A/N: Okay, here's a fluffy little number because I was in the mood for a getting together story. Dedicated to the fans of the soul patch, here's a little gamble worth taking. One shot and then back to the world of marital bliss. I hope that you like it!
If she didn't love Sookie so much, she would hate her. It's bad enough to be set up on a blind date. It's worse when your best friend's date's cousin from out of town turns out to be a foul, rude midget without even enough common courtesy to know that a gentleman should remove his hat at the table. The worst part is when you realize that the insufferable little runt thinks that you're the loser. Lorelai led Sookie, Jackson and Rune, yes, that was his name, Rune, into Luke's praying for a quick burger and an early exit. She told them to grab a table and then dragged herself up to the counter where the man himself greeted her with his customary, "Hey."
Lorelai smiled at Luke, happy to see his grumpy, yet friendly face. "Hey! Four menus, one coffee and an anvil, please," she said as she pilled off her gloves and dropped them to the counter.
Luke ran the towel he was using through his fingers as he asked, "What's the anvil for?"
"For Rune," she said with an evil smile.
"What's a Rune?" he asked blankly.
Lorelai squeezed her eyes closed and said, "Please not that question again."
"O-kay," Luke said as he dropped the towel and turned to get her coffee. "Here you go," he said as he poured her a large mug of the elixir of life.
Lorelai looked over at the table and winced. "Mind if I hang out here a sec?" she asked in low voice.
Luke glanced up and said, "Why? What's going on over there?"
"Sookie and Jackson are on their first date," she told him as she watched the other couple worriedly.
"Seems to be going well," Luke said dryly.
Lorelai nodded and said, "I think I'd wear blue to the wedding."
Luke jerked his chin at the table and asked, "Who's the other guy?"
Lorelai turned to him and smiled proudly as she said, "That's Jackson's cousin. He's my date!"
"Lucky girl!" Luke answered sarcastically.
Lorelai grinned brightly as she said, "Yeah, I think so." She reached for her coffee cup and said facetiously, "He is, believe it or not, even less thrilled with the match up than I am."
Luke scoffed, "You're kidding, why?"
"I'm too tall," she told him indignantly.
Luke laughed and snorted a little as he said, "Get out!"
"I'm serious," she told him as she added creamer to her coffee.
Luke leaned closer and said, "Doesn't he understand how great that is? You can get all the stuff from the top shelf."
"Exactly," she said holding her hands out in disbelief. "That is exactly what I bring to a relationship. Explain that to him will you," she said as she lifted her coffee cup. She took a sip and looked up in surprise, "Mmm. Luke, that is an exceptionally good batch of coffee," she complimented.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"Hello!" she said happily.
"I added a little nutmeg," he said shooting her a look.
"Really?" she asked flirtatiously. Man his eyes are blue. Must be the blue shirt, she thought as she caught herself staring up at him.
"Yes," he said in a low hiss.
Lorelai's brain seized for a moment, imagining that tone in a whole different setting. "That's very, Richard Simmons of you," she said in a mock intrigued voice.
Luke leaned on the counter, pressing his palms to it and giving her a nice view of his chest rippling under the grey shirt he wore under the denim. "Well what can I say," she said in a gravelly voice. "Chicks dig a man with a feminine side," he told her flirtatiously.
"Oh," Lorelai said softly, suddenly mesmerized by him. This is nuts, this is Luke, I can't, oh my God, look at those wrists! No, no, don't stop looking at his wrists. Stop looking at his chest. Stop looking at his eyes! Just stop. This is Luke, she told herself firmly.
She was distracted when Rune stood up from the table and started cajoling Jackson to leave. She watched as Sookie's face fell, and was about to rush to her friend's aid when she glanced up at Luke and saw him frown. Rune said something about getting stuck with her for the night, and Lorelai looked up to see Luke leaning on the counter, staring at it as if he were trying not to hit the guy. She took a deep breath and turned back to watch as Jackson look at Sookie questioningly, and when she didn't say anything, he placed his hands on the table and began to get up. "Don't go," Sookie told him.
"Good girl," Lorelai breathed under her breath.
"Really?" Jackson asked hopefully.
"Yes. Stay here, we haven't really even started out date yet," Sookie pointed out.
"No, we haven't," Jackson said as he sat back down. He looked up at his cousin and said, "Sorry Rune, you're on your own tonight."
"Good man," Luke murmured, turning to share a smile with Lorelai as Rune's little power play went bust. "I guess you'll only need three menus now," he said as he held up three fingers and tossed his towel from hand to hand.
"Hey, why don't you make up three fabulous cheeseburgers and send two over there," she suggested. "I'll have mine here," she said as she glanced down at her cup.
Luke looked at her in disbelief and said, "First I gotta watch a man walk out on you, then I have to watch you eat alone?" He shook his head and said, "Nope. Too pathetic."
Lorelai looked up shyly and said, "I'm not eating alone. You're here," she said flirtatiously.
"I'm working," he pointed out.
Lorelai smiled and said, "Yeah but after three cheeseburgers you're done, unless you're expecting Elijah to stop by."
"Okay, fine," Luke said as he reached under the counter and pulled out a deck of cards. He waved them at her and said, "Five card draw."
Lorelai gasped and said, "Oh! You're on." She watched as he pulled the deck from the pack, his long fingers nimbly shuffling and then dealing the cards. Look at those hands. Big hands, long fingers, she thought. Shaking her head she scooped up the cards and tried to arrange them in her hand. "Mm hmm. Mm hmm." She picked the card she liked and said, "Uh...huh. Give me four," as she handed four cards back to him. Luke dealt her four more and she plucked them up greedily, adding them to her hand. She frowned and shook her head as she said, "Aah, no, four more," and tried to discard again.
"You can't have four more, those are the four I dealt you," Luke answered as he shoved the cards back toward her.
"Well these don't help me and I have vowed to discard anything negative in my life. First Rune and now these four cards," she said through clenched teeth.
Luke sighed and said, "Whatever you say," as he dropped four more onto the counter in front of her.
Lorelai added them to her hand and said, "Ooh, much better, thank you."
Luke looked up at her through his lashes and said quietly, "Rune knew when to run away."
"Ha," she said as she smiled up at him and found herself meeting his intense gaze. She broke eye contact as she heard Sookie and Jackson giggling together at the table. She watched them for a moment and then said, "God that's nice," in a breathy voice.
"Yep," Luke agreed as he leaned an elbow on the counter and watched them too.
Lorelai shrugged a little as she said, "The whole 'first date, beginning of the relationship' glow." She smiled as she said, "Everything is new and exciting."
"Every joke is hilarious," Luke agreed gruffly.
"Every little touch is incredible," Lorelai said as she reached out to touch Luke's arm, startled by his warmth, and the soft feel of the dark hair.
"Mm hmm," Luke hummed as he leaned back to watch Sookie and Jackson.
"God that's a good feeling," she said softly.
Luke nodded and said in a soft voice, "It is at that."
"I miss that," she said wistfully.
Luke turned to look at her and said, "You'll have it again."
Lorelai looked up at him and felt her heart flutter in her chest. "Mmm...I guess," she said as her eyes skittered away nervously.
Luke leaned a little closer as he turned to her and started to say, "You know, maybe sometime we could..." he trailed off as her eyes widened. He looked up and saw Mrs. Kim storming through the door and demanding to know where Rory and Lane were.
Lorelai jumped, startled by the slamming door, and her pounding heart. It's Luke. You can't date Luke, she told herself sternly. Oh, God, I want to date Luke, she realized. She tore her eyes from that little tuft of beard just beneath his lower lip and asked, "What?" in a dazed tone. She listened as Mrs. Kim, once again derided her parenting skills and then grabbed her purse and gloves as she slid from the stool, shooting Luke one last look as she left.
That night, she couldn't get him out of her head. She kept seeing him standing there, staring up at her through those long dark lashes. She closed here eyes and pictured his broad shoulders hovering above her, and quickly opened them again. She opened them and he saw him smiling at her. Oh God, she wanted Luke. Friend Luke. Food provider Luke. Mr. Fix-It Luke. She wanted him, and she wanted him bad. She sat up in bed and looked around her room, trying to straighten out her jumbled thoughts. There had been moments. So many moments when they were this close, but something always held him back. Held her back. Why, she wondered. They were both adults, they were both unattached. There was the friend thing, but that was a good thing, wasn't it? she thought to herself. No, this wasn't just feeling a little down, or lonely, she realized. This wasn't just a reaction to Rune's humiliating rejection. She wanted Luke. And she had wanted him for a long time.
Tonight, he was trying to ask her out. She knew it, she could see it in his eyes. In the way he leaned closer to her. In the deep timbre of his voice. She wanted him, and she was pretty sure he wanted her. Years of flirtation. His inability to refuse her anything she asked. But yet, this was the closest he had ever come to asking her. She flopped back on her pillow and thought about all of the things people had said to her about Luke liking her. Hell, even her mother had seen it. And to be perfectly honest, she had too. But, what if it didn't work out? It was important. She had to think this through. Could she do this?
Appearances can be very deceiving. No one knew this better than Lorelai Gilmore. What people saw of her was only what she wanted them to see. Most people would tell you that she was a little nutty, certainly quirky, and definitely impulsive. That was just what she wanted people to see. But if there was one thing that Lorelai Gilmore was not, it was impulsive. Very few people knew who she really was. Rory, of course. And Sookie. And, somehow, Luke. In actuality, she weighed every decision carefully. She had to. You can't raise a child on your own, much less at seventeen, without learning to proceed with caution and deliberation. And it was with this same caution and deliberation that she spent the next few days avoiding Luke's. Saturday morning, she had tried to talk to Mrs. Kim about what had happened that night, but to no avail. In Mrs. Kim's eyes she would always be that Lorelai Gilmore, the one who makes bad decisions and can't raise her child properly. She was feeling a little vulnerable when Rory insisted that they go to Luke's for lunch, unsure of whether she could look him in the eye or not.
Yet, as she and Rory took their seats, she found herself looking for him. She distracted herself by yammering about Sookie and Jackson's planned third date until Rory got a page from Lane and ran from the diner with Lorelai's cell phone. She glanced over at the counter, saw him pouring coffee for another customer and quickly looked away. She was trying to focus on looking over her paper again as he approached with two mugs and the coffee pot. He placed the mugs on the table and she said, "Hey," in a chipper tone, trying to ignore her racing pulse.
He smiled as he said, "I haven't seen you since the other night, everything turn out okay?"
"Oh yeah, fine," she said with a wave of her hand. "The dating world of 16 year olds. Very exciting stuff," she said as she glanced down with a nervous laugh.
"I bet," he said as he nodded a little. "Oh, uh coffee?" he asked awkwardly.
"Do you have to ask?" she answered slowly. She looked up at him and tried to play it casual as she said, "You know, I had a good time the other night, with the cards."
"Oh yeah, yeah, me too," Luke said as he pulled his order pad from the waistband of his jeans.
Lorelai quickly looked away thinking, Oh, God, don't stare at his pants. "Good," she said with a nod.
Luke stared down at the pad and pencil in his hand as he said nervously, "Yeah, if fact you rushed out of here before I had a chance to, um," he trailed off.
"A chance to?" she stammered.
Luke stared hard at the pad before he looked up and said finally, "Kick your ass in poker."
Lorelai laughed trying not to let her disappointment show as she said, "You wish," with an embarrassed laugh.
"Burger?" he asked.
"Two and fries," she said, unable to look up at him.
"Maybe we could do it again sometime," he said softly as he stared at the order pad.
"Oh yeah, well," she said as she glanced around. "I, I would like that," she said as she lifted her eyes to his.
Rory came running back in with Lorelai's cell phone, killing the moment once again. With a disappointed slump to his shoulders, Luke picked up the coffee pot and walked back to the counter as they talked. When Rory left to go talk to Lane, Lorelai looked over to see Luke walking away and took a sip of her coffee. She stared down into her mug and thought, This is ridiculous.
Impulsively, she got up and walked over to the counter. Luke looked up and asked, "Oh, did I forget something?"
Lorelai glanced over at the customer sitting at the counter and drummed her fingernails. "Uh, yeah, can you come back over here?" she asked with a jerk of her head as she turned and quickly walked back to her table.
She sat down as Luke stopped beside her and asked, "What?"
"I think you forgot that you were going to ask me out," she said in a low voice, as she glanced up at him with nervous smile. Luke's jaw dropped slightly as he digested her words. Lorelai swallowed convulsively and said, "So I thought maybe I'd remind you by asking if you wanted to have dinner with me sometime."
"Dinner?" he asked blankly.
"I could have been wrong," she said quickly as she stared down at the table.
"No, no, not wrong," he answered quickly. "Tonight?" he asked, before she could change her mind.
"Tonight is good," she said with a shy smile. She looked up at him and her smile brightened. "Tonight would be really good," she said softly.
"Uh, okay, where would you like to go?" he asked as he fidgeted with the pad in his hands.
"Casual? Pizza or something?" she asked him with a shrug.
"Casual is good," he answered with a quick nod.
"There's a new place in Woodbridge that's supposed to be good," she told him.
"Seven okay?" he asked. When she made a face he laughed and asked, "Six?"
"Six is better," she told him.
"Okay, okay," he said as he blew out a breath. "Six it is. I'll, uh, go get your burgers started," he said as he gestured to the kitchen.
"Okay," she said quickly and watched as he turned and fled for the kitchen.
When Rory came back in, Lorelai leaned across the table and grasped her daughter's wrist as she said in an urgent tone, "I just asked Luke out on a date."
"Luke?" Rory asked, her eyes as round as saucers.
"Yes, and before you say anything, I've really thought about this, okay," Lorelai said in a hushed voice. "I've been thinking about it," she admitted. "I want to go out with Luke," she said with a nod.
"Luke," Rory said softly.
"Yes. Luke," Lorelai confirmed.
"Okay," Rory said with a slow nod. "Okay," she said as she expelled the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding.
"Luke," Lorelai said again as she reached for her mug and took a fortifying sip.
"Is this too much?" Lorelai asked as she stepped out of her closet in jeans and a snug low cut top.
Rory was lounging on the bed as she looked up and said with a smirk, "Not if you know CPR."
"Too much," Lorelai said as she stripped of the shirt. "You know, pizza sounded easy," she called from the depths of her closet. "But, it's not," she said as she held up another shirt for Rory's inspection. When her daughter shook her head she wailed, "Help me!"
Rory sighed and got up. She stood in front of the closet and peered at its contents for a minute. "Here," she said as she yanked a baby blue cashmere sweater from its hanger. "It fits well, but isn't painted on. The color works for your eyes, and the material is soft and comforting," she said with a nod.
"You are a genius," Lorelai said as she kissed her daughter's cheek.
"So, what brought this on?" Rory asked, trying to sound casual.
Lorelai pulled the sweater over her head and said, "I don't know. It's been a long time coming, I think. And the other night, he almost asked me out. And I was so disappointed, you know? When it didn't happen?" she said with a shrug.
"Well, you two have been dancing around each other for a while," Rory said with a nod.
Lorelai stopped as she looked at her daughter and said, "I know you're worried. About me. About him. But Rory, I really…" she started.
"Want this," Rory finished for her. "I know, Mom. It's fine," she said gently.
Lorelai fluffed her hair with her fingers and asked, "How do I look?"
Rory nodded as she pursed her lips and said, "Casual, but alluring, I think."
"Oh my God, I'm alluring Luke!" Lorelai said with a squeal.
"Well, just don't allure him too much. Remember, we really like Luke. Luke is our friend, not just some guy," Rory said sternly.
Lorelai smiled and said, "That's what's so good about it," as they heard his knock on the door. She smiled at Rory and said, "I'll get it."
"Thanks," Rory said as she dropped back onto the bed. "Have fun. I want a full report, but not too many details, if you know what I mean," she said with a relieved nod.
"Bye, Sweets," Lorelai said as she hugged her quickly and headed for the stairs. She grabbed her purse and coat, pulled the front door open and said, "Hi!" with a bright smile.
Luke smiled and chuckled self consciously as he said, "Hi."
"You look nice," she said as she gestured to the long sleeved Henley he had on under his black cloth jacket. The cap was missing, and he had shaved, but thankfully, he had left that little patch under his lip.
"You look, uh, beautiful," he said gruffly as she shrugged into her coat.
Lorelai's smile widened as she asked, "Ready?"
"Ready," he said with a nod.
Lorelai stepped out of the house and pulled the door closed behind her. As they walked to his truck she said, "Do you know the place I was talking about? Gustavo's or something?"
"No," he said with a shake of his head. He walked her to the passenger side and opened the door as he asked, "Do you know where it's at?"
"Vaguely," she said with an embarrassed smile as she climbed into the truck.
Luke nodded and said, "Well, let's jut go see what we can find," as he closed the door. As he walked around the front of the truck, she sucked in a deep breath and whispered, "Okay, okay, it's Luke."
He climbed into the seat and asked, "Woodbridge, right?" as he turned the key.
"Yeah, I think it's downtown, where all those little shops are?" she said ending the sentence with a question.
"Okay," he said as he put the truck into reverse and swung his arm up over the back of the seat as he backed out. Lorelai found herself hoping it would stay there, but realized that it was a silly thought as he lowered it to shift the truck into first.
To break the silence, she blurted, "So, Sookie and Jackson are going out again tonight."
Luke smiled as he glanced over at her and said, "That's good."
"Yeah, they really seem to like each other," she said with a nod.
Luke nodded as he kept his eyes on the road and said, "Well, it's a good fit. He's a produce guy, she's chef."
"Yeah," Lorelai agreed looking down at her hands clasped nervously in her lap. "So, you were going to ask me out, right?" she asked suddenly.
Luke nodded as he swallowed nervously and said, "I wanted to."
"Would you? If I hadn't, uh," she trailed off.
Luke looked over at her and said, "I think so. At least I hope so." He chuckled and said, "Eventually I would have worked up to it."
Lorelai smiled nervously and asked, "Should I have let you, uh, work up to it?"
Luke laughed and said, "No, I'm glad you didn't. I'm not very good at that stuff," he admitted.
"Me either," she said with a smile as she turned to look out the window. She cast her mind around for something to say and finally asked, "Did I tell you that I got an 'A-minus' on my paper for my business class?"
"No. That's good," he said with a warm smile.
"Yeah, the annoying boy that always sits behind me only got a 'B-plus,'" she told him smugly.
Luke chuckled and said, "That's what he gets for being annoying."
"I know," she said happily, and the conversation began to flow more freely.
She told him about her class and the stuff they had going on at the inn, he told her about his latest run in with Taylor. They talked about the Bangles concert that she and Sookie were going to get tickets for and Luke mocked her for wanting to walk like an Egyptian. By the time they reach Woodbridge, Lorelai was turned in her seat, looking at him as they chatted back and forth, their usual rhythm falling into place seamlessly. She caught herself staring at the wavy curls at back of his head, thinking about the times she was tempted to reach under the bill of his cap and touch them. She watched as he drove, one hand on the wheel, the other resting comfortably on the gear shift. The conversation finally worked its way back around to their poker game and Lorelai laughed as she teased, "You're just lucky it wasn't strip poker, buddy."
Luke snorted and said, "How do you know? We didn't even play one hand."
"I know," she said smugly as he pulled into a parking space. She looked around, surprised by how quickly the ride went by.
Luke turned off the engine and turned to her as he asked, "So, you want to just wander around and see if we can find it?"
Impulsively, Lorelai reached out and touched the tip of her finger to the little patch of hair beneath his lip. Luke's eyes widened slightly, but stayed fixed on hers. Lorelai shook her head slightly and leaned over to press her lips to his. Luke responded immediately wrapping his arm around her back and pulling her slightly across the bench seat. When she pulled away, she touched the spot again and whispered, "Sorry."
"Don't be," he said in a gruff voice.
"It was an impulse," she confessed in a breathy voice.
"I'm glad," he said softly.
"I'm glad you didn't shave this," she said in the barest whisper.
Luke chuckled as he said, "Me too."
Lorelai nodded slowly and asked, "So, pizza?"
"Pizza," he answered as he pulled her back to him and kissed her gently. Lorelai smiled as he pulled away, opening his eyes slowly and looking at her in wonder. "Pizza," he said again as he lifted his arm from her back and reached for the door handle.
She settled back into her seat as he came around to open her door. The minute her feet hit the ground, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and threaded her fingers through his curls as she kissed him again. She smiled as she broke the kiss and whispered, "Sorry, Impulse again." She shrugged as she slid her hands down his shoulders to his chest and gave it a little pat. "People always say I'm too impulsive," she said with an impish smile.
Luke reached up and tucked a curl behind her ear as he said softly, "Then people don't know you very well, do they?"