Disclaimer: ASP's creation not mine. Don't own anything! If I did, I would want to own, Scott Patterson or Luke Danes. I'm totally fine with either! ;p Also, if I did own GG, there would be no such existence of the Nardini's, and LL would be happily married at the end of S6, while making Lorelai's dream in S3 become a reality in S7!

Authors Note: For those of you who might be confused, this is my belated way of editing chapters and scenes that should've been edited long ago, as well as my way of being reacquainted with this story and beloved characters. And if all goes well, chapter eleven will be up sooner than I think. I'm doing my best to summon the writer in me because she got lost for a while (a long while), but hopefully, she resituates herself back where she belongs lol. To all the new readers; Welcome, hope you enjoy this story as much as I love writing it.


Vital Company

Chapter 1: Returning Visitor

One after another inescapable thought flooded through her mind with a force that caused her to lose track of just how many Manhattan's and tequila shots she actually consumed.

The alcohol caused her mind to mercilessly reminisce scene after scene, memory after memory, and promise after promise of everything that had happened between Luke and herself, from the moment they both agreed to give and receive more than just friendship from one another.

She winced at the burn of the tequila as she quickly downed one of the loitering two shots that sat on the bar in front of her right hand. Unfortunately, the alcohol only added to the already present numbness, which had vastly enveloped her body. She placed the empty shot glass back on the bar, only to allow her fingers to latch loosely onto the remaining shot glass filled with the honey-toned liquid.

She leisurely allowed her body to turn away from the bar. She lifted a leg to take a step forward, but stumbled back a bit, causing the middle of her back to softly come into contact against the bar counter.

The contents of her alcohol consumption rapidly caught up to her. She felt as if her knees would buckle at any second, and her usual blue as the sky eyes were now dark and clouded, which caused a blurry haze around anything she set her eyes upon.

She closed her eyes briefly as she tried to make an effort to blink away the fuzz-filled vision. As she looked up, her eyes settled straight ahead on the very loved-up newlyweds. She was happy for them, truly and undeniably happy for her daughter's long time best friend and her new husband, and yet there was a part of her that had to berate a very tiny, but piercingly loud green monster that raged inside of her full of envy for the couple.

Just as she cursed that hideous monster, she felt the horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach turn with disgust as she felt the warm liquid rise up her throat. She thickly swallowed it back down, begging it to stay there.

She really was happy for them. She allowed one corner of her lips to curve slightly as her eyes lingered longingly on the newlyweds. She squeezed her eyes shut and sanctioned her chin to fall to her chest as she inhaled a struggled breath at the gut-wrenching thought of her own wedding never to take place.

She didn't look up right away as she began to feel a warm, tingling sensation on the right side of her body, notifying her of a new presence.

"So," Came the very low manly timbre from her right, "I see you're also a strong believer in the preservation of water." He mirrored her stance at the bar, holding a bottle of beer in his left hand.

Lorelai slowly began to roll her head upward in the direction of the voice. She permitted her eyes to leisurely rake over the man's well-built frame. He was wearing brown, worn steel-toed boots, faded light blue jeans, a plain heathery-beige t-shirt that hugged his body nicely showing the shadow of his nicely chiseled chest, and a vintage-looking jacket to cover his broad shoulders.

Just as she was about to skim up to her new companion's face, her eyes were instantly drawn to his beautiful platinum band that rested on his left ring finger as it, along with his other four fingers held his beer.

It was a simple and common-looking wedding ring, except for the tiny indentions that shadowed the top of it. Usually, sentiments were carved on the inside of a ring, but this man's ring displayed two beautifully engraved script letters that were etched onto the outside of the band.

Between both letters lay the tiniest speck of a tinted diamond, which Lorelai had immediately recognized as the reason the ring had caught her attention. The sparkle from the tinted diamond had flashed, as it caught even the slightest bit of light. It was stunning and yet still manly.

After an extended moment of appreciating the man's piece of jewelry, Lorelai permitted her lips to curl upwards as she remembered the man's initial comment.

Her eyes continued their upward descent and finally landed on his face. She blinked languidly, as she felt her breath catch in her throat at the sight of his features. He was definitely a sight indeed. He looked like a hotter version of a younger Pierce Brosnan, but the upgraded American version.

He had tousled, salt and pepper colored hair that matched his medium-length stubble that rested on his sharp jawline, which dusted his tanned skin. His left brow was arched towards her, at her lack of response and he wore a small smirk on his lips, which caused his high cheekbones to be skillfully accentuated. His emerald-colored eyes warmly gazed at her, patiently waiting for a word to leave her mouth.

Lorelai swallowed thickly and swiftly returned her gaze towards the crowd as she smirked. Even intoxicated, Lorelai's mind worked at rapid-fire speed and she shot back.

"Yeah, well, you know after the Yummy bartender guys were let go, the Manhattans just weren't doin' it, so I switched over. And after two shots of Jose, he suddenly had me serenading him with; Love to love you, baby."

The man gave a deep hearty chuckle, "Well, I haven't exactly felt the need to hit the strong stuff just yet, but this is the second round," He said, lifting his bottle a bit "and it had me doing my best Al Green, let me tell ya." He joked dryly, causing Lorelai to laugh before he raised the bottle to his lips for a gulp.

"Let's Stay Together?" She asked, her voice holding a smile.

He shot a glance over at Lorelai and smirked, "Sure, but my wife might get a bit jealous if she sees me bringing you home." He joked.

Lorelai shook her head slowly as she let out another laugh. She was quite impressed with this stranger and his quick comebacks; she had to admit that he was definitely lifting her mood. Pleased with himself, that he had gotten her out of her previous dejected mood she was obviously in, he took another chug of his beer.

Lorelai squinted her eyes a bit, trying to study the man's face carefully for something familiar, "You new to town, Al?" She asked, not able to place the man, yet there was something about his nose, jaw structure, and build that seemed to slap her in the face with familiarity.

He gave her a small smile, "No." He shook his head, "Not new per se." He paused briefly as if carefully assessing over his next words, "I'm more like… a returning visitor, I guess." He inhaled a breath, "I was born and raised here, and uh- I got a call… to relocate a while ago, but I figured I was overdue for a visit," He shrugged easily, "so here I am." He glanced around the square, and then added, "It's not exactly Alabama, but it's definitely sweet." He joked dryly, allowing his smirk to curve onto his lips once more.

Lorelai was dumbfounded with the man's deep voice, his nervous stammering, subtle sweetness, and dry humor. He reminded her so much of… Luke.

Luke.

All of a sudden her chest felt constricted again as she gasped for a steady breath of air to reach her lungs. As quickly as her laughter had spilled from her lips, they died just as fast with the thought of him. Luke wasn't there. He left for Philadelphia, although she felt he had left a long time before Philadelphia. He was pretty absent ever since April came into his life, and Lorelai didn't blame April at all. She didn't even have a drop of hostile feelings for the girl.

Yeah, it may have been her put in an appearance that caused their world to turn upside down resulting in Lorelai landing flat on her face, but Lorelai knew it wasn't April's fault. The kid was just there, being a kid. Lorelai actually thought she was cute, quirky even.

It was Luke that caused her the pain she was feeling, the constant unhappiness and unworthiness of herself to him. How he would dodge or insist that it was too soon for her to get to know his daughter and how he – not so subtly – wanted to keep her away from April.

She was his fiancée for goodness sake and April was his daughter. How did he expect things to work once they were married? Then the feared and malicious thought sprang into Lorelai's mind; What if getting married and being with her, wasn't exactly in his plans anymore?

She sighed heavily with that thought, briefly forgetting her companion's presence as he watched on in silence.

The kind stranger had instantly noticed her abrupt mood change and looked back over to see her once again looking miserable and lost in thought as she watched the partygoers celebrate. He took another sip of his beer allowing her to have a minute while her mind evidently raced wildly. After a moment he softly cleared his throat causing Lorelai to be pulled back to reality.

She shook her heavy head and sighed once again, "Sorry." She whispered, just loud enough for him to hear as she shot him a glance before looking down at the shot glass in her hand as the liquid gently rippled towards the sides.

"Should I bet big on you?" He questioned, his deep voice remained at a hushed volume.

Lorelai looked up at him with furrowed brows, "Excuse me?" She asked.

He nodded towards her as he spoke, "Why the long face?"

Lorelai's expression softened at his extrasensory perception and she shook her head gravely, "It's complicated." She said then lifted her hand with the shot to tap his bottle as she toasted, "Cheers!"

He softly clinked the neck of his beer bottle to the side of the shot glass, as he repeated, "Cheers."

He finished off his beer before turning to place it on the bar, then swiveled back. Lorelai gulped down the shot and turned to place the now empty glass on the counter as well.

He cleared his throat again and looked over at Lorelai, "You uh… wanna talk about it?" He asked gruffly

Lorelai shook her head again as she answered, "It's a long story." She forced a small smile as she looked over at him and continued, "Not a very uplifting one either."

The man glanced at his wristwatch and shrugged, before he replied, "I've got some time."

Lorelai breathed out a rueful chuckle as she replied, "Yeah…" She sighed, "I thought I did too."

After a moment the man spoke up once more, "What happened?" He asked gently, determined in thought that a good vent would make her feel better… for now at least.

Lorelai inhaled deeply as she twisted her lips in thought, "My guy." She started, lifting her left hand and slightly wiggled her fingers to show him her engagement ring, "He uh…" She blew out an exasperated breath, "He recently found out he has a kid." Lorelai looked up to watch his reaction as she continued, "A twelve-year-old daughter that he never knew about." His brows raised in surprise just as she assumed it would and she nodded, "She popped up one day at his diner."

"Whoa–" He said, his face full of shock.

"Wait," She stopped him with a smile, "It gets better, I promise." She swallowed, "Two months after she pops up, I head over to his diner to get a cup of coffee and to see him, ya know," She paused, internally steeling herself for yet another replay of the event that caused her world to flip, "only to– come face to face with the girl, while she was refilling salt and pepper shakers." As she finished, her volume faded.

"What?" He said in disbelief, "He hadn't told you when he found out?"

"Oh no!" Lorelai laughed darkly, "Of course not, because that would've been the commonsensical thing to do." She said as she shook her head and rolled her eyes at Luke's stupidity.

"Wow..." He said as his eyes showed her sympathy.

"Yeah, well, if that wasn't enough, how about this? Even after I catch him in his little secret lying game, and I push past his fraudulence, he repeatedly insinuates that I not come around the diner while she's there. As if I have some kind of disease and he's worried that I might be contagious or something to her."

"Wait, what?!" The man says in astonishment.

Lorelai lifts her brows and just nods her head up and down gradually, "Yup."

"What the hell is wrong with this guy?" He asked incredulity in his deep voice that only made Lorelai think of Luke even more, "I mean, no disrespect or anything, but… you're his fiancée!" He said as if telling Lorelai the news for the first time, which caused her to give a faint laugh, glad that she wasn't the only one who was bothered by her situation.

"You should tell him that." She joked lightly.

"So, I'm gonna assume you want to get to know her, but you haven't had the opportunity to?" He treaded.

"Yeah. I mean, I wanna be there for Luke, you know?" She paused, "That's his name," She shrugged and took a small breath, preparing her tongue for the bitter label about to leave her lips, "my fiancée." She informed.

The man smirked, "I kinda got that."

Lorelai nodded, "I had my daughter when I was sixteen." She began again, gaining raised brows from her listener, "I lived in high society life. I hated it. I didn't want to raise my kid like that, so I left. I packed a bag and got a one-way ticket to anywhere. I did most of it on my own really. I mean Mia was a huge savior, but she never interfered unless I asked." She continued telling him her story as if he knew the people she was talking about.

"And even though I had Rory and Mia, I sometimes would still feel alone and helpless." She sighed softly, remembering her past, "But then I met Luke. He never judged me. Not once. He was always there for me and my daughter, Rory. I just…" She let out a sad sigh, "I don't know. I guess when he had gotten this rude awakening, I just wanted to be able to be there to help and support him for a change, you know?" She finished defeated.

"But he won't allow it." He stated, more than questioned.

Lorelai just shook her head, as she whispered, "No."

The man nodded, "And, I'm also gonna assume that you've talked to him about this already?"

Lorelai exhaled loudly, "Yes and no. It's just, with Luke it's black and white. You can't really mistake his actions, it's clear as day."

"Hmm." He nodded slowly, "So, what are you gonna do?"

Lorelai shrugged, "I really don't know."

"Okay, well let me ask you this;" He waited until Lorelai's sullen smoky blue eyes met his emerald ones, "you love him?" He asked bluntly.

"With all my heart." She answered without skipping a beat.

"You still wanna marry him?" He continued.

"More than anything." She answered immediately.

His eyes never wavered from Lorelai's, as he asked his next question, "You willing to sacrifice your happiness for him?"

Her brows furrowed slightly as she answered, "Besides Rory, Luke is my happiness."

The man pressed his lips together, half expecting her answer, and half surprised at it, "Sorry, if I beg to differ." He responded lightly.

Lorelai shrugged half-heartedly, "Like I said, it's complicated."

She glanced back at the party, before she refocused her attention on the man and allowed more words to fall from her mouth, "He isn't the same guy." She blinked, "I mean, he is, he just…" She groaned softly in frustration, "I don't know anymore. One minute he's back to being sweet, charming, and loving grizzly Luke, and then the next minute he's Jack Frost. I can't keep up. And I'm trying, believe me, I'm trying really hard, but I'm so confused. It's to the point where I don't even know if he still loves me, let alone if he even wants to be with me anymore." She exhaled a shaky breath, "I constantly try to convince myself that he's not just settling, but with every day that passes by, my arguments get weaker and weaker."

The man took in every word she spoke as if actually feeling every emotion from her every word, "Can I be honest with you?"

She looked at him and nodded, "At least someone will."

"This guy sounds like a damn fool." He answered, then turned to walk around the bar, "I need another beer." He grabbed ahold of two bottles and returned to his previously vacated spot next to Lorelai.

"Why, because he's not here with me?" Lorelai asked, picking back up the conversation as he resituated himself beside her.

"No," He shook his head, "because he obviously lost sight of how good he has it." He replied as he opened both bottles and handed her one.

Lorelai accepted it and swore the bottle was colder than she remembered her last one being, but she furrowed her brows at the man as she pondered his statement, "How would you know if he has it good? You don't even know me." She said before taking a sip of her beer.

He shook his head, "Within the time I've been talking to you, anyone can clearly see how much you love this guy." He said calmly. Lorelai looked straight at him, "You don't have to be Einstein to figure that out."

"Yeah?" Lorelai scoffed softly, "Well it must be karma to bite me in the ass after all those years of rebelling against Emily Gilmore's high maintenance standards because I ended up with Clueless McGee. He's the only one that matters to me to understand how I feel about him and as of lately, he hasn't got a clue… or maybe he just doesn't care, either way, I don't know what to do anymore."

"I don't know either." He felt so deeply sorrowful for her as he sighed, "I'm sorry, I'm no help."

"Actually, you are." She gave him a small smile, "Letting me vent, keeping me company, and grabbing me a beer." She said as she lifted it to her lips for a sip.

He shot her a smile before he glanced at his left wrist, where his wristwatch lay strapped to his wrist. He swiftly drained his beer then placed his empty bottle onto the counter behind him, before he turned back to face Lorelai.

"Well, I have to get going. I need to check in with the Mrs's back home before I hit the hay. Gotta get as much rest as I can, I have a feeling my time here will need all the energy I can give. If you remember me tomorrow, then I'll be seeing you around very soon."

Lorelai gave him a confused look, "How are you gonna see me around? I thought you were just visiting?"

"I am, but I'll be here for a while, so if you remember me when you aren't draining Jose dry–"

"Dirty." She interrupted easily.

The man not knowing what she was talking about, just continued, "then don't hesitate to say hello. I have a feeling we're gonna become good friends." He said with a boyish smile, his gray stubble lighting his cheeks with a light shimmer.

"Friends huh?" She nodded in approval, "Well, you can never have too much of those." She commented as she took another sip from her beer.

"Your guy comes home soon?" He asked.

"Yeah. The day after tomorrow, actually. Why?"

He nodded, then continued, ignoring her question, "You be safe tonight and go have fun, Lorelai. You deserve to blow off some steam." He finished before he began to walk away.

Lorelai was nodding along distantly until, "Hey wait! How do you know my name?" She asked, realizing she hadn't told him that piece of information.

He gave her a full smile that caused her heart to flutter with the familiarity of the sight that she still couldn't quite place, "Who doesn't know thee, Lorelai Gilmore, in this town?"

Lorelai's mouth fell open slightly, "I don't know if I should be creeped out or flattered." She said a little confused.

"I'd go with the latter." He replied and took a step away again, but she stopped him once more.

"Hey!" She called out, causing him to look back at her once more, "What's your name?" She asked, suddenly realizing she hadn't asked him that whole time.

He smirked, "A few people that are dear to me, call me, Billy."

She smiled, "Thanks for the free session, Billy."

He nodded his head as if tipping an imaginary hat, "See you soon." He bid good night and shot her a wink.

Lorelai reared her head back as her face contorted in confusion and wonder at that wink. It had caused a chill to run through her body as it reminded her of the only other person who-

"Lor!"

She was pulled from her thoughts as she heard Christopher's voice call out to her. Lorelai looked in the direction his voice had traveled from and saw him approaching her.

"Come on, Lor." He said as he gently took a hold of her elbow and led her back over to where he came from.

Lorelai glanced over her shoulder, in the direction where Billy's form had retreated, only to come up empty. She slowly looked around the square, trying to spot where he went, to see if it would somehow piece the puzzle that he created for her together, but as her eyes searched, it was to no avail. It was as if he had vanished into thin air.

"What's the matter, Lor?" Chris asked as he noticed her eyes searching the party.

Lorelai shook her head. She tore her eyes from the crowd to look at Christopher, "Nothing. Let's go." She replied and allowed Chris to stabilize her to walk over to their table.


Lorelai had tanked back two thermos-filled coffees and had somehow gotten her second wind. She added a shot of tequila to each thermos, saying it was perfectly fine seeing as she was a quarter Irish. She walked over to Brian who held the microphone.

"Hey, Brian!" Lorelai greeted a bit loudly.

"Hey, Lorelai!" He greeted back casually over the mic, causing the crowd to laugh at the two.

"Could I see that?" She asked sweetly, pointing at the microphone.

"Sure." He said as he handed it over.

"Thanks." She cleared her throat, "Hi everyone! I wanted to say a few words about our girl, Lane." She started, placing her drink on top of Brian's table, "But before I talk about Lane, how about a hand for Kirk and his genius business idea of Yummy Bartenders."

The crowd clapped, Babette screeched a whistle and Ms. Patty gave out a loud Woo!

"Right?" Lorelai nodded, "I swear, that was the most attention I've got from the male specimen this month."

The crowd laughed, but Rory held a troubled expression, knowing that her mom wasn't making a joke.

"Anyway, back to Lane." Lorelai continued, "Lane. The best friend a mother could hope her daughter could have. I've known Lane forever, and I'm just so incredibly happy that she's gotten past the engaged stage."

After that line, Rory looked over at Chris with an obviously worried expression, hoping no more insight was given about her mother's relationship.

"I mean, I'm just so happy that this adorable 22-year-old girl has gotten married." She swallowed thickly, "22." She held up two fingers. She pulled a corner of her mouth upward, "It's really hard to get married. Believe me, I should know. I've been waiting for a long time, but I'm not getting married." She shook her head, "It's not in the cards. I wanted it to be, but the man upstairs said, 'Lorelai, get over yourself, I brought you into this world alone, and I'm taking you out the same way'," She said as she took on a deeper God-like voice, "So nope. No big day for me…" She paused and sniffled softly, "But, Lane and Zach, you both are so very lucky to have each other. Cherish that, okay?" She said and earned confirming nods from the couple. "Because when you have something good, you shouldn't just throw it away, especially when a bump comes along, because they will come along, whether you like it or not." She slowly walked around the table, towards the next, "And Zack," She stopped to point at him, "Don't hurt her. Whatever you do, talk to her, don't keep her in the dark about anything. Even if you're embarrassed or you don't know how she'll react, just tell her, okay? Tell her if you have a kid when you find out, okay Zack? Don't wait."

The crowd went silent, and Christopher and Rory took their queues to make their way up and intercept the microphone from Lorelai, but before either of them could reach her, she spoke up again.

With a straight face, red-watery eyes, and a slightly deflated stance, Lorelai looked towards Lane and Zack, "Seriously, guys. Don't give up on each other, because once one of you does-" She shook her head sadly, "it'll be the worst pain you'll ever feel."

It was after her last word was spoken, that father and daughter finally made it to Lorelai. Chris smoothly ushered Lorelai away, while Rory gently removed the microphone from her mother's hands. Lorelai easily gave in to the attempts of her daughter and her daughter's father, as they subtly tried to remove her from the center of attention.

Lorelai had been scooped up and was carried off by Chris, in the direction of Rory's car. And as if an alarm went off, just before she gave herself up to the final pulls of the alcohol, a bright and brief glare caught her eye, which caused her to furrow her brows at the light that refrained her from giving in to the great wonders of slumber.

With strain, she slowly lifted her head off of Chris's shoulder and allowed her eyes to search in the direction of where the offensive glare came from.

Her blurry vision wasn't any help, but as she allowed her drowsy eyes to seek out a sign of what might have been the cause of the glimmer, she came up short… that is until the impudent light sparkled once more.

She darted her eyes in the direction and right as Chris took a step forward, getting them closer to Rory's car, the glare faded out to a soft twinkle as they moved away from the light that caused the reflection.

As she put every last ounce of effort into focusing on the glimmer that had caught her eye, she was able to define the culprit. It was a ring. In the near distance between the Soda Shoppe and the Diner, from what she could see was a small piece of silver.

As Chris continued to move, the angle of the light slowly moved as well, allowing it to leisurely shine on a figure. As Lorelai refocused her eyes, she immediately recognized the figure. It was Billy.

The flash of light came from the speckle diamond on his ring, which was showing as his arms were crossed over his chest with his left hand resting on his right bicep, allowing the ring to show.

Lorelai silently lifted her hand in a brief wave, then curled her fingers into her palm as she gave him a lazy smile. Billy nodded his head in a bowing manner as he shot her a small smile back, before turning up the back alley between the two buildings and disappearing from Lorelai's sight.

She sighed heavily and laid her head back on Chris's shoulder, just before she welcomed the drunken slumber to swallow her whole.


Hours later, the shrill ringing of a phone awoke Lorelai. She roughly groaned and slightly struggled to sit up to search for the offensive object that was causing her to experience the feeling of being out at sea.

"Hello?" She answered groggily.

"Hey!" Came Luke's greeting through the receiver, "It's me."

"Oh, um. Hi." She tried to gather herself, "Wha-what time is it?" She asked trying to read the red numbers on the clock on her nightstand.

"It's almost six…" He said at the realization of the hour, "Aw jeez." He must've been up for a while, due to his internal alarm clock, "I'm sorry, you were asleep." He said, beating himself up.

Lorelai tried to softly clear her throat, at the tone in his voice, she knew his apology was genuine and he didn't know the consumption amount of her alcohol last night.

"Yeah. I, uh... um..." She stopped mid-sentence as she suddenly spotted Chris getting up from the armchair beside her.

Apparently, the ringing phone had stirred him as well. Chris silently grabbed his jacket from the foot of the ottoman and stood up. He looked over at Lorelai and made a hand signal that motioned he would call her. He gave her a wave along with a slight smile before he exited the room.

"I'm sorry, Lorelai." Luke's voice cut through again, bringing her attention back to him, "It's early." He said, feeling stupid that he hadn't checked the time before he even picked up the phone in the first place, "Go back to sleep, and I'll give you a call later, when you've at least had some coffee–"

Lorelai sighed inaudibly, already feeling the invisible strings of her heart being tugged on by Luke's voice alone, "No, Luke, it's fine." She cut him off, "I'm glad you called." Her voice was soft but full of sincerity.

Half of Lorelai's still drunken brain fought to listen to Luke as he rambled on about things that took place the previous day, while on his trip away with April, and the other half of her functioning self desperately tried to recall the events of her own previous day.


Authors Note: The good, the bad, and the ugly reviews are always welcomed. Y'all are awesome! - KISF