Disclaimer - All characters from the show belong to their rightful owners. Just borrowing them.
AN - AU starting the morning after Luke and Lorelai's date at Sniffy's. Luke has known about April her entire life( because 1 I hated the way they brought her in and 2 there is a weird thing against fathers in the show which oddly made TJ come across as one of the best fathers in the show and Luke deserved better). How does this fact change the course of Luke and Lorelai's relationship and impact the rest of our favourite characters. By changing a few minor things how does life for the Gilmores turn out in the end as they try to find their happiness. The story will eventually encompass Series 5-7 time frame but obs there will be differences, and divergences that get more noticeable as this goes along. It's gonna be a big un folks :). I write this on my own no beta, so all mistakes are my own. Hopefully you enjoy. Let me know what you think.
Chapter 1 – Beginnings and Bickering
Her eyelids fluttered as sunlight hit her face. In her ear instead of the normal shrill beep of the alarm clock there was the steady thump of a heartbeat. His heartbeat. Lorelai smiled as she remembered where she was. She peeled open her eyes and a smile spread across her face. She was in his bed, her cheek resting against his warm bare chest. She had spent the night with Luke, a proper actual date with Luke. She smiled, feeling surprisingly awake after a late night of good food, good talk and even better sex. Luke stirred and she used the opportunity to slip out from his arm. Sitting up she surveyed him and gave a happy sigh. This was it, this was different; he was no longer Luke the diner boy wrapped in flannel. He was Luke, beautiful, strong and everything she had ever hoped. It seemed too good to be true. After years of dancing around each other they had finally done it. Quite literally. They had finally had a proper grown up date, dinner at Luke's Luke's and they had finally crossed that barrier that they had held between each other.
She carefully got up from the bed and grabbed one of his flannels that lay across the chair in the corner of the room so she could leave his bedroom. She had only ever to been to Luke's house a few times and she had never got past his living room and kitchen. The hallway was always been out of bounds, the door closed to hide what was behind. She padded down the hallway, tiptoeing across the worn grey carpet. She paused getting her bearings for a moment trying to remember which of the three other doors the bathroom was. She turned to the side with two doors knowing that the larger room behind her would be April's bedroom, the room that Luke's eleven year old daughter used on her biweekly visits. Lorelai smiled softly as she remembered Luke's panic over whether he should have moved April into the smaller room when Jess had come to stay with him two years ago. Jess hadn't minded the small spare room, he'd been too busy running around town causing chaos or working when he should have been at school. Lorelai stopped her musing and opened one of the doors, praising herself silently as she found she had made the correct choice and she moved into the small functional bathroom.
After tending to her needs she quickly checked her reflection in the mirror and grimaced, in their haste last night she hadn't had a chance to remove her makeup, her mascara had shaded around her eyes like she was a panda. Strangely she didn't mind beyond the initial annoyance. She had just woken up, she was a mess but she didn't mind because she had had the most amazing evening with Luke. Everything had just slipped away as they talked both at the restaurant and after their first time together snuggled together, his arms around her, his hand gently stroking her back as they just talked about everything and anything.
She jumped slightly at the sound of a faint knock on the bathroom door.
"Hey," she called brightly, quickly running her hands over her hair. "Be out in sec."
A soft chuckle sounded through the door. "Alright, I'm putting coffee on."
She smiled and grabbed some tissue so she could get rid of the worst of the panda eyes. She quickly checked the contents of the medicine cabinet, men's toiletries and some kid's shampoo nothing to help her out. She closed the cabinet and looked at her reflection once more, she looked barefaced and beautiful. Lorelai smiled, she had never ever felt this good the first morning after with any guy before.
She turned away from the mirror, it was Luke, she wanted him to see her like this, she didn't mind, he was all in, so so was she.
"Hey," She smiled brightly as she entered the open plan living area, slowly walking towards Luke in the kitchen. He turned around and her heart seemed to momentarily skip a beat.
"Hey," Luke grinned at her, his eyes roving up and down her. "That shirt looks good on you."
Lorelai looked down at the large blue check flannel, her smile widening. "Now I get why you wear them so often. Nice and cosy."
"Coffee," Luke handed her a cup. "I don't have much in the way of breakfast."
"You don't have any food?" Lorelai looked at him quizzically as she took a sip of the black coffee relishing the warmth and deep flavour.
"I don't have much in the way of food that you would like." Luke gave her a sheepish look. "Muesli," he chuckled as she pulled a face. "Greek yoghurt and fruit."
"Yuck," Lorelai wrinkled her nose in distaste.
"I'll make sure I have eggs next time," Luke took a step closer.
"There's going to be a next time?" Lorelai gave him a coy smile. She set her coffee mug on the counter and stepped into his space allowing him to place his arms around her. "Sounds good," she kissed him sweetly.
"Good," Luke held her for a beat before slowly releasing her, his hands running down her arms. "Now I hate to do this but we should get going. I need to get to the diner, and you looking like that is just gonna make me, really really late," he glanced down awkwardly. "Please don't wear those jeans with the rhinestone butterfly on the pocket because I work in a kitchen and I need to be able to concentrate or I might chop off a finger."
Lorelai bit her lip preventing herself from smiling too widely. "I had no idea I had such an effect."
"Oh you always have," Luke grinned at her. "Always."
Lorelai slipped into the diner and moved to the counter, it had been a week since she and Luke had had their first proper date. They had spent every single night together since that night, twice she had stayed at the diner until closing and they had walked to his. The other nights he had come to hers having given her burger with a grumbled request not to do anything his eyes shooting over to whichever table he was worried was watching them, usually occupied by Miss Patty or Babette. She liked their secret, she liked that it was just them. She hadn't even told Rory not the full details, all her daughter knew was that they had had a date that had gone well, not that she was sure that Rory wanted the full details.
Lorelai sat on the stool by the register, a smile falling on her face as Luke rushed out of the kitchen with an order in his hands. A smile rushed across his features before he cast a nervous look around the diner, deciding it was safe he passed the plates off to one of his servers and stepped in close to the counter in front of her.
"Hey," Luke growled at her.
"Hey," Lorelai shot him a beaming smile.
"What did I say about wearing the butterfly jeans?" he gave her a lustful look.
"Oh I thought it was just the other day," Lorelai grinned as a thrill of excitement rushed through her chest.
"Nope, they really work for you," Luke coughed slightly, "and me."
"Oh," Lorelai poked her tongue out slightly. "I'll have to remember that," she leaned across the counter slightly. "So I have to visit the Hartford ice house tonight, I'll probably be back about 9.30, 10, should I come over to yours or do you want to come over to mine?" she frowned slightly as Luke backed away from the counter.
"er…" Luke looked down at his hands. "It's my weekend with April so er…"
"Oh," Lorelai shook her head as she realised what he was saying, "Sure of course, I didn't think," she smiled at him in understanding. "So I guess I won't see you till tomorrow night."
"Tomorrow?" Luke stared at her confused. "I have her till Sunday."
"No, I mean here in the evening, you guys are usually here for the evening shift," Lorelai's frown returned to her face. "Luke?"
Luke looked awkwardly to the ground. "It's just…I'm having a hard time hiding how I feel about you with the rest of this crazy town, I can't lie to April. She has like this lie detector thing with me. She's known like every present I've ever bought her before I actually gave it to her," he smiled weakly. "Anna and I have this 3 month rule with April and Anna is still really pissed about how the whole thing with Nicole affected April and I just…I dunno…I'm sorry…I just guess it will be easier to not tell her about you if you weren't here."
"You don't want to tell her about us," Lorelai tried to keep her voice bright but she knew her face had fallen because Luke was looking at her in fear.
"I do," he nodded earnestly, "but I just need to do it in the right way and the right time. We set 3 months because it's enough time for the dud relationships to fizzle out. I don't want her figuring it out in crowded diner with the town watching because I can't keep myself from staring at you." Luke reached and took her hand squeezing it gently. "I'll tell her as soon as I can because this isn't a dud, this is for keeps it's just how we do things."
Lorelai sighed and pushed her disappointment down, she knew exactly what Luke was saying because she had spent sixteen years doing the same with Rory, keeping her relationships separate from her daughter until she was sure. "I get it," she smiled as she saw the relief flood into his face. "Sunday then?"
"Sunday," Luke nodded. "I close at five so I'll come to yours and cook for you."
"Cook at my place?" Lorelai feigned shock. "Proper food? Not just stuff from the freezer that's rip and dump then shove in the oven."
"Proper food," Luke nodded his head seriously. "Don't worry I'll bring everything I need."
"I'll look forward to it," Lorelai leaned across the counter and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.
"So you can't go into the diner while April's there?" Rory asked as she walked alongside her mother slowly as they traversed the short distance between the pool house and the main house.
"Uh huh," Lorelai vocalised casting a glance over her shoulder to check her father hadn't followed them out to watch them so he could ensure their safe passage across the Gilmore estate grounds. "I get it, I mean I used to do the exact same thing with you."
"I guess, but how is it any different now. I mean Luke has liked you for years. You go into the diner all the time, April knows you. She used to join us all the time on Saturday night," Rory shook her head as she tried to understand Luke's reasoning. "Why does it mean that now you are dating you can't go in?"
"I guess once it's out the box you can't get it back in, like cool whip," Lorelai muttered pausing as a cheeky smile pulled across her face as she realised what she had just said and the image it brought to mind.
"If you say dirty I'm going to hit you," Rory rolled her eyes as she pulled the back door of the Gilmore Mansion open. "There are some things I don't need to know about. You having sex is one of them."
Both women froze as Emily's voice echoed shrilly around the ground floor of the house.
"Hi Grandma," Rory forced herself to smile as Emily stood up from the couch an appalled look on her face.
"Who's having sex?" Emily stared at her granddaughter in horror. "Not you're gr…"
"Mom," Rory answered quickly, her eyes closing as she realised what she had done. She glanced at her mother shooting an apologetic look at Lorelai as Emily's head whipped round to stare at Lorelai.
"You're in a relationship?" Emily's eyes narrowed as she looked Lorelai up and down. "It's not Jason is it?"
"No Mom, I am not seeing Jason." Lorelai started to undo her jacket. "It's just girl talk, I crossed a line with Rory she doesn't want to know certain things."
"But you are in a relationship," Emily pressed again taking Rory's jacket her narrowed eyes still fixed on Lorelai. "Who with?"
"Dinner smells great Mom," Lorelai tried to change the subject holding out her jacket.
"You won't tell me?" Emily's expression changed from one of narrow eyed curiosity to wide eyed disappointment.
"Not yet, no," Lorelai shook her head. "It's new. It's like wine, I need to let it breathe a little before I can let people in."
Emily rolled her eyes. "Honestly Lorelai," she snatched Lorelai's jacket from her. "Why do you insist on keeping me out of your life!"
"You've told Rory," Emily pointed out childishly, "but then she's your friend and I am just your mother. Go into the dining room," she spun on her heels and stalked off to put the coats away.
"Thank you!" Lorelai hissed slapping Rory's forearm.
"I'm sorry, I panicked she thought Grandpa was having sex. We're still trying to get them back together, remember. I couldn't let her think that he was doing that," Rory hissed back as they scurried into the dining room.
"You should have told her you were doing it with Dean," Lorelai shot at her daughter as she pulled out her chair.
"How is that better?" Rory slumped into her chair.
"It's not, but at least she would be mad at you and not me," Lorelai flicked her napkin across her lap dramatically. "Now I have to endure a frozen Nova Scotia dinner instead of just the usual chilly North West. I should transfigure into a penguin," she forced herself to smile as Emily strode back into the room. "The dinner really goes smells amazing Mom."
Luke looked up as he heard the shuffling scuffing sound that always sounded moments before his daughter entered the living room when she was ready for bed. He quickly turned off the stove and poured the warmed milk into the mug stirring it so the chocolate powder didn't clump and the hot chocolate was frothy. He turned just as April entered the room wrapped in a too big blue towelling dressing gown, grey knee high slipper socks with her right pant leg of her bright pink pyjamas tucked in, the left leg dragging on the floor. Her hair was wet, her thick glasses slightly steamed from her shower.
"All clean?" Luke asked as he shooed his eleven year old daughter towards the couch
"All clean," April nodded her eyes drawn to the hot chocolate.
"Sit then you get it," Luke followed her waiting for her to sit before handing her the warm drink, "Careful!"
"I know Dad, it's hot," April held the mug in both hands and inhaled the warm chocolatey smell. "Your best yet."
"You say that every time," Luke gave her a pleased smile. "So baseball?"
April let out a groan, "Nooooo."
"Science dude?" Luke chuckled moving to the shelf where he kept his few VHS tapes. "Which one were we on?"
"It's Science Guy Dad," April set her drink on the coffee table and pulled her feet onto the couch so she could kneel and see better. "We were on Season 2. Episode nine is the next one we need to watch; Oceanography."
"Oceanography," Luke repeated selecting the right tape and moving to put it on. "About ocean graphs I guess."
"Dad," April rolled her eyes again her, preteen sensibilities kicking in whereas as little girl she would have giggled.
Luke shrugged self-deprecatingly. "I know, I should work on my Dad jokes huh?" Luke put the tape in the player. He waited until he was sure that everything was working before he joined April on the couch.
As the tape started to play, from the last place they had paused it, April slid across the couch to sit closer to him. Luke smiled and wrapped his arm around her shoulder his attention focused on his daughter rather than the TV as the tape of a show that was nearly as old as she was started to play and held April's attention. "You want me to do your hair?" he asked softly.
"After maybe," April whispered watching the screen intently despite having seen the tape before a smile on her face. "He's so interesting." She snuggled into Luke's side and pulled her knees up to her chest. "I love this show."
"Yeah," Luke nodded, he kissed the top of April's wet hair and sighed. He loved having April here, even if he had to watch the same show over and over on repeat, even if it meant he had to stay away from Lorelai for the weekend. He was all in with Lorelai and he meant it but April came first. April was growing up so fast, too fast. He would do anything for her, do anything to protect her and most of all he would do anything to preserve that innocence in her. When he stuck Bill Nye on it was like the first time she saw it when she was four years old, sat on his knee watching the TV with her mouth open in awe.
He sat in silence as the show played for its thirty minutes, April chuckling along with the gentle humour and gasping in surprise when she picked up something new that she had missed on one of the other viewings. As the episode came to an end she looked up at him hopefully. "No," Luke pre-empted her request for another episode. "We can watch another one tomorrow. Clean your teeth and bed, we have to get up early for swimming."
"Alright," April sighed with far too mature resignation. Slowly she disentangled herself from Luke and her position on the couch. She moved to the VCR waiting until the perfect moment to pause the tape so it would be in the exact right place for her tomorrow. "Can I read for a bit?"
"A bit," Luke glanced at the clock. "Lights out by 10 OK."
"Ok," April padded over to him and kissed him. "Night Dad."
"Night April," Luke kissed her back. "I'll check on you in a bit," he watched her head to her bedroom and then collected her half-drunk mug of chocolate. Quickly he cleaned up the mess from the day and made to walk towards his own room to get ready. The phone caught his attention and he paused. Closing the hallway door he picked up the phone from its cradle and dialled the number that was imprinted on his brain. After six rings he sighed and went to return the phone to its cradle.
"Hello," Lorelai's breathy voice sounded down the line.
"Lorelai?" Luke whispered.
"You're out of breath," Luke noticed with a touch of concern.
"I just got in," Lorelai whispered. "I had to run and Mom served three courses and then broke out the cheese board to make up for missing drinks. I ate too much."
Luke chuckled. "You always eat too much."
"I guess. How come you're calling?" Lorelai asked nervously. "Where's April?"
"She's in bed reading. I just wanted to say hi," Luke sighed. "I missed you tonight."
"I missed you too. I can't wait for Sunday."
"Me neither," Luke smiled. "I have it all planned out, no cheese board I promise."
Luke sat on the arm of the chair. "So are you OK to talk for a while?" he smiled as Lorelai laughed lightly down the phone.
"Oh, you know me Lucas, I can talk for forever."