A/N: I'm not abandoning anything. This is just a quick one-shot that has been rattling around in my head.
Lorelai and Luke looked over at the table where Jackson and Sookie were laughing and talking, obviously enjoying each other's company now that their first date had finally started.
Lorelai sighed and said, "God that's nice."
"Yep," Luke agreed with a small smile.
"The whole 'first date, beginning of the relationship' glow. Everything is new and exciting," Lorelai said in a dreamy tone.
Luke nodded in agreement and said, "Every joke is hilarious."
"Every little touch is incredible," Lorelai said as she touched Luke's arm.
"Mm-hmm," Luke hummed.
Lorelai sighed gustily and said, "God that's a good feeling."
Luke nodded, cutting his eyes to her. "It is at that," he said gruffly.
"I miss that," Lorelai said wistfully.
Luke smiled softly and said, "You'll have it again."
"Mmm...I guess," Lorelai said in a doubtful tone.
Don't. Luke thought to himself. Don't blow it. This is your shot. The perfect opening. Take it. Take the shot. Don't blow it.
He leaned on the counter and started to say softly, "You know, maybe sometime we could..."
And then Mrs. Kim burst into the diner, and the moment was lost.
"So where's Rachel?" Lorelai asked as they sat on the bench watching the revelers around the bonfire.
"Oh, she's a founder's party punch junkie," Luke said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Lorelai laughed and said, "God, even the nice girls aren't safe."
Luke nodded and said, "Yeah. She's been running around here taking all kinds of pictures."
Lorelai nodded and said, "She's having a good time."
"I guess so. I hope so," Luke said with an edge of doubt in his voice.
"So?" Lorelai asked leadingly.
Luke smirked and asked, "Yes?"
Lorelai nudged him with her elbow and asked, "So, what's the haps with you two?"
Luke blew out a breath and asked, "The haps? Well, let's see. What is the haps?"
"I mean, like, ya know, what's going…" she started to clarify for him.
"I know what you meant by the haps," Luke answered dryly.
Lorelai rolled her eyes and said, "Okay, well you're repeating it like a thousand times."
"I was pondering," he answered.
"Well you ponder really slowly," Lorelai shot back.
"If I did it fast it wouldn't be pondering. Pondering by nature is a slow connotation," Luke explained.
Lorelai sighed and said, "Okay. Fine, fine."
"It's okay," he assured her.
"Is she staying?" she asked with an odd quiver in her voice.
Don't. Don't say yes. Tell me she's moving on. Tell me that you don't want her here anymore, her mind screamed.
"I don't know," he answered softly.
Lorelai nodded and asked, "Do you want her to?"
"I don't know," he answered honestly.
"She seems to really like you," Lorelai said carefully, trying to keep her tone neutral.
Luke nodded and said, "Yeah she does, but she doesn't have the greatest attention span."
"Yeah," Lorelai acknowledged softly, relief creeping into her voice.
"But she is here," Luke amended quickly.
Lorelai blinked and said, "Yes, she is."
Luke heaved a sigh and said, "I don't know. You spend a lot of time debating things, ya know, is it right, is it wrong, or should I do this, should I do that. I mean, sometimes you should just jump in and take a shot. What's the worst that can happen? She left before, I lived. Maybe this time," he trailed off.
Lorelai's mind was racing. Don't. Don't do it. She'll only hurt you. Lorelai gave herself a mental shake. Don't. Don't be like that. Luke is your friend, you want him to be happy. But, she won't make him happy. She'll leave again and his heart will be broken, or worse, she'll stay, and mine will.
Lorelai swallowed the lump in her throat and offered a weak smile as she said, "I think that's really great."
Luke eyed her warily and asked, "You do?"
"Yeah," Lorelai said, striving for a casual, carefree tone.
Luke nodded and said a gruff, "Thanks."
"You're welcome," she answered softly.
"Boy, it's really pretty crazy out there," Lorelai said as she gestured toward the party in the square.
Luke nodded and said, "Oh, I can imagine."
Lorelai nodded slowly and said, "Lots of people all having fun, just the kind of thing you'd hate."
Luke had a hard time meeting her eyes as he said, "Sounds awful."
Lorelai fidgeted a little and said, "You'd be miserable."
Luke nodded emphatically and said, "Oh, yes I would."
Lorelai inched a little closer t the counter and said, "But in spite of all that, I was kind of thinking, and you don't have to, that maybe you could pull yourself away for a second."
Luke closed his eyes for a second as he braced for it. Don't. Please don't. Don't ask me to come out there and watch you celebrate the fat that you're marrying someone else. Don't make me try to act happy. I can't.
"Ah, well I…" he stammered.
Lorelai nodded quickly and said, "I mean, you know, finish the ketchup tonight, but maybe leave the worchestshire sauce for tomorrow," with a weak smile.
"I'll see how it goes," he answered gruffly.
Lorelai wrung her hands a little and said, "Okay. I mean, it's just…it's a really big night for me tonight, and I don't know, it just feels like you should be there. Anyway, I'll let you get back to your ketchup," she said as she turned to leave.
Don't! His mind screamed. Don't walk away. Don't marry Max. Oh God, don't make me come out there.
"Who did you want to get your basket?" Luke asked as he popped a carrot into his mouth.
"What?" Lorelai asked as she chewed a fry.
"I mean, before you knew Patty was gonna put you on the Dating Game, you did pack this disgusting lunch and bring it out here, so who did you want to get it?" he asked again.
Lorelai grinned and said, "Well, last year Roy Wilkins bought it and I got my sprinklers fixed for half price."
Luke nodded and said, "Uh huh."
"And this year my rain gutters are completely clogged, and I thought if I could get the Collins kid to bite, I'd get that taken care of," she said with a careless wave of her hand.
"Very practical," Luke said approvingly.
Lorelai grinned and said, "I thought so."
"So the participation in this thing was purely for home improvement reasons?" Luke prodded.
Lorelai nodded and said, "Yes." She thought for a moment and then added, "And I don't know, it's a nice concept."
"What is?" he asked, confused.
Lorelai shrugged and said, "Just having someone who you love or have some kind of crazy crush on bid on your basket and then share a romantic lunch, it's a nice concept."
Luke nodded and said, "Well, I'm sure someday you'll manage to find the right guy and drag him out to this thing and make him by your stupid basket and then you'll be sitting out here with him," as he shot her a sidelong look.
Don't. Don't look at me like that. She thought frantically. I can't take it when you give me those looks. I can't want you, I need you. I can't have you, I'll hurt you. So, don't, please don't look at me that way.
Lorelai shrugged and said, "Yeah, someday."
Luke smiled gently and said, "You know what?"
"What?" she asked cautiously.
"This is nice," he said with a sexy smile as he settled back to enjoy the rest of his lunch.
"So, tell me why you're doing this," Luke prodded as he watched the lines they had cast into the baby pool he had filled with trout.
"Because you told me to," Lorelai answered.
Luke shook his head and said, "I mean, tell me why you're learning to fish."
Lorelai shrugged and said casually, "Oh. I told you, some of my friends are going."
Luke pounced. "What friends? Sookie?" he asked.
Lorelai blinked with surprise and asked, "What?"
"Is Sookie going fishing?" Luke asked, unwilling to let her wiggle off of the hook.
"Well," Lorelai said hesitantly.
Luke was starting to enjoy baiting her. "Or Rory," he said with a shrug. "Did Rory suddenly get the overwhelming urge to dig for worms and stand in the middle of a lake at five a.m.?" he asked with wide eyed innocence.
Don't. Don't say it. He begged silently. Please don't tell me you're doing this for some other guy.
"Yes?" Lorelai answered meekly. She sighed and said, "Okay, fine, I met this guy."
"Ah," he said with a nod, his heart seizing in his chest, again.
Lorelai winced a little and explained, "And, uh, he's kind of an outdoorsy guy."
Luke smirked and said, "Oh, just your type."
Lorelai laughed nervously and said, "No, not exactly, but he's nice and, uh, he was talking about fishing, and I think I said something like, 'Oh, hey, that sounds great', and so he invited me and here I am," she babbled.
Luke nodded and said, "I got it."
"Sorry I didn't tell you," she said contritely.
Luke looked over at her and asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"
Lorelai shuffled her feet a bit and said, "I don't know. I just felt stupid getting rooked into the thing in the first place, and then. . .plus, you don't wanna hear about my personal life," she said, trying to wave it all off.
"So this'll be your first date or. . ." he asked leadingly.
"Second," Lorelai confirmed.
Luke nodded as the word cut into him and said, "Second date."
Lorelai offered him an anxious smile and said, "He took me to this coffee tasting place."
"Coffee tasting, just your type," he said with a smirk.
Don't. Don't tell me any more. You were right not to tell me in the first place. I don't want to hear it.
"Uh huh" Lorelai said with a doubtful frown.
Luke took a deep breath and tried to suck it up. "Well, I think that's great," he said offhandedly.
"Thank you," Lorelai answered softly, wishing the whole thing would just go away.
Lorelai flitted around the room nervously. "Okay, here are your towels. And, let me see… Oh, I'll draw your curtains closed. What else, what else? It's been a little while since I've done this. Oh, do you want a fire?" she asked them as she eyed Nicole rubbing Luke's thigh possessively.
Luke shrugged. "I don't know. Nicole?" he asked.
Nicole nodded and tightened her grip on Luke's leg slightly. "Uh, a fire would be nice," she said.
Lorelai nodded like bobble head doll and said, "Okay, I'll light it for you. We have these new log bags now, makes it real easy. Uh, okay," she said trying to get the bag to light. "So, nothing like a fire on a cold night like this, huh?" she asked, trying to keep her eyes averted.
"Mm," Luke hummed, somewhat pleased by her nervousness.
Lorelai grimaced and said, "Hm, I'm not having much luck here. And, uh, you know what, we laid off the person who was able to light these things no problem, now we can't light these things, and ironically we laid him off because of a fire," she added with a harsh laugh.
Luke started to feel bad for her and said, "It's okay, forget it. I can light it."
Lorelai turned back to them and clapping her hands together said, "Okay. What else, let's see. Oh, um, well, turn down. I need to turn down the bed," she said as she pointed to the bed they were already tangled up on.
Luke shook his head and started to protest, "Really, Lorelai."
Lorelai shook her head adamantly and insisted, "No, no, no. Up, up, up. Okay, I'll get ya all settled here, nice and comfy. Great lines with these covers here. Pillows, nice and plump. And a couple of pillow mints. There you go, now you're all ready to. . .uh, you're all ready for your evening," she said swallowing the lump in her throat.
Luke nodded as he and Nicole stood staring at the bed. "Fine, good, that's good," he said quickly.
"Yes, great, Lorelai," she said with a small smile of triumph.
Lorelai beat a hasty retreat to the door saying, "Well, you're all set. Just call if you need anything, and have fun."
Once she had closed the door behind her, she leaned against the wall, fighting back the tears that had sprung to her eyes. Don't! Oh God, don't tell me you're going to make love to that snotty, stickwoman in my inn. The internal rant raged. My inn! My Luke! No, not here. Don't do it here, she begged silently. My beautiful, burnt inn. My Luke. She quickly stepped into the linen closet in the hallway and had a good cry, mourning the loss of both.
Luke was cleaning up the tables in the diner as Lorelai walked in wearing the red dress she wore to the graduation ceremony.
"Hey, Luke," she said softly.
Luke looked up in surprise and said, "Lorelai, hi. Where's Rory?"
"Oh, out in the car," she said jerking a thumb over her shoulder.
Luke smiled and said, "Oh. It was a really nice ceremony, wasn't it?"
Lorelai fidgeted nervously as she said, "Yeah, it was beautiful."
Luke cocked his head and asked, "What's up?"
Lorelai took a step towards him and said, "I just wanted to say something to you in case we don't see each other before you go on your trip."
Luke nodded and asked, "Sure, what?"
Lorelai took a deep breath and said, "Don't get engaged."
Luke blinked and asked, "What? Why?" As she turned to leave he called after her, "Lorelai?"
Luke shook himself awake and stared around the dimly lit apartment blindly. He heard a shuffling noise near the door and turned. When he saw her standing there in the bright red dress he shook his head again and asked, "What?"
"Don't. Okay? Don't get engaged," she said again before she made a quick exit, clambering down the steps.
Luke was out of the chair like a shot, flying down the steps as he saw a flash of red disappear through the curtain. She was on the sidewalk by the time he caught up with her. He grabbed her arm roughly and turned her around to face him. "What? What do you mean?" he demanded.
"Just don't," she said helplessly.
Luke shook his head and said, "No. you don't. You don't get to do that. Come into my apartment, say something like that, and run away," he ranted. "You don't," he insisted. "You don't get a say in how I live my life. You don't get to make demands. You don't get to have me as your fall back guy forever," he said loudly.
"Don't. Don't go on that cruise. Don't get engaged. Don't love her," she begged raggedly.
"Why? Why do you care?" he asked, searching her eyes.
"Because I care," she said softly.
Luke shook his head and said, "Don't. Don't say you care if you don't really. Don't do this to me," he said softly.
"Don't give up on me," she whispered.
Luke searched her eyes and said, "Don't make me wait any longer."
"Don't do anything until we get back. Please?" she asked.
Luke cast his eyes to his feet and said softly, "Don't leave me hanging like this."
Lorelai smiled gently and said, "Don't fall for anyone else. I'll be back," she said softly.
Luke sighed and looked away. He shoved his hands into his pockets and said gruffly, "Don't forget to write."
Lorelai nodded and glanced around. She pulled him over to the deserted alley and asked, "Don't you want to kiss me goodbye?"
Luke shook his head gently and said, "Don't want to know what I'll be missing."
Lorelai looked at him tenderly and said, "Don't forget about me."
"Don't worry, I won't," Luke said as he kissed her cheek and turned to go back into the diner.