Summary: He was always in the middle or out of the equation completely. Marty. Rory. Lucy. It was always meant to crash and burn. Oneshot.

Disclaimer: Nope.

A/N: This summer, when Hider and I found out Krysten Ritter was going to be a recurring guest star on Gilmore Girls, we flipped out. Then I randomly proclaimed that I was going to ship Marty/Lucy like whoa, and then she called me just before the episode aired in which we found out that they were actually together. You can imagine how thrilled I was.

And after watching 7x09, I couldn't get this idea out of my head. Be warned that I'm very, very rusty on writing Gilmore Girls fic and this is my first time ever writing Lucy. It's also the first time in a long while that I've written Marty. Feedback is my crack.

--

She fell asleep against him almost an hour before everyone decided to go home, a combination of too much to drink and far too much social time wearing her down so that the only thing she could think to do was pass out. Marty ran his fingers through her hair, used to the routine, watching people mill about her room as though they didn't know of any other purpose in life. He was surprised when people didn't make a mad rush for the door after the liquor ran out, somewhat shocked that they continued to talk and dance and stumble drunkenly even after the birthday girl herself was no longer in any condition to entertain them.

"You'd think she would've been out sooner than this," Rory commented, plopping down on the couch next to him. He smiled awkwardly, uncomfortable, unsure, and looked down at his girlfriend.

"She holds it in well," he replied simply. She nodded a little and bit her bottom lip, a gesture that reminded him of life as a freshman with a beautiful friend that never noticed him because he wasn't of consequence. Not that he was now, either, but for some reason this felt different. Awkward. Wrong, somehow. Like when she said no it was the first time he had ever been rejected.

Not that she ever outwardly said no to begin with.

"I'd say we should put her in a room with Finn and see which one of them lasts longer, but I'm afraid he'd get the wrong idea about the arrangement after a few dozen shots," she teased. Marty stared at her and she remained oblivious, cornflower eyes trained on the door as people finally started to filter out of the dorm room.

"Rory…"

Lucy moaned uncomfortably, curling further into his side and sufficiently ending his sentence. He was grateful, because other than her name he didn't know what he wanted to say. Shifting, he kissed his girlfriend's forehead and sent an apologetic look Rory's way. "I should get her to bed…"

"Oh, no, of course," Rory furrowed her brow and stood, backing up so that he had room to move. He watched her for a second and then sighed, pulling Lucy into his arms and heading in the direction of her bedroom. Her eyes fluttered open when he laid her down and he smiled gently, kissing her when she grinned at him.

"You are going to have the worst hang-over ever," he whispered gently. She giggled tiredly and then sighed, curling into a ball near her pillow and falling asleep again. Marty tugged a hand through his hair — his amazing hair, according to Lucy — and stood, pulling the door shut behind him as he walked back into the common room.

A brief look around revealed that everyone was gone or in the process of leaving, and another glance secured the suspicion that Rory was among those who had already vacated the suite. And it wasn't that he was surprised, or even really upset. Except he was, but mostly because he missed the way her eyes crinkled when she said goodbye.

--

Marty pulled the poster down gently, careful not to snag it on anything as he removed it from the wall. His fingers pulled at the double-sided tape that was stuck to the back as he idly wandered toward the couch and he gave up on pulling it off when he realized the flimsy material of the image would only rip with the effort.

So 2002.

He sighed and set it on the desk in the corner of the room, eyes rising to the door when he heard his girlfriend's best begging voice. Smiling softly, he stood up straight and expected to see her with a cell phone in her hand. Instead, he saw a familiar head of brown hair following Lucy into the room looking exasperated, but somehow joyous about it at the same time.

Rory was always good at mixing her emotions.

"Oh, come on, it's not like you have anything better to do!" Lucy proclaimed, flipping her hair needlessly. Rory smiled and shook her head, remaining near the door and sighing heavily.

"I promised my mom I'd spend the afternoon with her. I can't just back out on that now," she argued. The taller girl whined pitifully and rested her hands on her hips, adopting the most pitiful expression he had ever seen. Fortunately, he was capable of saying no to that face and making it up to her later with a scrapbook valentine or a random phone call just to say hi. One good thing about Lucy was that she loved him unconditionally no matter how much he fucked up.

And she never denied his apologies or his random gestures.

Clearing his throat, he attracted the attention of both women and Lucy squealed, prancing toward him and draping her arms around his neck. "Boyfriend; how long have you been here?" she laughed against his mouth and he kissed her, hard, trying to sink into her skin and completely forget about the other presence in the room.

She pulled away all too soon, still smiling at him like he was the most amazing thing in the world. He returned the smile for a moment and then wrapped his arm tighter around her waist, looking up at Rory and swallowing somewhat thickly. "Hey, Rory."

"Hi, Marty," she waved awkwardly and then smiled at Lucy, nodding toward him. "See? You have boyfriend! I have to go," she repeated her earlier statement and his girlfriend sighed resignedly, bouncing out of his arms to hug her friend goodbye.

"Fine, fine. But we are totally going to that art show this weekend," she proclaimed, hugging Rory tightly. "No excuses!" she backed up and waved a finger, putting on her best menacing face. Marty climbed over the back of the couch and sat down, offering Rory one last wave as she turned and left the suite.

The door shut behind her and Lucy immediately turned around, smiling brightly as she walked over to the couch — almost a run, really — and climbed onto his lap so that she was straddling him. "Hi," she giggled.

"How was your day?" he wondered, wrapping his arms around her back. She tilted her head and quirked her mouth, obviously trying to figure out the best way to answer the question. Marty reached up and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, stroking his hand across her cheek and briefly down her side before returning it to its earlier position.

"Not bad," she decided finally, leaning forward even as she asked him the same question. He didn't bother answering her, instead pressing his lips to hers, and her thin frame sank into his as he fell back further in the couch cushions.

For the time being, all awkward thoughts were gone from his mind.

--

She ran her fingers through her hair, pulling it up and out of her face, and he honestly couldn't remember the last time she had her hair up in just a simple ponytail. No twists, no curls, no special effort. Just Rory without her hair framing her face, making it easier to see her eyes and making it harder to avoid the fact that he was just as in love with her as he always had been.

"Working hard or hardly working?" he wondered, and he hoped that it came out sounding like a joke. She locked her eyes onto his and smiled a little, the corners of her mouth tugging softly upwards.

"All work and no play makes Rory a dull girl," she replied, and it made him grin. She laughed and shut her spiral notebook in the textbook that was sitting on her lap, causing the cover to flap oddly and the pages to curl around the binding of the paper.

"I think that's Lucy's philosophy, but I have yet to see her dull side."

The textbook rested on her lap still and she rested her chin on her palm, turning her head to the side to look at him. There was no objection when Marty sat down on the other side of the bench, and he took that as a good sign. So far the air was clean – the vibes were good, as Lucy might've said – and the tension he'd experienced with this girl for the past three weeks seemed to have dissipated completely.

He had a feeling that it was a tentative peace. Soon the truce would be broken, and there was nothing he could do to change that. He was always in the middle or out of the equation completely.

Rory plus Marty plus Logan equals Rory + Logan. What does Marty equal? Zero.

Rory plus Marty plus Lucy equals undefined. What does Marty equal? Solve for M.

It was a rational expression, and there was a zero in the denominator. His problem was finding out who was equal to that zero. If the scenic view takes four times as long to navigate as the shortcut and there are three people in the car, all of which are dating and two of which are dating each other, which of the three is driving the vehicle and which route do they choose? Rationalize your answer.

A tinny, low-quality ringtone filled the air, effectively ending his musings, and he swallowed as Rory pulled her phone out of her pocket and answered with a bright, bubbly smile. "Logan! Hi," her smile grew and he shifted uncomfortably, fixing his eyes on a point across the lawn.

Thirty seconds later, she was sighing and sounding completely disappointed, and shortly after that she was saying "I love you" to the guy who beat him for first place. If you hesitate for a second, that's where you'll finish. Then the phone was back in her pocket and she was looking at him somewhat oddly.

Marty didn't turn his eyes to her, but he could still feel cornflower irises burning holes into his profile. "How's Logan?" And the question showed far more emotion than he would've liked. He was bitter. For some reason, despite the argument they had about it at Lucy's birthday party, he was desperate for her to realize just how much her rejection fucked him over.

"He's fine," she nodded robotically and he clenched his jaw.

No matter how many times the rich boy fucked up, Marty was never going to be her first choice. And it was hypocritical. Because no matter how much he wanted to believe it, Lucy was never really his either.

--

"God, no wonder you're so upset."

He woke up slowly, blinking to make the room come into focus, and when he realized that he was in Lucy's bed – alone – he sighed and sat up. Another, more mumbled voice came from the living room and he furrowed his brow, running his hand over his eyes slowly. A glance at the clock proved it to be only seven in the morning and he really wanted to kill Olivia for being so desperate for girl talk that early.

Pushing himself off the mattress, he grabbed his sweats off the floor and pulled them up over his hips, forgoing his boxers completely when he couldn't see them in the dim, curtain-filtered-sun-lit room. Marty grabbed a t-shirt and pulled it over his head as he walked into the living room, stopping dead in his tracks at the site of Rory.

Tear-stained cheeks; red eyes; cell phone clutched in her hand.

Suddenly he wanted to kill himself and everyone else who had ever made the girl feel uncomfortable in her own skin. Lucy looked over at him and smiled shortly, then sighed as she wrapped her arm around her friend again. Rory refused to look at him, and it made his stomach churn to know that he was no longer in that role.

He was not the confidante because he refused to move on.

If Rory's relationship is twice as strong as Lucy's, and Marty and Logan are equal in the fuck-up department, what is the difference between the relationships? Write an equation and solve for the variable…

--

Good morning, apocalypse. That's what it was, really, a juxtaposition of two women who were completely different. If he set them on a scale, it would balance perfectly, but if that scale was his heart then it would waver so much that they would both have to be strapped in place to keep from falling off the ride.

"Oh my God, stop being so dramatic," Lucy rolled her eyes and leaned back against him as she talked on the phone. There was a pause as Rory counteracted the statement, and Marty could see her eyes flaring as she bitched his girlfriend out for accusing her of making a big deal out of what Lucy saw as nothing. "It's not like you're breaking up."

He wrapped his arm tighter around her waist and she kissed his cheek gently, smiling softly even as she continued to argue with her new his old their good friend. After a moment she hung up and dropped the phone on the floor, turning to face him and kissing him soundly.

"We're going on a double date," she announced. He stared at her, and he was certain that his jaw was somewhere in the couch cushions. She giggled and kissed him again, running her hands through his hair. "Logan's coming to visit and I totally have to meet the Rory Boyfriend."

"Oh …" he hesitated and she furrowed her brow, starting to frown and open her mouth to argue it out with him. "Sounds good," he cut her off and she stared at him, then smiled and kissed him again before settling back into his side. She hit play on the DVD remote and he swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat.

M equals zero. Solve for L.

--

"I cannot believe you did that," Rory slammed her heels into the ground, speeding up as she dragged him out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk. Marty rolled his eyes and jerked away from her, forcing her to spin and face him once they were out of earshot of the door.

"I didn't do anything," he argued. She glared at him, folding her arms across her chest, and her chest visibly rose and fell as she took a deep breath. He winced.

"You're being a total ass! I understand that you were pissed at me, Marty, but I thought we were past that; things have been fine between us for almost two months, now, and all of a sudden you're being this aloof monosyllabic jerk because your girlfriend asked you to sit through a couple of hours at dinner with Logan and I?"

"I'm not acting any differently around Logan than I ever did before," he countered, and her open mouth shut almost instantly. Her eyes grew sad, reflective, and he had a feeling that she had finally figured it out. When it came down to it, Logan was always first. Or Dean. Or whoever else she had been with, almost been with, been trying to get over ever since they had met.

"I love Logan," she defended herself needlessly, and he shrugged.

"I love Lucy."

There was a pause as she stared at him, and then her curled hair shattered around her shoulders and jaw as she shook her head. "You were never a very good liar, Marty."

He clenched his jaw and closed his eyes tightly, refusing to move even after she pushed past him and went back inside. Turning slowly, he watched as she pasted on a smile and kissed Logan before she sat down, nodding toward the window while speaking to Lucy. The taller girl frowned and grabbed her coat, pulling it on as she walked through the small establishment to get to the door.

When she walked outside, he held a hand up and sighed. "Finish dinner. I'll meet you at the suite later." She looked like she wanted to object, and he sighed again. "Please, Lucy." Lucy stared at him and pouted, and he kept his eyes locked with hers until she shrugged and took a step backward. Marty nodded and turned, hearing her sigh. He kept his gait slow, but she didn't object and he sped up steadily, hopping slightly to get off the sidewalk and across the street. He had a feeling that scrapbook valentines wouldn't save him this time.

But it was always meant to crash and burn. He couldn't help that.