The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

15 year old Lorelai Gilmore feels smothered and unloved. 17 year old Luke Danes just checked his father into the hospital. Life is heavy. What happens when chance brings these two struggling teens together?

Disclaimer: I do not own Gilmore Girls or the characters (but Luke will always belong to my heart).

AN: Hey everyone! This is my first fanfic. I've been carrying this story around in my head for over a year now, and I had to get it out. I have tried to remain as true as possible to the characters in imagining them as teenagers. I did some tweeking, though. On GG, Luke is known as a track star. There are baseball pictures and trophies in his apartment, but no details. Since I love baseball and know nothing of track, I made Luke a star baseball player. The pitching idea was inspired by Scott Patterson's life. So I've written a young Luke with a splash of Scott. Sounds like a premium blend, if you ask me. Yummy!

Oh ,and I couldn't see Luke with a flat top hairstyle either. He has longish hair in my world.

There are some inconsistencies on the show regarding time. Luke's track picture has 1984 on it, but in 2004, Liz was attending her 20th high school reunion. I took the liberty of having Luke graduate in 1983.

We are given hints about the year of William Dane's death, but nothing certain. I am probably making his health issues occur earlier than on the show. Hope you don't mind me taking liberties there.

I have tried to stay as close as possible to the GG story regarding the timeline of Lorelai's pregnancy and Rory's birth.

I have much of this story completed and all of it planned out, so I will try to be a timely updater. The only issue is the fact that I have the keyboarding skills of a sea lion. Enjoy!

The Best Laid Plans

Hartford, 12:15 p.m. Friday, June 10, 1983

"Lorelai! Hey, over here!"

Fifteen year old freshman Lorelai Gilmore looked across the cafeteria where her friends, Christopher, Jennifer, and John were sitting. Smiling, she walked over with her tray ready to vent.

"Can somebody please explain to me how time has seemed to stop? Aren't we breaking an essential law of physics or something? Really, is it just me or has this day dragged on forever?"

"I think it's called Fridays, Lorelai," offered John. But there's only 3 hours 'til freedom!" He gave Chris a high-five and both boys held their palms up to the girls expectantly. Jennifer and Lorelai laughed and shook their heads.

"So who's for cutting class and getting a jump start on the weekend?" asked Christopher, staring hopefully at Lorelai.

"No way, Chris," said Lorelai shaking her head. "The last thing I need right now is to draw attention to myself. My parents are currently in this experimental phase in which they are not monitoring my every move." She held out her leg, "Look, no ankle bracelet! Besides, I have a Biology test last period."

"Wow Lor, what's with the Goody-Two-Shoes act?"

"Uh, I don't know, Chris. What's with using the words, Goody-Two-Shoes? I haven't been called that since I refused to stay out past dark with Wally and the Beav.."

"Sorry I was just—"

"And another thing, Chris. Some of us have to get good grades to get into a top college. It's not like I can float by with C's secure in the fact that my daddy will get me into Princeton!" Lorelai snapped, her frustration evident.

"Come on! You don't think Richard would pull every possible string to get you into Yale?"

"Are you kidding? My father probably loves Yale more than me. If he thought would sully Yale's image by getting accepted with C's—hell, even B's, he would probably call Yale Admissions himself to make sure I didn't get in."

"Okay, okay!" Chris threw up his hands in mock surrender. Sorry. You win round one of the My Father's-a-Bigger-Ass-Than–Your-Father Contest! How about we sign a peace treaty and move on to other more important topics like this weekend?"

"Well," John broke in." "We've got tomorrow all figured out, what's on the agenda tonight? I heard there's a party in Windsor we can crash."

"Wait, Jon," said Jennifer. "Actually, we don't have tomorrow set just yet. I haven't had a chance to tell Lorelai."

"Tell me what?" Lorelai asked.

"Road trip! What time do you want me to come pick you up?" Jennifer tried to avoid mentioning the purpose of the road trip.

"Pick me up? What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere tomorrow. I've got the house to myself for once."

It was true. Lorelai's parents were going to be out late tonight for a DAR function and had an all-day insurance related shindig in Danbury on Saturday. As an additional bonus, they were staying overnight in Danbury and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon. Lorelai could not wait for the freedom to do as she pleased.

While most of her friends would have thrown a party, Lorelai just wanted a break—a break from everything about her life. Though the pool house had been shuttered up for renovation, Paul, the head of maintenance at the Gilmore house, had promised Lorelai the pool would be ready by Saturday morning. Lorelai was geared up for a glorious day of sun bathing, snacking, magazine reading, and movie watching. Most of all, she was looking forward to some time alone.

"What are we talking about?" Christopher pierced Lorelai's thoughts. We're talking about the road trip to watch the semi-final."

"Semi-final?"

"Baseball, Lorelai. You've heard of it, I suppose?

"Uh…yeah, but who cares?"

"Come on, Lor!" Christopher said. "The whole school cares. Haven't you been paying attention to all the posters and announcements? Our team is only one win away from going to the state championship."

"It's kind of a big deal, Lorelai," John piped in.

"Yes, I'm sure it is to someone…somewhere."

"Come on, Lor! It's going to be a great time."

"Said the boys to the girl who hates sports. Seriously guys, have we met? My name is Lorelai Gilmore. My Native American name is She-Who-Hates-All-Things-Athletic."

"You don't have to play," added Jennifer, "just watch."

"Almost as bad! Besides, baseball is the worst of them all. I think it was actually invented as a torture device for maximum security prisoners."

"Lor," Chris pleaded. "Come on, this is big. Everyone who's anyone is going to this game. The senior and junior classes even charted a bus."

"Oh well if everyone's going…," replied Lorelai sarcastically. She just had to call Chris out. He could be such a wannabe at times. "Look Chris, as much as I live to see and be seen, my hatred for sports trumps all."

"Even me?"

"Huh?" Lorelai glanced at Chris.

"Lorelai," said Jennifer taking her by the arm and pulling her off to the side. "I don't think you're getting the whole picture here."

"Enlighten me."

Jennifer grinned. "It's not about baseball per se. It's about baseball players. This happens to be my area of expertise, and believe me, baseball players are the best looking athletes."

"Really?" questioned Lorelai. "I mean, I don't mean to question your authority, but have you looked at our team lately?"

"Actually, our team is below average in my opinion. Besides, between the two of us, we've already checked out, flirted with, or dated all of the cute ones and since we know how obnoxious they are, we can't be objective. That's why it's important to do some, uh, scouting of other teams."

"Jen, you've made some good points, and clearly you have much knowledge, but I just can't."

"Come on, it's my first road trip since getting my license. Don't leave me alone with the dork duo over there," Jennifer motioned towards Chris and John.

"Hey we heard that!" the boys yelled.

"What about Andrea and Tracy?" Lorelai asked laughing at the 'dork duo.'

"They thought ahead and got seats on the bus. But it's going to be more fun to go in a car. We're taking only back roads because I'm too chicken to drive on the highway, but we are going to make spontaneous junk food stops along the way."

"That does sound like fun, Jen, but I really can't. You'll only have to put up with the boys for a little while. Once you get to the game you can find Andrea and Tracy. Where is this game anyway?"

"Some place called Stars Hollow. Have you ever been?"

"No. I haven't even heard of it. Sounds pretty, though. Is it far?"

"Not really. If I don't get lost, my dad told me it's only about 30 minutes away."

"That's not too bad," said Lorelai. Are you nervous about driving?"

"A little, " Jen admitted. "But as long as I stay off the highway, I'll be fine."

"I'm sorry Jen, I really am, but I'm sure you can handle the flirting and assessing on your own. You'll take notes of course?"

"Of course! I'll even include illustrations and hopefully a few phone numbers."

"Hey. If we win, there will be another game right? Maybe we could scout that one together?"

"It's a deal, girlfriend!" Jennifer was happy to let the matter drop. Even though she sincerely enjoyed Lorelai's company (Lorelai had a way of making things fun), when it came to boy watching, sitting next to her put Jennifer at a distinct disadvantage. Though just in ninth grade, Lorelai was gorgeous—gorgeous in a way that made everyone else around her invisible. At least it seemed that way to Jen. Even though Lorelai was only fifteen, she was already 5 feet 8 with long legs and curves in all the right places. She was often assumed to be a junior or senior instead of a lowly freshman. With her piercing blue eyes, long, naturally curly black hair, and megawatt smile, Lorelai Gilmore stood out.

Hartford, 3:15 p.m.

Fairly certain she had aced her Biology test, Lorelai was the first person out of the classroom when the bell finally signaled the end of the day. She had some serious shopping to do—trashy magazines, junk food, sun screen, beverages (Mountain Dew, Squirt, Coke, and Pepsi—Lorelai was planning on taking the Pepsi Challenge). She made a beeline for her locker, gathered her stuff, and…felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Lor."

Damnit, Lorelai thought to herself, I was inches from a clean getaway. "Hi, Chris."

"Do you have a minute?"

"Well I've got my driver waiting and some errands to run, and…." Lorelai looked into Christopher's face and felt guilty. He was her friend, and she was being an ass. "But yeah, I've got time. What's up, Chris?"

"Why don't you want to do anything tonight? We don't have to go to a party if you don't want to. If your parents are going to be out, why don't we hang out together? I'll bring a flask of Straub's best scotch."

"Chris, I know you see me as the life of the party but sometimes I just need some time to myself. It's nothing against you. Really." Lorelai squeezed Chris's arm in reassurance.

"Yeah, but it seems like you're avoiding me, and I thought we were…" Chris hesitated, searching for the right words.

"Thought we were what, Chris?" Lorelai pressed.

"You know, I thought we were … dating." Chris looked down at his shoes nervously.

"Dating? I guess I didn't get that memo." Lorelai quipped.

"Come on Lor, what about Anderson's party?"

"Oh you mean two weeks ago when you got completely wasted, pushed me against the wall, and started to eat my face? Sorry to break it to you Chris, but that wasn't so pleasant for me, and it certainly wasn't a prelude to dating!" God, Lorelai thought to herself, he could be so clueless sometimes. She had actually been quite angry that night, and was avoiding him, but she eventually let it go.

"I thought it was nice." Chris said quietly.

"Well, you sure have a lot to learn, then! Look, Christopher, I'm over it. I know you were drunk and got your signals crossed."

"You kissed me first."

He was right. She and Christopher had been flirting since 7th grade, but he had never asked her out. Then in eighth grade, after school one day in the A&P parking lot, Lorelai impulsively walked right up to Chris and kissed him on the lips. She wanted to know what it would be like. She lingered for about 30 seconds to make it more of a real kiss. When she stopped, Chris pulled her back in and kissed her for about two minutes.

Lorelai had been kissed before, but that was her first official 'make-out" session. It was not as she hoped. Lorelai was expecting fireworks of some sort—like when Bobby Brady kissed that mumps girl, but it was just…just…well, sloppy and wet. She didn't know what it was exactly but it didn't quite live up to her expectations. But how could she really know what to expect? What was with all the hype?

Maybe she just needed more practice, and Chris was a pretty safe choice in that department, she figured. They had known it each for years. They came from the same world. Both of their fathers were insurance executives and their mothers busy with the DAR. Many times they had rescued one another from high society boredom by slinking away during the stuffy, formal, parties to make mischief. Chris was a champion mocker, and he could hold his own in the banter department. He was also cute in Chachi-esque kind of way, and Lorelai would be lying to herself if she didn't admit to sometimes imagining being Joanie to his Chachi.

Lately, however, Christopher was getting on her nerves. It wasn't just him; she was beginning to find nearly everyone in her snotty, private school world annoying and shallow. They all loved to mock their parents, but at the same time, they were becoming just like them: an elite little society with contempt for anyone not wealthy enough to be in their world, and Chris was leading the charge.

When Lorelai had befriended Karen, a girl on scholarship, she got a glimpse of life outside of wealthy Hartford. Karen was creative, funny, and really into writing. Together after school they once wrote hilarious skits at Karen's modest but cozy house. Later they performed for her parents and little brother. Lorelai was invited to stay for dinner and was delighted eat frozen pizza and help clean up. Karen's parents joked around and teased them. They were interested in Karen and Lorelai's day. It was wonderful. Lorelai thought she finally found the image and feeling of a real home for the first time.

But it didn't take long for Lorelai's so called friends to drive Karen away. She remembered the first time Karen sat with her group in the cafeteria. Everyone was polite to Karen's face, but the minute she got up to return her tray, they snickered. Chris looked right at Lorelai and said, "What the hell was that? Your good deed for the day?"

By the end of the first semester, Karen withdrew her scholarship and returned to public school. "It just wasn't worth it," she told Lorelai. "I mean, high school is supposed to be fun. I may not get into the Ivy League, but at least I'll be able to enjoy my time in school."

Fun. Now there's a concept, Lorelai thought. In Lorelai's world, 'fun' always seemed to be had at someone else's expense.

But Lorelai had other plans. She was determined to live a different kind of life. If she could just get through high school, she'd find her way in college and hang out with interesting people who cared about more than their social status. She had to.

"Earth to Lorelai. Are you even listening to me?" Christopher asked.

"Yeah…sorry. You're right. I did kiss you first. You know me, I'm not exactly Miss Patient, but I'd make a good run at the Miss Impulsive crown."

"Yes you would, Lor, and that's part of your charm. At least come to the game. Tomorrow will suck without you." Chris gave her his most charming smile. "We can consider it our first date." The smile got wider.

C'mon Gilmore, think fast, Lorelai thought. "I'll tell you what, Christopher." It was Lorelai's turn to turn on the charm. She flipped her hair, smiled, and looked him in the eye. "I owe you one. I need this weekend to myself, but on Monday, let's ditch lunch and go to Joe's Pizza. Just the two of us."

"A lunch date?" Chris confirmed.

"A lunch pre-date.How about that?"

"I'll take what I can get. Enjoy yourself, Emily Dickinson." He started to walk off and turned again. "Call me if you change your mind about tonight or tomorrow. I know there's a baseball fan hidden deep inside you!"

"I highly doubt it!" Lorelai called back. Finally, she was free.

Stars Hollow: 4:15 p.m. Friday, June 10, 1983

"Alright boys that's enough for today," yelled the coach of the Stars Hollow Minutemen baseball team. "Come on in for a quick meeting in the dugout."

Luke Danes threw his last pitch to his catcher and trotted in with the rest of his teammates. There was an unusual seriousness amongst the players as they quietly gathered on the dugout bench.

Coach Barrows smiled slightly. "I'm sure you're surprised about the length of this practice, but there's no need to wear anybody out. Besides, men, we're ready. We are as ready as we'll ever be to take on Hartford tomorrow."

The quiet was broken by shortstop Jake Banyon who yelled, "Yeeeaaahhhh!" Many of his teammates joined in and cheered as well.

"Okay animals, settle down. Now listen up. There will be a strict curfew of 10 p.m. tonight. I will be calling your homes so do not test me on this."

"Aw, come on Coach! It's Friday night, man!" That was from Ken Kaleeda, the leftfielder.

"Kaleeda, you're free to do as you see fit. You don't have to play tomorrow." That shut Ken up quickly. "Look. I want everybody well rested. You're going to need all of your focus to hit Bowman tomorrow, who, as you know is the second best pitcher in the state." The coach looked slyly over at Luke who dropped his head in embarrassment as his teammates whooped, hollered, and pat him on the back.

"I'll see you all at 12 sharp tomorrow in the locker room. Gleason, make sure your home uniform is ready this time, for Christ's sake!"

Luke was one of the first in and out the showers as he rushed to get ready. He wanted to take over for his father at the hardware store. Lately his dad was not himself. He was tired, forgetful, and listless at times. He was usually an early riser, but three times this past week, he slept through the alarm, and it fell to Luke to rouse him. He was used to having to drag his comatose younger sister Liz out of bed in time for school, but his father was another matter. Luke was worried that he was to blame. With baseball and track, he wasn't able to work as many hours at the store. He offered to quit track, but his father wouldn't have it. Plus, they were both overwhelmed with paperwork regarding Luke's many scholarship offers. It was a happy, but stressful time for both of them. Well at least I know he'll have fun at the game tomorrow, Luke thought to himself. William Danes never missed a Stars Hollow baseball game or track meet. He loved sports and was bursting with pride over Luke's success. But William would have been fine if Luke had been the water boy or didn't play sports at all. He just wanted his son to be happy. He celebrated his triumphs but never put pressure on him to be a star.

"Yo Danes. What's up tonight?" asked Billy, the third baseman.

"Nothing really. I'm working at the store tonight."

"But it closes at six."

"The store closes, but the work doesn't. There's inventory, the books—"

"I know but, a bunch of us are heading to the lake tonight. You can't expect a girl like Rachel to stay home on a Friday night."

"Rachel doesn't exactly sit home and do nothing when I'm not around. Besides, we broke up," Luke said quietly.

"What? You broke up with the hottest girl in school? Are you crazy? Hey, did you guys hear this? Luke broke up with Rachel!"

"Oh yeah!" Jake's voice rang out. "She's finally come to her senses and is ready for a real man."

"Who would that be?" Ken asked.

"Me, of course," Jake answered.

"Yeah, but she thinks you're an asshole," broke in Billy, laughing.

"A minor complication, even if it is true," Jake responded

"Which it is," said Luke. "And for the record, I didn't break up with her. It was mutual."

"What happened, anyway?" asked Billy sincerely.

"Not that it's anyone's business," said Luke, "But we just read the writing on the wall, that's all. She's going to Berkley, and I'm going…well who the hell knows yet, but it won't be California that's for sure."

"When did you guys break up?" asked Billy.

"I don't know, about three weeks ago?"

"Three weeks!" said Ken incredulously. "She's been on the market for three weeks? Thanks for telling us, man…Wait a minute, you were with her at the prom last weekend."

"So what? We're still friends."

"Yeah man," said Jake understandably. "You don't break all ties with a piece of ass like that. You still have like two more months of fucking."

Luke jumped up off the bench and pushed Jake up against the wall. "You need to shut up now," he glared at Jake menacingly.

"Come on, Luke. I was just kidding." Luke tightened his grasp on Jake's shirt and stared at him. "Luke, buddy, lighten up. You know I'm an asshole."

"Yes, Jake, I know that, but you've just crossed a line." Luke did not take his eyes off Jake or lessen his grip.

"Let me go, Luke," Jake pleaded. "I'm sorry man, really."

"He's not worth it, Luke," added Billy.

"I know that," replied Luke, "but does this" Luke pressed Jake harder into the wall "dirt bag know it?"

"Yes I do," said Jake with as much sincerity as he could fake. "It won't happen again."

Luke released Jake and stormed off. "Jesus, Jake!" exclaimed Billy as they watched Luke leave. Why don't you call a suicide hotline next time you get an urge to talk like that around Luke?"

Gilmore Residence

Lorelai was in Heaven. She got home from her shopping spree by 4:30 and discovered Paul had kept his promise. The pool was up and running! He even got two lawn chairs and the floats ready. Lorelai went for a swim and lounged poolside reading People magazine as she listened to the new Flock of Seagulls tape on her walkman. At the first sign of darkness, she went in for dinner. It took a little convincing, but she got the cook to let her order pizza (extra cheese and sausage) and make, or rather, prepare tater tots.

As she waited for the pizza, she started to take the latest Cosmo quizwhen the phone rang.

"Gilmore residence."

"Hi Lor."

"Hey Christopher."

"Whatcha doing?"

"Reading the latest Cosmo."

"Oh yeah? What's the quiz this week?" Chris and Lorelai had cracked themselves up a few times over the Cosmo quizzes.

"It's called, Are You a Control Freak?"

"Don't bother, Lor, the answer's clearly yes."

"Alright, Buster," she laughed. "Why are you calling?"

"Just checking to see if you're lonely."

"Nope. I'm having a grand old time. Paul got the …"

"Paul?"

"Yes, Paul, our pool guy…"

"You know their names?!"

That does it, Lorelai thought to herself. "Chris! You're being a jerk again. Why don't you quit while you're still ahead? God, I really hate this new snobbery of yours."

"Sorry. Really, Lor. You know I'm not like that."

"Well you have a funny way of showing it sometimes."

"That's why we need to stick together. I need you to keep me grounded."

Yeah. So what do you do for me? Lorelai had to bite her lip to keep her thoughts to herself. "Okay Chris. The pizza guy's here so I'll see you Monday."

"Monday. So we're good?"

"We're good, Chris." Against my better judgment. "See you."

She hung up as Chris said goodbye and sighed. Was he really the best she could do?

Two hours, a pizza, a bag tater tots, red vines, and various cans of soda-pop later, Lorelai was just getting into a creepy B movie on Cinemax when she noticed headlights coming up the driveway. Who could that be? It couldn't be her parents; it was barely nine.

Just in case, she changed the channel, quickly swooped up the plates and other debris from her pig out, and rushed to the kitchen.

"Lorelai! We're home. Where are you?" It was Emily alright. She'd know her mother's unmistakable voice anywhere.

Lorelai walked in. "Mom? Dad? How was the dinner? What are you two doing back so early?"

"Dinner was fine, Lorelai, but we had to leave because we are hosting tomorrow night."

"What? I thought you were going to Danbury…"

"We were," her father broke in, "but there's something wrong with the venue—a burst pipe or something to that effect, and we offered to host."

"Actually," Emily shot a glance at her husband as she spoke, "your father took it upon himself to volunteer us knowing full well the arrangements would be left up to me! Really Richard! What were you thinking!"

"I was thinking about Robert, and what a shame it would be for his retirement party to get postponed. He has been a valuable and loyal partner in our company for thirty years. He deserves a proper send-off, Emily."

"Well we've got to get going right away. I will get Rosita started on the main dishes. I am going to have to call in some favors to get emergency catering. Lorelai, come with me right now and we'll pick out your outfit…"

"Whoa! What? I'm not part of this!"

"Lorelai, don't be ridiculous, of course you're helping. I expect you to help greet our guests."

"Can't do it. I already have plans," Lorelai said as firmly as possible.

"What plans? You never told me about any plans."

"I didn't? Well I thought I did. I have an important school function to attend."

"What kind of school function?"

"A baseball game," Lorelai mumbled. She couldn't think of a better idea under pressure.

"You're kidding," Emily said dismissively. "You hate sports, especially baseball."

"Okay Mom, you've got me there, but this more to support the school. It's a big deal, I guess. It's a play-off game for the state championship. Our school hasn't been this close to winning in over twenty years. The whole school will be there. They even charted buses for the fans."

"Where is it?"

"Um…I don't remember the name exactly, but it's--"

"Stars Hollow," Richard interrupted with the newspaper opened to the Sports pages. It's a semifinal match in Stars Hollow…hmm…go figure."

"Go figure what? Asked Emily, clearly annoyed.

"Well, Stars Hollow is a tiny town. They have less than 10,000 people. How could a school from such a small town make it to the division one playoffs?" wondered Richard aloud as he skimmed the article. "Oh…apparently they have some kind of pitching prodigy. It says here that after mowing down the competition in divisions three and two, they petitioned successfully to enter the Division one post season. Well that's highly irregular…"

"Richard!" Emily shouted.

"What, Emily? I didn't say Lorelai should go, I was merely pointing out the significance of the game. To tell you the truth, I think I should go," Richard joked.

"Not on your life, Richard!"

"Dad, didn't you say I should get more involved in school events? You told me it would help me get into college."

"Lorelai," Richard sighed. "I hardly think being a spectator will impress the admissions people at Yale or Dartmouth."

"Yeah, but everyone has to start somewhere," Lorelai added hopefully.

"Richard! People will expect to see Lorelai here."

"Not if it's so last minute, Mom."

"Emily, there is no one quite like you to rise to a challenge of this magnitude. With or without Lorelai, I am sure you will make this party a rousing success," Richard proclaimed.

Emily folded her arms and stared at her husband and daughter. Lorelai had no idea what her mother was thinking, but she had a sudden, brilliant idea. She pretended to concede defeat and started to walk away slowly. "Well I better go call Christopher."

"Christopher? Emily said, taking the bait. "Christopher Hayden?"

"Yes Mother. He will be so disappointed. I better call him before it gets too late." Emily and Richard exchanged glances and fleeting smiles.

"Don't bother, Lorelai. There's no need to disappoint the Hayden boy. You can go. But you owe me one, Lorelai. In fact, I think there's a DAR ball coming up this October you can attend."

"Great," grumbled Lorelai miserably as she went off to call Jennifer.

Stars Hollow

Luke made it to Williams Hardware to find his father leaning against the counter trying to add up the daily sales. "Hey Dad. I'll take it from here."

"Hey superstar. How was practice?" William greeted with as much energy as he could muster.

Luke frowned as he took in his father's posture. "Dad, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, son. I'm just a little tired today."

"Today? Dad, you haven't been yourself for over a week now. Maybe you should check in with Dr. Brown."

"I'm fine, Lucas. Now talk to me about practice."

"It was fine." Luke knew that whenever his father called him "Lucas" it was time to move on to a new subject. "I almost killed Jake Banyon."

"Again? What did he do this time?"

"He had some colorful things to say about Rachel."

"Oh, boy. You shut him up good I hope?"

"Yup."

"Good. How are you weathering the break up anyway?"

"It's alright. I mean, what can we do? A long distance relationship would be ridiculous."

"Yeah at your ages, I suppose so, but you do have options, Luke."

"Dad, I'm not going to school on the west coast."

"You could, you know."

"I know. I just don't want to."

"Alright." That boy of his could be so stubborn sometimes. "Well I guess I'll drag my sorry carcass home and start dinner. Spaghetti sound good to you?"

Luke grinned, "Seeing as that's all you know how to cook, I guess it will have to."

"Hey, don't insult your old man's cooking!" William joked. He slapped Luke affectionately on the back as he walked out of the store. Luke watched him through the window with worry. Even his walk was off. Something seemed wrong, but there was no talking to his father about it. He was as stubborn as a mule sometimes.

6:30 p.m., Stars Hollow

Luke finished the inventory, added up the sales, and updated the books. He decided to give Rachel a call on the store's phone so he could have some privacy. Liz was always eavesdropping on his conversations.

"Hello?"

"Hey Rachel."

"Hi Luke! What's going on? Shouldn't you be pacing a hole in your floor thinking about the game tomorrow?"

"Actually, I'm not that worried."

"You shouldn't be, Luke. No one can hit you."

"I don't know about that, Rachel. I guess I just feel that doing my best is all I can do. Whatever happens, happens. You'll be there, right?"

"Of course! Did I tell you that The Stars Hollow Gazette hired me to take photos of the game? It's my first real newspaper job."

"That's great, Rachel. You really deserve it. You're a great photographer."

"Thanks Butch!"

"Rachel…" Luke growled. "Don't you dare."

"Sorry. I couldn't resist. I had gym class with Carrie Duncan today, and she was talking nonstop about the sexy Butch Danes," she teased.

"Oh yeah? Well what if I told you that you came up in the locker room today."

"You giving out my secrets?"

"What? Of course not! You know I would never—"

"I know Luke. Of course I know. I just can't resist the teasing. You fall for it every time. So, was it Jake? Who am I kidding, of course it was him! What did that loser say this time?"

"You don't want to know, believe me."

"Yes I do.

"No you don't."

"Luke!"

"Okay. Apparently he didn't know we had broken up because we went to the prom together and it's out of his limited brain capacity to understand the concept of friendship between males and females."

"No surprise there. Get to the bad stuff."

"Well…he, uh, kind of said that I was keeping you as a friend so we could still have sex. Although he said it more colorfully and in front of everyone."

"Like we're friends so we can still fuck?"

"Geez, Rachel!"

"How I wish I could see your red face right now, Luke," Rachel laughed.

"Aren't you mad?"

"At that pig? Yeah, I guess so, but I'm sure you persuaded him to stop."

"I did." About ten seconds of silence passed.

"Luke? You know, he kind of has a point, there."

"What?"

"Well, we were quite good at it, to put it mildly. And I miss it, I have to say, I really do. Don't you miss being together, Luke?"

"Rachel, of course I do. But what are we going to do? In two months, we will be 3,000 miles apart."

"In two months."

"Yes."

"Two loooonnnggg months, Luke."

"Rachel, I can't. I would feel like I was using you, no matter what you said. I just can't do that. I couldn't handle getting back together only to break up again."

"Have you considered playing ball in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania? God, Luke, if you weren't so crazy good in bed, I'd think you were Amish."

"I am not Amish."

"Oh I know, sweets, I know."

"Hmmm."

"You could take that USC scholarship."

"No can do."

"Your dad wouldn't mind."

"He wouldn't mind IF that's where I wanted to go, but that's not where I want to go."

"Even though it's like, one of the best schools for baseball in the country?"

"Even though."

"Luke, your dad is fine."

"I don't think so, but even if I'm wrong, Liz is about inches from the deep end. I mean, her role model is Crazy Carrie Duncan for Christ's sake."

"Luke, you can't save everyone. You can't fix everything."

"I know."

Silence.

"Luke, no matter what happens to us, I just want you to know that you're a great guy. I doubt I'll ever meet anyone with a heart like yours in California or anywhere else for that matter. I'm going to miss you so much."

"Me too."

"You're going to miss you too?"

"Rachel."

"Goodnight Luke. See you at the game tomorrow."

"Bye."

6:45, Stars Hollow

Luke walked into a quiet house. No music blaring. Liz must still be out God knows where doing God knows what.

"Hey Dad! I hope you cooked a ton of spaghetti because I'm starving." There was no answer. Luke dropped his gym bag and headed for the kitchen. He heard the crunch of uncooked spaghetti under his feet and saw his father lying on the kitchen floor.

"Dad!" Luke rushed to the floor and held his father's face in his hands. He was breathing.

"Dad, can you hear me?" Luke brushed his father's hair out of his face. Hot tears filled his eyes as he tried not to panic.

"Dad," Luke summoned his calmest voice. "Dad! It's Luke. Please, Dad."

"Luke," he heard his father's voice faintly.

"I'm here, Dad. I'm just going to call for an ambulance. Don't worry, okay?"

"I'm….oookaaay," William whispered.

"No," Luke said firmly. "You're not. I'm getting you to the hospital whether you like it or not." Luke ran for the phone.

TBC…Next installment: Lorelai meets a star pitcher in Stars Hollow.

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