A/N I can't tell you how much I enjoy the reviews. I hope you all like this one and read carefully you'll get the Caesar answer. Again, thank you for reading and reviewing.
Chapter 13 Damn Spots
Shortly before ten o'clock that night Luke was racing around the living room while Lorelai was upstairs. "I can't find it Lorelai! Are you sure you knocked it off in the living room?"
"Not really Luke, I wasn't exactly paying attention to where the clothes were landing," her voice floated down the stairs.
"Well I have no idea where it hit, but I found your shirt." Luke was on his hands and knees in front of the couch when he heard someone clear their throat. His heart in his mouth, he cautiously looked up to see Rory standing next to the couch with his hat dangling off her index finger. He slowly let out a sigh.
"Uh, I suppose it would be too much to hope you haven't been standing there too long?"
Before she answered Lorelai came barreling down the stairs wearing her sweats, "Luke Rory's going to be here… and here she is. Hi sweets."
Rory almost laughed at the guilty look they shared. She smiled and said politely, "So I guess everything's all right in Whoville?"
Lorelai smiled back and said, "When you speak about this years from now, and you will. Be kind."
Luke was seriously studying the wood pattern on the floor and Rory chuckled, "Oh no. As far as I'm concerned this little interaction never happened. I'm going to live in a nice little town called denial and I ask that you join me there."
Luke grinned and nodded his head, "I'm there Rory. No problem here. I uh, should probably you know…"
He indicated the door with his head and Lorelai giggled as she accompanied him out on the porch. After closing the door he gathered her in his arms and with both of them smiling like fools he leaned in to kiss her.
"So…" He smiled at her and she bumped her head on his shoulder.
"Sooooooo…" She giggled and he hugged her tighter.
"Gonna be difficult getting to sleep, too much energy."
Lorelai laughed, "Really? 'Cause about half an hour ago you were ready to sack out for the night."
He shrugged, "Gotta second wind. Wanna go to my place? Watch some TV or play Scrabble, or we could talk some more."
Throwing back her head she actually snorted with laughter and Luke laughed with her. "I'd love to stop by and see your etchings, but maybe we'd better save that for tomorrow. Right now I need to let Rory know that we're OK and that I'm taking some time to be with you the next couple of days."
Luke looked seriously at her, "Do you think she'll be upset? I mean you haven't had alone time with her in a couple of months either."
She smiled and shook her head, "You're so sweet to worry about that. I'll talk to her but I think she's going to be fine with this. She likes you so much I'm not sure who she'd actually want to live with if we ever really broke up."
He chuckled, "Well, I don't buy that but thanks. I'll open tomorrow and then let Caesar know that I'm gonna be scarce for a couple of days. You start planning what you want to do, OK?"
She smiled broadly and he returned the grin, "Well, that works too. You want me to stop over here or are you gonna come by the diner?"
Twining her arms around his neck she smiled, "You stop by here. If you're at the diner we'll never be alone."
He nodded as he started to leave, "I'll be back about eight tomorrow, after Rory goes to school. I'll bring breakfast."
Lorelai whined, "Do you have to leave now?"
He continued down the steps, "If I don't Rory's gonna have to leave Denial or run me off on a yardarm."
She smiled as he continued on walking backwards. Just then the porch light came on and Lorelai laughed at her daughter's subtle hint. She turned to walk back into the house looking towards Luke's retreating form once more.
Rory was waiting for her just inside, "Well missy, what's the verdict?"
Lorelai hugged her daughter, "Everything's back on track and all systems go."
"Oh, thank God!" she sighed and they proceeded into the living room where Lorelai shared the children's version of the evening.
Luke was smiling as he waited for his bread guy Wednesday morning relieved that he was going to spend the better part of two days with Lorelai. The bread guy however, was late and he didn't have two flats of hamburger buns that Luke had ordered.
Then the first pot of coffee grinds fell on the diner floor, Kirk was extremely demanding and half of Stars Hollow decided that Luke's was where they wanted to eat breakfast so that by seven thirty when Caesar came in Luke had had it.
When he saw his cook he remembered that he hadn't told him that Lorelai had called the day before, so the first thing out of Luke's mouth was, "Caesar, how is it that Lorelai called me yesterday and you didn't tell me?"
Caesar looked surprised, "Boss, why would she call?"
"What do you mean why would she call? Why do you think she'd call?" he snarled.
"But boss, I didn't think you were still seeing her." The big man looked like he wanted to cry.
Luke put his hands on his hips and bellowed, "Why the Hell would you think I wasn't seeing her?"
Caesar stuttered, "She hasn't been in for about a week and you've been throwing people out and well…"
"Well what!" Luke snapped.
"El alimento usted cocina gustos como mierda." Caesar finally voiced.
"What do you mean my food tastes like shit? Nobody has complained about how I've been cooking! And if they don't like it they can just eat someplace else!" Luke yelled at the small crowd that was still in the diner.
"Yes boss," Caesar said as he ducked into the kitchen. Luke was fuming as he watched the cook retreat to the kitchen.
Just then the phone rang. Answering it Luke snarled, "Luke's."
A pause came and then he heard Lorelai's voce, "Luke? Is everything alright?"
He sighed and answered a bit softer, "No, Caesar thinks that we're broken up, that's why he didn't tell me you called; he didn't know it was you."
A pause of silence on the other end as Lorelai drew in a breath, "Well Luke, for a few days last week I wasn't sure that we weren't breaking up."
Leaning his head on the wall Luke sighed, "But Lorelai we went over that last night I thought you understood."
She giggled softly, "Yes I do, but Luke, Caesar wasn't in the bedroom last night at least I hope he wasn't. He's really too big to miss. Oops, dirty."
Luke smiled into the phone, "Yeah, you're right. I just hate being called on my crap. Oh, he also had the balls to tell me my food tastes like shit."
Another pause and Luke whined, "Aw come on now, you loved the beef stew right?"
"Well babe, you're a bit emotional when you cook." She started to explain when Luke cut her off.
"I'm not a girl!"
"Hey hey hey now! Not all emotions are girly. You're more of an artist. When you're upset you tend to burn things and remember the sauce the night Rory found out about the father daughter dance?"
"Those tomatoes were spoiled!" he defended.
"Luke those tomatoes came from a can. Babe, when you're upset you tend to convey those emotions through your food. Just like last night." Before she could continue Luke cut in.
"You said you loved my beef stew and the bread!" And Lorelai took the conversation back.
"Luke I ate carrots and celery! Of course I loved your stew. When you're on your game you even top Sookie. But when you're not it also shows."
Somewhat mollified he sighed, "I still don't want to ever hear you say that I'm an emotional cook. It's just not manly."
Lorelai chuckled, "You got it Grillmeister. I just called to see if you could bring by some of your wonderful coffee that I get to make here. I ran out on Friday and I forgot to ask you for it last night."
"Sure. You mean to tell me you haven't had any coffee in the house since Friday?" he smiled.
"Oh no babe, we've been using Starbucks, but it's not yours." He had a hard time hiding the pleasure of knowing she wanted his coffee when he answered.
"Got it, I'll be leaving in half an hour and I was planning on eggs this morning." The silence from the other end told the story.
"Soooo you're making up with your other girlfriend today?"
He sighed, "I'm guessing chocolate chip pancakes and that gaff cost me bacon and sausage?"
At least he could hear her smile as she answered, "You got it Dude!"
Hanging up he went into the kitchen to apologize to Caesar and tell him he was taking the next two days off.
Bounding up the stairs to Lorelai's house Luke couldn't get the grin off his face. He walked into the living room and called out, "Lorelai? Breakfast' here!"
From the upstairs he heard the shuffle of her feet on the hardwood as she raced down the hallway. Taking the steps two at a time she threw herself at Luke's form. Having braced for her assault he held onto the packages as she looked up at him smiling.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey," he also replied. Gently wrapping his arms around her he kissed her upturned face.
"I brought coffee."
"Smooth talker, I missed you too." She took the travel tray that held two of his to-go cups.
During breakfast there was a calm connection between the two. They chatted about the various things going on in their lives, Luke told her about the latest Taylor scheme to beat Litchfield and Lorelai told him about Sookie's latest crush, the milkman.
"Which brings forward all sorts of images of dirty," Lorelai chuckled. Luke stood up to clear the plates when he heard her sigh and his stomach tightened.
With his back to her he hung his head, "What?"
"Weeeel, I know you hate this and I know it's not the best topic but I think we need to have 'the talk.' And last night we got distracted. So if we have it now we have all afternoon for dirty stuff."
"Oh come on Lorelai, I get it! You love me! Really I get it!" Lorelai had to bite the inside of her mouth as he whined like a two year old.
"That's wonderful Luke, but we need to talk about our families and exes. That's the talk we've been avoiding for three months." She smiled at him so sweetly he couldn't argue so he put the dishes in the sink and picked up his tea.
"Could we at least talk in the living room?" he sighed. She picked up her coffee and followed him into the living room.
Over the next two hours he told her about his mom and her illness, his dad and his illness and Liz's insanity. She listened intently and her heart broke for the level of pain he'd endured growing up. He talked about his aunts and his Uncle Louie and how his family fell apart after his dad died.
"My Aunt June said that I'd end up bitter and alone like Louie." He leaned forward to put his tea on the table and Lorelai processed his last remark.
"Why would she think that Luke?" His uncle had been a curmudgeon who was now living with a house full of stuff in Florida.
Luke sighed before he answered. "Because of Rachel. We got together in high school and dated our Junior and Senior years. Then she went off to USC in California and Dad got sick. So here I was stuck in Stars Hollow running the hardware store and trying to get Dad to eat when Rachel would flit in every six months or so. The summer vacations her freshman and sophomore years were great, but Dad got worse her Junior year and that summer she had an internship with National Geographic. She was in Africa when Dad died."
He was telling the story flat, just trying to get through it without connecting to the emotion until his last sentence and Lorelai interjected with, "Oh Luke."
As she put her hand over his the emotions caught up with him and his voice broke on the last word. Composing himself he looked at her, 'That's when the real split happened with her. As irrational as it seems, I never forgave her for not being here when I really needed her. I mean we tried a few times, but I always knew she'd leave me again."
"After his death I couldn't open the hardware store but I couldn't sell it either so I opened the diner and as you so recently pointed out, I've an emotional side to me so when the anniversary of Dad's death came up I had the first time where I threw people out of my diner. My Aunt June said I was just like Louie and would end up like him; alone and bitter. So I think that's why I kept taking Rachel back even though I knew it wasn't going to work, so I wouldn't be alone."
Lorelai nodded, understanding the deep pain of having someone judge you and not support you. She told him about her life with the Gilmores, and how her mother ran her life.
"What I loved about Christopher at sixteen is the same thing that drives me crazy at twenty eight. At sixteen he was all about the rebelling. When I suggested we get drunk, skip school or even have sex I was the leader and he followed. Which at sixteen seemed great to have all this power, but now I'd like a bit more help in raising Rory. Chris as you've seen is AWOL."
Luke scowled as he remembered the father daughter dance and how upset Rory was coming home. He pulled her closer and whispered, "I'm here for you Lorelai, I'll be someone you can count on no matter what."
She felt herself relax into his embrace and she looked up at him with eyes so filled with love he thought is heart was going to choke him. Leaning down they shared the most intimate kiss filled with promise and hope.
At that moment Rory opened the front door looking very bedraggled and done in. Lorelai instantly switched gears as she took in the sight of her daughter.
"Mommy?" Rory squeaked out.
Lorelai gathered her in her arms as Luke looked on helplessly. "Oh sweets what's wrong?"
Feeling her forehead she took the note Rory was holding out. Turning to Luke she started to open it, "She's running a fever. Annnnnd have you had Chicken Pox?"
Luke raised his eyebrows and nodded, "Yeah in third grade, right before my mom got sick why?"
"This note says that it's going around the school and Rory's been sent home because she wasn't feeling well so we need to look out for spots."
Lorelai's heart went out to Rory who looked so forlorn and turned her to go towards her bedroom.
"Let's get you to bed sweets, call me when you've gotten your pajamas on." Her daughter shuffled into her room and Lorelai turned towards Luke.
"I'm sorry babe, if this is Chicken Pox it's going to be a rough road ahead. How about I call you when she feels better?"
Luke looked at her severely. "What part of that story did you think I made up Lorelai?"
"What? What do you mean?" Lorelai asked perplexed.
"I'm here for you and Rory Lorelai. Now if she has Chicken Pox I remember something about oatmeal baths, and since I'm sure you don't have any in the house I'll go to the store and pick some up, now what else?" He stood there so strong and sturdy Lorelai felt lighter than she had in years.
"Um, maybe some ice cream, like chocolate or coffee, nothing mixed in, some instant mashed potatoes and some eggs. Those are all Rory's sick foods. Oh, and two oven-mitts and duct tape."
Luke had been writing down his list until the last two items she rattled off. Looking up at her he raised his eyebrows, "Oven-mitts and duct tape?"
She nodded and smiled, "If it is Chicken Pox she'll want to scratch in her sleep and the oven mitts will keep her from doing that."
Luke nodded impressed with her foresight. He leaned in to kiss her gently and said, "Back soon. Get her comfortable and I'm making real mashed potatoes, instant is crap."
Lorelai watched him go out the front door feeling for the first time that maybe she'd really have a partner in life. Smiling she went to her daughter's door and seeing her curled up with her teddy bear sat on her bed.
"Rory don't you want Colonel Cluckers?"
Her daughter shook her head pointed an accusatory finger at the stuffed animal and whispered. "A pox upon you."
Lorelai hid her smile as best she could and stroked her daughter's hair.
"Don't worry sweets, Luke sends his love and it will take the form of mashed potatoes." Rory curled into her mother and drifted off to sleep.