I want to thank cuppa joe who helped me out with a wonderful beta job on this story. She really came through for me. My regular beta, fulfiiled is spoiler free, so I couldn't get her help with this. Thanks so much. The mistakes, as always, are mine.

I took a bit of creative license with the spoilers, time, place and such. But my main point was to try to figure out the emotions and see how close I got to what airs this coming week.

Thanks for reading, reviews are always appreciated.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, sue me not.


Aperture Priority

"I wish you could have been there. Paris and Doyle shakin' their tail feathers was a sight to behold!" you laugh.

"Oh, I'm sorry I missed that. I hope you took some pictures for me," Logan laughs back.

"I think some can be made available, for a price," you reply, a note of mischief in your voice.

"What's your price, Ace?" he asks, dropping his voice to a deeper register.

"Your mind always goes there," you giggle, running your fingers through your hair.

"What can I say, I'm still a guy and you're still the most beautiful girl in the world," Logan replies, causing a smile to begin to pull across your face.

"Well I think a tail feather shakin' dance and something like what you have in mind might be considered proper payment," you return. You hesitate for a moment, then decided to go ahead and tell him about what his compliment brought to mind.

"So I told you about Marty, right?" you ask.

"Yeah, that he was acting all weird toward you," he answers with a chuckle. "Did something change?"

"Well, I told him that the way he's been treating me wasn't cool and I didn't understand what I'd done to deserve it, and that I thought he should stop it," you answer, stretching out under the covers to get comfortable, adjusting the phone to your other ear.

"So what did he say?" he prompts.

"He agreed, made me a drink, and things seemed fine. We were going to be friends and act as if nothing had happened," you answer back.

"Well, that's good, isn't it?" he asks. But after a moment, he continues, "Why is it I don't think that's the entire story?"

"Because you know me, and you know I like to drag out telling a story," you reply, a grin overtaking your face at just how well he knows you. Really, better than anyone except your mom. "You're right. After he closed the bar he came over and sat next to me on the couch."

"Uh-huh," he acknowledges, and in your mind you see him nodding his head.

"We reminisced about the first time we ever met, which I've told you about, I think," you continue.

"He's the first guy you ever saw naked," Logan chuckles.

"Yeah, I thought I'd told you," you laugh; it used to be a funny anecdote, how Marty became 'Naked Guy'. You had told Logan about it shortly after the two of you had officially become a couple, entwined together in bed telling stupid stories about yourselves. It became a weird memory after the other night, not an amusingly embarrassing one.

"Interesting way to see your first naked guy, but oh so 'first college party' too," he snorts.

"Yeah, well he claimed I was checkin' him out, which I totally wasn't! I was so embarrassed," you reply.

"I can imagine," he chuckles. "It doesn't take much."

"Yeah, well, quit interrupting, I'm getting to the good part," you shush him.

"Fine," he grumps. "Hold on a sec, let me put on a t-shirt."

"Okay, I'm back," he says after a few seconds. "Continue with the story."

"Yeah, so, he's all, 'I was scrawny back when I was a freshman, but I've buffed up now. I'm hot.' Or something like that," you tell. "And I agreed, he is bigger than when I knew him. And then he's all, 'you're even more beautiful than you were before'."

"He what!" Logan exclaims.

"You heard me, he said, I was more beautiful than before," you repeat.

"While I happen to agree - you are more beautiful than you were two years ago - I like to think love looks good on you, so I can give myself all the credit," he chortles.

"Logan, not helping," you interject, blowing air out of your mouth.

"Okay, fine. What did you do?" he asks.

"It made me really uncomfortable, because I realized he still has a thing for me, which I really hadn't expected," you continue, brushing your bangs out of your face. "And then I told him he should go be with Lucy. He did what I told him, but he made a show of kissing her really passionately, as if he was trying to make me jealous."

"Eh, that's how guys work," he says calmly. "How many times now have you rejected him?"

"Twice, that I know of," you say after a moment, trying to remember exactly how many times. "Who knows how many times he thinks I rejected him in the past. But it's not like I was some sort of siren, tempting men to their deaths. I'm just me. I mean, I don't get it, I was shy and inexperienced back then…" you trail off.

"Yeah, but that was a deadly combination, trust me," he chuckles. "Little did I know that shy and inexperienced didn't mean shy all the time or lacking in enthusiasm."

"Logan Huntzberger, are you being dirty?" you gasp, a blush flaming on your cheeks.

He's right, the two of you have always been very compatible in bed, but even after all this time, and months of sexually explicit texting and phone calls, sex talk can still embarrass you. It was one thing to expect a phone sex date with him and get yourself in the right frame of mind, or to be in bed together where you can direct him to do your bidding; it is quite another for you to respond in an natural or clever way when he interjects an innuendo quite unexpectedly.

"You know it, Ace," he laughs. "And you like it! But I know how a man can get ensnared in your web; I've been happily ensnared for close to two years now and have no desire to unsnare myself."

"I don't think 'unsnare' is a word," you shoot back, the grin flaring on your face again.

"Doesn't matter, you get my point," he replies. He's right, you do get his point, and it fills you with a happy and content warmth. Loving him and being loved by him in return has been the most wonderful experience of your life. He's right, you're just as happily ensnared as he is, with no plans to unsnare yourself.

"Yeah, but we've been a couple for most of the last year-and-a-half. We've fallen in love with each other, lived together, we're in a serious relationship. I never even kissed Marty. I told him I liked you, not him, and then never heard from him again," you babble. "I don't get it. I'm not that irresistible."

"I'm probably the wrong person to be saying that to," he laughs quietly. "I think you're pretty irresistible. Especially when you…"

---

"No, my mom is dreading the whole thing! But Grandma is in her element planning the event. It's hilarious," you laugh, using your hands to imitate your grandmother directing all her minions.

"Your grandmother sounds fantastic," Lucy giggles.

"She can be, but she can also be a controlling drama queen," you sigh. "But then so can Mom. I guess she learned from the best."

"Learned what from the best, Ace?" a voice says from behind you.

"Logan!" you exclaim, jumping up to spin around and pull him into a strangling hug. He yanks your hips toward his and drops his lips on yours, seeking entry into your mouth, tongues entangling.

"How did we survive five months without seeing each other?" you whisper when you pull back, your lungs heaving for air.

"I have no idea," he smiles, resting his forehead on yours. "Four days and it feels like an eternity has gone by."

"What are you doing here? How did you know where I would be?" you breathe, running your hands up and down his sides under his overcoat.

"I dropped by the apartment and Doyle told me. I figured I could meet the infamous Olivia and Lucy, get you to hurry up and come home, and have my way with you before I go to sleep," he replies in a low voice, the tips of his fingers running up and down your spine.

"So you're just here for the night?" you pout.

"Yeah, I have to get up early in the morning; I have a meeting at nine in the city. But I wanted to see you, and I figured Paris would love to have an excuse to add on some charges to my monthly tally," he smiles. "The prospect of a cold bed was extremely unappealing when it occurred to me that a warm bed with you in it is just an hour-and-a-half away. Introduce me?" he suggests.

"Oh," you hesitate, realizing what's about to happen. Your eyes plead with him to not do this, but his gaze has already moved to the table behind you. While he was kissing you, the implication of him showing up had flown from your mind, and now it's slamming you in the face. "Logan, this is Lucy and Olivia," you begin, turning back to the table. "My friends you haven't met. This is Logan Huntzberger, my boyfriend," you address the group, in turn.

"It's really nice to meet both of you, I've heard so much about you from Rory," he smiles, reaching over to shake both their hands warmly.

"We've both been so anxious to meet you too," Lucy replies enthusiastically, grinning up at Logan.

"Yeah," Olivia agrees with a smile. "Rory talks about you all the time. It's nice to put a real face to the pictures we saw at your place."

"It's nice to put faces to the names I've been hearing so much since Rory came back to school," he nods with a smile. Meanwhile, the knot at the pit of your stomach is getting larger by the moment.

"Marty, it's nice to see you again," Logan says, turning to the final occupant of the table.

"Logan," he returns softly.

"You two know each other?" Lucy asks eagerly.

"Yeah," Logan replies in a bemused voice, feigning an innocence you know is false. You begin to worry your bottom lip and pull on the sleeves of your sweater. "Actually, Marty plays a very significant role in my life. He introduced me to Ace."

"Logan!" you exclaim emphatically under your breath, jabbing a finger into his side. He hadn't hesitated or even tried to be diplomatic, not that you'd really expected that, it was one trait he shares with his father, directness. But you wish he exercised a bit more tact at this moment.

"Ace?" Lucy asks with a wrinkled brow, never having heard Logan's name for you before.

"I'm sorry, Marty introduced me to Rory," he explains. "I call her 'Ace'; it's my little nickname for her," he laughs. "I forget that not everyone knows that. But he introduced us initially. Strangely, for a girl I sometimes think I was destined to fall in love with," he continues, putting an arm around your shoulders, "she didn't make that much of a first impression." You were stepping on his foot trying to get him to shut up, unable to look up to gauge the reactions of the other occupants of the table. "It was the second one that stood out; she was so outraged by my treatment of her friend Marty. I never forgot her after that. The rest, as they say, is history. Maybe someday we'll have grandkids that we can tell the story to. How I met the most beautiful girl in the world, and she somehow didn't make much of an impression…"

"Maybe because you were high," you grate.

"I wasn't high," he laughs, pulling you closer to him, kissing the side of your head. You sneak a look across the table, Lucy's flabbergasted; a bird could fly into her mouth. Olivia's face is stony.

"You just made more of an impression with your righteous indignation over my 'rudeness and arrogance' when Marty introduced us by the coffee kiosk," he continues, rubbing your leg..."I like to think you wear love and happiness well." You see him smile out of the corner of your eye, watching his gaze settle hardly on Marty. Even though you know by now that this is just a swaggering front of his, you're still surprised by how calm he appears.

"But I probably have nothing to do with it," he smiles at you, leaning over to kiss your cheek, then turning to take a long drink of your lager. Silence settles around the table. Lucy's mouth finally closed, as her cheeks flame brilliant red. Marty looks like he wishes he were anywhere but here. He already despised Logan for a myriad of reasons. Somehow, you know he hates Logan even more, now.

"Though I probably would have met Rory anyway, we were on the paper together," he continues after he swallows. "Right?"

"Right," you agree tightly.

"Do you mind if I steal you away?" he asks. "It's already eleven, and I have to get up early in the morning."

"No, we can go," you mumble. "I'll call you tomorrow," you say tightly to Lucy and Olivia, barely able to look at them, while Logan puts some money on the table to cover your drinks. He helps you with your coat, then slings an arm around you and guides you out of the pub.

"When the hell did I turn into a fire hydrant?" you ask sharply, once you're outside.

"What?" Logan asks, confused.

"I asked when I turned into a fire hydrant, since you were clearly marking your territory in there!" you reply, shrugging his arm off your shoulders.

"You're mad?" he asks, still confused. Apparently he thought he was being your champion and protector.

"Damn straight I'm mad!" you exclaim, pointing emphatically back toward the pub. "Lucy's my friend."

"Whose boyfriend is lying to her," he shoots back, holding out his hand for your keys, opening the passenger side door for you.

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean you need to come in and put some sort of public claim on me and make her feel like crap," you complain, once he's slid behind the wheel of your car.

"Nothing I said in there was untrue. Marty did introduce us, initially," he grates, turning on the car and pulling out of the lot. "I didn't even tell her that more than two years after introducing us, he's still carrying a torch for you!"

"You think she's not going to figure that out?" you cry, hand slicing through the air. "Why the hell else would he be hiding that we already knew one another?"

"I have no idea, though I've been trying to figure that one out for a while. But I do know that you care about Lucy and Marty is lying to her," he replies, his voice rising. "Not just about not knowing or introducing us, but about carrying a torch for you for years now, when he's supposed to be into her. But he's not. Or if he is, it's only somewhat, and not like he should be into her. He can be hung up on you, or hell, be even in love with you. I don't care. I haven't cared one bit in the last year and a half. But he's lying to Lucy about it now, and pulling you into his deception, and that I do care about!" he finishes emphatically, hitting the steering wheel sharply with his palm.

"But now Lucy's going to know he was lying to her," you return stridently, turning to look out your window at the passing scenery.

"Yes, and better she find it out now than later. He's a liar, a deceiver, and he was taking advantage of you, putting you in a horrible position," he says with a sigh. He stops at a light and turns to look at you. "Rory, I love you. And I take it personally when someone's taking advantage of you, doing something I think is exploiting you. I'm not going to put up with it. I didn't mean to hurt Lucy, but she was going to get hurt either way. He's bad news. He's hung up on you, and he's lying to her."

"But it's not your lie to expose," you mumble, pulling the sleeves of your sweater over your hands.

"It is my place to protect you. I know you'd do the same for me, I know you have," he finishes softly, putting a finger under your chin, forcing you to turn and look at him.

"What do you mean?" you ask quietly.

"My dad told me not too long ago that you're the reason he ended up coming to the hospital after my accident. You didn't like it that he and Mom weren't coming, and you called him and balled him out," he explains, turning to continue down the street when the light turns green.

"Oh," you reply, looking down at your hands. You hadn't expected that, though in theory he's right, you are protective of him, and you should have known from the moment you told him about Marty's weird behavior he wasn't going to take it well and would eventually do something about it. He didn't like game playing. He never had. Somehow that crossed a line of his. When you realized that about him a long time ago you'd finally begun to understand him.

"Yeah, oh," he says, reaching over to take hold of your entwined hands. "Isn't part of loving someone looking after them, doing some things that might not be easy, but are right?"

"Yes," you agree softly, grabbing back at the hand covering yours.

"Then think of what I did in that way if you have to. I'm not going to let him take advantage of you, and if you're too nice a person to expose him, I'm not. If there's one thing I hate it's lying. I can't stand it. You know that. Even when we were first starting out I never lied to you. You might not have liked the way things went, but I was always honest. Marty's being anything but," he finishes, pulling into the parking space of your apartment, turning to look at you as you both unclipped your seatbelts. "I'm sorry I upset you, I didn't want to do that," Logan says, reaching up to run his thumb across your cheek. "But I won't apologize for unmasking him; he needed to be unmasked. If Lucy chooses to stay with him, then that's her choice, and a bad one. But she knows the truth now."

"What if she never speaks to me again?" you query softly, voicing your real fear in all this, and the real reason you hadn't exposed Marty yourself.

"Then maybe she wasn't really your friend," he tries to reassure you. "But if it's important to you then I'll come back tomorrow night and speak with her. I'll do what I can to make it right."

"Promise?" you ask hopefully. Logan is such a positive person that he makes you believe-for the first time since seeing the shocked expression on Lucy's face and the anger on Olivia's-that maybe things would be all right.

"I promise I'll make it right, for you," he replies softly. "We can even go together, if you want. I love you, Ace. You know that. I'll do anything for you."

"I know. I love you too," you murmur, reaching over to kiss him softly, letting him know you understand and forgive him.

He deepens the kiss, seeking entrance into your mouth, but then pulls back reluctantly to whisper, "How about we take this inside? It's cold and I'm really looking forward to some quality make-up lovin'."

"Oh really," you chuckle, turning to open your door.

He hops out, hurrying over to your side of the car to help you out, lock the doors, and tuck you under his arm. "Yeah, I hear nothing beats the shy, quiet type," he laughs suggestively, pulling you closer to his side.

"Oh, really," you laugh with him.

"Yeah, I hear they're firebrands in bed," he snorts.

"I think we should test that theory of yours, Huntzberger," you say as seductively as possible, reaching over to run the tips of your fingers across his stomach.

"I concur," he chuckles, leaning over to kiss the top of your head.

FIN