A/N: Many thanks to Jewels for the wonderful beta!
MAN ON CASSETTE: Whose phone calls or visits are never unwanted or too long? Do you see her face? Who would you most like to have in your life to ward off moments of loneliness? Do you see her face? When you travel, who would make your travels more enjoyable? Do you see her face? When you're in pain, who would you most like to comfort you? Do you see her face? When something wonderful happens in your life - a promotion at work, a successful refinancing - who do you want to share the news with? Do you see her face? Whose face appears to you, my friend? Whose face?
Luke's eyes become as big as saucers at the constant image flashing in his head. After he swallows the enormous rock that has lodged in his throat, he lets out a, "Whoa."
He wonders what the hell he is supposed to do about this new realization. He knows that the feelings have always been there. He also knows that it has always been her, but the knowledge was suppressed. Now her name is blazed across his mind in a glaring neon sign blinking relentlessly. If he was honest with himself, he would be able to pin his failed marriage on this revelation. He subconsciously compared every woman to her. There were many times since he had known her, that he could have acted on his desires. He could blame his hesitancy on only one thing. Fear. But his fear of being lonely for the rest of his life now outweighed his fear of acting on what he knows he wants.
The question that remains is what does he do with this knowledge? Does he push it back to the recesses of his brain like he has done so many times before? Or does he act like a man, grow a pair, and actually go after what he undeniably wants?
"Gotta think of something," he says to himself.
He tries to busy himself around the apartment as his mind goes a mile a minute. All of the sudden he stops what he is doing, because an idea has formed in his head. He thinks about all the times that Rory and Lorelai sat in the diner, trying to make life changing decisions, leaving everything to the fate of their pro/con lists.
He walks over to his desk, grabs a piece of paper and a pencil, and sits down at the kitchen table.
"Okay." he says as he writes 'pro' on one side of the paper and 'con' on the other. At the top of the page he writes 'Should I tell Lorelai?'.
He works for a while, and thinks he has come to some conclusions. One side of the list is a lot longer than the other. As he ponders what he has written, he hears a knock at the door.
"Come in," Luke yells.
"Uh, Boss, we are getting pretty busy down there." Cesar says.
"I'll be right down."
"Good answer," Cesar says gratefully on his way back down.
Luke takes his list, folds it up, and places it in his shirt pocket before he heads downstairs.
He hears Lorelai before he sees her.
"Where is my coffee provider?" She shouts impatiently as she makes her way to the counter.
"Do you have to be so loud that the entire town hears you?" Luke asks gruffly.
"How would I get you to give me the attention I need if I wasn't so loud?" Lorelai returns, winking at him.
"I can think of better ways for you to get my attention," Luke mumbles.
"What was that? I know I couldn't have heard you right."
"Nothing. Coffee?" he says trying to change the subject.
He places the cup in front of her and promptly fills it up. He watches in fascination as she takes a sip, closes her eyes, and moans in ecstasy. He quietly releases the breath he didn't know he was holding.
She looks up at him with a coy smile. "Did that get your attention?" she says as her smile gets bigger.
Luke feels his face heating up, and is sure that his face will be bright red if he doesn't get out of there.
"Umm, well gotta...gotta go stock." Or hide, he thinks.
Luke turns around to escape so fast that he trips over his own two feet. Unbeknownst to him, his list falls out of his pocket onto the floor. He picks himself up and races into the storeroom, leaning against the wall to catch his breath. He hears Lorelai laughing in the diner and yelling after him, "That was graceful!"
Within moments, Lorelai notices a folded up piece of paper on the floor. Curiosity gets the better of her as she slides off her stool to retrieve it. She doesn't know why she feels compelled to open it; thinks that it's probably just Luke's shopping list. But then she thinks that there is probably something hidden within the contents that she can mock him with later. When she unfolds the paper, she reads what is written at the top of the page.
"Tell me what?" she whispers.
As she reads on, she realizes it is a pro/con list. She sees that he wrote the cons in the first column. Most likely, she figures, to talk himself out of doing the pro list.
Cons: ruin our friendship (in big block letters), could get hurt, doesn't see me that way, can't lose her, and could hurt her. She notices that the pro list is considerably longer, and smiles a touch at the discovery.
-makes me smile even when she is irritating
-enjoy being around her
-like to take care of her
-obviously beautiful inside and out
-chemistry between us
-could be great
-brings me out of a funk
-need her in my life
-makes me a better person
-wanted this for years
-could enhance friendship
-accepts me for me
-look forward to seeing her everyday
Need I write more?
After she gets through reading, she sits at the counter dumbstruck. She feels as if she has been hit over the head with a sledgehammer.
With the paper clutched in her hand, she gets up, and grabs her purse. She slowly walks to the door in a daze not sure how her legs are carrying her. Once she gets outside in the fresh air, her legs get the strength they need to get home fast.
Inside the safety of her home, her mind starts working again.
"I can't believe this." she mutters.
Lorelai reads over the list again pacing the living room. She wonders why this is so shocking to her. Is this really such a surprise? There has always been an attraction. They have had many intense moments over the years. Luke has been such a mainstay in her life that she has never wanted to risk their friendship in fear that she will lose him. She has really never had conclusive evidence that his feelings were any stronger than friendship. She has always pushed any of her feelings to the back of her mind. Now, because of this list, they are flooding in at a rapid pace. It is almost overwhelming.
She goes to sit on the couch, and thinks maybe she should make her own list. So she flips Luke's list over and writes at the top Does Lorelai want Luke to tell her? She then writes pro on one side and con on the other just as Luke did. She quickly scribbles her thoughts down.
Once she is finished, she looks over the list. She notices, like Luke, there are more reasons for than against. She sits there thinking about what she wants, and what to do with the list. Her stomach starts to grumble waking her from her trance. She looks at the clock realizing that she never did eat when she was in Luke's last and now it's dinner time. But she can't return to the diner without some sort of plan of action. In a matter of seconds, a bright smile lights up her face and she shouts, "That's it!" She quickly writes something at the bottom of the page, folds it back up, grabs her purse, and runs out the door.
Halfway to the diner, she stops and has a minor freak out gesticulating wildly and arguing with herself. If anyone saw her, they would want to check her into the nearest psych ward.
Slowly, she settles herself down and continues on to the diner. When she finally gets there, she stands in front of the door staring in trying to get her nerves under control. 'Now or never' she chants, taking a deep breath and walking inside.
When Luke hears the bells jingle, he turns around to see who it is, and is surprised to see Lorelai.
As their eyes meet across the diner, he can tell that she is nervous about something. He thinks that he is the one that should be nervous. He has something important to decide. He pats his front pocket just to reassure himself that his decision helper is there. Swallowing hard, he pats it again, panicking when he can't feel anything. He puts his fingers in his pocket trying desperately to find it, but to no avail. He glances around the floor, still unable to locate it. Looking wild eyed, he sees Lorelai plopping down at the counter.
"Did you lose something?" she asks with a knowing smile.
"Just a piece of paper. No big deal," he says with a look that contradicts what he just said. "What can I get you?"
"Hmm...yes, I am hungry now that you mention it. What am I in the mood for?" she asks herself out loud.
"Only you can answer that," Luke grumbles.
"Well, I guess I'll have a cheeseburger and fries. Make it fast, burger boy."
Luke rolls his eyes and walks toward the kitchen.
Lorelai waits until he is out of sight, and she runs around to the other side of the counter. She searches for the perfect place to put the list. She wants him to be able to find it quickly. She decides to put it under his rag since she knows he'll be wiping the counter in a short amount of time. With a smile and a skip, she goes back to her stool.
With Luke's delay in the kitchen, she finds herself starting to worry if he will find it. She starts having an internal argument with herself on whether that was the smartest place to put the list. What if someone else finds it? What if something gets spilled on it and the words run together? What if it gets thrown away? Just as she is about to reach for it, Luke returns from the kitchen and sees her look of frustration.
"Is something wrong?" he asks with concern.
"No. Not really. Why do you ask?"
"Well, you look like you're about to have a meltdown."
"I'm good," she says with a forced smile.
Not completely convinced, he says, "Your order will be right out."
He decides to wipe the counter to cover his nerves and his worry over the missing paper. As he picks up the rag, the list comes flying out from under it. Luke picks it up, and examines it. He sighs with relief when he sees what it is...although, it looks different to him. He doesn't remember writing on both sides of the paper. He sticks it back in his pocket thinking that he'll have time later to give it a more thorough going over..
Lorelai witnesses his every action. She smiles to herself, and decides to leave before he reads it.
"On second thought, Lukey-poo, can I have my order to go? I have a ton of inn stuff to get done."
"Don't call me that," he says with annoyance. "I'll pack it up."
Luke brings her the order, and she gets up to pay him. On her way out, she turns to look at him, and says, "See you later, Luke."
He just stares at her retreating form. Other customers try to get his attention, but his mind is on Lorelai and the list.
"Cesar, I'm out," he yells as he bounds up the stairs.
He storms into his apartment and whips out the list. With his heart racing, he unfolds it, and looks at the side he wrote on. When he turns it over, he sees Lorelai's handwriting. He reads what she wrote at the top, and decides he better sit down before he passes out. He collapses onto the couch, taking a moment to compose himself before he continues reading. He scans her con list and notices that it says pretty much the same as his. The one noticeable difference is she wrote: would be disappointed if he didn't tell me. He reads through her pro list and marvels at the length of it.
-my solid rock
-my Mr. Fix-it
-maybe the perfect man
-there when I need him
-there for Rory
-cares about me
-cares about Rory
-be miserable without him
-makes me smile
-always glad to see him
-could be the real thing
-compliment each other
-makes me a better person
-I "see" him
-out of denial
He sees she wrote something at the bottom of the page. It says: The truth is in the lists. What are you waiting for, big boy, an engraved invitation? Your move.