I AM SO SORRY FOR THE LONG DELAY! I was away in Maine and as soon as I got home I jumped right into my internship. I have had ZERO time to write sadly. This internship is taking up more time than I expected. But I have not given up on my stories. It just may be a little longer in between updates.
As I get more into a routine, I will hopefully find more time to write. Thanks for not giving up on me!
Two days later, Luke and Lorelai had visited Yellowstone National Park. Now they were visiting one of the waterfalls, they had taken a quick dip. Now Lorelai was sitting on a rock, soaking up the sun. She looked over and saw Luke still floating in the water, face turned up to the sun. She sighed softly and watched his legs kick along the water.
The day before, she had sat with him in their hotel and listened to his Doctor on Speaker Phone. After asking a million and one questions, she seemed somewhat satisfied with the answers she was given. Luke's Doctor assured her that as far as he could see, there was no immediate need for Luke to come home. He even said that a few weeks away before treatment started would be good to help him relax.
He did say that if Luke's headaches increased or got worse, or he experienced any dizzy spells...to rush straight to the hospital and to call him. That had caused her to worry, but Luke just squeezed her hand and promised her he'd tell her if anything changed with his pain levels.
Even though there was still part of her that wanted to drag him by the ear back to Stars Hollow...she knew that on some level they both needed this break. They needed this time to heal what was broken and find a way to strengthen their relationship before fighting this next battle.
She continued to watch him swim peacefully for a few minutes, until she was interrupted by his phone ringing. She glanced down and felt her heart jump in her chest when she saw the name on the front.
She glanced back at Luke and saw him beginning to swim back towards her. Her hand trembled, wondering if she should pick up the phone. Those old fears of what she could and couldn't do when it came to April appeared. He pulled himself out of the water and smiled as he reached for a towel.
"Man that water feels good." He said wiping away the droplets on his face.
She smiled nervously up at him, "Yeah. It does."
He rolled his neck back and forth, "Much better than the lake in the Hollow."
She glanced back down at his phone, "Mhm…"
He ran the towel over his head and frowned, "Hey, you okay?"
She pointed towards his phone, "Uh April just called. I didn't think I should answer it…"
He heard the tremor in her voice and knew what she was thinking and feeling, "Oh."
She shrugged, "I wasn't sure how much you had told her. If she even knew you were with me."
Luke took a deep breath, "She knows I'm with you…"
She raised an eyebrow, "But I'm assuming she doesn't know about…"
Luke sat down on a rock beside her, "No. She doesn't know about the tumor."
Lorelai stared at him for a moment, "Luke you have to tell her."
He sighed and looked down at his hands, "I know."
She fidgeted nervously, "I have to tell Rory too...somehow."
He cringed, "Do we have too?"
She gave him a weary look, "Luke…"
He smield sadly and nodded, "No. I know you're right. It's just hard."
"I know." She whispered, "But they deserve to know."
Luke sighed, "Doesn't seem fair that I missed all this time with my kid and now…"
She looked down and frowned, "Sometimes life isn't fair Luke."
He stared at her. He could see that she was thinking hard about something...worrying, "What is it?"
She glanced back up at him, "What?"
He continued to dry himself off, "I can tell you're worried about something."
She laughed sadly, "I'm worried about a lot of things Luke."
He pursed his lips, "Fair. But...something new's on your mind."
She gnawed on her lip for a moment before taking a deep breath and glancing at him, "What happens with April?"
He cocked his head to the side, "What do you mean? What happens when I tell her?"
She sighed and shook her head, "No...not really. I mean...with April. And me...and Anna."
Luke took a deep breath, finally starting to understand, "Oh."
She cringed, "Luke...I don't want to be selfish here but if things just go back to the way they were...I don't think I can do it."
He took a deep breath, "What do you mean?"
"I just...I can't do this halfway. Whatever this is with us...I can't do it half way. We're either all or nothing. That means being part of April's life. Which in turn means being part of Anna's life and I don't think she's going to like that very much." She said with a blush in her cheeks.
Luke glanced at her, "What did Anna say to you that day?"
She glanced at him again, "What?"
"You told me that night you gave me the ultimatum that you went to see Anna." He said softly, "What did she say to you?"
She sighed and turned away from him as the memory of that desperate day washed over her.
LORELAI: You okay there?
ANNA: Sorry. Spreadsheets, the bane of my existence. Combines my hatred of math with my fear of little, tiny boxes.
LORELAI: Well little, tiny boxes can be scary. Unless, of course, they contain big diamond earrings.
ANNA: [Laughs] I hear you. Feel free to look around.
ANNA: Have you been in here before?
LORELAI: No, first time. It's lovely, great stuff.
ANNA: Thank you. All the hanging clothes over there are 20% off, some of my favorite stuff, but come march 1st, I can't sell a sweater to save my life.
LORELAI: Okay, I'll check it out.
ANNA: You looking for anything in particular?
LORELAI: Uh, yeah, you, actually. I'm Lorelai Gilmore. I'm Luke's fiancée.
LORELAI: I wanted to apologize for the party. It was my fault.
ANNA: It just wasn't exactly what I was expecting.
LORELAI: I know, and I'm to blame for that, not Luke. It wasn't his idea. He was having a little trouble getting the party going, and I may have thrown myself into it a little too much. I just thought that we should meet so you could see you really have nothing to worry about.
ANNA: She's a 13-year-old girl. I always have something to worry about.
LORELAI: Well, yeah, of course, but I meant in regards to me.
ANNA: Look, I'm sure you're a great person.
LORELAI: I am. I have references.
ANNA: But I'm a single mom here. I can't play fast and loose with the people in my kid's life.
LORELAI: I completely understand. I'm a single mom myself.
ANNA: Okay then you get it. What if April decided she likes you? What if she becomes attached to you? What if you become her best friend in the entire world, and then one day, you just disappear?
LORELAI: Well, that's not gonna happen.
ANNA: You don't know that. You can't guarantee that, and I can't take that chance. When it comes to my daughter, I have to have rules, hard and fast rules.
LORELAI: I would never dream of violating any of those rules. Believe me.
ANNA: April never meets any man I date unless I've dated him for years.
LORELAI: I totally get that.
ANNA: So basically, until I'm ready to get married again, she doesn't meet any of the men I date.
ANNA: For all she knows, I'm a nun.
LORELAI: Yeah, I went through a sister Wendy phase myself once.
ANNA: I want her to have stability.
LORELAI: Right. But Luke and I, we are engaged. We are stable.
ANNA: Engaged isn't married. People get engaged all the time.
LORELAI: Look, this is not something casual, Luke and me. This is not something we're rushing into, by any means. This has been a long time coming, a long time. This is real.
ANNA: That's wonderful, I'm really happy for you, but that doesn't change anything. Luke just came into April's life. I'm still nervous about that. He's not a kid guy, never has been, and she's getting very attached. I need to know he's sticking around first. And then, when you're married, we'll deal with that then. I'm not trying to be a hardass here. April's my world. I don't know if my way is the right way. I just have to go with my gut. This is how I want to do it…You said you're a single mom.
LORELAI: I have a daughter, just like you.
ANNA: You get where I'm coming from at all?
LORELAI: I really do. Anyway, thank you for hearing me out.
ANNA: Sure. It's no problem.
LORELAI: Okay. [Lorelai turns to leave]
ANNA: Hey. If it makes you feel better, she had a really great time at that party.
LORELAI: I'm glad. [Lorelai waves goodbye]
Luke frowned, "She shouldn't have said that.
Lorelai smiled sadly at him, "Well unfortunately on some level...she was right. Being engaged wasn't permanent. We weren't stable. She had a right to want to keep me away."
He sighed, "Lorelai…"
"The thing is...I understood where she was coming from." She said with a shrug, "With Rory growing up I had rules too. I never really dated because I didn't want to bring anyone into her life that wasn't permanent. She was so desperate for attention from Christopher I was afraid to bring another man into her life only to have them abandon her. You were the first guy that I really allowed all the way into her life...even before we got together. Because I trusted you."
Luke swallowed hard, "You were engaged before me...Max was around her."
Lorelai nodded, "But it still wasn't…" She frowned, "I wasn't all the way in. I never wanted him to stay over. I wasn't sure about the situation. I just didn't want to be alone." She sighed, "I get that Anna wanted to know that we were solid...but that wasn't what hurt the most."
Luke licked his lips, "It was how I dealt with the situation."
She scrunched up her nose sadly, "You used her rules to push me away Luke."
He looked down, "I didn't mean too."
"Maybe not but you did." She felt the lump grow in her throat, "I felt like something you had just cast aside...like I was worthless to you. That everything we had ever talked about just suddenly disappeared. That life we wanted to create together just vanished. And it hurt. It really hurt."
Luke sighed and rested his elbows on his knees, "I just didn't know how to make everyone happy. I was afraid if I pulled you in...that Anna would take April away from me. I guess in some way I chose her over you."
She let his words sink in, "And she is your child...I'd pick Rory over you if I had too. But I don't want either of us to have to pick sides. I want us to find a way to make our lives become intertwined but I can't do that alone. And I can't do this if I'm going to be afraid that you'll push me away again."
Luke watched her carefully, her wet hair cascading around her shoulders. Her bright blue eyes, staring at him full of longing and hope. THe sound of the falling water ignited his love and passion for her. Standing up, he walked over and knelt down beside her, he felt her take a deep breath and he gently reached for her cheek, "I will never push you away again. I need you."
She leaned into him, "I want to believe that Luke…"
He sighed and breathed her in, "I'm going to figure out how to bring you both into my life. Okay? There's no other choice. I need you both."
She wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed tight, "I need you too."
He squeezed her tight, "Everything is going to be okay. I promise. We'll figure it out."
She felt his body pressed against hers and she watched the waterfall cascade behind them. She felt so close to him yet so far away still...she just hoped that they really could figure this out.
The following day, Lorelai woke up in their hotel room alone in bed. She yawned softly, trying to get accustomed to her surroundings. She turned looking for Luke, but she didn't see him. As she sat up in bed though, she started to hear his voice coming from the bathroom.
She stood up and walked towards the closed door, resting her ear against the wood she tried to hear what he was saying. But it came in muffled tones and she only heard every few words.
"No Anna. No." There was a frustrated groan, "Yes we're back together. No I don't' care about what your opinion of her is."
Lorelai swallowed hard, she knew what was happening and all those old fears started to come back.
"She is going to be around my daughter whether or not you are okay with it." She heard him say angrily.
Lorelai took a deep breath and stepped away from the door, needing to breath. But the only thing that happened was that her heart started pounding faster. It felt harder to breath. The emotions of the last few days and few months came crashing down around her. Grabbing her cell phone, she slipped out onto the balcony and dialed a familiar number.
"Hello?" A groggy voice asked into the phone.
Lorelai sniffled, "Hey kid...did I wake you? I'm sorry."
She heard Rory shuffle around on the other end of the phone, "Mom? What time is it?"
Lorelai glanced at the clock on her phone, "A little after 8."
"And you're awake why?" Rory laughed, "If you're life is being threatened in anyway," She teased, "Say the name of my first celebrity crush."
Lorelai smiled sadly, "You have a minute to talk?"
Sensing that something was wrong, Rory shook her head to wake up, "Mom? What's wrong?"
Lorelai sighed, "Luke and I...we're trying to work things out."
Rory smiled softly, "I was hoping that would happen. He told me he still loved you…"
Lorelai bit her lip and felt the tears burn in her eyes. She turned back towards the room and saw that Luke was still locked in the bathroom, on the phone with Anna. "I don't know if I should be telling you this but I feel like I'm going to explode."
Rory's brow furrowed, something felt wrong, "Telling me what? Aren't you happy about working things out with Luke?"
"Luke hasn't been totally honest with me about this trip." She said with a sigh, "He was hiding something…"
Anger and worry began to bubble up in her chest, "Hiding something? What's he got another kid stashed away somewhere?" When her Mother didn't respond she sighed, "Sorry that was probably inappropriate but...but you're starting to scare me. What's going on?"
Lorelai whimpered softly, "They found a tumor in his brain...he found out right before he asked me to come on this trip."
She heard her daughter inhale sharply, "What?"
"Maybe he wanted to tell you himself...I don't know. I just feel so confused and scared and I needed too-" She mumbled.
"Where are you?" Rory asked flinging the covers off of her.
Lorelai sighed, "Rory…"
"Mom, where are you?" She asked in a more firm voice.
She sighed again, "The Grant Village Lodge outside of Yellowstone."
"I'm coming to you. Don't leave." Rory said hanging up her phone.
A confused Lorelai frowned and held the phone out, "Crap…"
The slider opened and Luke stepped out, "Hey. You're up."
She looked up at him, "Uh...hey. Yeah. I am."
He slipped his phone in his pocket and smiled, "I was checking in with Caeser. Seems like things are running smoothly without me."
She narrowed her eyes at him, "Caesar huh?"
He fidgeted slightly, "Uh yeah...why?"
She laughed and stood up, "Because I'm not an idiot Luke. I heard you talking to Anna."
He cringed, "Lorelai…"
She shook her head, "Already lying to me again?"
He sighed and leaned against the balcony, "I didn't want to upset you after our conversation yesterday."
She laughed and turned away from him, "Let me guess...she's less than thrilled about the idea of me being in her kids life again."
He shook his head, "She's conflicted about it."
She stared at him again, "Did you tell her about…"
He shook his head, "I didn't think it was the right time."
"The right time." She said with a nod, "Of course."
He sighed, "Look I'm sorry...I just-"
"I told Rory." She blurted out, she saw him flinch beside her, "Just now. I heard you talking to Anna and I called Rory because I was upset. And I told her."
He stepped back, "Don't you think that's something we should have discussed together?"
She laughed, "Luke...don't."
He took a deep breath, "You know how much I care about Rory. I wanted it to do it the right way. She deserved to hear about it in person...not over the phone."
"Well she's my kid and I get to make the decisions." She said staring at him, "Just like April is yours and you get to make your own decisions."
Luke glared at her, "That's not fair."
"Well it's the way it is." She said standing up, "And now she's coming here."
He stepped back, "Lorelai…"
She pushed past him and walked into the room, "Does Anna not want me around her ever?"
He turned and followed her into the room, "She just isn't sure that we're going to stay together."
She nodded, "Of course she isn't because we aren't stable. Right?" She laughed sadly and wiped at her tears, "Hell this time around I agree with her. We're so far from stable."
Luke frowned, "Don't say that."
"Oh come on Luke! You can't deny that it's true." She said with a laugh, "Look at us! Barely a week back together and how many fights have we had?"
"We're both under a lot of stress right now. A lot of things have been said...we can't make any rash decisions. Telling Rory like that wasn't right." He said with a shake of his head, "I think you know that."
"Well I needed her okay! Because I don't know how to deal with this! And she's the one thing that makes any sense in my life. So I told her. And I'm scared. I don't know what the hell is going to happen. And neither do you! I want my kid here!" She said with a soft sob.
Luke took a deep breath and crossed the room, "Come here."
She sobbed into his chest, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
He sighed and held her head against him, pressing a kiss to his forehead, "Shh...don't apologize. I get it. I do…"
She sighed and pulled away, "I shouldn't have done that. I just...I'm so-"
"I know." He said with a sigh, "I know."
She sniffled and looked down at her phone noticing it was ringing, "It's Rory…"
He stiffened slightly, "Answer it."
With shaky hands, she lifted the phone to her ear, "Hey kid…"
It was quiet on the other end for a moment, "I can't come there."
Lorelai glanced at Luke, "I know. You have to work."
She heard her daughter take a deep breath, "Is he with you?"
She continued to stare at Luke, "He is." Rory didn't say anything, "Do you want to talk to him?"
She heard Rory moving around, "Did you bring your laptop? I want to see him face to face."
Lorelai cringed, "Hon…"
Rory sighed again, "Mom. I just...I need to see him."
Lorelai sighed, "Yeah. I'll hang up and turn the computer on."
Rory didn't wait to say goodbye, she hung up the phone. Luke gave Lorelai a questioning look, "What's going on?"
Lorelai walked past him to reach for her bag, "She wants to talk to you. Face to face."
Luke cringed, "Uh...okay?"
She sat down on the edge of the bed and opened her laptop, "She deserves it Luke. I shouldn't have told her the way I did but...now we have to deal with it."
Luke sighed and sat down beside her, "Okay…"
In Chicago, Rory was sitting at the desk in her room. She was tapping her fingernails on the top of the wood, trying to calm herself. She was upset. She was sad. She was mad. She was frustrated.
But mostly she was scared.
Luke had been in her life for so long. He had been a constant. Even when he and her Mom were broken up...she knew that if she needed him he would be there. He was always there. He was Luke.
And now there was a possibility where he wouldn't be there.
She felt a sob grow in her throat as a memory washed over her.
A tiny Rory Gilmore sat by the Gazebo in her feathered angel wings staring down at a tiny caterpillar she had found at school. The only problem was...he wasn't moving anymore.
"Wake up Sherman." Rory said with a little pout, but the caterpillar didn't move.
Behind her, Luke stood with a bag from Doose's on his hip watching the sight in front of him. Rory was a staple in Stars Hollow these days. Running around with her brown ringlets and big blue eyes, she had everyone wrapped around her finger. Her Mother was a bit of a mystery to him...an intriguing mystery but a mystery all the same.
She amazed him that was for sure. Being a single Mother and doing as much as she did, he wasn't sure how she handled it all.
When he saw the young girl's shoulders begin to shake, he knew something was wrong. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to her, hoping not to frighten her. She poked at the caterpillar in front of her. "Hey kid…"
Rory looked up, tears streaming down her face, "I think I killed Sherman."
Luke frowned, "What?"
She hiccuped and looked down at the still caterpillar, "I found him on the playground at school. And I put him in my lunch box...but I think I killed him."
Luke took a deep breath, "Oh."
She hiccuped again, "I shouldn't have put him in my lunch box, right?"
Luke sighed and placed the Doose's bag beside him on the ground, he knelt down beside her, "Aw kid...it was just a mistake."
Her lip trembled again, "I'm a caterpillar murderer."
He couldn't help but laugh a little, "Oh Rory no...no you aren't."
She sniffled and leaned into his chest, "I'm a terrible person."
Not used to having this kind of contact with her, he was nervous for a moment but couldn't help but comfort her, "Rory you are not a terrible person."
She pulled away and stared up at him with her wide blue eyes, "I thought I'd take him home and keep him as a pet. But-but I didn't-"
"Hey…" Luke said softly, "You know what will help?" She shook her head, "Want a milkshake?"
She smiled at him, "You said I have too much sugar in my diet."
Luke smiled, "I think I can make an exception for today."
Rory sighed and looked down at the caterpillar again, "Do you think I should bury him?"
Luke smiled at her sweet disposition, "Would it make you feel better?"
She looked back at him, "I think so."
Luke nodded and picked up a leaf to scoop the dead critter up, "Okay. We can do that. But first...we should have a milkshake. Then we can call your Mom and set it up, okay?"
Rory nodded, "Okay." She took the leaf from him and watched as Luke picked up the Doose's bag in his arm again, tentatively she slipped her free hand into his large one.
He seemed startled by the movement at first but relaxed and gave her a gentle smile. She smiled back as they walked across the street back to the Diner. At the moment it was pretty quiet inside so Rory sat up at the counter, setting Sherman and the leaf down beside her. Luke gave her a sympathetic smile then turned to her, "What flavor kid?"
"Chocolate please." She said pouting as she stared at the dead bug.
Luke nodded, "Okay." He looked at Sherman, "Want me to take him with me?"
Rory shook her head, "No. I'd like him to stay with me so he's not so lonely."
Luke smiled and reached across the counter to squeeze her hand. He called into the kitchen for someone to get the ingredients they needed for a milkshake. Then he walked to the phone and picked it up, pressing it to his ear to call the Independence Inn.
"Independence Inn. Lorelai speaking." He heard her say.
His heart jumped in his chest but he tried to ignore the feeling, "Hey uh...it's Luke."
"Mr. Backwards Baseball cap? What can I do for you?" She teased.
He couldn't help but smile, "Uh I thought I should give you a call. I saw Rory...she's with me now actually. She uh...she tried to take a caterpillar home in her lunch box to keep as a pet. However...as you can imagine it didn't end well."
"Oh no…" Lorelai whispered, "Is she a mess?"
"I got her to calm down a bit. But she's still pretty upset. I'm making a her a milkshake. But she would like to give him a proper burial. I figured I'd give you a heads up." He said.
He heard her sigh, "Oh that sweet girl of mine…"
Luke smiled, "She is pretty special."
"You mind hanging with her for a few minutes? I'll come to the Diner and help you out." She said.
Luke nodded, "Sure. Take your time. She's good here."
"Thank you Luke." She said sincerely before hanging up.
Luke put the phone back on the wall and went into the kitchen to make Rory's milkshake. By the time he came back with it, Lorelai was walking in and sitting down beside her daughter.
Rory looked at her Mom and frowned, "I screwed up."
Lorelai sat down and pushed her daughter's hair back, "It's okay sweets. You didn't mean too."
Rory sighed and looked down at Sherman, "Do you think he has a family? Will they be looking for him? Will his Mom be waiting up all night for him?"
Lorelai smiled sadly and looked at Luke, she turned back to her daughter, "I think Caterpillars are pretty solitary insects hon. I don't' think anyone will be looking for him."
Luke slid the milkshake in front of her, "Here we go. One chocolate milkshake."
Rory sighed and pulled it closer to her, "Thanks Luke."
Luke nodded and wrapped the counter with his hand, "No problem kid."
Rory took a sip of her milkshake, "He would have been a beautiful butterfly."
Lorelai smiled and leaned forward to kiss Rory's head, "It's going to be okay."
Rory nodded and looked up at Luke, "Where do you think we should bury him?"
Luke shrugged, "Wherever you want."
Rory continued to suck on her milkshake as she thought, "Maybe by the lake? Under that big oak tree?"
Luke smiled, "Sounds like the perfect spot Rory."
She nodded, "Will you come with us?"
Luke nodded, "Absolutely."
Lorelai gave him a thankful smile and continued to rub her daughter's back.
Twenty minutes later, the three of them stood by the small hole that Luke had dug for Sherman. Rory wrapped him in his leaf to make sure he wasn't cold then carefully covered the dirt over him. She stood back up and took her Mom's hand.
"Now what?" Rory asked softly, "I've never been to a funeral."
Luke tugged on his ear, "Well...sometimes people say a few words about the per-the thing."
Lorelai smiled at him, "Yeah...we could do that." Rory glanced up at her Mom curiously, "You want me to go first?" Rory nodded, "Um...okay." Lorelai cleared her throat, "Sherman...you're beautiful green color matched the leaf you sat on. I like green." Luke gave her a look and she shrugged, "What...this is new for me." She mumbled under her breath.
He smirked, "Me too." He looked down to see Rory looking at him expectantly, "Oh...you want me to say something too?"
Rory nodded, "It was your idea."
He fidgeted, "Right…"
Lorelai stuck her tongue out at him, "See...not so easy mister." She whispered.
He smirked back and then took a deep breath, "Uh...well…" He fidgeted some more, "Thanks for being such a good friend to Rory. You were a pretty cool caterpillar Sherman."
Lorelai sighed, "Damn...you beat me."
He chuckled, "I knew him a little longer than you did."
She smiled and Rory knelt down again, "Well Sherman...I suppose this is it." She patted the ground, "I'm sorry that I suffocated you in my lunchbox." Lorelai and Luke had to bite their lips to keep from laughing, "I really did just want to take you home. I was going to build you a little home in a shoebox. I had it all planned out...you'd sleep on a piece of bark. And I'd give you all the leaves you want to eat."
Lorelai and Luke watched her, their hearts melting at her innocence. Rory sighed and continued, "I even thought about painting the box all different colors to be beautiful for you. But...it wasn't meant to be. I'm sorry...but you were a good friend. I hope that you rest happily now dear Sherman."
She stood up and slipped her hand into her Mother's, "That was beautiful hon."
Rory took a deep breath and slipped her other hand into Luke's, "Thanks."
Luke looked down at Rory's hand in his and felt his heart squeeze in his chest, he looked up to see Lorelai smiling at him, "Yeah kid...that was great." He said softly, never taking his eyes off of Lorelai.
Rory sighed and rested her head against Luke's arm, "I'm sad."
Luke took a deep breath and looked down at the young girl, "I know. Death can be very sad…"
Rory looked up at him, "Do you miss your Mom and Dad?"
He felt a lump grow in his throat, "Everyday."
Rory let go of his hand and Lorelai's before wrapping her arms around Luke's middle, "I'm sorry Luke."
He was stiff for a minute, then placed a hand on Rory's shoulder and gave her a squeeze, "It's okay. I've got you now. We're friends, right?"
Rory looked up at him and smiled, "Best friends."
He squeezed her tighter and followed her lead as she pulled him back towards town. He turned back to Lorelai and smiled as she walked behind him.
Rory shook her head and wiped the tears from her eyes. That felt like a million years ago. And what was happening now didn't seem real.
She sighed and clicked her mouse on the screen when the skype call from her Mom came through. She took a deep breath when their faces showed up on the screen. She could tell they both looked nervous, "Hi." She whispered.
Luke seemed to forget how to speak for a minute, "Hey." Lorelai whispered for them both.
Rory fidgeted, "Mom?" Lorelai gave her an expectant look, "Can I talk to him alone?"
Lorelai looked at Luke, "Uh...sure." He looked up at her, "I'll...I'll go get some coffee downstairs."
He gave her a frightened look, "Uh...yeah. Sure."
Lorelai gave her daughter a hopeful smile then got up to grab her wallet. She slipped out of the room and hoped that whatever was said was going to be civil. It felt like she had dropped a bomb and then ran away to let everyone else deal with the aftermath. But she also knew that Rory needed to do this on her own.
Back in the room, Luke looked like a deer in the headlights. He didn't know what to say and Rory didn't know how to start this conversation.
After what felt like an eternity of silence she whispered, "So...you're sick?"
Luke took a deep breath and looked at her on the computer screen, "They uh...they found a tumor yes. But I don't know if it's cancerous or not yet. I do need to have treatment at some point. Maybe just surgery I'm hoping."
Rory licked her lips, "But you knew...you knew before you made Mom go on the trip."
Luke cringed, "Yes. But Rory-"
"You knew when I saw you guys. You could have told me then. But I had to hear it from a emotionally wrecked Mother." She said angrily.
Luke sighed and looked down, "I know."
"You promised that this time would be different." She said with a shaky head, "You told me that you loved her. That you wanted to make it work."
He looked back up, "And all of that is true."
She snorted, "I don't know what's true and what's not with you anymore."
He cringed, "I deserved that. But Rory-"
"Why Luke?" She said with tears in her eyes, "Why would you put her through this? Put me through this?"
He sighed and moved back on the bed, "Rory...when they told me about the tumor it was like my world stopped. Every mistake I had ever made came flashing before my eyes. And how I screwed up with your Mom was the biggest thing that hurt me. I needed to find a way to fix things with her. I didn't know what to think. Didn't know how to react. So I ran to your Mom...and I begged her to go on this trip with me. I should have told her."
She gave him a look, "Yes. You should have."
He nodded and took a deep breath, "But I got scared. I didn't want to admit it to myself. I'm sorry that I waited so long...but I had to see where we were first. Had to see if she even had it in her to forgive me."
"But how can you ask her to forgive you when you just lied to her again?" She asked angrily, "Lied to me?"
He frowned, "I know it was wrong. And I'm sorry. Maybe it won't change anything. But...I am sorry. I want you to know that I never want to hurt you or your Mom. The two of you…" His voice cracked and he looked down, totally overcome with emotion.
She felt her lip trembling, "Luke?"
He lifted his head and sighed, "I was alone for so long...nothing in my life made sense. I was on autopilot." A smile spread on his lips, "And then you and your Mom moved into town...and everything changed. My life became worth living again. You will never know how much the two of you mean to me. I won't be able to fully express it to you...and I'm sorry for the pain I've caused. But all I can say right now is that I love you both...and I'm hoping that we can figure this out because I need you both. Now more than ever."
Rory felt the tears brewing again, "Do you remember when you helped me bury the caterpillar?"
He was surprised by the shift in topic but nodded, "Uh...yeah. Wasn't his name something that started with an S?"
Rory smiled, "Sherman."
Luke nodded, "Right. Sherman. You were devastated, and I felt terrible. You were just sitting there in those feathery angel wings and you kept telling me you were a caterpillar murderer."
Rory stared at him on the screen, "You made me a milkshake. Called Mom...dug the little hole for him. You even gave a little speech."
"I wanted to make you feel better." He said with a small shrug of his shoulders.
Rory frowned, "That was really the first time I dealt with any kind of death...it hurt."
Luke nodded, "I know."
Rory took a deep breath, "You aren't allowed to die Luke."
His heart sunk into his stomach, "That's exactly what your Mom said…"
She sniffled, "I'm torn between wanting to reach through the computer and smacking you...or giving you a giant hug."
"You can do both if it will make you feel better." He said with a sad smile.
She groaned and wiped at her tears, "Well this sucks."
Luke nodded, "Yeah...it's not exactly where I wanted my life to go."
She sighed, "So what happens now?"
Luke moved around a little, "Your Mom and I are going to continue the trip as long as we can. And then we'll go home…"
Rory nodded, "And you'll meet with Doctors?" He nodded, "You're sure it's safe for you to be there? Away from home?"
Luke nodded again, "Your Mom made me call the Doctors. They said for now it's okay."
Rory stared at him for a moment, "How is Mom handling it?"
He sighed, "We're...taking it a day at a time I think. There are still a lot of emotions. A lot of things that need to be discussed."
She frowned at him, "Luke...you can't do this halfway."
He nodded, "I know. You're right."
She gave him a meaningful look, "I'm only going to say this once...so I want you to listen carefully."
Luke swallowed hard, "Okay…"
"I care about you. You know that. You're a huge part of my life...one of my favorite people. But." She paused, "Mom is my number one. You know that, right?"
Luke nodded, "I do know that."
"You promised that you wouldn't hurt her again. You promised to be open and honest with her." She said giving him a look, he nodded again, "And I'm telling you now that if you lie to her again...if you keep something big like this from her again...I won't be able to support this no matter how much it hurts me."
Luke swallowed hard, "That's fair."
"Be honest with her. Let her in." She whimpered softly, "Let us both in."
"Rory…" He whispered, hating to see her begin to cry, "Don't cry."
She wiped at her eyes, "You can't die." She whispered, "Okay? You just can't...we need you too."
He leaned closer to the computer, "I'm going to do my best to fight this, whatever it is. I promise."
She wiped at her eyes some more, "Promise Luke."
"I promise." He whispered, "You have my word. No more secrets. I need my Gilmore Girls."
She looked down, "I was really about to hop on a plane…"
Luke smiled, "We wish you could. But you need to be there right now."
She nodded and looked to the left, "Can I visit soon?"
Luke nodded, "When you get time in your schedule let us know." She nodded but didn't speak, "Rory? Are you okay?"
She gave him a sad smile, "I'm sad Luke."
Luke nodded, "I know…"
She took a deep breath, "I uh...I need to go clear my head a little. Can you tell Mom that I'll call her later? I just...I need sometime to process some more."
Luke nodded, "Sure."
She smiled softly, "Bye Luke…"
He lifted a hand and gave her a gentle wave, "Bye Rory…"
When Luke shut the computer he looked up and saw Lorelai slipping back into the room, "Hi." She whispered, "Sounded like you were done…"
Luke patted the spot beside him, "Well that sucked."
She frowned and sat beside him, "I'm sorry."
He shook his head, "Don't be. It's...it's okay. It had to be done one way or another."
She stared at him, "Was she okay?"
"She's sad...and scared." He frowned, "And a little mad at me. Rightfully so."
She lifted a hand to his cheek, "Don't shut me out anymore Luke."
He leaned into her touch, "I won't."
She stared at him for a moment, "What happens now?"
He pulled her hand away from his face and gave it a squeeze, "Let's go somewhere."
She smiled at him, "Where?"
"I have an idea. Get dressed." He said with a smile, "Wear something comfortable."
She watched him get up and walk towards his suitcase to get ready. She wanted to pull him back to the bed and hide away forever but life was always going to get in the way. She was only up for a few hours and that theory was already tested.
She took a deep breath and decided to put herself out there and figure out what comes next.
An hour later, Lorelai followed Luke up the path of a hiking spot nearby. Luke was thankful when he realized no one was around. It was just them and the open air.
Lorelai was staring off into the wide open area and sighed, "It's pretty."
Luke was staring directly at her, "Beautiful."
She looked back at him and blushed, "Luke…"
He walked up behind her and stood right behind her. He felt her inhale sharply when his hands rested on her hips. He nuzzled the side of her face, resting his chin in the crook of her neck, "Tell me what you're thinking."
She sighed and leaned into him, "Luke…"
He shook her head, "Even if you're angry...just tell me."
She closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of the fresh air and Luke Danes, "I'm thinking I'm really scared."
Luke nodded and gave her a squeeze before wrapping his arms all the way around her, "Me too. What else?"
She frowned, "I'm thinking that I'm mad."
He took a deep breath, "At?"
She was quiet for a moment, "At myself...at Anna...Christopher…" She paused and frowned, "At you. And the Universe."
He frowned and kissed her shoulder, "That's a lot to be mad at."
She sighed and turned in his arms, "Luke…"
He pushed back her hair, "I want you to hear me, okay? Really hear me."
She swallowed the lump in her throat, "Okay."
"I'm in this. You and me. Whatever happens next...I'm here." He said with sincerity, "No matter what you, Anna, Christopher or the Universe throws at us...I'm here. I'm going to let you in. I'm going to be honest. I'm going to tell Anna that you are a part of my life. Not even just a part...but you are my life. You will know April. You will meet her...be around her. We will go to the Doctors together. We will figure out what I need to do and we'll do it together. And…" He saw her take a deep breath, "If and when you're ready, I have every intention of marrying you." He saw the tears pool in her eyes, "You are what I want. This is what I want. I love you. Okay? And I'm sorry. But no more...from here on out we're a team."
She whimpered softly and wrapped her arms around his waist, holding him close, "Don't leave me."
He kissed the top of her head, "I won't."
She kissed his neck, his cheek and then pulled away, "I'm sorry about today...I just...I got upset. I felt you hiding away from me again with Anna."
He shook his head, "I should have been honest with you. We can talk to her together from now on if you want."
She lifted her hand and touched his face, "Do you think we can visit April soon?"
He smiled at her, "If you want."
"I'd like to see her." She gave him a look, "And...you need to tell her. And it needs to be in person."
Luke sighed and looked down, "I know."
"We'll do it together." She leaned into him and smiled, "We're a team, right?"
Luke looked back up and smiled, "Right."
She took a deep breath and moved to stand beside him, squeezing his hand in hers, "Okay." She looked out at the open area, "I feel so small here…"
Luke squeezed her hand, "When my Mom first got sick…" He began to whisper, he saw her turn her head to look at him, "I was so angry. I swear I didn't talk for the first week after."
Lorelai smiled, "Well you don't talk much as it is."
Luke smiled, "Maybe. But...I just couldn't handle what I was feeling. One day my Mom picked me up early from school...I didn't know why. But we went for a drive. I didn't know where we were going...but after about an hour she pulled off into this open field. There was no one around. And she told me to let it out."
It was unusual for Luke to open up about his parents. He had only done it a handful of times...so she knew whatever he was telling her was important. She squeezed his hand in hers, letting him know she was right there beside him no matter what.
"I didn't know what she meant at first. But she just smiled and threw her head back and screamed at the top of her lungs." He chuckled, "I think I must have jumped at first...she started to laugh. But then she did it again, throwing her hands up in the air and really yelling harder." He smiled and looked at Lorelai, "Then she turned to me and told me to do it...said it would make me feel better. I hesitated for only a second...and then I just closed my eyes tight and screamed as loud as I possibly could."
She smiled softly at him, "Did it make you feel better?"
He took a deep breath and smiled, "Believe it or not…" He shrugged, "It did."
She smiled and squeezed his hand back, "You're telling me to scream?"
Luke nodded, "I will if you will."
She scrunched up her nose, "I think I'll feel a little silly."
He rolled his eyes playfully, "Says the woman who once walked into the Diner dressed in a full clown costume not on Halloween."
She sighed, "The clown at Davey's birthday party cancelled last minute! I did what I had to do!"
He chuckled, "Well...out of all the crazy things you have done in your life...this will be pretty low on your list. I promise."
Lorelai smiled, "You'll do it with me?"
Luke took her hand in his again and squeezed, "We're a team. Here on out. Where you go I go. What you do...I do. We're doing this together."
She swallowed hard, "Okay."
He squeezed her hand again, "Okay."
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, "On the count of three?"
He nodded once, "One."
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, "Two."
"Three." They said together before throwing their heads back.
Their loud screams echoed through the open air, releasing every emotion that both of them were feeling. The birds in the trees scattered at the sound but neither of them cared. They screamed until all the breath in their lungs was gone.
When they were done...they stood in silence trying to catch their breath together. After a moment, Luke wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her flush against him. She wrapped her arms around his middle and breathed him in, "I love you Luke."
He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, "I love you too."
She snuggled into his side and decided to let the past slip away. All they could focus on was their future. And if they had any chance of making it...they had to do it together. Every step of the way.
I will update as soon as I can! I promise. I miss being able to write as much as I was before. It was my relaxation. I need that now more than ever! I will find time soon to write. Thanks guys!