Author's Note:Here is my contribution to the CWS ficathon. Thanks to Filo and Robinpoppins for organizing it. It's fun to read all these stories!
Also a big thank you to Pink Hammer for doing once again the hard work of correcting my mistakes and to Cappuccino without whom the story would have some lame title.
Hope you like it :)
Lorelai is walking down the familiar streets of Stars Hollow, heading to what is probably her favorite establishment in town.
The ritual when getting there is almost always the same: reserving a table for her and Rory and heading to the counter to beg for coffee. Today is no different. Grabbing an empty mug she heads to the counter.
She knows that the best approach is the polite one, so she lowers her head and a small smile appears on her face.
"Please, Luke. Please, please, please."
But the proprietor is now used to her antics and doesn't budge.
"How many cups have you had this morning?"
"None," is her immediate response.
"Plus...?" he shoots back, knowing her too well by now to believe that she hasn't had any coffee by this time.
She frowns, understanding that once again she has been caught. This time she decides to answer truthfully. "Five, but yours is better."
"You have a problem."
"Yes, I do," she agrees, extending the cup.
Luke fills it but can't resist another comment. " Junkie."
"Angel. You've got wings, baby," she banters back.
The phone rings just in time to give him an excuse to turn his back so she won't see his smile. He won't admit it to anyone, but this banter brightens his days. They have something going on there, but neither will admit it.
He has now turned to observe the dining area while talking on the phone and that's when he sees it: the guy -who was until recently sitting at the counter is now hovering over Lorelai, obviously flirting with her. He tries to take a look at her face, searching for any signs of discomfort that will give him the green light to go over there and get rid of the guy, but apparently Lorelai can manage by herself, since the guy moves back to his stool.
Absorbed in his conversation with the meat guy, he only notices Lorelai when he gets off the phone. He eyes her warily as she cradles yet another empty mug.
Understanding his train of thought, she replies immediately. "What? It's not for me. It's for Rory, I swear."
Obviously not believing her, he replies, "You are shameless!"
Getting impatient with him she continues. "Look, Officer Krupke, she's right at that table over there." She points, and that's when they both see it: the same guy that hit on Lorelai before is now obviously hitting on Rory.
Lorelai heads back to her table with Luke following closely behind. For a long time now, he's been more than the guy that feeds them; he has also become their protector and the guy that makes sure their house won't fall apart. So, when he sees a much older guy trying to make a move on Rory, his instincts kick in and he heads to the table too.
Lorelai seems to have the situation under control, but a male presence is always helpful in scaring away unwanted advances. When Luke nears Lorelai, he places his arm around her shoulders and puts on his adoring face.
"Is everything alright here?" He is looking at her now, hoping she'll understand.
Lorelai looks stunned, but quickly catches up and plays along. She puts her arm around his waist and pats his chest.
"Yeah, everything is great hon. Joey here was just asking for directions to Hartford." She looks in his eyes now. It feels nice to have his arms around her, and from the little she touched him, his chest isn't bad either.
Rory, who doesn't want to be left out of the fun, breaks her train of thought. "Daddy, I didn't start the conversation with the stranger; mom has always told me not to. He came to me."
The other man is left dumbfounded. "Wow, you are way too young to be a mom!" He sees Luke's menacing look and he adds, "Not that you are old or anything. I mean…" He turns to Rory, "and you do not look like a daughter."
Luke clears his throat, obviously losing his patience with the other man. "She's sixteen," he clarifies.
"Uh, okay, bye!" He stammers and is off from their table.
While he goes back to the counter to pick up his stuff, Lorelai puts the finishing touch on their little play. Turning to Luke, she pats him on the chest once again and tells him, "Aw, aren't you the greatest!"
They have now locked gazes once again and Luke, mesmerized by her eyes, replies. "Anything for my girls." He leans down to give her an innocent kiss on the cheek.
Lorelai is surprised by his movement and looks to Rory for clues on what's going on, but while turning her head to the right her lips come in direct contact with Luke's. They both freeze at first, but after a moment their lips touch fully.
When they part they are left stunned, looking at each other in shock while Rory giggles uncontrollably. When the sound gets their attention she sobers up and tries to hide her face behind her mother's cup of coffee.
"Uh, I'll go get your breakfast," he stammers.
Lorelai sits down while watching Luke's retreating back and turns to Rory with her mouth agape.
"Daddy was sweet coming to save me from that stranger," Rory jokes while trying to smother her laughter.
"Oh, shush you!" She turns her attention fully to Rory, "what the heck happened here?"
Rory, having observed the whole scene, answers. "He leaned to kiss you on the cheek but you panicked and you ended up kissing," she says simply, her eyebrow raised.
"But after…" Lorelai prompts.
"After…" Rory repeats meaningfully, a laugh again escaping her lips.
"Rory!" she groans, "You are not helping here."
"Well do you want the 'I told you so' speech again? I'm sure that even after I repeated it you'd deny it!" she accuses.
"You said so yourself, he was aiming for my cheek," Lorelai says, defending herself.
Rory raises her arms up in the air. "I give up, let's eat" she says while gesturing to their food which is being brought out by Caesar and not Luke himself.
"Where is Luke?" Lorelai asks instinctively.
"He took over the kitchen. Want me to call him?"
"No, no that's okay. Thanks, Caesar."
She sees Rory laughing again and threatens, "Not a word or I'm taking away your food!"
All morning Lorelai searched for an excuse to go see Sookie, but the lobby was full of guests and the tiny woman pushing the 200 pound instrument around didn't help either. Finally, a loud crash from the kitchen gave her the perfect excuse to head to her friend.
"Sookie!" she yells when entering the kitchen.
"I'm okay, I'm okay!" Sookie assures her friend.
"What did you do now?" Lorelai asks suspiciously, turning to one of her assistants. "Why aren't you watching her?"
She helps her get off the floor and takes her by the shoulders, leading her to a more private area so that no one would overhear them.
"I'm okay really, not hurt!"
"Good, because I wanted to talk to you."
"Sure, sweetie, what's up?" Sookie asks, always eager to help.
Lorelai contemplates how to approach the subject. Taking a deep breath, she blurts, "Luke and I kissed." She closes her eyes, waiting for a reaction.
She hears a squeal of joy from Sookie "I knew it! I told you! When did it happen? How did it happen? Is Luke a good kisser?" Sookie asks, firing questions at her.
"Can you please calm down? It was nothing like that," Lorelai tries to reason.
"Oh." Sookie immediately frowns.
Lorelai proceeds to tell the story of what happened few hours ago. "And after that, we didn't see him again. He was hiding in the kitchen, sending Caesar every time we needed something," she finishes.
"Poor Luke was probably embarrassed. Kissing the girl he likes and not knowing how to explain his impulsiveness afterwards."
Lorelai is ready to protest, but the last part of what Sookie says stops her in her tracks.
"Do you really think he wanted to kiss me?"
Now it's Sookie's turn to groan. "Do you really want to hear the 'Luke has a crush on you' arguments again? You only have to look the guy in the eye, it's right there!"
Lorelai zones out, remembering his smile when he replied 'everything for my girls,' and the look in his eyes. He was looking at her like they were the only people in the diner, like his whole attention was on her. She sighs.
"Ah ha!" Sookie exclaims pointing at her. "You've seen it!" she accuses. "The fact that you're not even listening to me tells me that you know exactly what I'm talking about."
Lorelai admits, "Alright yes, maybe I've seen it; but that doesn't prove anything," she insists.
"You know what? I have to get back to my peach sauce. If you want to keep playing dumb, be my guest. I have work to do!" she says, going back to cooking.
Lorelai is left there looking at her friend and thinking about what she told her.
When the letter of acceptance from Chilton arrives, Lorelai has no time to think about anything else but Rory's preparations for the new school and how she'll be able to find all the money required for just her first semester's tuition. In the back of her mind, she knows that going to her parents is always an option, but she doesn't want to think about it until she has run out of other possibilities.
One night, when she is sitting with Sookie on her front porch enjoying the September night, her loyal friend suggests that same possibility, but Lorelai is still set against asking for their help. Sookie tries to make her see beyond her egoism and make her understand that it's practically her only viable choice if she wants to see her daughter go to Chilton and have the opportunity to go to Harvard.
"Sookie, there are several chapters from a Stephen King novel I'd reenact before I'd resort to that option." It's her final word.
Her friend finally complies and drops the subject.
They are both sitting there quietly, looking at the clear sky. Sookie finally gives in and asks the other question that has been on her mind all night. "So… what happened with Luke?"
"Huh?" Lorelai asks, clearly confused by the change of topic.
"Did you go back there? Did you talk? Throw me a bone here!"
Lorelai shakes her head sadly. "I didn't have the chance to go back there. Since I got the letter from Chilton, Rory has been all I can think about."
"Don't you always!" Sookie remarks.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Lorelai asks defensively.
"That for the last 16 years Rory has been your first priority." She sees Lorelai trying to interject and quickly adds "And don't get me wrong, that's a very good thing, but she has grown up now. It's time for you to think about Lorelai too and what you have to do to make yourself happy." She looks at her pointedly.
Lorelai sighs, saying nothing more. For her friend, her silence is enough proof that she has heard her and acknowledges the fact that she is right.
In times of crisis like this, there is only one place in town she seeks refugee in. She always goes there with the excuse of her beloved beverage; coffee, but she knows it's more than that. Luke is always willing to talk and give his insight to whatever is upsetting her, and she knows that he won't smooth-talk her; he'll give her his opinion, no matter how hard it is. That's why she appreciates his approach the most. Of course, that has caused many fights over the years, but they've managed to overcome those too.
It's a little before closing, a time she knows it's more than likely that the diner is deserted so that she will have the space to talk freely. Right now, the awkwardness of their accidental kiss is forgotten; all she wants is to talk with one of her best friends.
She enters the establishment and plops herself at the counter with a heavy sigh. She immediately gets Luke's attention as he counts the receipts. The look on her face leaves no space for his usual lectures, so he grabs the pot and pours her a cup of coffee, but remains silent too. He knows that whatever it is, she'll tell him when she's ready.
After a couple of sips she finally talks. "Rory got accepted at Chilton."
He looks at her oddly. "That's a good thing right? You were trying to find the perfect answers for that application form for days."
"Yes, definitely a good thing," she confirms. "What's not a good thing though is the amount they want for the tuition."
"Oh," he says, understanding the source of her mood.
"Yep. Definitely 'oh'!" She sighs again.
"Look, I know your first impulse will be to say no, but hear me out. I could loan you some money and you can pay me back whenever it's convenient."
His suggestion doesn't perk her up like he hoped. Instead, she grabs a pen and a piece of paper from her purse and writes a number on it. She then turns it towards him.
"Whoa!" he exclaims, his eyes wide. "That's a lot of zeros behind that five."
She nods. "That's exactly what I said. And I'll have you know that that's only for her first semester!"
"Geez, are they insane? So if someone wants to get into Harvard, she has to be loaded?" he starts to rant.
"Or do a bank job." She uses the joke again, hoping that this time Luke will understand her.
"I'll bring the weapons and you'll take care of the black masks," he jokes back.
For the first time since she received the tuition letter, her lips form a small smile. That gives Luke confidence and he leans towards her, telling with a gentle voice, "My offer still stands. We'll figure something out," he says, patting her hand. As he moves to withdraw, Lorelai turns her palm upside down and catches his hand in hers.
Lorelai gives him a tender look. "Thanks… hon" she adds.
Luke blushes and bows his head. "Yeah I don't know how I came up with that. But when I saw the guy with Rory, my only thought was that I had to do something."
Lorelai cuts right to the chase. "They say that impulse is something that you always had in the back of your mind and in the right time it comes to the surface."
Luke nods, unable to look at her. She squeezes his hand. "Is it true Luke?"
He raises his head. "How do you want me to answer that?" he asks hoarsely.
"I want the truth," she whispers back.
"I'm afraid I'll freak you out," he admits.
"Tell me," Lorelai insists.
"That thing about the impulse? So true," he states.
Lorelai breaks into a full smile, still not letting go of his hand. Her smile gives him that little push he needed and he starts to gently caress her hand with his thumb, looking at her in the eyes.
"So that means that you aren't opposed to the idea?" he asks hesitantly.
She shakes her head no. "I can't say that I haven't thought about it myself," she admits.
"But?" he prompts.
"But I like our friendship, and I'm afraid that if something goes wrong we'll lose it." She bows her head.
This time, Luke manages to pull back and starts to pace behind the counter.
"So let me get this straight; I want something to happen, you want that same something to happen, and it won't happen just because you are scared something might go wrong?" he says, sounding agitated. "Great. That's just great, Lorelai!"
"Hey! I didn't say that it won't, I just said that there are things to consider here!" she yells back.
He throws his hands up in the air, obviously frustrated. Determined to stop his meltdown, Lorelai goes behind the counter, standing right in front of him.
"I want this, Luke," she tells him confidently. "It's just been too long and my track record with guys is not the best."
Luke nods, his frustration fading away with her admission. "I'm not exactly a relationship expert myself, but if you don't think you are ready then that's that. "
He leans forward, his arms crossed on the counter and his head bowed. Lorelai places her hand on his back soothing him with circular motions.
"I want this," she repeats.
He turns to look at her sideways. "I can wait. I've been doing it for a long time, a little more won't hurt."
She again shakes her head no and moves towards his lips. Luke is taken aback and tries to pull away, but her hand which is resting on his back has now moved to his neck and she is holding him in place.
Their lips touch briefly, but the angle is not helping and Luke moves so that he is now standing. He brings his arms around her and she places hers on his neck. When their lips touch again, the kiss is much more intense than the previous one. They stand there behind the counter and kiss like there is no tomorrow. When their tongues touch for the first time, they both feel the jolt of electricity, and if it's possible, the kiss gets even more heated.
When they pull back, they both fight to even out their breathing, but at the same time they both have huge grins on their faces.
"So that means…" he prompts.
She just nods. He brings her towards him in a crushing hug and she lets out a squeal of joy.
"But I want you to be sure about it. Not because I pretended to be your boyfriend the other day, and not because I offered you money to pay for Chilton, but because there are feelings here," he says, touching his hand to her heart.
She looks back at him solemnly. "I wouldn't get us into this if I wasn't sure that there is something here worth exploring."
"Good," he agrees and goes back to kissing her. After years of holding back there is nothing stopping them now. He presses her against the back counter, but they crash against the toaster and send it flying to the floor. The sound surprises them both and they jump apart. When Luke realizes the source of the noise, he breaks into laughter ,and when Lorelai follows his gaze, she starts laughing too.
"It's a sign," he states.
"What are you talking about?" Lorelai ask, confused.
"That we were moving too fast."
"I can't believe you are going old fashioned on me," she answers.
"Not old fashioned. It's the right way to treat a girl," he counters.
She sighs and goes back at her stool.
"Don't be mad," he pleads, taking her hand in his.
"I'm not mad. A little frustrated, but definitely not mad."
He is relieved to hear that.
After a moment of silence where they are both lost in their thoughts, Luke decides to change the topic. "So, what was the verdict on the money thing?"
"No verdict, the jury is still out on that one," Lorelai says, her mood changing considerably.
"You're still opposed to me lending you the money?" he asks again.
"You saw the number, right? I can't take all that money from you."
"Then what else can you do?" he wonders.
"There are always my parents; who would be more than happy to help just so they can take over my life again; but I still don't know if I want that."
"Would it be so bad?" he asks, taking the opportunity to get to know details of her relationship with her parents.
"For my parents to take over my life? Well, yeah, that's why I left there in the first place," she counters.
"Maybe it won't be so bad. The money is for their grandchild after all."
"I don't know. I'll have to think about it some more."
He is the one to move on the other side of the counter now, putting his arm around her in a comforting hug.
"You'll figure it out," he says and kisses her forehead.
After much thinking and putting her ego aside, Lorelai decides to seek help from the people she ran away from, but who she knows won't, most likely, deny her the money; her parents. The terms of the loan aren't what she would call profitable; a weekly dinner every Friday and phone calls so that they know everything that's happening in her and Rory's life. With that one move, she managed to do what she feared the most: bring her parents back into her life.
She was hoping that with the mention of Rory and Chilton they would go easy on her and not make many demands, but she saw how Emily was ready to grasp the chance with which she was presented. And grasp she did. Lorelai had no choice but to accept her terms. Rory and her future are far more important than her ego.
After the first disastrous Friday night dinner, both girls are heading to Luke's for a much needed cup of coffee and a chance to talk about what happened at the Gilmore mansion.
Just before they enter the diner, Lorelai realizes that with all that has been going on, she hasn't informed her daughter about the latest development between her and Luke. Sure, they haven't met ever since that night, but still, Rory should know.
Rory, though, has her own questions. "So you and grandma seemed to have a nice talk," she prompts.
"How much did you hear?" Lorelai wants to know.
"Not much. You know, snippets," Rory says, trying to cover herself.
"Snippets?" Lorelai wants to clarify.
"So basically everything?" she concludes.
"Basically, yes," she has to admit.
"Well, the best laid plans."
"I thought it was really brave of you to ask them for money."
"I so do not want to talk about it." Lorelai tries to turn the conversation where she wants. She stops her daughter at the pavement outside the diner.
"Listen, there is something else you need to know," she starts cautiously.
"What now? Are we moving to Hartford?"
"No, no nothing like that," she assures Rory. "There have been some developments between Luke and me."
"What?" her daughter shrieks.
"Would you keep it down?" Lorelai shushes. "Would it be so bad?" she asks.
"No it wouldn't be that bad, but I didn't know you were attracted to Luke!"
"Well I always found him nice to look at…."
"Don't I know it," Rory interjects.
"What does that mean?"
"Oh I've seen you checking him out many times," she admits.
Lorelai blushes. "Okay, moving on," and she proceeds to tell her daughter all about that night.
When they enter the diner, they both have huge grins on their faces, the disaster of the Friday night dinner already forgotten. They proceed to sit at a table but the owner is nowhere in sight. They get engrossed in their conversation when Luke appears on their table to get their orders.
When Lorelai sees him she is left speechless and her jaw almost drops to the floor. To recover she tries to compliment him, but not too obviously, although the diner is deserted and no townies are in sight.
"Wow, you look nice. Really nice," she stammers.
Luke blushes and focuses his attention on his order pad but a small smile appears on his face.
"Thanks. I had a meeting earlier at the bank. They like collars," he says, trying to explain away his appearance. "You look nice too."
Rory breaks into laughter, interrupting them gaping at each other. "Sorry, sorry," she tries to cover, but her giggles are getting louder. "Are you in high school? You look nice-No you look nicer," she mocks.
Luke blushes furiously now and tugs at his collar. Seeing his discomfort, Lorelai uses her humor as always. Turning to Luke she asks, "Do you know the kid sitting next to me? Isn't there any rule forbidding underage kids to be in the diner?"
Luke takes his professional tone as always. "So what'll you have?"
"I'll have coffee in a vat." He rolls his eyes at her request.
"I'll have coffee also," Rory chimes in. "But in a to go cup. I have to meet Lane."
Lorelai looks at her oddly, obviously not buying her lie, but letting her go since it means that she and Luke will have some time alone.
When Luke goes back to get their order and attend to the only two people left in the diner, Lorelai gets the chance to talk with Rory. "We're not running you out are we?" she asks.
"No, not at all. It's good to see you this excited about a guy," she says.
Lorelai doesn't say anything, just nods and smiles to herself, which doesn't go unnoticed by Rory.
When Luke brings back their coffee, Rory is out of the door in seconds and Luke finds the opportunity to sit with Lorelai.
"You are all dressed up too," he says, starting the conversation.
"Yeah, first Friday night dinner out of many," she sighs.
"So this means that you went to them for help?"
She just nods. "But I don't want to talk about it. "
He flinches, figuring that their first meeting wasn't a successful one. "That bad huh?"
At that moment, the last two customers ask to pay their bill and leave the diner while Luke locks the door behind them, hoping no one will interrupt them.
When he comes back, he moves his chair closer to Lorelai and puts his arm at the back of her chair.
She leans back against the chair looking at him with a questioning look.
As if understanding her he starts talking. "I hate seeing you upset."
"Aw, hon," she starts without really thinking about the endearment. "Get used to it, because whenever my parents are involved all hell breaks loose. Tonight was just the beginning."
Luke sighs, unable to believe that someone's parents could cause such turmoil. He moves his hand so it rests on Lorelai's shoulders and with small movements he tries to soothe her. She lets her head fall forward and enjoys the attention she is getting. Luke gets up from his spot and is standing right behind Lorelai. The loss of contact makes her turn around.
"As you were," Luke motions to her.
She complies without further argument. Once Luke starts massages the knots on her neck, she lets out a moan of delight. "Oh boy!"
Luke is encouraged that she is more than fine with it so he continues his ministrations.
"Where did you learn to do that? Or I don't want to know?" she questions.
"When my dad was sick and he was lying in bed, I had to massage him twice a day so that his muscles wouldn't die, you know. I guess I still remember a few things," he replies.
It's the first time she has heard him talking about his dad and she stiffens, hoping she hasn't brought up any bad memories.
"Relax. It's okay," he tells her. She immediately calms down again.
When he finds a knot and starts working on it, Lorelai starts moaning louder.
"Oh, oh. Right there. Boy your hands are magic. Oh Luke!"
"Geez!" he exclaims letting his hands drop and steps back.
"What?" She is still dazed and turns to ask him why he stopped. His flushed face gives her the answer.
"Am I making you hot Luke?" she asks while getting up and heads towards him.
"No," he lies and tries to turn but Lorelai traps him between the counter and herself.
"Are you intimidated by me Luke?" she whispers huskily.
He can only shake his head, no sound coming from his mouth.
"Aw poor Luke, the teasing is too much for you?" She places her hands on his chest and she starts rubbing him through his flannel.
Luke clears his throat again, not saying anything, his hands glued to his side.
"Oh Luke you have a strong manly chest. Why are you hiding it behind all these layers?" she breathlessly teases. "And those shoulder blades." She swoons. "You are working out, Danes." She moves her hand to his arms. "Boy, those biceps. You really are a wonder, Luke. And those long fingers, one could relate them to…." But Luke can take no more of the teasing. He envelops her in his arms and kisses her senseless. When he angles his head to have better access she mumbles, "Finally!"