A/N: Just a quick one-shot. Truelovepooh/TTLPtrix planted this little seed this afternoon. It germinated on the drive home and sprouted once I sat down to type. What do you think? Can I make Christopher man up in WBB? Can I make him do the right thing by Lorelai? I gave it a shot… Lorelai and Luke – do you even have to ask?
Christopher Hayden knew when he was being played, especially when the player was Emily Gilmore. He hardly knew what to do, the woman was a virtuoso. As he stared at the invitation she had left on his coffee table, the little devil and little angel popped out onto his shoulders and stared along with him. Do it, you know you want to. This might be our last chance. You heard Rory. You heard Emily. You heard everything Lorelai didn't say the night your father died. This is it. Make or break. Are you in the game or not? the little devil in him asked. She's your friend. She's been your friend for a long time. A good friend. A much better friend than you are to her. What if she is happy with this guy? What if she loves him? Are you going to ruin that for her? She's done nothing but support you and help you. Is this how you're going to repay her, by teaming up with her parents? It was always you and Lorelai against them, Richard, Emily, Straub and Francine. Has that changed now? Are you willing to sacrifice Lorelai's happiness for your own? the angel inside of him argued. He stared at the envelope for a few more minutes, and then shook his head as he picked Gigi up and carried her off to her bath.
Luke stared out the diner window trying to figure out if he could actually manage some kind of accident to get him out of going to Lorelai's parents' wedding thing. He was no fool, he knew they hated him. Well, maybe not hated, but they certainly didn't approve of him as a perspective son-in-law. He glanced around the empty diner, cursing the mid-afternoon lull, and wishing someone would come in so that he could keep busy. He decided to start sorting the day's receipts, so that when he closed, he could get to work on his boat a little earlier. And maybe catch a little Cop Rock with Lorelai and Rory when he was through. Not that he was interested in that. No, he was simply interested in spending time with them. He was lost in thought as he sorted through the stack of tickets, and didn't notice the silver Volvo that had pulled into a parking spot. When the bells above the door chimed, he mumbled, "Be right with you," as he finished dividing the stack into piles. He glanced up and saw a familiar man with sandy brown hair standing uncomfortably inside the door. He blinked in surprise as he pointed at the guy and said, "Oh, hey. You're, uh, Christopher, right?"
"Right, and you're Luke," Christopher answered as he approached the counter. "I was in here once, with Lorelai and Rory, a few years ago."
Luke nodded and said simply, "Yeah, I remember that."
Christopher chuckled as rubbed his neck as he said, "Yeah, uh, not a good day for me." He pointed to one of the stools and asked, "Do you mind if I sit?"
Luke leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest as he said gruffly, "That's what they're for. Get you anything?" he added.
"Nah, I'm good. I just, I," he started and then hesitated. Christopher took a deep breath and said, "I came here to talk to you."
"Oh yeah?" Luke asked, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.
"Yeah," Christopher said with a nod. He cleared his throat softly and said, "Emily came to see me last night."
"Emily? Emily Gilmore?" Luke asked blankly.
"The one and only," Christopher answered with a smirk. "She gave me this," he said as he placed the invitation on the counter. "It's for their vow renewal," he explained.
"Okay," Luke said slowly as he waited to see what Christopher was getting at.
"See, here's the thing," Christopher said as he fidgeted nervously under Luke's steady gaze. "Lorelai and I have been friends for a long time. I mean, more than just having Rory together," he said quickly.
"That's a big just," Luke said with more than a hint of disapproval in his tone.
"Actually, she's not all that big, she's tiny. You know, little, you know, thin," Christopher babbled.
"Yes, I know," Luke said dryly.
"Right, yeah," Christopher conceded with a nod. "Anyway, Rory came to see me not too long ago. Just after my wife left for Paris. She came to warn me off, to tell me to stay away from Lorelai because she was afraid that I'd screw things up with you two," Christopher said as he picked up the envelope and tapped the edge of it on the counter, turning it in his fingers. "And then, we had lunch at the inn, but Lorelai didn't know that Rory had come to see me, so that turned out badly," he added with a smirk. "So, when my Dad died, I was really shocked when they showed up to see me, you know?" he asked.
Luke fought to mask his surprise that Lorelai and Rory had gone to see Christopher and she had said nothing about it. He took an unsteady breath and said, "They're good like that."
"Yeah, yeah, they are," Christopher agreed. "Lorelai really helped me out that night. We talked and talked, talked all night, telling stories about our parents and chasing each story with a shot of tequila," he said with a chuckle.
Luke took an involuntary step back as he tried to process what Christopher was telling him. Not only had Lorelai not told him that she had gone over there, she also failed to mention that she had spent the whole night with Christopher. "Uh huh," he managed to grunt.
Christopher looked up at Luke's stoic expression and said, "It was great. She was such a good friend to me. She's always been such a good friend to me, a much better friend than I have been to her," he admitted with a self-deprecating smile.
Luke blinked as he shook his head to clear it and said, "She can be a good friend to have."
"Anyway, Emily showed up last night and gave me this," Christopher said as he waved the envelope in the air. "I'm not exactly positive, but judging from the things she said, I think Emily thinks that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to step in," he said as he met Luke's gaze frankly.
"Get out," Luke said as his fingers dug into his biceps and he jerked his chin at the door.
"Hear me out," Christopher said as he raised his hand to stop Luke.
"I said get out," Luke said through clenched teeth.
"Do you love her? Is it serious, because Emily seems to think it is," Christopher said in a rush. "I can tell she loves you. You know how I know? She has never once mentioned the fact that you're in a relationship," Christopher tried to explain.
Luke snorted and said, "Oh, well, that makes me feel better."
"No, you don't understand," Christopher said adamantly. "Lorelai always talks about the guys she's dating. Hell, she called me from her bachelorette party when she was supposed to marry that Max guy," he said incredulously. "She can't help it. We've been friends for so long. When she's insecure or unsure, she wants to talk it out," Christopher insisted. "She doesn't talk about you, don't you get it?" he asked desperately.
Luke frowned and asked, "Are you trying to tell me that Lorelai doesn't talk about me because she doesn't need to?"
"Exactly!" Christopher said as he slapped his palm to the countertop. "You know. You were friends with her before you guys got together. If Lorelai wanted to debate someone or something, she'd certainly have opened it up for discussion," he said with a laugh.
"Or done a pro/con list," Luke added with a smirk.
"Oh, yeah. The lists," Christopher said as he nodded his understanding.
"So, what are you doing here? You have Emily's blessing," Luke said as he gesture to the envelope with a sneer.
Christopher shrugged and said, "I wanted to see where you stood. I wanted to see if there was a chance for me."
"So you came to me? What answer did you expect me to give you?" Luke asked derisively.
"Well, I already have Rory and Emily's input, and Lorelai's silence, which you know, speaks volumes," Christopher said as he fidgeted with the envelope again. "I need to know, are you serious about her? Because, if not, I am," he said boldly.
"You are?" Luke said with a grunt of disbelief. "Where have you been, then?" he asked snidely.
Christopher shook his head and said, "I have no excuses. I'm sure you know the whole story."
"I do," Luke said with a little more confidence than he actually felt.
"She's my friend. I've known her most of my life. Despite what you might think of me, or what she might think, I do care about her. And Rory," he added.
"Nice that you remembered Rory," Luke said dryly.
"I'm trying to be decent here," Christopher said, finally losing his patience. "I'm trying to talk to you man to man about a woman we both care about. At least, I'm assuming you do," he added snidely.
"I love her," Luke said firmly.
"I do too," Christopher shot back rising from his stool.
"She loves me," Luke said, leaning on the counter and praying that it was the truth.
"And?" Christopher asked leadingly.
"I plan to marry her, have a family with her, get the smelly dog she wants and wear the damn jogging suits," Luke told him firmly.
"You do?" Christopher asked softly as he sank back down on his stool.
"Yes," Luke answered simply. "That is, if she wants to," he added as he took a deep breath. He rubbed his hand over his face and sighed tiredly as he said, "Look, I don't know what you want from me here. All that I can tell you is this. I want Lorelai and Rory in my life. They've been in my life for a long time now. Been my life for a while," he concluded softly.
Christopher nodded as he swallowed thickly and said in a raspy voice, "That's what I needed to know."
The bells chimed as Lorelai walked in, her head down as she rummaged through her purse. "Hey, Cool Hand, did I leave my gloves here this morning, because, man, my hands are cold. Hey, now I'm Cool Hand too… Christopher?" she asked in a stunned whisper as he turned to face her.
"Hey, Lore," Christopher said with a weak smile.
"Here," Luke said as he picked the gloves in question up off of the shelf below the counter and placed them in front of the stool next to Christopher.
"What are you doing here?" Lorelai asked Christopher in a low voice.
"Talking to Luke," Christopher said with a careless smile born of a life of ease.
"Luke?" Lorelai asked as she glanced up at the man in question.
Luke nodded as he crossed his arms back over his chest and said with a sarcastic smile and nod, "Yeah. He came by to see if we were really together, or if there was a chance that he could split us up like your mother wants him to."
"My mother?" Lorelai questioned as she shook her head to clear it. She sat heavily on the stool and asked blankly, "Can someone fill me in, here?"
Christopher shrugged and said, "Well, it's pretty much like Luke said. Emily came over to invite me to the vow renewal," he said as he waved the envelope in front of her. "She told me that you were involved with someone, and that it was getting serious, and if I wanted my chance with you, I had to act now," he said bluntly.
"Chance with me?" Lorelai asked slowly. "There's no chance with me," she murmured.
Christopher nodded and said, "That seems to be the consensus of opinion."
"You came to talk to Luke about this? Why didn't you talk to me?" she demanded as she recovered her equilibrium.
"Because he's the man in question," Christopher said with a shrug.
"No. No question," she said angrily. She looked up at Luke and said in a firm tone, "There's no question."
Luke quirked an eyebrow at her and said, "Good to know. I guess we're on the same page."
"We are," she assured him.
"I was wondering about that for a minute, but I guess we'll talk about that later," he said pointedly.
"Yes," she said, sure to hold his gaze. "We will," she agreed. Lorelai turned back to Christopher and asked, "What would make you think that we were even an option?"
Christopher laughed and said, "Aw, come on, Lore, we were always an option."
Lorelai shook her head and said, "No. No we weren't. When you left to be with Sherry and Gigi, that option disappeared, Christopher. I thought I made that clear at the time," she said with a frown.
"Things change," Christopher answered with a lift of his shoulder.
"Not things like that," she said with a sad shake of her head. "Wow, I'm so blown away," she murmured. "Totally didn't see this coming," she said as she barked a laugh.
"You should have," Luke said pointedly.
Lorelai nodded as she said, "You're right I should have, but I didn't." She looked at Christopher quizzically and asked, "My mother put you up to this?"
"She said it was serious with you guys. Of course, she also said that I was weak," he added with a smirk. "I guess she was right," he told them.
Luke frowned as he studied the other man and said, "No, not weak. It took some guts for you to come in here and say the things you said to me," he admitted gruffly.
Christopher grinned boyishly at Lorelai and said, "Hey, you hear that? Your boyfriend thinks I have guts."
"Yeah, and he could probably gut you, so I wouldn't push it," Lorelai said as she gave the back of Christopher's hand a patronizing pat.
"Oh, I could gut him," Luke said with a nod. "You want me to?" he asked her.
"Nah, Rory might get a little peeved," Lorelai answered with a wave of her hand.
"True," Luke agreed.
Lorelai looked down at the invitation in Christopher's hand and asked, "So what are we going to do about my mother?"
Christopher shrugged and said, "Easy. I'm not going." He looked up at Luke and said, "I'd watch my back if I were you, though. Emily Gilmore does not take disappointment lightly," he warned with a smirk.
"I'll be fine," Luke said as he placed a mug in front of Lorelai and reached for the coffee pot. As he poured, he said, "You're the one double crossing her. Coffee?" he asked with an innocent smile.
"She can't do anything to me, and yes, please," Christopher said with a challenging smile of his own.
Luke set a mug in front of him and said, "Oh, wait, let me get the one with the arsenic in it," as he turned back to the coffee maker with a snort.
"Ha. Ha. Pour, Cool Hand," Lorelai said as she grabbed his sleeve. She glanced Luke as he poured coffee into his cup and then over at Christopher, and giggled.
"What?" Luke asked cautiously.
"It's Yalta. We're sitting here trying to figure out what to do about Adolf and Eva," she giggled. "Hey, which one of us is Stalin?" she asked.
"You are," Luke and Christopher answered simultaneously, making her giggle harder.
Christopher shook his head with an affectionate smile as he lifted his cup and took a sip of his coffee. "Mmm. Good coffee," he said with a nod to Luke. He set the cup down and asked Luke, "So, what kind of a smelly dog are you guys getting?"
Luke frowned and searched his memory as Lorelai just looked confused. He tilted his head to the side and asked her, "It was a golden retriever, wasn't it?"
"What was?" she asked with a shake of her head.
"The dog in the package," Luke said as he waved his hand. "You know, Dan Quayle, matching jogging suits and all that stuff," he said with a shrug.
Lorelai blinked up at him as she whispered, "Yeah, golden retriever. Grow old together."
Luke nodded and said, "Yep, that's the plan."