A/N: Alright, first of all I want to say: THAT'S MORE LIKE IT! You have no idea how helpful some of your reviews have been to me. Really: big big big thanks! I think this has been the best set of reviews I have ever gotten. :) Lots of constructive criticism and this is also why this update took me so long (way TOO long, I know and I apologize). I wanted to incorporate what you said in how I want things to proceed from now on, and seeing how off track I've gotten on my way to the final station…I had to lift this train back on the rails. So secondly, I apologize for seizing all development in the plot for 2 chapters and dragging you on. Thirdly, since I am not going to rewrite the last 10 chapters so that it suddenly IS a fluent line of events (I think that would result in me driving myself off a cliff) I am listing things here that have happened previously and are of importance for the upcoming course of events.

There is of course the acceptance letter Rory has gotten from the internship in Paris. I have let go of the string attached to this problem and am going to pick it up right this second (it is between my teeth as we speak).

Then, there is the argument Rory had with Mitchum, leading to a rift between Rory and Logan (now more or less resolved) and a humongous fight between Mitchum and Logan after which Logan has become even more introvert when it comes to talking about his problems. Rory is excited that they are at Rose Hill, because she hopes things will start moving here. Now in the last chapter nothing much of importance happened, but I shall pick up at where we have left off. Frank walking in on a private moment between Rory and Logan.

So after this monstrous author's note, I would like to say: Oy with the Poodles already! I am hoping for the best! :)

Sincerely,

Eva

PS. I have developed the habit of posting update info on my profile…so if you want to see what's going on you can check there. :)


Disclaimer: Do not own Gilmore Girls, just my stories…although sometimes it seems the stories own me instead… hmm.

Chapter 23

"Giant Pink Elephants"

Frank Wendell was a simple man, leading a fairly simple life. He got up at 5.30 in the morning, had his morning coffee, checked on the horses, instructed the staff on the ranch, picked up a task or two himself, then had lunch, only to get to work again, this till dinner, after which he spent a usually pleasant evening with his wife. Of course Round Hill had its problems and its tribulations, but not more or less than any other business. Life wasn't dull, so to speak. Yet it was also not unusually extreme to the point that he was laying awake at night. Now however, this was exactly what was going to happen. He was never going to be able to sleep again, nor look at his nephew and his girlfriend ever the same way again. He knew Logan Huntzberger was far from a virginal and untainted boy. He knew that if Rory was his girlfriend the two did not play tic-tac-toe before going to sleep in separate beds, waiting till marriage before consummating their relationship. He knew all that and yet, the scene he just accidentally witnessed was proof of the fact that somewhere he just blocked that part out and that ignorance was bliss. Both the ignorance and the bliss were now in tatters. How was he supposed to act? Pretend it didn't happen? That would be like pretending that there was not a huge pink elephant sitting in the room staring at him. Should he say something about it? That would probably result in even greater embarrassment for both parties. Moments like these he missed having children. Children would have given him combat experience. Now he was just being dropped in Vietnam in his undies and a pitchfork and told to tend to himself. Come to think of it…Nam was less scary. He let out a grave sigh and jumped up when all of a sudden Logan appeared in the doorway.

"Look, I just- and then- and-" he stammered.

Logan came closer and sat down at the counter grabbing a cookie from the always-present plate.

"Do you really want to discuss this?" he asked taking a bite of his cookie.

"No. Is there an option that we don't?" Would you look at that. Apparently it was possible to ignore the elephant.

"Yes."

"So…we just don't talk about it."

"Exactly." It seemed simple. He took a deep breath. This was just like ripping off a band-aid.

"But really I-"

"Frank, you're talking about it," the boy deadpanned.

"Sorry," he cleared his throat and a silence filled the room. It seemed that with the ceasing of all talk about it, talk had seized altogether. He drummed his fingers against the counter, smacked his lips and opened the fridge inspecting the contents even though he had just consumed a sizable lunch. He took out a salami, put it back. The same thing happened with a carton of milk. He counted the eggs and concluded that they were almost out of yoghurt.

" Frank?" He turned around and took in an amused Logan.

"Yes?
"Do you want to talk about it?"

"I just- I know you are grown up and all and that you are eh…sexually active, but eh…you are using an eh…condom?" He felt his cheeks heating up. Logan raised his eyebrows.

"I have not impregnated my girlfriend, if that's what you mean. She's on the pill."

He cleared his throat feeling awfully uncomfortable. The boy was turning the cookie between his fingers, his eyes sturdily fixed on the monotonous movement.

"Alright, but I mean…you are…. I guess what I meant to say was," he took a deep breath, "You have an active sex life." Logan's head shot up, his gaze balancing somewhere between anger and hurt and he immediately regretted his words. He had never agreed with his lifestyle, yet who was he to meddle with it. The boy's reply was bitter.

"I do not sleep around, if that's what you mean. So if you are afraid I might give her a STD, you really needn't be. If you want I can mail you the results of my last test."

"Logan…." Frank shook his head, "I didn't mean to attack your lifestyle. God, I don't even want to talk about this in the first place, but Rose and I… you have been kind of a son to us and well…we worry about you and…" he sighed, "I didn't mean to attack you. I just… I feel like a complete fool, because you are 24. You know the birds and the bees."

Logan let his eyes wander back to the cookie. He could not blame Frank for asking. Mere months ago…that was him; the man about town, promiscuous, not always as careful as he should have been. Mere months ago he didn't care. Looking back to those days, he barely recognized himself. Rory Gilmore had stirred something in him. Something that had been dormant for a very long time. For so long in fact, that he did not accept it as his own at first. It had taken him too long to realize that he was fighting the wrong thing, that he loved her.

"It's fine," he mumbled, "But know that I'm not sleeping around...anymore," he added.

Frank gave him a penitent smile, clasping his shoulder and giving it a light squeeze.

"Good. I apologize for barging in, but next time you feel the need to have sex under my roof, hang a sock on the door!"

Logan chuckled.

"Fair enough."With that Frank took a deep breath and walked out of the kitchen. It seemed he had survived. The pink elephant had dissolved.


"Thank you," Rory said as she wobbled in a regular slow rhythm on Buttercup's broad black back.

"Whatever for?" Logan turned to face her, seemingly more comfortable in the saddle than she was. Yet, the scenery and the serenity it offered – however barren at this time in march- made up a lot for the lack of gracefulness mounting a horse. She enjoyed it.

"For the way you handled the thing with Frank." She was indeed grateful. She could not summon herself to join him in the kitchen while Frank was there. So she had fled back upstairs with the excuse that she urgently needed to call her mother.

Logan pulled up a corner of his mouth into a smirk, ever so slightly tightening his grip on the reins as Chinook had the urge to dash.

"And how would you know how I handled the thing with Frank?" he goaded.

She quickly averted her gaze from him a slight smile playing on her lips as she pretended to study the trees nearby.

"I might have heard you…from the stairs…" It was a mumble, yet there was no ambiguity in her words. He let out a laugh.

"You woos!"

"I am not a woos!" she called out dejected, "I was caught…mounting you! Naked! That deserves some mortification!"

Logan's laugh amplified, the situation not having lost its hilarity just yet, nor Rory's adorable embarrassment.

"Ass…" she grumbled.

"And here I thought you were grateful!"

"And still you are an ass!" She snorted squinting her eyes when two figures in the distance drew her attention, "Who is that?" She pointed.

Logan followed her gaze.

"Might be the neighbours."

"Wendy?" she asked, to Logan's amusement not entirely concealing the hint of jealousy drenching that simple question.

"Mhm."

"Do you want to go and say hi?" she continued when he did not seem to elaborate.

"It's fine…" he answered her nonchalantly.

Rory studied his face. Why wasn't he going over? The last time he had seemed wild with enthusiasm at the sound of her voice, and her perfectly tweezed eyebrows and golden locks, her ability to look sexy in the least sexy outfit and… A chuckle brought her back to the here and now and she looked at Logan with a quizzical expression on her face.

"You are very cute when you're jealous" he remarked.

"I am n-"

"I can hear your brain spinning in circles. For once and for all, Ace, Wendy and I…we have been, are and always will be just friends. See the guy riding next to her," he nodded in their direction, "that is her fiancé Thomas. They are getting married in April."

Her face coloured red in embarrassment and she looked away feeling very much like a fool.

"I know that there is something wrong with her…I mean who wouldn't be attracted to me, but it is the way it is."

"You are awful," she sighed in relief whilst letting out a giggle.

"Let's go be neighbourly," he winked, spurring the horse slightly into a light trot. Rory followed trying to keep in the saddle as the wobble changed regularity. Perhaps she needed a lesson or two if they were going to do this more often.


"Well, well, well…if it's not Logan Huntzberger," Wendy laughed recognizing the rider, "It is surely not me you have come to visit, is it?" She halted her bay mare and dismounted her. Logan flashed her a grin doing the same and they met in an embrace.

"Let me look at you," he said holding her at arm's length, "You look queasy."

"Yeah well…" she sighed, "I feel queasy too. Stupid cold has been bugging me for 2 weeks now."

"You should see a doctor," he answered letting go of her and shaking the hand of the brown haired man, silently observing the exchange in pleasantries from his saddle.

"Thomas, have not seen you in ages."

"Have been telling her the exact same thing. As for the latter, you do not come by that often. Yale keeping you busy?" He winked. A question that insinuated something he would usually have no trouble with, but today people hammering about his lifestyle were getting on his nerves. He forced a tight smile.

"It is actually." An uncomfortable silence set in and the outlandish feeling that they were all strangers filled the vast open space.

Rory could not help but feel Logan was tense. Perhaps it was because he was uncomfortable when people remarked about his way of life prior to her. That was the vibe she had picked up when she had overheard him talking to Frank, turning defensive the moment the issue arose. Then there was the reassurance mere moments ago that Wendy and he were just friends, and now turning sour because of Thomas' remark. Carefully as possible she tried to sling her leg over Buttercup's back and reach ground, her knuckles white from gripping everything that was in any way grip worthy. Buttercup's less than slender behind offered some difficulty however and Rory suspended herself from the horse holding on as tightly as possible.

"Logan…" Wendy started and nodded in the direction of the girl behind him doing the strangest thing she had witnessed a person doing on a horse.

"Oh God, Ace, only you can make this look so difficult," he laughed plucking her off the animal. Rory blushed steadying herself in his embrace. Two pairs of eyes set on her.

"I don't think we have met," Thomas smiled, getting off the horse and offering his hand.

"I'm Rory," she smiled shaking his proffered hand, "I'm – " She looked up at Logan.

"My girlfriend," he finished putting an arm around her.

Wendy smiled.

"It can't be true. Rory, you broke him!"

"I what?" Rory laughed.

"You know if you kicked him with your spurs he wouldn't spook."

"I'm not a horse, Wendy." Logan deadpanned much to Rory's amusement who glanced up at him with a gleam in her eyes.

"If you are even thinking of kicking me with your spurs I'm warning you in advance: I will definitely spook!"

Wendy grinned.

"This is my soon to be hubby, Thomas, and we have met before I believe, but in case you don't remember me: I'm Wendy."

"I remember," Rory smiled.

"I hope you will come to the wedding with Logan."

"If I will be invited, sure." She looked up at Logan who raised an eyebrow.

"That depends. If I'm getting kicked with spurs, I don't think so," was his reply.

"Nonsense," Wendy exclaimed, "Hereby you are invited Rory…with or without Logan."

"Nice…" Rory laughed at his dry remark, but more so out of relief. Wendy and Thomas seemed like great friends and they seemed to accept her.

"It's very nice this little chat," Thomas said, "but we kind of need to get on with it, Wen."

"Bloody fences," Wendy sighed and rubbed her pallid face.

"I'll go," Logan offered taking in his friend, "You two go back. Paint each other's toe nails or something."

"No, Logan, you came here for Rose. Not to fix fences and clean stables," Wendy sighed.

"The party is not till tonight," he protested, "besides I need some masculine labour to perform to reaffirm my manliness."

The girls synchronically rolled their eyes.

"Fine. You can go shovel poo to reaffirm your manliness," Wendy conceded, "I'm dying for…pie. Oh! No! For Rose's chocolate cookies!"

"You'll be okay on your own for a while?" Logan asked kissing Rory's head.

"I don't know…without your manliness it is going to be tough. But I shall do my utmost best."

"Very funny, Ace. You were not that negative about my manliness just a couple of hours ago," he whispered and got a warning look from Rory. Instead of answering he hoisted her back in the saddle, and slapped Buttercup's behind before the two pairs split up and rode in different directions.


"I have to admit, I'm kind of jealous," Wendy laughed as the two women walked to the house, "For a long time I was the only girl Logan kept around. I don't mean in a sexual way or anything. We never were together, but Logan and women…well. You know. And now you are here and he likes you better. And yes, getting married does not mean I won't be acting like a five year old anymore."

Rory chuckled. "He loves you to bits. When it comes to that. You are the only girl I know of he cares so much about."

"Next to you?"

"Well that's different."

"Of course it is. You're sleeping with him. Tell me, just out of curiosity…how is the sex?"

Rory's eyes grew as a crimson flashed over her cheeks, before she burst out in laughter. Wendy could not contain her amusement either and the two of them burst into the kitchen on the verge of tears.

"What's so funny?"

Rory ceased laughing and looked into a pair of familiar eyes, Logan's eyes, imbedded in a girl's face.

"Hey, Lena!" Wendy greeted with a smile, "Rory here was just going to tell me how your brother is in bed."

"Oh God! No, I wasn't!"

"Pity…" Wendy chuckled as Lena furrowed her brow and pulled a face.

"Too much information…"

"Hey, Lena." Rory gave her a hesitant smile. There was something about this girl that made her feel rather uncomfortable.

"Hey," she curtly responded, brushing a wisp of blond hair back and picking up her mug of coffee again.

"Logan is out and about saving the world," Wendy sighed sitting down on a stool and reaching for a cookie with a content twinkle in her eyes, "Goodness divinity in the shape and form of a cookie."

Lena grinned taking one as well.

"Coffee?" Rory asked pouring herself a mug.

"No thanks, lately it just upsets my stomach," Wendy sighed, "God, I'm so …bah. And I have a wedding in a month. What a nightmare."

"Where are you going to have it?" Rory inquired.

"This little church in Lutton, a town nearby and then there is this Inn where the party will be."

"Sounds lovely. My mom, she owns an Inn."

"Really?"

"Yep. In Stars Hollow."

"Have never heard of it."

"Not many have." Rory sat down at the counter as well.

"Must be one hell of a bore to grow up in a village," Lena added her 2 cents taking a bit of her cookie.

"A bore? In Stars Hollow?" Rory laughed, "You have clearly never been there. It's the accumulation of all things odd in Connecticut."

"Perhaps I should have married there," Wendy mused, "free entertainment."

"Miss Patty would have probably lured Thomas away from you and you would be blowing your nose in the curtains while she makes him her husband number 48."

"Perhaps not then…"

Rory jumped up when her phone buzzed in her pocket and checked the caller ID.

"I have to take this," she excused herself leaving the counter and starting to walk towards the stairs, "my mom."

"Hey mom."

"Loin fruit! You rang?"

"Yeah, earlier today…" she decided to leave out the details about getting caught, "Just to check in."

"I'll cross you off the list."

"What list?"

"You know… with all my kids on it. They check in, I check off. Simply to keep track. Darn… Ignacio has not checked in for 2 weeks."

She rolled her eyes sitting down on the upper step of the stairs.

"Everything okay in Stars Hollow? I promise next weekend I'm coming for a movie weekend."

"Goodie! Listen, it was monthly "going-through-the-mail-day" as you know, I'm sure, and there was something for you."

"Is it from the Jehovah witnesses again? When will they realize I am not willing to convert!"

"No no…those I gave your address in New Haven. They have some new pamphlets. Logan might be interested."

"Oh I'm sure…Well what is it?"

"It's from Paris."

"Oh…"

"Are you not telling me something? Are you migrating to France? Oui?"

"No…yes…no…I don't know…" She sighed.

"Talk to me kid. What is this?"

"I applied for this internship some months ago. Just to get my mind off Logan, and I didn't think I would get it anyway. And then I got accepted and I have been putting it off, because I don't know if I should go…"

"What is there to be unsure about?! Croissants! Coffee! Women with hairy armpits! Really, babe, what is it that is keeping you away. I googled it and it's kind of prestigious. Would do your journalism career wonders. A chance of a lifetime. I'm surprised you are even hesitating."

"I-" she sighed, "Logan."

"Logan? What does Logan have to do with any of this?"

"He is my boyfriend, whom I would be leaving?"

"But…it's Logan. I don't know him that well…but he doesn't seem like a guy who would stop you from making your dreams come true. He is not the housewife type."

"Things have been hard on him lately and I don't want to leave him in the lurch. On other hand… I…I just don't know."

"What's wrong?"

"It's like we are stuck… We keep fighting about the same stuff…and if not we are avoiding it and I'm trying to be patient with the whole thing about his dad, but he keeps pushing me away and I just don't know what else I can do to be there for him if he doesn't let me in. So maybe I should go. To let everything rest." There it was out. For a fraction of a second her chest felt lighter.


Lena leaned against the doorframe. She was leaving. If Logan was so in love with her as he seemed to be, he was most likely miserable. She groaned inwardly at having so little contact with him that she had to find out things like that overhearing his girlfriend on the phone instead of first hand from him. And a while ago he would have come to her with it. She knew something had happened between him and Mitchum. He had not said anything, but the man had developed a habit of physically cringing at the mention of Logan's name. Something had happened. Something big. And now Rory was leaving. She could not say she adored the girl, but if she was what it took for Logan to be happy, she would live with it. Perhaps he was too proud to come cry out to her about his girlfriend. It was not like she had material to compare it to. Perhaps he was too proud, but it was Logan and if she had to use a chisel to get through his hard shell she was going to do just that. With a sigh she walked down the stairs and out the door in the cool air.


"But I love him, I can't just factor him out."

"Does he know you got accepted?" Lorelai asked her daughter.

"No."

"Does he know you applied?"

"No…"

"Kid, the date here says that you need to make up your mind before Wednesday. So I think you should tell him before you are standing at the airport."

"Not if I don't go…"

"I think you should go… and most importantly I think you think you should go…"

"So many people have abandoned him in his lifetime and I don't want to be one of them…"

"And that means putting your own happiness aside? I don't know, hon. It sounds all a bit dodgy to me. Don't throw away your future over a boy."

"I'm not…throwing my future away over a boy and part of me really wants to go, but…" Was it still throwing away something if it was not a boy, but the boy? Or was it called investing then? She sighed. It was far too soon to think in terms of "the".

"Then go."

"I'll…I'll think about it. I got to go."

"Take care, kid. Love you."

"Love you too." She clasped her phone shut and sighed burying her head in her arms. Truth was these last few weeks the thought of Paris had become increasingly more appealing. Not only was it a chance in a lifetime, it was something different, something far away from here. Something that might offer her some perspective. Maybe Logan was just a boy. Maybe the lack of involvement from his side was a giveaway she chose to ignore. If he could not trust her could there still be a "them"? Could she forever walk on her toes, holding her breath as not to break the imaginary perfect world he had built for himself? There had been hope in the moments he had bared his soul to her, only to be taken away by the piano lid slamming as fast back in it's place as it had lifted and produced the keys he had once so enjoyed playing. Maybe, despite her best efforts…she was not the person for him. Maybe she was just not good enough for him and maybe he would one day find a person he would let in. And she would find someone who would let her in. She swallowed back tears of frustration.


"Honey, I'm home!" Logan's cry echoed through the house.

"We're in here!" Wendy replied from the kitchen.

"I'm parched," he declared pulling open the fridge door and retrieving a bottle of water, "Have you two been sitting here all day? Eating cookies?" Eagerly the contents of the bottle slid down his dry throat and he let out a happy sigh.

"We might have," Rory smirked, her eyes taking in a dirty looking Logan. It had something, that image of rolled up sleeves, sweaty clothes, the muddled dirty hair and the smudge on his cheek.

"Manual labour suits you," she said.

"Shocking, isn't it," he walked around the counter, "Logan Huntzberger actually does-"

"Smell like a horse," she chuckled as he leant in to kiss her cheek.

"Admit it you love it. It's the smell of a real man."

"You stink, babe."

He rolled his eyes.

"Then I shall go and thoroughly groom myself. Care to join me?" he winked, "This time we will hang a sock on the door."

She swatted his stomach as a blush crept over her face.

"She always does that," Logan explained to a bemused Wendy, "The sheer sight of me makes her blush."

"Don't flatter yourself. Get going!"

"I'm getting, I'm going… Just so you know. There is someone out there who appreciates the real me." He plucked a piece of straw out of his shirt. Rory's lips sadly twitched into a smile bordering a grimace and she looked away once more fighting the tears. Perhaps there was.

"Lena is here somewhere too," she quickly said before he could leave.

"Alright," he smiled, "Shower first. Find sister later."

With that he ran up the stairs two steps at a time.

"Are you okay?" Wendy studied Rory's saddened face.

"Yeah," she smiled, "Just tired. We got up at 4 this morning."

Wendy raised an eyebrow.

"Ehm…his idea." She pointed towards the stairs.

"Maniac."

"That's what I said."


He pulled the sweaty shirt over his head and threw it on the floor. With a groan he moved his shoulder. He was going to hurt tomorrow. Those hay bales had proved to be heavier than he had anticipated. Whatever the case, he felt great. His body felt used, and the physical fatigue somehow soothed his emotional one. A soft knock on the door made him look up. He smiled and the person leaning against the door frame smiled back.

"Hey there, stranger," she chuckled.

"Hey. How are things?"

"Like always," she sighed coming in and sitting down on the bed, "You smell."

"So I keep hearing. Women these days. This used to be the male ideal!"

"In what world?"

He rolled his eyes and kicked off his shoes.

"I see you brought Rory…" Lena said quietly staring at the rug on the floor.

"Is that a problem?"

"No. I was just surprised. How are things going between you two now?"

He shrugged. They were not going perfectly smooth, sometimes more backwards than forwards, but they were going. She just needed to be patient with him a little longer. Things were going to be better. They had to.

"They're okay."

"You can tell me," she smiled, "That's what I'm here for. To comfort you. I can hardly expect you to be okay when she is leaving to France for God knows how long. And you are well…in love with her. I didn't think it was possible, but you are… And what the hell happened between you and Mitchum? I've never seen the man like now."

"Say what?" he raised a tired eyebrow.

"Mitchum. He is acting oddly—"

He shook his head impatiently. The words Rory and France had not been used in one sentence before and he was confused.

"Rory is going to France?" he asked in a tone hanging somewhere between absurdity and disbelief.

"Yeah… I…thought you knew. I heard her on the phone," she studied his expressionless face, "I didn't mean to eavesdrop!" She added quickly, "I was just walking past her."

"Do you mind?" he said quietly while unbuckling his belt. Lena rose from the bed and put an awkward hand on his arm.

"I really thought you knew… I didn't…"

"Lena." His voice held a plea she couldn't ignore. With a sympathetic smile she left him alone. Had she just done something inexcusable?


Silently Rory climbed the stairs. The table was set and the dinner steaming, and still no sign of Logan. From the strange looks Lena had cast her she was starting to suspect that something happened. Maybe they had a fall out over her? Lena had never been thrilled she was roaming this earth, let alone with her brother. Or perhaps she was imagining things and he had fallen asleep. Quietly she pushed open their bedroom door and was surprised to see him sitting in a chair facing the window. The room was cast in twilight.

"Hey," she greeted, "What are you doing? Rose is waiting."

He didn't look up. In fact he didn't seem to acknowledge her presence at all.

"What happened?" She asked and approached him, till she was leaning against the windowsill, replacing the no point in particular he was staring at in the distance with herself. His glance drifted up and met hers. She was taken aback by the coldness in his eyes.

"What is going on?" she asked him again feeling uneasily.

"Apparently a charade," he answered, "When was I going to find out? On the day itself? Were you even gonna leave a note? Or would I just one day come home and not find you there?"

"What? I—" She shook her head in confusion.

"Were you afraid I would stop you from going? I thought you knew me well enough to know that I would never do that. I would drive you myself," each word sounded more bitter, more accusing, "Do you trust me that little? Or was I wrong to assume that you care about me as much as I do about you?"

Rory's heart was pounding in her chest so hard it was surely going to break through her ribcage. Paris. He somehow had found out about Paris.

"Of course I care about you! You know how much I care! I didn't tell you because I care! To this days I am not sure about going or not, because I care!" She swallowed back the tears his wounded eyes inflicted on hers.

"You should go," he said curtly and got up and started walking towards the door.

"Logan…" she pleaded.

"Rose is waiting." He disappeared out of sight leaving her in the dim-lit room with the shimmer of her teary eyes as the only source of radiance.


TBC

AN: So Logan's reaction can seem a bit… neutral, but I intend to work it out in the coming chapter(s). See it as the initial shock. I hope this was worth the long wait. Don't forget to leave a comment!