Title- Things Forgotten
Summary- AU, Pre-series. Luke and Lorelai's first meeting is not something you'd expect. Or remember.
Word Count- 3,553
Disclaimer- I own nothing.
Authors Note- So I found this on my Mom's old computer as I was going through some old files, I touched it up a bit as well, but it still may not be up to my regular standards. This was written a long time ago, back last Spring, I believe, so the pre-series LL, AU-ness has nothing to do with Friends Forever. This was written before I even planned on writing that one.
Its three o'clock in the morning and seven year old Lorelai Gilmore can't even begin to comprehend why she's with her parents at Hartford Memorial Hospital. Sure she understands that one of her mother's friend's is about to die, her name was something fruity, too, she can remember that. She just doesn't understand why she has to be there when she could be at home, sleeping in her comfortable bed. To her, it's yet another irrational thing her mother is making her do. And completely unfair. She probably won't even remember that woman three years from now, and neither will her parents.
"Mom?" she asks, quietly interrupting her parents' talk as the three of them stood outside the soon to be dead woman's door. So what of she's being morbid, it is three o'clock in the morning.
"What now, Lorelai?" her mother demands, looking down at her daughter with a scowl present on her face. Lorelai tries to stifle a yawn by covering her mouth with her hand, but her mother catches her and rolls her eyes. "For goodness sake, Lorelai, can't you stop being so overly dramatic? You're being very rude."
Lorelai covers up an eye-roll of her own by rubbing her eyes tiredly. "Can I go wait out in the car?" she asks, still half asleep as she snuggles deeper into her size medium fur coat made especially for children, most often privileged ones.
"How many times have I told you, Lorelai? I said that once we, your father and I, pay our respects to Mitsy, then we'll be leaving."
So maybe it isn't something fruity, she's tired, it isn't her fault she can't remember the woman's name. "But Mom, how long will that take?" Lorelai whines, adjusting the velvet hat placed atop her head.
Emily sighs impatiently before quickly shooting her husband an annoyed look. "I don't know, Lorelai, it could take us any amount of time between five minutes and an hour and a half. I've already told you that, too."
"Then can I please go lie down on one of the chairs? My feet hurt, I'm cold and I really, really want to go back to bed. Can I use one of the beds in a room without anyone in it?" Lorelai begins to bounce up and down on the tips of her toes, her hands deep into her warm pockets as she pouts.
Emily, back to chatting again quietly with Richard, ignores her daughter. "Yes, that's fine. Just don't get into any trouble. I mean it."
Lorelai smiles, brightening up at the thought of finally being able to go back to sleep. "Thanks Mom, I'll be down that hall somewhere, okay?" she asks, gesturing towards a darkened hallway behind her. She waits until her mother nods an 'okay', though it's obviously dismissive, before quickly sprinting off.
She walks slowly down the corridor, peeking into the small window on every closed door, hardly able to see anything past the darkness. She'd never admit it to anyone, not even her best friend, Chris Hayden, but being alone in the dark terrifies her. It's just another one of those things she'll never tell anyone because of fear of judgment. Her parents would tell her to grow up and get over it, they wouldn't care at all; they would hardly give her a second glance. Christopher would make fun of her, mock her weakness. It's something they find joy in doing to one another, though she absolutely hates when it was her being made fun of. She's Lorelai, she isn't weak.
As her hand glides along the cold, stone walls, she whispers each room number to herself as she checks them off of her list of possible places to sleep. "346, 347, 348..."
She pauses immediately and her entire body tenses up. She's positive that she just heard something, maybe someone, in the room darkened room adjacent to her. To avoid hyperventilating, she silently counts to ten slowly; something she learned works very well in situations like this. Before she can reach six, she hears the noise again, and realizes that it's someone crying.
Instinct and curiosity began to battle out. Slowly as her thoughts sorted out she began to back away but in the end, curiosity won out and she found herself moving closer to the slight open door. Looking through the door, she makes out the blurry outline of what looks like a child leaning up against the bare white wall. Her adrenaline peaks abundantly as she nervously clears her throat over the soft sniffling. "Hello?"
The child lets out a startled, short yelp before unsteadily moving to stand up. "Liz? Is that you?" A boyish voice croaks out almost guiltily.
Fight or flight. It's what the body is set up to so in situations like this. It's what Lorelai's going through at this exact moment. Stay and talk to whoever this boy may be or leave and go back to bed, pretending like this never happened and just forget about him completely. But for some reason, as she stares at the boy wearing a heavy, torn sweatshirt obviously over at least ten years old, plain blue jeans with grass stains on the knees, and a faded Red Sox cap placed forward on his head, she can't leave. She's incredibly intrigued for some reason. Maybe it's because to her, he's just so normal. He's a type of person she's never interacted with before, and she's captivated by his ability to just be so simple. "Uh, no. my name is Lorelai Gilmore." she says, taking a deep breath before extending her hand towards him politely.
"Oh," He wipes his face tiredly with the sleeve of his grey sweatshirt and ignores her outstretched hand.
"You're supposed to shake it and say your name back." she clarifies, stepping closer and shaking her hand in front of him to make a point.
"Why are you here?" he asks, not even bothering to answer her questions as he distractedly walks over to the small couch near the corner of the room.
Lorelai shrugs nervously. "My mom and dad brought me here. Why are you here?"
"My mom's dead." his hoarse voice states bluntly. "She just died tonight, here in the hospital."
"She... died?" Lorelai repeats dumbly, sucking in a deep breath. She's really beginning to regret ever stepping into this room. "Oh, wow."
Lorelai nibbles on her lower lip contemplatively before speaking up. "Do you need to talk about it?"
"With you?" he asks with a scoff.
She nods, obviously haven missed his sarcasm, before walking over and sitting beside him on the couch. "That's what Mitsy's husband was doing with my mom and dad earlier."
"My mom's friend. She's gonna die soon." she explains casually.
The boy quirks an eyebrow at her before shifting against the arm of the couch. "You two seem close."
"Me and my mom?"
"No, you and Mitsy."
"Oh, well, I don't really know her. I don't really know any of my mom's friends."
He nods understandably. "Well, Lorelai, why are you here?"
"I already told you, my mom-"
"I mean," he cuts her off. "Why are you here, in this room, with me?"
"I wanted to go back to sleep. My parents made me get up and come here with them and I wanted to go back to bed. It's very late, you know."
"So your parents just let you wander around empty hallways in random hospitals?" he asks.
"This isn't empty, though." she replies matter-of-factly. "You're here, too." She waits in silence for him to say something and is quite put off when he doesn't speak up at all. "So, why are you in here?"
"I wanted to be alone." he explains with a pointed look. "My dad's a mess and he has to fill out a lot of papers and deal with Liz."
"My sister, she's eight."
"I'm eleven." he counters with what seems to be a small grin.
She smiles back. "Does it hurt?" she bluntly asks, though obviously curious.
"Your mom. Does it hurt to know that she's dead?" she asks, her tone softer as the smiles fade off their faces.
He lightly scoffs at her. "Of course it does. How would you feel if you never got to see your mom again?"
She nods, "Do you need a hug?"
He laughs. Openly and freely laughs at her serious face.
Beside him, Lorelai stares at his bright face peculiarly. But then he smiles at her, directly at her, and she can't help but giggle a little herself.
"You know," she says as they calm down, "You never said what your name was."
"Well, I don't like to tell everyone what my name is, especially random girls I've never met before."
"But I told you mine." she counters with a teasing pout.
"So just because you told me your name was Lorelai I should tell you what my name is?"
"Yes," she insists with a playful smile, one that makes the boy think that she must have the most mundane life for her to get so excited over such a stupid thing.
"I thought you wanted to sleep." he reminds her, abruptly changing the subject.
She nods. "I do want to sleep." Though her tone says otherwise.
He gestures to the empty bed not five feet away from them. "Then go,"
"I can't sleep now. Not with you here." she says as if it were obvious.
The boy rolls his eyes and gets up, brushing off his jeans and wiping his face with his sleeve. "Then I'll go,"
"No, don't," she says, almost pleadingly as he starts to leave without as much as a goodbye.
His sigh is audible and his annoyance is evident. "Why not?" He looks as her expectantly, his arms crossed over his chest.
She doesn't know what to say. How do you explain that sitting in a room where someone had probably died in, briefly talking with a boy you've never met is the most excitement your life has had that didn't lead to you being sent to your room since you can remember? How do you explain that you're lonely, and just want someone to talk to, listen to, without sounding like the aggravating smile you've been told you are so many times?
"I'm afraid of the dark." she blurts out, hoping to gage some sort of a reaction from him.
The boy turns back around and looks at her as if she is crazy, "So?"
"So you can't leave me alone in a room that's all dark. Besides, people've probably died in here before. What if they try and kill me for invading their room."
"And you want me to stay with you so I can risk my own life as well?"
"Well you're a boy," she says as if it explains everything.
"That's stating the obvious."
"Boys aren't afraid of the dark or dead people." she says with confidence. Her shoulders sag as she watches him turn around. "Please," she calls after him softly.
He doesn't know why but he stops at the sound of her pleading voice. Right away he begins to chastise himself for even doing so, obviously getting the girls hopes up in the first place. He closes his eyes; that was exactly how Liz sounded earlier when she had asked to come along with him to wherever it was he was going.
Without looking at her, he sighs and turns back around, reluctantly sitting back down in his former position, his knees pulled to his chest and his arms crossed as he wonders why on earth he is listening and doing as this stupid little girl says. His mother's dead, his dad is probably looking at him if he's noticed he's gone and his sister is probably still in hysterics.
With a small smile to herself, she quietly walks over and sits down next to him. "You know, I never told anyone that before."
"Told anyone what?" he asks, clearly showing no interest in the conversation.
"About me being afraid of the dark."
"Oh, well then get a nightlight." he suggests.
She laughs before explaining, "My parents won't let me."
"They won't let you have a light that plugs into the wall?" he asks skeptically.
She smiles lightly at how absurd it sounds coming from someone else. "Nope, they say that big girls don't need one."
"Yeah." she nods slowly, "So what doesn't anyone know about you?"
He looks at her, slightly surprised by her interest but knows he shouldn't be. "Nothing, I guess."
"You're lying. Everyone has a secret."
"Well maybe I don't."
"You just won't tell me."
"I've got nothing to tell."
"Can I guess?" she asks with a small smile.
"You can guess but there's nothing for you to guess about."
"You like to wear dresses."
"What? No, you're crazy."
"You play with dolls."
"No, I do not play with dolls."
"Why won't you tell me, it's not like I have anyone to tell, I'll never see you again."
"'Cause I have nothing to tell."
"Is it that your name is Lars?"
"Lars?" he asks with a snort. "Where'd you hear that name?"
"It's the name of the guy that cooks at my house." she answers simply.
The boys eyes widen at that, "You have a guy that cooks for you?" he asks in disbelief.
Lorelai looks at him strangely. "Of course I do, everybody does."
"You're the only person I know that actually does have someone cook for them."
"You mean you don't?" she asks incredulously.
"No," he scoffs. "My dad cooks for me."
"Your dad cooks?"
"Well," he begins slowly, his voice changing from skepticism to grief, "My mom use to but now she's… you know."
"Dead," Lorelai finishes for him.
The boy scowls at her. "Thanks."
"What?" she asks, sincerely innocent. He gives her a pointed look that seems to speak volumes. "Oh, sorry."
"Yeah," he remarks bitterly. "You have any sisters." he asks. She shakes her head. "Brothers?" Again, she shakes her head, "You're an only child?"
She nods, "Yup,"
"Not really," She shrugs, "I've always wanted a sister."
He shakes his head. "I wish. The last time I tried to sell my sister I was grounded for a week and wasn't allowed to go to any of my baseball games."
She doesn't know which is crazier, the fact that he tried to sell his sister or that he actually plays baseball. Instead of asking, she takes off her own hat, dropping it carelessly onto the dusty floor and reaches for his.
"What are you doing?" he asks, desperately trying to smooth his hair down with one hand and grab his hat back in the other.
"I want to try it on," she says, holding it just out of his reach as she holds him back with her other hand. "Why is there a B on it?"
"It's for the Red Sox," he explains, nearly crawling on top of her to get it back.
Puzzled, she stares at the hat, ignoring his attempts to get it back. "But then why is there a B on it?"
He rolls his eyes, "The Boston Red Sox," he clarifies, nearly getting kicked in the face with her shoe.
"Oh! I've been there," she says with realization.
"You've seen them play?" he asks, stopping to stare at her in awe. His father had been promising to take him to see a game for months now, but with everything going on it seemed to have been forgotten.
The puzzled look was back. "Seen who play?"
"The Red Sox!" he exclaims in exasperation. "You've been to Fenway?"
"What on earth are you talking about?" she asks, tossing the hat back at him.
"Have you or have you not seen the red sox play?"
"Are they a sports team?" Lorelai asks with confusion, quickly and carelessly smoothing her coat out.
The boy's shoulders slump. "Baseball team."
He looks at her, "You're not a Yankee's fan, are you?"
Her nose scrunches up and her eyebrows knit together. "Are they a baseball team, too?"
The boy stares at her with utter exasperation. "Do you even know what baseball is?"
"No," she answers honestly.
He blinks, clearly shocked by her answer. "You don't know what baseball is?"
"My dad watches golf," she says with a shrug that seems to explain everything.
She nods, "It's not really fun."
"What was that?" he asks, watching as Lorelai rolls her eyes.
"Oh, just my-"
"For goodness sake, Lorelai, where on earth have you been? I've been traipsing all over this hospital looking for you and then I finally find you here?"
Lorelai sighs, looking over at the boy sadly. "Just my mother."
He raises his eyebrows but says nothing.
Emily looks at the boy suspiciously. "And who is this?" she asks, looking at the boys torn and tattered clothes with utter distaste.
Lorelai smiles genuinely. "He's my friend," she announces confidently as the boy waves a small hello to the intimidating women.
Immediately, Emily grabs Lorelai's hand, tugging her up off the ground. "Was he asking you for money?" she asks, loud enough for the boy to hear.
"What?" he exclaims in pure shock. "Of course I wasn't! I didn't even-"
Lorelai calmly rolls her eyes at her mother's bluntness. "No, mom, I was just talking to him. He's really nice, too. He likes the Red Sox."
"Well," Emily says stiffly, her eyes fixating on the boy still huddled up on the floor. "We have to get going. It's late."
"Okay, well I'm just gonna say-"
"Now," she says sternly, already pulling Lorelai towards the door despite her protests.
The boy watches the mother and the daughter closely, as if observing something scientific. The girl seems so different from her mother, young, but is treated as an adult, something that confuses him even more as Lorelai fights. Then it occurs to him that she doesn't want to leave. She doesn't want to leave with her mother. That as soon as her name was being called, she wasn't the bubbly, animated and annoying person that he had first met. She seemed sadder, quieter and almost defensive. And now she was fighting to stay with him. "Wait!" he says just as she's being pulled out the doorframe.
She stops her squirming, holding onto the doorframe firmly as she looks curiously at him.
"It's Luke." he says, not knowing what else he could say.
"What's Luke?" she asks.
"My name," he clarifies quickly. "It's Luke,"
She smiles sincerely at him, at Luke. "Well, goodbye Luke." she says with a small, almost regretful wave. "And I'm sorry," she adds.
His look is one of confusion. "For what?"
"You know, your mom."
"Oh, right." He suddenly feels guilty. Had he really forgotten? Forgotten that hardly four hours ago his mother had died? And it was all because of her. Because of a seven year old that just couldn't mind her own business? And then he feels grateful and wants to thank her, no matter how crazy it sounds. Because she had gotten him to smile, to laugh, to put it behind him, even if it was just for a short amount of time, and forget about the sadness he should have been feeling.
He all but cringes at the sound of her demon-like mother's heels as they click agonizingly loud, still walking down the long corridor. Then, as he stands up ready to go back to his dad, he notices something on the floor. He grabs the hat quickly and nearly slides out into the hall, hoping that he wouldn't miss them.
"Hey!" he calls after her down the hall, fingering the soft material in his hand.
She turns back with interest, hoping her mother doesn't notice.
"You forgot your hat." he explains, waving it in the air.
Her eyes widen and she nervously looks up at her mother who is clearly paying no interest as continues to drag her along the empty hallway. "Keep it," she insists gratefully, waving him a last goodbye as she turns the corner, leaving him alone once again.
Luke looks down at the hat, one that was obviously made so delicately for the people that could just afford to go out and buy a new one if they purposely leave it behind. He knows he's going to keep it. He'll go home and throw it in the back of his closet where all of his old, useless things go, and he'll forget about it. And then when he's missing him mom, just like his is now, he'll dig it out again. And he'll laugh and he'll smile and he'll think of Lorelai's face. And hopefully it'll help, just like she had.
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