AN: Hello one and all! Here am I with another belated update. I am terribly sorry, it took me longer than expected. I thank you all for your positive reviews :) Enjoy and please leave a review! :)
Disclaimer: Do not own Gilmore Girls.
"Monday, Manic Monday"
Rory Gilmore hated mornings. Especially Monday mornings. Those she hated with a passion. As also this particular Monday morning in December. The alarm clock suffered a painful blow on it's snooze button and a muffled grunt broke through layers and layers of comforters and blankets. She had been cold the previous night. The heating decided it was the most tactful moment of the year to expire and leave her sitting in a space with a temperature below 59 degrees. In order to prevent her nose from turning into a popsicle she and two hot water bottles had cuddled up under several thick comforters and (unfortunately) survived this night. Rory opened one eye and looked at the clock. 6.30 a.m.. And for what? For the lovely fact that she could drag herself to work where she spent all day yelling at people only to get yelled at herself for not yelling enough at the people and doing a crappy job by her boss. A crazy limbo that paid the bills, yet for some reason didn't offer the fulfilment she had envisioned years ago. She could almost hit herself for the naivety she had possessed in those days. With a last grunt she threw the covers off of her and yelped as her eyes popped open from the cold that hit her skin. Why hadn't she gone to Peter's place? Fool! Fool! Fool! She ran into the bathroom and turned the hot faucet of her shower to its maximum capacity. Hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up!
"Come on!" she yelled in exasperation when the shower didn't seem to read her mind. She really needed to find herself a new place. This was just too much. She was living in the heart of New York and yet the jungle seemed to have better facilities than this apartment building. She held her hand under the streaming water to see whether it was warming up at all and moaned when the answer was negative. She not only had to get up at 6.30 in the morning in a freezing apartment, she also was going to have to go to work sporting a greasy pony tail and smelly armpits. She contemplated calling in sick. If being cold, icky and hungry didn't qualify for a "stay-at-home" day, she didn't know what did and thus, for the first time in 10 years Rory Gilmore played hooky.
Logan Huntzberger skilfully tied the yellow tie around his neck into a Windsor knot and straightened his collar. With a last glance in the mirror he strode into the kitchen. It was exactly 6.33 am as he filled his mug with coffee. Sitting down at the counter he picked up the New York Times and let his eyes wander over the front page. He looked up when a sleepy seven year old zombied her way into the kitchen and sat down at the counter burying her head in her arms.
"Morning, Sunshine," he greeted and got a moan in return. With a smirk he turned the page and folded the paper into a slightly more manageable format.
"Good morning, Mr. Huntzberger." Logan acknowledged the familiarly accented greeting from Louisa's British nanny by wishing her a good morning as well.
"I thought we had agreed that you were not going to call me Mr. Huntzberger anymore, Hannah," he then smiled carefully sipping his coffee.
"I just… it's odd to call you by your first name, seeing that you are my boss and old…er."
He cocked an eyebrow.
"Do the 5 years of difference give me that big of a seniority?" he asked eyeing the clock. 6.45
"It's 9 actually," she corrected him.
"How do you even know that?"
"I googled you," she answered with a shrug pouring herself a mug of coffee and Louisa a glass of milk.
"You googled me," he deadpanned. She had googled him.
"Yes, and I did not have to read through the 125.000 of hits to find out that you are turning 31 in February."
He almost forgot to swallow the coffee in his mouth before his jaw dropped.
"Excuse me? 125.000 hits?" Who would have thought.
"Yeah, you have never googled yourself?"
"Should I have?"
She shrugged with al laugh and prodded his daughter.
"Drink your milk, darling."
"Can't," she grumbled instead, "I don't wanna go to school. Bruce Shafenaker picks on me."
"Who is Bruce Shafenaker? And what do you mean he picks on you?" Logan asked, ignoring the doorbell indicating his ride had arrived.
"He just says mean things and pulls my hair," she whined.
"Ah!" Logan smirked, "That only means he likes you."
"No, he doesn't. He is mean! He took my books and didn't give them back the whole period and then he pulled my hair and called me Loulou Schmoulou." He tried to contain his laughter. He really did, but he could not hide the snicker that fought its way through. Pulling a straight face with great difficulty, he cleared his throat.
"Believe me, sweets, once upon a time. Long long ago," he eyed Hannah who grinned at the reference, "I was a boy too and that's how we…the underdeveloped sex want to get attention. Now, I have to get going. Drink your milk, Loulou Schmoulou." He kissed her head ignoring the pained "DAAAHAAAD" leaving her mouth.
"Bye, Mr. Hu- Logan." He mouthed a thank you with an superfluous hand gesture skywards causing her to roll her eyes with a laugh and left the apartment, closing the door behind him with a smile. Logan Huntzberger loved Monday mornings.
Peter Bower cursed the world and his razor in particular to hell as the blade almost sliced his throat without mercy. He fumbled with a roll of toilet paper as the cut bled profusely all over the collar of his t-shirt and groaned as the paper stuck to his damp hands. And while he was at it he cursed David Montague whose wife had recently given birth to twins and who in consequence had taken the day off, asking him to cover, indirectly contributing to this massacre in the bathroom. He yawned and splashed a hand full of water in his face. Working a double shift the day before and starting at 7 again this morning was everything but unwinding. He threw a glance at the clock. 6.30. Removing the toilet paper from his throat he inspected the cut. And here they said the "Gillette Mach 3" was the best a man could ever get. He scoffed. It could kill you in your sleep. He grabbed some fresh scrubs from his dresser and tied the cord of the green trousers. It would save him time at the hospital. Looking in the mirror he could hardly see the difference between his face pre- and post-shave and the colour of the scrubs certainly didn't flatter his complexion. He could use a vacation. A long vacation in the Bahamas, drinking Mai Tai's and enjoying the sun and his girlfriend's undivided attention, yet the reality of his demanding residency and the 300k student debt, which at the rate he was getting paid would take him three lifetimes to get paid off, was just the thing that pulled him back to the here and now. Sometimes he wondered why the hell he had chosen to become a paediatric surgeon. Why he didn't become a car mechanic like his father. Why he spent 4 years in college, then another 4 in Med school and was still not satisfied after 6 years of surgical residency. Why he started a 2 year paediatric residency. Why it had taken him 14 years to get where he was now, and why he still was not at his final destination. Why he worked 100+ hours a week, earning a shitty salary, scarifying his social life or an antisocial one for that matter. The answer was simple: Peter Bower hated mediocrity. Having seen so much of it in his life, he wanted something more. He wanted more than a mediocre job, a mediocre relationship, a mediocre existence. He wanted to become someone, something and if that meant that he had to forget about sleep for 8 years receiving shitty pay, he was going to do just that. He had to admit, however, he looked like shit. Large goals obviously came in pairs with large circles under his eyes. With a sigh he grabbed his keys and his bag. Off to another 18 hour shift and the joy of half hour breaks consuming crappy hospital food. At times mediocrity didn't seem that bad. He pulled open the door and was surprised to see Rory on the other side.
"Rory! Hey. What are you doing here?"
"Hey," she smiled her hands deep in the pockets of her coat. He raised an eyebrow seeing that she was dressed in sweatpants that were stuffed in a pair of Uggs.
"Are you going to work dressed like this?" he asked.
"Nope!" She strode past him, planting a kiss on his lips in the process, "I am staying here. I am going to take a loooong hot shower and then cuddle up in bed with half of your fridge's contents and watch TV."
"Alright…" he drawled closing the door again and following her, "Did I miss something? Last time I checked it was Monday."
"Yep. Yep." She undid her coat and removed the silly red hat off her head.
"What about work? You don't look sick. Crazy…but not sick."
"Well… there is no heat in my apartment, no hot water either. I am feeling icky and cold and hungry and I was never going to make it on time anyway if I were going to come here to take a shower so…I called in sick." She explained kicking one boot through the living room.
Peter raised his eyebrows. This was very un-Rory like and yet he had no time to question her further.
"Ehm…alright. You pig out on the couch then, I'm off to work. Be back around 9 will you be here? We can order some dinner. Or you could cook something, seeing that you are just staying home anyway."
Now it was she who cocked an eyebrow.
"Cook? As in use kitchen utensils? Knives? And the stove? Touch raw chicken?"
"Fine! Fine!" he laughed, "Don't cook. You'll burn down the place. We'll just order in." He pecked her smirking lips and ran out the door with more reluctance than usual. At the moment a day of mediocrity sounded like music to his ears.
Rory Gilmore sighed. She flipped through the channels without paying much attention. She had been through all of them 3 times now and flipping through them a 4th time in 15 minutes was not going to change a lot in the programming. Playing hooky was way less fun than it sounded and it had started out so promising. She had taken a long hot shower, made herself pop tarts (since Peter's fridge had lacked anything else appealing) and a pot of coffee, read the paper and solved the crossword puzzle. She had watched an Oprah rerun, the news on CPAN and had caught an episode of the "Days of our Lives". She had cut her toenails and alphabetized Peter's CD and DVD collections. She had read a Cosmo after taking a wonderful nap. And now it was noon, and she was out of activities, out of food and out of shows to watch. Rory Gilmore was bored.
She hid her face in the pillows and groaned. God was punishing her. He was reprimanding her with boredom. Stretching her arm she attempted to lure the phone in to her grip, but it was just out of reach. She moved an inch in its way and prodded it with her fingertips till it was possible to grasp it, then proceeding to punch some numbers and waited as the phone rung. A happy voice filled her ear.
"Stephanie! Care to grab some lunch with me? We haven't seen each other in a while."
"I'd love to! But…I'm in Dubai at the moment."
"Dubai," Rory deadpanned. Rats.
"Yes, art stuff. You know. Sheik wants painting. Stephanie provides painting to Sheik." She chirped, "Everything okay with you?"
"I'm fine, Steph, just… bored," Rory chuckled, "I took a day off for no apparent reason and I thought that playing hooky would be more fun."
"My, my…Rory Gilmore! I am shocked!" Stephanie laughed, "How is Logan?"
"I don't know actually. Haven't seen him in over a week. Have been swamped at work."
"Oh well…no news is good news I suppose. Listen hon, I have to run."
"Art stuff?" Rory smiled.
"Yeah, art stuff. I shall call you when I'm back. Take care, darling!"
"Bye." Another sigh echoed through the room as Stephanie hung up and she tossed the phone on the foot end of the bed. She eyed the clock. 12.09. Time just wasn't moving. With a groan she got out of bed and pulled up the wide sweatpants that were in great danger of falling off her butt. Maybe some fresh air would do her good. Holding that thought she put on her Uggs, her coat and her hat and closed the door behind her.
"I understand…I understand….I understand…" Logan Huntzberger rolled his eyes transferring the phone to his other ear and leafing through the latest circulation report, "I understand." Truth was he had stopped listening 15 minutes ago, yet years of conversations like these had trained him to provide the right standard answer at the right interval. "Right…I shall get someone on that….Yes, I understand." He looked up when Fanny stuck her head through the door and he motioned for her to come in. "I understand"
"There is someone here to see you, Sir," Fanny said softly simultaneously placing several reports on his desk.
"Uhu I understand."
"Who" he then mouthed.
"One Rory Gilmore. She doesn't have an appointment. Should I send her away?"
"I understand." He shook his head and gestured for her to come in, "That would be unfortunate. I assure you all is going to be taken care of…Yes….Yes… I understand…Right away… Yes….Goodbye." He flung the receiver in its place and let out a deep sigh.
"To what do I owe this pleasure, Ace?" he then asked with a grin when Rory walked in to the room sporting a red hat and matching nose, "You look very…casual…on a Monday."
"Hey," she greeted him pulling the hat off her head and releasing an avalanche of messy curls, "I came to personally invite you to the annual Stars Hollow pre-Christmas dinner."
"I see," he smirked leaning back in his chair. Somehow that did not feel as the real reason of her visit.
"Plus I was bored." Ah, there it was. Although, Rory Gilmore bored on a Monday afternoon seemed slightly out of place.
"Bored?" he thus echoed.
"Yes. I am playing hooky," she said and actually blushed at the statement causing him to laugh.
"Bad ass Rory," he winked, "Want to grab some lunch?"
"I'm not disturbing?"
He gave her a once over, raising his eyebrows at her oversized sweatpants, unflattering Uggs and a coat that made her look like the Michelin man.
"Maybe a little…"
She scoffed pulling the hat back over her head.
"Funny. For your information. It's cold. Not only outside but also in my apartment."
"Your heat broke again?" He asked getting up and getting his coat from the closet.
"No I turned up the air-conditioning. Yes, the heat broke." She grumbled. He was getting more bemused by the second and at the same time he couldn't help the feeling that something was bugging her beyond the inconvenience of broken heating.
"When are you going to move out of that dump you live in?"
"Excuuuuse me, Mister "Million dollar loft", not everyone has the luxury to live in a castle Midtown Manhattan.
"Upper East Side," he corrected and earned a swat.
"So good," Rory Gilmore hummed biting an immense chunk out of her roast beef sandwich, "Take that stupid restaurant that wouldn't let me in because I was not adequately dressed. Puh! In your face! Yummy!" She wobbled on the Central Park bench gratefully chewing her "Subway" meal and trying to stay warm at the same time. She glanced at Logan who took a bite from his sandwich. His cheeks were rosy, but other than that he didn't seem very much undone by the cold. He stretched his legs lazily and pulled the collar of his coat up.
"How is work?" he asked and Rory shrugged. Work was work. Work was something she did not miss today.
"Yeah, fine." She took another bite and steered her gaze towards the snow clad path and a woman walking 2 dogs.
"Huh." She turned to face him again, squinting her eyes.
"Nothing." He shrugged.
"What's with the "huh" then?" He was implying something and she was not sure she like what it was.
"It was just a "huh"." He shrugged.
"It doesn't seem that it was just a "huh"." Who was he trying to fool here?
"And yet it was only a random "huh". He defended himself, brushing the crumbs off of his coat.
"It was not-"
"Rory, you are starting to sound like my daughter. If you don't want to talk about what's bugging you don't turn this on me," he cut her off .
"What is that supposed to mean?" she scoffed.
"Exactly what I'm saying."
"I'm happy at my job!"
"I am!" She shouted, her sandwich forgotten. The judgement in his eyes made her mad.
"If you say so!"
"And you have no right to judge me or my job! It's a good job with lots of opportunities! And I like it!"
"And yet here you are. Slouching about. Doesn't look like you like it there that much. And it didn't seem like you were liking it when you were talking about killing yourself before the last edition, or when you were telling people off. Or like today…dreading to go there. It's not you, Ace. You have so much to offer and you are wasting your time there. What are you doing? Why are you doing that? You should be out and about. You should be writing Pullizer worthy articles, not i-dotting and t-crossing other people's stuff. You are not good at it. Sure the YDN was a nice hobby, but this is a whole other deal, a whole other league."
She was silent for a moment, trying to grasp what had just left her best friend's mouth. Truth was she could not believe it. He had flat out said she sucked at her job and that caused a dull pain and a rising anger to creep into her.
"Nice, Huntzberger. Really nice. Very "Huntzberger" of you," she used air quotes.
"Don't go there, Ace. I'm not saying this to hurt you. I'm saying this to help you," he reasoned.
"Don't "Ace" me! Nice help you are! My best friend telling me that I am bad at my job," she spat getting up from the bench. She was not going to sit her and let him insult her even more.
"I am only insinuating that you could be so much better if you actually did where your heart lays, what you studied for and dreamt of! As your best friend I refuse to lie to you."
"As a best friend you should support me!" she yelled, "As I have done with you over the years!" She swallowed back tears.
"No! Let's criticize aspects of your life. Have you followed your dreams? Have you even dared to have dreams?! You just floated into your "destiny" like a stick down the river! You are your father's puppet and you dare telling me that I am not good at my job? At least I made it to the point where I am on my own! I have outgrown the illusions about life. As should you. You are the one sitting there unable to move on. Unable to break free from your father or from your dead wife!" She yelled unable to stop the emotion she felt turning into words.
"Are you finished?" His jaw was clenched as he looked at her. He eyes were not concealing the fact that she had hurt him. Rory swallowed, little clouds escaping her parted lips as her heart pounded in her chest. She watched, as if paralyzed, how Logan drew in a shaky breath, got up and walked away, his shoes making a crunching sound in the fresh snow. With fortitude she did the same, forcing her feet to move in the opposite direction.
His appetite was gone. In fact he felt nauseous. Inhaling the crisp winter air deep into his lungs and making his way through the crowded streets at a rapid steady pace, he attempted to regain control over his state of mind, the anger and the ache. The office building doomed up in front of him too soon and he dreaded walking in there. For a while he just stood there, fists clenched, eyes closed.
"Are you alright?"
He opened his eyes and looked into a set of green eyes, embedded in a flushed face, that was surrounded in sandy blonde locks.
"I'm fine," he answered curtly, compelling his feet to move inside. He stopped in front of the elevators and pressed the button, as a set of heels halted their staccato on the marble floor just beside him. The doors slid open and he stepped inside followed by the woman.
"Which floor?" he asked.
"42," she smiled. He pressed the button and the doors closed.
His fingers drummed against his leg as the elevator inched upwards at a snail's pace. Finally it pinged and they got out. He strode towards his office and the woman towards the front desk. He could just make out the words "appointment" and "Huntzberger" leaving her mouth and groaned passing Fanny's desk without much reply towards her greeting. He flung his coat in the corner of his office and let himself fall in his chair, burying his head – that now seemed to weigh so heavily- in his hands.
"Mister Huntzberger? Your 2 p.m. appointment is here," Fanny said and he nodded.
"Can I get you something? You look pale." An almost motherly concern was written over her kind face.
Logan shook his head with a small smile.
"No thank you, send her in."
"Oh, coincidence," the woman smiled entering his office.
"Natasha McCarthy," she introduced herself offering him her hand, which he shook with a slight resentment.
"Logan Huntzberger. Please, sit down." He motioned towards one of the arm chairs facing his desk, "Would you like some coffee, tea?"
"Tea would be lovely."
He had barely opened his mouth when Fanny nodded and closed the door behind her.
"What can I do for you, Mrs. McCarthy?"
"It's Ms. actually and please, call me Natasha. There is too much formality going on."
He pulled the corner of his mouth up in a polite smile and nodded.
"This won't take long. I am only here to review to circulation reports with you."
"I'm sorry?" For a moment he was confused. Who was this woman?
"I work for your father," she explained with a laugh, "He sent me here to look at the circulation reports."
"Oh right right, I'm sorry. This has been one… straining Monday."
"And it's only 2 p.m."
"Oh yeah," he sighed pulling a bunch of files from one of the drawers of the mahogany desk. "These are the one's from the last quarter and the one from the previous 2 and…" he leafed through the papers, "this is what the system analyst and I have come up with regarding the budget. I highlighted the things that can be omitted, without us having to lose personnel. It's below what Mitchum expects so if he starts bitching about it…"
"I get the picture. Thanks." He watched as Natasha put the pile in her briefcase, and fished out a form and a pen.
"Then I only need your signature."
He scribbled down his name just as Fanny entered the office carrying a tray with a tea pot and two mugs and a plate of cookies.
"Thank you, Fanny," Logan smiled. The door closed again separating the two of them from the rest of the ant hill.
"Well, I shall not keep you longer," Natasha said, "You are having a bad day as it is. I shall survive without tea." She got up and so did he and before he knew it – Rory's words swarming in his head over and over again- he had lifted up the tea pot and uttered three words he really didn't want to be uttering, just to prove her wrong: "No, please stay."
Natasha raised her eyebrows in surprise.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I am. My next appointment is in 20 minutes, so you can have your cup of tea. I shall have one too." He poured the golden liquid in the two mugs and sat back down.
"If you insist," she smiled sitting down as well.
Rory was barely inside her boyfriend's apartment as a sob escaped her lips, followed by another one, and another one till she couldn't control them anymore and got stuck in an irrepressible limbo of tears. It hurt how right he was, how dead on right. It hurt to be shoved face forward in a pile of facts she had been denying for so long now that she had come to believe her own pretence. It hurt so bad that she had to do something to inflict some of that pain back, even if it meant to throw a punch below the belt. She felt horrible and fake. She felt like a lost child standing all alone in the masses of people on Times Square. She hated that he was right, she hated that even while being incredibly angry at him, she was even more so angry with herself. She, Rory Gilmore, was 28 years old, and what was left of her dreams was one massive disappointment.
A good cry later she felt numb. She sat on the couch and plucked at the fringe of the blanket not bothering to turn on the lights as the early December darkness set in. She turned her head when the sound of a key being put in a lock seemed to echo through the apartment. A trivial sound, amplified to something it was not.
"Rory?" Peter called out closing the door and for a moment she didn't reply listening to the rustling of fabric as he took off his jacket.
"You here?" He turned on the light and raised his eyebrows at the sight of her tearstained face.
"What happened?" A new lump formed in her throat and new tears, defying the idea that she had shed them all, started rolling down her cheeks. He was on the couch instantly and pulled her in a hug.
"What happened, Rory?"
"I suck at my job!" She blubbered.
"You what? Why?"
"We had a fight and he is right. I do. I suck at my job, " she cried.
"Who had a fight and stop saying that. You do not suck at your job," he ensured her stroking her hair.
"Logan and I," she sobbed, "We had a fight."
"And he said you suck at your job?" he asked not hiding his surprise, "Sweetheart, the man is an idiot then. You are great at your job."
"No, I suck. And I hate it."
"You don't suck. Stop it, Rory!"
"I can't remember the last time I wrote something, the last time I woke up with the feeling that I wanted to go to work. I hate it. I hate my boss, I hate being like my boss towards the people who work for me and that's what I am, a shrew most of the time."
"You're a copy editor Rory, at 28 you are a copy editor at one of the most prominent papers in the city. How many people can say that? You are great at your job, otherwise you wouldn't have it. I'm sure there are at least a dozen people dying to get that position."
Rory wiped her cheeks.
"That's just it, Peter, I'm not dying to have it. I don't want it and I know it is stupid not to, irrational, and yet I don't."
"You're upset. You need a good night's sleep and then you will see everything in a different light in the morning," he tried to reason. Yet, Rory knew that she wouldn't see everything in a different light. Her black and white TV would not turn in to a smashing colour flat screen all of a sudden. She knew that for a fact, because she had been telling herself she would see everything in another light the next morning for a year now. Day in day out. Black and white.
"I also said things to him… I said them to hurt him. And I did. And-" another sob cut her off and she wiped her eyes with her sleeve.
"People fight, Rory. You two will work it out. Today however, you won't change anything, so what do you say," he brushed away some stray tears with his thumb, "We order in some food, and relax in front of the TV and then call it a night?"
She nodded as he pulled her in yet another tight embrace and kissed her temple, yet she could not shake the awful feeling that had nestled itself in her being that afternoon.
Rory Gilmore eyed the clock. The red digits shone brightly and indicated that it was 3.46 a.m.. Peter was laying in a deep sleep beside her and she was sitting upright in bed, unable to sleep, the bed lamp casting a scant light on the note pad in her lap. She felt calm when she clicked on the pen, she was tightly holding in her right hand and set it on paper without hesitation writing something she should have done a long time ago.
I have appreciated the opportunities and experiences that have been provided to me during my time at the New York Post. However, I hereby tender my resignation from my position as Copy Editor effective December 30th, 2012.
AN: So it's a slightly depressing chapter, but it's also a break through both Rory and Logan needed. To face the facts about their lives and the rut they are both stuck in.
Let me know what you think :)