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When The Day Met The Night

Chapter Text

When the moon found the sun

He looked like he was barely hanging on

But her eyes saved his life

In the middle of summer

The things you do for the people you love... sometimes they get so twisted, you get so tied up in the idea that this will make that person happy, that you lose sight of the road in front of you. You lose sight of the writing on the wall, the facts of your life, the others around you.

There was that picture on the wall in Luke's apartment, a young man of 18 in a military uniform, Marines maybe? He had a white hat on. Lorelai always thought that it was Luke's father, it was so... old feeling, black and white, a young old fashioned smile. It fit so perfectly between the fishing poles that she really ever gave it much thought.

The truth of the matter is that it was something Luke had done to forget being abandoned by his entire family. His parents were gone for good, he was alone. If he let those thoughts crowd his mind any longer while laying still in an empty dust covered office, just because it didn't feel as empty as the house, well he probably would have died soon after due to malnutrition. That only thing that made him feel alive again, that made his tormented mind feel settled, was running so hard that he would almost not be able to breath from the fire in his lungs. So he enlisted, he knew if he became a Marine, they would push him so hard he wouldn't have any choice but to live. The serving his country, the being in war, well it didn't cross his mind for a second, all he wanted was to forget.

And he was lucky, amongst his fellow soldiers, he did seem to stand out. He made it to Sergeant in only two years and got the recognition of his peers, but soon realized that his heart wasn't in it. He had gotten what he wanted, his heart was freshly scarred, but starting to heal, and he was almost able to accept losing his father and mother so young. And fortunately for Luke, a torn tendon in his knee was all it took to be discharged, to head home to Stars Hollow, not quite a war hero, but something at least.

No one really knew that Luke was in the Marines, strangely enough, he wasn't much for words, as we all know. He tucked his uniform and paraphernalia away in an old trunk, hung that picture on the wall, as it had come with the frame and he opened his diner.

Unfortunately, as well all know, one of the rules of life is that everything happens for a reason. Luke brushed his service aside as being something he had to do for his own mental health. Of course, life isn't as forgiving as that, and soon this old secret of his, although noble and admirable for an American citizen, would soon tear his world apart.

It started with a military proviso during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that soldiers, particularly Marines in ground troupes, would soon be able to continue service after certain knee injuries. Enlisted numbers were growing short and the war was escalating.

One afternoon in Luke's Diner, Lorelai was seated on a stool picking at some chili fries as Luke went over his traditional speech on how it would kill her one of these days. For some reason, on that particular day, Luke had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and his comments were a bit harsher than normal. Lorelai picked up on this and asked him what was up. The moment Luke took a breath to respond to her the bells above the Diner door jingled and two uniformed Marine officers entered. The moment Luke saw them his heart dropped into his belly and his hands went clammy.

The first one, wearing a gold leaf on each shoulder to signify himself as a Major, approached Luke. "Sergeant Danes?" he asked.

At this, Lorelai's jaw dropped and she immediately looked Luke in the eye for confirmation. Luke nervously turned from the Major to Lorelai, distractedly he responded, "Yes..."

The second uniformed officer, adorned with a single silver bar on each shoulder, handed Luke a letter. Both of them saluted Luke, who without thought returned the solute, and watched them walk out of the diner.

"Sergeant?" Lorelai asked incredulously. "Sergeant Danes?"

Luke hardly heard her as he stared at the paper in his hands, the torn open envelope clutched in his left fist. His jaw was slack, his face had gone pale and sweat bean to bead on his temples. "Luke?" Lorelai asked again, worried about what he held in his hands.

~Luke's Apartment~

"You're in the Marines?! You're... you... why didn't you ever say anything Luke?!" Lorelai pressed Luke for answers, her arms wrapped around her mid section, a confused and hurt expression on her face.

Luke was still staring at this piece of paper, except now he was seated in a chair in his kitchen, a beer in front of him, his hat sitting on the table. "That's not all..." he told her, quietly, afraid of her reaction.

Lorelai felt her gut contract, her heart started to pound as she reached for the chair in front of her.
"Sit down Lorelai." The moment her butt hit the chair her eyes started to well up, she was afraid she already knew what he was going to tell her. He began, "I joined up when I was 18... after my Dad died, you... you didn't know me back then, I was broken, I wanted to kill myself... a recruiter came into town and it seemed like the only thing I could do... then I got discharged after two years for a torn ACL..."

"And they just wanted to stop by and say hey what's up?" Lorelai asked through the tears starting to fall from her eyes. Luke had never been able to see her cry without feeling a twinge in his gut; he put his hand on her knee. He knew she knew, but he also knew she needed to hear it from him.

"They changed the regulations... and I still had three years left..."

"Luke you're almost 40! They can't do this!" Lorelai said almost irate all of a sudden, standing up, demanding another reaction from him.

"I have to report to the military base in New Haven next week," was all Luke could give her, before he placed the paper on the table with defeat.

And that was it. Lorelai made Luke contact a Lawyer, who ever so kindly informed them that if Luke evaded the military, he'd be court marshaled and would face a few years in a federal prison. The only way to avoid service would be to fail a physical and if he forced harm upon himself, that lovely court marshal again.

Their last week together, although Lorelai tried to accept the inevitable and show Luke she loved him... she really couldn't help but wonder what the hell was supposed to happen. And Luke being Luke, he could read her like a book, he noticed her false front, how broken up and devastated she was. Three years, three whole years... heck they hadn't even been dating for three years. And three years ago now? She was engaged to that Max guy, he hadn't even married Nicole yet. A lot could happen in three years.

Neither of them, during that last week, were really able to talk about what might happen between them, to their relationship, for that length of time. Lorelai, when she tried to talk to Luke about it, just crumbled in front of him and Luke feared that if he brought it up, his heart wouldn't be able to take whatever outcome they would agree on. Also, Luke was afraid that if she did make him discuss it, he would break down and in far worse a way than any dark day he'd ever been through. So both of them occupied themselves with the tasks at hand, Luke with making sure the diner would survive three years without him. Lorelai, with gathering up Luke's things to take with him and tailoring his uniforms.

More for himself than anything, on Luke's second to last night, he made love to Lorelai all night long. He breathed in her scent, savored her smooth skin, tried as best he could to memorize the way her body felt pressed up against his own. He whispered constant words of adoration and love into her ears, told her she could do anything, be anyone, that he was so proud of her. And all Lorelai got, she gave back, knowing they didn't have much time left for those things soon.

When Lorelai woke up the next morning, later than usual, after all the love-making, Luke was not on his side of the bed. All of his things were gone, even his little tube of toothpaste in the bathroom was missing. His side of the closet was cleared out and Lorelai's favorite light blue flannel she kept in her pajama drawer was gone. Heart racing, Lorelai ran as fast as she could into the kitchen and found the coffee brewed, breakfast in the microwave and a note sitting under a yellow daisy on the table. Her heart just about pounded out of her chest, her vision started to black out in large bubbles and blurs of tears. Cautiously and shakily, Lorelai took the seat in front of her and stared at the note, at the daisy, willing herself to breath, afraid of seeing what that letter said.

It probably took her half the day to read two pages of Luke's messy scrawl, she had to read and reread, her mind constantly panicking and drifting off, her concentration long gone.

 

Lorelai, 

First please let me say how much I love you and how much I'll miss you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me in this small crazy town, I don't know where I would have ended up if you hadn't rushed into my diner that one morning in a caffeine frenzy. You are the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think of before going to sleep. I don't know if I could ever really make you understand how much I love you and for how long it's been.

And that's why I'm not there this morning, it's killing me Lorelai, to even think that I'm going to spend a day away from you. I don't want you to see me like this, I need to be strong for you, I know how hard this is going to be on you. I wish I hadn't torn my damn ACL, I wish so many things had happened differently, I wish my Dad hadn't died, I wish I could stay there with you. I want... Oh fuck it, Lorelai, I wanted to marry you and I wanted to have kids with you, I wanted to make a home with you, grow old by your side and die with you.

You said it yourself, I'm almost 40 and I don't know what the hell is going to happen out there. I mean I see the news every morning, I hear stories, families devastated and it kills me to think that I'm going to do that to you. So I'm- Lorelai, please please please please understand, you need to move on, you need to- I know this is awful Lorelai, I know how horrible this is. But you need to move on, you need to forget about me, three years and the things that are happening, it would kill me if you waited only to lose me or you were too old to- what if after three years, they decide, three more! I know it's going to kill you, it's killing me right now. But I can't make you wait, I can't let you wait for me.

I've been thinking about this all week. I know you'll be able to move on, you're a strong amazing woman, I've never known anyone else like you. I know you can do this, I know you can move on, I think about three years ago and see how different things were back then. I'm sorry I did this in a letter but I know if I told you this morning... you would have convinced me to not let you go, to run away with you, anything but leave you... I'm weak for you.

Lorelai... find a guy that is strong and can take care of you if you let him, a man that will make you happy and love you. Even if it's Christopher, just make sure he makes you happy. I just want you to be happy, it's the only fair thing I can do for you.

I took my things so you won't have to see them or make a Luke box... You should keep the ring, sell it if you're running low or throw it in a river or a lake, or if you really can't bear to have it, send it to Jess, I don't want you to keep it if it's just going to hurt you. I know I'm hurting you and I'm so sorry, this thing that's happening, maybe it was a sign... I'm not one for signs, but, any reason I can find now, it'll make it easier for both us.

Just be happy, you have to be happy, that's all I want.

 

Love,
Luke

When she finally got through the letter it was almost completely soaked with tears, she had sobbed so much that her throat was hoarse and she could hardly breath. She called the diner, to see if he'd answer, but when Caesar picked up she hung up, afraid that she sounded as horrible as she felt. His cell phone was disconnected, he was officially gone, even his truck and boat were nowhere to be found, the apartment above the diner locked and bolted.

So she said, "That's okay
As long as you can make a promise
Not to break my little heart
Or leave me all alone in the summer."