Will You Be My Daddy Dear?
"Oh, Dad!" she sighed good-naturedly then quickly covered her mouth as she registered what she had just said.
"What she wrote is really interesting. She wrote about modern women in the nineteenth century! That's what I call brilliance."
"Yeah? Which one are you reading right now?"
"Northanger Abby. I just started it yesterday, though, so I'm not that into it yet." Rory smiled, munching on a fry. "Mom says Pride and Prejudice was one of her favorite books when she was younger."
As if on cue, Lorelai Gilmore threw open the door of the diner dramatically and dropped into the stool next to Rory. She kissed her daughter on the cheek in greeting and offered Luke a smile.
"Coffee?" she said. Luke rolled his eyes and placed a mug in front of her.
"How'd the interviews go?" he asked.
"Eh, OK. We didn't find anyone we loved or anything…but no one came in with a bright green Mohawk so we're safe in that area." Lorelai turned to Rory. "You have a good time today?"
Rory nodded. "Yup. I was just talking about Jane."
"Fonda?" Lorelai asked, confused. Rory giggled.
"Oh, the dead one," Lorelai said bluntly, smirking at Luke. "I knew there was another reason I left her with you today. I bet she talked your ear off."
Luke sighed. "Yeah. She couldn't take my subtle hints to be quiet," she teased, grinning at Rory. "She gets more like you every day. I beg you not to grow up like her, please," he added, glancing at Rory.
Rory laughed. "Oh, Dad!" she sighed good-naturedly then quickly covered her mouth as she registered what she had just said. Lorelai and Luke both snapped their heads around to look at her, wide-eyed and confused.
Rory blushed profusely then quickly gathered her things and said, "Uh…y'know, Mom, I told Lane I'd meet her at her house, so I'd better get going!" And she was gone before either Luke or Lorelai could say anything else.
As soon as she was out of the diner, Lorelai asked, "What was that?"
Luke looked just as flabbergasted. "Don't look at me. You're her mother."
Lorelai giggled. "Well, evidently, she thinks you're her father. I knew Chris not being around would lead to something like this eventually."
"Did you actually ever think something like this would happen?"
"Oh, no. It just seemed appropriate to say."
"Well, you always have been good at that type of thing."
"That's why you like having me around."
"Pft! You wish."
Lorelai smiled, taking a sip of coffee.
"You called Luke what?" Lane squealed as they sat in the middle of her bedroom a forbidden bag of chips in between them. Rory blushed.
"Dad," she mumbled.
Lane's eyes widened even more, if that was even possible. "Why?" she asked. "Did you just get confused?"
Rory shook her head. "No, I'm not stupid," she said, indignant. "I know that Luke isn't really my Dad, but, well, sometimes I like to pretend…"
"That Luke's your dad?" Lane inquired, confused.
"Sort of." Rory sighed, staring out the window. "It's just, you know, my real dad Chris isn't ever around. He calls, sometimes, but he lives in California, and sometimes I wonder if he actually knows that I'm his daughter."
"That must be hard," Lane answered, touching Rory's hand.
"Yeah," Rory said softly. "And Luke would just be such a great dad, anyway. He sort of is, y'know? I mean, when Mom needs something done around the house, he always offers to help, and he always watches me when Mom asks. So, we've kind of got the whole dysfunctional family thing already going, except not in a bad way." She giggled suddenly. "Besides, Babette says Mom and Luke are made for each other."
Lane giggled along with her. "They do fight all the time."
After a few minutes of laughter, Lane smiles at her best friend. "I'm sure it'll be all right, Rory. You'll have a father, eventually."
"Yeah. I guess I will."
The walk home was…awkward, to say the least. For a while, Lorelai beat around the bush before taking a deep breath and plunging in.
"So, you wanna talk about it, kid?" she asked as they walked.
"Sure," Rory said, surprising Lorelai with her eagerness. "You know, I'm glad you've finally come to accept the fact that you can never marry Cary Grant."
"Well," Lorelai said, shaking her head, "at least we know you're my daughter." She took another deep breath. "I meant talk about what happened at the diner today with you, you know, calling Luke 'Dad'."
"Oh. That," Rory said, blushing. "I…I didn't mean it. It just slipped out."
"But why exactly did it slip out, hon?" Lorelai persisted. "Were you just thinking about Chris or is it because you don't see your dad enough? Is that it? You feel the need to make someone else your father?"
At this, Rory's eyes began to fill up with tears, and Lorelai placed a gentle arm around her, knowing she was going to far with this.
"I just…" Rory began, crying openly. "He's never around. Does he even really know I exist? Doesn't he love me?"
"Oh, honey, of course he loves you," Lorelai assured her, stopping and kneeling down in front of Rory.
"But he's never here. Never," Rory sobbed. "And…and Luke is. He is, Mom. He's always offering to take care of me while you go to work and always fixing everything that's wrong with the house and last year, when you had pneumonia, he made sure that we had good food for you to eat and that I got to school, even though you two couldn't really stand each other. I don't think we'd be anything without him."
Lorelai was struck by this for a moment. It was a rare moment that Rory wasn't right about something, and she certainly wasn't wrong about this. Luke was always there for them, no matter what. It was something that Lorelai had taken foolishly for granted.
"And sometimes, I don't know," Rory finished. "I just imagine us—a-as a family."
"Oh? I bet it's nice."
Rory smiled. "It is. Sometimes we even have a dog."
"What's its name?"
"Of course." Lorelai sighed, standing up. "Tell you what: why don't we make Luke your honorary father? After all, he sure acts like it."
Rory's smile widened. "Would he be OK with that?"
"Oh, I'm sure! He loves you, kid," Lorelai assured her. "I guess you're just easier to love than me."
Rory shook her head. "No. He loves you, too."
For some reason she can't explain, the idea sends butterflies to her stomach. "Well, I'm good business, anyway…"
The next morning, the Gilmore girls sat in Luke's diner as usual, eager smiles on their faces as their favorite diner owner approached them.
"Coffee?" he asked immediately, rolling his eyes as they both nodded. "You know allowing Rory to drink coffee is bad parenting, right?" he said pointedly to Lorelai. She smiled.
"That's why she only drinks decaf," she returned. Luke sighed and started to turn away but stopped when Lorelai called out his name. When he turned back around, he found both of the girls looking nervous.
"Rory, go ahead," Lorelai said to her daughter.
"What? I am not asking him."
"Oh, no, not the Bambi eyes. No, no—caving in, caving in—oh, man. Fine." Lorelai turned back to him, offering a small smiled. "Uh, Luke," she said rather formally. "We—we were wondering if, possibly, you wouldn't mind being Rory's…honorary father?"
Luke stared. "What?"
"You, you wouldn't have to do anything special," Lorelai assured him. "It's just that Chris is never here and Rory needs a father figure, you know, so, we just thought…after yesterday and all…"
"OK. Sure," Luke answered evenly. "I'd love to."
"Really?" Rory squealed.
"Thank you, Luke!" Rory said happily, getting up to give Luke a hug. He smiled and returned it.
Lorelai smiled as well and followed Luke as he went behind the counter to get their coffee. She sat down at the counter and said, "Thank you. Really."
Luke shook his head. "It's nothing. Her father should be around. I'm glad to be able to help."
"Yeah, well…I also meant thanks for, just, well, just everything," she said. "You've done so much for us over the past couple of years, and I've kind of taken that for granted. So…thanks. For everything."
Luke smiled. "You're welcome."
"Hey, you know what I just realized?" Lorelai said after a few minutes.
Luke rolled his eyes. "I can only imagine."
"If I'm Rory's mother and you're her father, that means we're married! Hypothetically, anyway," she added, smirking at him.
She pointed a finger at him. "You're Mr. Luke Gilmore!" she said with a laugh.
"Since when did I take your last name?"
"Uh, since I decided I was not going to be Lorelai Danes, thank you very much. We're a very modern, unconventional couple. Like Cary and Dyan."
"Cary Grant? Dyan Cannon?" Luke continued to look confused. "Gah, never mind. Hurry with that coffee, Mr. Gilmore!" she demanded, turning back to sit with Rory.
And in that moment, smiling between her daughter and Luke, the world was finally right.