A/N: Once again, not abandoning anything. This is just an idea that has been fluttering around in my head for a little while, and I thought I would put it out there. I am thinking that I will cover the entire seven weeks that Luke was away between their first kiss and their first date. Let me know what you think and if you think I should continue. Phone conversations, possibly a trip to Maine. Just the two of them trying to figure out where they go from here. It will be slightly AU, of course, but not too far out there…
Lorelai walked into the empty house with a heavy heart. All the way home from the airport all she could think of was Rory and what a wonderful and disastrous twenty four hours this had been. A roller coaster. Starting off with the pleasant shock of Luke admitting his feelings and planting a kiss on her that she felt to the tips of her toes, and ending with her daughter unable to look at her and unwilling to speak to her as she ran away with her grandmother. Away from her mother. Away from her best friend. She dropped her keys on the desk and cast a mournful look around the dimly lit house. She glanced down and noticed the message light blinking furiously on her machine. Hoping that it would be Rory, she quickly hit the play button. When she heard Luke's voice she dropped into the chair, her heart fluttering a little as a soft smile played at the edges of her lips.
"Hey, it's me. Uh, listen, I got a call from my sister and T.J. They're up in Maine, and they got into a little accident, nothing major, just each one of them broke an arm and a leg," he told her. Lorelai gasped and stared at the machine with a concerned frown. Luke continued, "So anyhow, they can't run the Renaissance Fair booth for a couple of weeks. So they asked me to come and help them out, and I, unfortunately, answered the phone, so I'm on my way to Maine. I'll be back in about a week. Okay? Bye," he said before hanging up.
Lorelai felt her heart plummet again and muttered, "Great," as the machine beeped to the next message.
"Hey, it's me again. I'm not sure if we're at the point in this relationship where you actually need to know that much information about my whereabouts," he rambled. Lorelai smiled and chuckled a little at his self deprecating tone. "So if we're not, I'm sorry. I could have just said, 'I'm going out of town, and I'll call you later.' So I'm going out of town, and I'll call you later," he said trying hard to sound casual about it.
When the machine beeped again, Lorelai stared at it in disbelief as she heard Luke say, "It's me again, the idiot that leaves you three rambling messages on your machine." Lorelai giggled a little. "I just wanted to tell you I got a cell phone before I left, so, you know, you could call if you want, but only if you want, so that's it." Lorelai sat with pen poised as Luke ended the message without leaving his number.
"Gah!" she grunted in frustration as the machine beeped again.
She heard Luke say, "Yeah, a number might be good."
"Thank you," she said to the machine with exasperated relief.
"860-294-1986. Okay, bye," he said quickly hanging up again.
Lorelai scribbled the number down and stared at it as she heard the next beep.
Nervously Luke said, "Just...don't change your mind until I get back, okay? Okay. Talk to you later."
Lorelai smiled and picked up the portable phone, dialing as she read the number from the card she had scribbled it on.
Luke answered, "Hello?"
"Well, if it isn't Dean Moriarty," Lorelai cooed into the phone.
Luke smiled and said, "Yeah, this is the life."
Lorelai squished around, getting comfy on the couch as she asked, "So, are Liz and T.J. okay?"
Luke nodded and said, "Yeah, they're just not getting around too well. Liz is all panicked that if they don't finish out the season, they're gonna lose their spot next to the apple doll booth, which is apparently the prime spot, so I said I'd help them out," he told her with a shrug.
Lorelai smiled as she listened to the Luke she knew so well. "Very chivalrous of you," she said softly.
Luke smirked and said, "Yeah, I'm a regular Lancelot. So, you get my messages?" he asked nervously.
Lorelai gasped and said, "Oh, no, did you leave a message? Sorry, my answering machine dropped dead of exhaustion. What did you say?" she asked with a grin.
Luke blushed a little, glad she couldn't see him and said casually, "Not much."
"Okay," Lorelai said with a knowing smile.
"So..." Luke said leadingly.
"So..." Lorelai answered coyly.
Luke smiled and said in a gruff voice, "That was a hell of a test run."
Lorelai grinned at his enigmatic statement and said, "You mean for the inn, of course."
"Of course," Luke agreed quickly, knowing that she was playing with him.
"Yes, it was," Lorelai agreed. She sighed and said, "Although, you know, until you have a successful second go-round, you really don't know if everything's gonna work."
Luke smiled and answered, "Then I guess there's got to be a second go-round."
"Well, yes, it's the only thing that makes really good business sense," Lorelai said in a serious tone. "So, where are you right now?" she asked.
Luke glanced around and muttered, "About 10 minutes from 'if I lived here, I'd blow my brains out.'"
Lorelai grinned and settled back against the cushion saying, "Ah, yes, I hear it's lovely there this time of year."
"Beautiful," Luke grumbled.
"It's nice that you're helping them out. No wonder Liz worships you," she said softly.
"She does not worship me," Luke grumbled. "Anyway, hopefully, they won't be too banged up when I get there, and I can get home quicker."
"Already missing the bright lights of the Hollow?" Lorelai asked.
Luke smiled and said in a husky voice, "Something like that."
"It's hard to be away from all of this glamour and excitement. I hear Reverend Skinner is upping the number of bingo cards you can play at once," she told him.
"Damn, I knew that would happen the minute I left," Luke said with a chuckle. "So, where were you earlier? Still at the inn?" he asked.
"No, I was out with my new boyfriend, Tom. He thinks that we're right together," Lorelai said, skillfully avoiding his question.
"Stop," he growled.
"He did look nice in that suit last night," Lorelai teased.
Luke shook his head and said, "You are a cruel woman."
"You just noticed?" Lorelai asked with a laugh.
"No, I knew that. I also know that you purposefully avoided my question," he said softly.
Lorelai sighed and said, "I was seeing Rory and my mother off at the airport."
"Airport?" Luke asked with a frown. "Where are they going?"
"Europe," Lorelai said shortly.
"Again? Did I know this?" Luke asked in confusion.
"You mean Rory didn't clear it with you first?" Lorelai asked sharply.
"I'm sorry," Luke said quickly. "I just meant that I usually know when you guys are gonna be gone or something," he said awkwardly.
"No, I'm sorry. It just happened today," she told him.
Luke was silent for a moment and then asked gently, "What's going on?"
"Nothing's going on," Lorelai said defensively.
Luke sighed and said, "Lorelai, setting aside what happened on the porch last night, we've been friends for a long time. Do you honestly think I don't know when something is wrong?" he asked.
"No," she admitted.
"Okay, well. I know that you seemed to like it when I kissed you. Hell, you even kissed me back. Then after I corralled the naked nut job running through the streets, you came back from God knows where and you're all distracted and distant," he said as he pulled over to the side of the highway. He put the truck in neutral and said quickly, "I'm not saying that you have to tell me, but if something isn't going on with you and Rory, I might start to think that maybe something isn't right about you and me and last night."
"No, no," Lorelai assured him. "Rory and I are just going through weird time right now. She's home from college after being out from under my thumb, and she thinks she's all grown up, and doesn't need my help, or my opinion or my anything," she babbled.
"Yes she does," Luke said gently.
Lorelai glanced around the empty house and stifled a sob as she whispered, "She doesn't think so."
"She'll come around," Luke told her confidently.
Lorelai nodded and swallowed hard. She could hear Luke's soft breathing on the other end of the phone and asked quietly, "Luke? No matter what, we'll still be friends, right?"
"Definitely," Luke answered firmly.
"Good," Lorelai whispered. She took a deep breath and asked, "Have you stopped? I don't hear car sounds."
"I just pulled over for a minute. I didn't want to be one of those people who drive ten miles an hour because they're too wrapped up in their cell phone conversation to drive," he explained.
Lorelai nodded and smiled weakly. "I should let you get going, or you'll never make it," she said reluctantly.
"Yeah," Luke answered, just as reluctant to hang up.
"So, you'll call me?" Lorelai asked hopefully.
Luke brightened and said, "Yes, I'll call you. You can call me too," he said shyly.
"Maybe, sometimes," Lorelai said as she picked at a throw pillow. "But for now, I want you to call me," she said coyly.
"I will," he assured her, smiling like an idiot into the phone.
"A lot," she amended quickly.
"I'll do my best," Luke said with a chuckle.
Lorelai smiled and said, "Goodnight Luke. Drive carefully."
"I will, goodnight Lorelai," he said softly.
For the second time that day, Lorelai Gilmore hung up the phone and pressed it close to her, smiling like a giddy teenager.