A/N: This is way overdue. Guilty as charged. Sorry about that. But hey, it's finally finished! And I need to thank many people for that. One of them is Filo for being so kind as to beta this for me. And collectively, I need to thank the SCPP because they all wrote stuff and because they wrote stuff it inspired me to write the stuff I needed to write. Thanks. Finally, I want to thank all of you for your patience and for being so kind as to read. Hope you enjoy the last chapter!
Lorelai handed the departing guests their invoice and politely thanked them. She watched as they walked out the door, and once she was satisfied that they were out of sight, she put her head in her hands, letting out a frustrated sigh. Her finals were over, and they went well, but Lorelai felt even more stressed than she was to begin with. The graduation ceremony was fast approaching and she was positive that no, she didn't dream that she had invited Luke to attend.
She joked with Rory about how her evil plot to ignore him for the rest of her life was foiled, but in all seriousness she wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing him again. Lorelai had managed to avoid going to the diner since the incident. That was the easy part. Finding reasons good enough to convince Rory that she couldn't go to the diner to talk to Luke about what happened wasn't as simple. For almost a week, some well placed excuses and an already busy week helped her to live in denial, as though the kiss had never happened. But Lorelai was almost positive that Rory would insist that they eat in the diner that night.
Lorelai wasn't exactly a fan of avoiding the subject, but it seemed so much easier than actually thinking about the events in the diner the day before exams. She wasn't exactly prepared to explain why she felt this sudden urge to kiss him. He was just being Luke. It wasn't anything totally new or shocking. He had been there for her in some similar situations, and she didn't feel the need to kiss him then.
Why was that? Why was it that at this very moment of her life, she started to see him so differently? What was it about that day that compelled her to do what she did, or to suddenly become interested in him?
She stood up straight and folded her arms across her chest. Was it really just a recent development? The more she thought about it, the more she realized that she had felt this way about Luke for much longer than the past few days. She struggled to pinpoint an exact day, an exact moment, when she started to feel the way she felt. Suddenly, Lorelai's focus shifted to graduation.
He accepted the ticket from her with no hesitation whatsoever. She knew that Luke would still attend the ceremony. Lorelai shook her head when she realized the situation she had gotten herself into. She needed some more coffee to process the entire situation. Grabbing her coffee mug and glaring at Michel as if to tell him to stay put, she went to the kitchen in search for coffee.
Luke was going to show up, whether she had processed everything or not. Talk or no talk, he would be there. It was unavoidable.
As she poured some coffee into her mug, she listened to Sookie and Jackson debate the quality of the carrots that were just delivered. Sipping her coffee, Lorelai stood and watched them argue, slightly amused. Just as the fight seemed to end and Jackson walked toward the door, Lorelai took a deep breath. Maybe Sookie could give her some insight on the Luke situation. Jackson almost made it out before he returned to discuss wedding logistics with Sookie. Sensing that the conversation wouldn't end anytime soon, Lorelai slipped out of the kitchen, grabbing a cookie on her way out.
She quickly ate the cookie and washed it down with her coffee as she walked down the hallway. Drumming her fingers against the side of the mug, she began to think about the ramifications of the kiss once more. Ignoring it wasn't going to make it go away. And as much as she liked to pretend otherwise, ignoring it wasn't making her feel better, either. She resolved to talk about it with Luke that night as she continued her aimless walk around the halls of the inn. Lorelai felt a strange sense of relief as she walked, knowing that this time, she wasn't going to back down. She wasn't going to put it off. She would finally have the talk she knew she needed.
Just as she walked around the corner, she saw Luke approaching her office with an oversized basket in his hands. So the conversation would have to happen earlier than she had anticipated. It wasn't a big deal. She had already talked herself into it, there was no going back now.
She watched as he awkwardly reached for the handle of her office door. As Luke tried to open the door, Lorelai realized that she had locked it.
"Wow, my psychic powers really do work," Lorelai said, walking up behind Luke and pulling her keys out of her pocket.
Luke jumped, startled by Lorelai's sudden appearance. "Jeez, Lorelai, you scared the hell out of me!"
She smiled, reaching for the door. "You doing a reverse B&E?"
Lorelai shrugged. "B&E is breaking and entering. And a reverse B&E is when… you know, when you leave something instead of taking… something… you leave… something…" She cleared her throat in an attempt to stop rambling when she saw Luke readjust the heavy basket in his hands. "You want me to open the door, don't you?"
"That would be why I'm standing by it. And can I ask you why you will lock the door to your office, but not to your own home?"
"I didn't want anyone messing with the setup I have going in here."
"You have a setup in there?" Luke asked, puzzled, shifting the oversized basket once more.
Lorelai nodded, opening the door. "Yes. We got new pillows for a bunch of the rooms and I have them in my office. I have to air them out because they smelled like the truck they came in on."
"So you decided to spread them out across the floor, where they'll get dirty and stepped on?"
She shrugged. "Those are old pillowcases. I figure it will give them the 'inn' smell and I can walk around them until then. Follow me, I've found a route that works best," she said, stepping over some pillows and making her way toward her desk.
"You don't have anywhere to sit in here," Luke muttered, following her as he tried to keep a grip on the large basket without tripping over or stepping on any pillows.
"Sure I do," she replied, gathering a few pillows together as she stopped in front of her desk. "Sit on these and use one so the desk doesn't poke you in the back."
"I should go anyway. I was just uh, making sure you got that before your graduation. Where should I put it?"
Lorelai knew that if she didn't talk to Luke now, her newfound commitment to the conversation would disappear. "You can stay, if you want. Plus, this basket looks pretty cool and I'd hate to open it alone."
"Okay," Luke agreed.
She watched as he stood straddling two pillows, unsure of where to sit. Lorelai seated herself and moved some pillows next to her so Luke could sit. When he didn't move, she patted the pillow next to her. "You can sit, you know."
"Right, right," he replied, shaking his head as he walked closer to the desk. He sighed, moving a pillow out of his way and choosing to sit on the floor next to Lorelai. "I'm not sitting on a pillow that someone's going to use to sleep on."
"Suit yourself," Lorelai said, placing a pillow behind her back. "When your butt falls asleep, don't come crying to me."
There was a long pause, and Lorelai played with the corner of a pillowcase. She wanted to start the conversation, but she didn't want to make things worse. Just as she opened her mouth, Luke cleared his throat, handing her the gift. "Uh, well, I wanted to give you this. I wasn't sure if you'd have time to open it after the ceremony, so I figured I'd leave this for you to open before tomorrow."
"What, you thought I had plans or something?"
"I didn't know if Rory had… you know, thought of something."
"Well, uh, nothing so far, but you know Rory, full of surprises," she replied, reaching for the basket. She rested the basket on her lap and jerked her hand out awkwardly as it fell forward. She caught it just before the items tumbled out, letting out a nervous giggle. She tucked her feet underneath her, placing the basket on the floor in front of her as she turned to face Luke. "You didn't have to do this."
"It's no big deal," he said, nervously rubbing the back of his neck. "It's just a bunch of gag gifts. You can toss the whole thing when I leave, if you want."
Lorelai reached in and pulled out a stuffed donkey wearing a graduation cap. She grinned. "Well, look at him! I shall call him Smart Ass," she giggled.
Luke shook his head, trying not to laugh at Lorelai's joke. "He talks," Luke said, reaching over to pull the donkey's tail.
Lorelai grinned. "Even better," she said, lifting the donkey toward her ear to listen.
"I'm smarter than you are, much, much smarter than you," the donkey sang, to the tune of the graduation march.
She laughed. "This is hilarious!" she said, pulling his tail again.
"Now the lunatics are really running the asylum!" the donkey proclaimed as Lorelai laughed harder.
"He is very appropriately named," Lorelai said, composing herself and putting the donkey aside. "Ooh, office supplies!"
"They're just stupid little things I picked up at the junky little shop Kirk worked at a couple of months ago."
"And that shop closed far too early, my friend, it's where I got my coffee mug that looks like a paper cup," Lorelai said, pulling out a post it note holder shaped like a slice of bread.
"You put the post-its there so they look like butter on the toast," Luke said, pointing to the center of the post it holder.
She grinned. "It will make me want to eat. Which is never a bad thing. Lipstick?" she asked, pulling open the cap to reveal a pen. "It's a lipstick PEN! Wow, Luke, these delightfully tacky and cheesetastic office supplies are perfect, thank you." She popped the lipstick pen open and shut as she looked at the gifts sitting in the basket. Luke knew her so well. The gifts were so personal, so funny, and so perfect for her. He was a great gift giver. She looked at him and gave him a warm smile as she placed the pen back in the basket.
"I hope they weren't too stupid," Luke said. "I know you like the gag gifts and stuff."
"No, these are perfect! I mean, who else wouldn't be afraid to buy me a scarf that's designed like police tape?" she grinned, throwing the scarf around her neck as she reached in the basket once again and found a velvet box. Her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes widened as she took a deep breath, turning toward a now clearly nervous Luke. "What's this?"
"If you don't like it, I can take it back," Luke shrugged, looking down at the box in her hands. "I thought of you when I saw it."
She slowly opened the box and smiled when she saw a silver Hello Kitty charm bracelet sitting inside. "Wow," she said, gently lifting the bracelet out of the box to inspect it. A small silver graduation cap charm was hooked next to the Hello Kitty charm. She was speechless. It was the perfect gift. She turned to Luke, trying to thank him, but instead, she simply looked at him, unable to say a word. "Luke, I don't know what to say."
He reached over and hooked the bracelet around her wrist, and the touch of his hand on her skin made her stomach flop. For a moment, the conversation was friendly, but now there was a silence that was compelling her to talk, just to hear some noise and avoid thinking about how good Luke looked in blue flannel. How much she wanted to kiss him again. How she hoped that things wouldn't change between them.
"Thanks, Luke, this is… uh, really nice."
"I'm glad you like it," he replied.
The two sat in silence for a little while longer as Lorelai packed up her basket and moved it aside. That kiss, she thought, I'm sorry about that kiss. I mean, I'm not. Or am I? I want to kiss you again. I wanted to kiss you again the other night. You have nice lips. And nice eyes. And I bet you're a good kisser. Luke is probably an amazing kisser. The thoughts rolled around in her head and she knew she had to bring up the kiss. The words were on the tip of her tongue. She opened her mouth, but no words escaped. She sighed, placing a pillow behind her back before deciding she should just start talking again. She leaned her head against the back of the desk, trying to force the words to come out.
"I'm uh, sorry about the other night."
"You are?" he asked, the disappointment and surprise both evident in his voice.
She nodded. "I mean, I kind of freaked out on you, and then sort of kissed you, and uh, freaked out again."
"You didn't freak out," he said in a reassuring tone.
He chuckled softly. "Okay, maybe you did."
"Is this uh…" she paused for a moment, debating whether she wanted to know the answer to the question she was about to ask. "Is this going to change things between us?"
He sighed, straightening up against her desk. "Only if you want them to," he replied.
Lorelai looked down at her bracelet, grabbing one of the links and twisting it around her wrist as she thought. "I uh, don't want to make things, you know, awkward, but—" she trailed off, looking over at Luke.
She didn't know what to say. It was like her brain turned to mush when she looked at him. All she could think about was how gorgeous his eyes were, and how hard it was not to kiss him again. She wanted to tell him that she didn't want things to be weird between them, but she was pretty sure she liked him as more than just the guy who gave her coffee in the morning. Or all day, for that matter. He was so much more than that. He knew exactly what gifts she'd enjoy. She had a basket full of them. And that made her want to kiss him more. She looked down to find that she had been lining up pillows as she thought. She tried to avoid eye contact, but she felt him staring at her. Soon, she had no choice but to look back. She took a deep breath in an effort to collect her thoughts, but before she could say anything, Luke leaned forward and kissed her softly.
For a moment, she went limp, almost unable to react. As the shock wore off, she kissed him back, amazed at how right it felt. His kiss was soft and gentle, but slowly turned into something more powerful as she pulled him closer. Soon, his tongue was searching for hers as he slipped her sweater off her shoulders.
"I'm glad we get to do this now," Lorelai said breaking the kiss and tossing Luke's baseball cap aside.
"The tassel would get in the way after the ceremony," she stated matter-of-factly.
"You planned on finding me after the ceremony?" he asked, moving toward Lorelai's neck.
Lorelai moved closer to Luke. . "I wasn't sure if you were still going to come, but if you were there, it was going to be a serious possibility. This was starting to eat away at me. I had to know how you felt."
She saw a small smile appear on his face as he reached for the top button of her blouse. "Well, now you know."
"I do? I'm not so sure," Lorelai teased, reaching for her ponytail and removing the elastic that held her hair back.
Luke finished unbuttoning Lorelai's blouse and slid it off her shoulders. She shivered. His hands were a little colder than she imagined, but the way his fingers slowly dragged down her arms made her warm. For a moment, she was frozen there, unable to move as his hands moved down toward the zipper on her dress pants. But when she felt his fingers in the waistband in an attempt to unhook them, it was like she suddenly remembered she was mobile. Lorelai reached over and pulled him by his flannel shirt, crashing her lips onto his as she felt around for the buttons. She put her left hand on his shoulder, and gently pressed her right hand to his chest as she searched, remembering just how much she had always wanted to touch him like this. As she located a button just above his stomach, she walked her fingers up his chest and toward his neck, trying to locate the first one without breaking the kiss. She felt his shoulder tense up slightly as she finally started to free Luke from his flannel shirt.
He moaned as she worked her way toward the bottom of his shirt, making sure that she hadn't missed any buttons by dragging her hand up and down his chest. Lorelai broke the kiss, grinning in delight as she pushed the shirt off of his shoulders. She quickly reached for his t-shirt and pulled it off even faster, jumping at the chance to see his toned body without any barriers.
Luke kicked off his boots as Lorelai straddled his legs, one knee on either side of him as she reached for the waistband of his jeans. She leaned forward to kiss him again as she tugged at his zipper. Lorelai felt Luke reaching for her bra clasp as she tried in vain to pull his jeans down his legs. He pulled away and slowly rolled her over as he unhooked her bra. He grabbed a pillow and placed it behind Lorelai as she continued to attempt to remove his pants.
She rested her head on the pillow and lifted her hips as Luke grabbed onto the waistband of her dress pants. Lorelai took a deep breath as he pulled her pants and her underwear down her legs. Luke placed another pillow behind her back as she lowered her hips and reached out to touch him through his jeans. The feeling of his hands on her hips made her heart beat even faster, and if she didn't get his pants off soon, she would surely go crazy.
He helped her remove his pants and looked into her eyes, brushing a stray curl from her face. Luke reached behind him, grabbing another pillow. "Do you need another—"
She shook her head, reaching up and grabbing his hair with her fists. "No, no, I need you. Now."
Luke leaned forward, pressing kisses along her collarbone and making his way to the skin between her breasts. Lorelai closed her eyes and shivered once more. "Luke," she moaned.
"Just returning the favor," he replied in a hoarse voice. As his soft lips made contact with her skin, she silently cursed herself for teasing him in a similar way before. The tone of his voice elevated her heart rate once again. She wanted him even more. He then started the journey back up, slowly kissing her jaw line before arriving back at her lips.
His tongue searched for hers as he moved closer to her. He broke the kiss, positioning himself in front of Lorelai and looking into her eyes. Luke slowly slid into her as she tilted her head back and exhaled. When her eyes and his locked once more, she felt her heartbeat racing. After all this wondering, after all this time imagining, staring, and daydreaming, all her fantasies were slowly becoming reality.
Luke glided in and out of her as her breathing became deeper and her grip on his shoulders became tighter. She felt herself teetering closer and closer to the edge as she dragged her nails across his back, watching him let out a moan of pleasure from the sensation. Lorelai grabbed onto his shoulders as she lost all control, as the vibrations of pleasure went up and down her body.
She inhaled sharply as his body reacted to her climax. His breathing became slower as she leaned up to kiss him, leaning her head back on the pillow once more when he leaned forward, allowing his lips to meet hers.
After a moment of taking in the satisfaction of being together, Lorelai watched as Luke rolled over onto the row of pillows she had unconsciously created earlier. She smiled. "I guess my insanity is good for preventing rug burns."
Luke turned to face her. "Apparently so."
"So I'm guessing this means that things aren't too weird between us for you to come to the graduation ceremony."
"Your guess would be correct," he said, leaning forward to kiss her.
"We have to make sure we get a picture of you and Smart Ass," she teased, moving closer to him and adjusting a pillow behind her back.
He rolled his eyes. "I knew I'd regret giving you that stupid talking donkey."
Lorelai laughed, leaning forward to kiss him again. "Well you know what I regret? Not having any sheets in here. This could be quite the comfy setup with some sheets."
"There's my little graduate!" Rory proclaimed as she gave Lorelai a hug.
"That's me, I'm officially a smarty pants now," Lorelai replied. She turned to Luke and grinned. "Well, you clean up nice," she said, stroking his cheek as she leaned forward to give him a kiss.
Suddenly, Rory grabbed Lorelai's arm, breaking up the kiss. "Mom! Did we invite Grandma and Grandpa?" she asked, pointing across the way to where Emily and Richard were standing.
"You said we only got a limited amount of tickets! Sookie, Jackson, Luke, you, and that was it!" Lorelai gasped, frantically searching for Richard and Emily.
"Well, I thought so too!" Rory replied.
"Maybe Sookie invited them," Luke reasoned.
"If she did, I don't care how good that graduation cake is, she's so on my list," Lorelai muttered, putting on a happy face as Richard and Emily approached. "Mom, Dad! What are you doing here?"
"What, our daughter graduates and we aren't allowed to attend? Oh, yes, I forgot, we weren't invited, were we, Richard?" Emily replied, waving at someone across the room to get their attention. "Sookie and Jackson were unable to attend. Something about a kitchen accident, no injuries and the cake is fine, but apparently it was necessary for them to skip out on the ceremony. So they gave us their tickets. Imagine our surprise when we found out about the entire occasion."
Richard gave Lorelai a congratulatory kiss on the cheek. "Now, Emily," he said, turning back toward his wife.
"Well, when we were planning this, you two were going to be out of town," Rory insisted, obviously attempting to avoid any blowups on Lorelai's graduation day. "And by the time we knew you weren't, the tickets had already been handed out and we didn't want to insult you. It's my fault. I'm so sorry."
Emily smiled. "Well, never mind that. Thomas here is going to take some pictures of everyone. Rory, why don't you go with him so he can start setting us up by the tree over there? We'll be there shortly."
Rory followed the photographer as Emily turned to Lorelai and Luke. "Luke, I didn't know you were going to be here."
"It's nice to see you again," he replied politely.
"I suppose we'll be seeing a lot more of each other now, won't we?" Emily said with a knowing smile. "Come along, you two, Thomas is waiting."
As Emily and Richard walked away, Lorelai turned to Luke. "Busted," she said. "I'm so sorry."
He shrugged. "It's better than announcing it at some fancy dinner, I guess."
"I know the perfect way to get back at her," Lorelai teased.
"Get back at her? For what? She saw us, Lorelai."
Lorelai's arm emerged from the sleeve of her gown and she pulled out the donkey Luke had given her in the basket. "Smart Ass wants to meet Emily and Richard."
"Oh, jeez," Luke replied, putting his arm around her and walking toward the tree as Lorelai shoved the donkey toward his ear.