A/N: Ever wonder what compelled Luke to put the blue hat back on? Read on to find out:
Miss Patty and Babette sat at the table by the window. Luke sighed. There was always a system to where they were seated, one he never really understood but was able to track. If they sat by the window, they had juicy gossip. If they sat closer to the counter, they were sick of gabbing and ready to eat. Luke had a headache, and no desire to listen to what they had to say.
Grabbing the order pad, he slowly walked up to the table by the window and flipped to a new page. "What can I get you ladies today?" he asked, in a vain attempt to be polite.
Babette smiled. "Oatmeal's fine, sugah."
"I'll have scrambled eggs," Miss Patty insisted, giving Luke a wink.
He rolled his eyes. "Coming right up," he said. Walking back to the counter, he looked around the rest of the empty diner. There was no way he could avoid hearing every juicy detail about the town now. He could try to keep himself busy in the stockroom, but there was no way that Luke could hear the customers coming in or out that way. Caesar was on vacation, the rest of the town was catching "spring fever", and Miss Patty and Babette were less than entertaining.
Quickly making Babette and Miss Patty's orders, Luke walked behind the counter again, ready to sort the money in the cash register. It was a project he'd been avoiding, and the note that Zach left him the night before said that it wasn't going to be an easy task, because apparently he'd made a huge error in giving change.
As Luke opened the register, trying his hardest to drown out Miss Patty and Babette, he couldn't help but hear their conversation.
"Tillie's a liar, Babette, you know that!"
Babette shook her head. "But she's tellin' the truth this time, I know it!"
Miss Patty sighed. "Let's get off Tillie, and onto something more interesting. Apparently the Smith girl and that really short kid are together again."
"Again? Wow, they must have picked up where they left off, good for them," Babette said.
"But Babette, I'm not sure if you realize, you can't just jump back into love like that! It's not like you just pause the DVD and then BOOM! You're back in the movie where you started," Miss Patty explained.
Babette rolled her eyes. "That's not what I'm sayin, Patty! What I'm tryin' to say is that you can't just let some guy come by and sweep you off your feet so you forget the guy that you just ended it with! That's why they're back together."
"Don't let a guy sweep you off your feet. It only puts them in the perfect position to drop you on your ass."
Babette couldn't stop laughing. "Where'd you hear that one?"
"Read it in a book once while I was on Broadway. But you can credit me for it," Miss Patty replied, taking a sip of her coffee.
Luke could feel their eyes watching him as he sorted the money, but he didn't look up. That would only humor them. Ignoring them would be the best way, the least of the evils, and it would allow him to avoid getting directly involved. Maybe he wouldn't hear them anyway, if he concentrated hard enough on the money counting. They continued, and Luke heard every word, despite his wishes not to.
"You know, I think somethin's going on with Lorelai and Luke. I think they're gettin' together again," Babette whispered.
Miss Patty's eyes widened. "Shh! Do you want him to hear you?"
Babette rolled her eyes. "Luke hearing us is like Morey hearing that dog whistle, it's impossible!"
"I think they've waited way too long to get back together, and after Christopher left town, Luke looked like he wanted to tackle Lorelai and rip her dress off," Miss Patty mused.
"I agree. But ya know somethin', it's gonna take him a lot longer than we expect," Babette said.
"Why's that?" Miss Patty asked, opening her purse.
"Because, when you've been hurt, it's harder. But what Luke doesn't realize is that when you love somebody, you've gotta love like you've never been hurt! That's the only way to start," Babette explained.
Luke didn't want to listen, but of course he heard the entire conversation. He watched Babette and Miss Patty walk outside, clearing their table and putting their money in the cash register. All Luke could think about was his relationship, or lack thereof, with Lorelai. How badly it had ended and how uncomfortable their recent run in while they were inside the maze was.
He walked upstairs, opened his closet, and pulled out a box. He had forgotten that he sealed the box and was suddenly regretting it. He groaned as he searched for a box cutter that he was bound to have somewhere in the apartment. As he searched, he knew exactly what the box contained.
It was a bunch of seemingly useless things, some trophies, some old cookbooks, and some cassette tapes, and other miscellaneous items. Nothing of extreme sentimental value, except the blue hat Lorelai gave him a few years back. He ripped open the box, took off his black hat, and put the blue one back on. It felt odd on his head, but it felt right. The other hats he'd been wearing during his time of not speaking with Lorelai didn't seem to fit properly on his head.
But this hat didn't need to be broken in. It had already seen six years of wear and tear, and that was a good thing. He sighed as he walked back down the stairs.
This was going to be a subtle sign of surrender, of penance, and of willingness to try again. It wouldn't take long for her to notice, that's for sure, but it was what she did with the offer that mattered. He was ready for the third time around, and the hat was the most obvious sign.