Scene From a Wedding Crash

"I am officially not working for the Huntzberger group anymore," Logan confirmed. Rory shot him a surprised look.

"Oh, my God."

Rory said it quietly, letting his words sink in. They didn't quite, not yet. But the music and happy chatter coming from Mia's house, the angry, indignant, background static buzzing in her head faded away, muted, as she gradually realized the magnitude of what Logan had done. Why he had flown all the way to North Carolina. What he had come to tell her.

Logan cleared his throat, not breaking his gaze from Rory's. "Yeah…and it feels really good. I mean, it felt great finally standing up to my Dad."

She turned her head away from him again, to his frustration. Rory, please look at me, he pleaded inwardly, staring at the black barette that pulled her brown waves back from her broad forehead. I just told you that I'm breaking away from Mitchum's hold on me, after all these years, and…damn it, look at me!

Instead, she stared at the length of parked cars stretching endlessly ahead of her. "How did he take it?" she wondered aloud, with just the slightest hint of interest in her voice.

Did he shout at you? Curse, rant, rave? Give you any more heartache than you've already experienced as his son for the past 25 years? Her chest tightened involuntarily at the thought of Mitchum hurling invectives at Logan. Her chocolate cake felt stuck in her throat.

"He tried to put up this cool detached front, you know, but I think I actually saw steam coming out of his ears. Basically, he told me to hit the road."

"And you took him literally."

"I just needed to see you. The thing is, even though he was mad, I swear I saw the slightest glimmer of pride in his eyes, you know just for a second. I mean, no one walks out on Mitchum Huntzberger."

I just needed to see you. The words were not lost on her, as her anger and worry over his recent behavior almost gave way completely to an impulse to reach out and hold him. No one walks out on Mitchum, at least not without leaving a trail of blood at his wake. But Logan had finally faced his innermost demon and done just that. He needed to see me, tell me. Is he okay? I love him. She felt slightly confused and overwhelmed by this unexpected move of his. How typical of him, and how typical of me, she thought sardonically.

She still wouldn't look at him. He was beginning to feel defeated, and for a split second, worried that his coming over was a futile exercise, that his wake-up call came a little too late.

Then she spoke. "I'm proud of you, too," she said simply, gifting him with a sidelong glance. "I almost wish I'd saved you a bite of cake," deliberately taunting him as she licked her fork clean.

They finally smiled at each other.

His hands were cold. From staying out by Emily's car in wait for her, or from nervousness, he wasn't sure. But he felt happier and more…settled than he had ever felt, especially in these last weeks. So this is what it took to feel this way. Not booze nor noisy distraction. It took him looking his father in the eye, and telling Mitchum that he needed to move on and go his own way. Away from the expectations and perpetual disappointment. Away from his own fear of not living up to his father's accomplishments, the fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. It wasn't easy; all his life, he's never known anything else, was never prepared for anything else except working for his father. But it felt right.

He couldn't have done this without her, without his certainty that she loved him. He looked at Rory, who was now using the tines of her fork to trace circular patterns with the leftover icing on her saucer. He noticed the chocolate smudge at the right corner of her mouth, smearing up slightly to her cheek.

"You, uh…have a…" The air between them was quiet and strangely awkward. New. He motioned to her with his fingers, wiping some imaginary stain against his own mouth.

"Oh…" Predictably, she rubbed the wrong side of her mouth.

He stifled a laugh as he sidled down the side of the car, stretching his arm out to graze her right cheek with his thumb. She reddened, suddenly shy. He dropped his hand again, but she took it, and pressed his palm to her cheek.

"Logan."

"Hey."

They simultaneously moved towards each other and embraced tightly, Logan's hand continuing to press her cheek against his neck. He kissed her forehead, her nose, and she finally tilted her face so he can reach her mouth. Their lips, then tongues, moved restlessly against each other, alternating between tenderness and urgency. Logan reached under Rory's coat to rub his hands against her thinly clothed back, as they rested their foreheads against the other's in a brief pause.

"Your hands are very cold," Rory complained softly.

"Hm, that cake was very good. And my hands are cold because you've been punishing me."

"Hey, don't make me out to be heartless. I've been worried sick about you. And I've missed you, you know. You've been so distant—"

"I'm sorry for the way I was acting," he repeated unneccesarily. "Can you let go of that fork, please?"

"—though I know you probably didn't mean to be. You were so spaced out all the time,"

"I panicked when you wouldn't pick up your phone; for a moment there I wondered whether we had broken up again without breaking up—"

"and it seemed you preferred Colin and Finn's company to mine," she ruefully continued.

"—because I really was such a jerk to you the other morning, when I knew you were right. I knew what you were thinking, Rory, I guess that's why I avoided you, in a way."

"My mother and I bought two suits the other day, and the Detroit Free Press called for an interview, but the Times hasn't again."

"You should really put this down," he said, extricating the fork and saucer from her fingers and placing it on the roof of the car, as she awkwardly continued to clutch at his arm with one hand.

"I did call you a jerk, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did. Quite the throwback to my butt-faced miscreant days, but the jerk loves you for calling him a jerk, and—"

"The jerk is likewise loved and forgiven."

"Thank you."

Disjointed, rushed, and barely intelligible, their hushed conversation was the long-drawn out apology that served to set things right between them. Logan bent his head to kiss Rory again, who was thankful to have the car against her back to support her increasingly wobbly legs. They plucked and sucked at each other's lips, teeth grazing, breaths mingling. They hadn't kissed so…thoroughly in a while, and both felt breathless and slightly delirious at the end of it.

"Maybe it's because this is Grandma's car, and we're standing in front of my mother's surrogate mother's house, but I feel like a teenager and suddenly inappropriate," Rory whispered apologetically, self-consciously, as Logan's hands moved restlessly under her coat, his fingers grazing the hem of her short dress. Guests began to trickle out of Mia's front door.

Logan removed his hands and ran them through his hair. "Guess this would have to wait the—how many miles is it?—back to New Haven. Unless…" Logan playfully peeked through the window to check out the back seat.

"Right," Rory rolled her eyes. "And in what perverted fantasy did you have us making out at the back seat of a car while my Grandmother drove and my mother sat at the front seat?"

"Huh, but you said you missed me," Logan replied, looking wounded.

"Actually…" Rory bit her bottom lip, uncertain about how to tell Logan that she didn't think it was fair to Lorelai and Emily that she bring him along in the road trip, or that she abandon them to fly back to New York with him.

"Oh, Ace, don't worry about it," he said, reading her face. "I'm the wedding crasher here, okay? You should finish your trip with Lorelai and Emily. It's the least I can do after you let me blow off my steam and have my fun with Col and Finn."

"Great, now I feel like the loser girl, who would rather hang out with her mother and grandmother over her boyfriend who's only too willing to be her se—her slave," she quickly amended.

Logan chuckled. "I don't know, Ace. Looks to me like you—all of you—had a good time." He tipped his head towards the front lawn, where Lorelai and Emily were laughing and saying their goodbyes to Howard and some other guests. Lorelai had her arm slung casually through Emily's.

"Yeah. It was good. It was good to see Mia again. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories for me and my mom. Though perhaps painful memories for Grandma. She'll forever associate Mia with the time my mom left home, left her."

A brief silence ensued, as Logan pondered how Rory's words hit so close to home. "I wonder if…do you think…I wonder if my father would ever forgive me for leaving?"

Rory laced her fingers through Logan's. "I thought you felt he was proud of you?"

"Glimmer, Ace, I said I saw a glimmer of pride. And that may be wishful thinking on my part. Last-ditch hope that I'm making the ol' man Huntzberger proud." He shook his head side to side, slowly. "He's more angry or disappointed than proud. And until I'm able to make something of myself, on my own, I might as well be persona non grata in my clan. I can change my name, and he wouldn't care now."

"Oh, Logan." She leaned her head against his arm. She wanted to say, that's not true. But recalling her conversation with Mitchum at Logan's birthday dinner, maybe it was. She did say, "You will make something of yourself; you already have." Because that was true. "And you don't have to prove yourself to anyone, except maybe yourself."

He looked down at her earnest face. "You think so?" He rubbed the grass beneath his shoes. "I still feel…what's the word? Oh right, stupid. Stupid. And stupid."

"Hey, even the best of them had made one gargantuan business blunder or other. There are fallen, bankrupt skeletons in many a savvy businessman's closet. There's Steve Jobs, James Murdoch, Richard Gilmore…"

"Bankrupt skeletons?"

"…you just have to stop flagellating yourself and move on."

"Well, there's nowhere else for me to go but…'on'. I'm totally, absolutely—"

"Poor?" Rory stifled a laugh. "God, Paris would have a field day with that inconceivable notion."

"I was about to say 'starting from scratch', but yes, if you want to go down to the specifics, that means I'm poor in a manner of speaking, relatively. Technically, I still have…uh, something left over from my trust fund," Rory rolled her eyes heavenward at that. "But as the way things now stand between me and Mitchum, I prefer not to touch that. Not now or in the near future." His face turned pensive, his voice serious.

"Hm, define 'something left over'," Rory asked lightly. "A ballpark figure…say, three, five million dollars?"

"Are you mocking me?"

"Always. We'll be poor and happy. And you know, we can always sell my Birkin at eBay when we've turned desperate."

"Thanks for the support," Logan replied drily. "I knew that Birkin was a good investment."

Teasing still, Rory had made air quotes with her fingers at the word poor. They both knew that neither of them were, not really. But in a way, the thought of starting anew—him finally on his own, her graduating from college—gave them a buzz of excitement, as they clasped each other's hands tighter.

"I'll help you with your resumes!"

"Resumes?" He laughed at her child-like glee. "I thought people needed just one. Unless they had multiple personalities. Or were freaks like you and Paris."

"Paris had convinced me that you need to tailor-fit each resume to the particular company or job you're applying for. What sort of a business mogul are you?" she retorted, in her best school-marm tone.

"The kind who has a bankrupt skeleton in his closet, apparently. But hey, I look forward to Paris writing up a checklist of positions for me to apply to, except for anything that would entail me wearing tights and balancing a ball on my nose. Maybe I'll have my own dedicated whiteboard, with my own color-coded entries."

"She's beginning to like you, you know. But not that much."

"Logan! What a surprise to see you here! Where's your chopper? Can I hitch, pretty please?" Lorelai called out from a distance, as she and Emily approached the couple cautiously. Enough of a distance away for Rory and Logan to put a fraction of more socially acceptable space between them. Looks like the "tough" in the "tough love" had all but crumbled, Lorelai thought, smiling inwardly at her daughter's glowing face.

"Really, Lorelai, do you have to be so rude?" Emily whispered sharply beside her.

"Good evening, Lorelai, Emily," Logan nodded politely at them. "I know, I'm sorry, I just keep popping up…" he added, a bit sheepishly.

"Oh, nonsense," Emily soothed. "This at least is a much happier occasion than when we saw you last."

Rory and Lorelai raised their brows and exchanged a meaningful look at Emily's unconscious use of the word happy. Logan caught the look between mother and daughter, and knew it was time to take off and leave the three Gilmore girls to themselves. He moved to open the passenger side for Lorelai, as Emily unlocked the doors. Rory excused herself to say goodbye to Mia and Howard back in the house.

"Hm, now you're making me wish we brought a man along," Lorelai sighed as she slid into her seat.

"Nice to be of service, in any way," Logan laughed.

"You keep that in mind, mister. Chauffer and valet duty is part and parcel of being my daughter's boyfriend. That, and lobster cook. Which you've already fulfilled to satisfaction. Hey, I had lobster for lunch yesterday and I thought of you!" Lorelai gabbed on mercilessly.

"Have a nice, safe trip, Lorelai, Emily." Logan bid them farewell through the window.

"Oh, you won't be joining us, Logan?" Emily asked.

"No. Thank you. I have to return right away to New York. I'll see you both soon," Logan replied, raising his hand in a wave as he stepped away.

Rory motioned to Lorelai and Emily to wait for her a bit, as she half-ran to follow Logan further down the sidewalk. He opened his arms to her and she fell naturally into his tight embrace.

"You'll be okay?" she whispered against his ear.

"Yeah, I'll squander a few more precious dollars and have a cab take me to the airport."

"That's not what I meant." Unexpectedly, Rory took his face between her hands, and kissed him hard and fervently. "You'll be okay." It was no longer a question, but a statement of fact.

"You and your father, too."

Logan glanced momentarily at Emily's car. The typically warring Gilmore mother and daughter appeared to be chatting pleasantly enough, studiously averting their eyes at his and Rory's parting.

"Maybe. Eventually. I'm still not sure about how much I really care." He kissed her hair and murmured, "Right now, I have my future ahead of me. I have you. I think I'm more than okay, Rory. I'm happy."

E N D.