Chapter 76

May 25th, 2017

Rory was still not quite used to the size of the penthouse into which they'd just moved in over a month ago in the Upper West Side. It was a place unlike which she'd ever lived in. None of that old world theme her grandparent's place had had, nothing like the crap shack for sure. Even the Hutzberger's house in Maine had nothing on this, nor did Odette's..., Celeste's, townhouse in Greenwich, the name not quite having stuck yet. This was just so open, airy and bright. The place took up the entire top floor of the building and in part the floor underneath it with the bedrooms. Two of its sides overlooked the city, a vast L-shaped balcony wrapping around it. It was the first time she felt like not living in a shoe box in New York.

She nearly had to squint her eyes at the bright light that was cast into her study through the large gridded windows. She'd just finished the final assignment for the class she'd been taking at NYU, and as she'd finished everything she'd promised Jess this week already yesteday, she was left feeling rather empty. What now?

She'd tried moving around a bit - already developing a theory that there was probably a link between four-months pregnant women needing to pee so often and it just being the recommended number of times one needed to get up and move around in an hour. That she'd also done. But with Logan not due home for another few hours she almost felt like she should do something.

For weeks her excuse had been her schoolwork, or simply setting up the apartment. There had been all these little details missing. The guest room needing a rug, the kitchen lacking a popcorn maker, adding something more to her shopping list for the baby or Logan's study not having enough books - you name it. But as now things were finally settling into place - she was running out of excuses. That file on her laptop's desktop just kept staring back at her.

'Full circle' was the name of the docx file that stared at her. She'd changed the title of the file, and the title of the story within it a number of times. From a simple 'Gilmore Girls' to 'Friday Night Dinners', and from there to 'Strings Attached' and '4.03 - When Everything Changed' . But nothing had stuck. One feeling too much of a show-off, the other too self-centered, the third too Emily Gilmore oriented. She'd gotten as far as 14 chapters, out of the 24 she'd planned and there really wasn't anything wrong with it, but the well that had flodded, making words pour out of her, had just run dry.

She had pretty much considered by now that the book had been simply the expression of her needing to reflect, more specifically pinpoint when and where things had gone wrong - analyze, correct that mistake if possible and move on. And perhaps in a way she had, Logan being a very central part of that book and her regrets. That hardly classified as a valid reason now, as she sat there in their penthouse, which was on her name just the same, his platinum engagement ring with a light blue diamond and the matching wedding band on her left ring finger and his baby in her belly - it didn't get much more committed than that.

Rory felt a mixture of relief and guilt for not opening the file. For one, she didn't need to keep analyzing everything, with Logan having forgiven her, perhaps even more than she'd ever needed to forgive him. She felt she'd gotten a waiver and she really didn't want to look at herself in the mirror when it came to her biggest regrets.

Writing the book even until now had been hard, more than once accompanied by tears. The guilt was from simply feeling like she couldn't finish anything, which of course was biased. The further she got in life, the more things she would just start and not finish. She wasn't sure whether that was because she couldn't or because she was too scared to really try and fail that way. In the former she could at least claim it wasn't her fault - Naomi's book on the Whale and the Rabbit, Conde Naste, that article for Wired she'd been asked to pitch, just to name a few. She'd never even been a real foregin correspondent - a couple of conferences in Germany and the UK certainly didn't count. There hadn't been anything dangerous or exciting about them. She hadn't gone full out on anything, even giving up on the Obama Campaign trail a few months before it's end because she got another offer in New York, which hadn't really worked out either. The latter was just the one of many mistakes she'd made in her career. Was this another one?

It was then as she sat there, behind her vintage mid-century modern desk, in her leather chair, her eyes glued to an empty spot in front of her, her mouse cursor waiting idly on the file in question, when she heard the sound of the elevator coming up which alerted her. It must've been Logan, which was a pleasant surprise as he was early.

She snapped out of her haze, and without further thinking moved the file in question into her 'later' folder, which was pretty much a dumping folder for anything she aimed to come back to someday, but hardly ever did.

Rory rose from her seat just as Logan stepped in.

"Hey," she greeted him.

"Hey," Logan said. "How are my two favourite people?" he asked with a quick peck on Rory's lips.

"Relieved," she replied honestly. It wasn't just about finishing her assignment, but surprisingly simply doing that swift movement with her hand - moving that file away from under her nose - had made her feel like she could finally breathe.

"How about we go out for dinner tonight? You feel up to it?" Logan asked.

"Yeah, sure. I just need to go change," Rory said, glancing down at her leggings and t-shirt combo.

"No rush, I need to call my dad for his birthday anyways," Logan said, shedding his suit coat, and headed for his office with a fliratious wink.

Rory exhaled, and headed downstairs to change, maybe shower too - it wasn't as if they were in a hurry. Life seemed somehow so much lighter when it was the two of them out in the city - discovering it's well hidden nooks and living their final months of alone-time to the fullest. There wasn't a regret in her mind for having married him - with or without the regrets of her career. But there'd always be that regret of not marrying him sooner.

July 17th, 2024

Most of the group had taken a collective day trip to G's apartment building for the day, as she was getting the keys to her place. It was good that they did - the mattress delivery company having gotten the date wrong, or G having been too excited when making the purchases and mixed it up herself - who cares, they were there and so were the deliveries. G was allowed a few mistakes.

With Logan, Jess and Leo around for muscle power, and a bit of financial incentive for the delivery guys to actually help out, it really took them no time to get things to where they belonged, leaving G with just getting the apartments set up for the guest arriving already in two days.

While Celeste and G were still at the house, having decided to wash all the linen and towels before they'd be used, Rory had dug her toes into the sand at Saint Michel and watched her oldest play with Evie on the beach. The beach here was similarly dark like in Nice, but instead of pebbles which often were too hot and challenging to walk on, here the substrate was more sandy, providing the kids with opportunities for building sandcastles and moats. The twins had decided against the beach, prefering to head for a playground with the nannies and Oliver, and frankly Rory really didn't object, having just spent the entire day yesterday playing dress up with them which had left her feeling exhausted.

"Here," Logan said as he landed next to her on the large beach towel, and handed her a bag of takeaway. He'd just been getting some lunch with Jess, who'd headed back to the house to take lunches to the rest of the group. Deliveries weren't ideal in Sain Mitchel, but thankfully the place had a few restaurants around.

"Finny and Evie, Logan brought lunch!" Rory called out.

"We'll be there in a minute," Finny called back, being in the middle of building a gigantic sandcastle using drip castling while Evie kept bringing him sea water with a bucket. The castle was already almost up to their waist. It was nothing new that the kids showed little interest in food.

Logan took out a burger and handed another one to Rory, and began to unwrap its biodegradable packaging.

"What is this!?" Rory sniffed at her burger, not quite recognizing the smell.

"Oh, sorry, that's probably mine," he said apologetically. "It's tofu," he added.

Rory's face made a disgusted grin, almost on automatic. Out of all the burger options - really, Logan?

"Here, this is something more to your tastes," he said, and switched out their burgers, sounding rather emotionless, trying to pretend he didn't see her reaction. He didn't want to be this touchy person, but on some days these little things got to him.

"Thanks," she replied.

It wasn't as if they never ate healthy or vegan. They did - just during this holiday, these principles that Logan had been so insistent on back at Beeney had sort of been pushed to the back burner. They had a large feast almost every day, drank a lot of wine, a lot of fish but also meats. It was what Rory considered as a holiday, not having to think about anything other than their enjoyment. But apparently - Logan did think about it. He couldn't help himself, almost involuntarily keeping a list of eco-costs in his mind he'd need to undo someday.

Logan didn't say anything, but just ate his food quietly, feeling the annoyment grow within him. Was this really something he could live with? Did she really want to go back to her former reality - for this lavish consumerism to become the norm again? Sure they'd been consuming a lot more this past week, and would be during the weekend with the upcoming vow renewal - but she seemed to just be so fine with it, it bothered him that she didn't seem to care. He wasn't doing it for himself - he was doing it for the sake of his kids, their kids and their future. But he knew that he couldn't really snort something like that at her, knowing how much she'd given up for the kids. He knew he couldn't blame her for not being on the same page with him in every matter - it had take a lot of self-learning to get there where he was. But would there really always just be this little nagging feeling that he was fighting the cause by himself? They did love each other - but were they really a team in everything else?

That paintful thought was aruptly interrupted by Rory's phone that lay between them just under the takeaway bag, which Logan removed, trying to be helpful. Both of them cast a look down on the phone, almost on automatic, and froze.

It was Owen.

Logan swallowed the bite he'd been chewing, realizing he hadn't even told Rory that he'd spoken to his brother almost two weeks ago, having cleared at least some air. He could see hesitation in Rory's eyes.

Rory got little piece of burger stuck in her throat which she tried to cough out. With her throat cleared a few seconds later, Rory simply turned the phone around, facing downwards, and let the buzzing fade into the sand and took a sip of water to drink instead, pretending as if that hadn't just happened.

Was this the first time he'd called? - Logan pondered.

"I talked to him, you know," Logan began, after the buzzing had stopped, realizing that if there was ever going to be anything resembling a team in the two of them that went beyond parenting or sex, he needed to come clear. About this, about everything. He couldn't just let some superficial thing concerning their somewhat conflicting eating habits make them vulnerable when there were way bigger fish to fry - like this.

Rory continued to chew quietly, watching the kids continue playing, letting that thought sink in. She wanted to know when and why, she wondered whether he'd yelled at him, what words he had used if he had, whether he would ever speak to him again.

But all she could get across her lips was, "Of course you did." The statement came across not at all the way she'd planned, not that she'd had a lot of planning put into this. But it sounded almost accusatory and disappointed.

"What? I shouldn't have spoken to my brother?" Logan replied, sounding a little upset, the earlier annoyment over the food just adding to it.

"That didn't come out right, I'm sorry," Rory replied, calming him a little. "I don't know how to respond to that. I just felt this panic right now, seeing him call. I don't know what to say to you, I don't know what to say to him," she blabbered, a slight lump in her throat being audible to Logan already.

It was then their tense conversation was interrupted by the kids who rushed over to get their burgers. This was what parents did - snap in and out of difficult conversations whenever they were needed.

Rory rinsed Finny's and Evie's hands with a bottle of water, and handed each of them their respective burgers and water bottles from the bag. The kids rushed off to eat them on a swing set further down the beach, the beach here in Saint Michel being a very pleasant and slow kind, just a couple of people on the beach with them at the time. The reason for this was not because it wasn't a nice beach - but rather that it lacked ammenities. But this really wasn't an issue with them - G's house being just close by.

"I just needed to ask him what he was thinking. I learned that he hasn't been doing so great. That's partially on me too - I wasn't just paying too little attention to you but him too," Logan replied, knowing that this topic needed to be discussed. He wasn't quite sure that his agenda was though - did he want her to talk to him or not?

"Okay," Rory exhaled, swallowing another bite.

"Have you spoken to him?" he asked, praying inside that she hadn't. He didn't want to find out she'd been keeping in touch with him, for whatever reasons - almost feeling like it would have nearly classified as cheating if she had. Emotional cheating was perhaps even worse than the physical kind.

"No, this is the first time he's called," Rory replied, sounding a little disgusted that Logan would ask her that. She would've thought that after all this he would have no doubt in his mind that she would've told him if she had.

"Did you know he was having problems? The depression and the suicide attempt?" Logan asked after a lengthy silence.

"The what?! Oh my god!" Rory exclaimed, answering the last part of his question with a negative. "I mean, sure - I knew he wasn't terribly happy with his life, but -," she began, struggling to even say the word out loud, "no, Logan. I didn't know," she added, sounding almost upset. "Is he okay?" she asked, recognizing a feeling she'd buried for months now. She did care about Owen. She almost felt like she wanted to make sure he was okay, but calling him back just didn't seem that easy. Would she even do more good than harm?

"The last time I spoke to him, he was at a facility. He is getting help. He actually called me, apparently apologizing was part of his therapy. If I had to guess he's probably calling you for the same reason," Logan replied, actually trying to put himself in his brother's shoes to only begin to imagine how hard making that call must've been for him.

"When did he...?" Rory began, worrying that maybe she, the way she'd turned him down, had been the reason he'd wanted to kill himself. It had been the right thing to do - no doubt, but surely she could've done it better, earlier - avoiding the whole thing. She'd been so focused on her side of it that now she was just struck by guilt - she hadn't even thought about how it had made Owen feel.

"I don't think that's the reason..," Logan said, feeling in sync with what she was worrying about. He didn't know exactly, but from what he'd heard from both Honor and Owen it was after that incident with Rory when he'd checked himself in, nothing more.

"Do you think I should talk to him?" Rory asked, looking at him, feeling hesitant. She wasn't sure what she would say, but maybe she kind of owed it to him. Maybe she had, in fact, contributed to the problem long term?

"If you feel you can," Logan shrugged. He couldn't make her do it. And he certainly didn't want her to get sucked into that bad place again, as she was just beginning to look and sound a little better herself. "But maybe it'd be good to end that chapter before we start a new one," Logan added, feeling quite baffled where that statement had just come from. But he felt good, having said that, he really did want a clean slate. He wanted everything that bothered them opened up, argued about and settled, before saying their vows again. It wasn't that he'd changed his mind about the vow renewal - he just wanted them to keep their promise - speak not hide.

"I'll think about it," Rory replied, looking down between her feet that were dug almost ankle deep into the sand by now.

"And Rory," Logan began, having lost his appetite for his burger by now altogether. "Can I just say that I know that you've given up a lot for me, for Beeney and the kids. And I know that I promised we'd move back to New York. I'm aiming to stick to my promise. But I don't think I can just let go of my principles just like that. And I just need you to….," he said, searching for words. "Support them, not ridicule them - or this will become a thing that we don't want it to become. Even now - the way you reacted to my choice in food. It's such a simple thing, Rory - but each time you react like that... It's like you think something I do for the greater good is ridiculous - it hurts a little," Logan said, feeling like he needed to.

Rory felt embarrassed. It was such a simple thing and sometimes her brain just… got too comfortable, losing all of its filter. As she thought about it she recognized her mother in herself, feeling even further ashamed by that. After all that loss of a filter was the same thing why she and her mother weren't as close anymore.

"I'm so sorry," Rory replied, and they continued to discuss the matter calmly. He understood that in part it was her sarcasm, her humour - in part just the only reaction she'd grown up with on things like that and they came on automatic, not meaning it wasn't meant as harshly as it came out. He knew this of course, but he didn't even know why he was so sensitive about these things now. His tolerance for certain jokes as lower, he too had changed.

Rory also admitted that she needed to understand these things better to accept them, she promised to try more and asked him to always let her know if something hurt him in case she missed it.

But overall, what mattered was that another line of communication, so far having left unsaid, was opened, giving Logan some more hope, despite the Owen matter being not entirely settled from her side.