She was mean and she had seashells in her hair! (dollsome) wrote,
She was mean and she had seashells in her hair!
dollsome

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as time goes by (Luke/Lorelai)

Title: as time goes by
Pairing: Luke/Lorelai
Word Count: 6,383
Rating: PG
Spoilers: spans from a couple of years pre-series to mid-season one
Summary: Five times Luke and Lorelai kissed (or wanted to) before Raincoats & Recipes.
Author's Note: So, about a zillion years ago, dreamstrifer gave me the prompt 'Five times Luke almost kissed Lorelai before season four.' And I went so, so very long without even glancing at any of those prompts -- because I suck -- that when this one did start blossoming into an actual plot bunny in my brain, I remembered it as 'Five times Luke and Lorelai kissed before season four.' And then somehow it turned into a bizarre melding of the actual existing prompt and the erroneous prompt that was the result of my own fic-prompt-neglect. Whee!!

And, after angsting over my inability to give anything a title, I finally just gave up and went with a whole Casablanca theme. They watched it together in season four! It's relevant! It counts so much!! Not to mention that time is actually literally going by in this story! So don't question my logic! Don't judge me!

Um, right.

Aaanyway.

Let's go.


--

you must remember this--
a kiss is just a kiss



i.

“It’s stupid.”

Gasp! Luke! How can you say that??”

“Y’know, most people don’t say the word ‘gasp.’ They just gasp.”

“Well, I am extraordinary. And—can I be honest here?”

“Can I stop you from being honest here?”

“Good point. Now, as I was saying – and I would have expected you to have figured that out by now.”

“Is this discussion really necessary?”

“Uh, yeah, I think it is.”

“You think it is, or you just like to drive me crazy?”

“Now, why oh why would I enjoy driving you crazy? You and your weird ideas!”

“Yeah. I’m the weird one in this conversation.”

“Good for you! You’re finally getting the hang of things. Oh, Luke, I always hoped this day would come! I used to sit outside for hours every night, waiting for a star to wish upon just so I could—”

“What are we talking about again?”

“Um, the unforgivable diss you just bestowed upon mistletoe. Duh.”

“Ah. Right.”

“How can you say it’s stupid? It’s seasonal, and joyous, and—”

“Awkward, and sadistic.”

“Oh, you’re just bitter because of that time you had to kiss Babette.”

“And you wouldn’t be?”

“What are you talking about?? She’s one foxy broad. I’d keep an eye out for Morey, though. Something tells me that darkness lurks beneath his calm exterior.”

“Right.”

“Seriously. Dude wears sunglasses all the time. Think about it.”

“Y’know, one day your luck’s gonna run out, and you’re gonna find yourself locking lips with Kirk. Then we’ll talk.”

“Oh yeah?? I don’t think so, buddy. My mistletoe luck is a sure thing! In fact, I—”

“Excuse me!”

Lorelai stops mid-witty retort and reluctantly turns to face the front of the dance studio.

“Can the two of you please get your kissing over with so we can begin the town meeting?” Taylor demands impatiently, drumming his fingers against the podium.

“This isn’t the kind of thing you can just force, Taylor,” Lorelai retorts. “Mistletoe kissing is a sacred tradition that—”

Except then Luke entirely thwarts the point she’s trying to make by leaning over, sort of quasi-slamming his mouth against hers for a couple of seconds, and pulling away again.

This one time when she was twelve and still getting the hang of the whole high heels thing, she fell down the stairs. It feels a little like that. One second, everything’s solid under your feet, and the next, bam. Or maybe whoo-boy. This feels more like a whoo-boy.

“Um,” she says, and stares blankly at Luke. “Hello.”

Her heart is beating way too fast to be normal. Since when is mistletoe a health hazard?

“Sorry,” Luke says gruffly. Which would be all well and good and typical Luke, except he also appears to be blushing. She doesn’t know how to feel about this. “Just figured I might as well get it over with.”

“Wow, that’s romantic.” Sarcasm. Sarcasm is good.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he says quickly, reaching out to touch her and then stopping a few inches away, like suddenly a friendly pat on the shoulder is serious PDA. He pulls his hand back and stares at it angrily for a couple of seconds. The moment reeks of weird ‘et tu, Brutus’ vibes. He clears his throat and awkwardly continues, “Uh, I just meant the sooner we do it, the sooner everyone stops staring at us, the sooner we can sit down—”

“Oh, no, I totally get it,” she agrees, accidentally nodding so vigorously that she’s pretty sure bobblehead dolls ain’t got nothin’ on her. “I didn’t mean it like – well, you know. Not seriously. Because, I mean, romance, not a factor here.”

She says the last part extra loud, just so their lovely fellow townspeople don’t get any ideas.

“Yeah, no, absolutely,” Luke agrees quickly. “Definitely not a romantic situation.”

“So we’re in agreement, then,” Lorelai says, and realizes that, for whatever reason, all of a sudden she’s talking in her business voice.

“Yeah,” Luke agrees with a brisk nod. “Agreement.”

A handshake feels oddly necessary. She suppresses the urge.

“Um, great,” she says instead. “Then let’s sit down.”

“Right,” he agrees, shuffling awkwardly. “Let’s.”

And so they make their way through the studio, ignoring the fact that everyone’s watching them in absolute fascination. (Except Kirk, who’s completely mesmerized by a handful of those reindeer heads made out of clothespins. Figures.)

Rory’s beaming in a way that absolutely does not bode well as Lorelai sinks down next to her.

“So,” she says innocently, “when you guys get married, do you think I should call him ‘Daddy’ or just stick with ‘Luke’?”

“Quiet, you,” Lorelai grumbles.

“‘Daddy’ it is,” Rory answers cheerfully.


ii.

“Come on, Luke.”

“No.”

“It’s for a good cause!”

“No, it’s for the Stars Hollow Midsummer Solstice Festival. The last thing this town needs is another ridiculous excuse to wrangle everybody into celebrating something stupid. It’s already full of crazy people – does it really seem like a smart move to get everybody dressed up in flowy clothes, chanting and holding hands and spinning in circles and sacrificing goats or whatever the hell you do at a solstice? Nobody here has ever felt the need to celebrate a solstice until now, and I don’t see why all of a sudden the whole damn town needs to start. It’s completely and entirely—”

“Is there something you’re not telling me?” Lorelai cuts in, tapping her fingernails impatiently against the counter of the kissing booth.

“Like what?” Luke asks, agitated.

“Oh, I dunno,” she says coyly. “You just seem really, really against the idea of me kissing you.”

He lets out a sigh of frustration. “It’s not that. It’s just—”

“Say, do you have any gentleman friends I should know about?” she asks, eyes gleaming wickedly.

“Oh, come on—”

“Listen to a lot of Babs in your spare time?” she persists, grinning.

“Lorelai—”

“Okay, here we go. Andrew!” she calls. “Andrew, get over here. Andrew’ll show you how it’s done.”

Andrew wanders over, looking vaguely apprehensive. As well he should.

Lorelai fixes a bright, Stepford-esque smile on her face. “Hello, Andrew! Would you like to buy a kiss to support the funding of the Stars Hollow Midsummer Solstice Festival?”

“Sure would, Lorelai,” Andrew answers dutifully.

“Excellent!” Lorelai chirps. “Now, you give me that five dollar bill, and prepare to have your world rocked.”

Andrew passes her the money, and she gives him a quick peck on the lips.

“See?” she asks, turning back to Luke. “Harmless.”

“You’re kissing guys for money,” he points out. “Doesn’t that make you feel like a hooker?”

“Uh, no,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Hookers don’t kiss on the mouth. Haven’t you seen Pretty Woman?”

“No.”

No?” she repeats, her mouth falling open in a perfect ‘o’ of shock. “Well. That is another discussion for another time. But don’t think I’m going to forget about that one, mister.”

“I don’t dream that big,” he retorts.

“Tell you what,” she says, “If you’re gonna keep insisting on being freaked and stingy, you can just pay two fifty for a kiss on the cheek. It’ll be over before you know it.”

“Fine,” Luke sighs. “But this is ridiculous. And when this festival ends in the lights catching one of the trees on fire and Kirk throwing up on somebody’s shoes, I reserve the right to say I told you so.”

“Duly noted,” Lorelai says with a nod.

He pulls out his wallet, making sure to look extra-irritated as he does it.

“You better prepare yourself, Luke Danes,” Lorelai declares merrily, “because yours is going to be a changed life! This kiss is going to cause you to completely reevaluate every aspect of your whole existence – I’m talking spiritual enlightenment here.”

“Can’t wait,” he says tonelessly, slamming the money down onto the counter.

“All right, pal,” she replies, beaming. “Now get down here so I can—”

“Excuse me,” a flat, familiar voice interjects. “He wasn’t in line.”

“What?” Lorelai asks, her eyes darting away from Luke.

“You just called him over,” Kirk reports. “Technically, he wasn’t in line. I was.”

“It’ll just take a second, Kirk,” Lorelai says shortly.

“But I have my money out and everything.” He brandishes two twenties as evidence.

Lorelai’s face freezes. Luke can’t really blame her.

“Say,” she says hastily, her eyes locked on the twenties, “it’s just about time for my lunch break! Gypsy, you can take it from here, right?”

Without waiting for an answer, she slides out of the booth. Her fingers latch onto Luke’s arm, and she drags him away with speed so impressive it’s a little bit scary.

“Bitch,” Gypsy mutters behind them.

“You’re a very cruel woman,” Luke informs her as they head for the diner.

“Oh, you mean because I ripped you off?” she asks innocently.

“Yeah,” Luke deadpans. “That.”

“Well, don’t you worry, Mr. Danes! I will see to it that you get your money’s worth.”

“Oh really?” he asks warily.

“Really,” Lorelai confirms solemnly. “From this point on, I officially owe you two dollars and fifty cents’ worth of air-kisses.”

“Air kisses,” he repeats flatly.

“Oh, yeah! Like a kiss on the cheek, but much more embarrassing,” Lorelai explains cheerfully.

“Great,” he mutters.

And so she blows him kisses when she comes into the diner every morning for a straight week. Which is ridiculous.


iii.

She doesn’t hear the knocking until she heads out of Rory’s room to get her another glass of water. As it is, it takes her a couple of seconds to figure out that knocking on the door equals somebody outside that wants to come in. Another few seconds go by, and she’s also able to add the fact that it’s an Antarctic level of chilly out lately.

It takes another couple of knocks before she jumps to the logical next step – answer the door.

Right.

Give her a break. She’s caffeine-deprived.

She scrambles to the front door, pulling it open. Sure enough, there he is.

“Luke!” she exclaims. “How long have you been out here?”

“Just a couple minutes,” he responds casually. It contrasts impressively with the teeth-chattering. She’s also pretty sure he’s turning blue. “It’s not too bad.”

“What are you talking about? It’s freezing!” She reaches out and tugs at one arm. “Get in here.”

He complies, following her inside and through to the kitchen. “How is she?”

“Hacking and gacking nonstop,” Lorelai reports, making a face as she sets the empty water glass down. “Consumption stopped being all the rage like a hundred years ago, right?”

“That’s what I’ve heard,” Luke affirms.

“Yeah, well, somebody tell that to Rory.” It’s only now that she realizes his arms are full with bags from the diner. “You brought food.”

“I put some stuff together,” he answers with a dismissive shrug. “I know you said she doesn’t have much of an appetite, but just in case, I threw together a little something—”

“Soup,” Lorelai reports, pulling out the contents of the bag. “More soup. Mashed potatoes. Fresh fruit. Oh my God – is this pot roast?”

“Yeah, well,” Luke says, and shuffles a little uncomfortably, “I figured you weren’t feeding yourself right either.”

“Good guess,” she says, and smiles at him. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” he says. “What’s that you got there?”

“Oh,” she says, looking down at the copy of Anne of Green Gables in her hand. “Comfort book.”

“Comfort book?”

“Since Rory was little, her getting sick has always meant me reading to her while she’s sick,” Lorelai explains. “I tried to get her to branch out a little this time – ya know, go for Lady Chatterly or Lolita – but for some reason, she felt like sticking with good ol’ Anne-with-an-E here.”

“Go figure.”

“Yeah.”

“Man, you look . . .” He trails off. Smart move.

“Terrifying?” Lorelai suggests wryly. “The Bride of Frankenstein should be so lucky?”

“Exhausted,” Luke corrects. “But still good.”

“You are a sweet, sweet man, Luke Danes,” she says, reaching out to touch his arm. “And a big liar, by the way. I’m onto you, pal.”

He deftly ignores her. “When was the last time you slept?”

“Probably the last time Rory did,” Lorelai answers, trying too hard not to contemplate the word ‘sleep.’ Otherwise, there is a danger she might wind up hypnotized. “She dozes off for about twenty minutes and then wakes up coughing, at which point I’ve gotta be there, armed with a glass of water and another chapter of that wacky Anne girl’s exploits.”

“Tell you what,” Luke says decisively. “You go get some sleep, and I’ll sit with her. I’ll put a pot of coffee on, and it’ll be ready for you when you get up.”

She’s pretty sure that feeling just now was her heart actually melting. Whether it’s from how wonderful Luke is or simply because her body is shutting down from sheer exhaustion is anybody’s guess.

“Luke, you don’t have to—”

“No, it’s fine,” he insists.

“But you’ve gotta get up in the morning,” Lorelai protests. “The diner—”

“It’s fine,” Luke cuts in firmly. “You. Bed. Now.”

And, well, it’d be rude to argue, right?

“You are a wonderful human being,” she sighs.

“Go,” he instructs.

“First,” she says, “A warning.”

“What?” he asks, looking vaguely apprehensive.

“I’m gonna hug you, and it’ll probably be gross,” she informs him gravely, taking a couple of steps closer. “But contrary to how it might look, I swear I’ve showered in the last forty-eight hours.”

“Well, in that case,” Luke says sardonically, and opens his arms. His coat is still cold from outside as she folds into him, and the slight shock of it makes everything a little sharper; it feels kind of like waking up. She doesn’t quite mean to bury her face in his chest, but it’s just for a second. Totally doesn’t count.

“Thank you,” she murmurs, looking up at him.

“Of course,” he says, a little quietly. She gets that she should move now – there is such a thing as a too-long hug, which Kirk proved all too well on her last birthday. But still. Moving suddenly seems overrated. She doesn’t realize that her hair is in her face until he reaches forward – absently, like he’s not quite thinking – to brush it back. His fingers are rough as they barely graze her cheek, but in a way that’s good. Comforting.

He’s looking at her in that way that they like to pretend they don’t look at each other. Possibly this isn’t smart.

An explosion of coughing fills the air.

“There she goes again,” Lorelai says, pulling back fast. “I’d better just—”

“I got it,” Luke interrupts. “Go to bed.”

“She needs water—”

“I got it,” Luke repeats, picking the empty glass up off the table.

She has no clue what she did to deserve him. “Thanks again.”

“Goodnight, Lorelai,” Luke says pointedly, twisting the sink on to fill the glass.

“Goodnight, Luke,” she answers fondly. He looks over and the corner of his mouth quirks up in a slight smile; she returns it and heads out to the living room. She grabs an afghan off the couch, wrapping it around her and trying not to think about the fact that hair-tucking (accompanied by minimal cheek-brushing) is not the most platonic of actions. It’s completely justifiable. She’s operating on no caffeine whatsoever, and as for him – well, all that cold from standing outside forever probably froze his brain a little. Yep. That’s right. Clearly, neither of them can be held accountable for their actions.

Sounds good.

She’s about to head upstairs when the sound of his voice stops her.

“So, uh,” she hears him begin awkwardly from Rory’s room. “I’m guessing your mom left off here, because it’s the last page that’s folded, so I guess I’ll just –” He clears his throat. “Chapter Eight: Anne’s Bringing-up Is Begun. For reasons best known to herself, Marilla did not tell Anne that she was to stay at Green Gables until the next afternoon . . .”

Lorelai smiles. His voice follows her, fading slowly as she climbs the stairs.


iv.

“Note to self – hey, Luke, write this down.”

“With what?” Luke asks, tightening his grip on her waist. It doesn’t stop her from stumbling all over the damn place.

“Miss Patty’s Founder’s Day Punch – never a good idea. Are you writing this down?”

“If it’s a note to self, shouldn’t you write it down?” he points out irritably.

She frowns at him. “With what?”

“Exactly.”

“Huh,” she says carelessly. She steps on his toe – again – and it hurts like hell – again. Her face scrunches up in a bewildered frown. “You know, I can usually walk in heels a lot better than this.”

“Yeah, well, you’re usually not plastered out of your mind,” Luke reminds her.

“Excuse me!” she exclaims indignantly, and pokes him in the shoulder. Hard. “I am not plastered out of my mind. I am faintly tipsy.”

“Yeah, okay,” he says, not even bothering to pretend he’s convinced.

She’s thoughtfully silent for a couple seconds.

“I’m all over you, aren’t I?” she realizes.

“Little bit, yeah,” he confirms.

She tilts her head. “Do you mind?”

“I’d mind more if you fell over and broke your neck,” he retorts.

“Aw, you’re so sweet,” she fawns, pinching his cheek. It’s a good thing that whole no-hitting-girls rule exists.

“Right.” He rolls his eyes.

“Chivalry, thy name is Lucas,” she continues merrily.

“Don’t call me Lucas.”

“Hey!” She drums her fingers excitedly against his arm. “I just realized something.”

He sighs. “What?”

“Chivalry – weird word, right?”

“Not really.”

“What??” she asks, apparently morally offended. “Are you kidding me? It is such a weird word.”

“It’s a word. Words are words.”

“So you don’t think any words are weird?” she asks skeptically.

“Nope.”

“Not even, like, onomatopoeia?”

“The fact that you can pronounce that while drunk is very impressive,” he remarks, looking over at her.

“Well, I’m an impressive lady,” she responds, beaming. “Or haven’t you heard?”

“Maybe once or twice.”

She nudges him. “Hee, you think I’m impressive.”

“Is there any chance you’re gonna stop talking?” he asks dryly.

“Nope!” she chirps.

“I didn’t think so,” he grumbles.

She laughs, and the sound is hazy and warm; it’s got that sunshine-on-your back feeling, if that makes any sense. Stuff to do with Lorelai doesn’t usually tend to make sense. It’s a fact he’s come to terms with over the years.

"Hey," she says all of a sudden, thoughtful.

He's got a bad feeling about this. "What?"

"Remember that time you kissed me under the mistletoe?"

Definitely a bad feeling. "Yeah."

"Why'd you do that?" she asks, eyeing him curiously.

"It's mistletoe," he answers bluntly. "It's the rules."

"You don't care about mistletoe rules," she reminds him, rolling her eyes.

"Yeah," he replies, "but you do, and Taylor does, and so does the whole damn rest of this crazy town. It woulda been worse if I hadn't done it, believe me."

She's silent for a couple seconds. "Huh."

"Yeah," he agrees, and tries not to pay too much attention to the feel of her waist against his fingertips.

They take a couple of steps in silence. He's just about to reach the relieved conclusion that maybe this whole walking-home situation doesn't spell disaster after all when—

"Luke?"

For the love of God. "What?"

"No offense or anything," Lorelai says matter-of-factly, "but it was kind of a crappy kiss."

Oh brother.

"It's a mistletoe kiss," he replies as practically as he can. "Of course it was crappy."

"But it so didn't have to be!" she exclaims.

"Oh yeah? Why's that?" Not that he cares, because none of this is a big deal.

"Well, I don't know if you're aware of this, but you and I are a couple of reasonably attractive people, my friend," Lorelai declares.

"You don't say."

"I did say. Jeez!" She slams her shoulder clumsily against his. "Pay attention."

"Sorry."

"And my point here is," she continues, ridiculously impassioned, "we should be able to combine our powers of reasonable attractiveness to create one decent kiss. It just makes sense."

"Huh," he says.

She looks at him in a way that could be classified as disgusted. "That's all you got out of that? 'Huh'??"

"Well, sorry I didn't recognize our mutual attractiveness at the time," he sighs impatiently. "I didn't know you'd hold one crappy kiss against me forever."

As soon as he says it, he wishes he hadn't. It sounds . . . offended, or disappointed, or something else that he's not. That kiss didn't matter, a whole lot like how this conversation doesn't matter. And he definitely doesn't want Lorelai getting the idea that it does.

"I'm not saying it was all your fault!" she says, tightening her grip on his arm. He thinks it's supposed to be comforting. "It's not like I did anything to help along the situation."

"Okay then," he says flatly.

"I could've practiced beforehand!" she continues grandly. "Macked on the bathroom mirror! Unwrapped a Starburst with my tongue!"

"Okay, I got it," he assures her.

"Do you, Luke?" she demands, turning to stare at him dead-on. "Do you really appreciate the gravity of the situation??"

"No," he says firmly, meeting her eyes. "And neither will you, when you're not drunk."

"Well, 'till then, it's a big deal!"

He shrugs. "If you say so."

Thankfully, she shuts up again. Hopefully this time, she'll actually stay quiet.

He's so distracted by trying not to let her step on his feet that he doesn't even begin to see it coming.

"Maybe we should try it again," she says.

He stops walking. "What?"

"You know," she says, perfectly untroubled as she stills next to him. "Redeem ourselves."

"Um," he says. He's gonna have trouble coming up with any more than that.

"Not to put any pressure on you," she adds, leaning into him slightly. "Am I putting pressure on you? Figurative pressure, I mean. I'm obviously putting physical pressure on you."

"Obviously."

"I just always thought that when we -- if we, I mean --" Her eyes are wide and earnest, and he realizes with a weird, sinking sensation (or maybe it's a floating sensation; he's not good with sensations) that she's actually serious. "--it would be -- . . . squirrels."

He doesn't know why he's surprised.

"Squirrels," he repeats flatly.

"Yeah," she says, looking strangely blank. "Squirrels." And then in two seconds she's back at high speed, a-million-miles-a-minute Lorelai Gilmore. "What do you think about them? Weird, right??"

"Weird squirrels," he says dully.

"Like bats without wings, with those gigantic furry tails of theirs!" she proclaims, with all the fervor of some creepy TV evangelist. "Where do they get off??"

"Squirrels." It's kinda hard to get past, is all.

"Squirrels," she affirms, sneering violently.

The sneer disappears pretty quick, though, and then she's just looking at him. Her eyes are really, really blue. He's still got an arm around her waist, and it probably feels way more natural than it should.

"You thought about it," he says, not meaning to, almost in a whisper. It's stupid.

"Well, yeah," she admits uncomfortably. "Once or twice."

"Oh."

She breathes in. "Did you?"

The smart move here would be to lie.

But the thing is, in the spirit of the evening, maybe it's better to just abandon smart moves. Temporarily, at least.

"I--" he starts.

"Luke! Lorelai! Hey, Morey, it's Luke and Lorelai!!"

It's only now that he realizes they're standing right in front of Babette and Morey's.

Fantastic.

"Hey Luke," Morey says dutifully, trailing after Babette out onto the porch. "Hey Lorelai."

"Hey, Morey. Babette," Luke says, trying to get his stupid heart rate to stop whatever it's doing.

Not that it's any different than regular, or anything.

"Say, Luke, honey, why are you two walkin' so close?" Babette asks. Her puzzled frown transforms into a delighted grin way too fast. "Did you finally figure things out? Morey, these two crazy kids! They finally figured things out!"

"Nice," Morey says approvingly.

"We didn't figure anything out," Luke says firmly. "She's just--"

"Oops!" Lorelai exclaims, and giggles as she stumbles into him. "Man, walking is hard!"

"We're standing still," Luke reminds her, bemused.

"Well, that's tough, too," she replies, untroubled.

"Ah," Babette says knowingly. "Founder's Day Punch, huh?"

"Exactly," Luke confirms.

"But I am not drunk, I'll have you know!" Lorelai exclaims, then glares at him. "Luke thinks I'm drunk."

"You are drunk," he informs her.

"See??" she says triumphantly in Babette and Morey's general direction.

"That punch'll really do a number on ya, won't it, honey?" Babette says, shaking her head. "Lucky for you, Luke sweetheart, Lorelai is an adorable drunk."

"Thank you, Babette!" Lorelai beams.

"No problem, sweetie. It's God's honest truth! You've got your ugly drunks, and your sad drunks, and then you've got Lorelai."

"Good to know," Luke deadpans.

"You hear that?" Lorelai asks him, way too pleased. "I'm adorable."

"I heard."

"So you better be nice to me," she orders, poking him in the chest.

"Ya know, Luke, sugar, maybe this is your chance," Babette continues.

Oh no. "Chance to what?"

"You know! Make a move!"

Jesus. "I don't--"

"'Cause God knows you're perfect for each other, but you're not gonna win a girl's heart with one crappy mistletoe kiss, ya know?" She turns to her husband, nudging him in the arm. "Isn't that right, Morey??"

"Okay," Luke cuts in pointedly. He figures Morey will probably be pretty cool about it, but at the moment, he doesn't feel like taking the chance. Instead, he tightens his grip around Lorelai's waist and starts moving. "We will see you guys later."

"Just think about it, would ya, doll?" Babette calls after him.

"Goodnight, you two!" Luke yells over his shoulder.

Lorelai's frowning. "Did they just tell you to come onto me while I'm drunk?"

"Yeah."

"The people in this town are cracked," she declares.

"No argument there."

". . . Maybe it's a sign."

He can't believe this. "What?"

"That we should try again!" she urges.

"Lorelai--"

"No, no, think about it!" she insists, gazing into the distance in front of them like she can see it all on a big dumb movie screen or something. "Mistletoe Kiss, Take Deux."

"I don't think that's the best idea," he says.

"Why not?" she demands.

"Well, for one thing, you're not gonna remember any of this in the morning," he says as rationally as he can, taking a couple of steps forward. It's hindered by the fact that she's suddenly not moving.

"What?" he asks a little impatiently.

She just looks at him. Her expression changes -- turns softer somehow. There's moonlight in her hair. "I'd remember."

She does stupid, stupid things to him.

"Yeah?" he can't help asking.

"I'd remember," she repeats. She's talking quiet, but there's insistence in her voice.

Mistletoe Kiss, Take Deux suddenly isn't sounding so bad at all. Judging by the way she's leaning closer into him, eyelids suddenly heavy, lips parting slightly, it looks like she's thinking the same thing.

There's a second where he's gonna do it -- seize the day, live in the moment, all that bullshit that he definitely doesn’t believe in -- but then, with her this close, the scent of alcohol hits him hard all of a sudden. He falters.

Maybe he's thought about it once or twice, and in those scenarios, she actually remembers it the next day.

"Let's get you inside," he says gently, pulling back.

Her eyes open all the way, and she looks at him for a second with this confusion that makes him just want to say to hell with it and -- well.

He doesn't. That's the important thing.

A moment passes.

"Okay," she agrees softly.

They walk in not-quite-comfortable silence up to her front door.


v.

“Remind me again why a New Year’s party was a good idea.”

“I will have an answer for you as soon as this stops happening,” Lorelai says, and throws in a cringe for good measure.

Luke is staring forward in blank, morbid fascination. “You do realize that it’s your fault, right?”

“Hey, don’t go there,” Lorelai orders, similarly rapt. She can’t help it. It’s just as enticing as it is horrible.

“It’s true,” Luke protests. “If you hadn’t come up with this crazy idea in the first place, we all wouldn’t be forced to witness Kirk doing the Macarena right now.”

She tears her eyes away to glare at him. “Are you trying to fill me with guilt and self-loathing?”

“Yes,” he answers promptly.

“Oh,” she says, a little taken aback. He stares evenly at her. She has no choice but to wilt under his glowery diner-man gaze. “Well – okay, maybe I deserve it.”

“And by maybe, you mean—”

“All right, all right! I deserve it, I deserve it!” she interjects, throwing her arms up in defeat. “I just – I don’t know! It seemed like a good idea at the time!”

“Were you high at the time?” Luke wants to know.

“What, now you want me to keep track?” she scoffs. He rolls his eyes at her. “Karaoke is usually fun. It sounded fun.”

“It’s never fun.”

Lorelai pouts. “Who the hell knows the words to the Macarena, anyway?”

“Kirk.”

“Right,” she sighs. “At least it’s almost midnight. Then at least temporarily, the madness must end.”

“Thank God for that,” Luke agrees.

He seems distracted, rummaging through dinery stuff on the far counter. She wastes no time in making her move.

"Hey, what are you doing?” he asks, frowning at her as she circles around the counter to stand behind it.

“The farther away I can get from that, the better,” she responds, hoisting herself up onto the countertop. She can still hear Kirk, but no longer having to actually watch him at it is a plus that cannot be denied.

“Do I get to remind you how I feel about other people behind my counter?" he asks, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Nope," Lorelai answers brightly. "The party was my idea, which means I get temporary behind-the-counter privileges."

"Says you.”

"Exactly!"

"Which makes it law," he concludes resignedly.

"Aw, see? Now you're getting the hang of things."

“Wonderful,” he grumbles.

“Hey,” she adds, reaching out to grasp his shoulder for a second. “Thanks for doing this. I know that parties aren’t your thing. And tonight has proven an excellent example of why, by the way.”

“It’s no problem,” he replies gallantly, even though she can totally tell that the glint in his eye means he’s never going to forgive her all the way for allowing a karaoke machine to pass across the diner’s threshold. “It’s nice, I guess. Getting the whole town together to celebrate. For other people, I mean,” he adds. “Drives me nuts.”

“Sure,” she says, smirking at him. “You’ve got a heart in there somewhere, Luke Danes.”

“Don’t count on it,” he retorts.

“Softie,” she accuses, grinning.

He rolls his eyes at her, but he’s smiling a little.

“So,” he says, clearing his throat and reaching for a rag. “Where’s Whatsisname?”

“Whatsisname?”

“Yeah, you know,” he says. He’s apparently really engrossed in wiping down an already-clean counter, because he’s not looking at her. “That guy you’re seeing.”

“Ah,” she says. “Max.”

“Yeah, him,” Luke grunts.

She doesn’t know for certain, but she’s pretty sure this feels awkward all of a sudden.

“He’s still visiting his family,” she explains, ignoring the whole probably-awkward dilemma. “Apparently they actually like to spend time with one another, which – marvel at the concept.”

“I’m marveling,” Luke says shortly.

“It’s really sweet that you pay so much attention to my personal life, by the way,” she adds dryly. “Whatsisname. Seriously. Touching.”

“I thought it was Max,” Luke says, a little impatient. “I just wasn’t sure. And just in case—”

“You didn’t refer to him to Max for fear that I’d be so insulted by your name mix-up that I’d never speak to you again?” She puts a hand to her heart. “Aw, Luke, you’re so sensitive.”

“Boy, can you read me like a book.”

“What can I say? I’m hooked on Luke-phonics.”

“Cute.”

She beams. “Aren’t I always?”

The dulcet strains of the Macarena abruptly cease.

“Finally,” Luke mutters.

“Ooh, what happened?” Lorelai asks, glancing briefly over her shoulder.

“Taylor pulled the plug,” Luke replies.

“God bless ya, Taylor!” Babette rasps from her seat.

“Attention, people!” Taylor calls out. “New Year’s is nearly upon us, so quit whatever you’re doing and assemble yourself next to your desired kissing partner!”

“Pfft,” Lorelai grumbles, frowning. “Like we’d all have kissing partners. I can’t believe Taylor’s making me feel pathetic about my love life. New low, right?”

“Something like that,” Luke agrees.

She turns around and takes in the scene for a second before she’s struck by a thrilling realization. Turning back to Luke, she asks, “You think he realizes the closest person to him at the moment is Kirk?”

Luke inspects the scene. “Doesn’t look like it.”

“You think we should tell him?”

“Definitely not.”

Lorelai grins. “Nice.”

…twenty!...nineteen!...eighteen!...seventeen!...

“Oh, I am so going to hold onto this moment until the end of time,” she vows, keeping her eyes trained fixedly on Kirk, Taylor, and The Impending Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

“You wanna remember this?” Luke asks, sounding mildly appalled.

“Ohh, are you kidding me? This is the stuff dreams are made of, baby.”

“Knowing your brain, probably literally.”

“Think about it!” Lorelai insists. “From this point forward, every time either of them ever does something that makes me want to bash my head repeatedly against a brick wall – which, let’s face it, will probably be no more than fifteen minutes from this very moment – I’ll just remember the time that they were forced, as per tradition, to lock lips. The awkwardness. The humiliation. The suffering.”

“You’re sick,” Luke announces.

“Oh, don’t you try to convince me you aren’t loving this, pal,” Lorelai retorts.

…eight!...seven!...six!...five!...

“Gah! It’s so close!” Lorelai exclaims, drumming her fingertips excitedly against Luke’s arm. “Wait for it—”

…three!...two!...one!

The diner immediately erupts into a flurry of cheers, confetti, and a Miss-Patty-and-Babette rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Kirk wastes no time in planting a robotic kiss on an unsuspecting Taylor’s cheek.

“Ohh!!” Lorelai exclaims in hushed rapture as Taylor manages to turn red and green all at once – which works, in a way, since the whole thing is kind of like a big creepy slightly belated Christmas miracle. “Yes! Yes!”

“You’re insane,” Luke declares, not exactly unfondly.

“Oh, you know you’re lovin’ it,” Lorelai quips, looking back at him. She’s fully intent upon explaining to him exactly why this is the greatest moment of both their lives, but the look on his face makes her falter. He’s just . . . looking at her, all sweet and affectionate and about fifty other unLuketype adjectives.

It is, she realizes, midnight. On New Year’s. There’s occasionally something to be said for tradition.

And, well, if Kirk and Taylor can do it.

It’s hard to tell who leans in first – both of them, maybe. She closes her eyes without quite meaning to, and then she’s kissing Luke. Only for a couple of seconds, exactly the kind of no-big-deal kiss you’re supposed to exchange with a friend on New Year’s Eve, but she realizes as she pulls away that there’s this part of her – this big, big part of her, this part that could almost be considered a whole part, an all-of-her part – that doesn’t want to be pulling away.

She’s pretty sure she would be panicking right now if the whole moment weren’t, well, like this – all thoughtless and heady and comfortable. The absence of panic should probably be freaking her out more.

“Happy New Year,” Luke says softly, one corner of his mouth quirking up.

“Right back atcha,” she murmurs. She doesn’t look away and he doesn’t either and so they’re just looking at each other, smiling like morons, and there’s this annoying little voice in the back of her head that insists this is dangerously approaching gazing territory.

And then Kirk plugs the karaoke machine back in.

Luke-wise, Lorelai is totally fine until she and Rory are walking home around an hour later.

“Seriously,” Rory says, shaking her head in mock disapproval. “I’m going to have to start calling him Daddy if you two keep this up.”

“Please,” Lorelai scoffs. “We’ve kissed twice in, what, four years? Both traditional kisses, mind you. Kisses enforced by the rules of society.”

“That’s your excuse,” Rory says, looping her arm through Lorelai’s.

“Are you forgetting about the whole English-teacher-on-the-couch situation?” Lorelai demands. “Mommy’s already spoken for, kiddo.”

“I’m just saying,” Rory answers with an innocent shrug. “You two tend to gravitate toward each other a whole lot. It’s a little suspicious.”

“We’re friends,” Lorelai reminds her impatiently.

“So are me and Lane,” Rory counters. “That doesn’t mean I kiss her on New Year’s.”

“Well, then maybe you two need to start Willow-and-Tara-ing it up, stat,” Lorelai retorts.

Rory rolls her eyes. “Right, okay.”

“Don’t, by the way,” Lorelai adds hastily. “I’m pretty sure that Mrs. Kim would personally see to it that I wound up burning in hell for all eternity if that one got back to her.”

“Wasn’t gonna.”

“Good girl.”

Sweet, sweet peaceful silence resumes just long enough to lull her into a false sense of security. And then—

“He completely stopped wearing his old hat,” Rory points out.

Demon child.

“That’s because he got a new hat,” Lorelai replies as calmly as she can.

“From you.”

“It’s a good hat,” Lorelai protests. “It would be a good hat even if it wasn’t from me.”

“But it is from you,” Rory reminds her.

“Yes, it is from me,” Lorelai says, frustrated. “So what?”

“Oh, nothing,” Rory says innocently.

“I’m not all secretly into Luke.” Best to just get it all out there.

Rory looks at her like she’s many degrees of nuts. Swell. “I didn’t say you were all secretly into Luke.”

“Well, good,” Lorelai says firmly. “Because I’m not.”

So there, she adds. To herself.

You know.

Just in case.


Tags: fanfiction, fic: gilmore girls, gilmore girls, luke/lorelai
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