This struggle had been going on for weeks.
It was a fight for power, control, and ego. Each striving to be the master of their own domain. The unanswered question of who was being pulled into whose world. Who was winning? Neither was willing to admit defeat. Both played seamlessly along with the pretext that there was no struggle.
She stood at the bar, waiting as the bartender mixed her drink. Her date had offered to get it for her, but she wanted an excuse to go off by herself. The chance of bumping into the one person she was avoiding was high, as he was fetching drinks for two this evening.
A fact she was doing her damnedest to ignore.
She didn't care. Tonight wasn't one of their nights. Neither of them had arranged plans to see the other tonight. The fact that they happened to end up at the same party with different people was bound to happen. The campus wasn't that big. They weren't exclusive, especially since they'd decided together that it would be easier this way. They were both completely encouraged to see other people. It would help keep it more casual, because that was the chosen word for their arrangement. Casual.
"My, my. A lady left to get her own drinks. I'm going to have to have a talk with that date of yours."
"I don't think that's necessary," she replied coolly as the bartender placed her vodka tonic on the bar and began making Logan's requests.
"How my dates treat me is no business of yours."
"Well, on some nights, it is very much my business."
"And this wouldn't be one of them, now would it?"
He couldn't decipher if her tone was biting or not. Certainly, she was displeased about something. He continued to look at her, though she didn't look at him. She didn't move to leave either. He took that as his sign to continue.
"I'm sorry, have I done something to you?"
"No, not at all."
"It's just interesting, that's all."
"Oh, nothing, I was just noticing," she said with a light tone, "Your date is blonde."
He gritted his teeth. "Yes, I suppose she is."
"Just an observation."
"Care to elaborate on why her hair color is so interesting? Because, to be honest with you, it's probably not her natural color. That would be more interesting, the reasons behind the change, don't you think?"
"No, no, I think it's interesting because what it says about you. Obviously you have a thing for blondes. It's your type."
"My type? I'm sorry, you've seen me with what, two other girls? And they both happened to have blonde hair. Two girls does not a type make."
"Okay, I mean, if you say so."
Her joking tone burned just under his skin, but he was bound and determined to make this a victory. Her condescending tone wasn't going to best him.
"What exactly is your type, Ms. Gilmore?"
She ignored the formal use of her name, and shrugged. "Well, I guess if you look at my past history, I tend to go for the tall, dark, and handsome men."
"If you think so."
"It's surprising. I mean, you seem to be having about as much fun with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome as you would cleaning toilets."
"Let me tell you something, Logan," she began.
"I mean, honestly, why would you even waste an evening with a guy like that?"
"Why do you always do that?"
"You never let me,"
"Get away with anything?" he offered.
"Finish a complete thought, is what I was going to say. You have some nerve, judging my choice of date."
"Funny, I was going to say the same thing to you. And as for your inability to speak in my presence, because I make you flustered, well, I can't really control your attraction to me," he said, leaning in close just in case someone else might overhear.
"You do not fluster me. You rudely interrupt me. You're inconsiderate and arrogant."
"Funny, those weren't the words you were using Wednesday night. You remember Wednesday night, don't you? How could you not, since you are a self-proclaimed detail freak. Wednesday night, in your room. I came over, per your request, and the only words I remember coming out of your mouth were, 'Please, Logan, please.'"
Her face blushed a full crimson, out of embarrassment and her vodka hitting her system.
"I'm going back to my date," she said, turning to move away from him. This wasn't their deal, making each other crazy while out with other people. That would connote jealousy or a desire to not be stringless. But he grabbed her arm, holding her lightly in place. He stepped closer, looking around quickly to make sure no one was watching the exchange. He didn't want to be interrupted.
"I thought we had a deal."
"We do. You started this."
"No, you started this. Telling me you could handle this when obviously," this time she cut him off.
"What have I done contrary to our deal? Calling you when I wanted some physical contact? In our deal. Going out with other people? Specifically in our deal. Flipping you a little shit about life? In both of our natures."
"I just think that perhaps our seeing of other people should be kept completely separate from the time we spend together."
"Why, Logan? Can't handle seeing me with another guy? Because that sounds like jealousy, and jealousy is one of the biggest strings you can get."
"I'm not jealous. I just don't think it's a good idea."
"Give me one good reason why not."
"Because it's taking time away from our evenings with others. Now, I can see why you would want to get away from the guy that you perhaps said yes to in a moment of confusion or desperation."
"I was not desperate."
"I mean, I wasn't free, so what were you supposed to do?"
"I didn't even call you, if you recall. What makes you think our deal is so special, anyhow? That I don't have any other deals with other guys?"
"Because that's not your nature. You doing this with me isn't even in your character."
"If you really think that, why do you come over when I call you?"
"Why do you come over when I call you?"
Neither spoke, they'd talked themselves in circles. Neither wanted to give up, give in. It had to be the other first. The bartender put his two drinks on the counter, and he turned to grab them.
"I have to go deliver this to my date."
"Fine. Have fun."
He walked away, and she turned to rejoin her date. His comments about this guy not being good enough for her floated through her mind. She wanted to just call it a night, and perhaps if Logan weren't across the room, with his arm around that blonde girl, she would have. She was determined not to be the one to crack first. She could prove that not only could she handle a casual relationship with him, she could be more casual. She could go out with just as many meaningless people as he did.
The boring evening droned on, until finally she was saying goodnight to this man at her door. She yawned, signifying her unwillingness to let him in. She gave him a sleepy smile, thanked him for a fun evening, and let herself into her room. No roommate in sight, and she thanked God for small wonders. She just wanted to crawl under her sheets and forget the whole evening.
Her cell rang, and she looked at the caller ID. She groaned, not wanting to have the same argument again.
"It's me. Is now a good time?"
"I'm not here alone, Logan."
"Oh really? Who's there with you? Did he sneak in your window, because your date just walked past me, very much unsatisfied."
"You're spying on me?"
"I was coming over to see you. There's a difference."
"I'm not in the mood."
"I am. Open up, I'm outside your door."
"How very 'When a Stranger Calls' of you."
"Just let me in."
She sighed, snapping shut her phone. This guy had some nerve. Honestly, couldn't he just leave well enough alone? She needed a breather, time to gather herself if she were going to pull off a lackadaisical attitude at their next session. Now was too soon.
She opened the door, and he was leaning in her hallway. He wasn't smiling—his face was lined with determination. She stepped back, allowing him entrance into the suite. He headed right for her room.
"Logan," she protested, following him into the room. "I don't think now is the best time."
"I think it's the perfect time."
He moved to her, pulling her flush against him. He kissed her in the way that he'd been dying to all evening, since he first caught sight of her across the room, laughing with a group of his friends. In any other situation, he would have gone over and joined them, excusing the two of them moments later when his self-control not to touch her wore off. But his arm had been around the blonde's waist, and Rory had some other man's arm around her waist, his fingertips grazing her hipbone.
If only he'd had just one more drink, perhaps the memory of his own hand grazing down the slope of her unclothed hipbone just two nights before, wouldn't have popped into his mind.
He felt her relax into him, sliding her hands up into his own blonde hair. He moved his hands down to her waist, pulling up at the top she still wore from the evening out. He traced the skin that was now exposed, relieved to be alone. Completely free to do to her what she wanted him to do.
At an almost frantic pace, she began trying to undo his shirt front, and he backed her up to the bed. They landed, him on top of her, and he kissed down her neckline, thankful for the first time this evening of the rather revealing shirt she'd worn. He was aching to confirm the fact she had foregone a bra this evening. One hand slipped up under her shirt, finding no barrier. He moved to kiss her mouth, attempting to hide the groan of pleasure into her.
"Logan," she breathed, trying to hold onto her reservations. It was hard, as his hands were working so hard to counteract her thought. He always did this to her. It was just that sometimes she was much more prepared for his disintegration of her resolve.
"Do you really want me to stop?"
"I just think," she said unconvincingly.
"If you're still thinking, I'm not doing my job," he informed her, moving to kiss her again.
"You really think we can keep this up?"
He paused, "I thought that was the deal."
His tone was unsure, and she wondered what would happen if she said she couldn't handle this. Would he just leave her now? No more late night visits, or evenings out with their friends? If she said she could handle this, would he believe her and stay, giving into what they both wanted to happen now, in this moment? Could they worry about everything else later?
"Yeah, it's our deal."
He nodded, noting her voice sounded as unsure as he felt. But it was also clear that she didn't want him to stop. She just didn't know how to reach a better balance. He sat up, pulling his shirt off before leaning back down to kiss her.
"So, you want me to stay?"
She ran her fingertips lightly over his chest and looked into his eyes. "Yeah. I want you to stay."
They wrapped themselves up in each other, gloriously ignoring the complexity of the relationship they were fighting against developing. Both unable to resist the other, still hoping the other would break first.
This struggle would go on yet another round.