A/N: This story was written for the OLC ficathon. My prompt was: grass, Kirk's new business venture, a laptop, a food item, and a telephone conversation. Thanks to Filo for all her assistance with this one. Couldn't have done it without you!
As box after box of band aids tumbled from the bathroom cabinet onto the floor, Lorelai didn't make a move to stop the disaster from happening. Her mind had been elsewhere since she talked to Liz. Lorelai had since decided that it wasn't a bad thing that she couldn't think about anything but the man sitting on her couch, slightly tipsy and plastered in Barbie band-aids. From what she got out of his drunken speech, she could see that he cared so much for his sister. Lorelai smiled.
Man, he was good, even on his bad days. Was this even considered a bad day?
Lorelai crouched down to assess the damage. She started to sort out the non-Luke appropriate band-aids from the plain ones, and placed them in their appropriate boxes. Soon she realized that her search for a manly band-aid would be fruitless. Pouting, she backed up against the bathtub and continued to sort. There had to be something she could give him.
Lorelai methodically continued the search as her mind wandered to her conversation with Liz. He's definitely one of the good ones. Maybe THE good one. It was a nice thing to say, and it was true. It was virtually impossible to find a guy like Luke. She just didn't intend to say it with such… enthusiasm. Especially to his sister. Who she had just met for the first time. Excellent first impression, she thought to herself.
More like an embarrassing one. She could bump it up to number four or so on her list of embarrassing moments, directly above the accidental flooding of the Laundromat and just underneath the time her skirt got stuck in her underwear during her freshman spring formal. But the more she thought about it, the less embarrassed she was.
As her stack of Hello Kitty band-aids tumbled and infiltrated her stack of kissy lips ones, she let out a sigh. The first impression was a terrible one, regardless. Lorelai had probably gushed so much that she gave Liz the wrong idea. For all Lorelai knew, Liz could have told Luke what she had said. And the consequences of that would be awful.
If she did give Liz that idea, maybe it wasn't completely wrong.
He obviously had a lot of good days.
It was her chance to do something for him. It was nothing compared to falling out of a tree for him, but she was glad that she got the chance to take care of him for once. It wasn't the first time she had done a favor for him, and it wouldn't be the last, but it felt slightly awkward. It was almost a role reversal of sorts. Luke wasn't the kind of guy who needed her assistance very often. Hell, he rarely asked anyone for help. A part of her couldn't help but wonder if he knew how much she really did appreciate what he did for her, even if she didn't often get the chance to show him.
She sighed. Of course he knew. There were many times where she had tried to tell him, in some long-winded speech, how much what he did meant to her. Luke wasn't the kind of guy who needed repayment to be there for someone. He always maintained that the stuff he did for her was no big deal. Apparently he was used to that kind of thing. From what Liz had said earlier, he was always the go-to guy. That phenomenon didn't appear when she walked into the diner. Apparently Luke did this long before he knew that Lorelai existed.
Even so, he seemed to be selective about who he went above and beyond for. The townspeople raved about how great of a guy Luke was, but there were never stories of this nature floating around. He was certainly there for the townspeople, but only to a certain extent. Liz's story seemed much more like the Luke she knew. Lorelai couldn't help but dig deeper into the emotional ramifications of that. She was part of a very select group of people who could be so lucky.
He took Jess in and let him live in the apartment. There was barely enough room for just Luke up there, let alone Luke and Jess. Luke did absolutely everything in his power to make sure that Jess stayed in school and graduated. There were times that Lorelai thought for sure that Luke would snap, or give up, or kick Jess out because he was just so sick of the games. But he didn't.
And by doing Jess a favor, he did Liz yet another favor. Apparently the two had some sort of unspoken agreement. She relied on him to fix her problems, and he fixed them, no matter what. They could be slightly inconveniencing, like sending her money to pay the rent, or extremely inconveniencing, like moving in Jess and all of his stuff. But regardless, Luke was there to fix it. Liz had implied that it wasn't the first time he had helped her out of a jam, and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
Rory was also one of those people he would do absolutely anything for. When Rory's term paper got jammed in the printer, he not only repaired the printer, but stopped the annoying message on her laptop that was telling her about the paper jam. He presented a carefully designed wooden caterpillar coffin as a way to offer his condolences when Rory's caterpillar died. He made her mashed potatoes when she had the chicken pox. He didn't hesitate to say yes when Rory needed an interview for her very first article in the Stars Hollow Middle School newspaper. He didn't bring ice to just anyone's party.
There were so many things that Luke had done for Lorelai herself over the years, without a single complaint or expectation of repayment. He was one of those guys that did what seemed like the little things, but made a big difference. She couldn't even begin to count the times that Luke had cut the grass, shoveled her walkway, or unclogged her shower drain. She could think of at least five times off the top of her head that he had given her a ride, twice that he had told her she didn't have to pay for the food she ate, and four times he had let her borrow something that she usually never gave back.
And he was the guy who was always there when she needed him in an emergency. The day Kirk damaged her front door in an attempt to prove that selling doors door to door was a good idea, Luke didn't return to the diner until he was positive that she would not have an intruder that night. When a pipe underneath the kitchen cabinet burst, Lorelai called Luke in a panic, just barely explaining the situation, before he arrived and turned off the water to prevent further damage.
Of course, just today, Luke had fallen out of her tree in an attempt to get into the house to fix her window.
In that context of things, Lorelai thought about the role she played. Technically speaking, she and Rory were a part of Luke's family.
And that was touching. Touching and a little scary. Knowing she meant that much to him wasn't the problem. It was knowing that she had a tendency to screw things up with her family that was the scary part. Sure, she hadn't botched things with Rory, but her relationship with the rest of the Gilmores wasn't exactly on solid ground. And somehow, being on those kinds of terms with family was much worse than fighting with anyone else.
Lorelai braced herself on the edge of the bathtub, standing up and placing the boxes of band-aids back in their usual spot. She clutched the manliest band-aids she could find, walking out into the living room. She sat next to Luke and placed all the paraphernalia from the bathroom on the coffee table. He didn't say a word as she dragged the hydrogen peroxide covered cotton ball across his cut.
She held his upturned palm in her left hand and gently waved her right hand over his wrist to alleviate the sting from the peroxide. Luke looked at her, and the fanning slowed to a stop. She smiled at him, looking into his eyes for a few brief moments. He continued to stare at her, and he broke what she could have chosen to interpret as a smile.
Quickly, she turned her attention to the anti-bacterial cream sitting on the coffee table. He was drunk, and he had hit his head. Luke obviously meant to convey gratitude to her for not allowing him to walk out of her house with a Barbie band-aid on his wrist. He wasn't smiling. He couldn't have been. And even if he was, he was drunk.
But the ogling, staring, expression of gratitude, whatever it was, threw her off balance. In a desperate attempt to regain some normalcy, she unwrapped a band-aid that looked like a bacon strip. Giggling, she placed the band-aid on the cut. Looking up at him, still holding his hand in hers, she watched as he analyzed his wrist. He looked up at her and gave her the smile again.
He didn't complain about how stupid it looked. He didn't roll his eyes. He didn't take it off. Her eyes went from the band-aid to Luke, and back again, stunned that he was reacting this way. Even drunk, Luke wasn't much of a bacon guy. She soon realized that she was still holding his hand. She carefully turned his hand over, working under the guise of searching for more cuts. She gently brushed her fingertips across a scrape on his palm, deciding that it didn't need treatment. Lorelai dragged her fingers across his, stopping to admire every freckle and every scar.
She caught herself admiring a little too closely when she looked up, embarrassed. Luke didn't seem offended, annoyed, or even confused about her behavior. Instead, he seemed to welcome it, turning her hand over and taking it in his. Lorelai was almost paralyzed as she saw Luke leaning toward her. She could hear her heart beating in her ears as his lips slowly moved toward hers. Lorelai felt his breath on her cheek as the gap between them closed. The smell of alcohol on his breath didn't deter her from enjoying their closeness. Suddenly, she felt his scruff on her cheek. It was much softer than Jason's.
She pulled away, shocked at how quickly she forgot that she and Luke were both involved with someone else. He stared at her, looking slightly confused. She hoped that the headache and the alcohol could join forces and help him to forget about the entire incident.
Lorelai started to spout off some line about how he was as good as new, but scratch and sniff band-aids would have been better. She informed him that he could remove the band-aid if it was embarrassing to him, or somehow ruined his reputation. Her speech lasted longer than she had anticipated, but when she was done, the bacon strip was still adhered to his wrist.
Lorelai patted the hand with the bacon band-aid and led him to her Jeep. She insisted on driving him back to the diner. After all, he had fallen out of her tree. Walking back with a headache and a bleeding hand wasn't exactly going to be pleasant. Throughout the short ride back to the diner, she periodically glanced down at his hand. His sleeve was still rolled up and the band-aid was still affixed to his wrist.
They said their goodbyes in the front of the diner. They sat in the Jeep for a moment, staring at each other again, but saying nothing. The gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach preemptively overtook her as she waited for him to bring up the incident on her couch. She took a deep breath, anticipating what he would say.
But he said nothing.
He simply flashed the drunken smile at her once more before walking into the diner and up the stairs to his apartment. Her stomach turned as she saw him disappear behind the curtain. She had a brief preview of what things would be like if she and Luke were together. But that was all she would get. He was with Nicole. However weird and twisted that relationship was, it existed. And she was obviously attached, too, or else she wouldn't have pulled away from what came extremely close to being a kiss.
Lorelai continued to reflect on the few minutes she had just spent with Luke as she drove back to the house. She thought about how much he had done for her that day. He went through that much to fix her window, on a day when things weren't going so well for him. But he dealt with her anyway. Luke made time for her, her broken window, the teasing, the band-aid, and an almost kiss.
An almost kiss. That she pulled back from. He didn't argue with her, he didn't bring it up, and he didn't seem angry.
He really was the good one.