A/N: So this is my take on what would happen if the Hollywood writer's strike took place right after 6.09, "The Prodigal Daughter Returns". It's a contest submisson on FanLib, and I have decided to post it here before the submissions open. Enjoy! PS. Thanks to The Mrs.Ventimiglia for the beta!
When the three arrived home, Luke went straight into the kitchen, still pondering the news he had to tell Lorelai. He made the chili fries Lorelai and Rory would surely request, and placed them on the table.
"Why don't you have a giant 'S' on your chest, Luke? Oy, you really are the most wonderful fiancé," Lorelai gushed.
Rory smiled. "I love the fiancé thing. It finally happened for you two. And I found out that you proposed, Mom, you went modern on him! I'm so excited! When's the big day? What don't I know about this wedding?"
"I'll fill you in later, when we can talk in secret. Oh, sweets, it's so good to have you back," Lorelai gushed, attacking the plate of chili fries Luke made in honor of Rory's homecoming.
Rory moved closer to her mom on the couch, leaning her head on Lorelai's shoulder. "It's good to BE back. I missed you!"
"I missed you more!" Lorelai countered.
"Hey, wait a second, I thought we decided that I missed YOU more!"
Luke rolled his eyes as he put cheeseburgers on the table for the two. "Haven't we had this exchange about six hundred times since Rory dropped her stuff in the living room?"
"Well, someone's Mr. Grumpy Pants tonight, and I'll give you two guesses as to who it is!" Lorelai said, raising her eyebrows.
Rory turned to her mom. "Why two guesses?"
Lorelai sighed. "My darling daughter, you must have really filled your brain with mush while you were away! The first one doesn't count, of course!" she teased, tossing a piece of popcorn in the air and attempting to let it land in her mouth.
"Nice work!" Rory said, tossing her own piece of popcorn in the air. She giggled and squinted when it landed on her nose.
"I'm betting the DAR didn't promote this kind of behavior. Unless the Revolutionary War soldiers did this for fun," Lorelai mused. She saw Luke sitting on the steps, obviously agitated. She groaned. "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere, okay, babe?"
Rory smiled. "I'll never let go, Jack! I'll never let go!" she said dramatically, erupting into a fit of giggles on the couch.
Lorelai walked to the stairs, her hands shoved deep in the pockets of her jeans. "Okay, look, I know you're not upset Rory's home. That's humanly impossible, because I told you that once things were straightened out with Rory, we'd get married. Things are straight as an arrow, so what's wrong?"
Luke stood up. "Nothing that can't wait until after the celebration to discuss. Sorry I'm being anti social," he said.
Lorelai raised an eyebrow. "You sure you're all right?"
He nodded. "Go eat your chili fries, popcorn, red vines, and all the other things that will surely clog your arteries."
"So romantic!" Lorelai gushed, giving Luke a peck on the lips and skipping into the living room.
Lorelai plopped herself down on the couch again, reaching for the red vines. Rory grabbed her arm. "Mom? You and Luke can talk if you need to."
"He says it can wait, so it can wait. My suspense mechanism has been turned on, but I'm trusting him. What should we watch? I'm thinking 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'. I'm in an 80's mood," Lorelai mused.
"How about 'The Breakfast Club'?" Rory countered.
Lorelai jumped up from the couch. "Well, then, if you want to spend your Saturday in detention, that's fine with me!"
Rory watched Lorelai go through the box of DVD's she had obviously created while Rory was gone. Then she turned to Luke, who still sat on the bottom stair. She got off of the couch and walked over to him. "This seat taken?" she asked, bringing him out of his reverie.
"Huh? No, no, sit," Luke replied.
"Something bothering you?" Rory asked, taking a seat next to Luke.
Luke shook his head. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."
"You haven't moved from this spot since we got home," Rory pointed out.
"I'm really okay. I'm just going to… make some dinner for myself. Do you want anything else?" he asked, obviously avoiding the subject.
Rory shook her head. "I'm fine, thanks. We have enough junk food in there to open our own candy store."
"Well, you'd have to get a permit first," Luke reasoned.
Rory giggled. "True. Well, I think Mom found the movie, based on the little victory dance she's doing in the living room."
"Enjoy," Luke said, watching her walk back to the living room. He watched as Lorelai and Rory made their way through the movie for what had to be the millionth time. Everything was perfect… Lorelai and Rory were making amends, Lorelai was happier than he'd ever seen her before, and Lorelai was in the mood to plan a wedding. He'd hate to bring things to a screeching halt with the news he had for her.
He ran all the different possibilities through his head. Knowing Anna, April wouldn't always be around. But he could picture her on the couch with Lorelai and Rory. But Lorelai had to know about April's existence before that could happen, he convinced himself. He wasn't going to keep this from her… after all, the guilt would surely get to be too much. Before he realized, Lorelai squeezed herself next to him on the step, taking off his baseball cap and twisting his hair around.
"You're not okay," Lorelai whispered. "I know when people are okay, and I know when they're not. You are the case study for 'not okay'."
Luke turned to face Lorelai. "You're finished with the movie already?"
Lorelai nodded. "Rory was tired, and I know something's wrong. I know you. You're overly pensive tonight, and that's not a good sign. Spill, Luke."
He shrugged. "Well, I can be pensive if I want to, can't I?"
"Sure. Just tell me what's wrong and then we can be pensive together. Remember, no secrets," Lorelai said, taking Luke's hand and leading him upstairs. She sat on the bed, looking at him, a concerned expression on her face. "What's wrong?"
Luke sighed. "I don't really know… how to tell you something like this."
"You open your mouth, words come out, I react," Lorelai said, her concern growing. "Just tell me. I hate seeing you upset and I want to fix it, okay? Just tell me, get on with it. Because right now, I'm nervous for you, and I'm worried about you, and I don't want to be upset tonight. All I could think about during the movie was what could possibly be wrong! And I couldn't even enjoy this night, Luke!"
"Well, I wasn't really going to just tell you my problems when you're having a perfectly fantastic night! Seriously, why rain on your parade when things are going so well?" he responded, frustrated.
"Because I care. Luke, just tell me, before this gets bigger than it needs to be!" Lorelai said, tears running down her cheeks. "I don't want to fight about this."
"Neither do I, Lorelai!"
She sniffed. "Then just TELL ME!"
Luke threw his hands in the air. "This isn't something that you just tell someone when you're potentially in the middle of a fight!"
Lorelai took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I jumped. I'm just worried about you, is that a crime?"
"Then just tell me what's wrong, I'm listening. I'm not going anywhere," Lorelai promised.
"I have a daughter."