Title: The Sleep Fakers
Rating: T—some language. But they're trying to break themselves of the habit. I promise.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: One-shot Rogan. Faking sleep is sneaky. But informative. Sequel to another one-parter of mine, Bathroom Monkey. COMPLETE.
She woke up out of habit, not need. She was warm in her cocoon of 400 thread count sheets and the quilt her mother had made for them. This was just one example of the clashing of their worlds, and nary had a word of complaint come from her lips. She slid one hand under the soft covers over to where she would normally slide her hand up his torso, but found only the still-warm fabric from where his form had until recently been.
He'd come home late from work tonight, kissing her cheek and the top of their daughter's head on his way through the apartment, mumbling that he was exhausted and he'd see them in the morning. She eyed him carefully, thinking his behavior odd, but only calling out to him that she'd be in soon as she continued to read to the slumbering infant in her arms.
They had their traditions and routines. Especially since the baby came. They liked to do the Times crossword puzzle after work to unwind together. She always wrote the answers in, him glancing over her shoulder, pointing and tapping at the paper when he'd suggest answers. They worked at it until they were finished or the familiar cry for dinner came from the bassinet. While she obliged their child, he would magically make dinner appear on the dining room table. After dinner, they would spend some quality time with the blue-eyed blonde until her yawns overrode her giggles. They nestled her in before nestling themselves in for the evening.
They were homey, as she always suspected they would be. Not that they didn't enjoy being out among people, but even when the got some eager victim to sit with the baby, more often than not they ended up canoodling in the corner of a room after his hand had none too innocently grazed her thigh during dinner. It embarrassed their friends and mortified their families. It was shocking to older generations, how the couple seemed oblivious to all else outside of the tiny bubble of their universe. It was uncommon to say the least in the social circles they were pulled in to have such an affection for someone with whom they lived with on a daily basis. Stolen moments in that set were generally cause for scandal and gossip. There was nothing scandalous about them, save for how high she let him raise her skirt in public.
Nevertheless, despite their evening activities, since the birth of their child three months ago, every night like clockwork she woke up at three a.m. to the cries for a midnight snack. It was reliable, not to mention persistent. Their daughter had excellent lungs and wasn't likely to be denied anytime soon. Logan, however, had mastered sleeping through it. She had gone so far to check his ears for custom-made earplugs, convinced finally that he was suffering hearing loss at an unfortunate young age.
She enjoyed the pre-dawn feedings, if truth be told. While it was true that she stayed home most of the day with her daughter and was in no danger of becoming estranged from the growing infant, most of Rory's day was spent writing while checking in at regular intervals as the sleeping baby dreamed away. No, there was something special about this time of day while the two of them sat together in the rocking chair that had been given to them at one of the many baby showers thrown for the new arrival months ago. Perhaps it was the way the moon cast its magical rays through the window, illuminating the tiny contours of her face, or the way she flashed her wide baby blues at her appreciatively as she ate, or the bonding that Rory had read so much about during her pregnancy. She felt these were the moments that she was truly getting to know her daughter. She often wondered what Logan would count as his favorite time of day, but always forgot to ask him during the normal waking hours, as he never so much as shifted when she slid back into bed with him while the thought was still fresh in her mind. Though he was always curled up around her when she woke up again a few hours later with the alarm.
Her eyes now open; she saw that it was 2:45 a.m. according to his alarm clock. She wondered if he had gotten sick, and considered getting up to check on the two of them until she heard his soft voice coming from the other side of the room. She wasn't sure why, but something about the tone of his voice made her stay put, not moving so much as a muscle, save for closing her eyes again.
"That's my girl," he soothed.
She heard the soft gurgle of their daughter's pleased reaction, and could picture the look on her tiny features. Maybe she was a bit biased, but she swore all that was missing was a tiny halo when her daughter smiled. Lorelai hadn't donned her 'Angel Baby' for nothing.
"No need to wake up Mommy," he continued, piquing her interest more.
"I'm just sorry I woke you up. I don't normally walk the floors at night, which you well know. I mean, sure I'm used to waking up with your battle cry—that's a very effective means of knocking a person out of a sound sleep you've developed there. You get that from your mother, by the way."
Rory's mouth dropped open in surprise, not quite believing her ears. He wakes up? Now her wrath is imminent, she was sure of that.
"Speaking of your mother, don't tell her that I wake up. That can be our little secret. Do this for me, and I promise, I'll go easy on the first boy you bring home. The second boy, however," he rambled off, at which Rory couldn't retain the scowl that had formed on her face. That was pretty adorable, she had to admit. Here their daughter was only three months old and he was worried about her bringing boys home.
She heard Logan give a long sigh, and there was obviously movement. She figured he was switching the baby to his other arm. She was deceptively heavy. Rory's arms used to ache unendingly while she got used the new strain of toting a baby around. Logan surprised her by booking her a massage three weeks after the baby was born and taking the baby for the afternoon, and she'd made a habit out of it, getting weekly pampering while her arms and back recuperated from the new mother strain. It was just one of the ways he was thoughtful and doing his best to help her out.
"I can let you in on more secrets, right? I mean, your Mommy hasn't taught you sign language behind my back or anything, right? You guys are here for hours alone every day. I mean, I know she's been sneaking in coffee tastings," he sighed again.
Again Rory's mouth curled up at his words. He'd been livid when he discovered the offense. He had offered to burp the baby after a bottle feeding last week, one of her first attempts in fact. Rory had snuck some coffee into the milk, just to see. She swore her daughter had winked at her appreciatively during the meal. It was a sign of love and affection after all, to give one coffee. But you'd think it was a federal offence when Logan had smelled the beverage's unique aroma upon the eventual burp. He picked her up, bringing her mouth to his nose, and took a long whiff. Next he gave his wife an accusatory glance, to which she just shrugged her shoulders. He said she would see the harm in it when their daughter, the dwarf, was shunned in school and came home crying every day, not only from the teasing, but dangerously low on caffeine and needing a fix.
"Your grandfather came to see me today. And Daddy's never happy when that happens," he informed the baby, who cooed and wrapped her hand around his index finger. "But today he informed me that he wanted me to step up and work with him for the next few years, before he retires."
Rory's eyes opened again, but she stayed still so as not to alert him to her very much awake state. Logan's father had made no signs of slowing down as the CEO of the company—he was only in his early fifties, after all. Logan hadn't exactly stayed in one position for very long—not taking long to master each task that his father threw at him. Currently he was in charge of two of the papers that were under the umbrella of the family company. Both had improved with his involvement, and Rory had freelanced pieces for both over the last few months, along with other publications. The couple was flourishing in almost every way.
"I mean, not that I didn't know this was coming. But I figured he'd let me alone for a while longer, I've done everything he's asked. Your mother isn't going to like this. It's going to mean me working a lot more hours, and I don't want to see the look on her face when I tell her. Or on your face when you're old enough to know that Daddy's never around as much as he should be. I went through that, and it sucks. I don't want to do that to you. I swore to myself when you were born, the first time I ever held you in my arms that I wouldn't do it."
Rory's heart melted a little, and she feared it might shatter if he continued. Maybe she should get up and let him know she heard him, and it would be okay. They could work it out together. They could to go to his father together, and make him see reason. No wonder he was sullen earlier and up in the middle of the night now in worry.
"It would be different if he was just handing it over to me, I could keep going like I am now. But working next to him—the man only sleeps four hours a night. Can you imagine?"
Another coo was elicited from the small girl, and Rory was itching to get up at this point, but remained still, not so much as opening her eyes again.
"I like they way things are going. Everyone thought we were crazy, thinking we couldn't juggle work and a family so soon—not that you gave us much choice in the matter, did you?" he pressed his lips into her hairline soothingly. "You're just getting big enough to start to do some really fun things. There's so much we want to show you. I don't want Rory to have to do this alone."
A small chuckle escaped his lips, no doubt brought forth from something that was happening in his arms. "Maybe I can just hand you over to your stodgy old grandfather and you can work some of that magic on him. Again, something else you get from your mother."
Not true, Rory thought again, genuinely thinking about his statement. If there was someone in this family that could charm the pants right off of someone, it was him. Logan could talk anyone into anything. Which could also be said of her own mother, so if this kid played her cards right, she could probably take over the world. It was that level of skill she was inheriting.
"Your grandparents, they mean well. And they love you to pieces. Remember that when you're older and will no doubt see me and them come to blows over some issue. I'm hoping most of that is behind us. Boy, were they unhappy when we told them about you. We were living here together, which was bad enough, but we didn't have plans to get married. At least, none that your mother knew about."
Again, she was amazed at the level of confession he was finding in the baby. It wasn't that she and Logan didn't communicate. They did, sometimes too much, she thought. She knew him better than anyone, hands down—it was a fact. He wasn't one to keep things from her, at least not for long. She knew in her heart that tomorrow morning, after a night of contemplation, he'd come to her with her morning coffee and unload his concerns. Ask her advice. Figure it out.
"She still thinks I bought that ring after I found out you were on the way. Everyone thinks we wouldn't have gotten married so soon," he said just as softly as ever as he moved the baby up back to the other side. His arms were stronger than Rory's but even still the movement was soothing to the baby and ingrained in both of them at this point. "Guess that's another of our little secrets."
"Any secrets you want to tell me?" he paused, as if waiting for a response. "You can always come to us, you know that. And remember to always take anything your Grandma Lorelai says with a grain of salt. And that everything Uncle Finn says is a complete fabrication. Especially anything he says about your Daddy's college years."
Holding in a laugh of that magnitude physically hurts, which Rory now knew as she hoped she wasn't shaking in reaction to Logan's last comment. 'Uncle' Finn loved the baby. And surprisingly, he was good with her. He had sat with her on a number of occasions. The funniest thing was, Finn never had to embellish stories about Logan—none of them did. That group, both before and after Rory's introduction, had done some of the most bizarre, dangerous, and illegal things on the planet. The fact that she knew he'd want to shield his precious daughter of this knowledge didn't surprise her, but blaming it on Finn wouldn't work forever. He was going to be a favorite of her daughter—she could tell that right now.
Another long sigh came from the direction of the rocking chair. "At least you're one female on this planet that he'll actually try to shield men from, and not sleep with himself," he imparted. "You've done the impossible, little girl—instilling maturity into Finn. They might fit you with the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the National Organization of Women. I believe your Grandma Lorelai bought you a membership when we got the sonogram showing you were a girl."
"You know, I'm not usually afraid of things. Your mother says it's because I'm cocky, but being afraid never does anyone any good. But I have to admit, I was pretty terrified when you were born. And not because Rory was threatening my life—I knew she'd never really pull a Buffy on me, no matter how much pain she was in—but it hit me what a monumental task it was going to be. Raising you, showing you what life is like, it's a big job. And I don't want you coming out of our house eighteen years from now angry and bitter. I want you to know, and like, us. Not that I'm complaining, but I didn't get to see the good side of my dad a lot. He was always working or telling me about work, so I'd want to take over someday."
Laughter and tears were dueling it out in Rory's nervous system, making it next to impossible to stay down in the darkened room. He was trying to keep the conversation light, but he was being so serious. She knew he didn't want to become like his dad. And she couldn't imagine the transformation happening. He was too aware, and he knew what was best for his family. For their family. It was still a strange new concept for them to wrap their minds around, but much more tangible since they were first able to hold their baby in their arms.
"And if you want to take over the company someday, that's more than fine with me. But if you want to be an artist living hand to mouth in some studio apartment in Paris or New York, that's fine too. I want you to do whatever makes you happiest. Even if that means you're going to be the world's best rodeo clown, then your mother and I will be in the stands, cheering you on."
More frowning from the supposedly sleeping crowd. Rodeo clown? He had to be kidding. Not that she didn't want to be supportive of whatever their daughter wanted out of life, but just looking at her, you could tell she would be something great. And who knew of any great rodeo clowns?
"At any rate, I have to tell your mother soon, about the job change. We've been invited over to the Huntzberger Manor for dinner and celebration. Everyone will fawn all over you, of course; all your relatives will be there. Which reminds me, your Aunt Honor also lies when telling stories about me," she could hear the smile in his voice. "Your great-grandparents will be there, all of your grandparents. Of course, your mother will be hiding in the library for a portion of the evening to get away from the insanity as she usually does. And then they'll toast me and tell me not to fuck it up."
Now she twitched. They had a jar for that kind of language, and he had contributed about five hundred dollars to it in the last three months, supposedly to stop him from using such language in the presence of their child, but thus far it wasn't prohibiting his speech much. He said she was just going to learn these words at school anyhow, at least learning from him she'd use them correctly, and not all strung together in one long, idiotic mega-strand. Rory had smacked him and said that dropping the dictionary on her foot really had hurt, and she couldn't have held those words back from her mouth if she'd tried. The Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is quite a hefty thing to have fall onto your foot, but he had still doubled over in laughter at the words that flew from her normally even-tempered and well-spoken mouth.
"Sorry, you didn't hear me say that. They'll tell me not to screw it up," he paused. "Is screw a word that your mother has outlawed? Ever since she and Lorelai had that mock debate over which words would offend your delicate ears, I can never remember. I'm pretty sure screw is okay."
He was checking with her, his three-month-old daughter? Sneaking a glance at his clock, she saw it was nearly three a.m. and she could soon feign the overwhelming urge to need to feed the infant that he was chatting with. One flash of her own baby blues could convince him of her honesty. Her daughter had learned from a long line of convincing women.
"So, how are we doing so far? Any irreversible damage done yet?" he was joking again, his voice moving out of the contemplative and into the comical. "Blink once for no, twice for yes."
More silence, and she knew he was probably just staring at the wonder in his arms. Sometimes she found him leaning over the bassinet, just watching with wide eyes and a half smile on his face. She came up behind him once, rubbing her hand lightly over his back and whispered into his ear.
"Okay," a pause occurred as she watched next to him for a moment, her chin resting on his shoulder, "Should I get some chips or something?"
He simply slipped one arm around her waist and kissed her cheek. "Isn't she amazing?"
She never could argue with that logic. Even when it had come to their impromptu wedding. They'd eloped, one month to the day after she had told him of her 'delicate condition' as it were. Three days after they'd told his parents and her grandparents. Her mother had known for almost the entire time, she being the only one they weren't dreading telling. Lorelai had grabbed them both, right in the middle of the diner, hugging and kissing both of them, her glee radiating. She called Luke over, and then offered everyone in the diner free milkshakes on the house, for which Luke to this day is bitter about. The only thing so far that Lorelai had been able to find to get him to stop ranting about the money loss is giving him the beautiful baby that was the reason for said loss of profits, which works like a charm every time. No one is safe from that particular pitfall.
"Has your mother ever told you about our wedding?" he continued, obviously still not fighting the need for sleep. "Rory kept saying we should put it off until after you came along, so we could plan the huge wedding that our families were insisting we have. And they were insisting after we told them you were on the way, let me tell you. My mother had a wedding coordinator on the phone within seconds, easily done as she had him on speed dial. Then she promptly burst into tears when he told her it would take a year and a half to plan a wedding of the magnitude she felt we deserved."
Rory smiled, remembering the night as if it'd happened yesterday. She'd never seen anyone drink so much sherry in one sitting before, but Shira Huntzberger could certainly pack it away. Puffs of smoke appeared around the corner about five minutes after she got off the phone, and they stopped only after Mitchum had disappeared around the same corner and then a loud smashing noise occurred that seemed to coincide with the cessation of the smoking for the evening. Lorelai had tried to stress that it wasn't the end of the world if the 'kids' waited until after the baby came, to which she was met with four looks of shock and indecency.
"She and I drove out to Vermont the night I proposed, and got married at this country estate in the Green Mountains. We were completely by ourselves, completely in love. She was breathtaking—we got married just after the sun had set behind the mountains, backlighting them and us, and it was just us, the minister, and a couple of people that worked there for our witnesses. It was perfect. It wasn't about the centerpieces that my mother wanted, or the champagne that Emily insisted upon—I'll never forget the flowers she'd placed in her hair at the last minute, or the way she touched my cheek right before I kissed her for the first time as husband and wife."
Okay, so maybe she wouldn't kill him for faking sleep every night. He did have some redeeming qualities after all. She chanced being caught herself, wiping a tear away from her cheek as he talked about their wedding.
"Of course we mollified the family by letting them throw a reception for us a few weeks later at the Vineyard. You'll see the house next summer. The beach is my favorite place out there. We'll have a blast—we'll bury Mommy in the sand and find sand dollars."
He was so good at this. While it probably would have shocked most everyone that had known him during his playboy days, including Rory in the beginning, he was an excellent father. It came naturally to him, the way he handled her, how he made sure Rory got a rest before she reached the breaking point, and he was completely in every moment with her, even though Rory knew that he was simultaneously planning for her future. It was amazing with what ease he handled it all. And now the thought of breaking this groove they'd fallen into was keeping him up all night. She knew she didn't want it any other way, but she hated that he was trying to deal with this on his own, even for just a few hours.
"Speaking of Mommy, do we need to get her up? How's the food situation?" he asked as he lifted the small girl up so that the entire front of her body rested against his chest. Her tiny head fell against his shoulder, and she emitted a small sound of discontent. Rory could hear the steady rhythm of his hand patting her as he continued to rock gently back and forth in the chair. "Just a little longer? You're the boss."
The silence that fell over the three of them caused Rory's mind to wander. Dinner at his folks' house with the joined families. Joy of joys. Not that it was so bad—it wasn't as bad as being with both of her sets of grandparents once upon a time. That had been the textbook definition of torture. Now that she and Logan were married, the air in the looming house hadn't been filled with quite so many digs and disappointed undertones. They had done what everyone wanted and gotten married as was proper. Even if it was on their own terms. No more 'living in sin,' as it'd been so lovingly referred to. And of course the baby—well, the option of being able to tote around the first-born child of the couple definitely appeased the elder women of the family especially.
"Maybe I'll arrange a trip to Stars Hollow first, that'll make your mom happy," Logan spoke softly. "What d'ya think? Wanna visit the outpatient mental facility? They do love you, and I think I've grown on them," he laughed.
It was true. Logan wasn't seen as the rich boy with the sleek cars that courted the town princess anymore. Now he was known among the townspeople, for his generosity, his own quirks, and most importantly for being the father of the cutest baby on the eastern seaboard.
"Surely they'll be having some festival soon. I'm just glad you don't have teeth yet, and your mother and grandmother can't truly start to rot your body yet. Last time we went to the Founders Day Festival, your mother was pregnant with you, and she ate fried pickles on a stick and dipped them in wasabi horseradish dip. I nearly gagged from walking next to her."
Even she had to wrinkle her nose, and she could still remember how good the combination had tasted at the time. The whole reason she wanted it had something to do with the deep-fried candy bar (also on a stick) she'd had directly before. As if you could ask a pregnant woman to explain her cravings to you. And he'd thought she was crazy.
"Of course, your mom's never been shy about her eating habits. It's one of the things I love most about her. She's never afraid to be who she is. She doesn't make excuses or hide from things. She did used to have a penchant to run from boys, but I'm not going to say I would mind if you picked up that particular habit, either."
Speaking of eating must have triggered something in the child, as she began making slightly louder noises, despite his rocking and other attempts at quieting her. She gave a true cry about a minute later, and Rory—without being able to stop the action—was propping herself up on the pillow and blinking what little sleep had been left in her eyes away.
"We're waiting on you over here," his voice didn't change in pitch or volume from his recent chat with his daughter. She gave a smile, and padded her way over to the pair. He handed the infant over, who instantly settled down. She knew what being handed to Mom meant. Success. Rory settled in the warm chair, and Logan knelt down at her side, staring at her face as she concentrated on getting her daughter settled. She looked to him once she was satisfied and grinned as well.
"You're good with her."
"You're not so bad yourself," she replied honestly. "You okay?"
He sighed. "I will be."
"Logan, what's wrong? You came home tonight, and," she stopped talking as he moved his hand out to brush some stray hair back out of her face for her.
"I know. It's Dad. He wants me to work along side him. Until he's ready to hand everything over."
She said nothing, just gave a look of sympathy and concern. They hadn't ever spoken of what would happen when the time came, but both knew it was inevitable.
"We have to be there for the formal dinner announcement a week from Friday."
"So, what does that mean?"
"Well, for one, we're getting a weekend in at Stars Hollow before the change. How's this weekend for you?"
"Are you trying to sweet-talk me, Sir?"
"Is it working?"
"Shut up," she grinned, looking down to check on her daughter's progress before looking back at him, trying to feign harassment. He was too proud of his ability to coax her into his desires.
"I'm going to do my damnedest to keep things as close to how they are now as I can."
"That's two," she said.
"Two?" his brow furrowed at her comment.
"Two? I just said one," he looked at her with interest, knowing full well of his earlier slip-up.
"Oh, right. Though I'm sure you probably owe another I'm not aware of, just knowing your lexis," she tried to cover.
"Right. Sure. I'll get on that in the morning."
"Hey, she will have enough to pay for college by the time she's four, thanks to your potty mouth."
"Yes, and she'll be using phrases like potty mouth," he taunted her.
"Is it going to be a lot more hours?" she asked, turning more serious again.
"It—might be easier if we moved to New York finally. I mean, I know we like living here, and it's closer to our families, but it'll be way less commute time, which means more time together."
"Let's do it," she said definitively.
"Rory, hang on, we can think about it for more than a split second. This is a major life decision."
"You mean like getting married?" she tossed an example out to defeat his argument. One that she knew would work in three seconds or less.
"Tie-match score. My turn again?"
She nodded her consent. "I don't have much choice in working with him, but there are ways to make it better for us. I've been thinking of nothing else since this afternoon. I swear."
She put out the one hand she could maneuver while still keeping the baby in place against her body and cupped his cheek with it in the dimly lit room. "It's going to be fine. I believe in you."
His head bent forward; his forehead leaning against her upper arm. Her skin was cool, as always, and a wave of relief swept over him. When he opened his eyes again, he looked to their contented daughter, taking a small break to give a wide yawn. He smiled at his new confidant.
"Yeah, it is."
"Hey, Logan?" she asked, prying her own eyes away from the action that was occurring against her and looking to him.
"What's your favorite time of day?"
A faint grin upturned the corners of his mouth as something jumped into his mind. "3:17 a.m."
She frowned, looking at the clock and to him. It read 3:10. "Okay. I wasn't going for an exact integer, but I suppose that is a valid answer to my question."
"Every night at 3:17, you have just put her back down and you come back into bed with your freezing cold feet and curl up against me. It's my favorite part of the day."
"I knew it!" she accused, poking him in the chest. "You wake up!"
"So? You let me get up every morning, and you never so much as twitch," she complained.
"It's not me she's crying for. I don't have the necessary equipment, and frankly if I did, Finn would have staked a claim on me long ago."
She had to giggle, at both his logic and the mental image he put into her mind. Now there was no way she'd be able to get back to sleep easily come 3:17. She moved her daughter up to pat her back soothingly, and Logan stood up to stretch his legs. He looked out the bedroom window, wondering what the new view would be out of a New York apartment. They'd have to research school districts and shopping areas, of course. To appease Lorelai after moving further away with her only grandchild, they'd have to live in a good shopping district for when she came to visit.
"So, are you getting in bed or not?" she asked. She came up behind him, slipping her arms around his waist, both free now that the baby was falling quickly to sleep in her own bedding.
He kissed her cheek before turning all the way around to kiss her properly on the mouth. She pushed him back lightly after he pulled out of the warmth created between them and raised an eyebrow at him.
"Are you somehow displeased that I wasn't in bed when you woke up?"
"No, it's just going to be hard for you to enjoy your favorite time of day if you aren't waiting in bed for me now, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am," he saluted before kissing her forehead and then scurrying over to the bed, quietly enough not to wake up the baby. She took a glance out the window as well, then around the room—trying to picture it all boxed up and ready to make the transition. They both knew they'd have to move sooner or later—their daughter would soon need her own room instead of a mobilized bassinet. Giving him just enough time to get in and close his eyes as if he'd been there the whole time—that the last half hour had been but a dream, she finally moved toward the bed.
She nuzzled into him, her face pressing into his neck as always, but knowing he was awake she allowed herself a giggle at her own thoughts.
"What?" he whispered.
"I was thinking about Puck."
"The gross guy that picked his nose then put his finger in the jar of peanut butter?"
"No," she laughed. "Shakespeare."
"Ah. A Midsummer Night's Dream."
"'If we shadows have offended, Think but this and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here, While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream.'"
Rory raised up on one elbow to eye him suspiciously. "You know Shakespeare? I mean, full on quotations by heart?"
He laughed, but opened his eyes to look at her properly. "In your mind, I went to what, three classes, in all of my formative years?"
She blushed in the dark, but he could still tell as the blood rose and colored her pale skin. "I'm just surprised. I didn't think memorizing Shakespeare would have been high on your to-do list."
"I never had a to-do list. And some girls really gave it up for a correctly timed Shakespeare recitation."
This earned him a pinch. A hard one, right under his rib cage. She was clearly not pleased.
"Hey, instead of your being upset that there were in fact other women in my life before you," he paused as she cut in.
"You mean the myriad of other women, whom I'll eat my pillow if you can name even one of?"
He ignored her question and continued. "Can we talk about why you're thinking about offending shadows and having dreamed a sequence of events?"
"I like that play?"
"So, I'm not the only one that fakes sleep?" he hedged.
"You're wonderful with her. You're a great father."
He fell silent as she kissed his cheek tenderly, as if to drive her point home. He slid his arm underneath the small of her back and used the wide expanse of his palm to pull her in toward his warm uncovered torso to warm her up more effectively.
"I won't screw this up."
"It's not on the list," she nodded approvingly into his chest.
"Even if Finn says he's going to screw some girl's brains out?"
She was silent for a moment. "Okay, it's approved in the form of a noun only."
She was sufficiently warm now, and letting her eyelids fall shut. "So, we're moving?" she murmured.
"Looks that way. Rory?" he leaned his head to the side to see if she was still awake enough to continue the conversation.
"Mmpffh?" she mumbled, clearly letting herself drift back out of consciousness.
"This is definitely my favorite time of day," he kissed her forehead once more and continued to watch her as she slept, the faintest hint of a smile gracing her features as she remained curled up, safe and content, in his arms. Just like every night.