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Of Snowy Days and Stubborn Ways (Gilmore Girls - Luke)


camillapapen

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I had quietly hoped that the new episodes of Gilmore Girls which have recently become wonderfully available on Netflix might have prompted a couple of fanfics on here. But, you know, be the change you wish to see in the world: I can't very well go hoping for things without being willing to contribute myself. So here we are. I have read and re-read and loved so much excellent writing on here that I figured it was time for me to take a turn in posting something.

This is my first story, my first fanfic and first writing and first everything, really. 

Of Snowy Days and Stubborn Ways

‘Luke! I need sweet nectar!’ Lorelai Gilmore cried, flinging open the door of the diner and striding inside, introducing a blast of cold air and a swirling gust of thickly falling snow into the warm room. ‘Manna from heaven! Magical life-giving medicine! The dark queen of my heart!’ She reached the counter and slumped down on a seat next to Kirk. ‘Coffee’, she said, flatly, in response to his blank look. ‘I need coffee.’

‘Well, you could have just said that’, Kirk replied blandly, turning back to his newspaper and eggs. Lorelai sighed and rolled her eyes.

‘Luke!’ she cried out again, peering towards the kitchen. ‘Mama needs her coffee to go! I’ve got a meeting with a corporate team about a morale-building weekend at the inn that starts in half an hour, and if I’m late then I’m totally blaming it on you and giving them your address, and they’re all lawyers, so – oh. Hi Caesar.’

Caesar had darted out of the back kitchen, panting and sweating slightly, dodging round the counter to deposit two bagels in front of their purchasers at a table by the window, and then racing back towards the stove.

‘Hi Lorelai’, he called over his shoulder, as he flipped a pancake. ‘Let me just get this order out and I’ll get to your coffee in a minute.’

Lorelai gazed around the packed diner and raised her voice to be heard over the bubbling chatter.

‘Caesar? Why are you dealing with the morning rush by yourself? Where’s Luke?’

‘Stockroom!’ he shouted back, disappearing further into the kitchen. ‘Apparently it’s very important that he does inventory, like, right now, this morning. I don’t know, you know how he gets, didn’t seem like a good plan to argue with him…’ His grumbling voice faded as he returned his focus to the task in hand.

Lorelai was puzzled. Luke wanted to preside over his diner kingdom every hour of every day, and usually had to be forcibly dragged from it. Why wasn’t he keeping an eye on things when they were at their most chaotic? Frowning, she slid off her stool, secured her bag on her shoulder, and walked towards the back of the diner before sliding through the door of the stockroom.

‘No customers allowed back here!’ a familiar, gruff voice greeted the opening of the door. ‘If you can’t read the sign that says ‘Staff Only’ then – oh. It’s you. What do you want?’

‘Ah, Prince Charming. I see you may have skipped your morning manners pill on this fine Monday. It’s so lovely to see you too.’

Luke rolled his eyes, and looked back to the clipboard he was holding, making another check mark against a long list.

Lorelai leaned against a shelving unit and examined Luke carefully. The stockroom was dim, so it was hard to tell, but it seemed to her that he looked paler than usual. His red flannel shirt was poking out from underneath a thick grey wool sweater, despite the fact that the little room was warm and stuffy and the diner was well-heated against the December chill. His standard facial scruff was looking a little scruffier than Lorelai was used to seeing it, and tension seemed to radiate from him in every line of his stiff posture. Lorelai noted it all silently.

‘Whatcha doing hanging out back here when you could be benefitting from my dazzling wit and sparkling repartee while having the honour of serving me coffee out front?’ she asked, lightly.

Luke turned away from Lorelai, so that he almost had his back to her, and reached up to a high shelf to grab a box of tinned tomatoes.

‘I’ll give you three guesses. Actually, no, you get one guess. What does it look like I’m doing?’

‘Okay, smart ass, I’ll rephrase. Why are you doing inventory at 8.30am when poor Caesar is out there alone dealing with dozens of hungry customers making unreasonable demands about, you know, breakfast and coffee being provided in a timely manner from the town’s friendliest diner?’

Luke sighed, resting the tomatoes down on top of a stack of boxes.

‘Lorelai, I’m not really in the mood f – hh – for – htnx!’

Luke had whipped his hands up to his face and pinched his nose tightly to stifle a sneeze that shook his whole body. He stayed hunched over for a second, his back to Lorelai, before taking in another great breath and sneezing twice more.

Htnx! HNX!’

Each sneeze was tightly bottled and shook his broad shoulders. Luke took a steadying breath, gave one quick sniff, and picked up his clipboard as if nothing had happened.

‘I’m not in the mood for your verbal gymnastics, I’m busy.’

He turned to face her, and every inch of him – his determined posture, his challenging expression – warned Lorelai against saying anything more. Lorelai wasn’t one to heed such warnings.

‘Bless you. You okay?’

‘Fine’, he growled, averting his eyes and picking up his clipboard again. ‘It’s dusty in here, that’s all.’

Lorelai noticed a slight sheen of moisture in his eyes, and, as he moved into a shaft of light from the high, half-covered back window, small patches of colour at his cheekbones and nose in his otherwise pale face.

‘Didn’t I hear you yelling about some important meeting you had to get to?’ Luke muttered, scribbling notes on his paper.

‘Damn it, yes.’ Lorelai squinted at her watch. It was 8.37am. She hesitated for one more moment as Luke furiously studied his clipboard. ‘Keep it real, Luke-io. Don’t let all this glamour go to your head while I’m gone.’

He grunted in reply, and she turned and left the stockroom. Instinct made her pause outside the door for a second, silent, after she had pulled it shut. She was sure she heard a deep, rustling sigh, and a couple of harsh coughs, before a sudden ‘HUT-ishah’ and a muffled curse.

Lost in thought, she walked out of the diner and crunched through the snow to her car, without collecting her coffee.

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Eeeep!!!! I was hoping the same thing when the revival came on! I'm so thankful and happy that you decided to write a fic! This forum definitely needs more gilmore girls!

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11 minutes ago, Seniorstatus14 said:

Eeeep!!!! I was hoping the same thing when the revival came on! I'm so thankful and happy that you decided to write a fic! This forum definitely needs more gilmore girls!

I'm glad I'm not the only Gilmore Girls fan around!

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Lorelai spent her Monday at the inn as usual, and managed to go about her day much as she normally did. The meeting with the corporate group was uneventful. She radiated charm in the general direction of all customers, ran to the kitchen to complain about the difficult ones with Sookie, and traded insults back and forth with Michel in a routine sort of way. Her mind, however, kept drifting back to the diner at odd moments, and her focus would waver away from her work like a badly tuned radio. She wasn’t sure exactly why she was worrying about Luke: all she’d seen were a couple of sneezes. But for Luke, even that was unusual. He was scrupulous in the diner, never wanting to call the hygiene of the place into question, and she could barely recall ever seeing him sneeze there. Even thinking back over all the hundreds of times Luke had been at her house, she could only recall one or two quick stifles, bluntly dismissed. She just didn’t think Luke really ever got sick. But why did she think he was sick now? He’d seemed fine, hadn’t he? Kind of fine. Pretty much fine.

‘Lorelai? Anyone home?’ Sookie snapped her fingers in front of Lorelai’s face, waving a forkful of dauphinoise potatoes under her nose. ‘There is no way you do not want to try this biteful of fabulousness. It is cheese and carbohydrate heaven.’

Lorelai obediently opened her mouth and allowed herself to be fed, exclaiming and making all the appropriate yummy noises. But Sookie wasn’t convinced.

‘What’s up with you?’ she asked, turning back to the stove and carefully stirring a simmering pan of chestnut risotto. ‘I give you cheese and potatoes and cream and you’re barely interested? This is not the Lorelai I know.’

‘Sorry’, Lorelai sighed, standing up from the counter and beginning to pace slowly up and down the Dragonfly’s kitchen. ‘It’s just… you know Luke?’

Sookie laughed, moving to her chopping board and getting to work on a bunch of parsley. ‘Er, Luke who we see every day and has lived with us in this tiny town for over a decade? Yeah, I know Luke.’

Lorelai kept pacing up and down the kitchen. ‘Have you ever seen him sick?’

Sookie kept chopping. ‘Umm… no. Never. Why?’

‘I think he’s sick.’ Sookie gave Lorelai a knowing look. ‘What?!’

‘And why does this have you so distracted that you cannot appreciate my culinary genius? He’s a big boy. You think he can’t take care of himself?’

‘No… I don’t know… I don’t think so. No, I don’t think he can’. Lorelai replied in a small voice, stopping her pacing and turning to Sookie. ‘Or rather, I don’t think he will.’

‘Well then’, said Sookie, putting her knife down and looking at Lorelai with a gentle smile. ‘You know what to do.’

It was dark and well past closing time when Lorelai returned to the diner that evening. She drove carefully through the still-falling snow, and walked purposefully to the door of the diner. She paused for a second on the threshold, looking inside. Luke was behind the counter, wiping it down with a cloth. For a moment, she felt a little shocked. It had been less than twelve hours since she’d seen Luke last, but he seemed to have deteriorated rapidly. Even through the glass of the door and the diner’s closed gloom, she could see redness around his eyes and nose, and a weariness to his movements. His posture radiated exhaustion. She took a deep breath, and stepped inside. Luke paused, and looked up at her.

‘We’re closed’, he said, shortly, returning to wiping the counter.

‘Why, yes, Captain Obvious, I gathered that from the darkened room, the lack of customers, and the ‘Closed’ sign on the door. And yet I walked in anyway.’

Luke grunted, irritably. ‘Right. So what do you want? I’m not making you coffee at this time of – hh – this time of n-night huh-UUXXGHT!’

He valiantly attempted to keep speaking, but was forced to whip his wrist up to his nose and spin away from Lorelai, stifling a vicious sneeze. His breath caught in his throat and he began to cough – deep, wracking coughs that sounded like they hurt. Lorelai hovered, feeling oddly unsure. Finally, he turned back around, took a deep breath, and continued wiping the counter as if nothing had happened, the flush of his face deepening.

‘So, is that still the dust from the stockroom getting to you?’ asked Lorelai, sarcastically.

‘Yup’, said Luke, blankly, avoiding her gaze.

Lorelai walked up to the counter, placing her hands on it and leaning forwards, forcing Luke to stop what he was doing and acknowledge her.

‘You’re feeling totally fine then? Definitely not ill or anything?’

‘That’s right’, Luke replied, turning away and beginning to wipe down the coffee machine. Lorelai stood there, frustration rising, but unsure what to say. The silence built, until Luke suddenly broke it.

‘God damn it’, he growled, putting down the cloth and taking a few quick steps away, burying his face in his hands in preparation for the fiercely stifled sneezes that followed.

‘HNX! Huh-ISHNX!’ He sniffed once, angrily, and quickly began to wash his hands. He glared up a Lorelai, grabbing the cloth again. ‘Why are you looking at me like that? I’m fine!’

‘Luke!’ Lorelai snapped, actually stamping her foot in frustration. ‘I am literally losing my mind here! And don’t you dare say something you think is clever about me having lost it years ago. You are being completely ridiculous. Why can’t you just admit you don’t feel well!?’

‘I don’t feel well,’ said Luke, flatly.

Lorelai’s had not expected a response, and her rant hadn’t yet reached its natural conclusion.

‘I mean, you’re a grown man, who has somehow managed to take care of himself long enough to reach adulthood and… wait, what did you say?’

‘I don’t feel well, okay!?’ Luke raised his voice, flinging down the cloth he was wiping the counter with. ‘There, are you happy now?! You win! You’re right! I feel like crap! My throat is on fire and my head is pounding and I can’t go five minutes w-with… without…’ His face slackened, and he backed away from the counter as far as he could. ‘Oh god, nuh-not…again… HET’KNXT.’

His hands steepled over his nose as he stifled an enormous sneeze that left him bent almost double, cowering away from Lorelai and the counter. All of the fight and irritation drained out of Lorelai instantly as she took in his cringing, miserable posture and sawing breaths.

‘Luke…’ She began to walk around the counter, making her way to him.

‘No!’ he cried, raising a stalling hand to her whilst keeping the other over his nose. ‘I’m… heh… not d-done…. h’knx! KNX! het’KNSSX! HEH… HET’IIISSHHuh!

His savagely stifled sneezes had become progressively more violent throughout the fit, held back by a single hand while the other reached out to keep Lorelai away, until finally the last had broken through his defences. It was massive, echoing round the empty diner. Lorelai had barely noticed Luke’s infrequent, meticulously hidden and viciously stifled sneezes throughout the years, and couldn’t recall ever hearing him sneeze freely and loudly. Her chest ached as she realised what effort he normally went to in order to make his sneezes as inconspicuous as possible in an attempt not to draw attention, not to appear weak.

‘Bless you’, she murmured quietly, all anger and sarcasm gone. She was still three feet away from him, and he was panting, only now straightening back up, both hands clasped over his face, dreading eyes scanning the counter for napkins. Lorelai reached out and snagged a handful from the dispenser, passing them to him. He reached out a hand and snatched them, turning away from her for a quick wipe of his nose, refusing to blow.

‘Lor, I’m so sorry, that was disgusting’, Luke muttered, face burning, as he turned back towards her, avoiding her gaze.

Lorelai rolled her eyes.

‘Yes, of course, I’m physically repulsed.’ She reached out and laid a hand on Luke’s forearm, and was shocked to feel heat radiating from him through his flannel shirt.

‘Luke! You’re so hot!’

‘Thank you.’

‘Don’t be an ass, I mean…’ Lorelai raised her hand to Luke’s forehead, and nearly flinched. ‘You’re burning up! Why didn’t you say something?’

Luke’s body sagged. He rested against the back counter, and shielded his eyes with a hand for a moment.

‘I don’t know’, he said, quietly, sounding defeated. ‘I thought if I just worked in the back room today. I guess I didn’t want… anyone to have to… I don’t know.’ He trailed off, eyes cast down to the floor. His tense, prickly energy seemed to dissolve, and the almost visible exclusion zone around him melted away. Lorelai slowly moved over to him and perched beside him, both of them facing forward, looking out across the dark diner and to the snowy street beyond, where dancing Christmas lights glittered like stars. Lorelai felt as if she were precariously balanced upon a tightrope, sitting there next to him, their shoulders pressed together. One stumble and she’d fall, and find herself chucked unceremoniously out of the diner and into the biting night, left to drive home and worry about Luke alone all evening in her vast, empty bed. She sensed that Luke wasn’t quite ready to face her yet, in his new vulnerability, and so she sat beside him, uncharacteristically silent, for several minutes.

Gradually, she became aware that not only was the shoulder pressed against hers unnaturally warm, but that it was also shaking. Having finally admitted that he was sick, Luke’s defences seemed to be crumbling. She didn’t want to breach the uneasy peace of the moment, but she was starting to become genuinely worried. She’d barely ever glimpsed Luke being even passingly ill in all the years she’d known him, let alone seriously, visibly ill. Either he’d been hiding this expertly for a few days or it was worsening very quickly. The diner, devoid of customers and closed for the night, was not nearly as warm as it was during the day, and she was now sure Luke was running a fever and needed to be in bed.

‘Luke?’ she murmured, quietly, not turning to look at him.

‘Hm?’ he replied, weakly, on a sighing exhale.

‘I think you should probably be in bed, resting. Not diner-cleaning. I mean, don’t get me wrong, love the commitment. Love it. But I’m just a bit, um…’ She faltered. She didn’t want to admit she was worried, and spur him into further irritable brush-offs. She fell back on humour as a default, trying to lighten the moment. ‘I’m getting kind of cold down here, and what I’d really love would be to go upstairs to your apartment and warm up. And hey, you could come, too! And, you know, if you just wanted to maybe lie down or something, perhaps on the bed, under the sheets even, I would be totally cool with getting my own coffee.’

She stood up properly and turned herself to Luke, who finally raised his eyes to hers and cracked a tired smile.

‘Lor, you don’t have to do this.’

She smiled back, warmly.

‘But I want to.’

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Uh-oh, I love when a man with a bad cold and a fever is stubborn and doesn't take care of himself. I love forehead-feeling. More weakness, stubbornness and a temperature - and I'm in heaven. :wubsmiley::lol:

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This is my favorite! Gosh I love Lorelai's concern and Luke's denial and when he admits it and is just so miserable oh my gosh I love this so much!

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1 hour ago, hedgehog said:

Uh-oh, I love when a man with a bad cold and a fever is stubborn and doesn't take care of himself. I love forehead-feeling. More weakness, stubbornness and a temperature - and I'm in heaven. :wubsmiley::lol:

Yes, these are all my favourite things too, so I thought I would stuff the fic with them! Glad you like :)

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33 minutes ago, Seniorstatus14 said:

This is my favorite! Gosh I love Lorelai's concern and Luke's denial and when he admits it and is just so miserable oh my gosh I love this so much!

Thank you so much! It means a lot to me that you're enjoying it.

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4 hours ago, Seniorstatus14 said:

Eeeep!!!! I was hoping the same thing when the revival came on! I'm so thankful and happy that you decided to write a fic! This forum definitely needs more gilmore girls!

I was hoping for one of these too, after watching the revival. (Also, I was kinda hoping there would be some sneezing :p) 

 

I absolutely love this. You made the characters exactly how they are and that was fantastic. 

 

Please continue (soon, if you can)!

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21 minutes ago, sneezingfun894 said:

I was hoping for one of these too, after watching the revival. (Also, I was kinda hoping there would be some sneezing :p) 

 

I absolutely love this. You made the characters exactly how they are and that was fantastic. 

 

Please continue (soon, if you can)!

Thank you! All your positive comments mean so much to me, especially as this is my first fic. I do definitely plan to continue.

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I forgot to ask... Does this take place before, during or after the revival?

(And quite frankly, from your descriptions and dialogues, I could've sworn that this was not your first fic.) 

 

 

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Ooh, with the revival I was really hoping someone would write some Luke fanfiction! :D This makes me very happy. Poor Luke... can't wait to see where this will go. Thank you so much!

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This is delightful. I love Lorelai's brutally unsubtle trickery-- Luke couldn't outwit her in his state. 

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9 hours ago, sneezingfun894 said:

I forgot to ask... Does this take place before, during or after the revival?

(And quite frankly, from your descriptions and dialogues, I could've sworn that this was not your first fic.) 

 

 

Ha, good question! I couldn't quite decide so I was being a bit vague about it, but I think before the revival, because it's definitely before Luke and Lorelai get together - they're in that stubborn phase when they both like each other but they're not quite actually getting together (all those episodes when I'm shouting 'KISS HER, FOOL' at the screen). Sookie totally knows they're going to end up together though, of course.

Thank you so much for all your kind comments, you guys <3

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Luke was a big guy. An outdoorsy guy. A builder of boats and a fixer of cars. A carpenter. A fisherman. Lorelai had always felt pleasingly compact next to him, his strength making her feel safe. It was like hanging out with an oak tree. If oak trees could rally back her sarcastic comments and make her pancakes. But, after finally getting Luke to agree that possibly, maybe, perhaps, there was a shadow of a chance that rest might be a good idea, she was starting to feel a little unsure about the unusual dynamic that was blooming between them.

Luke was not leading the way, or teasingly mocking her choices, or even flat-out disagreeing with her. He was simply staring at her vaguely, his eyes slightly unfocused, and sniffling regularly – it was such an un-Luke-like sound, and he didn’t even seem to be aware of it. He was wrung-out, exhausted. Lorelai was getting slightly worried by his passive, glassy gaze. She tried to prod him into action.

‘So, that upstairs thing I’ve been hearing so much about’, she prompted, encouragingly. ‘How about you come and help me explore it? Hmm?’

Luke seemed to come back into the room – enough to roll his eyes at Lorelai, at least – and she felt a wave of relief as he heaved himself up from his post leaning against the counter and made a couple of steps in the direction of the stairs. That relief faded, however, as he slowed to a stop and went glassy-eyed again, seeming to stare at her without seeing. All the colour that was left in his face drained away.

‘Luke?’ asked Lorelai, sharply. ‘I know I’m dazzling, but – whoa there!’

Luke had suddenly swayed alarmingly on his feet, and Lorelai, lacking the strength to catch him if he fell, instinctively moved quickly to him and tucked herself under his right arm like a crutch, stooping slightly and wrapping her arms around his chest to secure his weight. Luke blinked, dazedly.

‘Sorry’, he mumbled, still fuzzy. ‘Just a bit dizzy for a sec – ah – oh no, Lor, you have to huh-AAESCH-UH!’

Standing had shifted the pressure in his sinuses and the sneeze came upon him too quickly for him to do anything about it- he didn’t have a chance to stifle. With Lorelai wrapped around him, all he could do was whip his head to the side and sneeze roughly over his left shoulder. Lorelai felt the force of the sneeze ripple through him, heard it tear through his throat and winced for him. She looked up at him and saw with a pang that he was now flushed with both fever and embarrassment, wiping moisture from his eyes with his left hand and trying to disentangle himself from her, fending her off with his right arm.

‘Fuck, ’m sorry’, he mumbled. ‘It just came over me…’

‘Shh’, she murmured, in a low, comforting voice. ‘Don’t be an idiot, it’s fine. Come on.’

She gently encouraged him forward, and his protests slowly faltered as they made their ungainly way through and up the stairs to his warm apartment. When they were safely inside and Lorelai had locked the door, Luke staggered over to the bed and sank down upon it, breathing hard from the climb up the stairs. Lorelai thought she heard a catching wheeze in his breath, and then he started to cough. If possible, it sounded worse than before. He sank his elbows onto his knees and cupped his hands over his face, slowly turning red as the fit continued. Lorelai hurried to the sink and filled a tumbler with water, bringing it to him and pressing it into his hands. Luke choked a few mouthfuls down, and Lorelai sat beside him on the bed, rubbing his back in firm circles. She could feel the heat coming off him through the flannel, and made a mental note to find out how high his fever was as soon as possible.

When Luke stopped coughing he gave a deep sigh and, to Lorelai’s great surprise, sunk his head down onto her shoulder. Her body relaxed, and the tension began to seep out of her.

‘Lorelai?’

‘Mmm?’

‘I feel like crap.’

Lorelai laughed, almost relieved.

‘No? Really? You? You look the picture of health to me. Positively glowing. Like an ad from a fitness magazine.’

They sat together for another moment, enjoying the cosiness of the apartment, until Luke suddenly snapped his head off Lorelai’s shoulder, making her jump.

‘Sorry!’, he gasped, bracing himself seemingly unconsciously with one hand on her thigh and tightly pinching his nose with the other. ‘I’m going to sn-hh-HNX! HTNX! HUH-KNX-uhh! God! Sorry, again. Ugh.’

Each stifled sneeze had caused him to shudder violently, shaking against both Lorelai and the bed, and tightening his steadying grip on her thigh. He ended the small fit with a groan, snuffling wetly and blushing with embarrassment once again. He nose looked almost bruised, and Lorelai realised he must have been brutally stifling his huge sneezes all day. Her chest ached for him. She reached out to the bedside table, and grabbed the box of tissues there.

‘Luke?’ she said, waiting until he turned to her. ‘First of all, please blow your nose. You sound miserable. I promise I won’t mind. I’ve raised a child. I’ve changed diapers. I’ve cleaned vomit out of my own hair. You won’t gross me out. Secondly, please stop stifling sneezes. Your body wants to get rid of something, you have to let it, and it sounds like you’re hurting yourself. And I hate that.’

Luke still looked embarrassed, but he silently took the tissues from Lorelai and grabbed a handful.

‘Uh’, he muttered, awkwardly. ‘Could you maybe…?’ He gestured vaguely towards the kitchen area, and Lorelai took the hint. Standing, she picked up his empty glass and went to refill it at the sink, keeping her back to him as he gave a huge, wet noseblow, and then another, coughing again as he finished. She heard the soft thud of the spent tissues hitting the waste paper basket, and judged it safe to turn around as Luke prised off his boots and let them fall to the floor, swinging his legs up on to the bed and lying back, still above the sheets, his head on the pillows.

‘Thanks’, he murmured, as she set the glass of water down on his nightstand. ‘I’ll be fine now. You can go home. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.’

Lorelai laughed incredulously.

‘Are you serious?! You haven’t eaten, your temperature is sky-high, and you can barely stand. I am not going anywhere. Well, maybe to the kitchen, for coffee. And a donut. Do you have donuts? But anyway, I’m not leaving this apartment. Unless you don’t have donuts. If that’s the case, I might grab one from downstairs. But otherwise, buddy, you’re not getting rid of me that easily.’

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Awww, poor Luke. But I must admit, I'm enjoying seeing him so miserable, since all we get on TV is that tough guy. Muahaha 

 

Loving it. Lor won't catch it, will she?

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12 hours ago, White Rose said:

Oh my goodness! I am really loving this!! ❤ 

☝️️

This is awesome and fantastic, and not just because I, too, have been hoping for some revival-inspired goodness! ?

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Thank you so much for all your kind comments, you guys. Next part is coming up, and then that's all I've written so far, so I will have to work out whether or not to continue.

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It was just past 8pm, and Luke was pretty much out of it. Lorelai could tell that this wasn’t destined to be a wild night. He lay, fully clothed, on top of his bed, his arm flung over his eyes, occasionally snuffling and coughing lightly, but doing his best to doze. He seemed to have half-forgotten she was there. She gazed out of the window at the quiet, snowy street. On any normal occasion, Lorelai would have taken this opportunity to snoop around Luke’s apartment in the hope of finding embarrassing childhood photo albums, or perhaps even a high school year book. But she didn’t have the heart to tease him this evening.

Luke’s cheeks were still flushed bright with fever. On an impulse, Lorelai went into the bathroom and, with only a slight twinge of guilt about invading Luke’s privacy, opened the medicine cabinet, scanning it for a thermometer or anything that might ease his symptoms and help take his fever down. She was frustrated, but unsurprised, to find absolutely nothing of use. Apart from dental floss, q-tips, spare toothpaste, string, a blue marble, and a couple of loose coins, the cabinet was pretty much empty. Sighing, she scanned the little bathroom for a washcloth and, spying one, soaked it with tepid water and wrung it out before returning to the main room and sitting gently on the edge of the bed.

‘Luke?’

‘Unnghh?’ Luke grunted in response, eyes still closed.

‘I’m just going to put this on your forehead, okay? It will feel nice, I promise.’

Luke gave a soft moan of pleasure as she pressed the cloth firmly to his head, flinging his own arm on top of hers to increase the pressure and sighing congestedly. Lorelai was startled to feel how hot he was – if anything, he seemed warmer than he had earlier in the evening. She bit her lip, worry rising in her again. She sat beside him for a moment, deliberating internally, until he groaned and rolled away from her, lying on his side on the bed with his back to her and causing the cloth to slip into the sheets.

‘Gotta - eh – sneeze ah-again…’ he warned her, breathily, holding his hands in front of his face.

‘Well don’t hold them back this time, Luke, I mean it! Or I swear I’m going to find every embarrassing childhood picture of you I can and give them to Taylor to –‘

Exactly what she would get Taylor to do with the pictures was left unsaid, as Luke finally began sneezing unrestrainedly for the first time all evening, his body bucking under Lorelai’s steadying hand on his shoulder.

‘Huh-AAESCH-UH!’ HA’AAESCH! Hhh-HET-IISSHuh! HAH-hhIISSHUH! IISSHUH! HAH’EAAESCHUH!’

Lorelai made gentle, soothing noises as the fit continued, gripping Luke’s shoulder to try and steady him. The sneezes were loud and forceful, echoing around the small apartment, and she realised why Luke kept them so tightly concealed in the diner. He would hate to draw attention to himself like this. Now, though, he seemed completely helpless – as he gave in to the sneezes he didn’t seem able to stop at the two or three she’d seen from him earlier in the evening, and they tumbled out of him, tripping over each other and barely allowing him to take a breath. He finally finished the fit and lay there, shaking slightly, his body curled away from Lorelai in cringing embarrassment and his hands clasped tightly over his face.

‘I’b – uh – Lor, could you get mbe…’

She was already passing him a bunch of tissues, tucking them quickly and neatly under his hands and moving back as he blew his nose. He finished, wiping his face as best he could, and slowly rolled onto his back again, averting his watering blue eyes from Lorelai’s kind, clear ones.

‘Wow. Bless you’, she murmured, not having the heart for clever comments when Luke was clearly feeling wretched.

‘I’m so sorry’, he muttered, closing his eyes and pushing the heels of his hands to them. ‘I just couldn’t… stop…’ He gave a shaky sigh, and then lay silently.

Lorelai couldn’t take it.

‘Don’t apologise’, she whispered, leaning in and dropping a quick kiss on his burning forehead. ‘Try and rest. I’ll be back in a moment.’ She slipped off the bed and crossed the room, ducking outside the main door to the apartment and pulling it to, though leaving it open a crack and making sure she could still see Luke’s prone form on the bed from her spot in the hallway. It was time to make a phonecall.

‘Do you think I should wear the blue dress to Lane’s party tomorrow, or the grey?’ Rory skipped preliminaries, answering the phone immediately when Lorelai called. ‘You know the one I mean? The blue one with that kind of sequin pattern on the top… hey, where are you anyway? Not still at the inn? Do you want me to eat all this pizza myself? I mean, I don’t like it any more than you do, but that’s definitely what’s going to happen if you don’t –‘

‘Rory?’ Lorelai cut her daughter’s idle chatter off.

‘Yeah?’

‘I need you to do me a favour. Luke’s… Luke’s sick.’

‘Luke doesn’t get sick’, interjected Rory. ‘I mean, like, not ever.’

‘No, I know’, Lorelai sighed. ‘But… just trust me on this one. I’m at his apartment now. He’s sick. I’m… I’m worried about him.’

Rory was silent on the other end of the line, waiting.

‘I need you to grab a couple of things and drive over here and give them to me. I don’t want to leave him by himself. Could you get the thermometer and the NyQuil from our bathroom? And a couple of boxes of tissues if we’ve got spare? I’m going to… I’m probably going to stay here tonight. You can have the pizza.’

Rory paused.

‘Sure, mom’, she replied eventually, and her voice was kind and understanding. ‘No problem.’

Lorelai paced up and down the hallway outside the apartment for the next ten minutes, trying to work off some of her nervous energy, peering in on Luke every time she got back to his front door. When she heard Rory’s car pull up out front, she dashed down the stairs, gave her daughter a quick hug and thanks, and ran back up them with the bag of supplies from her own house. When she re-entered the room, it was to find Luke lying on the bed with a handful of tissues pressed to his face, hovering on the edge of another huge sneeze.

‘Lorelai, I – eh – I’m going to – HAH – going to –‘

‘Luke, I get it, you don’t have to warn me every time’, said Lorelai, rolling her eyes and sitting beside him on the bed.

‘HAH’EAAESCHUH!Luke’s sneeze was muffled by the tissues, but it was just as powerful as the others had been. He paused for a moment, breaths unsteady and clearly teetering on the edge of another sneeze, but finally sighed and lowered the tissues from his face. He turned to Lorelai.

‘What have you got there?’ he asked, hoarsely, eying the bag suspiciously.

‘Supplies’, replied Lorelai, brightly, beginning to rummage around inside.

‘Drugs?’ he asked, heavily. ‘I could use some drugs.’

‘Yes!’ she said, happily, proffering the NyQuil. ‘But, unfortunately for both of us, not the fun kind. I also have… where is it… aha!’ She retrieved the thermometer like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, and met Luke’s look of dread with a sunny smile. He sighed.

‘Lor, I’m fine. Please, you don’t have to. I don’t want you to worry. I think it’s kind of hi – ungh.’ Luke was forced to stop talking as Lorelai shoved the thermometer into his mouth and held it there.

‘Hold that thought for three minutes’, she said firmly, noting the time on her watch, leaving the thermometer in his mouth and rising to unpack the rest of the bag. As well as the requested thermometer, medicine, and tissues, Rory had thrown a box of Pop Tarts into the mix. Lorelai smiled as she lined everything up on the counter and texted her daughter to say thank you.

‘Lor’lai, I, uh – hh – I’b…’ Luke was struggling to talk with the thermometer in his mouth, and his breaths were becoming uneven. Lorelai walked swiftly back over to him, checking her watch.

’15 more seconds’, she said, grabbing another handful of tissues and sitting beside him.

‘I’b – hh – I can’t…’

‘Of course you can. Ten more seconds.’ She whipped the thermometer out of Luke’s mouth as he took in a huge breath and reared back, eyes closing. She pressed the tissues into his hands, but it was too late.

IIH-ISSHUH! IISSHUH! HAH’EAAESCHUH!

Luke’s sneezes ripped through him, released unstifled and uncovered. He stayed stock still for a moment, collapsed forwards, and then, finding tissues in his hands, quickly darted them up to his face, turning away as far as he possibly could to blow his nose. His face was brick red, his eyes wet.

‘Could we, uh –‘

‘Never talk about that again? Sure thing. But it’s fine, by the way.’ She smiled at him, and turned to look at the thermometer in her hand. The smile fell from her face and she blanched.

‘104.2?! Are you kidding me? Luke, what the hell?! How have you been moving boxes around all day? How long have you been feeling like this?’

Luke sighed resignedly, looking at her, eyes soft. She felt him, as always, wanting instinctively to protect her.

‘A while’, he said, quietly, moving his eyes down. ‘It’s no big deal, don’t worry, I –’

‘Don’t worry?!’ she cried, shrilly, bypassing worry and moving slightly into panic for the first time that evening. ‘You’re telling me not to worry?! Oh, well then, thanks a lot, I won’t bother! Clearly everything’s fine! 104.2 is a peachy temperature! Let’s crack open a few beers and watch American Idol!’

Luke sighed, and said nothing. Lorelai bit her lip, torn. She wanted to chew him out for continuing to work and trying to hide how ill he was when he’d clearly been suffering and must have known he was truly sick. But at the same time she felt a desperate desire to lie him down, wrap him in her arms, and whisper soothing words in his ear. The fact that he wasn’t yelling back at her was making her uneasy. Luke had a short fuse, and she was used to him giving as good as he got in their frequent, short-lived fights. She looked at him. His head was still bowed, and he was shivering visibly.

‘Do you feel cold?’ said asked, shortly.

He hesitated, then nodded slightly.

Lorelai sighed. She stood up, then held out both hands to Luke. He looked up at her, surprised, then took them, and let her pull him to a standing position. Once she was sure he was steady on his feet, she pulled back the blankets on his bed, and motioned for him to lie down. He did so, uncharacteristically obedient. She covered him up, and moved to go to the kitchen.

‘Lor?’ he asked, blearily, looking up at her. ‘Where you going?’

She turned, and looked back at him, then moved to perch beside his prone form on the edge of the bed.

‘Nowhere’, she replied.

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