Author's Note: This one-shot takes place just after the episode "Unto the Breach" in season seven. In this episode, Logan proposes to Rory and Luke hears Lorelai tell Miss Patty and Babette that her karaoke version of I Will Always Love You to Luke meant nothing. I'm not entirely sure that that conversation took place in this episode, but this is based off of that conversation.
The slight breeze gently lifted the stray tendrils of Lorelai's auburn curls as she walked the darkened, deserted streets of Stars Hollow. She wrapped her arms around herself, pulling her jacket tighter to her body as she went. It was late; too late to be wandering about town alone, too late to run into a certain diner owner that she'd begun thinking of much more often than she had previously allowed herself. She sighed quietly, knowing all too well that this midnight walk wasn't solely initiated because of Logan's too early proposal. She walked on, clinging desperately to the hope that the cold air will ease her ever increasing fears and help her gain even an ounce of perspective. Oh, I hope she says no…, Lorelai thought as she shook her head slowly. She turned the corner, thinking of the worst possible scenario: Rory saying yes and moving to California. She outwardly groaned at the thought, for she knew that having Rory permanently living thousands of miles away would be torture. She sighed, already missing her little girl.
Stuck in her own mind, she hadn't realized where her feet were taking her. At this thought, she glanced around and focused on the building that she was coming up to. She rolled her eyes when she realized that the only lit building directly across the street from her was Luke's Diner. Her eyes narrowed in confusion. What's he doing up this late? She began heading toward the diner, but stopped as she recalled how Luke had reacted toward her since her drunken karaoke night. What am I doing? Luke is no longer my problem solving listener. He's no longer my comfort. I need to get used to the fact that Luke is now my coffee/food server, nothing else. She sighed before swallowing the lump in her throat and holding back the threatening tears that her thoughts had brought on. She began to walk in the opposite direction, but stopped when she saw him emerge from the back room with a rag and cleaner. She stayed in place, conflicted. After what felt like minutes of debate, she shrugged and crossed the street. As she reached the door, she knocked tentatively. He looked at her through the window, curious expression in place, before opening the door.
"Hey." He said, making it sound more like a question than a greeting.
"Hi…" She trailed off, feeling slightly awkward because he hadn't backed away from the door to let her in.
She glanced behind him in the hopes that he get the message and invite her in or stay put; in which case, she'd say goodbye and head home. He turned to see what she was looking at and mentally kicked himself for his idiocy. He held the door open for her and stepped aside.
"Sorry. I guess I'm kinda slow when I'm tired." He grunted. He shut the door with a bang and shuffled around her, feet pounding the tiled floor, to go behind the counter.
Her eyebrows furrowed together at his tone and the frustrated racket he seemed to be intent on making. Is that resentment that I detect? She thought as she sat down on her "usual" stool.
"Speaking of which: what's made you pull an all nighter? You're usually in bed hours before now." She said, trying to add her normal humor to the slightly awkward situation.
He stayed silent, his back turned to her as he began filling the coffee pot. Lorelai instantly noticed that something was up, for he was avoiding answering and keeping up with the unnecessary banging. Unless, of course, he was grinding the coffee himself with a large mallet, Lorelai thought.
"Luke….?" She asked, drawing the "ooo" sound out longer than usual.
"I just couldn't sleep." He growled at her as he finished readying the coffee pot.
Lorelai's eyebrows fused together again in frustrated curiosity. She decided to play her hilarity card, which is her specialty, to possibly lighten his mood.
"Awwww, come on, Luke. What's gotten your baseball cap to twist around into the correct position?" She asked, Gilmore grin in place.
He suddenly turned his fierce, blue gaze onto her. His anger faltered momentarily as he took in her wide, ocean-like orbs and the classic charm smile that he loved so much. God, I love her. The arrant thought seeped under the door that contained all of his forbidden Lorelai thoughts and feelings. He looked away abruptly, his anger quickly returning.
"Nothing." He snapped before turning and pouring her a cup of coffee.
"Okay, all joking aside. What's wrong?" She asked, internally cringing at the strong possibility that his mood had to do with her singing to him last night.
He composed his features before setting the mug of coffee in front of her.
"Really, it's nothing. I'm fine." He said, voice considerably softer.
"Everything's okay with April, right?" Lorelai asked tentatively.
Luke looked taken aback.
"Yeah. She's fine. Why do you ask?" He wondered.
"Well, I know that when I have a fight with Rory or if I'm worried about her, I can't sleep. I was just curious if that was happening with you about April."
Luke smiled slightly before placing his hands on the counter and leaning toward her.
"I'm not up because of April, but it seems like you're up because of Rory." He suggested wisely.
She shrugged as she took a sip of her coffee. He waited as she got her thoughts together. She put the mug back on the counter and wrapped her hands around the warm drink.
"Rory…and other things." She murmured, but continued talking before he could ask about the other things. "Logan asked Rory to marry him and move to California."
Luke's eyebrows flew up so high that they practically disappeared underneath his baseball cap. Lorelai couldn't help but chuckle.
"You'd better pull those eyebrows down before you lose them." She joked.
He gave her a look of exasperation after doing as she'd said.
"What'd she say?" He asked about Rory.
"She told him she had to think about it."
"Well, what'd you tell her to do?" Luke questioned, assuming, just like Emily Gilmore, that she'd knowingly sway her child for selfish reasons.
She gave him a dirty look.
"I didn't tell her to do anything! I told her that she needs to figure it out herself."
Luke looked surprised at her outburst.
"I didn't mean it like that. I meant, what did you tell her your opinion was?"
She sighed, apologetic look in place.
"Sorry, I knew what you meant. My mother was asking me the same thing, only that she was really asking what I'd told Rory to do. I was mostly snapping at her. Sorry." She repeated.
"Don't worry about it." He said lightly.
Noticing that her mug was almost empty, he turned to get the carafe and fill it up again. She looked up at him, their eyes meeting, faces no more than five inches apart. Both forgot that Luke was refilling her mug. It took the feeling of hot coffee rolling over her fingers to break their intense eye contact.
"Shit! Sorry." Luke said as he reached over to grab a clean towel under the counter.
Assuming that he'd gotten the towel to wipe the counter, Lorelai reached over to grab a few napkins to clean her slightly burned fingers. Before she'd even made contact with the napkin dispenser, he'd wrapped the towel and his hands around her own. He gently cradled her fingers between his own, wiping the coffee off and inspecting the damage.
"You should put your fingers in some cold water." He said, still gently rubbing the pink limbs as he looked into her eyes.
She shook her head lightly, amazed at the tenderness of his touch.
"I'm-I'm fine." She stuttered, dazed. Could it really be that he still loves me? She thought as he set her hands down and went into the back.
She was vaguely aware of him apologizing and chastising her for trying to say that she was fine when she clearly had burns. She was practically stuck in her own little world of possibilities. Her eyes followed him as he walked out of the kitchen carrying a bowl large enough to place both her hands in.
"You know, you always do that. Try to make people think you're fine so they don't have to take care of you. I wish you wouldn't." The last four words came out softly and with a note of petulance.
Lorelai glanced up to look at his face, wondering why he would be making an issue out of all of this if he didn't still love her. She watched his expression shift to concern as he lifted her hands and gently placed them in the bowl full of ice cold water between them. She gasped audibly and instinctively tried to jerk her hands out of the water. Luke chuckled softly at her reaction, but held her wrists to keep her hands in the water.
"Jesus, Luke! Couldn't you have made the water a bit colder? I don't think my fingers are quite frozen enough to fall off yet." She said sarcastically.
He grinned, obviously amused at her discomfort.
"Sorry, it has to be cold or there's no point."
Her eyes flickered up to meet his. As they did, he became acutely aware that his bare hands were still holding onto her soft, pallid wrists. He slowly released both her wrists and broke their eye contact, determined to do something productive to pull himself out of this trance. He grabbed the rag and spray bottle that he had discarded upon her arrival and began cleaning the countertop. Lorelai immediately let her gaze drop to the floor as he retreated, for she refused to let the hot tears of sadness and disappointment fall. She took a few deep, calming breaths before lifting her head. She noticed that his anger had returned. She decided that leaving would probably be best.
"So, um, I'm gonna head out. Paul Anka's probably doing that weird howling thing the neighbors absolutely love about now. I was a little distracted when I came home and forgot to feed him." She admitted, hoping he'd use that piece of information to make a joke about her previous pets.
He nodded and stopped scrubbing to look at her.
"Yeah, okay. See ya."
He handed her a clean towel to dry her hands before taking the bowl into the kitchen. She dried her hands, picked up her purse, and placed the towel on the counter. He returned just as she was heading toward the door. She stopped and turned to face him.
"Look, Luke, I know things haven't been exactly well between us lately, but I'm still here if you need to tell me things. I'm not going anywhere." She shrugged slightly, features soft and reassuring.
She nodded in farewell before reaching to grasp the doorknob.
"It really meant nothing, huh?" He said quietly; so quietly that she almost didn't hear.
She froze in place, hand still clutching the cold, brass doorknob. She inclined her head toward him, making sure that her eyes didn't meet his.
"What?" She whispered.
He shook his head, debating on whether or not to continue the conversation. He threw down the rag and sighed.
"Nothing." He growled.
He began fiddling with the coffee machine, his back turned to her. She did a quick about face and glared at his plaid clad back.
"No, not nothing." Lorelai argued.
He turned to face her upon hearing the sharp edge in her voice.
"Never mind." He said slowly, his gaze meeting hers.
"What meant nothing, Luke?" She asked, ignoring his comments.
A flash a rage and frustration crossed his features.
"You know what!" He shouted, his gaze appearing to pierce through her.
"Obviously, I don't!" She yelled back.
"Yeah, well, that just gives me my answer, doesn't it?" He retorted forcefully.
Without waiting for a reply, he disappeared in the storage room. She walked purposefully forward.
"Damn it, Luke! Just tell me! It's not fair that I miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity because my guessing skills aren't up to par!" She shouted.
Before she could burst into the storage room, the words "the song!" floated angrily around her. She stopped in her tracks. He wants to know if the song really meant nothing?, her mind screamed at her.
"Why do you wanna know?" She asked, her voice considerably quieter.
His reappearance from the storage room reminded her of a bull charging.
"Why do I wanna know? Are you kidding me?"
"Does it look like I am?" She challenged him.
He glared at her, hands clenched upon the counter top.
"I think I have a right to know. I mean, you did sing to me! You stared right at me and sang that sappy song! It looked like it meant something! I thought it meant something! And, just as I was thinking of a way to act on it, I hear you tell everyone that it meant nothing! So, now I'm feeling like a complete idiot for even CONSIDERING the possibility that it was more than just a drunken act!" Luke raged.
"IT WAS!" Lorelai shouted. "It was more than a drunken act! How can you think otherwise? Don't you know me better than that?!"
"I thought I did! I really thought I did until I heard you tell Patty and Babette that you were just singing a song and that you actually don't love me!" He shouted. "Because the Lorelai Gilmore that I thought I knew wouldn't put herself out there like that if it weren't for good reason!"
He came out from behind the countertop while shouting, anger and hurt flushing his face. He stood less than a foot from her as he yelled.
"WELL, YOU'RE WRONG!" Lorelai screamed, her cheeks turning red.
Luke took a step back, as though her words literally pushed him away from her. He blinked swiftly as her words washed over him. He nodded his head, tears welling in his eyes, and turned to leave. Lorelai, realizing that he thought that she wasn't the Lorelai that he thought she was, reached out to grasp his arm. He stopped when her warm hand made contact with his flushed skin, but only turned toward her when she jerked his arm gently.
"You're wrong if you think that you don't know me." She whispered. "You do know me. You know me better than anyone."
His gaze flickered from the cold, tiled floor to her soft, tear filled eyes. His brows furrowed slightly in question; her eyes pleaded with his. Before either knew what was happening, Luke had taken the small step toward her and captured her lips with his. Both fell quickly into the wonderful familiarity of the kiss as Lorelai wrapped her arms around his neck and Luke wrapped his arms around her waist. It was like coming home to both of them; except only to a home that they had only known together. Later, Lorelai would swear that she heard fireworks going off in the distance as their lips met; Luke, of course, would deny it and lovingly call her a crazy lady. Gradually, their lips pulled apart, for the need of oxygen became too great. Their embrace, however, continued as Luke pulled her to him for a full-fledged hug.
"I love you, Lorelai. I always have and I always will." Luke breathed into her ear.
Shivers ran up and down Lorelai's spine as his sweet breath washed passed her ear, blowing her hair back gently. She clutched onto him tighter, vowing to never let him go again.
"I love you too, Luke. God, I love you so much."
As they spent what felt like hours in each other's arms in the middle of Luke's Diner, the destroyed remnants of their worlds seemed to come together as one and fix itself entirely; as though one could not exist correctly without the other; as though they could only exist as one.
Well, that's all folks! Thanks for reading! Please review!