Author's Note: Here I am almost a year after the finale and two years after that dreaded episode (6.22) and I still can't come into terms with it. So this is my version of how things could have gone differently. Hope you like it.
A big thank you to pink hammer for fixing my many mistakes. Another thank you to my friend Katrin (cappuccino) for the support and the ideas she gave me.
Luke had really been looking forward to this trip and the chance to bond with his daughter. The truth was that he was thrilled when April had suggested it to him, happy to spend some more time with her away from all the noisy townspeople who couldn't mind their own business. Still, he felt a rush of relief wash over him when they were told that they had to cancel the remainder of the trip due to the storm in Philadelphia.
He was suddenly feeling very eager to get home to Lorelai. Even though she had said that they didn't have anything planned, he knew that Lane's wedding was scheduled for today. So, this was the perfect opportunity to show up and be her escort for the wedding. It felt like forever since they'd been on a date together, what with him dealing with April's presence in his life and Lorelai being busy at the inn, so he felt that now was his chance to spend more time with his fiancée. Maybe they could even plan a last minute getaway just for the two of them since Luke wasn't expected in the diner for the rest of the week. They could finally relax and enjoy each other.
Things had not been easy in the time since their engagement. The problems started with Lorelai's rift with Rory and not wanting to set a date until things were settled between the two of them, and then just when things seemed to settle back to normal, his long-lost daughter appeared and shook up his life. Even now, after the date had been set and most of the plans made, their wedding had been postponed.
Thinking about it now, the postponement makes absolutely no sense to him. At the time, he'd thought it was a good idea, giving him time to make things right for everyone, spend some quality time bonding with his daughter and then getting married worry free. Now, the more he thinks about it, the more he wants to set a new date. Heck they could probably even pull off June 3rd if everyone pitched in.
That's another one of the reasons he is so eager to get home - to tell Lorelai that their wedding is back on. After their trip to Martha's Vineyard for Valentine's Day, and especially after Lorelai confessed her concerns about the wedding not happening, he was taking every
chance he had to reassure her that they WOULD get married. But, no matter how many times he spoke the words, something in Lorelai's eyes told him that she wasn't convinced. He was the 'actions speak louder than words' man after all, and what better way to show her how serious he is about them as a couple, than returning early to start planning the wedding they deserved.
Luke was beaming. He had it all planned out in his head. He would appear unannounced on her doorstep, all dressed up ready to sweep her off her feet. He would escort her to the wedding, they would dance, have a good time and finally when they returned home he would tell her about the wedding and give her the present he had found for her on the trip. But you know what they say: when people make plans, God is laughing from above.
Lost in thoughts and plans, Luke hadn't noticed that the bus had stopped moving. As he reluctantly dragged himself away from his thoughts about Lorelai, he realized that the bus was at a standstill, along with hundreds of other cars ahead of them.
Leaning between the two front seats, he asked his daughter, "Hey April, why aren't we moving?"
April rolled her eyes. "Did you only just notice? Have you been asleep or something?"
Not wanting to explain his earlier thoughts to his daughter, Luke ignored her questions, scanning the road ahead of them for clues about the problem.
Seeing that she wasn't going to receive an answer, April continued. "Apparently there's a huge accident ahead of us so we're stuck here for at least a couple more hours. At least until they remove the truck and we can move again."
Luke started to panic; he knew that if he wanted to turn his daydreams into reality he really needed to be back in Stars Hollow in two hours and not just sitting in a bus waiting for the fire department to clear the crashed vehicles from the road.
"Great," he sighed in a defeated tone, sinking back in his seat.
"I thought no one was expecting you back home for at least a week, so why does it matter?" April asked sharply.
Along with every other kid in the bus, April wasn't in the best mood. She'd really been looking forward to the math contest and was unhappy that it had been cancelled on account of the storm.
Sensing that her father would rather be at home in Stars Hollow, she snapped at him. "YOU were the one that told me you wanted to come, you know. You said that you didn't have anything planned! Why is it suddenly a problem for you to have to sit on the bus for a while longer?"
By the time she finished her sentence, April's voice was at full force and every head in the bus was turned towards the two.
"Calm down," Luke hissed. "I never said that I didn't want to be on the trip. Of course I wanted to come," he said, trying to placate her.
"It doesn't sound that way to me," sulked April, not willing to let go of her animosity just yet.
"Look, I know you're upset but you'll have plenty more opportunities for math contests in the future. It's not the end of the world just because you missed one due to bad weather. You're young and you'll have a lot more chances for trips like this. Calm down. Relax." Luke said in the most soothing voice he could muster.
The little lecture from her father seemed to calm April down a little, but she still didn't seem too pleased with him.
Getting the truck off the road turned out to be a much more time consuming job than first expected. As Luke watched the minutes and hours pass by, he felt more and more agitated. His plans were about to be ruined. He sighed deeply.
After three hours of sitting on the bus doing nothing they finally started moving again. Immediately, Luke tried to calculate how long it would take them to get home. How long would it take to get to the parking lot where his truck was parked? How long would it take to get from there to Stars Hollow? No matter how many times he went over it, the results were not good. He realized that there was no doubt that he would miss the wedding ceremony altogether. If he was lucky, he might make it to the reception and maybe he could still salvage some of the night. After all, their first 'moment' was when he asked her to dance at his sister's wedding reception. He remembered her surprised face and the way they had melted into each other's arms. He hoped that he would get the chance to relive that moment this evening.
He was really glad he listened to Lorelai and her insistence that he bring along some nice clothes. They would certainly come in handy now. Closing his eyes for a moment, he pictured her surprised face when he walked in to the reception all dressed up.
When they finally got back to the car park he said a quick goodbye to a still-surly April and quickly headed for his truck. Stopping at a gas station, he used the cramped restroom to change his clothes. It wasn't the best location, but it would have to do.
He returned to the road, knowing that he is only one hour away from Stars Hollow. The party would be at full swing by the time he gets there, but if everything goes well, he'll still be in time to surprise Lorelai.
Fortunately for him, there were no other accidents on the road and he reached Stars Hollow almost exactly one hour later. As he crossed the road towards the reception, he spotted the crowds of people celebrating and heard Rory making a toast to the newlyweds. As she finished and stepped down from the stage, he followed her with his eyes, hoping to spot Lorelai's table and Lorelai herself.
In the end, he didn't have to try hard to find her, since Lorelai was the next one up on the stage to give her best wishes to the couple. As soon as he sees her, he suspects that she is drunk, a fact confirmed when she bumps into the band equipment.
As she started to speak, her voice brought a smile to his face. A smile that would soon fade.
"Hello. Everybody, hello. Some of you know me as Lorelai Gilmore, and some of you know me as Cher. But either way, I wanted to say a few words about our girl. I have known Lane forever, and I'm just so incredibly happy that she has gotten married. I mean, I am just so happy that this adorable 22-year-old girl has gotten married, because it's amazing, you know? It's really hard to get married. Believe me, I should know. I mean, seriously, because Lane is married, and next thing, it'll be my daughter, and then my granddaughter, but not me. I'm not getting married. No, it ain't for me. It's not in the cards. But, hey, do you know what date I'm not getting married? June 3rd. Do not save the date. Do you hear me? Do whatever you want on June 3rd, because there's nothing at all happening on that day. If there's anything you need to book or anything, it's totally safe to book it on June 3rd."