Chapter 9

Author's Note: Here it is the final chapter of this story. Hope you enjoyed it, I certainly had fun trying to find a way to avoid the stupid s6 finale. Hope I did them justice. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed and those who only read but didn't want their presence to be known lol

A special thanks to Pink Hammer for being an excellent beta and calling minor the many mistakes she corrected. :)

Also thanks to Cappuccino who provided many ideas. The date? All her.


"Mom what are you doing here?" she asks when she sees Lorelai camped out in front of her couch with a suitcase nearby.

"Hey kid!" She tries to be calm, tries not to upset Rory yet.

"Hello to you too. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" she says playing along.

"Well I was just passing by the neighborhood and thought I would pay my lovely daughter a visit."

Rory wants to know the real reason. "Okay enough with the chit- chat, now I would really like to hear the real reason behind you being here with a suitcase!"

Lorelai exhales loudly prolonging the inevitable explanation. "I just need a place to stay for a night or two, and here I am."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have a newly renovated house waiting for you in Stars Hollow and a fiancé…" She stops mid-sentence, only now realizing that something is wrong with her mother and Luke. "What happened?" she inquires.

Lorelai lowers her head and almost whispers. "He's keeping secrets again."

Rory strains to hear what she says, realizing what her mother is referring to when talking about secrets, but deciding to pretend ignorance. "What do you mean again? I thought you talked and made up!"

"We did, and everything was great, but for the last two or three days ,whenever I enter the diner I find him talking on the phone, and as soon as I step foot in there he hangs up or pretends to be talking about orders."

"Well, he is in his diner so chances are he does talk about orders."

"You weren't there to hear him hanging up the phone and trying to come up with excuses or ways to change the subject."

Rory, knowing the reason behind all those calls, tries to reason with her. "Mom, come on, I think you are overreacting. Yes, I know that these past few months have been very difficult for you, but you can't suspect every one of Luke's moves or phone calls. And I think he learned his lesson."

"Why do you say that?" Lorelai is suddenly intrigued by her daughter's certainty.

"Because I saw him that night of your drunken speech. As I was ready to leave, he was coming to the house to make sure you were alright. And believe me when I say this, I haven't seen Luke so lost and emotional as he was that night. From the little we talked, he showed me that he clearly understands his mistakes, and from what you told me, he admitted them to you. So do you think that after such a short time he would keep important secrets again?" she finishes, hoping that this little speech is enough to convince her mother.

Rory expects a reaction, but her mother just sits there with her head lowered, looking at the floor.

"Hello! Earth to Lorelai. Did you hear anything that I just said?"

"I heard you," she replies still without looking up.

"But?"

"But you weren't there to see his guilty face or how he reacted, so end of discussion! Will you let me stay here or should I start looking for available rooms in the Hartford area?"

Her mother is resigned and looks really tired, so Rory decides to let her stay.

"Of course you can stay. You don't even have to ask. You'll sleep in my room, so that Paris won't bother you with her crazy schedule."

"Thanks, kid. I'll just head to the bathroom, take off these clothes," she says gesturing.

"Suit yourself."

When her mother is out of ear shot she grabs her cell and proceeds to call Luke.

"Lorelai?" he asks anxiously.

"No, Luke, it's me," Rory says.

"Oh, hi, Rory," he replies, standing motionless.

"I'm guessing you were expecting mom?"

"Have you heard from her?" The anxiety is again evident in his voice.

"She's here. That's what I called to say."

"There? What is she doing there and why she didn't tell me anything?" He fires questions.

"Remember the times she caught you talking to me on the phone? Well she misinterpreted that and now she thinks that you're still holding secrets from her."

"I'm coming right over," he says, rustling coming from his side of the phone as he no doubt prepares to leave.

"You stay there!" she says loudly.

"What did you say, Rory?" Lorelai asks from the bathroom.

"Nothing, mom, I'm talking with Paris on the phone," she says, covering. She holds her breath, hoping that her mother won't come out of the bathroom and she'll be able to convince Luke to stay in Stars Hollow.

When no answer comes from Lorelai's side, she starts talking to Luke again, though now she is almost whispering.

"Let her calm down tonight. I'll talk to her some more and try to convince her that nothing is wrong."

He exhales loudly, obviously complying with what Rory suggests. "You won't convince her, but at least try to calm her down. I'll explain everything tomorrow when I get there." He sighs again.

"Do you want me to tell her the reason behind all those calls she heard?" she asks

"No, I'll handle it. Don't worry."

"Whatever you think is best," she replies.

"Good night, Rory, and I'll see you tomorrow." She is ready to hang up the phone when she hears, "Oh, and October 18."

"Huh?" she says, not knowing what that means.

"October 18, the date I booked for the wedding. I know it's kinda late for a summer wedding, but it shouldn't be too cold to be held outside."

Rory grins, knowing that with Luke so determined, everything will work out.

XXX

Early the next morning, Luke, who hadn't been able to sleep all night, is outside Rory's room contemplating whether he should knock or wait till he can hear movement from the inside. The debate ends when his phone rings and it's Rory.

"You're up early," he says in place of a greeting.

"Knowing you, you're waiting outside the door right now." Silence from the other end. "Thought so."

She opens the door and finds him sitting on the floor leaning on the wall opposite her room. Beside him were two Luke's bags, no doubt containing coffee and breakfast.

"You comfy there? Want me to go back in?" she jokes.

"Like mother, like daughter," he grumbles as he enters. He scans the room, looking for Lorelai.

"She is sleeping in my room," Rory states.

He moves aside the covers Rory used to sleep on the couch last night and with a heavy thud, drops onto it. He looks up at her and whispers, "Do I want to know how your talk went last night?"

She sits next to him and sighs. "I'm going to be honest with you; she is convinced that she made a mistake forgiving you so soon. She thinks you didn't learn from your mistakes and that you're still keeping secrets from her."

He drops his head to the back of the couch, covering his eyes with his hand.

Seeing him so sad Rory continues. "But when you tell her the truth, I'm sure she'll come around," she says supportively.

"The point here is trust, Rory, and I lost hers long ago," he replies.

"You still thinking of letting her help with April's birthday party?" she questions.

"Of course! I intended to tell her last night but she didn't show up. Why would I change my mind? Are you starting to doubt me too?"

Rory senses that she asked the wrong question, since he is obviously upset now.

He gets up from the couch and starts pacing the living room. "I had no intention of keeping April from Lorelai for so long. I just needed time to figure out how to be a father to a teenage girl! What would your mother think if she saw me fail? How would that affect her desire to have a kid of our own?" he finishes.

Rory is speechless after his outburst, while Luke stands there, breathing heavily.

He approaches Rory and sits back on the couch, this time closer to her. He puts an arm around her shoulders, "I'm sorry," he apologizes simply.

Rory turns to look at him and admits, "I just really, really want you as a step dad. I want this to work as much as you and mom do." She blushes.

Luke looks at her with a tentative smile and leans to hug her while whispering in her ear. "It will!"

He gets up, grabs a cup of coffee from the bag and heads towards Rory's room. He stops after a few steps. "Um, which door? I certainly don't want to stumble in on Paris" he jokes.

"The one on the right," she replies, smiling. "And don't forget that's my bed in there."

"Oh jeez!" is his only reply.

He opens the door quietly and goes in. He just stands there for a while, letting his eyes adjust to the dark. He sees her sleeping on her side, clutching a pillow; he approaches and sits on the bed facing her back. He doesn't want to startle her, so he starts rubbing her arm, trying to wake her gently. After a while, he feels her stir, turning towards him and placing her head on his thigh. He keeps the contact with her, but now he tries to get her hair off her face so he can see her better. While doing so, he sees her eyes open, looking at him before closing again. After a while, as if only now realizing what she had seen, she snaps her eyes open, trying to sit up.

"What are you doing here?" She tries to get off the bed but Luke holds her in place. "Did Rory tell you where I was?" she asks again, getting angry.

"Yes, Rory called, but there is no need to get angry at her," he replies calmly.

"And who should I be angry at, Luke?" she fires back.

He keeps her there, despite her attempts to get up. He doesn't say anything, just looks her straight in the eye, begging her to see the answers in them. She stops fighting him, lying there looking up at him instead.

"Why did you run to Rory?" he asks, but his voice is calm, soothing even.

She exhales loudly and averts her eyes. "You're still keeping secrets from me," she states, her eyes filling with unshed tears.

"Yes, I am," he states matter of fact.

She feels like her worst nightmares are confirmed and the tears that she held back are now spilling down her face.

"But…" he continues while wiping her cheeks with his thumbs, "it was for a good purpose."

She snorts in response. "Can you see the irony in your words, Luke? Secrets and for a good purpose? Is this seriously your argument?"

"Yes" is his only reply.

"I'm going to need something more than that; and would you let me get up?" she is angry again, struggling to get free from him.

"What if I told you that the phone calls were to organize our wedding shower?" he says, getting straight to the point as he sees that she's lost her patience.

He immediately feels her relax, ceasing the struggle, her arms now loose in his. She is looking at him, obviously stunned by his admission. "What did you just say?" she asks.

"Rory and I, we were planning a wedding shower to surprise you. And since I had no idea about decorations, flowers and stuff I had to call her every now and then to ask for details." He stops, waiting for her reaction.

"Were planning?" she prompts.

"As of yesterday, the wedding shower was replaced by a birthday party," he says.

"Whose birthday party?" she asks, perplexed.

"April's. I've promised her that we can have it during her trip, since her mother can't host the party this year and the rest of the kids seemed to like me. She wants to have it in the diner. I had forgotten all about it until she called me yesterday. That's the reason behind the phone calls you probably heard that made you angry."

"Oh"

"Yeah. I was about to tell you last night, but you weren't there," he finishes, waiting for her reply.

"To tell me that I can finally meet April?" she asks hopefully.

"That, and that I want you to help me organize her party. What do I know about teen parties? I almost had a meltdown while trying to decide about OUR wedding shower," he grins at her.

She squeals, and for the first time, he lets her hands go. She pulls him down and hugs him with all she has.

"Really?" she asks while still hugging him.

"Of course," he replies, withdrawing from the hug to look her straight in the eye. "No more words, remember? Just actions. And if you still want, we can have the wedding shower after April's party."

She shakes her head no. "I don't need parties or any big gestures. Letting me help and be a part of April's life is more than enough for me."

He nods, unable to form any words. For the first time in a while, he sees hope and happiness in her eyes.

She pulls him down again, this time aiming for his lips. The kiss starts slow, both savoring the feeling of each other, but when Lorelai opens her mouth, Luke pulls back.

"Huh?" she asks, still dazed from the kiss.

Luke blushes but a small smile appears on his lips, "Rory warned me that this is her bed."

Lorelai pulls him back down for a hug and starts giggling uncontrollably.

"Hey, hey, keep it pg-13 in there!" Rory yells from the other side of the door.

That makes Lorelai laugh even louder and Luke once again pulls back and gets up.

"Oh look at you, intimidated by the daughter," she teases.

He extends his hand, reaching out for her "Let's get you dressed and go back home."

She pouts in response. "And here I was hoping you'd get me undressed!"

"Lorelai!" he hisses.

The giggles are once again back, and so is Rory's response. "Don't make me come in there!"

Luke can take no more, so he moves and opens the door "I'll be waiting outside."

Both mother and daughter move to stop him "No, wait! Stay, we can have breakfast here."

"Only if you both promise to behave," he responds.

"He can't handle both Gilmore girls!" Lorelai says, and they both break into laughter.

XXX

A couple of days later, Luke and Lorelai are in the diner, talking during one of the lulls.

"Are you busy tomorrow?" Luke asks.

"I have a meeting with a bride that wants to book the Dragonfly, but after that I should be free. Why?" she responds while sipping her coffee.

"Uh, well, I thought we could go to the mall," he replies hesitantly.

Lorelai almost spits out her coffee. "You want to go to the mall voluntarily?" she asks while waving her finger at him.

"Stop that!" he hisses, catching her finger and lowering it. "And yes, I want to go and pick out a gift for April's birthday."

"I thought you picked one when you were coming back from the bank yesterday? The perfect gift that you couldn't resist- your words not mine," she reminds him.

He sighs and brings out a wrapped box from under the counter.

Lorelai carefully unwraps it and when she opens it, it takes all she's got not to break in laughter. "Aw, hon!" she manages.

"Don't laugh!" he spits out.

"I'm not." She tries to stifle her laughter.

Luke rounds the counter and comes to sit next to her. "I know I'm a bad gift giver," he sighs.

"No, you're not," she replies forcefully, raising her arm so that he can see the bracelet.

"It's always easy when it comes to you," he replies.

She looks at him oddly, as if asking for an explanation.

"Don't look at me like that. I don't know how to explain it, but whenever I wanted to buy something for you, I always knew what I was looking for, or the moment I saw something, I had a feeling you would like it. That's after we got together, of course, because earlier I was afraid that I would get you something that was too much and so I limited my offer to five hours of fixing things around your house," he finishes.

"But they always ended up being much more," she softly replies, looking straight at him. Luke looks back at her and they smile at each other. She leans towards him and places a soft kiss on his lips. When they pull back, they both have huge smiles still on their faces.

After a moment of silence passes, Luke continues his train of thought. "I know I don't pick out the best gifts," he says, indicating the box in front of them.

"Why on earth did you think a toiletry kit is something a teenage girl would like?" she asks, smiling.

"It has cats on it," he replies, as if it's the most logical thing in the world. The blank stare fromLorelai is his response.

"See, bad gift giver, and I'm sure if we ask Rory, she'll have her share of horror stories about my gifts."

"No she won't!" she tries to convince him.

"Um, the monogrammed phase rings any bells?" he reminds her.

She turns her head to one side, trying to hide her smirk. "Well, the up side to that was that no one tried to steal her belt," she offers.

"The unicorn presents? For five straight years, all she got was unicorn sweatshirts, unicorn pen cases and every other unicorn thing I could find," he lists.

"Boy, she hated the unicorns," she comments, remembering the gifts.

"She did? I thought she liked them, especially that unicorn marionette."

She shakes her head and Luke sighs. "See, I totally suck at getting presents."

"Aw, babe," she says, wrapping her arm around his shoulders. "Don't worry, we will go to the mall and get her something super cool!" she finishes and she kisses his cheek.

XXX

The party was as big a hit as expected. Lorelai was in charge of the activities, and all the girls appreciated the stop in the beauty shop and the makeover that followed. By the time the movie was about to start, all the girls had makeup on and hair extension and were showing off to one another. Even Lorelai had managed to put some green extensions in, despite Luke's protests.

"We should be the chaperones, not the ones encouraging them in this madness!" he ranted, changing his mind when he saw the outcome.

When it was time for gifts, Luke was really nervous, despite the fact that Lorelai had reassured him that April would love his gift. Sure enough, when April saw the gifts (the new "Way things work" and a gift certificate to the discovery store), she was really pleased.

It was already late when the movie started, so Lorelai suggested, and Luke of course agreed, to make it a sleepover. After the required phone calls to their parents, they all sat and enjoyed the movie, with Luke and Lorelai sitting towards the back. Luke had his arm around Lorelai and they talk softly to one another.

"Great party," Lorelai whispers.

"You made it great," Luke emphasizes. "If I was in charge, they would probably be sitting quietly and asking for permission to go to the bathroom," he jokes.

"Come on, give yourself some credit," she prompts.

They continue to watch the movie, but after a while, Luke says what was on his mind all night. "So, you and April seemed to get along well."

She looks at him sideways and replies, "Yeah, we talked, she seemed to like me. She is a great kid, Luke, and smart."

"Definitely smart. I don't know where she got that from," he jokes.

"Look at us; parents of two smart girls. Who would have thought?" she wonders.

"I did, but they were boys," he timidly admits.

She looks at him in wonder and they smile at each other again. Lorelai snuggles further into his embrace and whispers, "Kids would be good."

XXX

Now, two days after the party, Luke, Lorelai and April have their own celebration at Sniffy's.

It was Luke who insisted on having this little gathering outside Stars Hollow and its noisy people so that they can enjoy their time together.

He won't admit it, but he is really nervous; not only because of Lorelai's and April's first real meeting, but because it's the first time Buddy and Maisy would get to meet her too. With everything happening so fast, he had totally neglected to bring together his "second parents" with his daughter.

When Luke let it slip that Buddy and Maisy still hadn't met April, Lorelai was surprised, but a little relieved at the same time. She wouldn't admit it, but this new information makes her breathe a little easier. She knows by now that Luke didn't intentionally keep her from April, nor did he not trust her, it was just the way Luke worked when under pressure; closing himself off and putting aside everything else till the situation was resolved.

As they eat dinner and enjoy their conversation, Lorelai and April seem to get along well; in fact, so well that Luke feels left out sometimes, especially when they start talking about all of the girly films that Lorelai makes him watch, but he never remembers. Sometimes, he catches himself ready to break a smile when both girls tease him, but as soon as he realizes it, he tries to cover it up.

After dinner, Buddy and Maisy join them at the table for dessert to get to know April. Now, it was both Luke and Lorelai who felt left out, so they steal glances and smiles, acknowledging the success of the evening. Lorelai sneaks her arm under the table and pats Luke's knee. His left hand joins hers and laces their fingers. When Lorelai joins the conversation and comes up with something witty, they all laugh, and Luke doesn't try to hide it this time.

XXX

Later that night, Luke and Lorelai have returned to the Crap Shack and are snuggled together in bed. Neither talk; they are just lying there enjoying each other's company. They are both too hyped to fall asleep.

"That went well," Lorelai comments.

"It went beyond well," Luke agrees.

"And April liked Buddy and Maisy," she remembers, laughing.

Luke laughs along. "Which kid wouldn't like the people who brought her that much chocolate on a plate?"

"All in all, a successful evening," Lorelai states, turning to look at him.

"All in all, a very successful evening," he agrees, looking down at her and smiling.

After a moment of gazing into each other's eyes, Luke speaks again. "What do you think of October 18th?" His color is rising and he is fidgeting with Lorelai's hand.

"Um, another day in autumn? Hopefully with sunny, warm weather just before winter; Indian summer they call it I think." She pauses. "Oh, I know, St. Luke's feast day!" she finishes proudly.

"How did you know that? Even I had forgotten?"

"It was in one of Rory's books. So, what about October 18th? Do you want to celebrate your name day?" she asks, surprised.

"Well, I was hoping to celebrate something, but not my name day," he responds.

She is even more confused now. "Then what?"

"Our wedding," he finally gets out.

"What?" she asks, sitting up.

Luke doesn't move from his spot and answers calmly, looking up at her. "I looked at your reservation book at the Dragonfly. All the other dates seemed too soon to be able to organize a proper wedding, but if you think six months from now is too late, then we can change it." He begins to ramble. "Setting a date was just a symbolic gesture to show you that…" he starts, but Lorelai cut him off with a squeal, her body on top of his as she rewards him with a passionate kiss.

She pulls herself up to her elbows, looking down at him "Really?"

"Really" he says, and she kisses him again.

After they eventually break for air, Lorelai is lying on top of him with a smile playing at her lips.

"Why at the Dragonfly?" she asks.

"Don't know. Seemed fitting," he replies.

"Our first kiss?" she asks while looking at him.

He nods. "Our first kiss," he confirms.

"I love you!" she says.

"I love you too."

THE END