A/N: I had this idea and it kept coming to me while I am writing my other fics, seriously impeding the process. So finally, I decided to write it down and share it with y'all.
Second note: I posted this once before but the site was being weird last week and not notifying of new stories so I'm reposting now. My apologies to my lone reviewer, Nancy and the few people that favorited the other story.
Lorelai's Secret: You're my Ana Gardner
When Rory was 5, Sookie became the new chef at the Independence Inn. They became fast friends and Sookie became her source of most meals. Up until that point, she was on food stamps and WIC for Rory. She still was when Sookie came in the picture but her BFF made it a point to cook for her all the time knowing that the kitchenette in the potting shed wasn't very helpful. Rory would never remember it but Lorelai used to cook for her. She had two hot plates from the yard sale of a lady known as Tilly who'd just moved into the east side and no longer needed some of her apartment things including a small freezer which came in handy. She also got some miscellaneous kitchen items and had been gifted some things from the Inn's castaways over those first few years.
Lorelai used one of the allotted juices to buy tomato juice each month and she would use it to make a base tomato sauce that a maid named Cecilia, who was one of the few to last more than a month with Emily Gilmore, had taught her to make when she was 14. Back then, it was a point of rebellion to learn domestic things from whomever on her mother's staff would teach her and she thoroughly enjoyed it. The reason Cecilia hadn't gotten fired was because Lorelai liked her so she made up the beds and turned down their rooms before Emily had a chance to notice. The day Lorelai was caught in the act was the day Cecilia was fired. But through those first 4 years alone with Rory, that sauce stuck with her; that and her alfredo linguine recipe.
She'd figured out that if she split the sauce into a 1:3 and 2:3 ratio before putting in some of the Italian sauces, she could use the 1:3 ratio to make chili with the beans she was allotted from WIC and then use the other 2:3 for lasagna and spaghetti. She'd do this once a month and freeze the sauces for the duration. Much of the time, she did feed her kid pop tarts and other junk with her food stamps, but she did this one thing because she wanted to provide that for her baby. She even made the noodles from scratch just like Cecilia taught her to. At Tilly's garage sale, she also picked up a cook book and learned to make other simple things like scrambled eggs, french toast and deviled eggs. She also frequently made mashed potatoes and meat loaf (using a small amount of the sauce she'd cook up for spaghetti and lasagna.
The only person who ever ate her cooking was Rory and she was a toddler so she didn't exactly have a refined palate. Plus, she was too young to remember it when Lorelai stopped. After eating Sookie's cooking, she felt inferior and stopped really cooking; she seceded that duty to her chef friend. She rationalized it saved her time and she didn't love doing it anyway.
When Rory was almost 10, Luke's diner opened and it wasn't long before that also became part of their main source of sustenance. She still made boxed stuff using her food stamps to supplement their food and made sure Rory ate fruits and vegetables to keep her from being malnourished, but she was happy to go in to see the handsome Burger Boy, Duke as she called him fondly.
Rory sort of noticed the change in her mother's cooking but she was young and susceptible enough for Lorelai to convince her that she didn't cook because she could burn water. A few times, when Rory begged for something she wasn't in the mood for, or when she wanted a burger and Rory didn't really, she'd intentionally burn it to drive in her point. It didn't take long before her doe-eyed daughter believed that she was indeed a terrible cook.
The next time that Lorelai cooked for herself was the summer that she and Luke were fighting over Jess and Jess went back to New York. He didn't accept her apologies and she tried all she could to get her Luke back, but it seemed he wouldn't. Rory was away and she drove to Woodbridge for the ingredients so the townies would have no gossip. It was even better than she remembered it.
The only time Rory almost caught her was when she was broke from opening the Dragonfly Inn with Sookie and noticed the stocked fridge. She saw the tomatoes but had no idea that Lorelai knew how to stew and crush them into a beautiful sauce. That with a glass of wine was her comfort until she broke down and cried on Burger Boy's shoulder. She'd gladly give up her cooking skills for his comfort any day of the week.
When they broke up for that time when Emily tried to sabotage them with Christopher at her vowel renewal, she once again picked up her ladle, wanting to feel like she could make it without him. Painting the shed wasn't the only thing she did during that awful time. It was ironic really, that when Luke's cooking suffered without her, hers thrived in his absence.
When he finally came to his senses and kissed her in her doorway like it was out of a movie, Lorelai quickly guided him up to her bed. He was her sustenance, all she ever wanted.
After 3 rounds of making up, Luke went downstairs to the kitchen for a bottle of water with Lorelai laid out on the bed.
When he opened the refrigerator and saw a Tupperware instead of takeout, he assumed that Sookie had made it for her. He was thankful not to have to eat the other crap with mystery expiration dates in her fridge so, after passing the smell test, he heated it and brought it upstairs to share with her.
"Lorelai, this is AMAZING! Sookie outdid herself on this one," he said with a mouthful of pasta as he walked into the room. She was just exiting the bathroom and stopped in her tracks. "Lorelai?" He questioned seeing the look on her face.
"Um, so I have a confession. Sookie didn't make that."
Luke spit it out thinking it came from some other man. "Who? I mean we were broken up so you had the right, but I just."
"Oh. No no no no no. Luke, that's not it." She approached him. "My confession is that I made it."
"You made it? No way."
She took a deep breath and confessed to everything. She told him how she'd learned and honed it in her adolescence and Rory's early years, how she stopped cooking to be around him more, how whenever they weren't together- even when they were friends like that one summer- she'd cook it just to prove to herself she could survive, and how she'd rather never cook a day in her life if it meant being with him.
Luke had sat on the bed for her explanation, processing. She grew nervous as he didn't look at her, only the bowl on the nightstand. "Luke, please, say something."
He stood and looked her in the eye, rubbed her arms from her shoulders down and grasped her hands. "You are never, ever, allowed to cook this or anything else beyond pop tarts anymore. I won't make the stupid mistake of walking away from you, ever again, Lorelai," he promised. "I love you and I need to cook for you. My cooking sucks without you. You might not need me, but I need you."
"So, you're not mad?" she smiled and he kissed her senseless, her arms grasping his neck o make up for the lack of strength in her legs at the moment.
"Of course not; you've been pining for me Lorelai Gilmore. You're my Ana Gardner," he smirked recalling her teasing about the horoscope.
"Ava. Ava Gardner," she corrected and punctuated it with another kiss. "And you're wrong about something else."
Intrigued, Luke asked, "What?"
"I need you too. I need you to fix everything in the Crap Shack, to be my best friend, and to love me."
"Lorelai, nothing in my life seems real to me unless you're in it. I failed once at the 'all in' thing, but never again, ok?"
Lorelai had tears welling in her eyes. "Okay," she confirmed, leading him down onto the bed for a more passionate kiss.
"Wait," he stopped her as he got up abruptly. He found his pants and pulled something out of it. "I wasn't sure how I was going to do this or how this would all play out, but now feels right." He looked at her and she was still trying to see if he was holding what she thought he was.
Luke opened a Tiffany's box containing a ring, got down on his knees and proposed to the woman wearing his plaid shirt. "Lorelai Victoria Gilmore, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
"Are you sure? I mean, you said it. My family is always going to be my family."
"I know. Before I came here, I went to Hartford and talked to your parents. I told them both my intentions and reminded your mother of her promise to stay out of it and requested your father's blessing, though I made it clear I was asking anyway. He gave me this and said it belonged to his mother and she wanted you to have it should you ever get married. I'd give you my mom's but we sold it for bills when my dad got sick and I used the rest towards the diner."
"Luke," Lorelai rasped, nearly speechless.
"So, Lorelai, Will you-?"
"Yes," She whispered and cut him off.
"Yes," she said with glee and she stuck her hand out eagerly for him to put the ring on her.
"You can think-?"
"No. And you can't take it back now. Too late bucko!" she teased.
He put the ring on her then picked her up and carried her to the bed- their bed. They made love with stupid happy grins on their faces and slept better than either of them had since the vowel renewal.