Lorelai sat on the steps, watching Rory being harassed by Boston dentists and LaDon, wondering whether if she kicked Sammy would she break her foot or would she get enough lift so the cat landed on LaDon's head. Maybe LaDon would even believe Lorelai had had a seizure. She dialed Sookie's number.
Finally, Sookie answered, pleasantries were exchanged. Lorelai got to the point: "And you're at Luke's? And he's there? Great, hand him the phone and make him go outside to talk to me."
Because Sookie was pretty much the best friend ever and Lorelai had the whole broken engagement pity thing working for her, she did all those things without protesting. Lorelai owed her big.
She took a deep breath and went with "Hey," for her opening salvo. After she got the gruff return "hey," she said, "I just wanted you to know it wasn't you."
"Wasn't me what?"
"I didn't break my engagement because of you, that wasn't you. And I don't know if you were thinking that, but in case you were, don't." Sammy turned his head 90 degrees and stared at her like she'd taken his catnip. She raised her foot and mimed kicking him.
"Because I'd be crazy to think that."
She wished she could see him, except then she'd be in Stars Hollow and she didn't want that at all. She would, though, kill for Luke's coffee. She'd kill Sammy at the very least. She said, "It wouldn't be crazy. It wouldn't be Sean Young in her cat suit crazy; I acknowledge it would make sense. But it would be wrong."
"So the kiss was not involved at all."
Rory turned around right then with a face full of scone and utter fear but Lorelai just waved and frowned. "Not involved at all."
"Then what was involved?"
"Me, my crazy brain, deep-seated neuroses, my amazing imitation of David Caruso leaving the set of NYPD Blue, all of those things. But not you. You were just there. Being very nice. But not involved."
"I was just there."
She really loathed that unreadable digital voice of his. "Yes. If you'd been David Caruso, being nice, or Michel or nearly anyone, it would have been the same result."
"Michel? You would have kissed Michel. Or Kirk. He's nearly anyone."
"Okay, gross. And nearly is the disclaimer that lets out Kirk. And yes, perhaps not even Michel but mostly because Michel is incapable of being nice. David Caruso, though, there still would have been kissing. It was more just me, processing and thinking and not thinking at all. And I was calling to make sure we wouldn't be weird when I got back."
"How long is that trip you're planning on taking?"
"You've been weird for as long as I've known you so it would take a pretty long trip to get you to somewhere approaching normal."
Lorelai rolled her eyes and mimed kicking Sammy again. She loathed much more than Luke's unreadable digital voice. "Look, maybe I wouldn't have kissed just anyone, but I don't want you to feel guilty or think that I'm secretly in love with you and kissing you just made that all clear to me so I had to break off my engagement. Which was the point of calling you that I now think was pointless."
"Hey, message received." He sighed. "I didn't think it was because of me. And when you get back, it won't be weird. You'll still be weird, but it won't be. Okay?"
"Good," she said. For the first time in a while, she felt a little less horrible. She almost wanted to pet Sammy but she shuddered and stopped.
"When will you back?"
"Probably tomorrow." And wouldn't that be fun.
"Okay. Did you want to talk to Sookie or can I hang up and get back to work?"
"Go, and say thanks to Sookie for me. And, I guess this is obvious but you didn't tell anyone, right?"
"Well, Kirk and I had a long talk about it and then Taylor and Miss Patty joined in and Babette had to offer her opinion, but yeah, other than those guys, I didn't tell anyone." And she was right back to loathing every byte of his damn voice.
"Fine. Okay. Can't wait to see you."
She sighed. Stupid life. "But we're good, right?"
"We're fine." He sounded like he meant it and then he hung up. She closed the phone and took a deep breath. Okay, rescuing Rory, getting out without saying one more word to anyone at the B&B; she had a plan for the next hour.
The third snow of winter was the really bad one. The evil twin come calling, Tony Perkins lurking in the attic dressed like a woman covered in snow, all those things. The first ominous note on the soundtrack was when Rory called from Chilton saying that the roads were so bad, she was going to go the House of Horrors, aka the grandparents', like she'd done last year. Yay, Lorelai thought, losing out on a Wednesday night while Emily and Richard won. Then the roads really were nearly impassable coming home from the Inn and instead of a jaunty commute, she was stuck in 5 mile per hour traffic for an hour. The heat took forever to make the house something other than Antarctica or the temperature of Emily's heart. And when Lorelai called for pizza, Chinese and even the smelly Indian, no one would deliver.
When the high winds drove a stray branch into one of her kitchen windows, breaking it and letting in the Darth Vader of snow storms, it felt like the most final of all straws that ever did straw. She reached for the phone while trying to prop something against the hole in the window. "Luke?"
It took him twenty minutes to come over. She spent all of them holding an old pizza box against the window and it hadn't been working very well at all.
"What did you do?" He said loudly.
"I didn't do anything. The storm sent a flying branch hurtling towards my head and the window kindly blocked it. It sacrificed everything for me, including its own life." She pulled the box away and threw it in the garbage. "See?"
He made one of his grunty noises and stepped next to her to look at the window. She said, "Is that your yummy cheeseburger cologne or did you bring me food?"
"I brought you food. I could hear your stomach rumbling through the phone line."
"I'd say gross but I'm weak with hunger." She grabbed the bags on the table and went into the living room which was slightly less cold than the rest of the house. "You okay in there?"
All she got was a grunt. She finished both cheeseburgers in the bag, all the fries, and had started on the salad when Luke walked in. "It's been ten minutes," he said. "Is that salad? Is that something green going in your mouth?"
"Dirty!" She pointed at him with her fork. "I think I ate your dinner, too."
"I already ate. And I fixed your window, sort of. I'll have to come back later to replace the window, but your draft is gone."
"I guess I don't need to dodge it anymore, huh? Get it? Dodge the draft, huh?"
He sat down next to her and looked in the bag. "There's still pie. Are you okay?"
"I'm just so hungry. And the pie is cold. The salad was lukewarm."
"You can heat up the pie."
She shoved the salad away and grabbed the pie. "I couldn't before you got rid of the draft, I was planning to run over the border to Canada, change my name, start selling magic weed in a coffee shop just for pie. Which I would actually do."
When she walked back into the living room cradling her warm pie, Luke was poking at the fireplace. "Do you even use this?"
"Only when we're re-enacting Citizen Kane. Come on, sit down. Did you close the diner?"
He sat down. "When I came over here."
"And Jess is safely tucked in bed?" She shoved the last of the pie in her mouth after saying it so she didn't make her usual "jerky Jess" face.
"He was asleep with the stereo blasting and all the lights on, so yeah, Jess is safely tucked in bed."
She sat back and stared at him. He said, "What?"
"You look tired."
"Well, it's ten at night and I've already fixed a window and spent the whole day dealing with every idiot who was convinced they'd never eat again because the snow would wipe out every cow, pig and chicken in the country."
"By which you mean Kirk."
He frowned. "Kirk was one of the sane ones today. By comparison. And doesn't that say everything."
"Today was a crazy day. Crazy day, crazy year. I usually love snow --"
"I've heard," he said.
"But sometimes snow has its bad days, too. It has a little temper tantrum," she said, ignoring him. She sighed. "I wish Rory was here."
"She's at your parents?"
"Emily probably arranged the storm herself just so that would happen." She drew her knees up and nudged against him accidentally. "This has been a weird year. You know? I was thinking Christmas is coming and how everything was last year. You made me that disgusting burger because I looked pathetic --"
"You know, when I got back, someone had eaten half of it."
"Oh, that poor starving person and their upset stomach. And during the holidays!"
Luke said, "Two weeks before the holidays. They had plenty of time to recover."
"Yes, we've covered that. Exhaustively." She thought about moving since they were practically snuggling on the couch, but he was warm and toasty. "This year has been crazy. Crazy and weird. I never used to see my parents and now it's every week, without fail. Now I'm concerned about them and I worry about them and I hate that."
"Why are you worried about your parents?"
She shrugged. "My dad's been upset about his work and fighting with my mother and when it comes to fighting with my mother, I have the trademark on that, you know?"
They were both quiet for a minute and she said, "This is nice. You know, sitting and talking. We haven't done that in a while."
"When did we ever do that? We basically only talk at the diner, when you're sitting and I'm standing. Or I come over and we're both standing because I'm yelling and you're babbling."
Lorelai said, "We were both sitting when we talked about my engagement." She winced. She'd managed to never bring it up again and while there had been some lingering weirdness, she was starting to think it could fade into nothingness, like the whole David Caruso kissing was the Coreys' film careers.
"We're going to kiss and have it mean nothing at the end of this talk, too?"
"Ha ha." She hadn't said it meant nothing but she really didn't want to revisit it. "Anyway, we do too sit and talk. Sometimes. At least once."
Then the lights went out. She shrieked and jumped up. He pulled her back on the couch. "Power went out," he said.
"Or we both went blind at the same time. And deaf to the sounds of the heat working or the refrigerator humming but not to each other's voices."
"Deaf to everything but the sound of your voice. I've had nightmares like that." He suddenly stood up. "Where are your candles?"
"Wait, wait," she said, grabbing his hand. "I'm not sitting alone on the couch in the dark. I've seen horror movies before. One of the younger and less-employed Baldwins is right now sharpening his knife and running through the storm to come and get me."
"He's running and sharpening at the same time and he's one of the less employed Baldwins," he said, but he didn't let go of her hand. "Candles?"
"Jeez. We lose power at least twice every winter, why do you keep your candles upstairs?"
She pushed him towards where she thought the stairs were. "Because all the candles are in the bathroom from last week's Sephora bath beads testing extravaganza. We were deciding which scented candle went with which scented bath bead."
"Your life is full," he muttered as he found the first step by stubbing his toe on it. She ignored the profanity and cheered as they started going up the steps.
When they got to the top, she said, "Wait, I have a few in my bedroom."
"I'm going to hate myself for this, but why?"
"Because the rose scent was so overpowering, I was cleansing my palate with the sandalwood and Nile lily." She nudged him again. "Forward. There are even matches in there."
"One thing you weren't completely stupid about."
She meant to say she wasn't stupid at all, but then Luke stumbled as he entered her bedroom and fell forward, taking her with him. They landed in a tumble on the bed. She said, "Good thing it was the bed and not the closet, huh?"
"Right," he said quietly. They were lying on her bed. Crazy year, she thought. He was really warm.
She waited and waited and finally, Sookie answered the phone. After she waded through the hellos and who is this and why are you calling at six am, Lorelai said, "Sookie, I need help. Advice. Dr. Phil has caller ID and that cute Dr. Drew didn't give me his new cell number and even if they were available I need a girl and someone who likes me and that's you."
"Have you had coffee already?"
"No, I have not. I have accidental sex panic. Better than caffeine but much harder on the heart." She winced at the potential pun.
"Accidental sex? What is accidental sex and who did you have sex with? Ooooh, answer the who part first!" Nothing like news to wake Sookie right up.
"Uh, Luke, and --"
"Luke! Yay! I always thought you two would be so great together and I bet it was great. It was great, right? Sex with Luke?"
Lorelai stopped herself from ripping her hair out. She didn't want to be bald and panicked. "It was good, Sookie, but did you miss the part where it was accidental?"
"How was it accidental?"
"I didn't invite him over for sex, we've never been on a date, it just happened and now it's morning and I have accidental sex panic! Stay with me, Sookie."
Sookie paused. "Were you drunk?"
"No, neither of us were drunk. Just accidental! Help me, Rhonda."
"Okay, okay. Why was he over there, tell me what happened."
"There was snow, a window broke, I had no food, naturally, I called Luke. Then we were talking and then the power went out and we went upstairs for the candles and we fell on the bed and then we were kissing again and then sex and then we fell asleep and then I woke up and the power was back on and then I called you. That's what happened." Lorelai got up but stayed low as she started making coffee. Hard to make coffee when crouching, but she was determined to make it work.
"Wait, kissing again? When did you kiss the first time?"
Typical Sookie, noticing those slip of tongues. "We kissed once before. Once. Months and months ago."
"Why didn't you tell me? Wasn't there accidental kissing panic? Who did you call then?"
"I called Max and broke off the engagement so you were the second call that time, sweetie."
Sookie exhaled loudly. "You kissed Luke and broke off your engagement?"
"They actually weren't related. He was being nice, he made a chuppah, we were talking. There was a kiss. I realized I wasn't in love with Max, but there was no realization relating to Luke except that he was a good kisser and I wasn't in love with him either which I already knew," she said.
"Honey, are you sure you're not in love with him? Not even a little?"
"I'm sure I'm not in love with Max, not even a little. Though I do miss him, but I'm over him. Completely. Closure. Hey, I just had sex with someone else."
Sookie laughed a little. "I meant Luke."
The coffee was still not ready. Crazy year, crazy and evil coffeemaker. "I wasn't in love with Luke then and I'm pretty sure I'm not now."
"Not even a little? You were jealous of Rachel before she even came back. You asked him not to date that Chilton mom which was a little like something someone does when they're a little in love with someone."
Lorelai glared. "Why did I tell you that story?"
"Because you thought I'd be on your side."
"Judas." Lorelai looked plaintively at the coffeemaker.
"So, Luke? Sex? A little love?"
"Why does everyone think that?"
"Because he clearly likes you and everyone knows it. You're the only one who thinks he doesn't."
"50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong."
"Not in the case, they're not. Also, hey, didn't you two have sex?"
"No one knows about that except for you." Lorelai decided it was time to stare at the floor. Watched coffee pot never pot-colates. "Okay, maybe. A little something that might resemble love might have sprung up. And he maybe does act sometimes like he finds me not unattractive. But for me, that's not why I didn't get married."
"I know, honey, there were a lot of reasons why you didn't get married. But last night?"
"Accidental sex, I remember, I was there."
Sookie giggled. "Yes, you were. Seriously, how was it?"
"I said, it was good. B+ at least."
"Were you careful?"
"Yes, we carefully had sex. Because it's best that way. And yes, I know what you're asking and yes, that was taken care of. I had some things left over from Max, which makes me sound like a slut."
"A big slut who's had sex with two different guys in the space of year. Very Mick Jagger of you," Sookie said.
"Three, actually. I had sex with Christopher on my parents' balcony. Did I not tell you that?"
"No. You've left a lot out lately, do you have a new best friend? If it's Michel, I'm going to cry."
Lorelai slowly lifted her head and saw, finally, coffee. She kept with the crouching but poured herself a large cup. "It's not Michel, Sookie, I'm now telling Rune every one of my sexcapades. Can we concentrate?"
"Okay, let's go back to where you admitted that a little love might have sprung up. With you and Luke."
"I say it again: Judas."
"You called me for advice. Here's my advice: admit you like him, finish your coffee and go get back in bed with him."
Lorelai sipped her coffee and thought, crazy year. If Rory had been here, it never would have happened. If Rory hadn't gone to Chilton, if Lorelai hadn't had to agree to stupid Friday night dinners, there would be no accidental sex panic. Or accidental sex. She sipped her coffee and said, "You think?"
"You like him, right? Like him like him?"
"I guess." She'd said as much to her mother, which meant it had to be true or at least something that would piss off her mother and either one was important to remember.
"And you already know the kissing and sex is good, right?"
"Yes. And that's all the details you're getting, Larry Flint."
Sookie said, "Okay, then. Finish your coffee and go upstairs. And you're so telling me more when you get to work."
"I'll be in late."
"Oooooooh, already planning accident number two, aren't you?"
Lorelai had finished her coffee. "No, I'm referring to the state of the roads. Tons of snow, drifts the height of Sue Bird, all that. But now, I'm saying goodbye. And thank you."
"Nothing says thank you like details," Sookie said as she hung up.
When she went upstairs, the bed was empty.
She took twenty minutes to get pretty and twenty more to find the right walking through the snow super cute outfit. Everything was easier when she had Rory around and took less time. Except if Rory had been around nothing would have happened and she wouldn't need to be super pretty or have the super cute outfit.
Luke was at the diner, just as she'd expected. The door wasn't locked so she didn't have to do the plaintive knocking and pouting routine to get Luke to come to the door. She walked in and sat at the counter. He didn't look up. "Hey," she said, "so you weren't there when I woke up."
"Yes, I was. I wasn't there when you came upstairs after getting off the phone to Sookie. I assume it was Sookie?"
He still wasn't looking up which was probably a bad sign. But 50 million Star Hollows residents couldn't be wrong. "Were you eavesdropping?"
"I was not eavesdropping. I woke up at 5:30 and you were asleep. I woke up again a half hour later and you weren't in bed and when I got dressed and went downstairs, I heard coffee brewing. I assumed the rest." He pushed a mug towards her and poured coffee in it. "We've done this, right? Never happened, didn't mean anything, could have been some guy from NYPD Blue, right?"
"No," she said. "I was going to say, I think I'm glad it happened, it did mean something, I'm glad it wasn't David Caruso and we should do it again. David Caruso doesn't live here anymore." She smiled and waited for him to look up.
"You mean that," he said, looking up. That was surprise, she thought. He was surprised. Hell, she was surprised. But it felt right. In a crazy year, this felt right.
"I mean that. He lives in Miami now, I think." She smiled. "And everything else. Also, can I get pancakes?"
He smiled. He had a really nice smile when he whipped it out. "Technically I'm not open yet. But you've never let that stop you." He leaned over the counter and they were kissing again. Maybe even an A- this time. Crazy year, getting crazier, but not bad crazy. She felt good about that.