The diner is still open when she gets back; Miss Patty's the first to comfort her, if that's what this is, pulling Lorelai tight, and okay, this must be what it feels like to be crushed to death.
and god, yes, and she doesn't even have to answer; she burns her tongue a little on the first sip, and she barely notices.
He's watching her when she glances up, refills her cup, and she breathes in.
"You have to go home some time."
She's not sure how long they've been alone; he turns the lock on the door, flips the sign -
and maybe this wasn't the world's best idea, because last night he kissed her, and she raises the empty cup to her lips.
"You still have danishes," and that's probably the worst segue ever, but he passes one over, his hand brushing hers -
His lips meet hers, his hand on her waist, and the pastry lies on the counter, forgotten.
"What are we doing?" She isn't sure she cares, but someone should probably ask, and he smiles, really smiles, and god, she's missed him -
She stumbles a little on the stairs, because it's dark, her skirt bunched up above her knees, and they're suddenly unfamiliar -
His bed still creaks in the middle, and she cries out.
She catches the phone on the fourth ring, keys dumped unceremoniously on the table.
She notices the blinking light on the machine at the same time she hears Rory's voice.
"Hey. I tried to call you last night."
"Oh?" and then, "Oh. Yeah. I let the machine get it. We've been getting these telemarketers - you know how it is, they try to sell you a set of steak knives and you end up buying a vacation home in west Nantucket, only you have to share it with nine other people, and you know how I feel about sharing."
"Sharing is bad," Rory agrees solemnly. "But I hear west Nantucket is nice this time of year."
She's unbuttoning her skirt as they segue from vacation homes to farmers named Ted to Rory's first day, and she almost doesn't catch -
"So, how's Luke?"
The phone slips out of purchase, slams back against her ear. "Luke?"
"You know. Backwards baseball cap, works in a diner -"
"Oh, that Luke."
"In the diner yesterday, there was definite looking."
"There was no looking."
"There was looking. Maybe even hovering."
"There was no hovering." Except - "Luke is good. Luke is Luke."
"He does possess a distinct Luke-ness that other people lack. In fact, I'd say it's one of his defining characteristics."
Well, at least they're agreed. And there's no more mention of hovering.
It's in front of her almost before she reaches the counter, and she glances up -
He's smirking. And she really wishes she didn't find it so appealing.
and he leans in, brushes past her; she bites her lip. "I have to -"
"I'll see you later?"
She doesn't have to ask what time he closes.
"So, you and Luke."
It's been four days. The gossip mill must be running slow.
"I always knew you kids would work it out. I was just saying to Morey the other day, wasn't I?"
A noncommittal grunt, and she has enough time to take a step away. "It's really not -"
"Oh, don't worry about me, sweetheart. I'll be rooting for you."
That's going to stay with her.
There are benefits to the entire town knowing every detail of your personal relationship.
(She keeps telling herself.)
She doesn't have to wait in line for coffee, ever - that's definitely a plus. And she doesn't have to pretend not to be keeping a secret, because she's really bad at that. Obviously.
And she doesn't have to worry about a surprise repeat showing of her in a flannel shirt. She keeps a change of clothing upstairs, just in case.
But there are the smug glances to contend with, the ones that say I always knew you'd work it out. Which is more than she knew.
She pretends it was a forgone conclusion. Really, she's trying not to repeat the same mistakes.
Taylor gets shouted down before he can open his mouth at the town meeting, and Luke uses the charts to start a bonfire at the next festival.
She misses Rory. Lorelai doesn't even get to break the news when she calls; so, you and Luke, and she could swear Stars Hollow has its own national advertising service.
"I'm happy for you," and she lets out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding.
Nobody interrupts them when he cooks an intimate dinner for two; it's kind of anticlimactic.
It's a vacation. She's not really sure if they've been together two months or two years, but a vacation seems appropriate. It takes two minutes to clear the time off with Sookie, another twenty to fend off questions about the destination, wardrobe, and purpose -
(Do you think he'll ask? and she really doesn't want to answer.)
It takes an effort not to search his luggage for incriminating little black boxes, and she wishes it didn't feel like the entire town had come to see them off.
But the car ride is soothing (her music, and he smiles lazily as she slides the tape in), and he lets her sleep -
"You're not driving my truck again," when she offers, and that's fine with her -
Really, Rory meeting them at the hotel should have been her second clue.
Maryland should have been her first.
"My parents are going to kill me."
She wishes she'd brought something nicer. A little warning wouldn't have gone astray.
"Sookie's going to kill me."
She doesn't even have a dress. A white blouse and her camel skirt will have to do.
"The entire town is going to kill you."
Rory lends her a bracelet. Blue; there's nothing wrong with multitasking.
"April's going to kill you."
She's had the blouse for a few years. The shoes are new.
His hand brushes the small of her back, and he leans in for a kiss -
"We'll do it again, in a church."
She shouldn't have brought it up.
She'll have been engaged twice, married three times. One of them has got to stick, right?
He has a tux. It isn't fair.
She isn't taking his name.
"You were in on this?" to Rory, who looks infuriatingly smug.
At least it isn't a June wedding.
They need a honeymoon spot; she's not due back for another week.
"I hear west Nantucket is nice this time of year."