Chapter 15: The Thing about First Impressions
(How Many Kropogs to Cape Cod?)
He hadn't heard from his father again, nor had Rory, so Logan apparently assumed that all in all, his brief encounter with his father had at least not jeopardized Rory's internship. During the last few days it had become obvious how excited she really was about her impending internship in a real newspaper office, to be an assistant to none other than the great Mitchum Huntzberger. She had barely been able to talk much about anything else and Logan expected no change of that for their date this evening.
Sure, he had his ways to get Rory thinking about other things but still... somehow, their conversations would return back always to the internship and his father and really - these were not topics any guy would want to talk about while on a date with his girlfriend. Especially, not this guy.
He couldn't help it, ever since Rory had told him about the internship, he had this real bad feeling and confronting and warning his father about it may have helped calm Logan a bit, but only in the beginning. Then, the bad feeling had grown back, in full force if not even getting worse, making him actually feel sick. He wished desperately that he could simply tell Rory to forget about the internship and stay far, far away from any one of his lunatic family members.
Tough chance there.
Shaking his head, frustrated, he knocked at Rory's dorm door, trying to push the queasy feeling and his wariness away so he could enjoy the evening ahead of him, spent with his girlfriend.
He hadn't had to wait long. Already, the door was opening and Rory appeared, smiling warmly at him.
"Hey there, Ace," Logan smiled, feeling himself calming somewhat instantly, and stepped forward, eager for a kiss.
"Hi," she beamed back and reached up to welcome him with her lips.
"Nice. Very nice."
Glancing behind Rory, Logan noticed Paris looking at them with a smile that made Logan slightly nervous. In his experience, Gellar never smiled like that - or if she did, then that would be a reason to get the hell out of there. Rory must have sensed his thoughts, because she was pushing him towards her room. "Hey, you want to see my room? It's far away from here."
Making a last wary glance at Paris, Logan agreed wholeheartedly. "Good idea."
That girl really made him nervous. She was still looking at them with that stupefied smile. Just to be on the safe side, he tried a half-hearted wave with an even more insincere smile. Thankfully, they reached Rory's room and as soon as Rory had closed the door, Logan grabbed her for a proper greeting kiss.
Her arms still locked around his neck, Rory's smile turned softer. "Hello."
Feeling almost ridiculously warmed by that smile alone, Logan smiled back, tightening his hold on her. "Hello."
"What are you thinking about?" Rory asked, her eyes twinkling.
Logan's smile widened. God, his Ace sure knew him. "Whether or not you've ever woken up with Paris standing over you with a knife."
"Not recently," Rory deadpanned. "She's been in a good mood."
Gellar? Good mood? Was that even possible? "Why is that?"
"Because she's in love," Rory answered, her expression mockingly dreamy.
Gellar? In love? Worse... "With Doyle?" he asked, incredulous.
"Yes, with Doyle," Rory nodded. "And do not mock or make fun, because when Paris is happy, the whole world is happy. But when she's not happy, the whole world is Deadwood."
Yeah, well, that he could believe easily. "Got it. You hungry?" he wanted to know, ignoring the slight grunt his stomach made at the thought of food.
"Yes, I'm starving!" Rory confirmed, not much to anyone's surprise. His Ace was always hungry. "Just let me get my sweater." She slid out of his arms and opened her closet, but when she turned, she held up a dress. "What do you think of this dress? Does it look newspaper-y enough?"
Not quite following her question, he frowned. "What?"
"I'm trying to figure out what to wear on my first day at the paper," she explained.
"Ah, the internship rears its ugly head again," he said sarcastically. Of course, the internship... He should have known that she had been talking about that one. Again.
She didn't seem to hear his sarcasm as she already started to ramble about it again. "I want to look professional but not too Lois Lane-y, and I don't want to look like a college kid."
"You are a college kid," Logan pointed out.
"Not on Monday," Rory protested. "On Monday, I am a newspaper woman. And I have to look like a newspaper woman."
Man, she was really nervous about this. He couldn't see her problem though. She could wear anything she wanted and she would look good, so why the fuss? Women. "Whatever you wear will be fine."
Somewhat calmed, Rory beamed and hung up the dress back into the closet. "I'm so excited."
Logan just suppressed a sigh. "I can tell."
"Oh, last night I couldn't sleep so I googled your father," she continued, walking over to her desk and grabbing a thick pile of papers.
Logan blinked. "Excuse me?"
"Twelve thousand fifty three items came up. I could only pull up a couple thousand, but it really helped," she nodded, leafing through the printout as Logan watched partially amused but also with some growing wariness. The feeling in the pit of his stomach was really taking a turn to the worse now. "He was born in 1953, Episcopalian, second of four children, oldest boy, Yale undergrad, star of the track team. No grad school. Interesting. Then he had a couple of lost years. Kind of a blank period, a little Jesus thing going on there. Worked as a reporter and editor for two of the Huntzbergers papers before taking over as CEO of the company!" she rambled on, clearly on a roll now.
Nothing was new to Logan. Heaven knew he had been told about all of those, time and time again. But he really didn't like the admiration he could see and hear from his Ace now. How the hell could he make her understand that all of these facts hardly said anything about how the great Mitchum Huntzberger really was? "Uh..."
"I mean, when you look at all these accomplishments, the man must never sleep!" Rory interrupted him.
No, his dad didn't sleep much, that much was true. Though he doubted she'd like the way Mitchum Huntzberger spent the little down time he had. Usually screwing the closest pair of legs and boobs. "Well..."
"Ah!" Rory once again interrupted him though, reading through a page of the printout. "Mm-hm, four hours a night. Just like Clinton."
More or less, but Logan didn't see any point in confirming this one. He was a bit amazed that even that information was available in the internet and that Rory had actually found that one in the first place. Heaven knew he was aware of his Ace's obsession with research, but really, this was just not healthy anymore. Actually, it was even kind of creepy. "You don't have a wall in a secret room with pictures of my father pasted all over it, do you?" he asked dryly - and only half joking.
The thought alone made him want to puke. Ugh.
"Logan, I'm going to be interning for him. I need to know everything about him," Rory insisted, her eyes finally looking back at him, sternly. "Is he an egghead? Because he seems very roll-up-sleeves-y. But he's written about everything, from foreign affairs, domestic policies. He had a wine column, for God's sake!" She looked down again at the information she had printed out regarding Mitchum Huntzberger. "I should learn more about wine," she murmured.
Wine? His Ace didn't even like wine that much. This was getting out of hand! "Look, Rory..."
But she was still in a roll. "What are his politics? He's unbelievably neutral in his writing! Right wing, left wing, middle wing. Oh, the man was short-listed for the Pulitzer for covering the Iranian hostage crisis when he was twenty-five!"
Ugh... "Yeah, I heard something about that," Logan mentioned sarcastically. She did know who she was talking to, didn't she?
"Twenty-five! How did he do that? Especially considering his lost years?" Her eyes looked back at him and yep, that was definitely admiration he saw there. Admiration for his dad. Fuck. She was so going to be disappointed. She'd learn the true colors of Mitchum Huntzberger soon enough, he knew that. Hence, the sick feeling. "He's a born journalist. I mean, what does he read? What papers, what journals? Come on, tell me something," she finally stopped her rambling with a very unpleasant question for him to answer.
Shit. She wanted answers from him. He guessed that being Mitchum Huntzberger's son and her boyfriend was only natural, but then, she had clearly no idea just how bad the relationship between him and his father was, despite what happened at the dinner at the Huntzberger home. Shit. "He hates peas," he finally responded, not able to think of anything better than that. And hey, it was the truth. His dad hated peas with a passion.
Rory was not pleased. "Logan, I need your help here."
Should have known that the peas' information wouldn't help him get out of this. So be it, the truth then. "Rory, my dad and I basically have two conversations: 'Logan, you're not living up to your potential' and 'Logan, when you're sailing close-hauled, wait until you gain that last bit of boat speed before you pull in the jib sheet'. That's it."
Her excitement finally downed. "But..."
"Ace! You've learned more about my father in one night than I've learned in my whole life! Don't worry. You're going to be fine!" At least he hoped though. Desperately needing a change of topic, Logan looked around. "Now, I thought we've established that we're both starving."
Thankfully, Rory took the hint and nodded, putting away the stack of papers. "Yes, we have. Let's go."
Immensely relieved, Logan turned towards the door, hearing Rory behind him.
"Oh! Wait!" Hanging his head, he stopped and looked back. Yep, she was back reading the printout, making a note. "Your dad covered Haiti in 1985. Must learn more about Haiti. Got it." She turned back. "Okay, let's go," she said, coming over to him. "Hey, have you discussed Pinochet with him? Because one time he wrote..."
Argh! When would she finally take the hint?! "Peas, Ace. Peas."
"Right. Sorry," she apologized but Logan didn't trust that one.
To be fair, she didn't ask any more questions about his father until they've reached his car. Then again, she didn't talk at all until they've reached his car. He wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign. The silence continued, growing uncomfortably.
"Logan? You're not mad at me, are you?" Rory finally broke the silence.
Surprised, Logan glanced at her. "Mad? Why would I be mad?"
"For asking too many questions about your father. I know you've got your issues with him and that you don't like talking about him, really, I do and I'm sorry for always rambling about him for the past few days… it's just, I'm really nervous about Monday." She made a face. "I mean, he's Mitchum Huntzberger! And if that's not intimidating enough, he's your father on top of that. My boyfriend's father. And I'm going to work with him. I just really don't want to screw this up."
His eyes flew from the road to Rory and back. "Ace, you won't screw up. You're incapable of screwing anything up and most certainly not this one."
"Well, you're biased… you're my boyfriend," Rory just sighed, unconvinced. "But this is really important to me, you know? Not just because of this being this incredible opportunity - but your dad... he was nice to me when he came by, really polite and everything. I think he truly wanted to apologize for the other night. And I know you've said your family's opinion is not important to you..."
"It's not," Logan emphasized, nodding.
"But if there's a chance that at least your dad's okay with me, likes me, then I really think this will mean pretty much something positive for you after all, even if you don't want to admit it. I know it means much to me because I really don't like the idea that your family is so completely against me," she continued softly. "And that's why I'm so nervous and pestering you so much because I really, really don't want to disappoint your father and turn himself against me as well."
"Rory..." Cursing, Logan quickly checked the rearview mirror then drove to the side and parked by the curve, turning to her. "Look, just relax, okay? And don't worry so much about the internship. I meant what I said, I really do: I don't care what my family thinks. This is about you and me, just you and me. So, please, just look at this internship as nothing more but an internship. One you'll be brilliant at, I'm sure of it. Forget about my father and who he is. Just be yourself and you'll impress everyone with that incredible talent you have, trust me."
She bit her lip and looked down.
She sighed deeply, looking back at him. "I'll try to," she finally promised.
"Good," he said and softly caressed her cheek before turning back to the steering wheel and pulling away.
They fell silent again, but this time it was a comfortable silence.
"So, what's the plan for tonight?" she eventually asked.
Logan shrugged. "I thought we'd have a mellow evening, perhaps going to a few bars."
He felt her glance at him. "Mellow evening?"
Again, he shrugged. "Yeah, why not?"
Her answer was slow and he could still feel her eyes on him. "Okay."
They were silent for a while.
"Are we meeting some of your friends?" she broke the silence after a while.
"No. That's part of the mellow part. Or when was the last time we had a quiet time with Finn and Colin around?" he asked with a smirk.
"Just the two of us then?"
"Hmm," Logan nodded, glancing at her. "Why? Isn't that okay?"
"Of course it's okay. I love to be alone with you, you know that," she immediately answered, shaking her head. "I'm just a bit surprised. You're usually not so much for a mellow time."
Stopping at a traffic light, Logan took the opportunity to properly look at her. "That was before I was in a committed relationship and found out that alone time with my girlfriend beats any of the activities I had previously engaged in regularly."
"Uh-huh," Rory uttered, but there was something twinkling in her eyes, something soft.
Logan kept looking at her, despite the stoplight having turned to green. There was no car behind them, so why not? He was really intrigued now. "Ace."
She sighed and shook her head. "It's silly."
"All the more reason to tell me then," he nagged her.
"It's just... You know, that was the two hundredth time," she finally gave in.
But Logan couldn't follow that one. "Two hundred what?"
"You calling me your girlfriend," she admitted, blushing. "I have no idea how you've managed to say it that many times in the few days we've been together now, but it's been two hundred times. At least when you said it in front of me. No idea how big the number really is."
He felt himself smiling really big. "Really? Two hundred times?"
"Now, if that doesn't scream for a celebration…" Logan said, already thinking about the game plan for the evening again. Definitely bar-hopping, especially the ones he had already taken her to.
"Again? I'm hardly over Finn's celebration party yet," she groaned and Logan laughed, finally continuing to drive into town. Yeah, Finn had exceeded himself, he had to admit that. Having been on most of his Australian friend's parties he could tell that the last one was definitely in the top five. Strangely, he was somewhat touched that Finn had organized such a celebration for his and Rory's honor.
Of course, he knew only too well that Finn had cleverly planned this just in case of an impending wedding, trying to favor himself up in Logan's eyes. Finn really wanted to be his best man. Colin, too, unfortunately though and Logan already dreaded the day when he had to decide. Why the hell couldn't it be two best men after all? That would make life oh so much easier.
Not that he needed to worry about that yet. Not for a long, long time. Marriage wasn't in his plan for the next five years at least, if not longer. Not even with his Ace. But, of course, that was still out of question. They had barely begun dating after all.
And yet he apparently had managed to already refer to Rory as his girlfriend two hundred times. Amazing. Then again, if you had such a wonderful girlfriend, you just had to emphasize that time and time again. And he needed to get the word and message around, that he was off the market and more importantly, that Rory was most definitely off the market now as well.
"Hey, are you all right?"
Blinking, Logan glanced at her. "Hmm?"
Rory's eyes were deep blue with slight concern. "Are you all right? You spaced out on me."
"Oh yeah, I'm fine, just thinking about tonight," Logan waved her concern away though. "Hey, what about the tapas bar downtown? I think that would be a great place to start our celebration tour, don't you think so?"
"Sure, why not. But - celebration tour?" Rory asked, frowning.
"Yeah. I'm thinking going to all the bars here in town that we've already been to. A trip down memory lane and marking them as ours. And to show off my girlfriend, of course." Oops, that was perhaps not the best idea to say a bit out loud.
But Rory just smiled, shaking her head. "Gotta say, Huntzberger, when you're doing something you sure do it all the way, huh?"
"You can bet on that," Logan agreed, flashing her his best shark grin. "And you better not forget it."
She rolled her eyes. But her smile stayed on her face and Logan couldn't ask for more.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
Restraining himself from rolling his eyes, Logan sighed. "For the last time, yeah."
Okay, so that was a lie. The queasy feeling from earlier in the evening had come back at the first smell of the food they'd ordered in the tapas bar. And two bars later, his head had grown heavy and hurt with the slightest movement and he changed from feeling hot to almost shivering from one moment to the other. He was beginning to think that maybe, he was actually sick and not just worrying about Rory, his dad and that damn internship.
But that wasn't possible. He never got sick, not since he'd been six years old and had had the measles.
"You sure? Because you really don't look that good." Rory held a hand to his cheek and her eyes widened. "Shit, Logan, you're burning up!"
"I'm fine," he insisted, ducking away from her hand.
"The hell you are! Come on, up, we're going home," Rory though ordered, starting to slide out of the booth.
Logan grabbed her hand. "No! We're celebrating, remember? I'm fine. No need to go home yet."
"You're sick, Logan!" Rory protested. "We celebrated enough. And as I'd like to actually have a few more celebrations with you, we should go home and get you into bed, ASAP."
"Come on, Ace, I'm good. We really don't need to go," Logan though insisted.
Her eyes glared at him, studied him. Finally, she sighed. "I guess you've got to know it best," she grudgingly admitted.
"Exactly," Logan agreed.
"But let's go someplace else then, please," she continued, looking around, her nose wrinkling up.
"But we just got here!" Not to mention that he would definitely prefer to remain sitting for a while longer.
"Yeah, I know, but I don't like it here." She looked back at him. "You probably don't remember it, but the last and only time we've been here you got hit on by pretty much every girl here while I just seemed invisible. I just don't think this is the best place to celebrate something significant like our blossoming relationship."
They had? He couldn't remember anything like that and even if it was true, he doubted that he'd have let her feel invisible. Truth was that he didn't even notice other girls while being with his Ace and that was so since pretty much the beginning of their acquaintance. But there really seemed to be resentment in her eyes.
Heavily, he got up, ignoring the sudden dizziness overwhelming him. "Okay, then let's go. You pick out the next place."
She nodded and turned, but he could feel her shooting glances his way every few seconds. Clenching his jaw, he forced himself to keep his shoulders straight and his head high. The fresh air outside helped to clear his foggy head a bit, he noticed. On the other hand, the fresh air made him shiver instantly. All of a sudden, Rory was beside him, positioning herself under his arm while she put an arm around his middle, supporting him.
"Jeez, Logan…" She murmured, looking up at him. "Why are you being so difficult? It's not a crime to get sick."
Logan opened his mouth to reassure her again that he really was fine but the world around him suddenly started to spin and he felt himself falling into the abyss.
"So, you're still alive."
Confused, Logan slowly opened his eyes, frowning at how hard that was. Since when did his eyelids weigh so much? Once he accomplished opening his eyes, he realized that he was lying in a darkened room. Blinking, and that hadn't gotten any easier, he took a closer look, finally detecting that apparently, he was in his room and Colin was sitting on a chair beside his bed.
"What…" His throat was dry and raspy and somehow it really hurt to speak. He swallowed. "…happened?"
Colin raised an eyebrow but it wasn't him who answered.
"You fainted. That's what happened."
Turning his head, Logan saw his Ace standing in the doorframe, her arms crossed, her eyes narrowed to slits that shot daggers at him. Uh-oh – looked like he was seriously in the dog house. Not that he knew why – then again, he didn't care that much at that moment. To be frank, the way his head pounded he wouldn't mind that much if she ripped it off. Knowing his Ace, though, he doubted that his head would be the body part she'd rip off, so…
A muscle in her jaw clenched, her next glare vaporized him and she turned on her heel. "Where the hell's Finn with that stupid doctor?" she hissed and vanished.
Logan blinked after her, his confusion very evident.
"Man, I'm so glad I'm not you right now and that's certainly not because you're sick as a dog."
Again, Logan took on himself the monumental task of turning his head back to Colin. Thank God he didn't have to ask again what was going on as Colin apparently could read the question in his eyes.
"You're sick," he complied.
Logan shot him another look and Colin rolled his eyes. "I know, you never get sick, but believe me, you really got it bad this time."
Frowning, Logan finally accepted the situation, closing his eyes. Considering the fire in his throat, the hammering pain in his head and the lousy feeling in his stomach, not to mention his burning eyes and the fact that he was still shivering despite feeling really hot, he guessed he really was sick.
"You gave your girl quite a scare, let me tell you that." Logan forced his eyes open again. Colin studied him quietly for a moment before elaborating. "She really sounded off when she called us to help carry your sorry ass up to your bed. You owe us for that, by the way." Logan managed a faint shrug. Colin sighed and shook his head. "Then again, you'll be in hell for a while so maybe, we let you off the hook this time." He grinned dirtily. "I think Rory will make you pay enough already, so spitting mad she was."
Sighing, Logan closed his eyes again.
Colin may be right there.
Then he was awoken by fingers probing his throat. He jumped.
"Easy, Logan," Rory's voice murmured from somewhere above him and he felt her taking his hand. "This is Dr. Bloomberg. He's just checking you out."
His vision clearing, Logan could make out a fifty-something fat-looking guy leaning over him and giving him a reassuring smile. "That's right, you listen to your girlfriend here." He glanced up. "You said he fainted?"
Okay, it may hurt like hell, but he had to set this straight. "Not fainted," he rasped. "Maybe passed out, but not fainted."
Rory shot him a death glare. "Yeah, he fainted. He came out of it a few times, but was never really lucid. The time he really woke again was half an hour later."
Dr. Bloomberg nodded, his hands probing their way down. Logan squirmed. "Did you take his temperature?" the doctor wanted to know.
"When we got here," Rory nodded. "A hundred and four degrees."
"Okay. Logan, have you been feeling sick before today?"
With a glance at his Ace, he nodded with a sigh. Ow! He'd have to remember not to nod so much.
Aware of the intensity of Rory's eyes on him, he refused to glance at her again. "A couple of days?"
"Have you felt dizzy?"
He shook his head, very minimal.
Again a shake.
A nod this time, a small one. Not that he was sure that he had had those headaches because of any sickness. His father and his girlfriend working together would always cause him headaches.
"Now open your mouth."
He did as he was told and let the doctor probe in there as well, feeling embarrassed as hell with Rory standing there right beside his bed, hovering. This was not how he wanted his girlfriend to see him. Then again, he couldn't deny that her finger stroking the back of his hand reassuringly really felt good.
"Can you help me sit him up?"
It took Logan a moment to realize that Bloomberg was talking to Rory and not him. Frowning, he pushed himself up. Really, as if he couldn't sit up on his own! The world went black around him and he could feel Rory's cold hands gripping his shoulder, keeping him upright. Slowly, the world shifted back into focus again while the cold stethoscope wandered over his back and chest. He sighed, relieved when they eased him down so he could lie on his back again, resisting the urge to just close his eyes and sleep. God he was tired.
"You've got the flu," Bloomberg nodded, straightening up. "Nothing bad. You'll have to stay in bed for a few days and I suggest a liquid diet, but you should be fine in a few days."
"Good to hear," Logan rasped and lost the fight to let his eyes stay open.
"Thank you so much, Dr. Bloomberg," was the last thing he heard before he once again sank into a dark abyss.
"Ah, you finally returned from the dead."
Logan blinked, glancing around. He still was in his room, but this time it was Finn who sat by his bed. Strange, he had the feeling that Rory had been there but she was nowhere in sight.
"Rory?" he asked.
"Had to go to her lecture. That's why I'm here. I'm on official nurse duty," Finn told him, flashing him a dirty grin.
Logan groaned and closed his eyes again. Great. As if being sick and bound to bed wasn't bad enough. But perhaps, if he convinced Finn that he was fine, he could get rid of him. Right. Opening his eyes again, he pushed himself into a sitting position and congratulated himself that the world wasn't spinning that much. So far so good.
"Well, I'm good now. You can go back to your own dorm now," he told Finn. "I promise to stay in bed," he added, thinking that that may be a point to be considered. Not that he felt like walking around.
"No," Finn just said though, not even looking up from the comic magazine he was reading. Looked like Batman.
"Come on," Logan argued. "I'm fine on my own, really. And I'm sure you have better things to do. There has to be a redhead waiting for you, somewhere."
"Sure there is," Finn nodded, turning the page. "There are many better things I can think of doing right now than sitting here and watching you sweat like a pig and drool like a baby."
"She threatened my balls," Finn interrupted him, looking up with his eyes staring straight into Logan's.
"Our love. Said if I let you out of my sight, she's ripping off my balls and will feed them to piranhas," Finn explained and shook his head. "And I've got no doubt that she meant every word of it. Man, she sure can be scary, your Reporter Girl. So you see, there's no way you're getting rid of me, mate. I won't risk my balls."
Logan stared at him, flabbergasted. Then he let his head sink back against the board and closed his eyes, defeated. There was no way he'd get out of this and he couldn't even blame Finn for it.
No sane man would risk his balls.
"And was he good?"
"Behaved like an angel," Finn smirked and got up, stretching.
Rory rolled her eyes. "Why don't I believe you?"
Finn just laughed and flipped Logan a mock salute. "'Till tomorrow then. Love."
He sauntered out, unfazed by Logan's glare which was boring holes into his back. So Logan turned his glare from him to his girlfriend. She had the audacity to smile at him, coming over to him and stroking his hair back. "And how are you feeling?"
Still glaring, Logan ducked his head away from her. "What devil has gotten into you to ask Finn to baby-sit me?"
Her smile turned wicked. "Just wanted to make sure that you stayed in bed and rested, just like the doctor told you to."
"But Finn? And who said anything about me not staying in bed?" he grumbled.
Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Oh, I don't know. Perhaps you bar-hopping while running a fever of hundred-and-four and still insisting to be fine and wanting to go on may have given me a clue that you're not all that good with being sensible about your own health. If you hadn't fainted I probably wouldn't have been able to convince you to go home at all."
Logan looked away. "I didn't know I was sick," he defended himself but even to his own ears it sounded lame. "And, I didn't faint."
"Ah, so what would you call your suddenly sagging against me and not responding when I called your name? Last time I checked with the dictionary that's called fainting. And do you really want to make me believe that you didn't know you were sick? You feeling like crap and burning up is perfectly normal for you then?" she asked sarcastically and sat down, facing him.
She sighed. "Why, Logan? Why not simply admit that you were sick instead of pulling this stupid stunt?"
He looked back at her, just looking for a while. "I dunno. I didn't want to disappoint you?" he finally offered.
She raised an eyebrow. "Disappoint me? Why on Earth would you being sick disappoint me? People get sick from time to time. This time, the flu got you. It's not as if you have an STD infection."
Logan shook his head. "No, I guess not. But you know, I usually don't get sick. And I really didn't feel that bad until you started noticing it as well. We had something to celebrate. I didn't want to ruin that – our first celebration."
"Logan, you really think you fainting on me was a celebration?" Rory leaned forward, taking his hand into hers. "Okay, from now on, remember this: celebrations can be postponed. When you're sick, you tell me, you stay at home and you'll do what I tell you and you'll drink what I give you. And only when you're truly well again can we go out and celebrate."
He met her eyes and slowly nodded. "Sounds like a reasonable plan."
"Especially one that you'll actually survive," she agreed.
"Now there's no need to exaggerate. It's just the flu," he protested, giving her a weak smile.
"Well, had you not fainted I wouldn't have been able to have a doctor see you. The flu can kill, you know. Ever heard of the Spanish flu? Or the bird flu?" Rory countered, her eyes smiling.
Logan studied her for a moment, thinking back to what Finn and Colin had told him. "I'm sorry that I worried you," he said softly, seriously.
Rory looked down, her thumb stroking his hand. "Yeah, you did."
"I know. I'm sorry," he repeated.
She looked back at him and his throat felt suddenly thicker than before when he saw tears brimming in her eyes. "You better be. Scaring your girlfriend like that is not on the list of what a good boyfriend should do."
"I'm sorry," he said once again. It was all he could think of saying.
She nodded. "I know. Just don't let it happen again." He nodded and she smiled. "Now, how are you feeling?"
Logan fought the urge to assure her that he was fine and went for the truth. "My head's still heavy, talking and swallowing still hurts and I'm not hungry because I'm pretty sure that I couldn't keep anything down, anyway. But my fever's down to ninety-eight and everything hurts less, so yeah, I'm feeling better."
Her eyes lit up and she stroked his head again. "Now that's better. I've got some chicken soup for you. I'll heat it up. I know you're not feeling hungry, but just try it. Trust me. I think you'll keep it down and it will help you feel better," she said, her voice full of sympathy.
Now, that was much better than having Finn there. Actually, he could get used to having Rory hover over him like this. It was new to him. Never had someone who hovered around him. When he had gotten sick, his mother had usually fled the house, leaving him in his nanny's care while his father and grandfather had told him to not be such a wuss. It never had bothered him but seeing now how nice it was to have someone who cared taking care of him – this really felt good.
"Thank you," he said, quietly.
"Hey, that's only normal," she smiled back and got up, leaving the room, probably to go heat up the soup.
Normal… perhaps for her. For him – this was anything else other than normal. But if he had anything to say about this then he'd see to it that it would become normal for him as well.
"Come on, pick up…"
Waking up to Rory's muttered words, Logan briefly looked around. Right. His bedroom, him sick. Check. Day? Uh…
"I wonder why she's not picking up… It's like she knows why I'm trying to reach her?" Rory muttered, pacing in front of the window, her cell phone against her ear.
"Who… and why?" he rasped, his throat still a bit rough and dry.
She whirled around, glancing at him. With a sigh, she lowered her arm and closed her phone, making a face. "Grandma. I tried to reach her so I can cancel for tonight. I swear to you, she knows. That's why she's not reachable all of a sudden."
Cancel? Oh. It must be Friday then. Rubbing his eyes, he sat up a bit. "Why do you want to cancel?"
Rory just gave him a look.
He sighed. "Because of me? Look, Rory, don't be ridiculous. I'm much better, my fever's almost gone and you'd be gone for what, three, four hours? I think I can manage?" he stated, if somewhat sarcastically.
She continued to just look at him.
"I promise I'll be good. The most I'll do is walk to the bathroom, maybe the couch to watch some TV. Promise," he emphasized.
She said nothing.
"Look, Emily probably won't accept me as an excuse to get out of the dinner anyway. And even if she does, she'll want an alternate dinner date for it – and won't let you bail out on her anytime soon," Logan reasoned. "Think about Honor's engagement party in a few weeks. It's on a Friday and she really wants you there. I want you there."
She at last looked as if she was contemplating his words. Yes!
"There's no chance I can bail out on that party, you know that. I mean, Honor's my sister and it's her engagement. I need to be there. But I really don't want to hang around her party alone, with Honor's stupid friends, soon to be bridesmaids, cornering me, when I have a wonderful girlfriend I could show off to everyone and save me from the stupidity and boredom of such a party," Logan honed right in on that. "So, please, don't risk your free pass for that Friday just so you could be my watchdog now when it's not necessary at all."
He could see she was actually weighing his words now. "You really promise to be good?"
"You have my word," Logan nodded with some sincerity.
"And if I tell anyone to come by, they won't find you cheating?"
"No cheating. Come on, Ace," Logan whined, rolling his eyes.
A small smile appeared to tug at her lips. "And you really think you'll manage on your own for a few hours?"
"Ace." Now he was getting annoyed.
Her smile widened and she came over to him to kiss his cheek. "All right, I'll go. But I warn you, Huntzberger. If I find out you've been cheating on me, you'll wish you're going to be sick for a long time to come."
"Oh, yeah? What you gonna do? Deny me sex?" he asked, knowing he was playing with fire, but hell, that was who he was. Always living on the edge.
"Really, Logan, what do you think of me…" Rory just smiled back though, evilly. "No, I thought I'd rather send Paris over to play nurse a little. I mean, she's pre-med. She can use the practice." Her smile turned diabolical. "And I have it on good word that she really needs to practice a lot more at being good with patients."
Logan gulped. "You wouldn't dare."
A smile was all he got. Oh yeah, she would.
And there was no way he was risking Gellar to play nurse with him as patient for even a second. "I'll be good. No worries there, Ace."
She smiled beautifully and even patted his head. "Now, that's a good boy."
As promised, he had been good. He had moved to the couch though, because he was just tired of lying in bed, and he even had put on some clothes, just to be out of his pjs and in case Rory sent Gellar over after all. No way was he risking Gellar seeing him in his pjs.
He was reading when his cell rang with his Ace's special tune. Checking up on him, was she, huh? "Hello?"
He barely had finished speaking when she already shot ahead, bubbling with nervousness. "Listen. You're going to be getting a note from the Gilmores sometime soon. Maybe in the mail, maybe hand delivered tonight. For all I know, a carrier pigeon is heading for your room as we speak. You might want to open your window."
He frowned, not following. "Why is a carrier pigeon heading here?"
Rory took a deep breath. "They want to have you over for dinner," she told him, gravely.
Damn, he should have anticipated that. Of course Emily and Richard would want to meet him as Rory's boyfriend officially, especially now that he had taken her with him to his parents. That was how it worked among the rich and privileged and he knew the game well enough to know that there was no getting out of that dinner with Rory's grandparents. No polite excuses, at least and as this was important to Rory, that really was out of the question.
On the phone, Rory was rambling on, still very much nervous. "They're flipping out about it. She's sending an apology for being so remiss as to wait one whole week since I had dinner at your house to extend an invitation," she mocked, unbelieving. "I mean, they're losing it. So I'm calling to warn you, and, I want you to know, I didn't suggest us having dinner with them or encourage it in any way. And I definitely did not refer to you as my b-word in front of them or even imply it in any way. Because, you know, I'm really happy with the way things have been going and I don't want any pressure put on us, and I'm sorry, and I think I already said that, and that's it," she assured him and Logan found it cute how freaked out she was about this.
Hadn't she expected this as well? Apparently not and it showed once again, just how out of the game she was. Not that he was complaining about that, it was part of the reason why he was attracted to her.
And - b-word?
For that one he'd have to let her squirm a little more. "What are the odds of getting out of this?" he asked, knowing very well the answer to that. But he had to admit, he was also a bit curious how accurate Rory would see the situation.
"Pretty much zero," she admitted though, unhappy.
Okay, enough was enough, he thought, as he got up to walk over to the window. "Then let's do it."
"Really?" Rory retorted, surprised.
He smiled. "Yeah, it won't be so bad." He thought. Hoped so. No, the Gilmores loved him, it would be fine, he was sure of that.
"Well, you are a true gentleman," his Ace said and he could see her smiling. Wanting to tease her a bit more, he knocked sharply at the window. "Oh, my God, what was that?" she immediately asked, worried. She was probably imagining him having passed out again and hitting his head or something like that.
Logan smirked. "Carrier pigeon. Should have opened the window."
"Not funny," Rory tensely chided him.
"Kinda funny," Logan protested with a smile though.
As she didn't chew him out any further, but just told him 'Bye', he assumed she saw the humor in it at last.
"Bye," he said softly himself, smiling.
The sound of a branch colliding hard with the window had awoken Logan with a jerk. He must have fallen asleep. Glancing outwards, he frowned when he saw the darkness and the trees shaking strongly because of gusty wind. Quickly checking the time he saw that only half an hour had passed since his phone call with Rory, but the weather had turned quite a bit in that half an hour.
Quickly turning on the weather channel, he dialed his Ace, his frown deepening as he watched the satellite pictures.
"Where are you?" he asked.
"Logan? Everything okay?" Rory asked back though, a note of concern in her voice already.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm good. The weather's pretty bad though. It's almost a storm out here. Are you already on your way back?" he wanted to know.
"I just took the exit for Stars Hollow. You know I have set up for coffee with my mom after the dinner," Rory answered. "It's raining pretty heavily here, too."
"It's only going to get worse according to the weather news. Listen, don't drive back tonight, okay? Spend the night in Stars Hollow, that what was originally planned anyway, wasn't it?" Logan told her, looking once again out into the stormy night.
"Yeah. But, Logan..."
"No, Rory. I'm serious here. I'm fine and I'll be perfectly all right here, but I really don't want you driving back in this weather. Stay there, enjoy your time home, visiting with your mom," Logan interrupted her, trying to convince her.
She was silent for a long while. "You really sure you're okay on your own?" she finally asked, hesitantly.
"Yes, a lot better than when I have to worry myself half to death until you come home," Logan immediately confirmed. "Please, Rory."
"Okay, okay, I'll stay here in Stars Hollow. I originally wanted to do that anyway. Remember Lane's gig?" Rory gave in.
Right, now he remembered. Originally he was supposed to go as well, maybe even take Finn and Colin along. She thought it was time to meet her best friend and he guessed that was right. It made him nervous, to be honest. Something told him her friends were very different from his friends and if he remembered the dinner with Marty... Let's just say he wasn't that unhappy that the flu had postponed meeting the famous Lane, best friend of his Ace.
"Okay, I'm at the café. Take care, okay? And go to sleep, you still need it," Rory reminded him once again.
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, Ma'am."
"Good night," she wished him finally.
"Good night, Ace," he told her and with a deep, relieved sigh he closed the phone. He'd miss her but it really was better this way, he thought, glancing outside for a last time.
"Hey," Rory greeted him the next morning, slipping into his room. "How are you feeling?" she wanted to know first before anything else, coming over to him and reaching out to feel his forehead.
Before Rory could touch his forehead, he took her hand into his own, pulling her down for a kiss. "Much better. Drive okay?"
"Hmm," she murmured, searching his lips for another kiss, one Logan was more than happy to comply with. "So, were you a good little boy?" she asked after a while, smiling.
"Ace, I was so good, the Pope called to tell me that I just reached sainthood," Logan replied with a wink.
"Oh, really? Well, then I better not go through with the little reward I had in mind for you," Rory deadpanned.
Logan lost the smirk immediately. "Ace!"
She raised an eyebrow. "What? Can't mess with the Pope, now, can I?"
"Come on," Logan whined.
"Oh well, one look at your past and the thoughts you're having, he'll think twice about that sainthood anyway," conceded Rory. "So… are you ready for your reward?"
"You know me, Ace. Always," Logan told her, smirk back in place.
She rolled her eyes. "Don't I know it. But okay, so... Tatarata!" she exclaimed, reaching back and dropping a big brown paper bag into his lap.
He stared at it for a moment. "Uh, Ace?"
"A get-well burger and coffee. But it's not just some get-well burger and coffee, this is a get-well burger and coffee from Luke's and there's no better ambrosia and elixir out there than this burger and coffee," Rory told him enthusiastically. "I thought you'd like a change after all the chicken soup and tea of the last few days. So, enjoy it!"
Logan glanced at the bag once more, before looking back at her. "That's all?"
"Of course, that's all. We shouldn't stress your stomach too soon and too much after all," she replied, with a twinkle in her eyes though.
"Uh, well..." This was definitely not what he wanted. "Thanks?"
She nodded and waved for him to start eating. As it looked as if he really wouldn't get anything else, he slowly got out the burger and unwrapped it. Then he took out the coffee and was surprised that it was still almost hot. He had to admit, it smelled a damn lot better than the chicken soup. Carefully taking a bite, his face lit up and he helped himself to a second bite, a big one this time. Rory was right. This was definitely the best burger he ever had!
And the coffee...
It was no wonder his Ace was so addicted to coffee if that was what she used to drink for years now.
Within five minutes, nothing was left, not even a crumb.
"Ace… that was delicious," he sighed, looking sadly at the now empty bag.
"I know. And you really should know better than to doubt my wisdom with anything that can be eaten or drunk," Rory nodded, cuddling up against him.
"I stand once more corrected, I know. I'll try to never commit such a sin again," Logan promised and slipped his arm around her to draw her closer. "And did you have fun with your mom?"
"It was okay, yeah," she replied but he could tell at once, that there was something.
Sighing, she looked up. "Well, turns out that that dinner with my grandparents I told you about? Mom will most likely come too. She'd like to meet you as my boyfriend officially as well and that certainly not after you've met my grandparent. So, she'll come too, I guess."
Logan flashed back to the time he had met Lorelai and it was so not a good moment. "Oh."
Her eyes searched his. "You okay with that?"
Hell, no! But there was little he could do about it. So he shook his head. "Sure. It will be fun."
It was probably going to be a disaster, but hey, he was still a guy. A little dinner with his girlfriend's family (MOTHER!) wouldn't scare him. Nope, not him.
She gave him a look that told him pretty well what she thought about his words, but she blissfully said nothing else on that matter. Instead, her leg wormed its way between his own legs. "Now, as you were so good, I guess a little dessert wouldn't hurt either, don't you think so?"
Every thought about scary mothers immediately left his brain as his blood rushed to an altogether different head. "Hey, I'm the boyfriend of a Gilmore girl. I know better than to every say no to dessert."
Her smile was beautiful. "Now, that's my boy," she praised, claiming his lips for a deep, promising kiss.
"And you're sure you'll be okay alone?"
It wasn't just because this probably was the twentieth time already that Rory had asked him this very question this morning that Logan was seriously becoming exasperated with his girlfriend. "For the hundredth time… Yeah, I'm sure. You just go now before you miss the train."
No, mostly it was because, first, he was way better after four days of bed rest and second, because each time she asked he was really tempted to actually say no so she wouldn't leave to go start her internship. With his father.
The thought alone could make him sick again.
"You remember what the doctor has said: you might not have fever anymore but you really should stay in bed, a day or two more, to let the flu out of your system," Rory though just continued to worry, looking at him in a mixture of mistrust and warning.
Logan sighed. "No, I don't really remember, after all, I wasn't there when he left his instruction with us, or the dozen of times you've repeated this by now. Actually, as soon as you're finally gone, I'll jump up, throw on my shorts for swimming and will hop into the chopper to go skiing in the Rocky Mountains for a while, then jet over to Rio and join the carnival."
"Perhaps I should ask Finn if he wants to hang out a bit with you," Rory said, doubtful.
He glared at her. "No, you won't. Not to mention the fact that Finn has had enough hanging out time at my bedside to last him a lifetime. His words, not mine." Shaking his head, he nearly got up but seeing her look, he quickly changed his mind and instead grabbed her hands. "Ace, I really appreciate what you've done for me in the last few days but really, Rory, the flu's gone and you have to ease up now. I'll be fine, really. And yes, I'll stay in bed, I'll eat my chicken soup, I'll take the medicine and I won't tire myself out with anything. You, though, should take your bag now and go hop onto the train to go dazzle those real newspaper guys with your incredible talent. Starting by not being late because you were too busy fretting over your well-recovering boyfriend."
She gazed into his eyes and huffed. "You were sick. You've been running a fever over a hundred degrees and fainted on me. I have a right to worry about my boyfriend."
"Sure, but now I'm almost well again and for the last time, I didn't faint!" Logan emphasized, annoyed.
"Yeah, you fainted," Rory just insisted and sighed. "Okay, okay, I'll go now. But I better not hear anything about you getting up, Mister!"
"Promise," Logan simply assured her and tugged at her hands to give her a quick kiss. "Now go show them, tiger."
Rory flashed him a smile, picked up her bag and finally flew out of Logan's suite to go catch her train.
Shaking his head, he looked after his girlfriend for a moment before his face lost the reassuring and confident look. Damn. There she went, straight into the lion's den.
He just hoped the lion would let her live.
He was working on one of his long overdue papers when his cell chirped the familiar Ace tune. "Hello?" he said absentmindedly, more intent on finishing the thought he just had.
"Help, help, help!"
His train of thought being interrupted, he was all ears. Jeez, it was barely midday yet. What had his father managed to do in that short a time? "What's the matter, Ace?"
She sounded seriously distressed when she answered. "Nothing! I've just won the Spaz of the Year award. I believe it'll be on the front page of the Gazette tomorrow."
Despite his worry, he had to smile. "Oh, I'm sure it's not that bad."
It couldn't be, not with his amazing Ace.
But she still sounded completely depressed when she spoke on. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know where anybody is. I can't walk in these shoes. I got a run in my pantyhose. I ran into a file cabinet."
"Slow down!" Logan couldn't help but tease her. But really, it couldn't be that bad.
Rory wasn't in the mood to joke though. "I didn't even know if I was supposed to go to lunch when everybody went to lunch, so I just stood in the break room for, like, forty-five minutes! And then I ate an Altoid."
Realizing that he better take her hysterics a bit more seriously, Logan contemplated for something encouraging to say. "It's the first day. It'll get better," he finally assured her.
"Your father must think I'm an idiot," Rory just said sadly though.
Feeling uneasy at once, Logan sighed. "I'm sure he doesn't."
Not even his father could be that stupid. He was many things, Heaven knew, but stupid was not among those things.
"I need some help. I need something to say to him other than, 'yes, the bleeding stopped, thanks'," Rory begged and her desperation tugged at his heart, but...
This was Mitchum Huntzberger they were talking about. The last thing he wanted to do was give her an in into the psyche of that man. "Hey, I think that's pretty good."
"Logan, please. Give me something. Something I can use to connect with him," Rory insisted though.
He knew he was defeated then but he still resisted a little to avoid this so very bad idea. "I don't know!"
Just like he thought though, Rory was not taking any of that. "You do know. This is important to me, Logan. Please?"
Letting out a long, suffering sigh, Logan gave in at last. But this still was a bad idea! He answered anyway. "He likes jazz, but not when it gets too experimental, and he hates when they quote 'My Favorite Things'."
"What?" He had lost her there.
"'My Favorite Things' from the Sound of Music," he explained gruffly. He so didn't want to do this!
"Okay. Good," Rory said, not sounding too happy about the information so far, though. And sure enough, she already pressed him for more. "Go on."
Seeing that there really was no way out of the discussion, Logan thought a bit harder about what he could tell her that would actually be useful to her. "Uh, he lets people go at seven, but he keeps going 'till eight thirty or nine, and he notices the people who stay," he slowly started, knowing that the information was probably the kind that she wanted to know. "He hates double talk, but he's really good at it. And, uh, he has high blood pressure so he switches to decaf after four," he added, assuming she'd love that little tidbit about his father.
He wasn't wrong. "That's good. That's almost something," Rory said, pleased.
Okay, that was it. There wasn't anything more useful he could tell her anyway. The rest he could tell her about the great Mitchum Huntzberger were stuff she wouldn't want to know. "Don't worry, Ace, I'm sure you're doing fine."
Her voice was quiet and serious when she replied. "I just don't want your father to be disappointed in me."
Logan suppressed an eyeroll. "Rory, in order for my dad to be truly disappointed in you, your name
would have to be Logan," he told her, exasperated and okay, perhaps a bit bitter.
"I'm sure that's not true," Rory immediately contradicted his words, of course.
Well, she just didn't know the real Mitchum Huntzberger. All she saw was the great news business mogul who got his first Pulitzer nomination at the age of twenty-five. Nothing but her idol himself could probably change her opinion of him and that was the last thing Logan wanted. "Uh-huh."
He smiled. On the other hand, his Ace was truly something else, and who knew, perhaps the little bits of information he had been able to give her could really help her and show all of those antiquated idiots what a star they had among themselves. "Go get 'em, Ace."
Because he had no doubt whatsoever that she was going to impress every last one of them - even his father. With him, the question was rather what he'd do about it.
"So? How did your first day in the news world go?" First thing Logan asked after Rory came into his dorm, eyeing her critically. She looked tired, but happy enough.
"Logan, thank you so much for your help! The afternoon was way better and that's only because of your little insider tip," Rory beamed and bent over to give him a deep, very grateful kiss before she plopped down beside him on the couch, leaning her head onto his shoulder. The things I learned about running a paper today, the everyday work at a newspaper office... It was exhilarating!"
Sometimes Logan really admired his Ace for her enthusiasm in general but especially her enthusiasm for the very business that was his life to be – his destiny and bane of his existence. Okay, so she was perhaps a little naive sometimes, but still, it reminded him of the joy and thrill the business could give him, had he not been so relentlessly forced into it.
"So still bent on following Amanpour?" he asked with a smile.
"More than ever! I can't wait for my graduation so I can dive in, head on," Rory confirmed, grinning widely as she looked up at him. "But what about you? Feeling better?"
Logan rolled his eyes. "Much. I'm good to go back to my classes and normal life tomorrow." Seeing the beginning of her frown, he intercepted the protest he knew would come, squeezing her shoulder. "And before you argue, Dr. Bloomberg was here today and he himself gave me the green light. You're free to confirm that with him."
Not that unbelievable, but Rory still shook her head doubtfully. "Really? I think it's too soon. I mean, it's not even a week since you've fainted..."
"I didn't faint!"
"... and your fever's gone only since yesterday. I think it really would be better if you give yourself another day," Rory continued, unfazed. "What if you have a set-back? Or faint again?"
"For the last time," Logan growled, giving his Ace a glare. "I didn't faint!"
That did not deter his girlfriend. So, in the end, he had no other choice but to show her exactly just how fit he was once again.
"I see you're feeling better already."
Logan looked up from the cupboard he was searching in. "Yo, Colin, didn't you have some Swiss chocolate left from your last trip to the beautiful land of Heidi?"
Frowning, Colin crossed his arms. "Maybe. That's why you're raiding our cupboards?"
"Yes. I need it," Logan nodded, distracted, glancing at the clock. "Don't worry, I'll pay for it. But I really need it."
The only thing Colin moved was an eyebrow. "What for?"
Logan's eyes flickered from the clock to the window. Almost dark. Shit. "I'm meeting the Gilmores in an hour and still need something for Emily."
The rest of the week had gone by so quickly with all the work he had to do in order to catch up with school and still pacify Rory by taking it slow after going back to his classes that he had somehow forgotten that Friday was coming fast. Or ,perhaps he had conveniently blocked it out from his mind, after all, which guy would like to think about meeting his girlfriend's family and be introduced officially as her boyfriend? Especially, considering just who the Gilmores were and their status. And her mother, of course. He shuddered.
He had managed to score himself some cigars for Richard - rather said, he still had some fine Cuban cigars he had stashed away. But he was too late to still get anything good for Emily, so, hence his raid of Finn and Colin's cupboards at that moment.
"Is that so," grinned Colin and turned around. "Hey, Finn! Our boy's going to meet the parents!"
His own nervousness forgotten for the moment, Logan glared at the clown. "Grandparents, not parents." And her mother, but he'd rather not think about that. Better stick with the older Gilmores. "And it's not like they don't know me already. We've met plenty of times. They love me."
Colin's grin widened. "Yeah, well, that was before you banged their little princess of a granddaughter."
"Thank you so much for pointing that out," scowled Logan, but he felt his hands start sweating. It was true enough after all. "And I don't bang Rory," he murmured, more to himself.
"No? What else you'd call it then?" Finn asked, sauntering into the room, still clad in his pjs. "Making love?"
Actually, that would describe the sex with Rory probably the best, but no way was he going to admit that. Avoiding the way too alert eyes of Finn, Logan glared at Colin. "You got that chocolate box for me or not?"
Moving to one of the cupboards, Colin bent down and came up with a small sleek grey and blue box. "'Course I have, straight from Berne, the best truffles you'll find in Switzerland. They should be enough to score a few points with Mrs. Gilmore."
"Thanks." Logan took the box, relieved. Colin was right, those were very fine chocolates. Rory would love them, too.
"And what do you have to smooth your way with Mr. Gilmore?" Finn asked. "I've still got a superb bottle of whisky, if you need something."
For a moment, Logan thought about it, but shook his head in the end. "Nah, I've already got some Cubans I'm sure he'll like. Thanks, though."
"Anything to help you along, mate." Finn shrugged. "You'll need all the help you can get, if you ask me."
"It's going to be fine, I'm sure," Logan reassured them once again. Mostly to assure himself. But his confidence cracked soon after and he made a face. "I'm just worried about her mom. I don't think she has the right impression about me."
"Dude, the famous Lorelai Gilmore the Second is coming, too?" Finn laughed. "Damn, I wish I could be a fly tonight."
"I don't know where she could have gotten the wrong impressions," grinned Colin as well. "After all, she just caught you groping her little girl and I'm sure she's heard stories of how you've been corrupting her daughter that she so painfully raised outside our world, forcing her into a relationship without strings..."
"That was Ace's idea, not mine!" protested Logan at once, but felt his stomach clenching uncomfortably. If he was lucky, he'd suffer a setback from the flu. Or maybe not. The longer they avoided this, the bigger the issue would get. And at least tonight, he would hopefully have the support of Emily and Richard to back him up.
"And last but certainly not least, Rory surely has told her about her dinner with your heartwarming, wonderful family," Colin continued, ignoring his protest. "No, Logan, why would you ever worry about meeting her? She just has to love you."
"You're an ass," Logan pointed out quite seriously. "Just you wait until it's your turn. Don't think I'll take the decent way and refrain from teasing you to hell and back about it."
Colin looked at him all innocently. "What? Just trying to prepare my best friend for what will come."
"Yeah, right," snorted Logan. He raised the bombonière. "Thanks for this. I've got to go now."
Finn slapped him on the back as he passed him. "Good luck. I'd say just be yourself - but considering, you better be that perfect little gentleman Shira taught you to fake."
"Yeah, and definitely don't do anything we would usually do!" added Colin, still grinning like a fool.
Logan just shot them a dark look and hurried back to his own dorm. It wasn't that bad an advise though, he admitted to himself half an hour later as he raced over to Rory's place to go pick her up.
It was only a freaking dinner with some old folks. Really. How hard could that be after all?
He was aware of the glances his Ace shot him time and time again on the drive over to Hartford. He was also aware of her amused smile. She said nothing though and for that he was thankful. He wasn't sure about the reasons for her calm demeanor. He was trying hard to appear cool, carefree and collected and not show any of the doubts he was feeling about this ominous meeting tonight.
"You're pretty quiet. You sure you're okay?"
Letting out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding, he forced a smile. "Sure, I'm fine. Just thinking…" Damn, about what? "uh, the article your roommate's boyfriend assigned me with."
What? She was never going to buy that!
But she nodded seriously. "I see why your mind's occupied with that. Interviewing the football coach about his prospects for the upcoming game with Harvard is a tricky one. Especially for someone who has so little idea about football like you have."
He knew it! Sparing a glare for her, he notices her smile growing. Great. Gritting his teeth, he concentrated back onto the road, not even noticing how his fingers tapped nervously on the wheel.
"Logan, I'm sure there's no need to be nervous. Grandma and Grandpa love the fact that we're together. If anything, you have to worry about them picturing our wedding and their potential great-grandchildren right now than them not being nice to you," she eventually tried to reassure him when he pulled out of the highway at Harford.
"Not really helping, Ace," he sighed. "Believe me, with our folks, that's worse than not approving of me."
And it really was. He thought.
Rory wisely said nothing else until they reached her grandparents' house. Pulling up in front of the main door, Logan, being sure they were watching them already, either from the window or some hidden security cameras, rushed around the car to open Rory's door for her - she beat him to it though, a shit-eating grin twinkling in her eyes. "You know, you're not obligated to be polite until we're actually inside my grandparents' house."
He was acting ridiculously, wasn't he? Finn and Colin would laugh their asses off if they were watching him right now. Forcing himself to relax, he smiled, leaning against the car. "Good. Allow me to use these brief moments of time to make disgusting noises with my armpits."
Rory chuckled. "Oh, would you?" Growing a bit more serious, she looked him straight into his eyes. "So, this is going to be quick and painless. Believe me, my grandparents like you better than they liked Ronald Reagan," she once again tried to reassure him.
This time, Logan allowed himself to actually give in to her promise. This for sure was the first time he was compared to Ronald Reagan. "Wow. High praise." Remembering the gifts, he turned to pick them up from the backseat.
Rory eyed them, curious. "What are those?"
"Hostess gifts," he answered, steering her toward the door. "Never a bad idea to bring hostess gifts."
"Well played, Huntzberger!" his Ace cheered him on, apparently really pleased.
He wasn't sure if it was the gifts themselves or rather the fact that she was happy about his thoughtfulness, the effort he put into bringing gifts. Either was fine with him and he felt himself relax a bit more. There was still Lorelai though. He didn't even have a gift for her. The best he could hope was that Emily would share her box of chocolates with her. He had thought about bringing her something as well, but then she wasn't really the hostess, was she? Besides, he wasn't sure she would have appreciated it anyway, after everything he had learned about her. "So what about your mom? She going to be cool?" he couldn't help but ask, stopping nervously in front of the door.
Once again, Rory just waved at him, unworried. "Of course, she'll be cool. She's the essence of cool. Cool's her street name. She's got it monogrammed on her towels and everything."
Logan wasn't as sure about that as Rory was, after all she hadn't seen how her mother had looked at him that dreadful time they had been caught making out at her grandparents' wedding renewal. On the other hand, she was an unusual gal for her upbringing. And she and Rory really were very close, so why should his Ace be wrong? "Well, if she's got it monogrammed on her towels, there's nothing to worry about."
Rory rang the doorbell and glanced at the gifts in his hands once again. "What'd you bring, anyway?"
He briefly looked down at them. "Cigars for Richard, chocolates for Emily, and," he quickly draw the lighter he had picked up in the last minute out of his pocket to show her for just a few seconds, "Mrs. Eleanor Shubick's silver lighter."
"Huh? What's that for?" asked Rory, puzzled.
Logan was glad when Emily and Richard answered the door at that moment. "Rory! Logan, welcome!" Emily greeted them with a well-pleased smile on her face. Richard was behind her and waved them in eagerly as well. "Come in, come in!"
"Hi, Grandma!" Rory stepped in to kiss Emily's cheek.
'This is it,' Logan told himself and entered as well.
"Hello!" Emily returned the hug but immediately turned her attention on him. "And our guest of honor!"
"L'invité d'honneur," Richard too added, beaming. There was no other word for how the two of them looked at him. They literally beamed.
He felt his nervousness finally slip away. He knew it! He didn't have to worry about them! This was going to be an easy evening after all. God, was he relieved! It showed in the smile he gave them as he shook their hands, firmly. "How are you, Richard? Emily?"
"Wonderful, now," assured Emily, only to be echoed, once again, a second later by her husband. "Yes, wonderful."
Before either he or Rory could say anything else, Emily looked at the two of them with that look Logan had always dreaded. "Oh, look at you two, you're just perfect. Aren't they perfect, Richard?" she asked, way too pleased with what she saw.
"Perfect," agreed Richard and there was no doubt about how truthful that represented his thoughts as well.
Shit. Well, perhaps, the evening would not be quite easy after all. It would probably require a lot of effort to stop the two from booking the church and reception hall right after they left.
Rory, undoubtedly seeing the danger as well, was quick to contradict her grandparents, obviously embarrassed. "We're not perfect."
Unfortunately, with not much success. "Nonsense, you're perfect!" her grandmother protested at once.
Time for him to intervene. He was pretty sure he got more experience at this anyway, having had to dodge just about all kinds of implications for the past three years, at least. "No, she's right. I've got split ends like you wouldn't believe," he said, turning on the legendary Huntzberger charm and got Emily and Richard laughing.
"And a sense of humor," Richard mentioned, still so very damn pleased.
Damn, they really were far gone already. Not that he could blame them that much. It was what Logan had expected right from the beginning. This was just how it worked in High Society. Still - they needed to stop them somehow. Or, there would be reservations for a wedding date by the time dinner was over. Unsure where to go, he remembered the gifts in his hands and was quick to change the topic, hoping it would help. He held out the bombonière to the lady of the house. "Emily, these are for you. A small token of my gratitude."
"Vunderschen chocolates, I absolutely adore these!" Emily exclaimed, almost starting to glow.
"I picked them up last time I was in Switzerland," he modified the truth slightly.
"Well, aren't you clever," Emily praised, once again giving him that look that let him see himself already in the wedding suit. He quickly turned to Richard. "And here's a little something for you, Sir."
Richard eyed the cigar box briefly. "Oh, Romeo y Julietas. You are a good man, Logan Huntzberger!"
Logan was glad that they liked his little presents - and a little bit worried. Sure, he did want to make a good impression - it shouldn't be too good either though. His finger slid into his pocket and he fingered Shubick's lighter.
Emily waved them further inside. "Come on, let's all go in the living room, shall we?" Not waiting for an answer, she took Logan's arm to lead him into the living room. A glance back confirmed that Richard had taken his granddaughter's arm. Sharing an exasperated look for a moment, Logan returned his attention to Emily, who fingered the arm of his jacket. "I just adore this jacket you're wearing. Isn't this a fine jacket, Richard?"
Quite speechless, Logan was glad that Richard saved him from an answer. "Oh, I like how the lapels are cut. Aren't those nice lapels, Rory?"
Grinning, Logan looked at his girlfriend to see what she had to contribute to this special topic. Sure not her usual subject matter. He was pretty sure he could see an eyeroll as she nodded. "Uh, sure, Grandpa. His lapels look great."
He suppressed the chuckle teasing his throat and silently listened to how Richard once again praised his wonderful jacket and those perfect lapels. "Most modern tailors cut lapels too low. It's so sloppy, having one's lapels hang down around the chest like a basset hound's ears or something."
"But those are excellent," Emily too wasn't finished yet with these exciting lapels. Damn, he guessed he should have paid more for them after all. He had had no idea that he was wearing a rare work of art.
"Oh, they really are," Richard agreed wholeheartedly.
"Hi, Mom!" Rory exclaimed, obviously glad to turn the conversation away from the perfectness of his dinner jacket.
Rory's mom was sitting on the couch and smiling up at them. Once again Logan was stricken by how much daughter and mother resembled each other. And how beautiful her mother had aged, promising his Ace quite the good looks as well for her later years. "Hey, how am I sitting?"
And they sure had the same knack of asking the most interesting questions out of the blue, he thought dryly.
"Great. Mom, you remember..."
She was cut off by Emily. "Logan, this is Rory's mother, Lorelai. Lorelai, this is Logan Huntzberger."
Lorelai rolled her eyes, much like her daughter only moments ago. "Yes, we've met, actually. Nice to see you again, Logan."
Logan nodded. "Nice to see you."
She was smiling just like the way Rory would smile, it had been a rather cool smile.
Emily tugged at his arm. "Come on, sit, sit, sit. Let's get drink orders."
"Mmm," Richard emphasized the offer and his wife took the matter back into her hands. They sure were a good team. No wonder after that many years together. "Logan, what will you have?"
"McKellen neat, if you have it," he requested, not even thinking about ordering something without alcohol. In this circle, you were supposed to show your countenance right away with the first drink, safety in driving be damned. So, a drink now and a little wine later he would take. Not that he really minded. He still would be far from not being able to drive. Besides, Rory could drive, if absolutely necessary. Not that he was planning to get drunk.
"Oh, I adore a man who drinks his scotch neat," gushed Emily and again, there was simply no other word better fitting than 'gush', as much as it made him uncomfortable.
Richard too nodded his approval as he moved over to the home bar. "That is a fine drink indeed."
Sure it was. Logan knew his scotch, his grandfather had made sure of that at rather an inappropriate age for Logan. One good thing the old bastard had taught him after all.
"Just club soda," Rory answered her grandmother's question.
It was Emily's turn to express her approval - and praised the object on the market more favorably even. "So demure. Isn't she demure?"
He was sure he saw both Lorelais roll their eyes and he too had a hard time keeping a straight face. "The demurest."
Richard nodded. "One club soda."
"And your usual, Lorelai? A sidecar?"
Lorelai looked at Emily, startled. "Sidecar? No."
Emily raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that your drink?"
"No, my drink is a martini. It's always been a martini," Lorelai answered, tension in her voice.
Lorelai gave her mother a look that Logan knew only too well. He himself looked at his own mother just like that quite often. "Yes. Pretty much every one of the other eight thousand times I've had a drink here, it's been a martini."
Just like his own mother, Emily seemed to be as oblivious with her offspring's exasperation. "I would've sworn you were a sidecar girl."
At this point Logan would probably have exploded, Lorelai though chose to go with sarcasm. "Not even sure what's in a sidecar, Mom."
Emily turned to her husband. "Well, Richard, apparently Lorelai would like a martini."
Logan had to admit, Emily was really good at this game - better even than his own mother. Not that that was hard to achieve. His mother's heritage as a common girl showed more often than not in comparison to the ones who were born and bred into High Society.
At least Richard seemed to be unfazed by the little power play between mother and daughter and just smiled. "Can do."
At last, Emily turned her attention back to 'the guest of honor'. "I just can't get over those lapels."
God, not the lapels again!
Rory smiled too, but a bit strained, turning to her mother. "Grandma and Grandpa are very taken with Logan's lapels."
Lorelai glanced at the lapels in question. "They look fine to me."
"You'll have to excuse Lorelai, Logan. It takes a certain eye to be aware of this kind of thing," Emily said to Logan who seriously wished he had chosen to wear something else other than this jacket.
Then again, Emily would probably gush just over something else - and used that to take jabs against her daughter. Still, he wasn't comfortable at all to be put between Emily and Lorelai like that and was very relieved when Richard came over with the drinks for Rory and him.
"One scotch neat, and a club soda."
"Thank you," he said and Logan was really very thankful for the scotch as much as for the interruption.
Rory too sounded very grateful as she took her soda. "Thanks, Grandpa."
"And one martini," Richard said and returned back to the bar to prepare it.
Sadly, Emily took the opportunity to harass Lorelai some more. "That's with a twist, Lorelai?"
"Nope. An olive."
"In a vodka martini?"
Lorelai's smile was still in place, amazingly, only her tone was biting, as she answered. "Not vodka, Mom. Gin. It's always been gin. Gin martini.
"Yes! Always!" Uh-oh, looked as if Lorelai's patience had reached its limits.
Not that Emily seemed to notice that - or rather ignored it. "I don't remember that at all."
Apparently declaring the issue a lost cause, Lorelai cautiously turned towards him. "Uh, so. Logan. Where exactly do you live at Yale? Are you in Rory's building?"
Good, an easy question. He hoped it stayed like that, he thought as he answered. "No, I'm at Berkeley."
"Is that far from Rory?"
He shook his head. "No, I'd say it's about ninety Kropogs or so."
"Kropogs!" Richard exclaimed, his eyes shining. "Did somebody say Kropogs?"
"Kropogs. Now that is clever," Emily laughed too and they all shared a laugh about the typical Yale way to indicate distances on campus.
Correction - everyone but Lorelai who looked puzzled at them all. "Uh, fill me in here. What's a Koop?"
Logan hurried to explain, afraid of how Emily may use the opportunity to humiliate her daughter once again. "Years ago, someone at Yale started measuring things based on the height of a kid named Kropog."
Richard joined them, sitting down at last. "I can't believe that today's Elis are still using Kropogs. Now that is really something. Maxwell T. Kropog was his name, class of forty-four," he elaborated with that smile Logan saw quite often in the faces of alumni. "Oh, Lorelai, I'm sorry. I forgot your drink. I made it and everything," he remembered a moment later, flustered.
A little less tense than while speaking to her mother, Lorelai shrugged. "Well, you remembered now."
Richard started to get up again but was stopped by Emily, who quickly rose to take his place at the bar. "No, Richard, stay, I'll get it."
"I'm glad to hear that Kropog is still part of the Yale vernacular. Tradition is so important," Richard said, clearly reminiscing about the good old days.
"Why don't we talk about something other than Yale?" suggested Rory and Logan caught a wary glance of her towards Lorelai.
Shit, she was right. It wasn't that smart to only talk about college when Lorelai was the only one who hadn't been at Yale herself - or at any other Ivy-league college. He was furiously thinking about something else they could talk about, when Emily spoke up. "Nonsense, there's nothing better to talk about than Yale. Because Yale men are the greatest. I dated a few Princeton men and a Harvard man back in my day, and they had nothing on Yale men."
"They'd better not," warned Richard good-humoredly.
Emily shared a smile with him as she came forward with a martini glass in hand. With an onion. Logan cringed, well remembering how Lorelai had ordered an olive only moments ago. Damn. Emily must really be pissed at Lorelai. And he had thought Rory had exaggerated when she had talked about the newest squabble between Lorelai and Emily.
"Here you go, Lorelai." Emily handed Lorelai the drink and sat back down.
Lorelai took it, stared for a moment at the onion in it then back at her mother. "Mom, there's an onion in here."
"Is that not what you wanted?" asked Emily innocently.
"Olive. I said olive," emphasized Lorelai.
"Well, I heard onion."
Yeah, sure... Once more, Logan suppressed an eye roll.
"Well, I said olive," repeated Lorelai tersely.
Emily glanced at Logan and it finally looked as if she had enough of this as she got up again and retrieved the martini. "Let me get you an olive."
A moment later, Lorelai had finally gotten her drink and Emily had changed the topic to tennis. He bet she knew exactly that he used to play varsity tennis and still went regularly to the club to play as often as he could manage. He didn't mind the topic but it got clear soon that it was once again not exactly something up Lorelai's subjects for conversation. Or Rory's for that matter. He tried to direct the conversation towards something more suited for Lorelai - hotels, tourism in Connecticut, anything - but he had no chance. Emily reined the discussion mercilessly and prevented all attempts to change topics. In the end, he just played along, hoping he wasn't making a complete idiot of himself.
Sure, it was important to meet the elder Gilmores' expectations, but he didn't want Lorelai to think he was just like them also, knowing how she thought about the likes of them in general. Just like the way his Ace had thought about him and his friends in the beginning.
They were talking about the oh so interesting issue of the quality of racquets and he had just promised to set Emily up with a top manufacturer he knew, very much to Emily's approval, when finally the maid appeared to announce that dinner was ready.
Thank Heaven! The sooner they started, the sooner they could leave from there.
"Well, shall we?" asked Richard and stood up.
Emily was quick to stand up as well. "I'm just going to pop into the kitchen to check on a thing or two.
Richard, will you come carve the roast?"
They were just about to vanish towards the kitchen when Lorelai stopped them, her empty martini glass raised. "Is there going to be alcohol with dinner, Mom?"
"What?" asked Emily, puzzled, and Logan quickly bowed his head to hide his smile. He understood Lorelai's need for more booze only too well. Only way to get through such a gathering.
"You know, booze? 'Cause I haven't been able to get even a Kropog of gin since that first drink."
If he ever had doubts about from where Rory had inherited her wit and sarcasm, he was certain about it now. Her mother sure had a good sense of biting humor.
Not too surprisingly though, her parents didn't really appreciate that as they both frowned. "A Kropog is a unit of distance, Lorelai. Not volume," Richard lectured.
"And there'll be wine with the meal. There's always wine with the meal, Lorelai! Honestly! You're acting as if you've never been here," Emily too added, clearly exasperated.
"Sorry. Just wasn't sure," Lorelai murmured to their backs as they walked out.
Uncomfortable silence followed in which Logan desperately tried to think of something good to say to Lorelai. He really wanted her to like him. Not just because of her being the mother of his girlfriend - also because he secretly admired her. He sure knew that it took a lot to get out of this hell - the circle of society, power and money, but she had done it. At sixteen! And obviously had made a good life for herself and her child, despite it all.
But the only thing he could come up with finally was: "Roast. Sounds good." Which was, even to his ears, pretty much the most boring thing in the world.
"It does," Rory was quick to agree eagerly, telling him that she definitely wasn't as relaxed as she had said she was.
"Yeah," Lorelai nodded as well. "Who doesn't like a good roast?" she added, slightly being sarcastic, and stood up.
Relieved for the break in tension, Logan too sprang up. Getting a crazy idea in a flash, he held Rory back though, and quickly checked if the coast was clear. It was probably stupid, what he had in mind, but he just needed to do something that was him, that reminded him of just who he was and why he lived the way he lived.
"What are you doing?" Rory asked, perplexed.
God, he hoped she wouldn't be too pissed about what he was going to do. He spotted a small box on the nearby table that would do perfectly and quickly picked it up, replacing it with the lighter while he let the box vanish into his pocket. "A little Life and Death Brigade business. Every time we're in a rich
person's house we take a knick-knack. Then I leave the knick-knack I took from the last rich person's house," he explained. "I've been doing this up and down the eastern seaboard for years."
And never had been caught which said a lot about just how useless all the stuff the rich and famous collected. They never missed the knick-knacks. Probably didn't even realize that they never acquired the replacement knick-knacks themselves.
"Logan, no," Rory warned, her eyes wide.
For a tiny moment he was tempted but then he just reassured her. "Trust me. They never notice."
"You're crazy!" she accused, but was smiling.
He loved that smile. Yeah, it was a good thing. "It's fun to be crazy."
They finally joined Lorelai in the dining room. He wasn't sure if Lorelai had seen what he had done but if she had, he hoped she could appreciate the sentiment. Rory headed to the two chairs on the other side of the dining table. "Grandma probably wants us here."
Right on cue, Emily reappeared from the kitchen. "All right, the salads will be out in just a moment.
They proceeded to do so as they were told while Emily walked around the table to get to her chair at one end of the table. Out of the corner of his eyes Logan saw her stop abruptly, frowning at the living room. "Wait a minute."
No way, Logan thought, panicking. There was no way that Emily had already noticed the missing box. They never did!
"What's wrong, Emily?" Richard asked, having joined them in the meantime.
Emily walked into the living room, staring. "Well, I don't know. Wait. My antique sewing box! It's missing!"
No freaking way! Logan felt sweat prickle at the neck of his wonderful jacket. Shit!
Richard walked around the table. "Well, that can't be."
"It is! It's gone!" Emily insisted and Logan stared at the empty plate in front of him, still unable to believe that Emily had noticed at all. They never did, damn it! "Was it here during drinks?" she asked, looking at her husband.
Richard shrugged. "Well, I can't say that I noticed."
Out of the corner of his eyes he saw the maid approaching. He wasn't the only one.
"You, hovering there! What do you know about this?" Emily exclaimed in a very accusing tone.
"Ma'am?" the maid asked, trembling.
"My antique sewing box. Did you move it somewhere?" Emily continued, her tone not getting any better.
But the maid's protest fell on deaf ears, as Emily was way too far in her interrogation mode already. "And yet it's not here. Do you have any explanation as to why it's not here, Beatrice?"
This was getting worse and worse. He hadn't wanted the maid to take blame - but if he said something now, what would the Gilmores think of him? What if they kicked him out, forbid him to see Rory. He couldn't risk that, he just couldn't.
"I'm sure it's just a mix-up, Mom."
At Lorelai's words his eyes shot up, wide-eyed, as he stared at Rory's mom. The look she gave him across the table was more than just a bit condescending. It was outright accusatory and disdainful.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!
He had so fucked up this meeting. Even if he could still save his relationship with the Gilmores - he for sure had managed to disappoint Rory's mother. Once again.
What the hell had he been thinking, pulling this stupid stunt? Had he been out of his mind?
But it never before had come to something like this! Never! How could he have known something like this would happen? Tonight, out of all times?
"And – what's this? What's this lighter?" Emily exclaimed. "Richard, is this from the pool house?"
Rory's mother glared holes into him which made him sweat.
Richard answered in a very puzzled voice. "Well, I don't recognize it, but, well, you never know. One of the guys might have left it after a poker game."
Dismissing her husband's answer, Emily turned once again to the maid. "Well, Beatrice. I don't know what to say. I almost feel like I should go through the whole house and make sure nothing else has been misplaced."
He knew he should say something, he really knew it - but he couldn't get one word out. In the end, he didn't have to, as once more, Lorelai spoke up. "Mom, I found it."
Too busy with dealing with her purposely stealing maid, Emily apparently hadn't heard her and was still in her rant with the maid. "However, we have company and I don't want to be rude."
Across the table, Lorelai held out her hand for the sewing box, glaring at him expectantly. Deeply embarrassed, he forced himself to give it to her - amazed he could even move his hand as the rest of him felt like he was completely frozen.
"Let's just leave it for later and then you and I will have a very serious discussion," Emily was just saying as her daughter called out: "Mom, I found it!"
Stopped in her rant, Emily looked at her, befuddled. "What?"
Lorelai held out the box. "Yeah, here it is."
Coming closer, Emily frowned. "Really? Where was it?"
"Behind the centerpiece. I guess the flowers kind of hid it," Lorelai lied with not even a twitch of her eyes.
At least she didn't rat him out. Logan had no doubt though that that was not in any way a favor for him.
"Behind the centerpiece?" Emily repeated skeptically.
Beside her, the maid looked at the box and smiled, relieved. Catching that, Emily threw her a dark look, not so easily calmed apparently. "What on earth are you smiling about?"
The smile on the maid's face vanished immediately, fear standing out starkly and plainly as she answered timidly. "I'm just glad you found it."
Finally leaving it alone, Emily ordered her to go get the salad and she sat down. "Rory, Logan, I'm so sorry."
Logan didn't know what to say, so he just held his mouth shut. His Ace didn't say anything either - and for the first time since this fiasco has taken its course, he glanced at her, worried. But she had her head turned away so that he couldn't see her face and he felt a cold wave coming from her that made his heart drop an inch.
At the other end of the table, Richard too had reclaimed his seat, shaking out his napkin. "Well, never a dull moment, as we say."
The maid reappeared with the plates in her hands, her head bowed. As if nothing at all had happened, Emily smiled at her guests. "Ah, here we are. Avocado salad with beet dressing."
"Oh, wonderful. I'm starving," Richard agreed, beaming at them.
Logan tried to gauge Rory's mood again, and this time he achieved to briefly see her eyes. His heart sank a little deeper. She was pissed for sure and he couldn't blame her. And somehow, her disappointment was worse than the derision with which Lorelai regarded him.
How on Earth was he going to make up for this disaster?
The rest of dinner was much like the conversion during their drinks had been. Emily and Richard wouldn't stop praising him or pointing out what a nice couple he and Rory were - and Lorelai was quiet but for a few sarcastic comments here and there.
He played along, thinking it was the best thing for him to do in order to save what was left of his dignity in front of Lorelai - and Rory. His girlfriend played along as well after a while - while managing to continue to give him the cold shoulder without her grandparents noticing her. Under the table though, she had refused his every attempt to make contact - pulling her hand away, jerking her leg when he brushed at it.
Maybe he was able to gain a few inches back onto her good side when he praised her for her extraordinary work at the Yale Daily News and the Gazette. Maybe. He hoped so, at least. But he sure was anxious to get out of there so he could talk it out with her and make up for his shortcoming, somehow.
That was the moment, when her grandparents started to direct the conversation to the real goal of this gathering, quite bluntly, he had to say.
"It's lovely in the Vineyard. A few years ago, Richard and I attended a wedding there. I thought there could be no more gorgeous a spot for a wedding," Emily started and Logan nearly choked.
Somehow, he had expected that this topic would sooner rather than later come, but with all the mayhem around the fucking sewing box he had totally forgotten about that. And Emily was good - there was almost no way he could answer without spiking the Gilmores' hope of a future wedding and not be totally rude. "It's beautiful," he finally agreed nonchalantly, hoping that was vague enough to not send Emily searching for wedding gowns for Rory.
Speaking of which, her cheeks were a good touch rosier already - and grew even more with her grandmother's next words. "But then we went to one on Cape Cod and it was wonderful, too. Either
place would be good for a wedding, don't you think?"
Again a question impossible to answer without strings. "Sure, I've been to weddings at the Cape myself," he settled to say carefully.
Couldn't they understand it was way too early to think about marriage? Even if his Ace was the right one, they had only just started to date and they were too young anyway.
But Emily wasn't one to give up yet - he should have known. "So you like Cape Cod?"
He sighed inwardly. "Yes."
Emily beamed at him and her husband. "We like Cape Cod."
"Mm." Richard nodded proudly.
What to say, what to say... "Great."
"And I know Rory would like Cape Cod," Emily added and Logan could swear he saw Rory disappear in the floor.
"I like what I've seen in pictures," Rory replied, as carefully as he had a minute before.
No big surprise, Emily still had more to - say. "You two would look awfully cute in Cape Cod."
And no matter how wrong he knew he was, he couldn't help but think about Rory in a bikini or on the beach in a nice summer dress in the evening and already, he was smiling. Yeah, he'd like that. Perhaps he could talk her into going with him out to the Vineyard for a weekend. She sure could use the break, with all the work she was loading upon herself. Maybe he could offer it to make up for tonight?
"Mom, did you get a job at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce?" Lorelai interrupted his thoughts though and he soon remembered just why he had to make up in the first place.
He realized that it wouldn't be that easy as to just whisk his Ace away. Ha, and Lorelai… He had no idea how he could ever alter the low opinion she has of him after all that has happened.
"No." Emily ignored Lorelai's remark briskly before addressing him once again. "There are a lot of kids in your family, aren't there?"
Great. First the weddings, now on to the kids. Boy, the Gilmores sure had their eyes solely on him now for a match for Rory.
Had the girl been anyone else other than Rory, that moment would be the time for him to weasel out of this dreadful conversation but he just answered, resigned. "Yeah. The extended family's been pretty busy procreating lately."
He didn't mention that most of those relatives were at least eight years older than him. Or that they weren't the heir to the Huntzberger fortune that they had, more or less, been able to marry for love and nothing else, especially on his mother's side, naturally, since they were not from High Society.
"They have, have they?" Richard smiled, looking at him and he could just see how he envisioned him and Rory's kids in his mind, just like Emily.
"Do you like kids?" she too asked at that moment and letting go of the fight, he just shrugged. "Sure."
There was just no sense in trying to avoid this one any further. The Gilmores were fixated on him as their grandson-in-law, and really, he had known that would happen ever since Richard had caught him talking with Rory during the Yale Male party they had given for her. Had that exactly not been one of the reasons he had hesitated to get closer or involved with her? Not that he regretted anything but still - it would be so much easier if she weren't the granddaughter and heiress of the Gilmores.
"Kids love Cape Cod," Emily hinted the obvious. He was surprised she didn't wink at him.
"I think internships are a Communist plot."
Logan was glad he wasn't the only one who looked at Lorelai, bewildered.
Lorelai looked at her father. "Forcing someone to work without pay? It's a little Pinko, isn't it?
I mean, where's Roy Cohn when you need him?"
"Have you lost your mind?"
Lorelai shook her head. "No, no. It's still sloshing around up there."
Quickly, Logan hid the snicker he nearly let out. He doubted that anyone at the table would appreciate it. But despite everything, he was grateful for Rory's mom in her effort to intervene and save them before they were talked into how many children they were going to have. Once again he was reminded that Lorelai knew way more about life in these circles than her daughter did. Thanks to Lorelai. But then why couldn't she understand him better or give him a chance at least? She knew how it was, damn it! She should know why he had to be like he was.
"Would you like another apple, Rory?"
Shaking her head, Rory declined Emily's offer. "Oh, no thanks. They were really good, though."
"How about you, Logan? Apple?"
That was his chance! He needed to get out of there - before he managed to sink even lower in Lorelai's eyes. Not that there was any lesser to go. Glancing at Rory, he could tell she was ready to make a run for the door as well. Thank God! "Thank you, but I don't think I could eat another thing, and unfortunately we should be going. I have an early day tomorrow," he offered as an excuse to leave right away, confident that that would get them out without much problems.
Sure enough, Emily looked appropriately chagrined. "Oh, Logan, an early day. I'm so sorry we kept you."
"I wish I could stay longer," he lied with a smile.
This was the dance he had been dancing his whole life - and he was good at it. His father had taught him well in that department.
"An early day is an early day. Beatrice, get their coats," Emily ordered as they all got up.
"I had a wonderful time. Thank you so much," Logan assured smoothly. In his mind though, there was only one message left: get out, get out, get out and he impatiently waited for Rory to say her goodbyes. When she went to hug her mom though, his brain came to a screeching halt. Shit yeah. He doubted he could worsen Lorelai's impression of him even more, or improve it for that matter, but he nonetheless turned toward her. "Nice to see you again."
Lorelai nodded. "Nice seeing you again, too. I hope we can all do this..."
She never got to finish her sentence, as her mother rudely interrupted them. For a tiny moment, Logan was tempted to insist on hearing out what Lorelai had wanted to say, but she was already apologizing with a grimace to Emily and the 'get out' message was blinking furiously in his mind again. So he let them usher them out, exchanging more of the typical small talk. He dimly remembered promising Emily something about her tennis racquet and confirmed that once again, very much to both Emily and Richards delight, and then finally, they let them go and the front door closed behind them.
Thank God, Heaven and Holy Mother of God!
He helped Rory into his car and then hurried to drive away. He was so relieved to have that disastrous dinner over with finally, that it took him until he was way out of Hartford to notice that his girlfriend was very quiet. Uh-oh. He stole a glance at her but her face was turned away and he couldn't gauge her mood.
He had a pretty good idea though.
"Well, I guess that could have gone better, huh?" he spoke hesitantly, searching for the right words to say and failing.
"You think?" she replied sarcastically, sparing him a single glare.
Nope, that wasn't good at all.
"Okay, you're mad. I get it." For a moment he concentrated on driving. "I shouldn't have swapped the sewing box with the lighter," he admitted eventually, quietly.
Rory gave him another glare, said nothing though.
And even so, he knew he had fucked up, he felt the need to defend himself at least a little. "But I swear to you, I had no idea Emily would notice it. They never notice it, never have, not for years! How was I to know that Emily's such a control freak that she notices even the slightest thing moved?"
With a sigh, Rory shook her head. "You could have asked me before doing anything. Or you could have had the good sense to know that perhaps, it's not the best idea to steal something while you're having dinner with your girlfriend's family!"
"I didn't steal," Logan protested but it sounded weak even to his own ears. "I've replaced it."
"You took something that didn't belong to you. That's called stealing, mister, no sense in justifying what you did. And you idiots do that regularly?" Ace made a disgusted face and crossed her arms. "You're lucky I didn't know that little fact when I did the article on you guys. Or it wouldn't have been such a nice article. Are you going to do other stupid and cruel stunts like this?"
"Hey, now hold your horses there. It's just a prank. No harm done to anyone," he countered, starting to get a little bit pissed himself.
"No harm? Damn it, Logan, Beatrice almost lost her job tonight! That's not just a little prank!" Rory exclaimed, her face hardening.
"That was a one time thing. And she didn't lose her job," Logan pointed out stubbornly.
"Yeah, thanks to the good sense of my mom," Ace immediately retorted back. "And how do you know that this was a one time incident? Do you guys go back and check if the household personnel is the same, that nobody was fired because of the pranks you do? Do you do any kind of follow up to see what happened exactly once the owner noticed that something has been stolen? How sure are you really that no innocent employee got fired, most likely with a real bad recommendation, just because you rich kids were bored?"
Logan opened his mouth to tell her exactly where she could put her wild accusations but closed it again with his hold on the steering wheel tightening.
"Can't assure me that, can you?" The heat had left Rory's voice and he risked a glance her way. She looked sad and defeated. "Logan, these people, they need their jobs. They don't deserve to get fired for your stupid pranks. And have you any idea how hard it is to get another job in a new household when you've got the label 'thief' stamped on your forehead? You've got to put a stop to this, Logan."
He was silent for a long while before he finally answered her. "I'll talk to the others." He wasn't sure how much use it would be, after all, he was just one guy in the Life and Death organization. But he had to say something, he knew that now. No matter how much he hated to admit that they really hadn't thought a lot about the consequences when they had started to practice this tradition.
It was quiet for a while before he spoke again, looking ruefully at her. "I guess there's no sense inviting you to our next Brigade shindig, huh?"
She met his eyes, surprised. "I'm invited again? Because we're together now?"
"No. Actually, the Brigade offered you a membership right after the last event you attended. Remember the mask and the champagne? That's your membership card. They liked you," he told her, finally. This was a long overdue conversation, but somehow, other things had always been more pressing. "But a lot happened in the meantime and you were always busy for the few meetings in-between that it never really came up again. Next weekend will be another shindig and they asked me to invite you along."
"Back then I would probably have said yes on the spot. Now though..." She shrugged. "I'm not sure I want to be part of a group that has so little respect for the people working for them. I may be the granddaughter of the Gilmores and Mom got her own inn now, but I still grew up as the daughter of a maid. Right now it would feel like a betrayal if I joined the Brigade."
Remembering her background explained a lot about her outrage just now and Logan could have banged his head for forgetting about it. He didn't even want to think about Lorelai. No wonder the two of them had shown so little humor about the prank. Of course, in this light, it really wasn't all that funny, he concluded. "I can't make that decision for you and I'd understand if you don't want to join us after all," he told her quietly. "But we're not all that bad."
They were driving back to New Haven and exited the highway. Coming to a red light, he used the opportunity to look into her eyes. "And I'd like it very much if you would come, too."
To his immense relief, there was a hint of a smile that played on her lips. Looked as if the storm was over. "Thanks. But I need to think about it."
He nodded and the light changed to green. Concentrating back onto the road, he changed the topic. "Do you want to go to Rick's?"
She grinned. "I thought you had an early day tomorrow?"
He grinned back, and yeah, it was anything but innocent. "Honor had organized a family lunch tomorrow to get the wedding plans going. We'll meet Josh's family. So I've got to be in the City by one o'clock. That's early enough for a Saturday."
"Sounds like fun," Rory said dryly. "So you're not going to be around tomorrow?"
With a start he realized that he had forgotten to tell her about that wedding lunch. Great. One thing more that he had done wrong today. To be fair though, Honor had told them all about the lunch only yesterday, well knowing that further notice would have given each of them even more opportunity to find something else to do urgently at that time. As it was, he would be highly surprised if his father wasn't going to have an urgent meeting tomorrow. Not that that was such a bad thing.
"Sorry, it slipped my mind. Though I thought anyway that perhaps, you could come with me, go shopping perhaps while I'm at the lunch and once that one is over, we could meet and spend the rest of the weekend in the City," he proposed. "What do you think?"
As he had expected, her first reaction was a frown. "I don't know. There's so much I have to do: three papers due next week..."
"That you already have finished but one," he pointed out.
"The article for the Yale Daily News..."
"Already drafted and only needs some finishing that won't take much time."
"And I need to read a ton of things for Monday when I'm back at the Gazette," Rory finished and he was triumphant to see a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.
"I never said you can't bring your books. Never would I be so outrageous to demand such a thing of you," he told her with a sly smile. "Come on, Ace, it's just a weekend in the City. Soon, there'll be the finals and then it's summer and you know I have to go on my European trip with Finn and Colin. I just want to spend as much time with you as possible before that."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Are you begging?"
His smile widened. "Is it working? I can even go onto my knees if you want to. Of course, that would have to be in an extremely public place. Like Rick's. Or the cafeteria." His smile turned wicked. "Or in your next class."
"Now it's blackmail."
Logan laughed at that dry comment. "Whatever works, Ace. So?"
"So, I guess we spend the weekend in the City," she sighed, defeated.
He wasn't fooled though, not with her eyes sparkling like that. "Good girl. Now going back to my original question: Rick's or someplace else."
But now Rory shook her head. "I'm not really in the mood for a big crowd. Can't we just go home, spend a quiet night in front of the television. There's a Hitchcock night on one of the channels."
For a moment he thought about insisting on a drink, but one look over to his girlfriend and he knew she really wasn't in the mood. And after tonight it surely wouldn't be a good idea to go out alone. Besides, he wanted to be with her. "Cool. Which ones?"
He was rewarded with a big but also intimate smile and he knew he had at last done something right this night.
About damn time.
"So, how was the dinner? Rory's grandparents already ready to marry you two off?"
Logan rolled his eyes at Colin sliding into their booth at Rich Man's Shoe. "Feels like déjà vu."
"Don't stall, spill," Finn ordered, straddling the chair opposite Logan.
Knowing better than to even try to avoid answering their questions, he leaned back and simply answered truthfully. Besides, it felt good to talk about it - even if it was extremely embarrassing for him. "First of all, it was another dinner from hell. Second, yeah, pretty much, from what I gathered, we're to have a wedding on Cape Cod or the Vineyard and I'm pretty sure they have already our children pictured in their heads. And third, I was almost busted by them stealing a sewing box from Emily. On account that I'm still eligible bachelor number one for Rory for them, obviously, they didn't notice, but Rory's mom did. So Rory and I had our first big fight, the Gilmores are ready to make an announcement in the papers about our engagement and, boy, does her mom hate my guts now. Dinner from hell," he wrapped it up and helped himself to a big drink of his coke.
The eyes of his friends nearly bulged out of their eye sockets, which was almost worth the humiliation he knew would follow for a long time coming.
It was Finn who first regained control over his voice. "Explain."
Colin nodded furiously, looking expectantly at him.
With a sigh, Logan recounted the evening at the Gilmores. By the time he was finished, the two dumb heads were laughing tears.
"Jeez, had I known it was so funny, you having a girlfriend, I would have made sure you had one years ago!" Colin laughed, yapping for air.
"I can't believe you nearly got the maid fired. And that Rory's mom had to bail you out once again!" Finn managed to comment, between fits of laughter. "But dude, what were you thinking, pulling such a stunt when you were there with your girlfriend to meet her folks?" he added after he had calmed himself a bit - after a long moment.
Logan shrugged. A question he had asked himself many times since Friday night and he still wasn't sure about the answer. "I dunno. It's an LDB thing. I never heard of a rule that excluded the homes of your girlfriend's families," he answered grudgingly.
Their shoulders still shaking with silent laughter, the two idiots just shook their heads.
"About that, the whole fiasco got me thinking. I think we should stop doing that swap challenge. It could really get the household personnel into trouble, as Friday proved," he suggested, remembering his promise to Rory.
Colin tilted his head to the side. "Hmm, I see my old friend Logan sitting here, but I hear Rory. Do you, Finn?"
"Definitely. Maybe, she already has him under control. You know, sooner or later, that happens to all of them poor losers." Finn wiped an imaginary tear away. "Such a tragedy. He was such a wonderful mischievous bachelor."
"Oh, cut it out you two!" Logan growled, annoyed. "Okay, so yeah, Ace pointed the possible consequences to our pranks out, but that doesn't change the fact that she's right about it. We never thought about it, but our goal was never to get anybody fired. That's not what the LDB is about, or is it?"
"Calm down, I agree. We'll talk about it in the next meeting," Colin said, more sincerely than a minute before. He still was a dumb head though, but then, that was nothing new to Logan.
"It was starting to get boring anyway. We need something new and more challenging," Finn added, his eyes gleaming. Logan was pretty sure that Finn already had an idea.
"So, you're still in the doghouse with Rory?" Colin changed the topic, grinning dirtily at him.
Logan felt himself grin in return. "No, all is good between us."
Finn slapped him on the back. "You go! Make-up sex as good as they say?"
His mind flashed back to Friday night. They hadn't seen much of the Hitchcock movies after all. "You bet." He looked at his watch. "And speaking of which, I've got to go. I promised Ace I'll go pick her up at the station." Grabbing his jacked, he slid out of the booth.
"Wimp!" Colin called after him.
Logan ignored the comment. But he made a mental note to make them pay once they've gotten themselves girlfriends.
"Hey, you." His Ace came to him with a smile, grabbed the lapels of his jacket and pulled him in for a deep kiss. A little surprised, he was more than happy to oblige and wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss. When they eventually separated, he raised an eyebrow at her. "Not that I'm complaining, but what was that for?"
Smiling, she hooked her arm on his and beamed up at him. "That was for that golden tip about the decaf coffee." She stopped and gave him another kiss, this one more soft and intimate. "And that," she said softly, stroking over his cheek, "is for being the best boyfriend in the world."
"Thank you," he replied as softly, resting his forehead against hers for a moment. "I take it your second day went better?"
"Much better! I even got to attend the meetings today. It was so exciting! And your dad! He's so good, Logan!" Her eyes shone and it was easy to tell that she really was very happy about her day at the Gazette.
Logan wasn't so sure he liked that. "I've heard. And he treated you right?" he asked mistrustfully.
"Oh, absolutely. I mean, he didn't favor me or anything, far from it, but he was real nice and very professional. Very respectful too." She pulled him towards the exit. "But I'm really hungry now, hardly had time for a sandwich, I was kept so busy today. Let's go eat something."
"Sure," he murmured and followed her, more slowly. He didn't like it. Rory didn't know his father. If he really had been so nice to her, then it meant something. Mitchum Huntzberger was never nice without a reason. And it seldom was anything good. The bad feeling he had about this whole thing came back with ferocity, but he didn't know what to do about it. He had warned his father, he had warned Rory, or at least tried to, so there was nothing else he could do. Was there?
He wasn't sure - but no matter what, he had a very bad feeling about this.
(Author's Note: At last, a new chapter. There wasn't much I could add around it as this episode really held a lot of R/L scenes, so I hope it wasn't too boring. Once again, I thank all of you who are still reading this, leave a review or add this baby here to your favorites. It really means a lot to me. As for the next chapters, I'm working on it, but I know better than to make any promises right now. My duties at work changed, leaving me with little free time and I do concentrate more on my original stuff when I have time to write than my fanfiction stories. I still am adamant to finish every last one of my stories, but alas, it will take time... In the meantime, I've reloaded all recent chapters. Thanks to my wonderful Beta, all chapters are now beta-ed and several times re-read. Any mistakes that might still be in it - well, let's just say that his was definitely the last time I reworked this monster of a story. Okay, enjoy this one and until next time!)