A/N Sorry for the slight delay, work got nuts this week. But I hope you enjoy this. No real angst, more fluff. Love the reviews so thank you. If I haven't responded personally yet I'll be doing that soon. For those who are unable to get my response know that I really appreciate your taking the time to review. So I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 42 Separation Anxiety
Luke was leaning back in the recliner with Nicholas lying on his legs. The little boy looked up at him, his eyes the mirror image of Luke's. He shook his head and gently compared his thumb to Nick's foot. Luke marveled at the tiny body that he helped create.
He loved these early morning feedings. They'd quickly gotten into a routine with Lorelai getting up with Lily for the midnight feeding and Luke getting up with Nick for the midnight feeding, but also around four in the morning. Then he was up until six or seven. Around that time Lily woke again for her feeding and so Lorelai would come into the nursery and they'd both feed the twins. Then the children would go back to sleep for a few blissful hours. But Luke relished the time alone he had with Nicholas.
His thumb grazed Nick's foot and the boy's eyes widened a bit as he kicked against Luke's hand and then he smiled. Luke stared at him, second guessing the smile, writing it off to gas. But he gently grazed Nick's foot again and again he kicked and smiled. Luke smiled back and Nick's grin grew a bit wider.
"Wow," Luke whispered. "Save that for your mom OK, Tiger? I know she's gonna flip to see that."
Lily had smiled the previous week but Nicholas had not given Lorelai a single smile no matter what zany thing she did for him. He'd just stare at her solemnly. While Luke felt bad that Lorelai didn't get Nick's first smile, he was secretly pleased that he did.
"But don't tell your mom, OK?" he whispered as he put the now drowsy baby back in his crib.
"Don't tell his mom what?" Lorelai smiled from the doorway.
Luke felt a small wave of guilt wash over him before he grinned. "Man secrets," he said.
Lorelai's smile widened. "Oh you boys are gonna form a club now are you?"
Luke smiled at her and wrapped her in his arms. "Yep, men only. Come on while these two are getting their morning nap let me feed you."
She'd been able to eat again and Luke had found deep pleasure in feeding her the crap she always wanted, but was unable to eat the past year. She was still off coffee while nursing, but she was able to have decaf. As they walked into the kitchen, the older children were gathering their books.
"Hey Mom, hey Luke. I'll need the Jeep today to go to Hartford and pick up some books. That ok?" Rory asked as she packed her books in her bag.
Lorelai nodded and looked at Jess, "You gonna need a ride home too Jess?"
Jess dropped his eyes to the table and shook his head. "Ah, no, I've got somethin' I'm gonna do after school. Probably won't be home before dinner."
Rory felt her stomach tighten as her mom sighed. "I'll bet it's something to do with a green eyed redhead. You find out her name yet?"
Jess smiled at Lorelai, "Nope, but I think I'm getting close. Lane saw her again and said she had a Kingsford Oxford sticker on her car. So I figure she lives around here somewhere. But Hell, she probably has a boyfriend and just likes to slum."
"Well, I hope you find out soon, the intrigue is killing me." She smiled at her nephew and sipped her decaf. Just then she was aware of the look on Rory's face and she regretted bringing up the girl Jess was enamored with.
Rory picked up her books and headed to the door. Jess must have realized what had happened because he picked up his books and ran after her. Lorelai looked at Luke who was making her breakfast and he sighed heavily.
"Yeah, I know hon. It sucks that they're off course right now." She kept looking at her husband who wasn't saying anything but she knew from the years they'd been friends that he was certainly thinking something.
"That was me," he finally said. Lorelai was startled and looked to make sure he was the one talking.
He turned to look at her and stood with one hand on his hip and the other leaning on the counter. "Rory; that was me. I would watch you run after guys and think, will she ever want a guy like me? Then you'd sweep into the diner wearing your 'date' outfit that would knock a guy on his ass and I'd die a little. I know they're not allowed to date, but I wish they didn't have to have it rubbed in their face when the other's attracted to someone else."
"Oh, babe. I'm so sorry. You know that I never went out with the guy a second time. And look at how we fit. We have an amazing life, four great kids, one great nephew and loads of insane relatives and friends." She moved towards him as she was talking and wrapped her arms around him, gently kissing his cheek. He tightened his grip on her and nodded.
"I know. I just wish they didn't have to have this pain." He kissed the top of her head and turned back to making breakfast.
Lorelai watched him move through the kitchen effortlessly. For a big guy he was so sure in his movements, always aware of what was around him and able to sidestep it with room to spare. She loved these mornings together, when the babies had been fed and the older kids were out the door. She sighed deeply and Luke turned to look at her.
"What?" he asked.
She shook her head, "I'm just going to miss these moments that's all."
He looked at her and frowned. "What moments? Are you going somewhere?"
She smiled sadly, "Back to work babe, you know we talked about that a month ago, Nicky's been home a month, Lily's almost sleeping through the night and I've been gone for almost four months. Time to get back to the grind."
Luke looked stricken, "You can't go back to work!"
She looked at him in disbelief, "I can't go back! What exactly do you mean that I can't go back to work?"
"It's too soon! The babies are still too small and with the schedule they're on I can't take them to the diner and you've got so many meetings and things that they'd be left alone in your office too! You can't go back!"
Luke was starting to get a good head of steam up and pace the kitchen. Lorelai stood up with her hands on her hips trying to wrap her head around the archaic thoughts that were coming out of Luke's mouth.
"I mean you're the one who didn't want to get a nanny. You're the one who was so sure we could handle this by ourselves, and now when they need you you're going to be at some meeting or other leaving them to fend for themselves!"
Lorelai felt her back starting to get rigid.
"Hold on Burger Boy! What the Hell are you talking about? It's not like I'm going to set them in the office and walk away from them, I'm sure there are staff that will watch them if I have a meeting or if I have an appointment. Couples do it every day Luke what the Hell has gotten into you!" She stood before him with her hands on her hips fire burning in her eyes.
He looked at her wild-eyed, "I missed it Lorelai! I missed it!"
"Missed what? What Luke?" she was starting to get worried, he wasn't making sense.
"Everything! The first smile, the first step, the first word the first day of school! I missed it all! And it isn't fair! It isn't fair and you take it so lightly! Because you got it! You got it all and I got nothing!" He gripped her upper arms trying to get her to understand but all she could think of was that he'd gone over the edge; one too many sleepless nights.
"Luke they're still babies, we've seen Lily smile, but we've got all the other firsts to go times two! Get a grip babe, you've still got everything!"
He was shaking his head vigorously trying to get her to understand. "You got to see it all you experienced it all and I got nothing! You got everything, Anna got everything and I got nothing! It isn't fair!"
Finally light dawned for Lorelai and she realized that he wasn't talking about missing the twin's first's, he was talking about missing April's.
"Babe, I'm so sorry. I know this has to be bittersweet for you. I can't imagine what it's like to see them so small and know that you weren't let in at April's. But hon, you'll be there for the other firsts too. They're not going anywhere."
Luke slumped to the ground and shook his head. "I can't take them to the diner Lorelai, it's too busy for two of them. Maybe one, but two, I'd be scared to death that I'd lose track of one and if you take them to the inn then I don't see them for most of the day and who knows what they'll master during the day. I can't let them go so soon Lorelai. I just can't."
He looked up at her with eyes filled with pain and her heart leapt to her throat. "Aw Luke, babe, I don't know what to tell you. I've been gone so long and Mia wants to sell the inn so if we don't get started on it soon she'll sell to another buyer."
He hung his head and nodded. "I know it's what has to happen. I'm just not ready to let them go. Man today started out so great, Nick smiling for me and our time together and now it just sucks."
Lorelai smoothed his forehead, "I know babe, I'm so sor…wait what? Nicky smiled for you?"
Luke's head shot up and he looked at her guiltily. "Uh, yeah. I was comparing how small his foot was, you know to my thumb and I must have tickled his foot because he got this small grin and I thought, no, it's has to be gas. But then I did it again and he grinned and I smiled and he let out with this big ol' grin. And I told him he had to save it for his mom. I'm sorry Lorelai."
She chuckled and leaned her forehead into his, "Luke you idiot. I don't have to get all the firsts. It's great that your son gave you his first smile. There're going to be many firsts in the next year or so and then they spread out a bit more. I'm so sorry that I have to go back so soon but I really do. Don't you have to get to work on the stuff for Jed too? The big stockholder's meeting is just a few months away."
Luke shrugged, "I've got the basic structure in place. I've been e-mailing Tom while you and the kids nap in the afternoon. We're right on schedule for the June board meeting."
She laughed, "So while we're sleeping you've been working? That's so like you babe. Well at least Jed's got to be feeling better about…..wait. That's it Luke!"
"What's it?" he looked at her confused.
"Luke you hired Hank to run the diner because you wanted to spend more time with your family. You've said over and over what a great manager he is and how you trust him to run it like you do. And you do most of your New York stuff over the internet or teleconferencing right?"
He nodded at her and shrugged, "Yeah, so?"
"So stay at home with the babies Luke," she smiled gently at him and he looked confused.
"But you're going back to work?"
She nodded slowly, "I'll go back to work and you can stay at home if not the whole day maybe in the mornings. And then after their morning nap you can bring them to the inn and I'll set you up in an office and you can either keep them with you or if you want to do teleconferencing I can take them with me. All we have to do is make sure our schedules don't overlap; no scheduling meetings or appointments at the same time. What do you think?"
Luke was mulling it over trying to wrap his mind around the concept. "So I'd stay home with them?"
She was laughing to herself how difficult it was for him to get this. "Luke, you want to stay home with the babies, right?"
"Well yeah, with you." He shrugged trying to understand what she was getting at.
"I have to go back to work, but you can take your work wherever you go. So you can either stay home with the twins in the morning and join me at the inn in the afternoon or we can take them to the inn in the morning and they just grow up there like Rory did." She smiled at him. She saw this as the perfect answer. He however was having a more difficult time processing.
"Huh. Well, let's try the morning home thing and see if that will work. Since they're on two different feeding schedules right now it's not a big deal, it's just like having one very demanding kid. But I hate losing the breakfast time with you, do you think you could go in a little later than you use to?"
Lorelai chuckled as he went into negotiator mode. He'd only done this a few times since they'd been together, but she imagined that this was one of the strengths that Tom was always talking about.
"Ok, so I'll let Sookie and Michele know that I'll be in around ten in the morning so we have some time alone and then you'll bring the twins to the inn in the afternoon?"
Luke grinned as he began to understand the negotiations were to his liking. He stuck out his hand and enveloped Lorelai's, "Deal."
She leaned in to kiss him, feeling much more settled about having to go back to work, "Sealed with a kiss. Mr. Mom."
Just as she was about to connect Luke pulled back, "Who?"
But she wasn't letting him go, she continued to follow through as she whispered, "Michael Keaton, very sexy."
"Huh." Was all he got out before they connected. Luke was also feeling much more settled about their future until Lily cried through the baby monitor and Lorelai stood up.
"Well, morning time is over Daddy. Let's get them ready for baths."
Luke stood up and sighed heavily, "Well if we must. You want Lily or Nick?"
Lorelai chuckled, "I'll take Lily. Since you've formed your man club you can take the hit when he feels the warm water."
"Yeah, you just forget to strategically use the washcloth that's all. After he's in the water he's no trouble." Luke guided her up the stairs as he relished the tasks ahead of him.
"So I'm going to stay home with them?"
Lorelai laughed at his processing. "Yep and babe, it'll be the best investment you've ever made bar none."
He nodded, "Good to know."
She stopped on the way up, "So after baths can we finally have breakfast?"
He laughed and nodded, "Never thought we'd find something that'd take you away from food."