A/N: I know, I know...someone was bound to write it sometime (and here I am). The idea of Rory and Logan watching The Long Morrow was such a compelling back story for me that I had to get this out of my system. It was written in one sitting, on a whim. But even so, anyhow, I hope I did the back story some justice. I hope you enjoy.
1. Love Is
Thank you," Rory murmured against his neck, strands of her dark hair getting caught in its dampness.
Logan smiled inwardly as he shifted his body from above her to beside her on her designer-upholstered but narrow couch. He tucked her in closer against his chest, his arm around her waist, lest she roll off and fall to the floor. She was well on her way to dozing off, her eyes half-closed, breaths deepening out.
"Glad to oblige, Ace," he murmured in turn, jokingly but also wonderingly. She never ceases to amaze me."Why do you thank me, Ace?" he blurted out, before he can check the impulse. "You are indeed the most polite, well-mannered person I know, and madam, that is greatly appreciated," he continued, in the politest tone he can muster, gently mocking her. "But it's not like I'm doing you any favors, or going out of my way. I love making love to you, Rory." He dropped a kiss on her cheek. "I'll do it more often if you'll let me. I'll even say 'please'."
Rory shut her eyes tighter at Logan's words, as she felt the warmth from her neck creep up to her face. His…candidness, especially about sex, never ceased to startle her. "And you're such a cad," she lightly responded, turning slightly towards Logan's body, as if to hide her face a little better. Why does she feel the need to thank him nearly every time?
"Thank you for…for making me feel this way," she ventured slowly, staring at the prominent vein on his neck.
"What way?" Logan pursued, sliding down a bit to look at her face, their bare legs tangling in the process.
"A…happy way. You make me…so happy. And so. Thank you."
Her blue eyes were guileless as Logan looked into them, and in the ten seconds of silence that transpired after her revelation, he felt like he was melting into them, into her. God, what was happening to him? It wasn't like she was the first girl who told him that. His breathing became shallow, and his heart, lungs, insides were pumping alive, ringing, at her words. He had an inexplicable urge to whoop, and if Richard and Emily heard, he didn't care.
I make her happy.
He wanted to tell her he was happy, too. Happy to be with her that night, happy that she felt happy with him. He supposed that's what the ringing ears and pumping heart and his…high meant. That's it, right? He touched a finger to her bottom lip, as he contemplated the right way to say it. But damn, it was much easier to kiss her, and he thought he should do that first.
But then Rory looked away. The space between her words and his silence was too wide. Too much. Did I say too much? How else could she have phrased it–this feeling of utter contentment and normalcy when she was with him? Like nothing could go wrong when she was in his arms. That despite the hole in her heart that was her mother, and her days filled with salmon puffs and the empty chatter of women her grandmother's age, nothing can ever be too terrible. Like she could die then and there. That's it, right? Happiness, plain and simple? That, or I'm way too sex-deprived.
"I'm hungry," she said suddenly, untangling herself from Logan and their blankets.
"That's to be expected," Logan replied, deadpan. "After all, you only had a double cheeseburger, a plate of fries, and a strawberry parfait for dinner. Juliet had a stomachache watching you."
"So I burned a lot of calories tonight," Rory said, shooting an innocent, wide-eyed smile at Logan behind her.
Logan sighed and let her go, running his hand through his bedhead. He watched as she casually threw on his previously discarded sweater over her nakedness. He would definitely not be washing that sweater in the next couple of days, not until he's worn it another time, the remnants of her sweet soapy smell tiding him over until he's with her again. A downright juvenile, inane habit he's acquired, but couldn't not do.
Padding barefoot into the kitchen, Rory called out, "You want anything?"
"You're offering because…you really are well-mannered in the truest tradition of a DAR or you actually have something edible stashed away over there? And I don't mean Pop Tarts and microwave popcorn, Ace. Like, you know, real food for us normal folk of the non-Gilmorian gene pool."
"Well!" Rory huffed, "I was about to offer you a luscious Pop Tart, but seeing as you're being an ungrateful wretch, I'm afraid you would just have to starve tonight."
"Nooo!" he groaned in mock agony, sitting up. "My bad, Ace, my bad. Do not deprive me of my weekly ration of Pop Tarts, I beg you!"
He walked towards Rory's bedroom to get one of his shirts and boxers in her dresser drawer, while Rory puttered about in the kitchen in a deliberate effort to ignore the blonde, naked man sauntering across her with a smile on his face. Dressed in his frayed blue t-shirt with an indecipherable logo in front, he came up behind her at the kitchen counter to plant a kiss on her head. Glancing at him, Rory made a mental note not to wash the shirt in the next couple of days, not until she's worn it another time, the remnants of his clean musky smell tiding her over until she's with him again.
"Okay," Logan said, surveying the counter with suspicion. "What the…?"
Rory pushed him back to the living room to sit on the couch, armed with a heated bowl of putanesca and two mugs. Logan looked at her with a smirk, an eyebrow raised. Without a word, Rory handed him the bowl, watched him eat a forkful, then offered him a drink from his mug.
"Can I talk now?" Logan asked after obediently chewing and swallowing.
"Only if you don't mock me."
"Okay, so who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?" He got a swat on his arm. "Since when have you been watching Rachel Ray on the Food Network?"
Since my boyfriend actually once said in passing that he thought Rachel Ray was cute. "Since my boyfriend had been complaining about the lack of sustenance in this, my little humble establishment. And I wasn't watching Rachel Ray…I've just been experimenting a bit you know, filling my time in between community service and the DAR…" She cleared her throat, felt suddenly nervous. She wanted him to like her pasta.
"Well, for an experiment, this is really good, Ace. Seriously."
"Really? Great, I was trying it out on you before I could get the nerve to eat it myself," she blithely said, stabbing her own fork into the noodles and taking a mouthful. "If you had started sprouting hairs and morphing into a fly…then I'd know that something had gone terribly wrong…"
"Thanks a lot," Logan said dryly. "Those side effects may not catch 'til another 24 hours. And the tea…? You don't drink tea."
"No, that would be sacrilege. My coffee maker would feel thoroughly offended and I'll be cursed with bad coffee for the rest of my life. You drink tea, though. So…"
She let her voice drift away as she sipped coffee from her own mug, remembering her 10 minutes of indecision in front of the shelves and shelves of tea, along aisle 7 at the market in Hartford. Earl Grey? English Breakfast? Darjeeling? Green? Chamomile? Chai? She had no idea tea was more complicated than coffee. She ended up getting a box of each kind, hoping he liked at least one of them. She had a pint of Cherry Garcia for him in her freezer to boot, though she favored good ol' Chocolate Brownie Fudge herself.
"Thanks, Rory," he said, giving her a wide smile. He felt like rubbing it in and teasing her by saying, aw, you did this for me? but he feared being booted out of the poolhouse. He didn't want to embarrass her. But damn, it made him feel good.
"You're welcome," she replied, feeling slightly silly. It's just a smile. "I must feed my sex slave after all. You know putanesca was, in fact, the traditional quick meal whipped up by prostitutes for their clients after their...er, session? 'Puta' means whore in Spanish."
"Just when I've been basking in your kindness, you call me your sex slave, your whore."
Rory laughed, but then her laughter died down to a cough. "No…actually, I cooked this for you, which means I'm your whore." Her memory blipped briefly, quite painfully, to the "no-strings" phase in their relationship. Scrolling down the names of girls on speed-dial in his mobile, to find her name entered alphabetically under R (only the 18th letter in the alphabet). After Rachel, and just before Ruth.
"Hey." Logan took her hand, entwining their fingers. "Don't go calling my girlfriend a whore or I'll punch your lights out."
He knew it was hard for her, but Logan, ironically, felt a bit grateful that they went through that phase. It helped him realize that she, alone, was enough. So far, this whole "boyfriend-girlfriend thing" was going well. Absolutely, unbelievably well. Who knew? It might be in the cards for him, after all. Their hands still entwined, he kissed her knuckles. He hoped he was enough for her, too. His uncertainty was new and foreign to him.
"So, this conversation has just taken a strange turn. Can we change the subject?"
Rory nodded and smiled at him slightly, and they ate their post-coital snack in the afterglow of companionable silence, shoulder to shoulder, feet touching on top of the coffee table.
"Hey," Rory spoke out suddenly. "Don't you have an exam for your Politics of Globalization this week? You mentioned it last week."
"It's actually tomorrow. Can we change the subject again?"
"Logan! You have an exam tomorrow and here you are, at 10:15 in the evening, casually drinking tea on my couch like some, some…kept man, and you have an exam tomorrow!"
"Shouldn't I be the one panicking?"
"So, panic! Give me your notes, I'll quiz you."
"Quiz me? As in third grade 'quiz me'? I don't think so. I'm aceing this one, Ace."
"Well…can I at least, you know…refresh your memory? Look over your notes…" She hedged, plucking at invisible threads on the couch. Feeling silly about her request.
"If you wanted to read my stuff, Ace, all you had to do was ask. And I'll agree to your quizzing me, but only if you finally agree to pander to this tutor-student fantasy of mine…" He nuzzled her hair with his nose.
Rory rolled her eyes, but her face visibly lit up as Logan stood up to get his bag, flung carelessly near the door. "Oh, goodie. And are you done with Amartya Sen for your Development Eco?"
Logan heaved a sigh in mock exasperation, as he handed her his binder. "I probably would never see a more ecstatic face, and at the mention of exams and notes at that. My manhood has been wounded. To boot, you have seduced me again into studying." He clucked his tongue. "Only you, Ace, only you."
"Oh, shush, you love me anyway," Rory replied, unthinking, already flipping through the pages of his notes.
You love me anyway.
Damn, Rory thought, mentally kicking herself. First the "you-make-me-happy" bit, and now this. Can you possibly freak him out any faster?
Whoa, Logan thought. Was she kidding? Does she think that I do…do I? Love her.
Logan chose not to respond, as she seemed to have gotten preoccupied with his handwriting. He flopped beside her on the couch and opened the last chapter of Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat, required reading for his Politics of Globalization seminar. He had promised to give it to Rory as soon as he was done with it. He tried to concentrate, but was distracted by Rory's "uhms" and "ahs" as she perused his notes, the way she furrowed her brow until a wrinkle appeared in the middle, how she tugged at the ends of her hair.
She loved school. She loved Yale, as he, the "butt-faced miscreant" knew full well. It was one of the quintessential-Rory things that he was drawn to. And if it were at all possible to detest his father any more than he already did... He gave up and closed his book, leaning back against the couch and closing his eyes. He often berated himself; how he regretted not being able to spare her from his father. He tried a couple of times to talk her into coming back to school, but then stopped when Rory wouldn't budge. After all, he of all people should know what it's like to have people tell you what you should do, how you should lead your life, what dreams are worth pursuing. He didn't want to do that to Rory. He had given her a month until she was back in Yale, but she was well past that. Still, he bided his time, watching and waiting. Being with her as she organized her DAR functions for Emily, as she whittled her community service hours down to…175, as of yesterday. Keeping her company at the poolhouse, knowing that she was feeling more than a little lost without her mother, far from her beloved Stars Hollow. It was all he could do, until she realized just how much she really loved school.
"Hm, he is pretty amazing," Rory murmured, breaking his reverie.
"I know. I've crossed all my ts and dotted my is and those curlicues of mine look pretty snazzy."
"I meant Professor Cooley, schoolboy."
"My professor is amazing? And I here I thought you were referring to my amazing note-taking abilities."
"Well that too," Rory admitted, smiling smugly at him. "Dare I say you've become a notes-freak? Dare you admit that I've rubbed off on you?"
He had to admit (to himself, not to her, much less to Colin or Finn) that he had indeed become a notes-freak. Because he knew she would want to read them. He actually listened during his classes, so he could answer her questions that evening about what the professor said this time about non-violent democratic transitions in Southeast Asia, and how Professor James reacted to her opinion (coursed through him) about the diffusion of social-cultural identity in the post-modern world.
"What can I say, Mom. Anything to keep you from nagging me about school, already."
Rory smacked his arm with his binder. "Ow!"
"Sorry," Rory amended, rubbing his arm and scooting closer to him. "Thanks, Logan. I do know why you do this…hey, do you think I'm weird?"
"Weird? In a my-girlfriend's-ideal-date-is-an-evening-spent-reading-her-boyfriend's-schoolwork kind of weird?"
She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed. "I'm okay, Logan, really," she said, convincing herself. "But I don't know...Sometimes I feel like I want to…I guess, well, I miss school." I miss Mom. "Some habits are really hard to break," she said lightly, unable to express any better her conflicting feelings about Yale and this new chapter in her life. About her mother.
"Tell you what. I'll go get myself a bigger bag, one of those duffel overnight things, smuggle you into the campus, and crack open the zipper so you can listen in on my classes," he joked. Then seriously, "Rory, give it time. It will come to you, whether this is what you really want or not." He rubbed her arm, feeling inadequate. He's the last person who should be dishing out advice about life decisions and directions.
Rory let Logan's binder drop to the floor as she leaned closer against him, putting her arms around his neck. She was starting to feel drowsy again. "Thank you, Logan. For just being here." When everyone else–Lorelai, Emily, Paris–wanted her to be a certain way, the smart Rory, the responsible Rory…Logan let her just be.
Logan tucked her in closer in his embrace, leaning back against the pillows on the couch so that they were in a half-lying position, she on top of him. His chest felt heavy, but not with her body. So many thank yous, he thought. She made him feel so important, and not in the same way the doorman, or any other girl made him feel important--because he was a Huntzberger. But rather, because he took notes for her. Because he made her happy. He felt so humbled by it all. Was he worth it?
"So. I gather study period is over?" He whispered against her hair.
"Hrmph," Rory muttered.
Logan glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall. 11:30. He wasn't sleepy yet. He stretched out his arm to grasp the remote control on the coffee table and turned the TV on. He knew Rory could sleep well enough with the TV on. Surfing through channels, until the unmistakable timbre of Rod Serling's voice wafted through. He stopped flipping channels.
"It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears. Case in point: the scene you're watching. This is not a hospital, not a morgue, not a mausoleum, not an undertaker's parlor of the future. What it is is the belly of a spaceship. It is en route to another planetary system an incredible distance from the Earth. This is the crux of our story, a flight into space. It is also the story of the things that might happen to human beings who take a step beyond, unable to anticipate everything that might await them out there..."
Logan recognized the episode immediately: it was The Long Morrow. Reminiscent of his boyhood astronaut dreams, he remembered liking the story well enough the first time he saw it several years ago, though thought it was kind of depressing. But that night, he was transfixed.
"What are you watching?" Rory's voice, husky from half-sleep, some 15 minutes later.
"Stansfield–he's an astronaut, and he's being sent to a planet several hundred light-years from Earth. He'll make it there in 20 years, with a return trip of 20 years as well. But before he leaves, he meets this woman, Horn, and they fall in love…"
"Shush, okay, I'm caught up now."
Rory and Logan watched the show in silence, which was unusual for them–particularly for Rory, who loved to mock and dramatize silly sub-plots while watching 60's TV programs. But perhaps they were a little too sleepy now, a little too comfortable in each other's arms.
"Oh my God. This is so sad, Logan," Rory whispered, a discernible catch in her throat. When was the last time she cried over a TV show, much less the Twilight Zone?
For Stansfield goes on his mission and 40 years later he returns, not only a forgotten pioneer, but an old man. He voluntarily disabled the system that was to place him in suspended animation, ageless, so that he would be Horn's age when he returned…so they could spend their last few years together. But shortly after he'd left, Horn had herself placed in suspended animation so that she would be his age when he returned.
"Commander Douglas Stansfield, one of the forgotten pioneers of the space age. He's been pushed aside by the flow of progress and the passage of years--and the ferocious travesty of fate. Tonight's tale of the ionosphere and irony, delivered from--the Twilight Zone."
Logan shut off the television and contemplated the misty-eyed girl lying on top of him, in silence.
After some moments, Rory stirred in his arms. "What? Are you okay? Come on, maybe we should move to the bed so that we can sleep…" She started to get up, but Logan held her fast.
"Shh, no. Can we stay here?" Her bed was a little too wide, too spacious.
"Okay." Rory looked at him, her chin on his chest. "Logan, what is it?" His eyes were deep, she couldn't read them.
He was going to London after his graduation. His father had already told him, plotted out the next few years of his life for him. Already he had been shadowing Mitchum on trips to Washington, Chicago. Next week, Omaha. In a few months, London. He hasn't told her yet…because he didn't want to make too big a deal out of it. Because he hated it. Hated the fact that the pre-ordained Huntzberger destiny was starting to kick in. Hated the fact that he would be away from Rory. Already he (he of all people!) can't quite imagine not being with her, this girl who's been in his life a sum total of six-and-a-half months. The ferocious travesty of fate. He might as well be astronaut Stansfield, light-years from Earth, from his love…
"Love…" he inadvertently spoke out.
Rory jerked her head up. "Huh?"
"Love…I…I mean Stansfield and Horn. The show. That's true love."
Rory felt her heart stop for a second, that moment that Logan said the word love. For a moment she thought he would say…but no. Too much, perhaps. Too soon.
"Yes it is. They each gave, and sacrificed...yeah, true love," Rory replied softly.
Logan gently pulled Rory up on his body, so that their faces were level. He pulled her chin towards him and kissed her gently, their lips soft and pliant against each other, opening easily for the other. Logan grasped the back of her head as his tongue swept inside her mouth, and Rory moaned in response. Such a simple kiss. But inexplicably, at that moment, so full of feelings neither one could admit nor understand.
Their lips parted for split seconds as Logan removed his shirt and pulled off his sweater over Rory's head. Then Rory dove in for more, her tongue mating with his, while his hands roamed restlessly along the sides of her breasts, cupping her bottom against him. Rory braced her forearms alongside his chest as she trailed kisses down his neck, lingering and sucking on the pulsing vein. Her breasts, her hair caressed his chest, while she pressed herself down against his hardness. "Rory…God…love…" Logan groaned, blood pumping in his ears. With one hand, Logan pulled down his boxers and swiftly lifted her hips with his other hand, helping her sheath him. They paused for a moment, like that, their foreheads touching, their breaths mingling. Then they began to move in smooth cadence, he thrusting up as she thrust down, the sensation and sheer pleasure of being inside her hurtling Logan away, away from Earth, like a rocket, the wind screaming in his head. He let go as he heard Rory say his name, and it was as if the rocket shattered to a million stars.
Rory burrowed her head in his neck as their breathing slowed. I love you, she thought, a few tears disappearing in her hair matted against his neck. But she didn't say it. Not yet. Instead, "Thank you," she whispered yet again. A replay of the earlier part of their evening.
Logan let her fall asleep this time, while he counted the seconds and minutes ticking away in the silence of the poolhouse. He stared at their empty mugs and bowls; the books, notes on the floor. His fingers combing distractedly through her hair, he pondered the slight curve of her lashes in sleep.
This is the crux of our story, a flight into space. It is also the story of the things that might happen to human beings who take a step beyond, unable to anticipate everything that might await them out there...
At 1:53 in the morning, his eyelids finally became heavy, and he whispered, to no one in particular, It scares the hell out of me. But I think I love you, Rory Gilmore.