DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Gilmore Girls characters. Amy Sherman-Palladino, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, and the WB do. No copyright infringement intended.
Luke huffed and sighed, but those Gilmore girls weren’t paying any more attention to his hints than usual. They sat over their long empty dishes of ice cream sundaes and huge mugs of coffee. It was a wonder the caffeine flowing through their veins ever let them sleep. They chatted like a couple of teenagers, which was understandable for one of them, but not the other. Lorelai was halfway through another of her animated tales, her arms gesturing wildly in the air. Rory hung on her every word. To be honest, Luke could watch this scene forever, but he was tired and he just wanted to go home. This time he flickered the lights. That got a response.
"Whoa, Luke, you outta pay that electric bill once in a while." Luke folded his arms across his chest and glared at Lorelai.
"You want us to leave, don’t you?" Rory grinned.
"You’re next breakfast is on the house, young lady. You win the prize." Rory giggled and Lorelai rolled her eyes.
"Come on, Luke. It’s early, still." She whined.
"And yet I still close at the same time every night. Go figure. Off your butts, ladies. Luke’s is closed."
"Lukey, you’re not being fair."
"Look, it’s not like you’re not going to come crawling in here first thing in the morning, anyway."
"He’s sure got you pegged, Mom."
"Like mother like daughter, sweet Rory." Lorelai stuck her tongue out at her daughter.
"Hey, it looks really slippery out there. Wait by the door and I’ll walk you two home."
Lorelai was about to put on her ‘simpering southern belle’ act but Rory smacked her in the arm. She gave her mother a warning glance and smiled gratefully at Luke. He just shook his head and carried the dirty dishes to the sink in the back. Taking off his apron and hanging it in the kitchen, he went back to the front of the restaurant. Lorelai shifted restlessly by the door. Luke smirked and took his time closing up the place.
"Five minutes ago you didn’t want to leave. Now I can’t get you out of here fast enough."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, less talky more locky." Lorelai bounced up and down in her impatience. This time Rory and Luke looked at each other, shaking their heads in annoyance.
The night was bitterly cold and a strong wind made it even worse. Lorelai stared jealously at the thickly knit hat on Rory’s head. Why hadn’t she thought to wear one? Why didn’t Rory remind her to? She tied her scarf on her head and wrapped the ends securely about her neck. Luke didn’t even bother to hide the grin. She looked ridiculous. He shoved his hands as far into his pockets as he could. It wasn’t a far walk to the Gilmores’ but it hadn’t been this cold in a long time.
"Oh, Mom, so Dean wants to come over for another movie night. I told him you wouldn’t mind. That was okay, wasn’t it?"
"Yeah, I guess; if you don’t mind having this old fart hanging out with you two."
"Nah, old farts are welcome when it’s their own houses."
"Oh, gee, I’m flattered. Hey, Luke, why don’t you..."
Lorelai didn’t get to finish her sentence as she turned to see Luke slip on a patch of ice behind her. Her hands flew to her mouth and there was nothing she could do to stop his fall. She watched in horror as Luke’s legs slipped out from beneath him and he fell butt-first on the hard sidewalk. Where she might have laughed at this part, she could only wince as his head bounced off the pavement, knocking off his ball cap.
"Luke!" Rory screamed. She knelt down beside the injured man and tried to help him up. Lorelai was frozen in fear. "Mom! Mom, help me. He’s not waking up. Oh, God. Fine. Stay here with him. I’ll go get help."
Lorelai stared down at Luke. His eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving. He wasn’t... No don’t say he’s... Lorelai scrambled to her knees beside Luke. She leaned down, placing her face close to his. She could feel his breath tickle her cheek and she smiled in relief. Tears leaked from her eyes and froze in their tracks down her cheeks. She didn’t notice. Her eyes were trained on the man lying in front of her. He couldn’t be hurt. This was her Luke. He was the strong one. He was the one that always came to her rescue.
Rory returned with Miss Patty, who had called the ambulance from her house. They stood off to the side and watched in awe as Lorelai held Luke’s head in her lap. She crooned to him and stroked his face, lovingly. Her words were soft and they couldn’t make them out from where they were standing. In the distance a siren got closer and closer until the bright lights were flashing against the snowy backdrop. Lorelai didn’t even realize Rory had returned until the paramedics were pulling her away from Luke. She tried to fight them but Rory stepped in and held her mother close.
"It’s okay. Come on, let’s go get the car and follow Luke to the hospital. He’s going to be just fine, Mom."
"Just fine." Lorelai followed, in a trance.
The hospital lights were bright and the atmosphere antiseptic. It made Lorelai shudder to think that Luke had to be here. She rubbed her arms to ward off the chill that this place caused her. Rory slung an arm around her mother’s waist and led her to the waiting room. The doctor had been alerted that they were there, waiting to hear news about their friend. It wasn’t long before he appeared, leading them down the long hall to a private room on the end. Lorelai gulped at the sight of Luke, his head draped in bandages. His eyes were closed.
Rory went to the side of the bed and kissed Luke gently on a part of his forehead that wasn’t covered in gauze. Her mother was shaking as she sat down in the small chair beside the bed. Rory rubbed Lorelai’s shoulder and whispered that she was going to find them some coffee. Lorelai nodded, never taking her eyes off the man in the hospital bed. She took Luke’s hand in hers and absently rubbed a circular pattern with her thumb. Why hadn’t he woken up? The doctor had told them he was fine. He didn’t even have a concussion, so why wouldn’t he wake up?
"Luke, can you hear me? Come on. Stop playing games. A joke’s a joke but you’ve taken this one too far. If you didn’t want to walk us home, you just had to say so. Honestly, the lengths you go to just to make a point."
Lorelai stared up at the ceiling, her bottom lip quivering.
"I mean it, Luke. Open your damned eyes, already. This isn’t funny. You’re worrying Rory. She’s so beside herself she can’t even stay in the same room with you."
Still there was no movement from the man lying prone before her.
"Please. Okay, I admit it. Are you happy? I want you to open your eyes for me. I need you. You can’t play the helpless one, Luke. That’s my role. You’re my rock. You’re my strength. Please open those beautiful eyes for me. I promise never to bug you again. I’ll wait patiently for my coffee and when it’s time to close for the night, I’ll be the first to leave. Oh, Luke."
Lorelai laid her head on Luke’s chest and began to cry. Her shoulders heaved as the sobs wracked her thin body. She took in huge, shuddering gulps of breath and tried to quiet her tears but they just came even heavier. Her tiny arm clutched at Luke’s waist and her head rested securely against his ribs. It was reassuring to be able to hear the strong beat of his heart. When Lorelai’s tears were finally spent she sighed, snuggling up against Luke’s warm body. That was when she noticed the hand that stroked her back. She sat up, suddenly, staring in shock at Luke’s amused face.
"You’re awake!" He nodded.
"Do you really promise?"
"What?" Lorelai was distracted and she looked at him, confused.
"Do you promise to never bug me again, to wait patiently for your coffee and leave the first time I tell you I’m closing for the night?"
"Um... it’s not like it was a deathbed promise or anything." Lorelai squirmed under Luke’s heavy gaze.
"Well, did you at least mean the rest of what you said?"
"It’s not nice to pretend you’re asleep so you can eavesdrop on someone pouring out their heart and soul."
"I hardly think it’s eavesdropping when you were speaking directly to me."
"I wasn’t... okay, I was. Fine, you caught me. What are you going to do about it?"
"Personally, I think he should kiss you. But that’s just my opinion." Rory smiled from the doorway. She entered the room with two paper cups of coffee, setting them down on the tray beside the bed.
"Yeah, I’m with her, ‘cept my head’s killing me. Would you mind coming a bit closer?"
"I feel as though I’m being ganged up on, here."
"You love it and you know it, Mom."
"Lorelai, come here and kiss me."
And so she did. Rory leaned against the wall and smiled. Why hadn’t it occurred to her before just how perfect those two were together? She closed her eyes and daydreamed about a future wedding at the Inn, where her mother was decked out all in white and for once Lorelai was the one being fussed over instead of the one doing the fussing.