A/N: Well, this is it. I want to thank you all for reading, and for your wonderful comments and compliments. I can't believe that this baby went on for 30 chapters! I just couldn't get that idea about Sookie's words out of my head, and now look at what we've done! So here is our final chapter, I hope that you enjoy it!
Blessings, Blenders and Baseball Bats
Rory had been home for nearly a week, and Luke still had not had the chance to talk to her without Lorelai around. He stood at the register, gazing out at the square. The diner was nearly empty at this time of day, and he was feeling restless. Suddenly, he saw Rory walking across the square hand in hand with Dean. They walked toward the market, Dean clutching his Doose's Market apron, obviously on his way to work. Luke called to Caesar that he was stepping out for a minute, and rushed out of the door. He saw them standing near the market, kissing. Luke stopped dead in his tracks. He knew that they had been dating for a long time, but it wasn't often that he actually saw Rory kiss the boy. It always threw Luke for a loop. She's growing up, he realized, soon she will be off to Harvard. The thought made him a little sad. He still remembered the sweet girl who invited him to her caterpillar's funeral. He went, of course because even then, she had used the Rory face effectively, and he brought brownies for the wake.
Even before he started dating Lorelai, Luke and Rory had their own kind of relationship. They seemed to understand each other instinctively. They were both quiet and reserved people, they both enjoyed solitary activity, and did not crave action the way her mother did. But what bonded them together more than anything else was that they were both fiercely protective of Lorelai.
Luke backed away from the young couple, and retreated to the diner. Hoping that he could catch her as she walked by, he hovered near the door. Finally, she walked by. Luke stepped out and called "Hey Rory?"
She turned and smiled at him saying "Oh, hey Luke."
"Can you," he started, gesturing toward the diner, "Would you come in for a minute, I want to talk to you."
Surprised by the request, Rory responded quickly "Oh. Okay, sure." She said as she climbed the steps to follow him in. She was even more surprised when he did not stop at the counter, but walked to the curtain covering the stairs and held it aside for her. She climbed the stairs to the apartment, trying to figure out what this could be about. He opened the door and Rory walked in, taking in the new walls that had been constructed, and trying not to snicker at the nautical artwork. She was sure that her mom would have already mocked him for it. Luke walked to the couch and motioned for her to take a seat.
When she was seated, he sat on the coffee table across from her, wringing his hands nervously. "Luke, are you okay?" she asked, beginning to get concerned.
Jolted from his thoughts, Luke replied, "What? Oh! Yeah, I'm fine. Fine." He hesitated for a moment and then dove straight in, looking her straight in the eyes. "Rory, I want to ask your Mom to marry me." He said in a rush.
A delighted grin spread across her face, and Luke felt warmed by its radiance. "Oh Luke." She sighed, "Really?" she asked hopefully.
"Um, yeah. I've been planning on it for a long time, but I wanted to talk to you first." He looked at his hands while mumbling "I wanted to get your blessing."
"My blessing?" she asked, stunned by his revelation.
"Um, yeah, you know…" He answered trailing off nervously.
"Wow." She said, trying to take it all in, "Wow, yeah. Yes, I mean. Yes, you have my blessing." She said just to be clear. "But Luke, shouldn't you be asking Grandpa about this?" she asked, wanting to be sure that they followed the proper protocol.
Luke laughed and said "Oh, he knows. He asked my about my intentions at that first dinner that I went to, so he has known for a while now."
"Oh." She said softly as she realized that Luke really had been waiting for a long time. "Well, why didn't you ask sooner?" she was curious.
Luke looked back down at his hands and said "Well, I was planning to. I had the ring and stuff ready, and I was going to talk to you, and then, well, you know…"
"The accident." she finally caught on.
"Yeah." he acknowledged. "Then by the time we straightened everything out, you were leaving for Washington, and well, I wanted to talk to you in person." He finished with a shrug.
Rory beamed at him again, "Wow. This is great!" she enthused, "When are you going to pop the question?" she wanted to know.
"Next week, I think." He smiled back at her, "I'm gonna take her out… I have something in mind." He said cagily, not wanting to give too much away.
Impulsively, Rory leaned over and gave him a hug. As usual, he blushed and patted her on the back awkwardly. She stood up, the smile still plastered to her face, and they looked at each other in complete understanding. Rory laughed and said "Well, I had better go to the library or something. I can't go home until I can control this smile, mister!"
Luke returned the laugh and warned "Yeah, don't go giving it away, now. You'll steal my thunder!" he said as he walked her to the door, fixing her with a stern look which was slightly undermined by the twitching of his lips.
Rory started down the stairs calling back to him "Call me Belinda, 'cause my lips are sealed, baby!"
As she stepped into the diner, Luke leaned back against the wall and blew out a giant sigh of relief.
This proposing stuff isn't as easy as they make it seem in the movies, Luke thought with a groan as he sat at his kitchen table with a notepad, trying to work out a plan of attack. Oh sure, there's the candlelit dinner proposal, he snorted, too unoriginal. Anyway, that whole thing wasn't like them, she would know that something was up if they ended up foregoing Al's for Chez Snooty. There was the dropping the ring in her glass, or dessert or something, but then he ran the risk of having it consumed by Lorelai's voracious appetite. Besides, he thought dismissing that option too, that's a little disgusting, if you think about it. He was tempted to ask when she was naked and panting beneath him, she would definitely say yes then, he mused with an arrogant gleam in his eye, repeatedly. But Luke knew that she would want to tell Rory every detail of the proposal, so the naked, panting option was out.
Jess stepped out of his room and caught Luke staring out into space, tapping his pen on the pad. He stepped over to see what Luke had written, the paper simply said 'candlelight dinner?, champagne?, naked?' each entry with a line drawn through it. He smirked at his uncle, who still had not noticed his presence, "Whatcha doin'?" Jess asked in a taunting voice.
Luke jumped in his chair and scowled at the boy, trying to cover the notepad with his hand. "What do you want?" he snarled, embarrassed.
"Well, Major Tom, this is ground control. I thought that you would have left for Lorelai's by now." he said with an amused smile.
"Oh." Luke said, flustered, "I'm going to head over there at about ten. She and Rory were painting nails or something…" he said dismissively.
"I see, well, I suppose that it's best that you stay out of all that." Jess said taking a seat across from Luke, watching his uncle nod emphatically. "So," Jess said casually, tapping the side of his thumb against the table, "you come up with a good way to propose yet?"
Surprised, Luke looked up quickly, only to heave a resigned sigh and admit, "No." in a sullen voice. They sat in silence for a minute mulling it over, but coming up empty handed. Finally, Jess got up and slapped his uncle on the back a couple of times saying "You'll think of something." and he went back into his room and shut the door.
"Yeah. Thanks for your help." Luke muttered as he looked back down at the page. He didn't want to ask Rory for ideas, that would be too easy. He wanted to come up with it himself. He wanted it to be special. Discouraged, he closed the notebook, and stood and stretched. Well, I guess the candlelit dinner with the disgusting ring in the dessert option is always a good fallback, he thought as he moved to the couch and flipped the TV on to find the ballgame. He sat with his feet propped on the coffee table, watching the game with no particular interest when it struck him. The perfect proposal.
When he stayed at Lorelai's that night, he allowed her to attribute his smug demeanor to the fact that she had worn a sexy new nightgown to bed that night. He made love to her fervently, leaving them both spent and content. When she bounced into the diner at lunch, she noticed that he has in an unusually chipper mood, and called him on it. "What are you so perky about?"
"Perky?" He asked derisively. "I am not perky." He sneered, struggling to keep the smile out of his voice.
"Someone got some good lovin' last night" she teased sotto voice, grinning at him speculatively.
"Well, there is that." He admitted returning her grin. "So, you busy Saturday?" he asked leaning on the counter and dropping his voice.
"Saturday?" she asked thinking it over, "Well, Rory and I were going school supply shopping in the morning. That will be a three hour love affair with the Office Depot, but other than that…" she said with a wave of her hand. "Why, what do you have in mind?"
He straightened up and said casually, "I just thought that I'd take you out, if you were free."
"I'm free." She answered. "You mean 'take me out' like a date?" she asked, curiously.
"Yeah, like a date." He said impatiently, "We're dating aren't we?"
She laughed and said, "Yeah, we are. But our dates usually go something along the lines of me going 'please, Luke, let's do this' and you going 'no!' and me whining 'please, Luke, please?' and you snapping 'no! I don't want to do that!' and me flirting and saying 'I'll make it worth your while' and you blushing and saying 'fine, let's go.' This sounds like a date – date." She explained.
He couldn't help but laugh at her assessment of their relationship. He decided to use it to his advantage. "Yeah, I know. That's why I thought it would be nice if I took you out, and avoided all of the whining."
"Okay." She answered happily. "What kind of date will it be?"
"A surprise." He answered shortly.
"Aw, come on!" she protested, "How am I supposed to know what to wear?"
"It's casual." He answered.
"Yeah, but how casual? Skirt and top casual? Jeans and a t-shirt casual?" she persisted, hoping for a hint.
"Jeans and a t-shirt casual." He answered decisively, "And you should wear tennis shoes."
"Tennis shoes?" she asked dismayed, "On a date? Where are you taking me?" she narrowed her eyes at him.
"You'll see." The smug grin had returned.
She stared at him for a moment, trying to read him. "Okay." She said slowly, sliding from her stool, "I just hope it doesn't involve sticks and dirt and stuff," she said in a warning voice. Luke laughed again as he leaned over to kiss her. Lorelai shot him one last glare, and turned to leave calling "Later, babe." over her shoulder. Luke raised his hand in a wave as she stepped out of the door, and finally released his hold on the smile that he had been tamping down the whole time.
Lorelai spent all of Saturday morning badgering Rory to help her figure out where Luke was taking her. Rory could honestly answer that she had no idea what kind of date would involve footwear with rubber soles. Rory was a little disappointed, because she was waiting for him to pop the big question, but from what she heard about this evening's plan, it didn't sound like it would happen tonight.
Finally, Luke knocked on the front door as he opened it at about 6:00 that evening, and called "Hello?"
Lorelai came bounding down the stairs in his favorite pair of jeans and a pink t-shirt. She held some pink and green plaid tennis shoes in one hand, and a pair of pink sandals in the other. She kissed him hello, and said "Are you sure that I need to wear tennis shoes? These sandals are so much cuter." As she held them up and waved them before his eyes like a hypnotist.
"I'm sure." He said with a smile, "besides, the sneakers match, too" he said helpfully.
Lorelai pouted as she sat on the stair to pull them on. "Yeah, I bought them today, but the sandals wanted to come home with me too, and now their feelings will be hurt!"
"Tell them that you promise to wear them tomorrow, they'll understand." He reassured her.
Standing, she smoothed her jeans over her hips and said "Okay! I'm ready." He took her hand and led her to the truck. He began to drive toward Litchfield, with Lorelai beside him, peppering him with questions, trying to pry a hint out of him. He remained silent, rewarding her efforts with only a smile. Finally, he pulled up in front of a small store in the downtown area, and pointed through the windshield. She peered through the glass to read the scrawly writing on the window which read 'Jilly's Juice Bar'. She turned to him in disbelief, "A juice bar?" she demanded. "You're taking me to a juice bar?" Luke simply nodded. "You're taking me to a juice bar?" she asked again incredulous.
"Yep." He answered, getting out of the truck and going around the back to open her door. He stood there, with the door open, and watched as she debated whether to laugh or berate him. "They have smoothies." He added as an enticement, seeing the flicker in her eyes as she considered it. Finally, she put her hand in his and let him lead her into the store. He walked up to the counter and ordered some disgusting sounding wheat grass concoction for himself and noting Lorelai's stunned silence, ordered a chocolate banana smoothie for her.
Lorelai walked to one of the small tables and sat down. She wasn't sure what exactly she had expected, but it wasn't this. A few minutes later, Luke came to the table, and placed her drink before her. She took a sip, and was surprised by how good it was. She continued sipping quietly, her mind racing, trying to figure out what he was up to.
He watched the wheels turning in her head, sipping his juice and waiting patiently. Finally, he reached across and took her hand in his. "Have you figured it out yet?" he asked softly.
"No." she said petulantly, sipping on her smoothie.
He sat back and smiled at her, with a twinkle in his eye. "This is the patented Luke Danes date." He said gesturing to the juice bar.
She looked up, finally getting it, she whispered "Juice bar and batting cages?" He nodded. "Are we really going to the batting cages?" she asked, a smile spreading across her face.
"Yep." He confirmed. "Hence, the tennis shoes." he explained pointing to her feet.
She grinned at him, delighted, but a sudden frown began to crease her brow. "But, I don't know how to bat." She said concerned.
"I'll teach you." He said with a shrug.
She looked at him with wide eyes, protesting "But, what if I hurt you? What if I swing the bat thing and it hits you?"
"I don't think you will." He replied with a happy grin, "I'll take my chances." He said easily, "And I will wear a helmet."
"A helmet?" she asked horrified at the thought of putting one on. "I have to wear a helmet?"
"Yes, but you'll look really sexy in it." he promised. Well, she'll look sexy to me, he thought to himself.
"Okay." She said drawing the word out doubtfully. Luke stood up from the table and held his hand out for hers. She slipped her hand into his trustingly and they left to head for the batting cages.
When they got there, Luke changed some bills in for the tokens that run the pitching machines. He perused the selection of aluminum bats available, and selected one for Lorelai to use. She pointed to the bat that he had pulled out of the back of his truck, and asked "Why can't I have your bat?"
He grinned and said "Dirty!" then whispered to her "Later." as she turned slightly pink. He started walking toward the cages, holding both bats in one hand and her hand in the other. He leered at her meaningfully and said "My bat is too big for you."
"Ha!" she barked a laugh, "I can handle your bat, baby. I've done it before, and I'll do it again!"
Chuckling as he set their stuff down on a bench outside of the cages, he explained "My bat is heavier than these. It will hit the ball farther in a game, but it would hurt your shoulders and arms." Lorelai watched with interest as he pulled a glove out of his back pocket and put it on his right hand. "I'm going to go in there," he said pointing the bat toward the cage, "and show you what to do, then you can try it. okay?" She nodded, happy to be left out for once.
Lorelai watched him put the batting helmet on, pull it down to shade his eyes from the evening sun, and step into the cage. See, now, that looks good on him. She thought her eyes raking his back appreciatively as he fed tokens to the machine. Luke stepped up to the plate and spread his legs apart, knees bent, in the classic batter's position. Lorelai was gratified to see the material of his jeans tighten across that fabulous butt. Luke swung and connected with the first pitch, twisting his body around on the follow through. Lorelai sat back on the bench thinking Lordy, he's hot! as she saw his muscles bunch and release under his t-shirt, I love baseball! Pitch after pitch, she watched him go through the same routine, and found herself squirming a little in her seat. When the machine stopped spitting balls at him, he took off the helmet, shook his head a bit to cool off, and stepped out of the cage, walking over to her with that sexy, cocky man-playing-sports walk.
Like the good Baseball Annie she hoped to be, Lorelai jumped up from the bench and kissed him soundly, her hands splayed across his chest, her nails gently digging into the soft cotton of his shirt. Maybe I can distract him, and I won't have to do the whole batting thing, she thought as she opened her mouth and deepened the kiss. When he broke the kiss, he stared down at her arrogantly and smirked "Liked that, did you?"
"Yuh huh!" she said nodding enthusiastically. "Do it some more." She urged and he laughed, the sound sending another ripple of want coursing through her.
"I will," He assured her "But, now it's your turn." He said as she groaned.
"Luke," she began in a whine, but he cut her off.
"Please," he asked softly, "please let me show you this. It's fun, I promise." He said earnestly, and her heart melted.
She stroked his cheek with her fingertips and gazed at him lovingly saying "Okay Super Jock, let's go." She said plopping the helmet on her head and stalking toward the cage he had just left.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa there, slugger" he called trotting after her and grabbing her arm, "Not that one. Try this one." He said taking her to a cage labeled 'slow pitch' on the sign.
She stared at the sign derisively and asked, "What is this, the baby cage?"
"Yes." He answered, ushering her in. He took her over to the plate and showed her how to stand. He pulled at token from his pocket and said "Hold on, I'm going to help you swing." as he stepped over to start the machine. He returned and stood pressed up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and covering her hands with his. "Now keep your eye on the ball." he ordered in a low, sexy voice. She wiggled her bottom against him and grinned as the machine launched the first pitch. They swung and missed the first few, and Lorelai pouted saying "Baby, we're aren't very good swingers!" with a giggle. Finally, they connected with one, sending it bouncing off into a corner. She wiggled against him again and squealed "I did it!" as he chuckled. They swung at the next pitch, and connected again, adding to her excitement. They continued until the machine ground to a halt.
She smiled over her shoulder at him and said, "You're right, this is fun!"
He kissed her cheek and asked "Ready to try it on your own?" Lorelai bit her lip nervously and nodded. Luke fed another token to the machine and stepped out of the cage to watch her. He propped a foot up on the bottom of the fence, and clung to the chain links with his fingers, calling instructions to her. She swung and missed the first few balls, and he could see her getting frustrated. "Keep your eye on it!" he called "Your timing is good, but you are looking away at the last minute, so you aren't connecting." She nodded her understanding and narrowed her eyes in concentration. The next pitch crossed the plate, and she hit it hard. It sailed to the back of the cage, and she grinned in triumph.
Lorelai hit a few more as the machine wound down again, and when it stopped she turned to him excitedly calling "Did you see? I hit it! I hit it!" she squealed as he entered the cage. She bounced over to him and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly.
Luke threw back his head and laughed at her exuberance. "I saw. You did." He answered, excited for her. "and for that, I think you should get a prize." He said reaching into his pocket.
"Oooh! There are prizes in baseball? I didn't know that. If I had known I would have…" she trailed off as she saw him kneel down on one knee in front of her. Her hand flew to her mouth as she realized what was happening.
Luke looked up at her, holding a sparkling diamond out to her, and said simply "Lorelai Gilmore, I love you with all of my heart. Will you marry me?"
Tears began to streak down her cheeks as she gazed at him, her eyes overflowing with love. "Yes." She whispered at first, but her voice grew stronger, "Yes, Luke Danes, I would love to marry you!"
Luke took her hand and slid the ring onto her finger with trembling hands. He stood and wrapped her tightly in his arms, kissing her with all that he had. Lorelai clung to him, as she always had, and offered silent thanks that her prayers had been answered.
Eventually, grinning like idiots, they gathered their belongings so that he could take her home to tell Rory the news. He helped her into the truck and went around to the driver's side. When he slid behind the wheel, he found her staring at the batting cages, deep in thought. "Are you okay?" he asked, afraid that she may have second thoughts.
She turned to him and beamed, "I'm great." She said, and then she giggled a little saying "Juice bar and betting cages." as she shook her head at him. He smiled back at her, glancing down at the ring on her finger. Lorelai followed his eyes, and stared at the ring that he had put there. When she looked up, her eyes were bright with tears again. She reached over to pull him over for a kiss. They broke apart and she pressed her forehead to his and said "I have to tell you, for the record, that you, Lucas Danes, are very good at dating. You're very good at dating, indeed."
(Or, just the beginning!)