A/N: Written for Afterglow04, who prompted my first ever Gilmore Girls fic. I'm apparently trying out all sorts of new fandoms with these prompts. Seriously, four. And yeah, most of them are things I've loved for a while, but still. I've never actually written anything for them, and clearly that is what matters. Also, Cathy, I know you asked for Luke/Lorelei, and there is some, but Babette wandered into this fic at the start, and well, she's chatty. Chattier than I was expecting, definitely. I'm guessing this takes place somewhere in the first few seasons. Probably somewhere around S2. Hard to say. Pick a time in the early seasons when neither Luke nor Lorelei are in a serious/functional relationship. (What do you mean that's basically any time?)
Ahem. There may have also been a little playing fast and loose with the prompt (Don't give up on us).
Don't Give up on Us
"Lorelei, honey!" Babette shrieked from across the street and trotting over to the Gilmore porch the second she saw Lorelei open her front door. "Sweetie, have you heard?"
"Heard what?" Lorelei asked, turning towards her neighbour. "Old Man Davis finally kicked it?"
"No," Babette gasped, trying to catch her breath after her sprint. "He's still gripping onto life just as tight as he can with both hands. Swears he's going to see the year out, crazy old coot."
"Good for him," Lorelei decided before guessing again. "Lucy from the flower shop and Dave from the hot dog stand finally jumped each other when they crossed paths on their way to work, and Taylor nearly had a heart attack in horror?"
"I wish," Babette replied. "Not about Taylor a'course, but those two are still dancing around each other like a little pair of frustrated squirrels. Patty's started threatening to lock 'em up together in the dance studio."
"Not after what happened to long-haired Joe and candle-store Catherine?" Lorelei asked sounding concerned.
"That's the only reason we managed to talk her out of it," Babette assured her. "But if something doesn't happen soon, I'm not sure how long we can hold Patty off. But you're distractin' me. Guess again!"
Lorelei wracked her brain. "Oh!" she exclaimed after a second. "Your cousin's daughter had her baby?"
Babette shook her head. "No, Lorraine's not due for another month. Louisa – you remember my cousin Louisa? She's the one who tried to get that friend of yours, what's his name? French fella..."
"Michel?" Lorelei supplied.
"That's the one!" Babette explained. "Anyway, she tried to get Michel to do a line dance with her two years ago when we all went to that dance at the Inn? Lucky for him he's a quick one."
"That he is," Lorelei agreed. "I remember." The mental image of Michel desperately hiding from Babette's cousin was permanently embedded in her brain. Whenever he was being particularly irritating, she reminded him of how he'd been found hiding in the broom closet.
"Yeah," Babette continued. "Anyway, Louisa's apparently still as big as a house, and just waiting for the day when he little one pops outta her. Poor lamb."
Lorelei sighed internally, realizing she could be at this all day. "I'm not doing too well with the guessing here Babette. Why don't you just tell me the news?"
"Good idea, sweetie," Babette agreed. "Because you never will guess."
"Probably not," Lorelei agreed, hoping to move the conversation along a little.
Babette paused for effect, "The Stars Hollow First Annual Rubber Duck Race is happening this Saturday!" she practically screamed in excitement.
"The what now?" Lorelei asked.
"The Stars Hollow First Annual Rubber Duck Race," Babette repeated. "It was Taylor's idea. To raise money for the bridge. You're gonna love it. We're having it in the river. We're going to line up a bunch of rubber ducks upstream then let them loose. First one to make it down to the bridge wins. It's five dollars a duck. First place gets $100, and the rest goes to the bridge fund. So can I put you and Rory down for a duck each?" Babette asked.
"You sure can!" Lorelei told her, leaning in conspiratorially. "And you know, if you see a couple of particularly speedy looking ducks, keep us in mind. We don't want any dead weight."
Babette leaned in as well. "You can count on me, doll." Then she stepped back. "It should be quite the day. Almost everyone in the town's buying a duck. Well, except for Luke of course."
Lorelei did a double take. "Luke's not buying a duck?"
Babette shook her head. "Nope. And Kirk said he asked him so nicely and everything. But apparently Luke just said that if he wanted to watch a rubber duck bobbing along in the water, he'd buy his own and put it in his own bathtub."
"Spoilsport," Lorelei said cheerfully.
Babette shrugged. "You know how he is. He did offer to provide free pop and coffee for the spectators though, after Kirk left."
Lorelei smiled. That was Luke, always refusing to take part directly, but always supporting the town anyway. "Hey Babette," she said, handing the other woman another five dollars. "Buy Luke a duck on me, would you?"
Babette grinned. "Sure thing darlin'. And don't worry, I won't tell him."
"Thanks!" Lorelei said with a grin. "That'll be more fun for me."
Babette laughed. "Now, I hate to chat and run, but I've got to catch Mrs. Williamson when she leaves the hairdressers. She's always in a good mood then." With that, she turned in the other direction.
"Bye Babette. Good luck!" Lorelei called after her.
"Bye Lorelei! I'll be sure to get you a good duck!" Babette assured her.
The weather was perfect the day of the Stars Hollow First Annual Rubber Duck Race. The sun was shining, the humidity was low, and even by the river the bugs weren't that bad. All in all, the perfect day for watching a couple hundred yellow ducks bob down a river.
"Hey Luke!" Lorelei said, walking up wearing what she considered to be occasion-appropriate yellow rubber boots.
"Hey," he said somewhat tersely. Though she was used to that.
"I heard you're the man to see about a coffee," she said to him.
"I am that man," he agreed, handing her the cup he'd pored the second he spotted her making his way towards him.
She tilted her head in appreciation. "Oh, a mind reader, Luke. I am impressed."
"Yeah, I'm a real mind reader," Luke said sarcastically. "Predicting that you'd want coffee when you came over here, where I'm standing next to a massive thermos full of what is this again? Oh yeah, coffee."
"Plus I've only had two cups today," Lorelei added.
"You're heading towards an early death," Luke told her.
"No, death would be a life without my daily cup from Luke's." Lorelei contradicted him. "Oh! Taylor's getting ready to make a speech. Looks like they're about to start."
"This is ridiculous," Luke said immediately.
"That Taylor's making a speech?" Lorelei asked. "I agree. He says almost exactly the same thing every time. The whole town practically knows it off by heart by now."
"No," Luke said. "Well, yeah, that too. But I meant the stupid Duck Race."
"Luke!" Lorelei objected. "Did I just hear you insult the noble Stars Hollow Rubber Duck race, a great tradition in our town?"
"This is the first one," Luke reminded her.
"A soon-to-be noble tradition in our town?" Lorelei corrected without missing a beat.
Luke smirked. "It'd be different if there was any actual skill involved, or if people had to build their own ducks. But everyone just got assigned a number. It's completely random chance."
"It is not," Lorelei objected. "Babette's kept an eye out for a pair of top notch ducks for Rory and me."
"Right," Luke said. "I'm just glad I'm not involved in the whole rigmarole."
"Sure you are!" Lorelei told him.
"Serving coffee isn't involved," Luke assured her. "The only reason I agreed was because I didn't want to have to deal with Taylor stopping by my shop every half hour trying to talk me into it."
"Actually, I was talking about the fact that you're duck number 57," Lorelei told him cheerfully.
"What?" he asked confused.
"You're duck number 57," she repeated with a smile. "I'm number 55, Rory's number 56 and you're number 57."
Luke blinked at her, "How?"
Lorelei rolled her eyes. "Magic, Luke. I bought you a duck of your own."
"You bought me a duck," he repeated.
"I didn't want you to be left out," Lorelei explained.
"You didn't..." he shook his head. "I like being left out of all the crazy things this insane town gets up to," Luke reminded her.
"Everyone else bought a duck, Luke. Everyone. Even Old Man Davis who's probably so blind even if he could manage to walk over to the river he couldn't actually see his duck," Lorelei explained. "I didn't want you to be the only one."
"Oh," Luke said awkwardly. "Well, you didn't have to... Let me give you the five dollars at least."
Lorelei shook her head. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure you've given me far more than that in free coffee over the years."
Luke acknowledged that with a nod of his head. "Fine."
"Yay!" Lorelei said, clapping her hands. "Now come and watch the race with me. Rory's ditched me for Lane, and I don't want to watch it alone."
"Yeah, it should be an exciting race," Luke said sarcastically.
But Lorelei ignored him. "Come on, all the good spots are going to be taken."
"There are good spots?" Luke asked.
"Of course!" Lorelei told him. "We want to be by the finish line, so we can see the winner cross it."
"You mean the finish line, like the bridge?" Luke asked.
"The bridge that we're trying to raise money to fix?" Luke asked.
"The bridge that we're standing about five feet from right now?" Luke asked.
"Yep," Lorelei agreed a final time.
"So remind me again why we need to look for a good spot, especially since we've got snacks right where we are?" Luke wondered.
Lorelei clapped her hands. "You're so right Luke! You've already found us the perfect spot. Are you sure this is your first duck race?"
"This is everyone's first duck race," he muttered.
"You know what would make this better though?" she asked.
He sighed, "What?"
"If you'd thought to bring French fries," she told him.
Luke resisted the urge to smile. "Yeah, well, I didn't. And I'm not going back to get some now. The race is going to start."
"I thought you said you didn't care about the race," Lorelei reminded him.
"That was before I had a duck," he said dryly.
"Look at you Luke, getting into the spirit of things!" Lorelei praised.
"Plus I'm not leaving you alone with all the coffee," he added.
"Fine," she pouted. "But you're making me French fries when this over."
"Fine," he agreed. "Look, they're about to release the ducks."
"Whaddya wanna bet that Kirk falls in when he removes the barrier," Lorelei asked.
"I'd say that's almost a certainty," Luke said.
"Three, Two, One!" Taylor called out.
The cheering of the crowd was marred only by the large splash of Kirk falling in the river. And with that, the ducks were off.
"Come on Duck 55!" Lorelei yelled.
"Why are you even cheering?" Luke asked. "You have no idea which one is yours."
"Sure I do," Lorelei told him. "Rory and I stuck stars on ours. Hers is red, mine is blue. See?"
"Of course you did," Luke muttered.
"Your star is green," Lorelei told him helpfully.
Luke just sighed.
"Hey!" Lorelei exclaimed. "My duck hit a rock! Now he's just going in circles."
"Maybe he'll catch up," Luke suggested.
"He's not going to catch up," Lorelei grumbled. "He just got knocked upside down by that duck beside him. Foul! Foul!"
"I don't think that they have fouls in duck races," Luke told her.
"They should," she muttered. "Hey! Luke, look at that! Lucky duck number 57 has taken the lead!"
"Oh it has not," Luke said, looking almost alarmed. He turned his head away from Lorelei's duck (which was currently bobbing up and down in the current, upside down). "I don't believe it. It has."
"Come on Duck Luke!" Lorelei yelled.
"Don't call it that!" he said quickly. "And shouldn't you be cheering for your own duck anyway?" he asked with a hint of a smile.
"My duck's out of the competition, a lost cause," she reminded him. "Now it just makes the most sense to cheer for your duck. Especially since its winning."
"Come on Duck 57!" she yelled. "Luke! Look, that's our duck!"
"Our duck?" he asked. "I thought it was my duck?"
"That was before he was winning," Lorelei told him blithely. "Besides, I paid for it."
"Well, I hate to break it to you," Luke told her. "But our duck is headed straight for a rock."
Lorelei gasped in horror, and grasped Luke's arm. "No, he's not!" she insisted. "He's not. He's going to turn at the last second."
"Sure he is," Luke said sceptically.
Lorelei turned towards him, her eyes rebuking. "Luke," she said seriously. "Have faith. Have faith in our duck. He needs our support right now more than ever. Don't give up on him. Don't give up on us."
Luke held her eyes for a second, his own widening slightly. Then someone from the crowd jostled her slightly, and she blinked.
Luke sighed. "Come on Duck number 57," he said half-heartedly.
"That's the spirit," Lorelei told him. "Come on Duck number 57, we believe in you! Don't give up."
Whether Duck number 57 actually heard their prayers or not (and Lorelei always maintained that he did), those prayers did the trick. Because the duck with the green sparkly star on his head was the first to cross the finish line (having somehow avoided the rock).
Lorelei celebrated by jumping up and down and grabbing Luke's arm.
Luke celebrated by stopping her from tumbling into the river, and almost smiling.
He must have been in some kind of celebratory mood though, because when Taylor started his congratulatory speech to the victors, Luke simply gritted his teeth and bore it, instead of at threatening to push Taylor into the river if he didn't wrap it up quickly.
Lorelei was right in her element of course, accepting everyone's congratulations on his behalf. She did insist that he stay beside her for all of it, which got a little tiresome, in Luke's opinion. In the end, he was only able to drag her away from the rest of the town by reminding her that the French fries were back at the diner.
"Did you have a good time?" Lorelei asked, slipping his arm in his, as they walked back together.
"Oh great," Luke said softly.
Lorelei nudged him. "Come on, don't insult Duck 57's big accomplishment!" she insisted, holding up the yellow duck.
"Alright," Luke admitted. "I may not have had a completely terrible time."
Lorelei grinned, recognizing high praise when she heard it.
"Plus you won a hundred dollars," she reminded him.
"Plus I won a hundred dollars," Luke agreed.
"At least half of which should really belong to me," Lorelei said after a moment.
Luke was about to argue with her, when he thought the better of it. "I'll put it towards your tab," he told her.
Lorelei paused. "Sounds fair," she agreed.
"I can't believe I actually won the stupid race," Luke muttered.
Lorelei beamed at him. "It's all in the duck, Luke. Babette must have picked the ringer for you instead of Rory and me."
"That must be what happened," Luke agreed dryly, knowing argument would be futile at this point.
Lorelei grinned. "I told you not to give up on us."
He turned towards her briefly, "That you did," he agreed softly. "That you did."
Then he unlocked the door to the diner, and went to make her French fries while she chattered on beside him.
The First Annual Stars Hollow Rubber Duck race had been a resounding success. The whole town agreed.