The world was a different place with Rory being gone to college. The house was quiet and empty almost all of the time now, except on the weekends when Rory decided to make the 40 minute trip home. Lorelai sat at the kitchen table and looked around the room searching for something to do. She sighed at the lack of excitement there was with Rory's absence and decided to go to Luke's for coffee. Almost out the door she remembered that she couldn't. They were fighting. Again. Luke didn't like Jason. At all. They fought over her taste in men quite frequently but not this bad. Luke told her he thought Jason was sleezy and all wrong for her. But who exactly did he think was right for her? Nobody, apparently. Lorelai sighed and turned back into the kitchen and looked for something to do. The weekends were boring without Rory, that was sure.
* * * *
Sitting on the couch a couple hours later, she was bored out of her mind. There was nothing good on TV anymore.
Lorelai's cell phone rang and she picked it up immediately. "Hello?"
"Hey." It was Jason calling.
"Hey you. How's it going?"
"Pretty well although I do believe your mother is going to have my neck if she finds me not working again."
"Again? You mean you have other girls that you call to distract yourself?" she asked accusingly, but very much as a joke.
"I thought I already introduced you to Rosie…" He joked, following suit. "No, your mother caught me fixing myself fixing a drink from their cart and properly scolded me. Not only was I drinking on the job but it might as well have been included as theft of property as I had not asked for permission to fix myself a drink. And I was away from my desk. What nerve I have, eh?"
"Emily Gilmore at her finest. You know you should really get on her good side sometime. Then maybe I'd feel more inclined to telling them about you and me," she teased. She knew that Jason would never be on her good side. Besides the fact that the entire reason they had ever gotten together in the first place was because it would drive her mother mad.
"So," he cleared his throat, "about tonight."
"What about tonight?"
"Pick you up about seven?"
"Seven? Hmm… I dunno. I kinda have plans already made with Rosie. Girl talk, ya know. Discussing different ways to seduce our mutual boyfriend."
"Seven it is then."
"See you then," she said. She hung up the phone smiling.
* * * *
The doorbell rang and Lorelai quickly primped her hair before opening the door. She smiled at the sight of Jason dressed in a nice suit.
"Shall we be going," he beckoned.
"Just a minute," she said. She turned to the hallway mirror and put some lip gloss on quickly before returning to him. "Okay."
"You know vanity isn't everything," he said.
She looked offended. "Of course it is! How could you even suggest such a thing?"
"Okay, so vanity is everything."
She frowned. "No, you were right. But it does help things a lot, doesn't it?" She raised an eyebrow and followed him out the door. She had to jog slightly to catch up to him. "So where are we going tonight?"
"My house," he promptly replied. He opened the door to his BMW for her and she got in. He climbed in the other side and kissed her quickly. "Ready?"
She nodded and smiled. They drove off and arrived a while later. Lorelai let herself out of the car only to have Jason next to her almost immediately. She let out a small laugh.
"Before we go in," he said, "I have something to give you." He held out a small wrapped box in his hand.
She looked down at it. "What is this?" She unwrapped it slowly to tease Jason because she could sense that he was nervous. She let out a small gasp when she saw it was a key. "What…"
"It's a key to my house."
"I…" she stammered.
"I want you to come over whenever you want. It'll be a nice surprise for me to just see you whenever."
She looked at it blankly not knowing what to say. "Thank you." It was all she could think of. She feigned a smile. She had been caught completely off guard. It was turning into a commitment, their relationship, and even she knew how great she was with commitments.
They walked up to the front door. Lorelai stood there expectantly, but he didn't move to open it, either. "Do you want to do the honors?" he asked. She smiled and pulled out her new key nervously fumbling with the lock. When she finally opened the door she tripped over the threshold and laughed at herself.
"Is everything alright, Lorelai?" Jason asked a little too suavely.
"Yeah, everything's perfect," she answered unsure of herself.
"You seem uncomfortable."
"No, I'm good," she insisted.
Jason looked at her a bit searching for a hint of what could be wrong, but found nothing. "Okay. Are you ready for food?"
"Very!" she exclaimed looking for something other than her current preoccupation to talk about. "Are you cooking?"
"Well, at least I'll try to." He walked into the kitchen and smiled. "Who knows, maybe if I'm good enough you'll come over here more than you go to the diner."
She grimaced at the thought of Luke and the diner. Noticing she was being watched she made herself laugh and said, "Like that'll ever happen." She playfully hit him on the arm. She sat down at his table and watched him cook. At least while he was cooking he'd have to watch the stove and not her. She'd have at least forty-five minutes to think about things. She had a key to his place. And he wanted her to come over. And he was cooking for her. And he wanted her there more than at Luke's. And Luke didn't want her over there at all. Everything was a mess. Why Luke cared was beyond her, but what bewildered her even more was why she took Luke's opinions into so much consideration. She was an adult; she could make her own decisions. Luke did not make decisions for her. Not even a good friend could have that much input into someone's life, over who they do and don't date. It was nonsense.
Sooner than Lorelai anticipated dinner was ready. Jason set the plate down in front of her, grilled baby vegetables steaming and the tender steak sat perfectly waiting to be eaten. "It looks delicious."
Jason ate a baby corn and said, "It tastes even better."
She smiled and took a bite, never taking her eyes off of him. So much for Luke, Jason was sweet.
* * * *
They were sitting together on Jason's couch watching the wood burn in the fireplace. His arm was draped around her shoulders and she reclined against him. Her eyes drooped sleepily. It was definitely a good meal, but she thought she might have had a bit too much wine. She was more sleepy than frisky, which is usually what she was late at night with boyfriends. She yawned and Jason rubbed her shoulder gently. He got up slowly and she nearly fell over.
"Coffee?" he offered.
She yawned again. "Yes please." She watched him walk back to the kitchen and pour two small cups of coffee. If he plans on having me over more often, he's definitely going to need bigger mugs, she thought to herself. He walked back over and handed her the coffee. She took a long drink and said, "Thank you." She looked into the mug and noticed it was already half gone.
Jason took a drink himself and sat back down on the couch. "You're welcome," he said, then pulled her into a kiss.
Lorelai welcomed the kiss. It was passionate, and she could taste the coffee on his mouth which was always welcome. She pulled away with the first genuine smile of the night, licking her lips and savoring the coffee flavor. "That was nice, Luke," she said unaware of her mistake.
Jason froze in his seat. "Please tell me that wasn't a Freudian slip."
Lorelai looked at him confused. "What?"
"If it was a Freudian slip then you were thinking about whatever it was that you said, and probably subconsciously wanting it instead of what you had. Tell me you just made a mistake and I should just be rolling in laughter right now."
"I'm confused," Lorelai confessed. "Did I say something wrong?"
"You said, 'that was nice, Luke.' Please tell me you didn't mean Luke. You did mean Jason, right?"
Lorelai blinked, wracking her brain for what it was that she had actually said. "I didn't call you Luke, did I?" His face told her otherwise. "I did not mean to say that!" She claimed.
"Oh, my God, Lorelai! You like Luke!"
"I do not!"
"Yes, you do! You just called me Luke after we kissed! You wish it were him and not me!"
"No! We're just friends! That's it! I swear!" Had she really called him Luke? This was absurd, she didn't want Luke. Even if she did it would ruin everything. She furrowed her brow and looked at her cup of coffee. She picked it up and began to drink what was left to distract her from the imminent topic. But then she ran out of coffee. She was longing for more and considered going to the kitchen to get more, but couldn't do it while Jason was waiting for her to say something. She looked at the empty mug and then back up at Jason. She had nothing to say.
"Why?" he yelled. "What does he have that I don't? I have a nice house, a really nice car, I don't look terrible, I'm clean shaven, I run a great business and have money. I'm stable – which is something you definitely need. Lor—?" He looked into her eyes searching for an answer.
"I… I…" she searched for something to say but her mind wasn't working right. "I gotta go," she said getting up and heading towards the door.
"But you didn't drive here! You'll need a ride."
"It's a long ways back to Stars Hollow!"
"I'll manage," she shouted and slammed the door behind her.
* * * *
Luke flipped the sign to closed. He looked at his watch and thought about how Lorelai hadn't come in at all for a couple of days. He knew that she was angry at him and knew that he was at fault. But he couldn't go over to her house and talk to her. He didn't know what he'd say. But he couldn't go to sleep, either. He wouldn't be able to. He had too much on his mind. Maybe driving around would help clear his mind. He got into his truck and started it up. He began to drive around, but the silence of the open road only let his mind become more focused on Lorelai. That Jason guy wasn't right for her. But none of the guys ever were. Was he really so jealous as to think terrible things of all the guys she dated? He should just be supportive and be a good friend. But this was Lorelai. It was different. She deserved perfection. Not that he was perfect, but he was right for her. Why couldn't she see that?
* * * *
Outside Stars Hollow
She didn't know what she was doing. She wandered aimlessly fuming in a sea of anger. How could he do this to her? Yell at her for loving Luke? It was ridiculous.
She didn't know where the hell it was that she was going but she went anyway. One foot after the other pounding on the cold pavement. Her hands were jammed into her pockets. She looked ahead only a couple of feet in front of her just to see the immediate obstacles, but never looked up. She was afraid that he might come back after her. She didn't want to look up to see him. Her head was flooded with thoughts, rushing with things she wished she would have said and opportunities missed that could have made the world a much happier place. But it was over. There was no turning back now, no matter how much she wished she could. She just strode forward angry at him; angry at herself.
She was finally into the outskirts of Stars Hollow. Almost home.
A car passed her. She paid no attention to it. She saw a pair of shoes approach her. She stopped dead in her tracks when she recognized the shoes as Luke's. She didn't want to look up. She wouldn't look up. She wouldn't let him see how hurt she was.
"C'mon, Lorelai. We have to talk."
She tried to walk around him but he caught her around her waist and held her tight. She pushed him away and began to walk in the opposite direction. He ran up to her and held on to her shoulder. She was unable to go anywhere without being stopped. She reluctantly turned to look at him, defeated and crying. He let go of her knowing that she wasn't going anywhere.
"I know I shouldn't judge your boyfriends, let alone tell you that I really don't like them. We've been through this before." He paused and looked at her sincerely. "Say something," he told her. She stared straight at him. Her eyes were an icy blue that seared through him, obviously in pain.
"I've screwed up everything, Luke. My life is…" she sniffed and looked at her feet which were shifting uncomfortably.
"Can you pretend you're talking to Mimi? You remember Mimi?" He nodded. "Can you pretend I'm Mimi again?" He nodded understanding that she was hurt. "He gave me a key… and I freaked. And then coffee… oh, geez…" She continued to sob and he pulled her close into a hug wondering what he could do to make the world go away and treat her well.
They stood like that under the faint light of the street lamps for a few minutes before she pulled away. She sniffed and wiped her face dry, laughing at herself, slightly ashamed. She smiled looking at Luke, realizing how much he would really do for her. "Thanks," she said. She got on her toes and hugged him again in gratitude.
A little shocked Luke whispered, "Anytime, Mimi." When she pulled away Luke bent down not knowing what he was doing and kissed her on the cheek. She was surprised and acted on instinct; she wrapped one arm around his neck and kissed him placing her lips firmly on his. He began to wrap his arms around her waist looking to pursue the moment when she tore away. This is Luke, she thought. This'll ruin everything. Oh, my God what a night this has turned into.
"I'm sorry," she stammered, looking into his eyes. She stood there a few more seconds before she bolted towards home. Luke stood alone dumfounded.
* * * *
Lorelai shut the door behind her. She was panting. She hadn't run that hard in a long time. She wiped the drying tears from her face, with a trail of salt still remaining. She walked over to the desk and sat down in the chair. She looked at her watch. It was still before 11, there was time to call Rory.
She picked up the phone and punched in the number. She waited impatiently through the ringing on the other end. "C'mon Rory…" she whispered to herself. The voice mail message began and she swore under her breath. The beep came and she started to cry. "Rory, hun, this is mom calling. I've just had one of the worst nights…" she began to sob into the receiver. "I really, really want to talk to you but can't because you're not there and I have nobody else that I care to talk to right now…" She cried. "Rory, when you get back please call. I love you, Rory…"
Rory picked up the phone right before her mom hung up. "Mom!" she said exclaimed.
"Rory!" she sobbed but smiled at the sound of her voice. "Thank God you're there, Rory, I don't know what I'd do without you right now. Then my night definitely couldn't have gotten much worse."
"Mom, what's wrong?"
"I had a date with Jason tonight…"
Lorelai explained everything to Rory. The key and her concern of it becoming more of a commitment, Jason cooking, the small coffee cups, the kiss, the calling him Luke, the meet up with Luke…
"So do you like Luke? I mean everything makes it sound like you do."
"Honey, you're not supposed to say this! You're supposed to be on my side, tell me that Jason is jumping to ridiculous conclusions, that Luke is just our friend. You're supposed to remind me that I can't ever go over to Luke's again because I kissed him…" she sobbed.
"But mom, you were preoccupied with the size of Jason's coffee cups! You called him Luke! And then you kissed Luke! How can I say that Jason is being ridiculous if all this happened?"
"I don't know…" Lorelai whimpered.
"You have to talk to him."
"You have to."
"This isn't fair. First I couldn't go to Luke's because I was angry, and now I can't go because we kissed. But you still expect me to talk to him?"
Lorelai sulked for a while. "Okay. I'll see him in the morning, then."
"Yes," Lorelai replied with hesitation. "Not saying I won't pace in front of the door for an hour and a half before I enter, but I promise to go in. I swear."
"You're such a good mother to me," she sighed. "I love you, Rory."
"Love you, too, Mom."
They hung up their phones and Lorelai began to slump in her chair. Suddenly somebody knocked on the door. Lorelai jumped in her seat knowing who it had to be. She walked to the door and opened it. She pursed her lips at the sight of Luke and looked at the ground.
"Hi," she said to her feet.
She looked up at him brusquely. "Who is this Lorelai?"
"Fine, Mimi. We need to talk. Tell me what's wrong."
She looked at her feet again. "I was over at Jason's. And everything went wrong." She recounted the story with avid detail, but left out his name not wanting to be too obvious. But she was obvious nonetheless.
"And?" Luke asked trying to get her to look at him.
"And what?" she glanced up.
"And everything. Did you keep the key, are you going to tell the said person you have feelings for them, are you going to end up going to the diner in the morning and make up?"
She hiccupped. "I still have the key, but I don't want it. I don't know if I even really like this person let alone how to tell them if I do, and yes because I swore to my daughter that I would which right now is feeling like a stupid mistake." She looked up at him again who was looking as hurt as she felt. "You know, I could use some help here. I don't know what to do about the guy."
Luke rushed into a kiss, caressing Lorelai. They were both confused by it all but it felt insanely right. They were united through this kiss and finally there was the knowledge on both ends of the mutual attraction. Lorelai began to cry again, this time out of happiness. Luke pulled away worried that she was upset, but he saw her smiling. He was about to kiss her again when she turned him away. "Thank you for your help. It really cleared things up."
Luke cleared his throat. "If you ever need any more help…"
"I know where to find you."
Luke nodded. He had just rushed into things and she was hurt and confused. At least he would see her in the morning. He walked out and she shut the door behind him. While her heart was more decided than ever, her head was still buzzing with everything that had just happened. She wouldn't be getting much sleep tonight.
* * * *
Lorelai paced only for twelve minutes in front of the entrance to the diner before she got the nerve to enter. She sat down on a stool at the counter. Luke came up to her and took out his order pad.
"What can I get you?" he grunted.
"Coffee. Black." She replied groggily having slept hardly the night before.
Luke was about to protest when he saw how bloodshot her eyes were. He knew it was because of him. At least she came in, he thought to himself. He poured her a large cup of coffee and set it in front of her. She hardly moved even to drink it. She must be exhausted. Luke had nothing to say to her. He was at a lack of words, which wasn't unusual, but this was with Lorelai. He couldn't even banter properly with her like this.
"Listen," she said, "I decided I'm going to give Jason his key back. I can't go back to his house again. Especially after my slip." Luke raised an eyebrow. "And it made me wonder…"
"About what?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
"About us. How long have we been friends?"
"Are you speaking as Mimi or Lorelai?"
"A long time, then."
"Exactly. So if something came between us, we could always go back to being friends again, right?"
"It's always been the way before. Besides, you can't stay away from my coffee forever."
Lorelai grinned. She took a long sip from her mug. "So?" She sat up straighter, looking a bit more perky.
"So um… would you like to have dinner sometime?" he said so only she could hear him, knowing that all the towns people were watching.
"I'd like that."
Luke stood up and smiled then walked to the kitchen before continuing their conversation. Miss Patty in the meantime sidled up next to Lorelai and placed her hand on her shoulder.
"I knew it'd happen sometime."
"What Miss Patty?"
"You and Luke."
Lorelai turned to face her. "Why whatever do you mean?" she asked quizzically.
"You two are a couple aren't you?"
"Why, no, Miss Patty." Not yet anyway, she thought to herself.
"But rumor has it you two were kissing last night."
"Oh," Lorelai laughed. "Have you not met Mimi? She's a good friend of mine, but she was kissing him last night. But I have not."
"Oh," Miss Patty said disappointed.
"But, believe me, you'll be the first to know if anything ever does happen."
"Oh, you'd better believe it, honey." Miss Patty walked away as Luke returned.
He smiled at the sight of Lorelai being her more normal, less vulnerable, happy self. "So, Mimi, then."
"Mimi, right. She left last night. And I think she'll be away for a while. She has a knack for coming around when I have guy problems. And she always goes to you. So I'd better not have any more problems otherwise I would certainly be in a blunder."
"You sure would be." He agreed, looking at the counter. Lorelai finished her coffee and reached for her purse. "It's on the house," he said. She smiled sweetly and slid off her stool.
"Bye," she said quietly. Luke watched her as she walked slowly out the door. His eyes followed her every move.
Miss Patty came back to the counter. "Honey, go get her." Luke looked at Miss Patty in the eyes, then made his way around the counter and out the door. Miss Patty watched him leave smiling to herself fancying herself to be quite the matchmaker.
"Lorelai, wait!" He called to her. She turned around and stood in her tracks. He jogged up to where she was and looked at her. She looked back slightly confused until he leaned in and kissed her softly. She dropped her purse and kissed him back.
"Luke," she said pulling away.
"Lorelai, I love you."
She looked at him for a second and took in the words. "I love you, too." They came easily to her. As did the following kiss. And she did love him. This was Luke Danes, her best friend and her match. He was right. In everyway, but especially he was right for her.
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