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Gilmore Girls Fic: A Shocking Turn of Events 1/2


Title: A Shocking Turn of Events

Summary: Luke just wanted to have his outlet fixed. But when Dean Forester turns out to be the fix-it guy, Luke gets more than he bargained for.

A/N: I posted this a while ago on ff.net, but decided to get it up here as well.  This fic is totally not my fault. I resisted Gilmore Girls for years because I knew what happened to Jared Padalecki's character (as in, what Dean Forester did). I knew it would drive me nuts if I watched it and let myself get attached so for my own sanity I avoided it. Then my dear, sweet friend geminigrl11 started bombarding me with youtube clips of cute!Dean and I was done for. And so came my incessant need to redeem the character. Which is sort of the goal of this fic, at least in a baby steps kind of way. So if you're totally anti-Dean, don't even bother. But I must admit, I have had SO much fun with this. geminigrl11 beta'ed it and sendintheclowns talked me through it, so they both get blame for this as well :)

 

-o-

There were few things in life that Luke liked to do. But a lot of things he needed to do. In some ways, like and need were the same for him. Because to most people, like implied some kind of excitement, some sort of emotional investment with an emotional payoff. Luke didn't like emotions at all, and his payoffs were never intense satisfaction or surreal peace. For Luke, it was a question of keeping busy most of the time, keeping himself occupied to avoid the fact that he was working in some nowhere town in a nowhere diner with no hope or prospects for anything more--on any level.

So he liked working in the sense that he needed to. It was all he had in his life. It was his income, his livelihood, his sole source of social interaction--beyond Lorelai, anyway. And yes, Lorelai counted for a lot, but her eccentricities were becoming somewhat commonplace to him now, which left the rest of the town to pick up the slack.  He didn't have friends.  He didn't want friends.  He barely wanted family and still wasn't sure how he managed to keep a girlfriend.  No, Luke's life was simple.  He had April, Lorelai, and the diner.

The diner, therefore, was home. Not in that overly sentimental way that people really liked to think about, but in the practical way. It was all he had. It was who he was. And even if he didn't like it. He needed it. Or he'd devolve into a heap of meaningless nothing. Which was something he'd really rather not do.

Luckily for him, being in the diner wasn't really all that difficult. His business wasn't booming and it certainly would never make him rich, but a place like Stars Hollow had constants. His place was one of them, for better or for worse. With that, came numbing stability that Luke needed.

Sure, it meant that he had to work all day, every day. It meant he had to put up with people--all types of people--but unless he wanted to become a hermit, there really wasn't any avoiding that. Not that anyone could successfully be a hermit in a town like that, where the concept of a recluse was practically foreign.

Regardless, life needed purpose--and money--and just work.

It was really that simple. Wake up, get the diner open, serve people, try not to go crazy, close the diner, go to sleep. Routine and plain and easy and annoying.

Most days, anyway.

Until he plugged in his coffee maker on the counter two days earlier, and instead of making coffee, it made sparks. In the grander scheme of things, sparks were not the same as coffee and he could not serve sparks to customers. In fact, sparks made customers nervous. Which meant one thing--he had to get it fixed.

His first recourse was to test it. Plug in various things. See what happened.

What happened was he blew a fuse.

No, not his temper, though that was strained, too. But an actual fuse. Of the electrical type.

Then, he produced more sparks.

Luke knew how to keep his place running and could do most of it himself, but electrical work? Not totally his area of expertise. And though he could tinker around with it, Luke didn't figure that starting fires or shocking himself would actually make him happy.

So he called in a professional. Or Tom, anyway. Professionalism in Stars Hollow was a bit of a stretch, but Luke would take what he could get. And what he got was the promise that it would be fixed prior to opening that morning.

Imagine his surprise when Dean Forester was standing at his door, clad in jeans and a t-shirt, a toolbox in his hands.

"Hi," the kid said, smiling somewhat awkwardly. They were familiar with each other--or had been, way back when. Back when Dean and Rory were together...back before Dean seemed to lose the ability to think like a rational human being.

When Luke didn't say anything, Dean's smile wavered and he shuffled his feet. "So, uh, you called about an outlet?"

"Yeah I need an electrician," Luke replied dumbly, still trying to figure out the toolbox in the kid's hand. His place wasn't open and Dean didn't stop by anymore.

"Well, I'm the closest thing you're going to get," Dean said.

"No, you don't understand," Luke said. "I asked for someone to come fix the outlet. I mean, I can get along without it, but every time someone plugs in the coffee pot it sparks and shorts and seems to freak out the customers."

Dean's smile was patient, if forced. "Right. You called Tom. And Tom called me," he explained. "I do work for him."

Luke wrinkled his brow, uncertain, though it was difficult to say why. "Are you sure you're, you know, certified to do that?"

To Dean's credit, the kid didn't even flinch. Just looked at him with tired resignation. "And you think Tom is?"

"Point taken," Luke said. Still, that hesitation. He couldn't place it but he couldn't deny it. "Are you sure you won't electrocute yourself? I mean, you can't have much experience."

Dean sighed but didn't roll his eyes (another point for the kid). "Do you want your outlet fixed or not?"

Trust some long-haired kid he didn't like or risk setting the diner on fire? A close call. This was Dean he was talking about, the kid who'd been too inadequate to marry the right girl to begin with and then too stupid to walk away from marrying the wrong one. Dean Forester--a nice boy once, but now? He didn't really want to be helping support adultering rejects. And faulty wiring probably would get him a nice insurance settlement...

But, damn--the diner was his. And besides, where would he live? If he had to rent, he'd have to deal with someplace Taylor owned or move to the next town to avoid such hassle.

"Fine, fine," he muttered, stepping out of the way. "Fix the outlet."

Dean smiled slightly, walking inside. "Gee, thanks," he said. "I can feel the confidence already."

"If you don't want to--" Luke said, holding out his hands.

This time the kid did roll his eyes. "I'm not the one with a faulty outlet," he said, the smile fading to an all-business expression. "Now which one is it?"

Luke came close to glaring and nodded to the counter.

Dean went to it, placing his tool box on the counter next to him and rummaging for a screwdriver.

The kid seemed totally focused and intent, but even though there wasn't much Luke could do at this point, he couldn't bring himself to trust Dean alone. He knew what kind of things Dean had done while he was alone...with Rory, anyway. He'd thought the kid was trouble from the start, and his mistrust lingered still and stronger than ever.

Besides, why give the kid the pleasure of solitude while he worked? Luke may have accepted his help, but that didn't mean he had to like it. And it certainly didn't mean he had to make the kids' life easy.

Dean found his screwdriver and was leaning in, poised to undo the screws.


"Make sure it's the right kind," Luke said. "I don't want you to scratch the paint off."

Eyebrows raised, Dean just looked at him.

"Well, it's hard to find screws painted the right color," he continued. "And they're supposed to match, you know. Blend in."

It was ludicrous, and from the look on Dean's face, the kid knew it, too.

"Look, if you know how to do this, then I'll be more than happy to leave and save you the twenty bucks you're going to owe Tom by the end of this." To prove his point, Dean held out the screwdriver.

Smart-mouth. It wasn't like he hadn't tried to do it by himself. He prided himself on being self-sufficient. Besides, he didn't really like people and he liked asking them for help even less. And paying them? Right there at the bottom of his list of things he never wanted to do.

Still. Electrical outlet. Coffee. Stars Hollow and its damn caffeine addiction. "No, no," he said. "Just....be quick about it."

The kid grinned and shook his head. "Did you turn off the power?" he asked as he unscrewed the faceplate.

He'd hire the kid for help, but he wouldn't be talked to like he was five. "Of course I turned off the power!"

"Do you want to check?" Dean asked, looking back at him over his shoulder.

His incredulity flared. "Do you want to get paid?"

Dean held up a hand in placation. "Little sensitive today, aren't we?" he asked, turning back to the outlet and removing the cover.

"Well, I couldn't make any coffee because every time I plugged in the machine it sparked!"

Nodding, Dean peered into the outlet. "You could always, you know, plug it into a different outlet," he suggested, taking out a small flashlight from his tool box.

Teeth gritted, Luke decided to hold his tongue. Restraint wasn't something he was fond of, but sometimes, he supposed it was useful. Especially if it meant the kid would just shut up and work already and stop thinking of ways to antagonize him. "Is that your professional opinion?"

Dean just shook his head. "You're the one that hired out help," he said. "I'm just doing my job so you can do yours."

Luke opened his mouth, ready to speak, to protest, because surely the kid was being a disrespectful little brat right now. But what was the point? Dean was turned away, still inspecting the outlet, and okay, so it was a smart-ass reply but it's not like Luke didn't have it coming.

Still didn't mean Luke had to like it. Or even sit around and take it. In fact, he didn't even need to be in the same room. Because he didn't really want to trust Dean with anything, but walking away was better than accidentally knocking him senseless and getting arrested for assault.

"Fine," he said heavily. "I'll just leave you to your work then. Holler if you need something. You know, a hand, a tool, a brain."

That was a good one, one of Luke's best, so he was more than a little disappointed when the kid didn't even react.

He opened his mouth, looked for something else to say. When nothing came, he closed it in a huff and turned on his heel to retreat to the kitchen.

Of all the dumb ways to start a day. Not only does his electrical outlet not work, but he didn't get any coffee, it was raining outside, and Dean Forester was the moron who was going to fix it. If he was pinning his hopes on that kid, then it was going to be a worse day than he'd anticipated.

There wasn't much to do in the kitchen. He'd kept the closed sign up long enough to have the work done--it's not like he could serve people without coffee, anyway. But maybe he could get a start on some of the lunch menu--he liked to have a few burgers going to meet the early rush.

Reaching over to turn on the burner, a sudden thought came to him.

Lorelai.

Yeah, okay, so it wasn't totally unusual to think about Lorelai at random times. She had that effect on people. She and her insanity were kind of like a fungus. They grew on you. And they were like a mosquito--they just would not go away.

He'd been closed to the public but he'd let Lorelai in before Dean had arrived. She'd been going out of town, which was the only reason for her to be awake at such an ungodly hour. He'd let her in and served her two pieces of toast--hell, the breadcrumbs were still on the counter. From the front room. Where he'd turned the power back on.

He swore. Whether he liked the kid or not, he didn't want an accident on his hands. Much less one that he was responsible for. "Hey, Dean, wait--"

He didn't get more than two steps where something popped and sizzled. It was louder than he would have expected, too loud, and before he could make sense of it, the kitchen darkened. Something crashed--the sounds of pans clattering and plates breaking.

His heart stopped.

It took him a minute to realize he was still alive and that at least there wasn't a fire. But it smelled a little like smoke, which he supposed made sense for burnt wiring. Now he just had to wait for Dean's reply, which surely there would be. Because Dean had told him to check twice and Luke had said it wasn't necessary and it turned out that the little punk was right.

But Dean didn't say anything.

Luke was pretty sure his heart still wasn't beating. He clenched his teeth and forced himself to move.

Pushing through the doors, he found the main room dim without the overhead lights. The burnt smell was stronger there, and looking across the far end of the counter he could see a smattering of pots on the ground and a handful of broken dishes. Which was pretty weird when he thought about it, because the outlet was on the other side of the counter, closer to the kitchen, so how would the spark really have that much impact?

Well, if it conducted through a human body and sent said human body flying through the air where it hit the plates and pans in question.

And didn't that just suck. Not the pans, though he'd need to wash those, and not even the plates, because those were cheap. But the body? It was not just some random body. It was Dean Forester. The kid he'd just promised that he'd taken care of things, the kid he just hired, the kid he'd been thinking about hitting just a few moments before.

That very kid was on the floor, eyes closed, his face lolled toward Luke and his slack lips parted slightly.

Luke swore again and remembered how to move. In two strides, he was by Dean's side, going to a knee amidst the shattered glass.

"Dean?" he asked, reaching a hand out tentatively. "Dean?"

There was no answer, nothing, and up close he could see that the kid's skin was singed, his long fingers blackened as they lay prone next to his body, which was pushed up hard against the backside of the counter. Even that long hair was fried on the edges as it peaked up from his head.

And twitching. The kid was twitching. Slight tremors, fine but there, shaking his entire body from head to toe.

"Dean?" he tried again, more desperate now. Not that he expected the kid to answer, because singed and twitching didn't exactly suggest consciousness. "Dean!"

There was still no response--no audible response, anyway, except that the twitching picked up, heightened until it was full blown shaking.

A seizure.

The damn kid was having a seizure right there on his diner floor.

Fumbling at his pocket, Luke searched for his phone. Because if he couldn't handle an electrical outlet there was no way he was attempting to deal with a seizure on his own.

By the time he had it in his hands, he was shaking, too, and his palms felt sweaty.

And then it stopped. Not his shaking--he didn't know if he'd ever stop shaking--but Dean's. And it didn't abate the way it came on, slow and incremental. But sudden. Dramatic. Dean was just still.

And pale. Deathly.

Luke's stomach dropped.

The phone forgotten, he reached his fingers to Dean again, this time shaking lightly. "Hey," he called. "Hey, Dean, come on. Wake up."

It wasn't really a surprise that Dean didn't obey--it's not like he had any reason to--but it was disconcerting nonetheless. Even more so because Dean wasn't moving at all now, not even minutely, not even his chest, and Luke suddenly got the terrible feeling that the kid wasn't breathing.

"Dean!" he tried again, louder now, as if he could cajole the kid out of stillness by the mere quality of his voice.

Still nothing. Not a smart remark, not a murmur. Nothing.

Nervously, Luke moved his fingers from Dean's shoulder, moving them tentatively to Dean's neck. It was precaution, he told himself. He didn't know a lot about first aid or anything, but this was what people did, he was pretty sure. What you were supposed to do. Make sure people were breathing and had a heartbeat since the last time he checked, those were pretty important things.

Too bad this kid didn't seem to have one--a heartbeat. But Luke wasn't good at this, didn't have experience. Maybe he just couldn't find it.

Panic barely at bay, he leaned over Dean, putting his hear close to Dean's mouth, listening, waiting. For a puff of air, a hint of life.

Nothing.

Of all the times he wanted to tell people to shut up and leave him alone, this wasn't one of them. In fact, Luke probably wouldn't have traded just about anything to have the kid open his eyes and glare at him and tell him what a moron he was for not checking the power.

Which Dean obviously wouldn't do until he started breathing again.

Luke had to fix that. There was no one else to fix it--it had to be him.

Help, though. Because if he couldn't fix an outlet by himself, there was no way he could bring someone back to life. He remembered his phone vaguely and picked out the numbers 9-1-1 without thinking.

The operator sounded almost bored as she gathered the basic info, and Luke wondered what her problem was. But it was his problem that mattered. Dean's problem. "Yeah, yeah," he snapped. "I've got a kid here--he's been electrocuted."

"Do you know the nature of the electrical shock?" the operator replied.

"An outlet," Luke answered, his eyes never leaving Dean, who seemed to be paling more by the moment. "He was working on an outlet."

"Is he breathing?"

"No!" Luke exploded. "He's not breathing and his heart's not beating and why are you asking me so many stupid questions! We need help!"

She seemed unfazed, completely, when she replied. "Help has been dispatched to your location. They will be there in about five minutes."

Five minutes. Five minutes. Dean's lips were almost blue now and he still hadn't moved and it was still Luke's fault and he was really going to throttle this operator if he talked to her anymore.

"Sir? Sir, are you listening to me? Would you like help in starting CPR?"

Of course he did. He wanted someone to be there and do it for him so he wouldn't have to worry about a dead kid in his diner. But this operator? Was not helping. At all. And listening to her condescending instructions would take longer than figuring out how to do it himself.

So he dropped the phone, the line still going, and turned back to Dean. No first aid classes didn't mean that he knew nothing, just that he didn't know it well or trust himself to do it right. But in five minutes, Dean was going to be even more dead, irrevocably dead, and Luke would really rather not have to deal with the fact that Dean Forester died on his diner floor because Luke had been too much of a jackass to check the power.

Carefully, he pulled Dean away from the counter, until the kid was flat on his back and sprawled at Luke's knees. They'd gone over this in some class he'd taken, some business ownership class, where they talked about how being a good employer meant being prepared for anything. He'd scoffed then--he just wanted his certification--but he was wishing now he'd paid attention a little more instead of figuring out all the ways in which the educational system needed to be fixed.

Airway. Open the airway. He could do this. Idiots on TV could do this, so he could, too. Putting a hand on Dean's forehead, he tilted it back, watching as the singed brown strands fell away from his face.

Now pinch the nose and breathe.

There was no question it was awkward, and probably even embarrassing had he let himself think about it. But there was no one else around, no one except a dead kid, and Luke was pretty sure Dean'd appreciate the efforts, embarrassing or not.

The air went easily into Dean's lungs, raising the kid's chest once, twice.

So the breathing was done.

Now the heart. Compressions.

Both hands above the breastbone, arms straight, push down. Thirty times.

If he was wrong, there wasn't time to question it. Not with Dean still not breathing and the operator still chattering over the line.

It was harder than he expected--the effort it took. Not to mention the way it felt. To hold someone's life in his hands. To know that the kid was probably dead but that he had a chance to change that. He needed to change that.

He breathed for Dean again, and this time it felt less weird. There was no time to think, only act, and thirty more compressions might just give Dean another chance at living.

Luke would never be sure how many times he repeated the cycles, how long he spent, but he did remember the sound of sirens, the commotion at the door and two paramedics pulling him away.

It was his turn to watch. There was nothing else he could do. Watch as they cut Dean's shirt away, leaving it flayed open around his chest. Watch as they held a mask over Dean's face and pumped the air bag, one, two, one, two.

"What happened?" one of them asked and he was looking at Luke.

Luke blinked, once, twice, and wondered how it wasn't obvious. "He was fixing the outlet," Luke said finally.

The one looking at him nodded and kept squeezing the bag. The other was getting something out. "And?"

"The power wasn't off," Luke said finally, and the words sounded heavy--condemning--because the power was supposed to be off.

"Was he breathing at any point?" the one asked again. The other had something out now, something Luke recognized but couldn't think of. Like his brain was just as fried as Dean's.

"Before he touched the outlet." The words were out of his mouth before he could think about them. Sarcasm was his tone of choice--it wasn't even conscious thought.

The paramedic cocked his head, perplexed, and that must have been more information than he wanted because he looked to his partner, to Dean.

There was nothing to do again. It was like a bad episode of ER where he was nothing but one of the millions of viewers just watching. Which would be okay if these were just actors playing with props. But in real life? There was no drama to enjoy. Just cold hard facts that Luke could do nothing about. He was no paramedic. He was nothing but a small town diner owner who apparently couldn't remember to turn off the power before letting people stick electrical tools in it. He probably shouldn't be allowed to do anything at this point--nothing but watch--and hope. Watch as they got out the paddles and shocked his heart. Hope that it worked. Watch as Dean's body jerked before stilling, jerked again and stilled. Jerked--

And the paramedics smiled.

"We've got a rhythm," one announced, just like it was St. Elsewhere.

The other was back with a stethoscope, hovering for a moment, placing it here and there across Dean's chest. "No spontaneous respiration," he said.

"We'll keep bagging him," the other replied, picking up the mask and resuming the squeezing--one, two, one, two.

"He's stable for transport."

"Get the backboard in here. Let's get a collar on and roll him."

The other reached backwards, hands finding the neck brace without even looking. It was a two-man job, rolling Dean gently, cradling his neck while snaking the brace around and securing it. With Dean flat on his back again, he reached for the backboard, maneuvering it to the kid. Again, they rolled him, this time rolling the board under him and then easing both to the ground before securing straps around Dean's exposed torso, around his unmoving legs.

"Let's get him up," one said, the one with the bag, holding the mask tight with one hand and squeezing with the other. A firefighter appeared out of nowhere, and Luke just blinked when he realized there was another one behind him, inspecting the blackened outlet. There was a cop, too, standing at the door, muttering into his walkie-talkie.

The firefighter helped hoist the backboard, which couldn't have been any small feat. Dean was young, but he wasn't small. He was tall and he may have been lean, but Luke could see the muscle there.

"Sir?" someone asked. "Sir?"

Luke turned slightly, his eyes flickering to the cop next to him before going back to Dean.

"Sir, could you please tell me what happened?"

Luke's jaw felt tight, his body warm as Dean was carried out. Eyes still closed, face still pale. Alive, they said. Alive, but--

"Sir?"

He blinked, looking at the cop again, more clearly now. "What?"

The young man gave him a benign smile. "Can you tell me what happened?"

He looked for Dean again, but he couldn't see him anymore. The kid was lost somewhere between the paramedics and the firefighters and the crowd that had grown around the ambulance. The doors were shut and the firefighter thumped hard on the back before it lurched away from the curb, speeding down the street, sirens wailing once again.

"Sir?"

Luke closed his eyes. Could he tell them what happened?

Maybe. Probably. Luke had screwed up and some idiot kid paid the price. There wasn't much to tell. The paramedics had gleaned all they could and Luke was not a storyteller. Not that this was a story Luke wanted to tell, anyway.

-o-

Good news, bad news, Stars Hollow knew how to draw a crowd--a good-for-nothing, rubber-necking crowd, filled with people with marginally good intentions--if gossip and rumors could be considered good.

It was expected, Luke supposed, that when the ambulance finally was gone that the police wouldn't be able to keep the crowd at bay. He saw all types--the little old ladies who lived for the strange and sordid, the wide-eyed kids who couldn't believe that something different could happen, the lackadaisical teens, the OMGREALLY young women. People. All of them. In droves. School kids, soccer moms, store owners--all trying to figure out the commotion at Luke's Diner.

Some owners might relish the attention. Even under the best of circumstances, Luke wouldn't.

These weren't the best of circumstances.

The cop was nothing more than a kid, probably no older than Dean was, and he was about the only one there who was just trying to do his job. Which wasn't easy with the eager eyes at the door and the firemen milling in the background.

"So it was an accident?" the kid said, Officer Quincy, his tag read.

It was a valid question, probably, if he hadn't asked it fifteen times already. Of course it was an accident. As if Luke meant to electrocute the kid.

Officer Quincy shook his head and flipped his notebook shut. Luke highly suspected that there were nothing more than scribbles on the page. "That's what they always teach you," the cop said knowingly. "Check the power."

Luke clenched his teeth, a mixture of annoyance and guilt building to a slow, frustrating fury within him. Was this kid trying to make him miserable? Police officers were there to protect and defend--well, in any town but Stars Hollow.

The kid clapped Luke on the shoulder. "At least you were here to save him," he said. "Kept this from being a tragic accident. I'm sure he'll be very thankful when he wakes up."

At first, Luke was too surprised to reply. Thankful? Dean would be thankful? That Luke stupidly told him that the coast was clear and then let the kid be fried like a squirrel biting a telephone wire?

Then Luke got it. A little late, sure, but he got it as the young cop was swaggering out of the door into the sunlight and the crowd. They thought it was Dean's fault. Which, really, made some sense. Dean was the hired hand on the job, so the duty of checking the power did fall on him. Which is why the kid had asked Luke to double check.

Whatever the reason, they thought it was Dean's fault. They thought Luke was a hero.

Before Luke could make sense of it, a firefighter was in front of him, his mustache twitching. "That outlet will need to be rewired," he said, nodding backwards. "Looks like the kid got himself a good jolt--had to have been to send him across the room like that. My advice? Turn off the power and get it fixed."

There were no words for a plan that brilliant. Luke just stared. "What do you think I was doing? Just having the kid mess with the outlet for kicks?"

The firefighter raised an eyebrow at Luke's hostility but seemed unwilling to be baited. "Try someone who remembers how to turn the power off. Next time, you all might not get so lucky."

"Right," Luke replied. "Since Dean electrocuting himself was real lucky."

"The boy's alive," the firefighter shrugged. "And your place didn't start on fire. All in all, we'll chalk this up to a learning experience. That thing's a fire hazard, though. So you get it fixed."

There were probably fifty things Luke could have said to that, several he really wanted to say, but nothing much came out. Snark was his self-defense in everyday situations. Somehow it wasn't doing a very good job at protecting him from this.

-o-

The police pulled out first, sirens off and quiet even as the crowd pressed in. The firefighters left next, giving the diner the okay to reopen, and even dropping the names of a few "reputable" electricians. By the time they were all gone, the morning bustle was in full swing and the crowd outside was full and wide-eyed and apparently in desperate need of coffee.

Well, so was Luke. That didn't mean everyone got what they wanted.

It was Ceasar who came in first, breathing heavily as he closed the front door behind him. "It's like a mob out there!" the cook exclaimed, his back pressed against the door defensively. "I kept hearing about an accident? What happened?"

And there was the million dollar question, the one being gossiped about right as they spoke, the one he'd be answering for days.

"They say there was an accident. Something about a fire."

"There wasn't a fire," Luke told him simply.

"Are you sure? There were firefighters--"

"Do you seem billows of smoke and devouring flames?"

The cook looked around, thoughtfully. "No, but--what happened? They said that someone was dead."

"Again, no dead bodies," Luke snipped at him. "Not even a chalk outline. You should know better than to believe the crowds. And aren't you late, by the way?"
 

He was deflecting, and Luke was pretty sure it was obvious.

The cook moved away from the door. "So all the commotion is for...?"

"There was an accident," Luke said hastily. "I called someone to get the outlet fixed, the kid started in on it but the power was still on and..."

Ceasar's eyes widened. "He got zapped? Really?"

"That's what happens when people put metal in live outlets."

"Why didn't he turn off the electricity?"

That was too much. Luke didn't want to stand here and relive it, discuss all the stupid ways in which one could not turn on the power. "Just shut up and clean up the mess," Luke ordered. "Toss the broken glass, sweep up the shards, and put the dirty pans in the back."

If Ceasar wanted to say something more, he was wise enough not to. Luke was certain his longtime cook could figure out when to ask a question and when not to and if ever had Luke wanted people to shut up and leave him alone, it was now. He just needed to get the diner open, get life going again, and forget about the fact that today had had a morning at all.

But as he was flipping the switches, one after another, his fingers lingered on the one for the counter. Still flicked in the on position, he remembered the sizzle and the bang, the burnt smell, Dean shaking on the floor, one, two...

Teeth gritted, he turned it to the off position. And left it there.

-o-

Back in the diner, he found Ceasar sweeping the remnants of the morning into a small pile. The place looked almost normal already, like nothing had happened, and except for the faint smell of burnt wiring on the air, no one would be able to tell any different.

Not that he expected that people wouldn't talk about it. This was Stars Hollow. Gossip spread like the plague, often with just as many negative side-effects. And the rats. Both caused by rats, he figured. Smarmy little rodents who clung to any piece of garbage they found. The people of Stars Hollow didn't seem to have twitchy tails, but he wondered about some of them.

The crowd outside had abated somewhat, apparently bored by the lack of new action. People still lingered, giving his place more than a passing look, and his regulars would be beside themselves without their morning usuals.

That was their problem. Not his. He had enough problems without worrying about the habits of his fellow townspeople. Some days, he had a sliver of patience for them. Today? Not so much. Seeing a kid get fried sort of did that to a guy.

Ceasar had progressed to the dustpan, pushing the remnants of the day's damage into it. "I found this," Ceasar said, holding up a blackened screwdriver. "Didn't know if it was yours."

Dean's screwdriver. The one Dean had offered him in response to a smart-mouth comment. The one that Dean had probably stuck in the outlet.

Luke swallowed hard, taking the screwdriver and shoving it roughly in his pocket. As if his morning hadn't been crappy enough, now he was suffering from guilt trips induced by common household tools.

"So we ready to open?" Ceasar asked.

Ready to open? The outlet still didn't work, the counter had no power, and the crowds would be asking question after question. In the grander scheme of things, it wasn't all that unusual. Nothing he really couldn't handle.

But he had a damn screwdriver in his pocket and Dean was at the hospital and Luke didn't even know if the kid were alive or dead, twitching or breathing or anything.

This shouldn't bother him. He should just open the doors and serve some coffee and move on with life.

But he had a screwdriver in his pocket and he kept seeing Dean holding it out to him, asking if he was so smart, why didn't he do it himself. Asking him to check the power.

"Can you cover the place yourself? Call in someone to wait the tables?"

Ceasar looked perplexed. "I guess, I mean--"

"Good," Luke said curtly. "I'll be back later."

"But, I--"

"Figure it out," he growled, moving toward the door. "Figure it out."

Before the cook could reply, Luke was out the door. The sunlight was brighter than he would have liked and he squinted, pushing forward despite the crowd he could feel being drawn to him. Little old ladies, wrinkled old men, busy body housewives, late-running businessmen. All with the question in their mouths; the question Luke wasn't sure he was ready to answer.

Someone called his name. Multiple someones. Concerned, curious--it didn't matter. Rats were rats and Luke didn't have time for this. There were priorities here. Like making sure he hadn't killed the kid for good. Like trying to make it right with Dean. Then he'd worry about the rat infestation that would surely be brewing for him back home.


Part Two

 

Comments

Posted by: jade02 (jade02)
Posted at: September 6th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)

Yay! A new story from you! I've been checking every day since forever... I was getting worried about you. What a great way to end the week.
*runs off to read*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
behold the limp

Aw, someone actually checks for my fics. I'm totally flattered. I kind of figured no one cared :)

And no reason to worry...I had a baby in July so I'm just now getting my act together.

Posted by: jade02 (jade02)
Posted at: September 6th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)

Congratulations! I hope you and the baby are both doing well.

I should have sent you a message to let you know I was concerned. I'm sorry you didn't know anyone was looking.

take care
shawna

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)

Thank you! We are doing well and even getting some sleep these days :)

And that's very sweet--my activity online has dwindled even before the baby, so I just figured that most people had stopped looking for fic from me in general.

Posted by: hawk50 (hawk50)
Posted at: December 10th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)

Absolutely super.

So many things to like about this, so I'll just name a few.

First of all, that it came from Luke. I never understood why Luke didn't like Dean; after all, he and Dean were, I always thought, similiar. I couldn't imagine Richard and Emily thinking he was good enough for Lorelai, just as Dean wasn't good enough for Rory.

Secondly, and I'll have to paraphrase this, I thought your paragraph about Rory being, in so many words, the "golden girl" was so true. I always thought she got away with murder as far as her relationships went. I also loved your line about Luke wondering at first what she ever saw in Dean, and then wondering why she ever let him get away. Great insight!

Thirdly, great Luke and Dean voices -- especially Luke's. I will definitely put this on my reread *many* times list.

Thanks so much for sharing this. And, yes, the last line *was* perfect -- but so was the rest of the story!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 11th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
cute!dean water bottle

Dean and Luke do seem alike--their is a certain simplicity about them and a certain openness that seems to define them, IMO.

Sometimes I really dislike Rory. She seems so wishy-washy at times to me and even as sweet as she can be, there is a certain self-centered aspect to her nature that can be as equally endearing as it is frustrating. The way her relationships with Dean go illustrates it so clearly. I still find it interesting that the first time they really talk, Dean notices how focused she is and Rory wonders if she just isn't really self-centered. Dean says he doubts it, but I partly wonder if they're both right.

Anyway, I'm glad it rang true! Thank you :)

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