Disclaimer: I don't own any Gilmore Girls characters yadda yadda yadda
The bar was only slightly busy. Well, what did he expect on a Wednesday night? That was okay. One doesn't need a crowded bar to get drunk in. A nearly empty bar would do just fine.
As he sat at a bar stool the bartender was already setting down a glass of scotch for him. He'd been living here for a month, and most of the bartenders in the vicinity already knew him as a regular.
The fact that he was at a bar almost every night should have bothered him.
He knew he wasn't an alcoholic. He wasn't drinking because he liked to or because he felt that he needed to. He could stop if he wanted to. He just didn't want to. He was drinking to keep her image from invading his mind. He was drinking to forget Rory Gilmore.
Logan Huntzberger settled into his seat and wondered at just how much things in his life had changed—had completely fallen apart. Without Rory, Logan felt as if all he did was try to forget that he was without Rory. Alcohol and easy girls would only fill the void for so long.
He waved for a second scotch and silently ordered himself not to stick his hand in his pocket and retrieve the paper stored there. It would only bring him pain. But his hand seemed to be connected to his heart, and his heart seemed to love suffering. Logan pulled out the folded sheet and laid it on the counter. It was a short article dated back a month and a half. It was the last article penned by Rory that he had yet to read. His last link to her. And he knew that as soon as he read the damn thing, it wouldn't hold nearly as much importance. He had tracked down all of her journalistic endeavors that he hadn't read yet, and when he had a stack of them, there was always something to look forward to. This was his last one. His last part of Rory that seemed alive, that still had hope.
He had plenty of reminders of Rory, ones he often wished he could dispose of. But he couldn't bring himself to erase her from his life. So he kept the pillow that smelled ever so faintly of her. He kept the dress she had left behind when she moved—it was the one from her first Life and Death Brigade experience; he had bought it for her. He kept the old copy of The Old Man and the Sea they had taken turns reading over and over again. He kept the picture of the two of them on their first anniversary—it had been an amazing feat for him, and they'd celebrated alone together at their favorite old Italian restaurant.
He stared at the article, trying to tell himself he wouldn't be reading it. He sure as hell didn't want to read it.
And yet he craved to take in her eloquent, stylistic writing that made it seem as if she were right there next to him. He craved it almost as much as he craved her presence.
He gave in. His eyes quickly scanned the short piece; God, it was short. As he read he could almost see her typing it, as she used to do on their bed back in the old apartment. Her eyes were focused, deep in concentration. Her hands of ivory silk were moving deftly across the keys. Her hair was messy, not combed after sleep—inspiration often struck her early in the morning—she didn't notice it. Her face held the smirk she unwittingly got when she knew her writing was great.
And it was great.
It was witty, cohesive, and sophisticated. It was fresh. He'd hire her in a second to work at his paper. And that was coming from the vice-president of one of the most successful newspaper companies in the world, not just from the man who was desperately longing for her.
Every paper must be going mad for her back home. Funny how he still considered home to be the East Coast. He contemplated the idea of San Francisco being his permanent residence and shuddered slightly. He wasn't the California type. He didn't like the idea of being thousands of miles away from his favorite sledding spot, the old dog left at his parents' house in Connecticut, his best friends, and…her. Logan had checked every paper he could get his hands on for something of Rory's, but he'd had no luck. Maybe she was still pitting them against each other so she could get the best deal. That had to be it. A writer like this couldn't be unemployed.
Logan ordered his third scotch of the night. He was just getting started. It would take a lot more than this to remove her scent, her laugh, her face, and everything else about her from his thoughts.
He was half way through his fifth scotch and starting lose some of his moroseness when Logan felt eyes on him. He glanced around, hoping it wasn't another gossip reporter. He was a businessman, not a celebrity.
The red head in the corner was eyeing him. She had a great face and a great body. She was wearing a tight dress that exposed her in all the right places. This little number would get any man chomping at the bit. Logan sighed.
He'd probably go home with her.
His good looks and natural charisma got him anyone he wanted without hesitation. Even if he'd been a repulsively ugly guy who couldn't put a sentence together all he would have to do was wear a name tag, and the ladies would flock to him. Most young socialites had known who he was on sight even before he'd been featured in all the tabloids. Apparently there weren't too many young, handsome, single millionaires around. He was a rung on the social ladder. Before, he had used that to his advantage whenever possible. Before Rory. He guessed he was doing that again now.
God, he made himself sick.
He glanced at the red head again. Yep, she'd give any man an instant boner. He took another swig of scotch. Logan knew this one wouldn't be any different than all the others. She'd come over with some excuse to chat. He'd let her flirt with him, waiting patiently until she proposed they go back to his place. He rarely had to do the proposing in these types of situations any more.
The word he'd merely thought stung him. Propose. Propose. It had once seemed such an exhilarating, wonderful word. Now it was tainted with a myriad of emotions, all of them negative.
The leggy red head tapped him lightly on the shoulder. So she'd snuck up on him.
Here it goes again.
He knew he'd get her into bed in an hour or less. He knew he'd be trying so hard not to think of Rory the whole time that she'd be all he could think about. He knew because it was always the same.
Right after the sex, Logan was always in his own personal hell. He believed this was when the break-up most affected him. It was then that everything hit him head on and hiding was impossible. He couldn't escape the knowledge that he was going through women faster that he ever had before knowing Rory, just to get her off his mind. He would let the new girl stay in the bed for a few minutes then explain he had business early the next morning and that she had to get out. He never let the girl stay the night. He could barely keep himself from jumping up off the bed the second the deed was done. It killed him that the woman next to him wasn't his Ace. It killed him. The guilt would hit his stomach, and he could feel the pain in his very soul.
His attempts to move on always backfired.
And yet, he seemed to forget that every night she was on his brain. Which was every night he wasn't consumed with work. Those nights were the ones he would unhook his phones to keep himself from calling Rory's cell. He didn't want to be the desperate ex-boyfriend. He still had a few shreds of pride. Sitting on his hands like that he'd get restless and head straight for the bars. There he'd pick up some…some cunt (that was a word that hadn't even crossed his mind in the years he'd been with Rory—oh God, years) to satisfy him.
But he was never satisfied.
He finished his scotch in a gulp that burned his throat and turned to face the red head, plastering a slightly grimacing smile across his face.
A Bus Somewhere in the US
Rory Gilmore looked out the window at the gray skies and slow drizzle with a slight pout on her pretty face. It had been raining for hours. She closed her eyes. Rain, rain go away. Come again another day. She peeked out the window. Rats. It hadn't worked the last four times, and it hadn't worked this time.
She stifled a yawn. This bus travel thing was starting to get monotonous. At least there would be a little excitement later that day. Soon they'd be making a stop to pick up a few reporters from the southern states. She would no longer be the newbie. Rory hoped they wouldn't all be the old, grizzled type like most of the rest of her colleagues. There were only a couple of reporters her age following Obama. Greg Curtis, a stuffy bore, was twenty-six and spent most of his time reading and/or quoting the Bible. Tina Matthews, twenty-three—Rory's age, was fiercely competitive. She always thought Rory was trying to one up or sabotage her. Tina reminded her of early-Chilton Paris Gellar quite a bit. At least Paris had eventually gotten better. Well, slightly better.
Rory had actually just gotten off the phone with her old roommate. She was settling in at Harvard Med School nicely with Doyle by her side. Paris had rattled on about how many of their old Yale friends were doing, emphasizing her triumph over their sorry situations. Rory had barely said a word, the usual in any conversation with this…intense…young lady.
"Grace got rejected to every grad school she applied to. Now she's going into massage therapy. Great way to use that Yale education, huh? Idiot. Sarah's in law school. Can you believe it? That timid little push-over trying to put an axe-murderer behind bars? Tough luck for—well for the general public, that's who. If you're going to commit a murder, make sure Sarah's the prosecutor of your trial. You'll be back on the streets and killing people in no time. Jimmy got hired by the Littleton Post in Oregon. What a dead end gig that'll be. What a sap. He used the thesaurus more than anyone on the Daily News. On the complete other end of the spectrum, guess who's now the VP of the 'Mightiest Press Empire of Our Time.' Loga—"
Paris had abruptly stopped speaking at that point. That little slip was enough to send pain shooting through Rory's entire body. She'd heard tidbits about Logan Huntzberger and his success, and each of those tidbits had sent her into despair. Thinking about Logan only brought her grief. The fact that he was such a public figure these days only made things harder.
"Sorry, forgot who I was talking to," Paris continued.
Rory had told her it was fine. She was fine. Everything was fine.
It had been a lie.
She was the opposite of fine.
If only she hadn't balked. She began to lament over it for the thousandth time. Logan Huntzberger, the man she loved, had offered her everything. He had shown just how much he'd changed from the playboy he'd once been. He'd tried to prove to her that he wanted to be with her forever. But the idea of marriage scared her. In her mind, it was like a prison. And, in all honesty, she blamed her mother for that. Her blue eyes weren't the only things Rory had inherited from Lorelai. The fear of such a committed relationship was also passed on. At first she had blamed the entire demise of her happiness on her mom, but she knew that was unfair. Rory had to be responsible for her own decisions, however foolhardy.
She missed Logan every day. His smile. His humor. His touch. What really got to her was the fact that she had ended things. She had brought the constant ache of his absence upon herself. And at this very moment she wished more than anything that she could have a re-do. Why couldn't the world be like Clue—her mother had always let her make her guess of the murderer, weapon, and location at least three times if she wasn't exactly right.
Part of her believed that if she called him now he would take her back willingly. And part of her thought he must have moved on by now. Paris had said he was the new VP of his father's company. That was huge. She knew it wasn't nepotism—Logan had earned that spot with the success of his internet company. Her pride and lack of courage both stood in the way of her contacting Logan.
Rory closed her eyes and saw him in one of those moments when his friends weren't around and they were completely alone together. When it was just the two of them, his face lost that oh-so-confident, slightly haughty air about it, and he became the full-hearted, intelligent, sweet man that she knew and loved more than anything. He didn't feel the pressure to be someone else with her, and that knowledge made her feel extremely special.
Rory recalled the party she had thrown over a year ago for her boyfriend on the eve of his departure for London. It was as if she were living it again. The last of his friends filed out of their apartment. Relief seemed to flood his face, and his arms were immediately around her waist, pulling her to him.
"'Ay gov'nuh, 'ands off the merchandise," she trilled in her horrible English accent.
"Rory, I think I'll have enough England while I'm actually in England. Now I just want you."
"Little old me?" she asked, now flaunting her expert Southern accent.
"Fine, be a spoil sport." Rory removed the hat and wig of her costume, letting her shiny brown hair fall free.
"That's the ugly American I know and love."
"Insulting me in my own home. I wish you'd just get out of here—go to England or something," she joked.
"I'll do my best." He kissed her lightly. He brought his lips up to her temple and began to whisper. "What'll I do without you, Ace? I can't be myself when you're not with me. I'm going to lose myself when I'm a whole country away. Promise me I won't lose you."
She held out her pinky; he laughed, took it in his, and the deal was made.
"Logan…I love you…"
He picked her up, heading toward their bed.
"Right back at ya, Ace."
The words echoed in her head, making her feel renewed guilt and despair. His confession of needing her to be himself had touched her. He had whispered the words with such genuine passion… his sincerity was tangible. She felt his breath on her forehead as he whispered those words. His face rubbing against her own. His lips on her skin. His hands on her back working their way down to her—she opened her eyes.
She couldn't do this to herself again. She'd only miss him more.
Rory wiped at the tears that had mysteriously sprung into her eyes. She ignored the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her, knowing these feelings weren't being erased but stored somewhere deep inside. Someday she would have to cope with them. She imagined that when that day came and the heartache hit her full force, she wouldn't be able to function.
She closed her eyes again and leaned against the window. She let her thoughts glide over other, less distressing things. What she would buy and send to Stars Hollow for her mother—Lorelai had a birthday coming up. When she would call Lane next. What her next article—the one she would write for her own pleasure, not for publication—would cover. Whether or not this miserable rain would ever let up.
Slowly she began to drift off to sleep.
Rory was being spun around in little circles as music that was popular years ago played almost deafeningly. There were young couples dancing closely all around her. The place was packed, and she felt herself sweating. It was hard to move; Rory looked down. She was wearing a beautiful, floor-length blue gown (made by her mother) that matched her eyes and the streamers covering the Stars Hollow High Gym
It hit her then. She was at prom. This was the senior prom she'd never gotten to go to. Why? Why hadn't she attended…?
There were Lane and Dave, finally together. There were Dean and Lindsay, unmarried and happy.
She realized that the hands spinning her round and round must belong to one man, and one man alone. She couldn't get a good look at him—he was spinning her too fast.
She managed to catch a glimpse of dark hair slicked back. She was right; she had to be. The spinning continued for a seemingly unending amount of time, and Rory began to feel sick. She needed to not be spinning anymore. She needed to be standing still and stable.
The music switched to a slow song, and the spinning stopped. Rory faced her dance partner, still feeling dizzy.
There he was.
The reason she had missed prom. She looked him over. He was dressed as a T-Bird from Grease. He even had a cigarette behind his ear. It seemed perfectly natural. Rory stared at him a while then reached out and rubbed his leather jacket between two of her fingers, raising an eyebrow at him. He rolled his eyes at her.
"We gonna dance or what?" he mumbled.
She nodded. He put his arms around her and they swayed slowly. She'd forgotten how tender he could sometimes be. She closed her eyes, letting herself get lost in this moment.
"Rory, promise me you won't forget this," he whispered in her ear.
She laughed at him. How could she possibly forget her own prom? It was a silly request.
He brought his lips to her forehead, an intense look still on his face.
"Don't laugh. Just remember."
Rory was confused. His voice was filled with urgency.
"I miss you."
It was she that made this statement to him. And it was true.
Their eyes met. He leaned in to bring his lips to hers.
Meanwhile, the bus came to a stop, and the six new reporters climbed onto the bus, travel bags and lap tops in tow. One was over fifty, three were in their forties, and one was about thirty. The remaining reporter was twenty-three years old. This single young writer stopped short as he walked down the aisle, causing the woman behind him grumble under her breath.
There, in the last row, was a sleeping brunette he'd known once.
Back in high school. Before he'd fucked everything up. Before he'd left. Before he'd had to leave.
He swore under his breath. He could barely believe it was her. He could barely believe he might be getting another chance. He blinked, and she was still there. He rubbed his hand across his eyes. She hadn't disappeared.
He repositioned his bag's strap so it wasn't pulling so much on his leather jacket and made his way to her seat. The woman behind muttered something about arrogant young assholes.
Jess kissed her, his tongue massaging her lips. The couple was suddenly in the gazebo in town square. Rory looked around, amazed. Jess brought a hand up to caress her face and opened his mouth to say something. She couldn't hear him. She strained her ears, trying to make out his unspoken words.
She felt herself being shaken.
Jess was fading and Rory was aware of her head pressed against a cold, slightly damp window pane.
Rory opened her eyes with difficulty, noting that the rain had finally subsided. She stiffened. Someone was sitting next to her. In the act of sitting down he had accidentally jostled her awake. She looked over, prepared to chew this person out for not sitting in another seat or, at least, for not sitting in hers a little more gracefully.
She stopped short, her mouth still open. Her eyes filled with recognition, and a gasp caught in her throat. She hadn't seen the man before her in years.
"Wh—What are you doing here?" she stammered.
He smirked a little and cocked his head. "You weren't expecting me? You don't think I should be here?"
"No," she stated bluntly
"Nice to see you, too. Mary."
AN: So who would've thought it was Tristan getting on the bus? Anyone? Anyone? Haha, that was my attempt at shiftiness. So this is set about a month after Rory's graduation. I'm going to try to keep it as true to where the series left things as possible. I don't really understand exactly how the Obama press tour would work in reality and I don't want to research it, so in the future, I'll be doing some guessing…that is, if there is a future to this thing. This was my first fic…I hope it wasn't too terrible.