Air - As in cleared, put into tires, and smothering
Disclaimer: All characters and situations from Gilmore Girls are properties of Amy Sherman-Palladino, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions and Hofflund/Polone in association with Warner Bros. Television. No copyright infringement intended.
Special thanks to Forgtten-Relic for her mad beta skills.
As to the origin of this fic, I missed quite a bit of the original run of season seven. And while I'm sort of half-way inclined to think that I didn't really miss much, there were some things that I had hoped to see. "Just Like Riding a Bike" was one of them. After catching the episode as a re-run, I suddenly had this idea about what happened the next morning - after Rory opened the rejection letter and Lorelai went to Luke's to have him put air in her tires. And this is it. Enjoy!
The bells jingled above the door as Lorelai entered the diner. Babette and Miss Patty looked up in surprise, but quelled their questions for the sake of being sensitive to Lorelai's feelings. It was bad enough a few days ago when she had come in and had intended to stay, only to have the situation with Luke become weird and have her leave suddenly. To add on nosy questions would be cruel. So they sat quietly at their table, to speak only when spoken to.
Lorelai smiled and waved to them as she headed to the counter. "Hey ladies."
"Hey Sugar," Babette said. "Find a new car?"
Lorelai pointed outside to where her bike was leaning up against the light pole. "Those are my wheels right there."
"Oh, still on the bike," Miss Patty said, her tone wary.
"Why does everyone think that I'm going to die?" Lorelai asked in exasperation.
"Because you can be a klutz," Kirk said bluntly. "You do have a tendency to get hurt doing what any other person would deem an innocent act."
"I'm telling you, those rain gutters had it out for me," Lorelai retorted hotly. She walked up to the counter and sat down, desperately needing coffee. Luke walked out of the kitchen and saw her, stiffening slightly as he approached her.
"Coffee?" he asked.
"Seriously, you have to ask me that? Just hook me up to an IV already."
"How is it that none of your fortune cookies have ever read, 'You will die young from all of the junk you eat.'"
Lorelai flashed him a bright smile. "Because I am invincible."
Rolling his eyes, Luke poured her a cup of coffee anyway. "Did you bring your bike?"
"Crystal is parked out front. She has such a pretty basket."
"You named it Crystal?"
"Because she was all sparkly, like a crystal, when I got her. Admittedly the paint has faded but she's sparkly underneath."
"Right." Putting the coffee pot back, Luke then reached under the counter and pulled out Bert and a box containing a small air pump and other bicycle care items. "I'll be back."
Lorelai watched him walked out of the diner and over to her bike, where he hooked up the pump to the front tire and began to inflate it. Taking her mug outside, Lorelai walked up behind him. "This isn't necessary."
"Under inflated tires are hazards. Just like in a car."
"I suppose you're going to attach the bell while you're at it."
"You said that you wanted a horn."
"I do want a horn. I can do a Shriner impersonation that way."
"I got you a horn. Just let me put the thing on and then you can horn away." Luke dropped his head and groaned. "Dirty?"
"Very!" Lorelai answered with a giggle. "What kind of horn did you get me anyway?"
Luke pulled it out and handed it to Lorelai, all without looking up from his task of putting air in Lorelai's tires. "It seemed to suit you."
Gasping, Lorelai clutched it close to her chest. "It's Hello Kitty! You got me a Hello Kitty bike horn."
"I needed to pick up a few things for April, so it didn't really look weird. The lady just asked me how old my daughter was. I didn't have to tell her it for a woman who turns forty in a year."
"Mean," Lorelai said, nudging him with her foot, sending him slightly off balance.
He looked up at her with a scowl, but it didn't last long because her smile made him smile and they stayed that way for several moments before Luke realized that he'd been staring at Lorelai and went back to work. After making sure that both tires were sufficiently filled, he took the horn back from Lorelai and installed it on the handlebars. "Well, there you go. She's filled up and has a horn. I'm guessing you don't have a helmet."
Lorelai shook her head. "I had one, I just don't know where it went."
"I figured as much." Luke reached into the box and pulled out a black helmet that had Hello Kitty stickers placed all over it. "Wear this. It'll make everyone who cares about you feel better."
Taking the helmet into her empty hand, Lorelai couldn't help but feel what Luke was really saying was, "It'll make me feel better because I still care about you." She looked up at him in awe and then quietly answered, "Thank you, Luke."
"Just looking out for a friend."
"Not just the whole bike thing, but for the Jeep thing as well. I'm attached to that Jeep, Luke, like you're attached to your truck. Do you honestly think that it'll be easy to replace your truck."
Luke paused and seriously considered what Lorelai had just said to him. In all honesty, he knew that the day he had to replace the truck he would probably do the same thing that Lorelai did. He would sit in a million cars, trucks and SUVs, but none of them would feel right. They wouldn't be his truck, just like those other cars weren't her Jeep. Though he'd become frustrated over her bit about sports cars thinking that they were better than the other cars and the hatchbacks having SUV complexes, he shouldn't have been mad about her wanting to find a car with the right feeling. "I'm sorry about that," he said softly. "That Jeep means a lot to you."
"It's the first new car I ever bought. Every other car before that Jeep was used. Usually a hunk of junk on it's last legs because that was all that I could afford. The Jeep was a symbol, a symbol that Rory and I were really going to make it. I know you really don't understand, but to me, it means more than the world."
"Well, have you talked to that guy?"
"Not yet, I'm gonna call him when I get to the Inn."
Looking into the diner, Luke sighed. "Well, I should let you get on your way. Just do me a favor and don't talk on your phone."
"I happen to have one of those nifty hands free attachments! I'll talk on my phone if I want to, mister."
Groaning, Luke put his hands up in defeat. "Fine! Do whatever you want but don't think I'm not gonna say, 'I told you so!' when you end up in a ditch." With that he headed back into the diner.
Lorelai followed to return the mug and pay for her coffee. "I'm not gonna end up in a ditch. Maybe some other poor shmo will, but I will not." She dug around her purse until she pulled out a few dollars and dropped them on the counter.
"You're insane, Lorelai. You know that?" Luke said as he picked up he bills and set about ringing in the order.
Lorelai merely grinned at him. "Maybe, but it's a part of my charm!" Before Luke could answer back, she was out the door, the bells jingling in her wake.
Straddling her bike, Lorelai first set up her hands free cell phone attachment and then put her helmet on. Feeling that everything was put on properly, she made her way to the Dragonfly. Halfway there her phone rang and she answered it with a cheerful, "Hello!"
"Mom, you're riding your bike!" Rory's tone was accusing.
"How can you tell? Do you have little spy cameras set up all over Stars Hollow?"
"You're short of breath," Rory answered knowingly. "Why are you still riding your bike?"
"I went car shopping with Luke yesterday," Lorelai informed her daughter.
"With Luke? You went shopping, any kind of shopping, with Luke? Are you trying to make him hate you forever?"
"Oh chill out," Lorelai sighed before continuing on cheerfully. "We got into a fight."
"Mom, most people don't sound cheerful when they say they got into fights."
"Yeah, but this fight got us over the hump."
"Don't take that tone with me, young lady. Yes, really, we're over the hump. Think air."
"Air? As in cleared?"
"And he put some in my tires this morning. Oh! And listen to this!" Lorelai honked her horn for Rory's benefit. "Guess what that was?"
"A sick goose?"
"You think you're funny, don't you?"
"I'm opening for Carlos Mencia next week."
"That was my Hello Kitty bike horn! And he got me a helmet and put Hello Kitty stickers on it."
"Wow," Rory said in awe, "you really did get over the hump."
"We're reaching a good place, kid. Before too long it'll be like old times. Well, almost."
"Do you ever think that you'll start dating again?" Rory asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"I don't know. In all actuality, I'm quite happy just being friends for now. I used to think that I wanted more kids, but I'm okay with not having any more. I have you, and if Luke will let me, I can hang out with April, plus Lane has agreed to let me watch Steve and Kwan whenever I feel like I want a baby."
"And Sookie's having another baby," Rory put in.
"Right! I'll be cool Auntie Lorelai! The kids can come over to my house to get away from their evil parents who demand they eat healthy and wash behind their ears."
"Yes, I can see you being very popular with the grade school set."
"So kid, why'd you call? To check up on me?"
Back at her apartment, Rory looked down at the rejection letter. Originally she called to tell her mother that she hadn't gotten the Reston Fellowship, but with Lorelai being so happy about her status with Luke she felt bad for possibly bringing her down. "Oh, just checking to see if the car problem was solved," she answered weakly.
Lorelai frowned at the tone of Rory's voice but didn't question it. "Well kid, I should probably let you go. The rest of your education awaits you."
"How right you are. I'll see you at Friday Night Dinner."
"See you then, kid." Both Lorelai and Rory ended the call. Lorelai blissfully continued on to the Inn, but Rory stared at her phone. She felt like not only a failure but a wimp as well. She couldn't even tell her mother that she hadn't gotten the Reston Fellowship. However maybe it was better that she wait. It would ease the blow to Lorelai if she could see just how upset Rory really was at not getting the position.
I hope that Crystal doens't sound like a stupid name for a bike. I figured it was probably sparkly at some point...and honestly I couldn't think of anything better, except for maybe Butch after that scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And seriously, I can't see Lorelai naming her bike Butch. Not really, anyway.
Constructive criticism and critques are welcome. Flames will be deleted with a sadistic laugh.