Loose Strings & Whole Hearts
June 18, 2005
The phone rang and Lorelai picked it up as she exited the kitchen. "Hello." Luke was on the couch, and she only looked at him and looked away. "Hey, Eric." She headed up the stairs. "Yeah, that's fine. Just try to make it here by eight. I'm starving." She laughed a tired laugh. "Yeah, Hon, I'm looking forward to it."
And then she got too far away for Luke to hear.
He sighed and stood up. Instantly grasping his head, he moved over toward the window.
He and Lorelai hadn't talked much since the night she'd come home anxious to put on a show for him. In fact, they'd only said a few words to one another. But he didn't go anyplace. Not just because blackness was the worst alternative, but because he needed her just as much, if not more, than she needed him. Even if she hated him, he couldn't stop himself from being there.
She'd called Eric the day following their argument. Three times, they went out that week. Two of those times she didn't even bother coming home. But she still didn't allow Eric in the house, so Luke hadn't met him.
June 14, 2005
Earlier in the week, Lorelai had spent three long hours in the kitchen attempting to bake peanut butter cookies. She kept burning them and had to start over numerous times. Luke stayed out of the way and watched the house fill with smoke twice from his spot in the living room. When he finally went in the kitchen, she was cleaning up and checking on the cookies every two minutes to keep from making another disastrous batch. He told her that batch smelled promising. She thanked him and said nothing else. When done, Luke watched her try a couple before pulling out Tupperware and stacking the majority of them inside.
"Cookies for lunch?"
"Not for me."
He nodded. Determined from there that Eric was really making an impression. He didn't even acknowledge his own jealousy. His feelings were very low on his list of priorities.
June 18, 2005
Lorelai came down the stairs with the phone at her side. She spotted Luke by the window and paused as she studied his unmoving frame.
"Deep in thought?" she asked lightly.
He turned instantly. Thought for sure someone else had come into the room and she was talking to them because she hadn't initiated any exchanges for over a week.
He found her looking square at him. "Uh, no. Just, uh, standing here."
She nodded. "Oh. Okay." She hopped down the remaining steps and went to put the phone back on the base.
He gestured at her. "Thanks for…"
She looked over at him and saw him searching for a way to end that sentence. She smiled. "Eric wants me to meet his parents," she confided.
She walked her bare feet to the couch, sat, and then looked at him over the back. "He said no pressure. They'll be in town in a few weeks and he figured it wouldn't hurt. But when has meeting parents ever been pressureless? I'm conflicted."
He was cautious. Was it that easy for them to be back on good terms?
"Why are you conflicted?" He stayed behind the couch and looked down at her with his hands in his back pockets.
"I feel like it's way too soon. We could get to that place one day, but I don't want to rush it. I don't deal well with rushing things."
"And…you want my advice?"
"If you're dishing it out."
He eyed her with vigilance. "Is this a trick?"
She looked really amused by that but barely smiled. "At ease, Luke. I wouldn't try to trick you with this."
"What, with it being such a precarious and off-limits topic and all…" she joked calmly. She met his eyes and smiled.
He didn't touch that one. Just nodded genially.
"Well…meeting the parents doesn't always mean it's serious." He started around the couch. "What's the worst that could happen? You meet them, the mother falls in love with you, and starts hounding him about putting a ring on your finger." He shrugged like it was nothing. "What's scary about that?" he teased.
She smiled, watching his eyes as he sat. "Yeah, totally pressureless."
She continued to stare at him as her smile slowly faded. Admitted softly, "I like him, Luke."
He looked down briefly. Nodded and smiled. "I figured."
Her contact never wavered. She tilted her head and followed that statement with a question that caught him off guard. Made his heart jump into his throat. "Do you love me?"
His edge was nowhere to be found. All that was there was 9 days of missing her conversation and reflecting on her tears. Hating himself a little more every time he recalled that pain he'd inflicted.
He sighed. "You know I do," he answered in a whisper.
She noticeably relaxed. "I knew it," she whispered back. Her hand went to her chest. "I love you, too. More than I can ever say."
Luke swallowed and turned away. He needed his edge back. Needed it back. "Um, look I-"
She cleared her throat. "Now, back to Eric," she interrupted. He slowly came to relax with her kind and engaging smile. "Get over myself and meet the parents is your vote?"
It took long seconds to answer. The unintended look of adoration he gave to Lorelai stole all attention and brainpower. "Um…yeah…that's my vote."
"Then, that's what I'll do," she ended quietly.
He nodded his okay, and they finally looked away from each other.
"Well, now that we're talking again, I've, uh, had a question to ask you for a few days. Was wondering if you could help me out with that."
"Oh, really?" she asked in intrigue. "Hit me with it."
He looked over with incredulity. "Cookies?"
She laughed with a shy shrug. "What? He likes the things," she defended.
"You almost burned the house down."
"Oh jeez," he said with a chuckle.
July 12, 2005
Luke walked into Lorelai's bedroom just as she unzipped her skirt and let it fall around her ankles. She noticed him and didn't even seem embarrassed. "Hey!" She started on her blouse and called to him as he turned to head back out. "It's a bra and panties, Luke. Just pretend we're at the beach and this is my bikini."
He slowly turned back and couldn't help looking at her exposed body as he expressed fault with that. "Seeing you in a bikini would probably get the same reaction, to be fair."
She smiled and picked up her dress from the bed. "Well, if I saw you in swimming trunks and nothing else, I can promise you, the last thing I'd do is go the other way."
He turned red, and she laughed.
"I've missed you, Babe," she revealed with sincerity.
He nodded. "Well, I've been here. You're the one with all the prior engagements," he reminded kindly.
She pulled the dress on. "I know, I know." She hurried over to her mirror to get it positioned perfectly. "But it doesn't mean I haven't been missing you." She stopped and looked at him. "Tomorrow it's you and me, okay?"
He smiled. "So, Eric will be busy, huh?"
She laughed at that. "No, he won't," she assured. "We were actually going to hook up after work."
"Same as always," he noted.
She went back to straightening her clothes. "Yeah same as always, Mr. Smarty Pants. But I can cancel tomorrow."
"Nah, don't do that."
"Too late. I'm doing that."
He walked over to the bed while admiring her and sat down. "What are you two doing tonight?"
She turned away from the mirror and looked at herself from the back. "Three, actually. We're picking up Rory and having dinner."
"That's good. What does that make? The fourth of fifth time all of you have gotten together?"
She nodded. "Something like that. I keep trying to explain to him how it's all about me and how he needs to just forget about the kid, but…he keeps wanting to include her and get to know her. The jerk."
Luke smiled. "So, she likes him, then?"
"She's intrigued. Thinks he reminds her of her dad a little. I definitely didn't see that one coming." She walked back over to the bed and collected the strewn clothes. "Eric isn't like anyone I've ever dated. Not even a culmination. He's so eclectic it's ridiculous. But if he has a tendency to remind me of anyone, it wouldn't be Christopher."
She threw the clothes over on the floor, and Luke rolled his eyes at that. Her idea of tidying up was laughable.
"Who would it be?" he asked.
She looked at him and smiled. "The Rant Man, himself."
"What?" he asked in confusion.
"You, Luke. Man, that whooshing sound must drive you crazy. All day long, things just flying over your head." She demonstrated with her hands. "Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. That's what the hat is for, isn't it? Keeps the wind out of your hair."
As if on cue, he secured his hat. "How does he remind you of me?"
"He's so positive usually. But when he's annoyed with something…it's the freakiest thing. He goes on and on, and there's like no end. I swear to god, I was absolutely freaked out the first time I heard him start in on popcorn prices at the theatre." She watched Luke's lips curl as he shook his head dismissively. She went on, anxious to make that beautiful smile go larger.
"He got regretful like he was sure he'd blown it with me, but little did he know, it was the best side of himself he could've shown me. I am addicted to that part of him." She laughed to herself. "It's probably best to never reveal to him why I'm addicted to that part of him, but I love it nonetheless." She winked. "Nobody does it like you, though."
"You know, most women just look for a sense of humor."
"Yeah, they're the weirdoes," he mocked.
She leaned down closer to his face. "Well, let them laugh it up. I'll just stick with finding little pieces of Luke Danes, the man who died and stole my heart."
He stared back into her face, unable to hide his show of love for her. He sighed wistfully and shook it off. "Well, you look beautiful in that dress."
She smiled and slowly backed away. "Thanks, Babe," she said in a whispered voice. Reluctantly, she turned to the closet to grab shoes. "I told Eric I'd be at his place at 7:15, which is in 5 minutes, so as you can see, I'm doing great on time. I haven't finished dressing and I still have a thirty-minute trip to make to Hartford. At least I don't have to worry about Rory pacing the floor when we don't show up to her dorm on time because she knows her mother very well."
She turned with shoes in her hand and noticed Luke's focus elsewhere. She followed his line of vision to a corner of the room. There was nothing worth looking at there. Just a chair with a collection of clothes piled on it. She looked back to Luke who still stared.
"Hey," she called with a winded breath as she tried to secure her shoes while standing. He didn't answer. "Luke?" she followed.
His eyes zipped to her. "Yeah?"
She looked over again to the chair with clothes. "What were you looking at?"
"Nothing," he answered easily.
She studied him, wondering if it was her imagination or if he appeared jittery. With little time to spare, she brushed it off and started getting ready again.
"I'll be in late tonight. Will you wait up for me?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I'll be here."
She smiled happily. "Perfect nightcap."
July 13, 2005
Lorelai left work early and bought a stack of movies to watch with Luke. She came inside of her house and immediately let him know that she was home and all his for the night.
Luke noticed the insane number of movies that she sat on the coffee table and couldn't help but smile.
"Before we start with those, I have a favor to ask."
"Okay." She waved him up. "Going upstairs to change, so talk and walk; talk and walk." She ran up the stairs before he could answer.
He came into her room a minute later and avoided looking at her stripping her clothes off. "I opened a savings account a while back, and I wanted to give the money to April," he said as he sat on her bed.
With her back to him, she pulled off her bra and slipped into a tank top. "Wow, that's an awesome idea."
He nodded. "Yeah, it's not as much as much as I'd like, but she'll still be able to cover at least half of her college tuition. Or it could fund a trip around the world or a new car or could help her open a business one day. Whatever she wants to do. I moved it around a bit so it's been getting pretty good interest so if she wants to just let it grow more, that'll work too."
"Well, I'm definitely behind you if you want to do that, but doesn't Liz already have access to all of that? I mean, I'm sure the funds are still available since you were unknowingly King Solomon sitting on a gold mine and everything, but how exactly do you expect me to approach her and ask her to fork over this huge sum of money?"
"First of all, Liz knows that April is my kid now. She's been spending time with her and getting to know her, right?" Lorelai nodded. Liz was bordering on being obsessed with April. She saw so much of Luke in her, and she didn't hesitate to begin a relationship with the young girl. Anna encouraged it, probably out of guilt. Luke went on. "So, she knows what I would do. She knows that I'd take care of my kid, and as irresponsible as she can be, I have all faith, she's going to help Anna out with anything she needs." He shook his head. "Though I doubt Anna would even take it."
Lorelai nodded, suddenly remembering Liz's casual mention of beginning a trust fund for April because she knew that's something Luke would wholeheartedly approve of for his daughter.
"And second of all," he began again, "Liz doesn't know about the savings account so you wouldn't have to approach her at all. It's in an online bank."
"Online? When'd you cross into the new millennium?" she teased.
He rolled his eyes. "Account information's in the safe." He gave her a wary look. "Unless you've stopped procrastinating at the worst time and finally given Liz the combination, in which case what I have planned won't work."
"I haven't been procrastinating," she began smartly and then softened her voice. "She just hasn't been back to the diner since right after…everything. And I can't say I blame her. I've been waiting until she was ready. Wasn't going to just start waving a stupid combination in her face."
He frowned at her. "Why didn't you tell me that a long time ago? Every time I asked and you said you hadn't done it, I've been blaming you."
Her hands went to her hips. "Need I reiterate how much I love ranting Luke?"
She smiled. Finally with bottoms on, along with long comfy socks, she climbed onto the bed on her stomach and propped herself on her elbows beside him. "So, what's the plan, Stan?"
He looked off in thought. "I'm going to need you to forge a note. Something simple, just something I may have jotted down and stick it in the safe with all the account stuff just so there will be no question of where I want the money to go."
"A note that says what?"
He shrugged. "A note to self saying to add April Nardini to the account, listing the account by name and then just a checklist of what I'll need to get in order to make that happen. Like her social security number and all that stuff. It'll show intent. And when Liz finally sees all of that, she'll know what I had in mind for the money and she'll follow through and make sure it all goes to April."
He looked down at Lorelai who seemed to be allowing that to play through in her mind. "I know the question will be there as to how long I knew I had a daughter and how I found out but I don't really care about that. As long as April gets the money."
She looked up at him. "Yeah, I guess we could do that." She paused and thought. "We could go one step further if you want and maybe have a note in there too, almost like a ripped page from a journal."
"A journal? I don't think so."
"Like it was ripped from a journal, Luke. Like, like. Date it maybe a week before so it won't be like you knew all along and didn't care enough to do something about it. Something that can detail the discovery or just have your shock and your feelings…which I think are worth noting. April's a kid who never knew her dad and the first mention of him is finding out he was recently killed. It's worth it for her to know how much you loved finding out that you had a daughter. I was able to witness that, and I, for one, will never forget your face when you found out. I've never seen you that happy, Luke. Just imagine her receiving a note straight from your heart not even intended for anyone to see… No one will ever be able to take that away from her. Not even a mom who was so sure you wouldn't want to be a part of her life."
He considered that. Looked down at her. "That's a lot of forging."
She chuckled. "I'm up for the task."
"You sure we could pull that off?"
"Yeah, I think so. But either way, I'd like nothing more than to try."
He smiled. "When do we start?"
She pulled herself up and hopped to the floor. "Right now." She hurried to the door. "I've got plenty of notes left by you when I wasn't home, telling me about what you found while fixing different things in the house. Give me a minute and I'll get them." She yelled back as she started down the stairs. "I've seen you write so many times that I doubt I'll even need them, though."
"Well, get them anyway. Let's not take any chances."
"I'm with you there!"
He got up and followed her out. Ended up stopping in the middle of the staircase.
A minute later, Lorelai reappeared with a stack of papers in her hand. She paused on the bottom step noticing him standing there. Eyes wide, she looked from him over past the coffee table. Looked from him over there again. Finally back to him. "Why do you keep staring off like that? What the hell are you looking at?" She looked over again and gave a more thorough sweep, only to draw yet another blank.
Looking at her suddenly, he took a deep breath. "You got them?"
Questions in her tone and expression, she answered, "Yeah, I got them."
"Good. Let's do it in the kitchen." He walked down past her and headed in there.
Lorelai stayed in place and studied the living room once more. There was nothing there. Shaking her head, she backed off the step she stood on and followed him in.
July 15, 2005
I can't believe it. I found out I have a daughter today. Nobody to tell. No way I can tell anybody when I'm still trying to soak up the news myself. I don't even know what to say except…wow. This is officially the biggest day of my life. She's beautiful, too. Easily the most beautiful kid in the world. I guess all fathers say that. Oh man, I'm a father. A dad. To this beautiful kid who's almost a teenager. That means I've missed over a decade of her life. How'd that happen? Suddenly I'm thinking about her first step and first day of school. Never thought I'd be the guy thinking about a first step.
"That doesn't sound like me at all."
Lorelai rolled her eyes. "Luke, I you said almost this exact same thing in our practice runs. This is your monologue. Now be quiet and let me finish."
I'm thinking about the life she's had so far and wondering if my being in it would've made it better or worse. I don't know what kind of dad I would've made or what kind I'll be from here on out. I love her already, so that's got to be saying something. I love her more than I love myself and I haven't even met her yet. Oh jeez, now I'm thinking about boyfriends and curfews. What is this, like a switch that just gets turned on from the moment the child exists in your world? Oh god, what if she meets a jerk who doesn't treat her right? What if she meets a guy who's only out for one thing, which let's face it, most guys are. What if she gets her heart broken by one of those losers? Damn it, I already want to kill them. Does she have a step-dad who she loves? Will she accept me? When she gets married, will she want me to walk her down the aisle? I want to. I want to be the one to give my daughter away, and I want to have a man-to-man talk with the groom. I want to scare him to death and have him thinking I'll hunt him down if he harms one hair on her head. Because I will. I'll go to jail for April. I'll lay down and die for April. I love her so much, and I haven't even met her.
"You with me, Luke?"
He nodded. "Yeah," he answered sadly.
"Hang in there, Hon. I'm almost finished."
I'm thinking about the person she is. Is she a tomboy or a princess? Good god, I just mentioned princess. I've never said the word princess in my life. Well, once I used it to mock a prima donna, but that doesn't count. Good example of how dumb guys can be. I'm going to meet April someday. And then I'll spend the rest of my life making up for the years I missed. I'm sure Anna had her reasons for not telling me about her. I won't focus on that. I'll just move forward with April. I haven't even met her, and already, she's the center of my world. I can't wait to meet her. I can't wait to know her…
Lorelai laid the paper down on the table and took a soft breath. She watched Luke walk slowly toward the living room and stop at the entryway. He stood there in silence. Lorelai looked down. Stared at the page that appeared to have Luke's exact handwriting. Stared at the words on the page that were undoubtedly his.
After a minute came and went, he turned around and came back, eyes downcast. She looked up at him. "You okay?" she asked quietly.
He sat down and leaned on his knees. "Yeah, I'll be alright," he replied stoically.
She touched the paper. "You want to look at it one more time and make sure everything's okay?"
He shook his hanging head. "Everything's good."
She nodded and carefully pulled the top edge down to meet the bottom. Then she picked it up and crumpled it in her hands. He looked up at the sound. She shrugged. "Makes it seem more handled," she explained softly. "Going to fold it a dozen times in a few ways, too."
He nodded his understanding and stared at the paper as she worked it over.
She watched him as he watched her handiwork. "You sure you're okay, Baby?"
He met her eyes and a lax smile came over his face. "I'm okay," he answered more normally, more intimately due to the way she'd addressed him.
She smiled in a smitten manner and focused on what she was doing.
"I'll be dropping off the package tomorrow. Both the note-to-self and the…" She held up the paper in her hand "…letter-to-self," she ended.
"And you'll be sure Liz gets them?"
"You know I will."
"And of course I trust her and everything, but you'll make sure that she does what I-"
"I'll stick my nose as far in your family affairs as I can without getting smacked with a newspaper across the snout. Count on it."
He sat back, glad that things had a good chance of working out okay. He sighed. "I love you." He smiled. That hadn't exactly been his intended direction. "I mean, thank you."
She laughed softly and then leaned forward on the table. "I love you, too. And you're welcome."
They stared for a few long seconds before standing at the same time.
July 27, 2005
Lorelai lay on the couch watching Wheel of Fortune. She paid more attention to the contestants than to the puzzles.
Luke was distracted, lost in thought. He stared ahead for the majority of the show but called her as the bonus letters appeared on the board in the final round. Lorelai was primed and ready to start yelling consonants.
"How long before this is over?" he asked.
"Oh my god! There's no P in this puzzle, you simpleton! The best letters are C, D, B, and U." She tossed her hand toward the TV. "Should be over in about two minutes," she finally responded. "What's wrong?"
He shook his head. "It can wait."
She nodded and ended up laughing at the screen. "Wow, both of our letters suck. At least two of his were up there. I only got one." The timer started and stopped without the puzzle being solved. The remaining letters appeared. "Oh. Well that was easy." She looked up at Luke. "I knew it all along; I just didn't want to brag." She flashed a smile and muted the TV as she got to her bottom. "Alright, what's up, TV Interruptus." He cleared his throat. The solemn look he wore made her go from playful to worried. "Uh oh," she said quietly.
"Um, you know how for the past few weeks, I've been sort of…preoccupied?"
She barely moved her lips as she answered suspiciously, "Staring at things that weren't there? Sure…"
"Well…I wasn't exactly looking at things that weren't there…"
"Is someone else in here?" she asked with caution.
"No, it's nothing like that. But, um, it is something that I should probably give you a heads up on." He paused and looked off momentarily at a particular spot. Lorelai looked over, same thing she'd done a hundred times in the past couple of weeks. She got the feeling that this time she wouldn't be blown off if she asked what was there. She suddenly didn't want to know.
"There's been this…ball of light." He rubbed his eyes. "Um…and it kind of follows me around. It started out really tiny like a…um, tennis ball," he said while making the shape with his hand. "And it's gotten bigger and bigger. And now it's…" He glanced at that same spot again. "…it's the size of a window. And-and it's growing. Getting bigger."
Lorelai slowly looked over to the wall of the staircase where Luke kept looking. "So…" Her breathing increased. "W-w-what exactly does that mean?"
He spoke very carefully. "Well, I can't say for certain…but my guess is…is that I'm probably supposed to be going into that light."
"What do you me-do you want to go into it?" she questioned with so much anxiety. "Like are you feeling a pull or something?"
He stared over at it for a long while. Nodded slowly as he looked at her and spoke with composure. "Yeah it's…kind of a pull."
She continued looking at him, mouth agape.
"Can you say something?" he asked quietly.
"Are you…" She had to close her eyes and concentrate on her nervous words. "Are you telling me that you're leaving…for good?"
His words were low. "There's a chance."
She started shaking her head. "No, I c-can't…I mean, can't you just…You can't leave…no, no, no, no…I'm not ready; I'm not…I'm not ready…" The knot in her throat came and turned her quaking voice to a whisper. "God."
"Lorelai, calm down," he said with a bare, emotional voice of his own.
Her eyes scoured the room. "What am I supposed to do without you? I need you here. I need you here with me."
He looked down. "It's time," he admitted quietly. "I can't stay here forever like this."
She looked at him, whispered her plea. "Luke, I'll stay home. I'll spend more time with you. I don't have to go anywhere; I don't have to do anything. I'll stay here and…m-maybe this is happening because you think I'm pulling away and I'm not. So, don't go into whatever light you see. Just stay and I'll fix this."
"There's nothing to fix," he replied instantly. "You're not doing anything wrong by living your life, Lorelai." He looked over toward the staircase. "You've been happy. Apart from me, you've been happy. Don't downplay that."
"I want you to stay here," she said clearly as the tears came.
"I can't do that."
"Yes, you can," she sniveled.
He shook his head. "You're stronger than you know, Lorelai."
"Why did you come back if you were just going to leave again?" She cried harder and squeezed her eyes shut. "What the hell is fair about this?"
Luke ran both hands over his face and answered to the best of his ability. "I don't know. Not much, I guess."
She sniffled. Shook her head at the injustice of it all. "How long?"
"I have no idea."
"How big is it again?"
He looked over. "Like a window. At eye level."
Her lip trembled as she fought for control. Won a little and mostly lost.
"I need to know that you're going to be okay," he told her in a sage and quiet tone.
She wiped her eye and looked away from him as she folded her arms. Kept shaking her head like she refused to accept that he'd be leaving. "I need you," she said shakily.
Luke swallowed hard. "You'll always have me, Lorelai."
She met his eyes. Told him without a word how that well-intentioned sentiment wasn't good enough. She leaned forward and slowly got to her feet. "I can't deal with this right now. I'm going upstairs and going to bed."
She walked to the stairs like pain was in every step. "Apparently."
"What if Eric calls?" he called after her.
"Then Eric will just have to wait, won't he?"
He clenched his jaw. "What if Rory calls?"
"Just leave me alone," she said quietly.
She left up the stairs and Luke threw his hands up. He sat on that frustration for a good half an hour before he went up the stairs after her. Thankfully, she'd left the door open.
"Are you asleep?"
She was positioned on her side facing the window. When she didn't respond, Luke walked around to that side and looked down at her. It was getting dark so her face wasn't entirely visible. He could tell when she blinked, though. She was awake.
"You're not speaking to me now?"
"Go away, Luke."
He scoffed. "Kind of ironic, right? You're telling me to go away and the reason you're even up here is-"
"Will you please give me some time to digest this?" she asked grimly.
He shrugged. "Fine. Take all the time you need. I am, after all, swimming in time," he ended sarcastically. He laid down beside her on his back and linked both hands behind his head.
With a loud sigh, he looked over at her. "So, where are you in the digestion process?" he asked jokily.
"I hate this," she admitted weakly.
He took in her sadness. "That makes two of us," he followed softly. "But the good thing is we're both going to be okay."
"I can really do without the textbook inspirational speeches, Luke."
He smiled. "Nothing I'd like more than not having to give them. But here we are."
"Yeah. Here we definitely are," she parroted.
He turned on his side. "I'm going to be leaving soon," he began gently. "I have no idea what I'm heading into, and as scary as that is, my main concern is you. I have to know that you're not going to shut down."
There was a long silence where she did nothing but stare at the streetlight shining through the window. "I don't want you to go."
Her soft, vulnerable words tore him up inside. "Lorelai, I'm already gone."
"I can see your face and hear your voice. You're not gone."
"That's not enough. I can't touch you, and I never will be able to. I'm not here. You know who is here? Rory is; your parents are; Sookie and the town is. Eric is here, Lorelai. Those are the people who are here and who need you now. Would you be willing to give that up?"
It took a while before she answered with a bare, "No."
He shook his head. "And I wouldn't expect you to. You'd be crazy to give all that up. You have a life, and I want you to live it. It'd break my heart if you let all that go to waste."
She breathed quietly as she looked at him in the dim light. "I fell in love with you."
He smiled. "I've been in love with you," he confessed in a whisper.
She felt tears roll down to her pillow. "When you died, I just kept thinking of all the things I never got to say to you. You've always been such a good friend to me, and I didn't get a chance to tell you how important you always were. I didn't get my goodbye."
"Well, now you get one." He stared into her eyes. "Make it good, too, because after this, you're going to continue on with your life."
"Easy for you to say."
"No, it's not easy for me to say. But I'm telling you that I'm not going to stand for you trying to die with me. That's not going to happen. I'm not your life, Lorelai. I'm just a piece of a whole. If a piece gets taken away, you mend, you grieve, you heal, and you find a way to move on."
She looked down. Searched hard for some positivity. "I guess I should be happy I got this extra time with you. It's not exactly how things usually work."
"Exactly," he jumped in eagerly. "Glass half full."
She smiled at him sadly. "You know this is going to hurt regardless, right?"
She wiped a few of her tears away and tucked her hand back under her chin. "I'll do what I can."
"Do all you can. And when you think you've given all your effort, give more."
"I'll do my very best," she mocked quietly.
"Remember Rory needs you."
She nodded seriously. "I know. I need her too."
"Your family…remember them."
Emily and Richard were a pain, but they were her parents, and that instant thought of them gave her very near the rejuvenation that Rory had. "I do need to be at my sharpest to do battle with the Gilmores. Can't forget that," she admitted.
He smiled. "And you found love."
"Yeah, I did. But he's leaving me."
"I mean Eric."
She fell quiet. "Well…I don't know about love."
"Seems like it."
She was silent long enough to make Luke more confident in his assumption.
She sighed. "I know I love you."
He sat up on his elbow. "Let's get up and not waste whatever time we have left. No going to bed at eight o'clock."
"Not even if I'm depressed?"
"You're not allowed to be depressed. Up."
"I'm not finished digesting," she whined playfully, fighting back the urge to cry true tears.
"Up, up, up."
She pulled herself from the bed and led the way out of the door. He was right behind her.
"I'm so proud of you right now."
July 30, 2005
Lorelai leaned against her porch rail casually.
She faced away from Babette's house just in case her favorite nosy neighbor peaked through her blinds and wondered who she was talking to. But it was late. Going on ten. So, there was a good chance she wouldn't be able to see too much anyway.
With her front door open wide, Lorelai looked down at Luke's feet waiting for him to cross the threshold and step onto the porch.
"You're getting closer," she noticed.
"Give me a minute."
"I've given you five, but you're still there, and I'm still here."
He took a deep breath. Lorelai's house seemed right, and the idea of anything else just felt wrong. Like it was off limits. But this was his suggestion, and he wanted to follow through on it. Eventually.
He took a breath and tried to go for it but chickened out.
"We can always just try again tomorrow. It's late anyway. Let's-"
"No, we're doing this. Just give me another minute."
She shrugged. "You got it."
He looked behind him to the safety of her house. "Count to five."
"Who else? Count to five."
"Uno, dos, tres-"
"In English, please."
"You're fluent in Spanish," she reminded.
"But you're not. You're being silly. I need a serious count to five."
"Okay, just give me a second to take off my clown shoes here…" She shifted and smiled. "Count to five; here we go. One, two, three, four, five," she counted off with proper beats.
Luke stepped onto the porch.
She gasped and stood up from her lean. "You did it! If I wouldn't look like such a lunatic, I'd give that the clap it deserves."
He ran his hand down his mouth and looked around. "Can you still see me?"
She laughed. "Of course I can still see you." She did an indiscreet gesture to wave him on. "Now, come on. One trip past the diner coming up. In the car, you."
He nodded. "You got your purse?"
"No, it's okay. We'll be right back."
"Grab your purse and phone and stuff. I'll meet you by the car."
He went past her down the stairs like none of his previous fear existed.
"O-kay," she muttered with mild understanding before heading back inside to get her things.
Luke was by the door when she made it back out. She opened the passenger door and made an attempt to look casual as he climbed in. When he was inside, she leaned over him and acted as if she'd opened the door to search for something.
"I feel like an idiot."
He watched her fumble around for nothing. "Well, you look like one too if that makes you feel any better."
Satisfied with the time that passed, she backed out, closed his door, and went around to the driver's side.
Luke was oddly silent during the short ride. He stared out of his window and didn't contribute to Lorelai's chirpy comments. They arrived at the diner in no time at all, and she parked.
"There she is. Still thriving," she said of the brightly lit diner.
They could see Caesar inside cleaning. All customers had left, and in fact, the street was clear of citizens. That's what inspired Lorelai's following suggestion.
"You want to get out and look at it up close?"
He looked over at her and nodded after taking a deep breath. "Yeah, sure; let's do that."
She smiled at him and exited. Went through the same process of opening his door and pretending to have had a reason other than the one she actually had.
"I don't know how you guys do all that car door stuff. It's exhausting," she complained as she caught up with him in the middle of the street. She looked down as she talked, hid her moving lips.
Caesar disappeared into the back as they approached.
"What's all that stuff on the wall? Is that graffiti?" he asked in shock.
He picked up the pace, anxious to see it better and was finally able to read the gigantic Luke's: Always and Forever that made up the eye-catching part of the 'graffiti'. Stopping in front of the window, he stared at it.
Lorelai stopped next to him and smiled as she looked at it as well. "Just a little Luke love."
"Ah, jeez. This is embarrassing," he grumbled.
"When does he plan on taking that down?"
"Um, never." She laughed. "Why would he?"
"I can just imagine Taylor's reaction."
"I can, too. And I'm guessing it wasn't that bad since he stole the idea, shrunk it, and used it in his store."
"Oh my god. His flipping out would be the only thing that'd make me appreciate something like this. What the hell has happened to this town? Why didn't you tell me about all this?"
"Would you have preferred it if nobody seemed to care at all?"
"Of course not, but-"
"No buts. You're loved. Deal with it." She lifted her brows at him and stepped toward the door. "In fact, I still haven't signed it yet. I think I'll do that now. Embarrassing you has always been a favorite pastime of mine."
He sighed tiredly and checked for Caesar who was still behind the scenes. "Before you go add to that insanity," he said in annoyance. His voice softened. "I have to talk to you."
The smile left her face as she turned back to him. "Oh boy. Every time you have to talk to me about something, it seems to be bad news. Any chance this time will be different?"
He looked over toward the gazebo. Focused on Lorelai again and scratched his neck nervously. "Not really."
She glanced through the diner's glass and saw Caesar coming back out. She stepped to the side of the building, out of sight, and leaned against the wall. "How big is it now?" she asked Luke while staring into his eyes.
"It's the size of a doo-" He looked to the gazebo again and did a double take. "Oh my god," he whispered in disbelief.
Lorelai stood up with alert. "What's wrong? Did it close?" she asked anxiously, almost ashamed of herself for how much she wanted that to be the case. He didn't say anything. His eyes got bigger and bigger and he started shaking as he went into shock. "Luke, what's wrong?" she asked panicked.
He swallowed deeply. Had a look that bounced back and forth between terror and elation. Lorelai strained her eyes to see. She wanted to see so badly but couldn't see anything except a starry sky above a decades old gazebo.
"Luke, what do you see? Tell me!"
He started moving his lips as he turned his head slightly in her direction but he kept his eyes on one thing. No words came though he made every effort to get them out. Whispered stutters finally turned into a voice he recognized.
Lorelai's jaw dropped and she searched in the distance like she was blind and couldn't see.
"Oh my god," she whispered. "Where is he?"
Luke pointed a finger and couldn't stop staring. "Right there. Standing in the light." He spoke quietly like he was afraid he'd scare him away.
Lorelai couldn't stop herself from looking over. "What is he doing?"
His breathing was audible. "It looks like he's waiting for me."
"This is unbelievable."
He swallowed again, nodded. "I…have to go."
She nodded quickly. "O-of course, you do," she agreed. She looked up at his profile, as his attention was pretty much gone forever. She hugged herself and backed up against the wall again.
She waited in the shadows expecting to see him drift away in the distance and never look back. She wouldn't blame him. He was seeing his dad for goodness sake.
She stared at him and tried to soak up his image. Before it went away. Found herself whispering his name involuntarily as tears came from her unblinking eyes.
Luke turned from the glorious vision she couldn't see and searched her out in the darkness.
"I'm here," she said with a trembling and scared voice.
He walked closer to her. Only looked back once before he was upon her. "This is it," he said softly.
She nodded, wanted to be so understanding. "I know. Go."
He moved in closer. Got so close that it was hard for her not to lean in and try with everything in her to steal a kiss. She felt overwhelmed. Stared into his eyes deeply as he did the same.
"Remember what we talked about," he whispered.
She swallowed. Summoned strength. "Yeah, I remember," she assured.
"Never forget how many people love you and count on you."
"I won't." Tears covered her face, and she smiled through that. "Your dad is here for you," she pointed out with glistening and overjoyed eyes. "How amazing is that."
He smiled. Refused to look away from her to get another glimpse at his dad who he hadn't seen in twenty years. "He looks good."
She nodded. "Tell him he raised a great son." She had to stop herself from reaching up to his face. "I'm going to miss you so much."
He looked down at her lips. "Go to Sookie's house. Just spend the night there so you won't be alone tonight, okay?"
She nodded, cried softly.
The light had been getting bigger and stronger. Luke had to fight every second to keep from heading toward it. He kept that battle away from Lorelai. Didn't let her know how he often had to anchor himself in place in order to avoid it when she wasn't home.
It was time, and he knew it was time. He didn't want to say goodbye in her house. Knew it'd be bad enough that she had every other memory of their time together there, so he didn't want to add a painful goodbye to that as well. Wanting to see his father's shop one more time anyway, he decided to let it happen at Luke's. Planned to make her go somewhere other than home for that one night after it happened. Just for that one night. The appearance of his father was unforeseen. Made him wonder if it was going to happen that night whether he planned for it to or not.
"Alright, I have to go now."
"Just one thing."
She could have sworn she felt the breath from his parted lips.
"When it's my time to go, I want you to be the one to come back for me. Can you promise me that?"
He smiled, shook his head. "Jeez. I'll see what I can do."
"Good enough." They moved even closer. "Have a good journey."
"Say hello to Elvis for me." He chuckled, and Lorelai whispered her shock. "I can feel your breath."
"Are you sure?"
She nodded, licked her lips, and moved them up to meet his. She got a soft kiss in before he pulled away. They both gasped.
He backed away. Was the first to drop the astonishment and replace it with a smile. Lorelai's smile came slower. Was too focused on wondering when exactly he had become capable of being touched. As she watched him back into the distance, a dim light appearing behind him, she saw the magic that would've easily allowed that to happen for her. The light got brighter as he approached it. With a wink and a point in her direction, he turned and headed straight into it. It lit up brighter than the tree in Times Square before it shrunk to the size of a firefly and disappeared.
Lorelai whispered "Oh my god" behind the hand that lay over her wide-open mouth.
She looked around. Looked for signs of Luke but found none. Didn't see anyone out and about. It was just her. One solitary soul that had witnessed the most miraculous sight.
She leaned her head against the building and looked into the sky. Figured Luke was there now. Found a great deal of joy in her sadness as she remembered the light on his face while telling her about his dad who was waiting for him.
"You're home now," she whispered.
A car came down the street and startled her. Stole her attention. She watched it drive into the distance as she wiped tears from her face with the backs of her hands.
"Okay. You're okay." She put her hand to the wall and looked around. Looked at her jeep. Felt so lost it was unreal. "Go to Sookie's," she whispered in memory.
She gripped her car keys and started walking to the street. Looked over her shoulder and paused before changing directions.
Her knock on the diner door was light, but Caesar was right there. He opened the door for her, as he'd seen Luke do too many times to count. He held the door open with a smile, didn't even bother telling her the diner was closed. That was one ritual he knew he'd never have the heart to break.
"You want some coffee? I can make a fresh pot," he offered.
She looked over to the machine and saw that there was still some in the pot. "I'll take what you have left if you don't mind."
He shook his head. "No, of course I don't."
She smiled, and he hurried over to grab it for her. Lorelai reached in her purse and pulled a pen out. She pulled the top off with her teeth and crouched down on the wall to one of few empty spaces.
"You want this for here or to go?"
"To go is fine, Sweetheart."
"I'll throw in some donuts, too."
She put her pen to the wall and let it sit there a second as she found the composure she could feel slipping away.
To Luke: the best friend I could have ever had. I'll always cherish our time together, and I'll never forget the promises I made. Will never stop loving & missing you. Yours Always, Lorelai.
She replaced the cap and read over her words. Sniffled, smiled, and drew a little heart after her name.
"You finally signed the wall," Caesar stated happily as he came up behind her.
She stood and wiped away the few tears that had fallen. Faced him with a smile.
"Uh…a-are you okay?" he asked with concern.
She nodded. "Yeah. I'm okay," she promised. She reached for the items he held. "How much do I owe you, Hon?"
He shrugged. "A few dozen more illegal late night visits and we'll call it even."
She laughed. "You've got a deal."
"See you tomorrow?"
"Sure will. For lunch, though. I'm sure Sookie will have me covered for breakfast."
Lorelai headed over to the door to let herself out.
"Hey, did you happen to see that weird light that happened out in the square a few minutes ago?" Caesar asked curiously.
She turned. Met his eyes with a beautiful smile. "Yeah. I saw it," she said quietly.
"It was weird, wasn't it?"
"Maybe a little strange," she answered with a kind wink. "But amazing."
He nodded amiably. Chuckled. "For a split second, I thought it was some kind of supernatural thing happening out there."
She touched his arm. "Oh, Caesar. Sounds like somebody needs to lay off the comic books."
"Yeah, you're right," he admitted with laughter.
She turned. "Night, Hon."
Lorelai stepped out and closed the door behind herself. She looked up at the sky. Took a deep breath and smiled. "Be a little more incognito next time, will you?"
She opened her bag and pulled out a donut as she walked to her jeep.
If you read it through, go ahead and tell me what you think. I'd like honest feedback, please!
Not sure when the next story will come, but I have more ideas I'll get down eventually. GG forever! Take care. Love you guys!