GOD HAS A SENSE OF HUMORBy Jennlit
"Luke, I need your help. There's something wrong with Lorelai. Can you get away?"
Sookie St. James had blown into Luke's diner like a whirlwind. Now she stood at the counter, panting, her expressive face registering her panic. She breathed a sigh of relief when Luke reacted just as she'd hoped. He dropped the towel he'd been holding on the counter and rushed to Sookie's side. He grasped her shoulder and stared hard.
"What's the matter? What happened?"
"Well, something's bothering her. She sent Rory to her parents' house for the weekend and she won't talk to anyone. Rory called me and asked me to check up on her. She's worried about her mother.
"Anyway, Lorelai was just lying on the couch. She looked so despondent. I've never seen her so upset. She wouldn't tell me anything. She just wouldn't talk. I don't know what to do." Sookie twisted her hands together, nervously. Her face was earnest and she wasn't prepared for Luke's snort of disgust. He turned away, angrily.
"God, don't scare me like that. I thought she was in some kind of accident or something. Geez, Sookie. I'm not going to go over there and nurse her through some kind of PMS crap." Luke snatched an order pad off the counter near the register and headed for a table of teenagers that had just seated themselves.
"Luke, I'm serious! Don't blow this off as something as stupid as PMS. You know Lorelai better than that. She needs you, right now, Luke." He had taken down the orders and now headed to the kitchen where he handed the order to his part-time cook. Not even asking permission to step into his sacred territory, Sookie bustled into the kitchen. Luke wasn't at all surprised to see her standing behind him when he turned around.
"Why me, huh? You're her best friend. You snap her out of it."
"She won't talk to me. Doesn't that tell you anything? This is some serious business, Luke. Something is really eating at her and she's trying to hide it all inside."
"You still haven't answered my question. Why me? What makes you think she'll talk to me?"
"Just trust me on that. You two are a lot closer than you realize. She'll open up to you, Luke. Please. She's hurting. You need to go over there."
Luke scowled at Sookie, taking the hat from his head to rub a weary hand through his hair. Sookie wasn't a drama queen. She was a sensible person and a very loyal friend. If she said that something was wrong with Lorelai, then he shouldn't take it lightly. Still, he wasn't sure that he was the right person for this job. Luke took a deep breath, watching Sookie carefully. If this was just some stupid ploy to get the two of them alone together...
"Jimmy, can you cover for me for a while? I need to run an errand."
"Sure thing, boss. Take your time."
"Here, take my key."
"I don't need a key. She never locks up."
"You need the key. She's locked up tight this time."
"This is serious."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you." Sookie gave Luke a little push toward the door. He stumbled outside, wondering what on Earth he was going to say to Lorelai when he got there._ * _ * _ *
"Hello? Anyone home? Sookie said you were hungry. I brought pizza."
"I've also got a thermos of my coffee. Good coffee. It's going to go cold soon."
"Leave it and go away."
"You know, you never struck me as quite this rude, before."
"Oh, okay. Bite me and go away."
"What the hell is your problem?"
"Just leave me alone, Luke. I plan on being really poor company for quite a while."
"What's it to you? God, why haven't you left my house yet?"
Lorelai threw off the afghan covering her legs and stood up. Her hair was a rat's nest of tangles and her nose was a deep crimson. Her baggy sweats hung off her body. She just looked miserable. Briefly, Luke thought he should have brought chicken soup instead of pizza but then he saw Lorelai's bloodshot eyes. It was then he noticed the small pile of tissues wadded up beside the couch. He stepped closer and Lorelai twisted away. She hugged her arms around her middle and began to pace the small living room.
"Please tell me why you've been crying. Sookie's upset. Rory's upset. It seems I've been appointed therapist." Lorelai rolled her eyes, continuing to wear a worn path in the carpet. Luke stopped her with a hand on her arm. "Okay, I'll admit it. It's scaring me to see you like this and I don't know what to do."
Lorelai blinked, not expecting her favorite sparring partner to concede defeat so easily. Her defenses crumpled and she fell into his arms, sobbing. Luke gathered her close, walking them both over to the couch where he sat down and pulled her into his lap, as though she were a small child. Lorelai continued to cry her eyes out and it tore Luke up to see her so heartbroken. A slimy, slithering feeling snaked through his chest as he began to realize what he thought her problem might be.
"You're sorry you told him no. You wished you'd agreed to marry Rory's dad and now you think it's too late." He said this more as a statement than a question. Lorelai stopped crying immediately, hiccupping as her features twisted in confusion.
"What? That's ridiculous! No way do I want to marry him. Even now. Especially now."
"What, especially now? What's that mean? You don't love him?"
"I don't love him the way I should. I don't love him enough to build a life with him. I... this isn't about Christopher, Luke."
Lorelai belatedly remembered where she was and scrambled off Luke's lap. Distractedly, she made her way to the small table just inside the living room where Luke had set the pizza box and thermos. Ignoring the food, Lorelai twisted the top off the coffee and upended it to use as a mug. She poured herself some of the steaming brew and sipped it thoughtfully. Luke watched her from the couch. He didn't want to pressure her. He sensed she was ready to talk.
"You know that saying, 'Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them'?" Luke nodded, his eyes following Lorelai back and forth across the room. She huffed, shaking her head and laughing at herself. Luke remained silent.
"So I thought, if this were in any way to come back and haunt me it would be in the form of Rory getting pregnant right about now." She was still shaking her head, as though she couldn't quite believe that this was her life.
"I'm telling you, God has some really messed up sense of humor." She had drained the tiny plastic cup and went back to refill it. "What have I done in my life that was just so awful that He would do this to me?" She peered over the top of the cup, waiting for Luke's response. His mouth opened but he wasn't sure what he was supposed to say so he shut it again. Lorelai cleared a spot on the coffee table and sat down, facing Luke.
"Luke, leave now. I can't bear to see the look on your face when you find out. You, Rory, Sookie, my parents. God, my parents!" Annoyed with her speaking in riddles, Luke shook Lorelai by the shoulders and forced her to make eye contact with him.
"Listen to me, there is nothing you can say to make me think any less of you. Just tell me what this is all about. I've been trying to follow you, but you aren't making any sense." Lorelai snorted loudly but when Luke wouldn't let go of her shoulders she nodded.
"Okay. All right. Here goes." She scrunched her eyes shut tightly and whispered, "I'm pregnant."
Luke dropped her arms as though he'd been burned. Lorelai peeked out of one eye to gauge his reaction. His mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water. He was stunned, that much was certain. She hung her head, shamefully, and waited for some kind of caustic comment.
"You forgot where." Lorelai slumped onto the couch, facing forward where she wouldn't have to look at Luke's disappointed face. "Remember that Friday when you and I were supposed to paint the diner? World War III had broken out at my parents' house. It was hell. It was worse than hell. I went up to my old hiding spot. Christopher found me. It was just like old times. He made me forget all the awful words. It was just... It meant nothing."
"Obviously it meant something."
"No, you don't get it. Christopher is like this bad habit, this addiction. It's bad for you but you can't help it. You just find yourself giving in. I knew it was a mistake. That's why he left. I pushed him out of our lives."
"It's not too late to get him back. As soon as you tell him I'm sure he'll hop right back on his bike and head straight for his girls."
"Luke, please listen to me. Let it sink in, this time. I do not want Christopher in my life. He is my past. Granted, that past keeps coming back to haunt me, but he will not be a part of my future."
"What about Rory? What about the new baby?"
"I've done this on my own for sixteen years. I can do it again. Hey, at least Rory's old enough to help change diapers. Boy, am I a walking advertisement for birth control. The poor kid won't have sex until she's 50!" Lorelai tried to laugh but found herself crying, instead.
"You don't have to go through this alone. You had something to prove, last time. I understand that. But this is different. You have family and friends that will help you."
"No, I don't need anyone's help, Luke."
"Are you sure? Don't you ever think about how nice it would be to be able to lean on someone else for a change? You always act all tough and strong but I bet there is a small part inside you that is dying for a man to take charge, to be your champion against the world."
Lorelai sunk down into the cushions. Her words were spoken so softly Luke almost didn't catch what she said. "I don't deserve a man in my life."
"What the hell's that supposed to mean? You're talking nonsense, Lorelai."
"I'm just...bad. No one would want me. No one should have to want me. They deserve someone purer, more innocent; someone who hasn't screwed up quite so many times as me."
Luke's eyes narrowed. He turned to Lorelai and scooped her back onto his lap. She tried to wriggle away but he held her tightly. Her sniffling quieted and she snuggled her head into his shoulder. Luke rubbed her back, wishing he could take all her hurt away with that simple gesture.
"You're parents really did a number on you, didn't they? They made you feel less than a person. They made you look on your teenage pregnancy as a deed worthy of punishment for the rest of your life. They stopped seeing you as 'Lorelai the person' and instead saw you as 'Lorelai the girl who really messed up'. That's their problem. They have to live with that." Luke lifted Lorelai's chin with a finger and smiled.
"You took a bad situation and turned it into something incredibly beautiful. You raised your daughter on your own. You made a life for her in this town and I can't tell you how grateful I am that you did." Lorelai watched Luke through watery eyes. A smile formed on her lips.
"But this time is different. You don't have to go it alone. You have everyone in this town to support you. Don't shake your head at me; you know they will. You are an admired and respected member of the Stars Hollow community and this baby is not going to change that." Lorelai watched Luke's serious features soften.
"Wow, I've never heard you talk like that. What did I do to deserve such praises sung about me?"
"Lorelai, be serious for a minute, will you? I'm just telling you that everything will be all right. We're all here for you. Some of us more than others." Now it was her turn to gape open-mouthed, unsure of how to respond. Luke brushed his thumb along her cheekbone, his finger gently wiping away the last of her tears.
"Look, I'll understand if you change your mind and want to accept Christopher's proposal. A baby deserves his father. But if you don't, then I hope you have room for me. I want to be there for you. I want to help you. I don't want you to have to go through this alone." They were both silent for a few moments, letting his last words sink in. Lorelai felt a sense of peace settle over her as she began to feel better than she had in days.
"Luke, will you be here with me when I tell Rory? I'm scared. I know she won't hate me but it's going to kill me to see the look of disappointment in her eyes. She'll insist that I marry Christopher and she just won't understand why I can't."
"I'll be there." They sat quietly again, the shadows in the room lengthening as afternoon turned to dusk.
"Luke? Thanks for coming over today."
"I'm glad I did."
(C) 2001 Jennlit