Do mayflies know when they're about to die? Do they simply drop from the sky, in the midst of dizzying, happy flight?
Rory awoke with a start and a catch in her breath, her arms flailing slightly. Disoriented, she wondered whether she was dreaming; so unfamiliar was the sensation of being wrapped, cocooned, in arms that felt and smelled unbelievably like Logan's. She turned slightly, and her cheek came in contact with Logan's nose, his breath warm against her ear. No dream. Her throat tightened from sheer…happiness in being able to feel Logan's thudding heartbeat against her bare back; in being able to entwine her fingers around his, rather than the cold sheets, in sleep.
She shifted carefully onto her back, fully awake. The street lights slanted through the window blinds next to their bed, casting silvery shadows around the room. The brightest sheen bounced off the steel of her True Love rocket, and she squinted, contemplating its uprightness. Steadfastness. Beyond the shadows and light, it was still dark outside, and she felt a wave of relief that dawn had not yet arrived. They were certainly more (just a bit more) fortunate than star- and time-crossed lovers caught in the twilight zone.
She leaned up on her elbows and peeked across Logan's body to catch a glimpse of her clock's red liquid crystal display. 1:18 a.m.. Her movement dislodged Logan's arms around her, and he moved on his back, slightly propped up against a wayward pillow. Rory took the opportunity to drink her fill of him as he slept, lying on her side with her cheek cupped in her palm. His hair was mussed and sticking up in parts; it was shorter, less stylized than when he left four months ago. (Where in London does he get his haircut? Is his barber British? Perhaps Indian or Asian?) His brow was furrowed slightly in a frown. He's already worrying about his breakfast meeting, even in sleep. Or maybe imagining, like her, the once-again restless nights across the Atlantic from each other.
She reached out a tentative finger to smooth across his forehead; he didn't even stir. Her finger followed the straight line of his nose, down to trace the O of his slightly opened mouth. She had reached his jaw, and dipped her finger ever so lightly in to feel the barely discernible cleft on his chin. Logan's hand came up to brush across his face, as if to swat a fly, and Rory withdrew her finger, still pointed and raised. If she could put it on paper to chart the geometry of Logan's face, she would.
Hours left: Twenty? Nineteen? She could while it away, studying his sleeping form, reading the rhythm of his breaths. Thank God he was asleep, or she'll probably never hear the end of his cracks about reprising Taylor-Wood's David, the provocative video-portrait of Beckham in unclothed repose. (Beckham, how British.) Though indeed, he was quite a work of art, her Logan.
Rory's eyes flitted to the prominent vein on Logan's neck; traveling down, she imagined it was part of a network of veins and arteries underneath the expanse of his hard chest. God. How many times had she imagined that she was falling asleep on his chest, her cheek pressed against his warm skin, her ear against his rushing heart? But the pillow, too soft, it often ended up damp with her tears, or on the floor, thrown in frustration. She made a mental note to lie on his chest sometime in the next few hours. Sleeping or not. His arms, so sharply defined even at rest, were flung carelessly across his torso, one hand fisted and clutching the twisted blanket that bunched to his navel. A useless blanket, really, seeing as he was exposed from the knees down.
Emboldened by the shadows, Rory quietly tugged the sheet from Logan's grasp, and let it drop on its weight to the floor beside the bed. That she was completely naked herself had slipped from her mind. Staring at Logan utterly open and revealed, she felt hot and her heart was beating rapidly. Had she never seen him completely naked before? In the shower. Walking to the bathroom, around the kitchen. He knew she was watching him then, and he would tease her because she always ended up the one blushing. Now, it's different. He was just hers, alone, to look at.
He was golden, from the glint of light on his head, the smattering of hair on his forearms and calves, around the dent of his navel. The patch of hair on his pubis. His image burned and buried itself in her brain, so familiar, yet so new. Like a favorite photograph that had become over-exposed, to stark relief.
Rory was seized by a sudden flash of daring. (Or was it desperation?) She walked in tiptoe to the shelves alongside the flat-screen TV and grabbed her camera. She crept back to the bed, knelt beside Logan. She put her eye to the tiny square, alternately zooming in and panning out her lover's body. The finger that traced across his face earlier now clicked the button to commit his form to her camera's—her—memory.
Logan slowly awakened to the discomfitting sensation that he was being watched. Light flashed behind his closed eyelids, and he turned a bleary, half-open eye towards the source. What he saw (Did he really? Is he dreaming?) roused him to full consciousness. Rory was sitting back on her heels, holding a camera and apparently taking pictures of his chest…now his abdomen, and then…no. His body reacted immediately, unbidden, abetted by the vision of a naked Rory, thighs spread apart, obliviously clicking away at her camera. But then she abruptly stopped and brought her camera down, breathing hard and her eyes widening at what she was witnessing. Logan couldn't stifle a small laugh—or a groan.
"Logan!" Rory whispered aloud, as if to admonish him. She glanced down and realized belatedly how she must look, and reached to grab a pillow to cover herself with.
"Oh no, you don't," Logan said, in a voice still rough from sleep. He pulled the pillow from her grasp and put it under his head, and snatched the camera from her unguarded hands, all in one smooth motion. "You woke me up, completely insensitive to the fact that I'm suffering from jetlag and will probably be a total wreck for my business meeting in the morning. You owe me, Ace," he said with a drowsy smile. "Tit for tat."
Still lying back, he put the camera to his eye and fiddled with the zoom lens until Rory's image panned out and he could see all of her. All of her. From the blue of her wide eyes, brilliant even in the dark, to the freckles scattered across her pale breasts. (Not clearly, but he knew they were there.) Her body was mapped with light and shadows, draping around the flare of her hip, disappearing in the hollow of her inner thigh. He so wanted to touch her, his knuckles were white from gripping the camera.
"Lo-gan," Rory wheedled uselessly, half-crawling towards him as if to flop on her stomach beside him. "All I owe you is a cup of coffee…"
"Stooop!" Logan ordered gruffly, holding out his free hand so she couldn't move any closer to him. "You're so beautiful, Rory," he then said simply, still looking at her through the camera. "Please, for me."
Rory sat back again on her heels, her right hand grasping her left arm self-consciously. She bit her lower lip in consternation, unaware that that minute gesture with her mouth sent Logan's senses into a tailspin. She was still quite innocent of her own sexuality, still surprised that she can affect him the way she does. He loved that about her, jaded as he was with the women in his pre-Rory life. She was nervous, he saw, her breasts moving with the shallow breaths she took; her chest and cheeks were flushed. But after a moment, she cocked her head to the side, her dark hair in a swathe across one white shoulder. And gave him a small smile.
"Yes," Logan blew out.
Rory felt her pulse quicken further after the first few shots. But not quite in nervousness, no longer. She felt strangely exhilarated and free, not unlike jumping off a seven-story scaffold. Chalk up another one to experience, she thought, slowly unfolding her arm to expose her breasts. Trust Logan to bring out sides of her that she never knew she had. She would have to stare at her own photographs to believe that this woman, kneeling naked in front of her boyfriend, is her. And even then, she might not believe it, not if she were alone and not with him.
"So what came over you, Ace?" Logan asked, trying to be casual and help Rory feel at ease; trying to prolong the moment. (The agony?)
"Couldn't sleep," she responded, breathless. (Was that her voice?) She rubbed her thighs with her palms, uncertain what to do with her hands.
"And all this time I've been thinking that you hit your books—particularly Principles of Accounting—when you couldn't sleep…" A thought suddenly occurred to him and he stopped, removing the camera to look at her. "Um, you don't happen to have a collection of naked-butt pics stashed between our books do you? I do need to know in case I lend Phillip my copy of War and Peace."
Rory laughed at his expression of alarm, reaching up to brush her bangs off her face. Logan took advantage of the opportune moment; click.
"As hard as it may be for you to believe, I'm not that obsessed about you," she responded, unconsciously spreading her thighs a fraction wider as she shifted her legs to the side to sit on the matress. "Although with you away in London..." Rory's eyes turned overcast for a second, before she rolled them upward mischievously, raising her palms in mock surrender. "Alright, I confess! They're in a box under the bed! Now you know my secret for being so text-savvy…"
Logan laughed and marveled at how she can be so funny and sweet and sexy all at the same time. Damn, she was sexy. "C'mere, you," he rasped, finally dropping the camera and pulling her on top of him. His hand tangled in her hair as their mouths met and played. "So I'm flattered…" he murmured against Rory's mouth, as she sucked gently on his lower lip. "…To be considered a worthy substitute to Henry Miller in feeding your fantasies…"
"Henry Miller has nothing on you," Rory responded between kisses. "Balding men aren't really my type." She straddled his hips, eliciting a groan from Logan as his hardness came in contact with her wet heat. "It's good to know," he bit out, "that I can eliminate 70 of men over 80 as my competition." His hands held her hips down as he ground against her, making Rory moan at the friction, her lips and tongue more frantic against his. "And Sexus, American classic as it is, doesn't hold a candle to your texts…" she managed to interject.
Somehow, the memory of their texts halted further conversation and increased Rory and Logan's urgency, as if they were reliving the mutual need and want they encapsulated in a tiny screen, expressed in a hundred characters.
I want you, Rory wrote. I wish you were here to touch me.
Touch you where, Rory? Logan texted back.
Rory grabbed Logan's hand and placed it on her breast. He cupped it immediately, squeezing gently, as his thumb flicked repeatedly across her taut, sensitive nipple. She whimpered, still rubbing against him. Logan focused on Rory's face above him and tried to ignore his own pleasure; her eyes were shut tightly and she was breathing shallowly out of her mouth.
You make me feel so good, Logan, she typed. When your mouth is on my—she hesitated—body, I feel pleasure like I've never imagined. It makes me crazy-happy.
It makes me crazy-happy to kiss, lick, bite, suck you, Rory. On your breasts, clit, shoulder, neck, mouth. You think it, Rory, I'm there. I wish to God I were there.
He wrapped an arm around her back, as he leaned up slightly to replace his thumb with his mouth. He licked the curve under her breast with deliberate slowness, tasting the hint of saltiness on her warm skin. Rory braced her arms on either side of his head, giving him better access. He licked a trail up her pink nipple, but skirted and circled around it, much to Rory's frustration. As if to punish him, she stilled the movement of her pelvis against him and lifted her torso slightly out of his reach. But he jerked her down with the hand on her back and finally caught her breast into his mouth, sucking slowly and deeply, alternately dragging his tongue across the sensitive nub. Rory was murmuring his name, over and over. She started to shudder, orgasmic.
Sorry to wake you, Ace, he texted, feeling a bit desperate. Rory, I can't sleep. I'm too wound up from that botched negotiation I told you about. I need you. I want you here with me in my bed.
What do you want me to do to you, Logan? Her fingers were slow from sleep, but her senses perked up, heightened. Whatever you want. I'm yours.
She shifted over him, halting the attention he laved on her breast. Rory slid down his body to press lightly sucking kisses on the pulse on his neck, the dip in the center of his collarbone.Logan settled back and closed his eyes, relishing the sensation of Rory's hair spread across his chest. Her nose, her breasts, brushing and pressing against his skin. Her wet tongue darting on and off his nipples, in and out of his bellybutton. His exhaled in a rush when she finally grasped his hardness in her hand and started to lick slowly over and under the head, her tongue flicking lightly then pressing firmly up and down his length. Logan grasped the back of her head as he shifted to a reclining position, the back of his head hitting the wall as Rory took him full into her mouth. Part of him cursed Rory's studious thoroughness; so deliberately did she suck him, creating an agonizingly pleasurable friction as her small mouth moved on him. His body was rigid, the urge to let go so overwhelming; at the same time, he never wanted her to stop.
"Fuck it, Rory…so good…God, I need to…Rory…" He was mumbling incoherently. She sneaked a peek up at him and saw that his head was flung back and his eyes were closed, face awash in a mix of pleasure and near-pain. It stirred her, knowing that she—hardly the most experienced girl at this sort of thing—can reduce someone like Logan to such puttifying pleasure, make him so utterly vulnerable. She began to taste his saltiness in her mouth, and that was when Logan pulled her up and off of him. They were both breathing hard.
What I want is to be inside you, so deep inside you, Rory. I need to feel you tighten around me, your legs around me. To be surrounded and lost in you. Fuck it, I hate being apart from you!!!
I hate this, too. These phone calls, texts—it's so incomplete. I need you to fill me. God, it's frustrating. It might have been better if Paris never gave me this idea at all. No—wait. I take that back. Just tell me again how much you want me and what you want to do with me.
Rory straddled his hips, her arms and legs embracing him. Logan ran his hands soothingly up and down her back in an effort to bring things down a notch. He didn't want to end it prematurely; he wanted to give her as much as he had just taken. He kissed her, their mouths opening for each other, as he inserted his hand between their bodies to caress her. "You're so wet," he whispered, pressing one, then three large-boned fingers inside her. He bent his head to suck on the pulse point on Rory's neck as she rocked against his hand, absorbed in her own pleasure.
"Logan…please…" she started to whimper against his ear.
"Please, what?" he responded coolly, as if having forgetten his own urgency minutes earlier. He withdrew his fingers and was rewarded with her nails digging painfully into the back of his head.
"No! Don't stop," she moaned. She ground herself against his pelvis, kissing his neck, rubbing his chest. Anything to feel friction, anything to make the inexplicable, mindless pressure building inside her explode.
She felt a wave of anticipation when Logan finally rolled forward to flip her onto her back. He lifted her knees, but instead of entering her, he unexpectedly bent his head and licked her clit, drawing it in his mouth. Rory could not control the current that instantly coursed through her nerve endings, converging under Logan's mouth. She held Logan's head against her as her hushed moaning evolved into a scream, the pressure finally breaking.
When she came to, Logan was whispering bemusedly in her ear. "I'm sorry, what was it you wanted? Please…what? It got kinda lost in all that screaming."
"Me, scream? How uncouth," Rory retorted with wide-eyed innocence. "And a gentleman wouldn't gloat so," she admonished with a droll, even as she wrapped her legs around him. She ran her fingers across his erection, her thumb grazing around the head, and was gratified to see him shudder and hold her hand still. "I was meaning to say…Logan, please, can you fuck me already?"
His eyes immediately darkened, and he slanted his mouth across hers in a hard kiss. He loved it when she talked that way; it was so raw and rare, something only he would ever hear from his ever-proper Rory. He lifted her buttocks so as to enter her more deeply. They emitted a simultaneous groan of satisfaction at the thrust and pull, the rhythmic tightening and unclenching of their bodies in and around each other. "More…please, more…" Rory whispered, as Logan obligingly drove into her, ever more rapidly and forcefully.
"Rory…is this okay?" he managed to grit out. He was spiraling out of control, struggling to keep his release in check…but still, he worried that he might be hurting her. Her answer was another involuntary cry, and Logan felt her shudder and contract, her limbs clenching around him. Only then did he let go. He allowed the maelstrom of pleasure, of waiting, and of wanting—the maelstrom of Rory—overtake him. It roared and crashed over him. And then, peace.
Rory smoothed her hand through his blonde hair, now damp with sweat. She kissed his ear, his cheek. "You've fallen asleep on me again," she murmured.
A long moment passed, during which she herself almost dozed off. "No. But I think I've died," he said, muffled, his face buried against her neck.
"Died and…?" she prompted. Logan propped up on an elbow and looked down at her quizzically. "Nooo…do you really expect me to say…uh, died and gone to heaven?" His eyes were filled with mirth, teasing her with the cliché. "Though I do think a pat on both our backs is in order."
She swatted his arm in exasperation. Then Rory's face became serious, and she cupped his cheek in her palm. "But this is, isn't it? So like heaven. To me, anway," she admitted solemnly.
He dropped a gentle kiss on her mouth and pulled her into an embrace. He knew she was already dreading their second parting, but didn't know what to say to make her—him—feel better about tomorrow. They would text and talk to each other everyday, even several times a day. But neither would have anyone to come home to in their too-large apartments; no one to share pizza with or finish off the left-overs from the Chinese take-out. No hand to hold while walking or sleeping. No one to tell about the anecdote or idea that came to mind in the moment, the one that doesn't have the same effect when told at a later time. There's no consolation for all that.
"I love you, Rory," was all he could say.
And Rory tried to keep from crying. It's no time for tears, not when Logan is with her for only nineteen hours more. She can't be that pathetic.
"So," she brightened. (Did it seem forced?) "You excited about your meeting?" She dragged Logan back to the correct position on their bed, fluffing the pillows efficiently around them.
Logan groaned as they settled in each other's arms, "We're not actually going to discuss my meeting now, right? Sadly, five months apart have made us run out of pillow talk."
"Pffft," Rory scoffed. "Five months have turned you into some…" work dork, she thought to herself. "…uh, business mogul," she amended. "Admit it. You're enjoying your work. You wouldn't talk my ear off about it if it were otherwise."
"Is that your subtle way of telling me that I've become stuffy and boring? And mogul-shmogul, I hardly even wear a tie," he groused.
"Fine, fine, you're a regular Richard Branson. And hey, you can tell me all you want about mergers, stock quotes, and the Nigels, as long as you keep listening to my recaps of House and my Grandpa's econ lectures," she said.
"Deal," he laughed. Silence ensued, Rory lazily drawing circles on his stomach.
"I guess I do like it," Logan spoke out of the blue, making Rory jump slightly. "Work. It's different from what I expected. It challenges me." He snorted, adding, "Don't tell my father, though, or he'll give himself all the credit. When I think a huge part of it is that he left me alone to fend for myself in London...good call, that."
"I'm so glad, Logan," Rory answered, but not without a twinge of...she didn't know, but she brushed it away. Logan shouldn't have to mope and wither away at her absence. (As she shouldn't at his, she told herself). "Remember how you didn't want this when you left. You were so angry, you've tried to escape from it all your life."
"Uh-huh. Being away from you, coupled with the dismal London weather, have ruined me. I'm a changed man, Ace," he said in mock seriousness.
"Nope, you don't fool me, mister. You've always had all this intelligence and talent and drive in you," she said, poking his chest with her finger for emphasis. "You positively radiated it, despite falling asleep one too many time in the classroom. Perhaps you're a late bloomer."
"You think? Well thank God, then, 'cause if I had bloomed any earlier I might have given you and Paris a more serious run for the YDN editorship. Or Doyle. I do so like to terrify Doyle."
Rory lifted her head from his chest to look at his laughing eyes. "Are you taking me seriously at all, Logan? I'm trying to compliment you here, boost your ego…which may be a serious mistake, seeing as it needs no further boosting."
"Okay, okay," he said, turning pensive, playing distractedly with her hair. "Here's what I know. I know that for the first time in my life, I think I've figured out what I want. I know it will probably still change…and I honestly can't think beyond my next 6 months in London." Logan kissed Rory's head, as if to reassure her, despite his words. "But I feel like I know where I'm going. And for all my being a live-in-the-moment kind of guy, I find there's also something to be said about being a responsible dud. I hope you still love me," he said, only half-jokingly.
"Oh, I do. Very much," she replied simply. (Does she know where she's going?)
He continued, "And I also know that if I don't get to sleep in the next two minutes, Nick, Bobby, and Phillip would have to take up the cudgels at our meeting, and that won't look very impressive seeing as I'm the Huntzberger of the Huntzberger Publishing Group. And it will be all your fault."
"Sleep, sleep!" Rory retorted churlishly, sitting up. "All you had to do was say so and I would have desisted from seducing you. But I'm starving, Logan; I need to scrounge around for some food. Is there any hope of more flan hidden in the premises?"
"God, I've missed that appetite," Logan laughed, pulling Rory back for a last, deep goodnight kiss. "I did find pizza in the fridge and Fruit Loops on the counter when I came in last night…only a few of the many things I miss about being in Yale."
"Many things?" she shot back.
"Fine, just one thing," he responded, turning on his side to settle in to sleep.
Rory stood up and walked to the dresser, stretching her neck to the side and back as she did so. She seemed to have forgotten her state of undress.
"Logan!" She grabbed a shirt from on top of the dresser and pulled it on indignantly.
"What? That made the perfect 'after' shot," he cajoled, as Rory threw a pair of boxers at him, hitting him on the face.
Here's what I know, Logan thought, awake at 5:30 in the morning and watching Rory as she slept. I know that you're a big reason why I've found reason in my work…hell, in my life. I know I want to be a better person for you. I know that when I pass by Tiffany's on Old Bond St. on the way to work, I think of you. I know that when I think of my future—tomorrow, or in the next 6 months, or in the next 6 years—you are there.
He caught sight of the rocket as he climbed reluctantly out of bed. And it made him turn to Rory one more time, leaning in to kiss her lightly on the mouth. And I know that you are my true love.
Then he stood up to get ready for his pre-breakfast breakfast, his brain switching to work mode.
Sixteen hours left.