Opening night was going to be a hectic one, Lorelai was sure of it. From the moment she opened her eyes, she knew. She was rather annoyed when she woke up at eight, unable to go back to sleep. Walking downstairs, she thought about what to do. She realized that Rory walked to school that morning, despite Lorelai's insistence upon Rory's taking a 'mental health' day. She got dressed, annoyed at the fact that there was nothing else to do, and decided she needed coffee, and needed it right away.
Walking downstairs, grabbing his 'thank you' present, and throwing on her jacket, she started walking to Luke's. She needed his magic coffee in order to work her magic onstage, and she was also curious about his vague answers to her questions the night before. She walked into the diner, taking a seat at the counter. The rest of the tables were full, and her usual 'breakfast table' was already taken, as the breakfast rush waited for no one.
Luke came out from the kitchen and stopped in his tracks. "What are you doing here?"
"You're having a 'Little Rascals' moment? Is there a sign on the door that says 'Positively No Girls Allowed'? I see nothing," she mused.
"No, you're just not here at your normal time," Luke said, bringing eggs to a woman in the corner.
She shrugged. "I couldn't sleep, Rory's at school, despite the fact that I specifically told her to skip, and now here I am, not even being welcomed by the proprietor of my favorite eating establishment. If you want to see the percentage of my salary that comes here every year, I'd be glad to make some pie charts. Jeez, now I want pie."
"You're not getting pie," he said, walking behind the counter and pouring Lorelai's coffee. "You can have any breakfast food on the menu, though, there are plenty of choices there. And you told Rory to skip school?"
Lorelai pouted. "I did, and she didn't listen to me. Have I taught her anything? And to answer your second point you just made, no, not as many choices as there are for types of pie. Will you have pie later if I come in?"
"Yes, Lorelai, I'll have pie later," Luke grumbled.
Luke looked at Lorelai, obviously confused. "Why do you care this early in the morning what kinds of pie I'll start serving at noon?"
"I like to plan ahead."
She thought for a moment. "Since now, since the moment you refused to serve me pie."
"What are you going to eat now?" Luke asked.
Lorelai tapped her fingers on the counter, thinking about what to order. "Pancakes," she finally said, nodding her head as if to convince herself.
"Coming right up," Luke said, tearing the order off of the pad.
She watched as Luke disappeared into the kitchen. She began to run lines in her head, and was startled when he brought her the pancakes she'd ordered. "Thanks," she said, laughing at herself.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's like that pillow on the couch at my house?"
"I don't look at your pillows."
Lorelai huffed. "It's an upside down cow, lying on its back, and it says 'Really, I'm fine'. Rory got it for me for my birthday this year."
"Well, if you're in the state of the upside down cow, I suggest you fix whatever's wrong before tonight."
"What's tonight?" Lorelai asked, taking a sip of coffee.
"You're serious?" Luke asked.
Lorelai shook her head. "I obviously know that tonight is opening night. What, do you think I'm stupid?"
"I didn't say that."
She grinned, cutting the pancakes. "Good. You know what's good for you. Are you coming tonight?"
Luke crossed his arms. "Well, if I don't have a rush in the diner I'll make an appearance. It may be kind of fun to mock Kirk, Morey, and Andrew."
"But not me?"
"You have to work with those clowns, so, no. I'm not a stone cold man."
Lorelai giggled. "So thoughtful of you," she teased, taking another bite of her pancake. "So where were you last night?"
Luke shrugged. "Around."
"I'm not going to get an answer out of you, am I?" she asked, shoveling the last bite of her pancake into her mouth.
He shook his head. "You finished with this?"
"Unless you want me to lick the plate clean," Lorelai replied, feigning offense. "Diner man's grumpy this morning, check please," she said, pushing the plate toward him.
"I am not grumpy, you're getting on my nerves," Luke explained, taking Lorelai's plate and bringing it back to the kitchen.
Reaching into her purse, Lorelai grabbed the envelope with the Red Sox tickets in it. She decided to use them as a peace offering, so maybe when she had her 'one hour before show time' meltdown, he would help her run lines. She watched and waited as he served some more customers. When he came back around the counter, she held out the envelope. "Here, these are for you."
"What is this?"
"Just take it, okay?" she asked. "I don't want you to be mad at me, and I want you to know that I appreciated your help these past few weeks."
Luke opened the envelope and looked at Lorelai. "This is what I get for helping you?"
She shrugged. "I thought they were supposed to be good seats."
"Well, they are, but…" he sighed. "Thank you."
Smiling, she put on her jacket. "I knew you couldn't argue with me because of it. Enjoy the game. See you tonight?"
He nodded. "See you tonight."
Lorelai returned home to look over her lines some more. Soon enough, Rory was home. The girls had a few cups of coffee, and watched some cheesy movies. They were sitting on the couch, ready to move on to their third movie, when the telephone rang.
"Nose goes," Lorelai said, touching her index finger to her nose.
Rory crossed her arms and shook her head. "Nope. You answer it."
Lorelai sighed. "Hello?" she answered, picking up the telephone.
"Lorelai, it's Miss Patty. I'm calling you because Taylor wants to do one last run through before the show. Will you and Rory be able to make it?"
She looked at Rory, who nodded and went to put on her sneakers. "Give us a half an hour, we'll be there," Lorelai said, buying herself some extra time to put on makeup.
"Oh, excellent. We'll see you then," Miss Patty said, hanging up the phone.
Lorelai groaned as she walked up the stairs. "I just know I'm gonna hate all this makeup."
"You already wear a lot of makeup," Rory said, following her mom upstairs.
"Not inches of it," Lorelai replied. "I'm going to have a foot of makeup, like Marie Antionette or whoever did when they were buried."
Lorelai sighed. "When you were a lowly eighth grader you told me that there was some queen who was buried with tons of makeup on."
"I don't remember," Rory said, handing Lorelai the lipstick.
"Would have made a good reference," Lorelai groaned, putting the lipstick on.
"Oh, well, I know it really happened. No need to worry on that one."
Lorelai nodded. "All right, I'm glad you trust me, kid. Enough makeup?"
Rory shook her head. "You need more eye shadow."
"I'm going to look like a clown!"
"Well, then, I guess we call Barnum and Bailey, because it's show time!" Rory teased.
Lorelai grabbed her ruby slippers and her script. "Not funny, missy."
"I thought it was," Rory said, laughing. "Pet the elephants for me, I've always thought they were cool. And when you finally come home, bring me back a Marcel."
"I am not pulling a Ross. Out, out, let's go," Lorelai said, gently pushing Rory out the door and downstairs.
The final rehearsal went smoothly. A little too smoothly for Lorelai. The rest of the practices and run throughs had some sort of disaster, and she was accustomed to the idea of dealing with whatever hit her. But this time, nothing came up. She walked back to her dressing room to find Luke sitting on the couch.
"Hey," she said, smiling.
"You have a couch in here?" he asked.
"Nope. That's Freddy, the giant pink dog you just sat on. He bites."
"Kind of like the rabid friend Toto should have?" Luke offered.
Lorelai nodded, sitting next to him on the couch. "Exactly. You learn quickly."
She shrugged. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just… will you run through some stuff with me?"
Lorelai sighed. "Because I'm getting a little nervous, okay? It gets out and your hat gets hat-napped."
"Fine. Where do you want to start?"
"Anywhere," she said, braiding her hair.
Luke ran through the first half of the play with Lorelai and he looked up, closing the script. "You're fine, you know the lines, what's the problem?"
Her eyes widened and she looked at her shoes. "Nothing. I just… I just needed to do it one more time."
She looked up to find Luke reaching over the arm of the couch. He handed her a small gift bag. "Here."
She took the bag. "For me?" she teased.
"One more comment and it goes back," Luke warned.
Lorelai flashed a genuine smile and reached into the bag. The first item she pulled out was a small and delicate glass shoe. "It's a sparkly red ruby slipper," she said, inspecting the slipper. "It's going on the mantel. Thank you, Luke."
"Well, I was trying to find two, but I figured one would serve the purpose."
She nodded. "It does," she said, reaching into the bag again. She unwrapped a picture of Lorelai and Rory at Dress rehearsal. "Luke, this is amazing. Thank you!"
"I'm glad you like it," he said.
She put the tissue paper in the bag with the items and gave Luke another smile. They sat for a moment, looking at each other. Lorelai anxiously tugged at one of her braids, knowing how silly she looked. Her makeup was entirely too dark, she was in a Dorothy costume, and her hair was in two braids. She couldn't possibly look goofier, yet Luke looked at her in a way she couldn't imagine being looked at ever before in her life.
It was a look of love, admiration, concern, and care. All rolled into one. She sat for a moment, trying to interpret its meaning, when Taylor banged on the door and let himself in.
"Five minutes to show time, Lorelai," Taylor said, disappearing as quickly as he came in.
Lorelai looked at Luke. "I should, uh," she started, motioning toward the door.
"Break a leg. Well, not really. Because, uh, those three months were miserable for me," Luke teased.
"For you? Did you have to wear a cast?"
"I dealt with the consequences of your cast," Luke groaned. "Get out there, will ya?"
"Thanks," she said, smiling. She walked backstage, peeking out to see where Luke would sit. He took a seat in the front row and she rolled her eyes. Of course he had to sit there. She took a sip of coffee and walked onstage, ready to play the part she'd been practicing for weeks.
The show went as well as it could possibly go with Kirk in a sling. He stepped on Andrew's lion tail, almost detaching his costume and causing Andrew to fall flat on his face onstage. Morey slipped a few "cools" and "uncools" into the dialogue, and Babette's melting scene didn't go as planned. But for Stars Hollow, the show went well.
The next afternoon, Lorelai decided to show her face in public. She'd sat in bed, wondering how badly she'd embarrassed herself for awhile, and decided that she really needed a cheeseburger. After writing Rory a note on a pink post-it explaining her whereabouts, she walked into the diner, taking a seat by the window. Luke came to serve her almost immediately.
"You left awfully quickly last night," he said, pouring her coffee.
She nodded. "I wanted to get out of there before I got really aggravated with all the 'can I be your agent?' remarks."
"They teased you that bad?"
"Nope, they were serious, that's the sad part," Lorelai responded with a laugh.
"Well, the Gazette said you were the highlight of the show, they gave you an unprecedented seven stars," Luke teased.
Lorelai raised her eyebrows. "Seven?"
"Apparently Miss Patty got six once. You outdid her. She may be mad," Luke chuckled.
"I'm only an amateur," Lorelai quipped, taking a sip of her coffee. "I'll take a cheeseburger and extra chili fries. Thank you for all your help, again. I couldn't have done it without you."
"No problem," Luke said, walking back behind the counter.
Rory opened the door, causing the diner door's bells to jingle as she pushed the door in. Running to the table, she collapsed dramatically into her seat. "You act and you walk super fast," Rory teased, gasping for breath. "Need coffee."
"Luke?" Lorelai called.
"One sec," Luke replied from the kitchen.
"Sorry, sweets, I didn't realize you were up," Lorelai said, smiling sympathetically at her daughter.
Rory shrugged, sitting up. "It's okay. You owe me lunch because of it."
"Luke, make it two cheeseburgers?" Lorelai called.
"One step ahead of you," Luke replied, pouring Rory a cup of coffee. "I still don't get why your mom lets you drink this stuff."
Rory grinned. "Because I'm special."
"Good answer," Lorelai teased.
Luke walked away from the table, shaking his head. Rory watched him go back into the kitchen and turned to Lorelai.
"He so saved your butt," she said, trying to catch her breath again.
"He did?" Lorelai asked. "Oh, by running lines," she added, realizing what Rory was talking about.
"You were like Judy reincarnated last night, according to Babette. Luke was a huge part of that," Rory said.
Rory smiled. "Just making sure he'll get credit in your speech at the Oscars. Don't forget to thank people like they do."
"How could I forget Luke?" she asked, watching him in the kitchen. It was true. He was impossible to forget. He spent weeks helping her prepare, bringing her coffee, and being his usual supportive self. She smiled. He meant a lot to her, and he would be the first person on her metaphorical list.
A/N: I want to thank everyone for sticking with the story, despite the non Java Junkie ending. Look out for more from me, and if you haven't, check out "The Gilmore Handbook" for more sweet and silly scenes like the one that this story caused me to expand upon!