form the words in her head.

How was she going to tell her mom? How was she going to tell her Grandparents! Chilton is not cheap and it is costing her mom even more emotionally as each Friday night dinner slowly chipped away at her joyful demeanor.

As she passed the alley behind the diner she saw a flash of light blue and she looked up to see Luke Danes making out with a woman in a powder blue hoodie sweater with white fur around the hood. Wow! She had never actually thought of Luke having a love life, and here he is not just kissing this woman, but REALLY kissing this woman. Rory thought back to the discussion she and her mom had a few nights ago outside of Luke's diner where she told her she couldn't date Luke, maybe Al, but not Luke. As his actions today bore out it was definitely sage advice.

At this point Rory realized she had been standing there a bit too long, without a good excuse if Luke and his mystery woman looked up. So she put her head down and continued on her way past the alley to the main street. She still didn't want to go home and have "The Talk" with her mom, so she ducked into Doosey's to get some Red Vines.

As she approached her house she thought of all the different ways the conversation could go, but when she got there she heard the shower running and her mom singing "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. She chuckled at how enthusiastically she was singing until she saw what was hanging on the banister, the powder blue hoodie sweater with the white fur around the hood. Rory's stomach dropped and she started to think, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no! This CANNOT be happening!"

With that she turned and sprinted down the street back towards the diner, ignoring everyone who tried to say hello and almost taking Eastside Tillie out in the process.

Still building momentum she ascended the diner steps, flung open the door and slammed it behind her.

All activity in the diner ceased and Luke looked up from counting receipts annoyed at the outburst. Seeing it was a very angry Rory his eyes got very wide as he held her gaze and his breath.


Without dropping her gaze he called out, "Caesar, I'm out, you have the floor!"

As he backed his way to the curtained stairwell holding it open for Rory he waited for her to start towards him before he went upstairs. As he climbed the stairs he was concerned that Lorelai was rethinking the whole situation. It had taken everything he had to seize his moment, finally, but seize it he did and she seemed to respond well. Very well if he remembered correctly, and each touch, each sigh, every second of those three kisses is etched into his brain. They will probably be the last memories he has on his deathbed.

But Rory is still coming up behind him and her greeting was in no way positive. "Ah, Hell, what if SHE doesn't want me to be with Lorelai? I am screwed." While he is thinking this Luke opens his door and lets Rory go pass him into his apartment. She goes to the counter by the sink and Luke gently sits down at the kitchen table, never letting his eyes stray off of Rory, as one would watch a wild animal that had recently entered a populated area. He wasn't sure what she would do so he gave her time and space and waited for her to speak.

Rory knew Luke and she knew that if she continued down the road she started when she invaded the diner he wasn't going to respond well. She began to pace back and forth shaking her head and wringing her hands as she thought over the situation. What she was most concerned about was that Luke understand what it meant to become involved with her mom. But then she remembered that Luke was already involved with her mom, he was one of her best friends, who fixed things, who fed them, who would do anything for them. But she didn't want her mom to get hurt and she didn't want Luke to get hurt and she really didn't want to get hurt. And she really liked his coffee.

As Rory was having this rant in her head she suddenly realized that Luke had been very quiet and was just watching her movements. She looked at him and he smiled at her the way you smile at crazy people when you are not sure if they are violent or not.

Rory settled with her back to the sink and her hands propped up on the counter looking at Luke. "I haven't talked to mom yet, but I saw you. Not the most romantic place for a first kiss is it?"

Luke was taken aback, he thought he could see anyone who would approach them at the lake, and he thought it was pretty romantic. "Rory," he said cautiously, "just what did you see?"

"I saw you and mom kissing in the alleyway behind Luke's. Don't deny it, I know it was her."

Luke sighed, she was upset about it being him. "Rory, I am not going to deny kissing your mom there, it just wasn't the first kiss." Seeing her begin to react he hurriedly added, "The first one was down by the lake today, and I can assure you that I attempted to make it as romantic as I could."

Rory, realizing that the big event had just taken place today and there was no sneaking around, softened a bit towards the diner owner, who she knew had feelings for her mom for some time. As she sat down at the kitchen table she thought about using a different tactic, one she was certain her mom would be very angry about, if she found out.

Rory looked directly at Luke and said, "How many serious relationships have you had in your life?"

Luke's first response was to refuse to answer such a personal question, but knowing Rory he had to figure this was going somewhere and he really wanted a shot with Lorelai, so he said, "Three."

Rory asked him, "What was the shortest length of time?"

"About six months"

"And the longest?"

"A little shy of four years."

"When was the last one?"

"Rory, I really cannot see where this is going and I feel like I am on trial. I am not looking to hurt your mom, or you, I just want to play this out." Luke pleaded; he was getting desperate and concerned that she was not going to let her mother see him in any role but her coffee supplier and friend.

"Luke, please, there really is a reason I am asking. How long ago was your last relationship?"

Luke hung his head, sighed and said, "A little less than five years ago."

Rory quietly said, "My mom has had one serious relationship that lasted six months when she was sixteen and that was my dad. I don't tell you this because I want them back together, I don't think that would be good for her, but I tell you this because you might think she has more experience in relationships than she really has."

Luke looked at Rory and was trying to process her words. Surely Rory was incorrect, she couldn't know everyone Lorelai dated and he had heard Lorelai complain about all these bad dates over the years. How could a beautiful, vivacious, warm caring person like Lorelai not have had a serious relationship since she was sixteen?

Luke must have been wearing his thoughts on his face because Rory said, "I know she has gone out with many men, but there has never been a second date since I was born. Most of the guys were guests that were passing through and stayed at the Inn."

Rory took a moment to consider what she was going to say next, it could really blow up in her face, but Luke had to understand.

"I am going to share something with you that mom would kill me for if she finds out I told you. When I was around seven years old Mia got a new chef for the Inn. Mom had just been promoted to assistant manager and front desk clerk but if you factor in the tips she had gotten for being a maid, this position actually paid less. So Rene our old chef would make sure mom and I ate at least one good meal a day, the rest of the time we were on PB & J. But this new chef, Greg, wouldn't even leave the refrigerator unlocked at night and was very strict with the staff not to give away any food."

"Jackass." Luke muttered and Rory smiled at him.

"Yea, pretty much mom's thoughts too. So she started dating anyone who asked her out and she would only go out to dinner at family restaurants. Then she would finish half her meal and bring the rest home to me so that we would get at least something different than sandwiches once in a while. Now you of all people understand that mom has never had difficulty finishing a meal in her life, she just wanted to make sure I had variety as well and some people frown upon seven year olds going on dates with men who can afford more than McDonalds."

Luke snorted at the joke because he was very close to tears knowing what they had gone through.

"It took Mia almost an entire year to realize what this jerk was doing, she thought we were still being taken care of, so she fired him, hired Sookie as the next head chef and we have not had to worry about dinner since."

Luke smiled at her ending and thought about what a wonderful woman Mia is and then he frowned when her realized that Lorelai actually had a much harder life than he thought. He decided that it might be time to join the conversation and so he leaned towards Rory and said, "Rory, I don't want to date your mom."

He was just about to take a breath when Rory shoved her chair away from the table and stood, her eyes blazing, he could see she thought it was because of what she had just told him. Luke hurried forward trying to get the words out before Rory could go off again, "I don't want to date your mom, I want a relationship with her."

Rory slowly settled back into her seat waiting to hear what Luke had to say.

Luke released a breath he had been holding waiting to see how she was going to respond.

"When a couple feels an attraction to each other they start to date to get to know one another and to see if they can put up with each other's likes and dislikes. But with your mom I know who she is, I know what she likes and what she doesn't like. I don't need to date her to know that I want her in my life for a very long time. I appreciate your candor, and I have to admit I am very surprised that she has not dated since your dad and I know that this worries you. You have to realize that I don't just care for your mom Rory, I also care about you and how you would respond to our relationship. To be honest, after today it is going to be really difficult for me to not move forward with Lorelai."

Rory was considering what Luke just shared and she asked him, "Is it at all possible for you to go back to just being friends without exploring this part of your relationship?" She knew the answer even though a small part of her still hoped, but Luke's perfect response floored her.

"I am sorry Rory, but it's like breathing, I have no choice if I want to live." Luke sighed,

"While I will do what you ask, please don't ask me to go back to the way it was just this morning. I don't know what I can do to convince you how much I care for your…" Luke remembered something and pulled out his wallet which he placed on the table.

"Rory, the first day your mom came into the diner almost five years ago she followed me around begging for coffee and to get it she gave me this customized horoscope. She said to hold onto it because it will bring me luck." He pulled out the small piece of paper and handed it to Rory who looked at it with awe.

"Now I hope that this and our talk will help you become comfortable with the direction your mom and I are going. But I trust you not to tell her about this just as I won't tell her what you told me," Luke put the horoscope back into his wallet, "because what brings you comfort and security will scare the heck out of your mother, right?"

Rory realized the truth in Luke's words and that she had to keep what they talked about secret if her mom was going to give Luke a chance. She looked up at Luke and smiled at him, "So you love my mom huh?"

Luke returned the smile and said to her, "If I am to say those words to Lorelai Gilmore it won't be the one sitting across from me" and he winked. "Are you headed home now to hear about your mom's day from her?"

Rory smiled and nodded her head. "I could use some coffee and a burger for fortification."

Luke told her, "Come on down and I will make something for both of you." As they descended the stairs, Luke asked, "So if I call the house in about an hour and a half you wouldn't keep me from speaking to your mom?"

"No, I think we both want the same thing for mom, we both want her to be happy, and considering the Bangles concert she was giving in the shower I would guess that you make her happy."

"Do I even want to know the meaning of that sentence?" Luke was looking at her with narrowed eyes and his chin down.

Rory laughed, "No, you will find out in good time I am sure."

A few minutes later Rory is packed up with two to-go coffees and burgers with chili fries heading towards home.