A/N: Ok, so stupid me, I thought the last chapter was the end, but after much encouragement, and several PMs from some super cool party people, I decided to tie up those loose ends. But this is it. The end. I swear! Thank you for all your suggestions and support, y'all are great!
So this time, I'm leaving yet another meeting with my father, and as usual I'm speechless. Unusually, however, I don't feel anger, frustration, or seething hatred. Or even a sore throat, since our 'discussions' often end in shouting matches. Or a desire for a nice, stiff drink.This is a new sensation, let me tell you. I am a bit nervous about talking to Rory about it, though, even though I know she's waiting for me to come over and report on my 'appointment' with my dad. Another strange feeling, leaving a meeting with my dad and thinking of him as my dad, and not Mitchum. Calling him Mitchum usually fits, seeing as I don't consider him to be a dad. I never have until today.
I arrive at my apartment, throw down my stuff, and take out my phone to call Rory. But before I can flip it open, I hear music, and low singing and I know to head to the bathroom. I love having her in my place, I love seeing her stuff everywhere, and I want to ask her to move in. The over-protectiveness of Emily is daunting, and a bit of a hindrance on our sex life, but I don't want her fighting with her grandparents as well. She has enough people angry or disappointed in her. I just have to wait, I guess.
I crack the door open a little, and sure enough, she's got my portable stereo in there with her, and I recognize the music, something she sometimes plays in bed. I'll admit, it's sexy as hell, something Attack, but it doesn't seem to fit her musical taste, which I'm still learning, even after all this time.
Her eyes are closed, and she looks beautiful. Well, she always looks beautiful, but she also seems relaxed. Her ivory skin has turned pink, and I wonder if she's just gotten in there. I clear my throat, and she jumps in the tub, sloshing a wave of water across the lip of the tub and onto the floor.
I lean over to kiss her, and she raises her upper body to meet mine, and I immediately forget what I'd come here to talk to her about. She laces her fingers in the hair at the back of my neck, and pulls me closer to her, causing me to lose my balance. Reflexively, my arm goes to the bottom of the tub to stop me from falling in; she looks up at me and grins, and I realize exactly where my hand is when she rubs herself onto my wrist. The water is almost cold, and she's incredibly warm and wet, and not water-wet either. All of a sudden, the pinkness in her face is explained, and I know just what she'd been up to before I got here. Damn, if only I had arrived a bit earlier! My thoughts are instantly clouded by her bare wet chest against mine, and I'm barely aware of her hands moving to rid me of my shirt.
I whisper against her neck, "Hey there, Ace, did you miss me?"
"Very much," she breathes, taking my hand that's in the water and sliding herself onto my finger. Good lord, that's got to be one of the sexiest things she's ever done, and my breath catches. "You know, you should've been here about 5 minutes earlier, Logan. I really could've used a hand."
My eyebrow raises, and I have to make sure I'm not imagining things, so I say, "Seems like you had it under control without me, Ace."
She continues sliding herself up and down as I move another finger inside her, teasing her with my thumb, and whispers, "It's never enough, I'm never enough anymore, I need you," as she nibbles my ear. I realize just what she's telling me, I feel the same way very often, so I make sure she gets more than enough. After her body tightens and quivers for the third time, she looks exhausted but sated, so I scoop her up from the cold water, wrap her in one of the obscenely large fluffy towels she insisted that I buy, and carry her to the bed. She nestles herself into my side, and then sits up with a start, "Wait! I should be the one taking care of you, not the other way around! You had that meeting with the devil!"
"Ace, just watching you is pleasure enough for me sometimes," I admit, and her eyes widen in surprise. I guess she didn't expect that, but it's true. Knowing that I'm the one who made her glow like that, who made her so happy, all problems momentarily forgotten… well, that vision stays with me all day.
"Oh, don't make me say 'so' again, Logan! What happened with Mitchum?"
"Well, it's a good thing you're sitting down, because I think you might fall over from the shock."
"Get to it already, I don't need a prologue!" She pauses, taking me in. "Something's different. You're smiling!" she accuses me, poking me in the chest. "You're smiling after a meeting with your father! This, this needs to be documented, pictures hung in the Smithsonian, "Milestones in the Life and Times of America's Royals" or something like that. It went well, I take it? I mean..."
"If you want to hear the story, let me tell it, woman!" I say in fake frustration, knowing that sometimes, once she gets on a roll, it's hard to stop her. Although I revel in the fact that she's figured it out before I even start, just from my smile.
"Ohhhhkaaaay," she says, stretching out the word, rolling her eyes.
"I sat down with him, not at his desk. I wanted us on equal footing, so we sat in those armchairs in the corner, you know, the hard red leather ones that are less comfy than a dentist's chair but more comfy than a torture device." Oh lord, I'm rambling like her.
A little flustered, I continue, "I laid everything out, I even showed him the paper we wrote this morning, and he laughed. I mean a real laugh, Ror, not one of those society laughs he does so well. He seemed to understand how serious I was, how serious we are, and agreed to every point on our paper. Every last one."
Her mouth is hanging open, and I have to tell her, "I know! I looked a lot like you do right now, mouth agape, sitting in shock. Get this, my dad actually told me that he was proud of me."
She looks like she's been hit by a truck. And she's speechless, so I think that should go in the Smithsonian as well.
"He said that he was glad I didn't allow myself to be steamrolled by him, that I stood up for what I wanted, for what I believed, instead of just contradicting everything he said, as I usually do," I add, smirking.
"And he admitted that his father tried to do the same thing to him, and that's when he stood up to him, and disappeared for a while, traveling, writing, learning about the news but outside of HPG."
She nods in realization. "That must be that 'Jesus-time' I discovered when I was researching him!" she exclaims.
"Exactly. And he told me that's when he found my mother, something to piss granddad off. He said that he was actually a little jealous, that not only have I found someone to love and who loves me back, but that I've also found a partner, someone who complements me perfectly. I think he was just waiting for me to stop fighting for the sake of fighting, and instead fight for myself," I say, gauging her reaction.
"Wow. I know, Yale education, I should be able to come up with something better, but that's just, wow. Do you think he means it, that he won't change his mind later?" she nervously asks, biting her lip. I love that she's so concerned about me, and my future. My last name has never meant anything to her, and it never will. That means so much to me.
"He's actually going to have it drawn up into a contract, which will go into effect the day I graduate and start working full-time for HPG. I have to meet with him and the lawyers next week to go through it, and sign it. He seems serious, Ace."
"Again, all I can come up with is wow." Her face is lit up, and she looks so happy for me, for us, that I think this is a good time to say what I have to say.
"I know. And I had this revelation, Ace, driving over here. My standing up to the tyrant I never thought of as a dad can in no way be harder than you talking to your other better half, and have you looked outside?" King of the segues, that's me.
She looks utterly confused, and it's adorable. "What are you talking about?"
"Go look." I'm betting a lot here, but I think this might be the kick in the butt she needs. She's told me about this weird relationship she and Lorelai have with this weather, and I wonder just how strong it is.
She tiptoes to the window, the towel still wrapped around her, and peeks out at the campus.
"It's snowing! How on earth can it be snowing? I didn't smell it, it's not possible! Snow knows that it must announce itself to the Gilmore Girls' olfactory senses before anyone else, that's just common courtesy, and…"
I have to interrupt, "Hey Ace, did you ever stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, you were a little too preoccupied earlier to notice? It was snowing when I got here."
"Well, why didn't you say so?"
"Remember how preoccupied you were?" I point out.
She blushes furiously, clearly remembering her time in the tub, and it takes all I have not to pull her back down to the bed. "The instant I saw you, I was the same," I'm not ashamed to admit.
"Okay, so get dressed, you miscreant, we have a friend to greet!" she smiles, as we pull on jeans and sweaters very quickly, but I catch the hint of sadness in her voice. I know, as much as she loves me, that I'm not the one she wants to share the first snow with. That honor lies with Lorelai.
"I have a better idea, Ace. How about a drive to Stars Hollow? Go for that walk with your mom, have cocoa at Luke's?" I look at her imploringly, and I can see she's scared.
"Ace? Ace, look at me. Lorelai came to your birthday party…"
"But she left without saying goodbye!"
"We've talked about this, Ace. I'm sure she felt uncomfortable, and out of place, and you know she would never set foot in her parents' house if it wasn't for you. Or drink a Rory," I smirk. "But she took that step. It's your turn now. I think the snow is a sign." I hope she doesn't see this as pushing, just gentle coaxing. Hell, if I could get her to jump off that scaffold...
"But I don't want to fight with her again, it hurts too much. Fighting with her, my grandparents, Jess-- it's just too much."
"Then don't." I take her hands into mine and rub my thumbs over hers, trying to reassure her. "Just walk together, and if you talk, then talk calmly. Just be with her. I'll bet she wants to share the snow with you, too. Plus, she's not nearly as scary as my dad," I add, earning a weak smile. I see her thinking, and know she'll do it.
She takes a deep breath. "Okay," she says firmly, her face and voice reminding me of when she decided to jump with me last year. That's my girl. She's not weak, she's one of the strongest people I know.
"Do you want me to drive?" I offer, knowing that inside she's a wreck, much like I was on my way to my dad's earlier this evening, and I don't want her driving like this, especially on snowy, slushy roads.
"Please," she says with a real smile. I don't know if she realizes how lucky she is to have a mom like Lorelai. She's had more parental love and attention and support in her life than me and my friends combined. I am a bit envious of that, not in a bad way, just wistful, I guess. I do understand her mom's reaction to Ace not being in school, but the removal of that support system broke her daughter. I'm doing the best I can, but I know I'm a poor substitute for Lorelai. I truly believe that Rory is my soul mate, but I also believe that she has been blessed with two: me and her mom.
The drive is silent, and I can imagine all the thoughts running through her head. My hand stays on her knee, letting her know yet again that I'm here, and that I'm not going anywhere. She keeps worrying her lip, and I raise my hand to stop her, running my thumb over the red marks. She kisses my thumb softly, and sighs, "Thank you."
Is this for stopping her destruction of my favorite lips in the world, or for getting her to visit her mom? Before I can ask, we are pulling up to her mom's house. I lean over, placing my hands on both sides of her face, and pull her gently towards me. I kiss her forehead, her nose, and her lips, and murmur, "Call me when you're ready. You can do this, Ace."
She nods determinedly, "I know", takes a deep breath, and opens the door. I watch her disappear into her childhood home. Leaving her car in the driveway, I decide to have my own snow walk. See if it's all it's cracked up to be. Right as I'm turning around the trees, I see Rory dragging Lorelai outside, laughing, putting a hat on her as they descend the stairs together.
And I know everything is going to be ok. Maybe not right away, but I feel like today is a turning point not just in our relationship, but in our lives. She is home to me, but she has two: me and her mom. And I wouldn't change that for the world.
THE END, I swear!!!!!
BTW, the music she's listening to is Massive Attack.