Title: Across the Pond

Author: abc79de

Word Count: 2,957

Characters: Rory/Logan, alluding to Christopher and Lorelai

Rating: PG

Time Period: Current Time (Season 7)

Ickle Word: fugly (variant thereof) (adj)- truncated word for "freaking ugly" or "fcking ugly"

Quote: "Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died."—Steven Wright

Random Object: Toothbrush

Happening/Event: Changing a light bulb

AN: This fic was written for the first ever Build-A-Fic challenge. It's an LiveJournal Community, so just head over there and search for buildafic. Or you can hit my profile and find the link. Go, read, and enjoy all the fic we hope will come rolling in. The 'deadline' is December 1st for the first round of fics, so there is definitely still time to submit stories for the first round. It's anything Gilmore Girls (except Dean, we hate the Bag Boy Adulterer...) And Thank You to Katherine, for betaing a fic outside her normal comfort zone. ames


"…throwing popcorn at each other and snuggling on the couch watching Conan."

"Sounds nice," his voice dropped two octaves, the same way it always did just before they went from talking to finding an outlet more suitable than talking—as if his lips were giving off a vibration that signaled their need to be against her.

If not for the fact that the clock read midnight on her nightstand table and five in the morning on his—both of them under the cover of sheets that smelled of his aftershave—the aforementioned activity would be one they'd be partaking in right that moment. She told him that, in a moment of otherwise sad silence—ones that they let each other have even when presumably they'd just called to talk, like people who have gathered to mourn—that after she washed the sheets the first time in his absence she hadn't been able to fall asleep, so she got up in the middle of the night and rooted around in the medicine cabinet until she found a half-used bottle of his aftershave he had forgotten and sprinkled 'his' pillow with it.

He'd volleyed with the fact that he was still sleeping on the left side of the bed. Before her arrival into his life, he'd been a middle-of-the-mattress kind of guy. It hadn't been a decision he'd made, to make room for her, it'd just … happened. He was sure she'd noticed—he sure as hell had the first time he woke up curled on one edge of the mattress, completely sans covers, only to roll over to find her completely encased in every last inch of blanket and occupying what he realized was her half of their bed. He'd not put a lot of focused energy into reclaiming his bed; only some heat as he unfurled the edge of some covers and slid his cooled body against her warm one, thusly waking her up and sealing the fact that he loved waking up to her next to him.

It was just one of a million things they missed about the other. Simple little things, he was finding, like the pang of frustration that there was only a pillow next to him and no blue glare cast on the foot of the bed.

"Arguing over whether David Spade and Heather Locklear's baby would be fuglier than Gene Simmons and Britney Spear's baby."

"Simmons and Spears, hands down," he responded automatically, incapable of blocking the 'If They Mated' image of the last couple flashing in his mind's eye.

"No way," came her impassioned response. "Spade and Locklear's looked like the result of the over-inbreeding of the Aryan race."

"But with the crapshoot that is genetics, the Locklear/Spade kid has a shot at getting the good parts of them. There are no good parts to pick from in the Simmons/Spears combo."

"Why would Britney Spears even be paired with Gene Simmons?"

"I'd imagine to fulfill some sort of sexual fantasy for Gene Simmons," he choked on the laugh he knew she wouldn't appreciate.

"Hey, if she keeps her eyes closed the whole time and pretends he's someone else, he does have a really big tongue," she said quite matter-of-factly, not dreamily, but with enough certainty to make him think she'd thought this over.

"Guess I know what you're missing," he shifted on the mattress, wishing he had time to take care of any rapidly growing need that might arise while listening to her voice, but he knew he'd have to slide out of bed any moment now.

"Logan," she admonished.

"You need to get off the phone and text me?" he asked, probably a bit more hopeful than he intended his tone to come across.

"You're kidding me, right? After the night I've had?" Rory balked.

"I don't see why it was so traumatic, I guess. It's not like you walked in on them having sex."

There was a definite pause on the line, but this one wasn't cloaked in melancholy. This was bloated with indignance.

"My parents are dating each other, Logan. Tell me what could be weirder."

"Well," the corners of his mouth turned up in an irrepressible grin—one that would be attempting to make her laugh even before he got his statement out—"they could be married and dating other people."

"I'm fine with them seeing other people," she sighed and smoothed the covers out across her lap, pulling them taut over her stomach.

"Just not with them cuddling and watching late night TV?" his eyebrows knitted together as he swung his feet out from under the weight of the covers and made contact with the cool hardwood floor underneath him.

"It's not that," she hedged, looking up at the bedside lamp that was casting a halo around the small table, leaving only her bookmarked novel and a glass of water bathed in light. She pulled up the covers at her waist again until they were just under her breasts and resettled against her pillow. His pillow was rearranged vertically next to her, at the ready to be his replacement to slide between her arms to help her sleep once they got off the phone.

"Then what is it? I thought you and your dad were getting along now," he said as he shuffled quickly along cold tile floors to the reprieve of the bathmat underneath the sink.

"We are. He's been taking me out to lunch once a week, trying to keep me occupied in your absence," she shook her head as she said it. Her father liked him, approved of him even, probably much to her mother's chagrin. When Rory had mentioned the meeting of the two at their apartment, Lorelai simply replied that Chris always had liked looking in the mirror, and after she'd listened to them go over the list of shared schools they'd been tossed out of for deviant behavior, she could hardly argue that point with her mother. Chris was simply doing his best to be supportive of their endeavor to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of a long distance relationship.

"This is in addition to the weekly calls, emails, and nightly texts to replay the best of Letterman's Top Ten List?" he asked through a sudsy mouth as he worked his toothbrush across the back of his teeth.

"Do you have something in your mouth? Are you eating?" her interest was instantly drawn from what he was saying to trying to picture what he was doing. She still wasn't used to not being able to gauge his reactions by looking in his eyes—it was even more off-putting to know he was going about his day as she replayed her own.

"Just brushing the pearly whites, Ace," he spit into the sink and ran some water. "Part of my deal with the old man was to show up all shaved and showered to the office on time every morning."

"I'm not going to make you late, am I?" she asked out of true concern, flushing in frustration at even thinking he wasn't paying attention to her in the first place.

"I'm learning to multitask," he informed her as he turned the water off. "Now, I believe you were telling me why it's so weird that your parents are dating."

She shook her head before she spoke. "I'm tired of talking about them. I just needed to hear your voice. What'd you do last night?"

"Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died."

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize I'd called a 900 number," she teased.

"I'm disappointed in you, Ace. Never heard of Steven Wright?"

"New drinking buddy?"

He laughed, stabilizing one hand against the sink and looking into the mirror at how genuinely happy he looked when he talked to her. He'd never gotten the impression that the person looking back at him was truly content—in fact, he normally avoided looking in the mirror or any other reflective surface. The person looking back at him was too much of a reminder that there was a wealth of things inside of him he was trying to suppress. It hadn't been until he caught a glimpse of them walking hand in hand along a sidewalk, the image of a happy couple glinting back at him in the reflective glass of a store's window display, that he'd began to appreciate the view.

"I'm sure he'd make a formidable one, but no, sadly, I haven't really acquired drinking buddies out here yet," he let out a sigh, hoping she wouldn't say it was probably a good thing—though he knew she was thinking it as much as he was.

"Colin and Finn came by yesterday," she said instead.

"I got a slightly coherent email about South America."

"They leave Friday. They came by to borrow your scuba gear."

"You're letting strange men come through and rifle through my belongings? I'm out of the country, not dead," he needled her good-naturedly.

"I'm not going to argue the strange part," she giggled. "Why do you have scuba gear, anyway?"

"I'm a man of many talents."

"And many odd things."

"Is this about the suit of armor again?" he hung his head wearily.

"Just tell me where you got it," she pleaded for what was probably the twentieth time.

"I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

"Logan," she pouted, sticking out her bottom lip for effect, despite the fact that he couldn't see her. She knew he could envision the action, and she was counting on that fact to play on his overly developed imagination to break his secretive resolve a little.

"If I give up all my stories now, what will we talk about when we're eighty?" he laughed, not about to satisfy her request without the benefit of seeing her reaction.

She was quiet after his comeback, and it didn't take him long to realize he'd freaked her out. It was hard not to face your future when you were knee deep in it, and evidently his mouth had jumped the chasm between what he'd been thinking about and what they'd discussed. He was still mentally scanning the best thing to say to backtrack when she cut through his thoughts.

"The light bulb in the hallway burned out last week," she blurted out suddenly.

"At the apartment?"

"No, at Mom's," she corrected.

"O-kay," he responded slowly, still concerned that his words had upset her.

"When I was thirteen, we had a light bulb burn out, and it stayed burned out until my Mom's birthday ten months later when Luke came to do her birthday list of chores."

"I guess a 'how many Gilmores does it take to change a light bulb' joke would be bad form here, right?"

"Mom doesn't do things like that. She doesn't change light bulbs or wash dishes when a dishwasher isn't involved or move the couch to vacuum," she explained.

"Neither does my mom—that's why we have a staff of maids."

"It's just how she lives. She'd rather live with the minor inconveniences than actually take time out of her life to fix the problem."

"Is this all to tell me that your mother is walking around in the dark? Because I appreciate a metaphor, but this is pushing it—even for you."

She sighed. "I came home yesterday to meet my parents for dinner, and when I came out of my old room to gather my stuff to go home last night, I hit the light switch out of habit, remembering at the last second it wouldn't turn on. But it did."

"The light worked."

"Exactly."

He looked at the suit hanging on the back of his closet door. "Can I buy a vowel?"

"Dad fixed the light."

"Ah."

"And you think I'm insane," she supplied, a vague tone of huff laced through her words.

"No," he assured her, the 'but' thinly veiled.

"Go on," she replied quickly.

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

"Meaning?"

"Does it have to mean something that your dad took five seconds to screw in a bulb?"

"It means that he was at Mom's house in the dark, noticed there was a problem, and fixed it willingly and without being asked."

"The bastard."

So maybe teasing her wasn't the best idea at the moment, but at least it would draw a reaction out of her, and it was more than apparent to him, even over the phone, that she needed this out of her system. Mocking her, gently even, put a fire under her and brought everything to the surface. Only his address had changed, after all. She was still his Ace.

"They're getting closer, and every time that happens she gets hurt. She won't listen to me; she isn't taking this slowly enough."

"Rory," he didn't have enough time or words to try to convince her she was wrong. He knew there was a past there, a painful and complicated one that was woven just tightly enough through her to constrict her emotions at the slightest tug of one threadbare string.

"Every time she goes back to him, he hurts her," she was crying now, a rare moment for her, something he'd only ever seen her do once—the day he'd left for London. He was hurting her by being so far away, as much as he was hurting to comfort her now. He wondered how much of her concern was jealousy, or just the projection of her mother's life onto her own. She'd never had to look very far to see what she would become. He'd always had the same problem.

"I miss you," he spoke with earnest. She closed her eyes at his words, knowing truth from lies when it came to him. He sounded more confident when he lied; vulnerable when he was telling the truth. It's the mark of a powerful man, perhaps, but she appreciated the difference without ever revealing how she could tell. It drove him a little crazy, and she delighted in the groan he'd emit when she'd simply smile and tell him she just knew, especially knowing he prided himself on the fact no one else could see through him.

"I miss you, too."

"Do you want to talk about this?"

She considered his question. He wasn't talking about her parents' sudden flurry of alone time or the burr it'd put in her side. He was talking about the one question every one had for her lately, one even he was probably being flooded with. The one she was almost happier thinking she knew the answer to, based solely on his actions and vague, future-ish based comments, rather than hearing him tell her what he saw as their reality. When he talked about them finally doing Asia, her coming for Christmas, coming back the second his stint in England was over, she filled with warmth; as if he was speaking the very words everyone else said were needed for this to work. And maybe he was. Maybe it was enough for her.

"It's late. I have an editorial staff meeting before my first class, and you should get to work."

"Neither of those things matter if I think you're just going to hang up and not be able to sleep."

"I've got your pillow," she reminded him. "Not to mention three extra bottles of your aftershave in the closet."

"Finn called me to ask if you'd be around to let them in when they came to get the scuba gear," he admitted.

"Like a locked door would stop one of you three?"

He laughed. "It might have slowed him down, not to mention the fact if you heard a lock being picked, the police would have been called. The police and Finn don't mix."

"Shocker," she shook her head. "You really had him bring aftershave?"

"Amongst other things," he peaked her interest.

"What other things?" she demanded.

"Guess you'll have to do some snooping after class," he hooked her. "I really should go," he said, taking one last look in the mirror, to see if his hair needed any more coaxing into shape or if his tie was crooked—things that had become her job before he'd skipped the continent. "We okay?"

"We're okay."

She had his pillow, an apartment laced with surprises that he planned for her, and the knowledge that it would be her phone ringing about five minutes after her alarm went off to hear his newest rant about how his day—the same that she was about to experience—had gone. She had so much more than his words.

He told her he loved her, something he knew was coming out of his mouth more often than even he realized these days, but as he slid his cell phone into his inner suit jacket pocket it didn't feel like enough. It was their way of ending these conversations, one last reminder before going about otherwise separate lives.

If it was one thing he'd learned, it was that he was never ready to say goodbye to her, not even to live thousands of miles apart. No matter if it was his own indiscretions or those of her role models that caused her pain or to doubt, he was never giving up on making her believe in him. He slid his fingers around the leather handle of his briefcase and stepped out into the street to mark one more day off the time he had to spend proving to everyone that he was ready to come back to her and nights of arguing about ugly celebrity babies with inane names and changing light bulbs.