Here's a little known fact about me: I love Holiday fics. I really do. And I always start them and never finish them in time for the actual holiday. I'm horrible with deadlines. Because of this, there are a handful of half-finished holiday fics saved on my computer and I've decided that who cares what the month is, I'm going to finish them all one by one. Instead of posting them separately, I'm going to post them as a collection of one-shots. Unless otherwise specified, each fic will be a standalone, having nothing to do with the one before or after it. They'll be from different time periods, ranging from fluff to angst and everywhere in between. The only common thread will be the Logan/Rory pairing, as if I could write anything else.
Summary: And after all, what is a lie? 'Tis nothing but the truth in a masquerade.
Genre: Angst, AU
Time period: Future-fic. 5 years after the finale to be exact.
Author's Notes: This piece is partly inspired by an episode of Gossip Girl, and by General Hospital's Halloween episodes around the Bacchanalia Ball. For those unsure of what that means:
The Bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek God Bacchus. The term has since extended to refer to any drunken revelry, often in the form of a masquerade ball.
And after all, what is a lie? 'Tis nothing but the truth in a masquerade.
When she was little, Halloween had meant nothing more to Rory Gilmore than having the best costume in her class and five pounds of candy. Lorelai had made it easily more favorable than any other holiday, Christmas included. No matter what their living situation, it was always a day of treats and fun; and once she was old enough to fully appreciate it, good old-fashioned scaring and harmless pranks.
As the years passed though, Halloween became less and less of what she knew when she was younger and grew into something infinitely more mature. Sure, she still adored the candy, and of course, she and Lorelai still delighted in pulling pranks on Taylor and Kirk, but as she grew older, the holiday began to take on a darker, more seductive quality. The day of pranks and candy was quickly replaced by a night of tricks and treats, the likes of which Rory had never dreamed of.
The DAR's Black and White Bacchanalia was one of Hartford Society's most looked-forward to events. Traditionally, Halloween was the kick-off of the holiday charity season, and every year they raised extremely considerable donations for various children's organizations in and around Hartford. Non-traditionally, it was the only time the Hartford Elite put aside all social grace and proper upbringing to thoroughly enjoy the debauchery and seduction of the holiday.
She had long heard the rumors of the Black and White Bacchanalia, but never fully believed the whispers until she attended her first one last year. With her own eyes, she not only saw Tweeny Halpburn pull Elisabeth Harrington's husband into a closet, but her own grandparents emerging from a hidden staircase looking anything but polished and dignified. Thank God for masks and the fact that they hadn't seen her, for otherwise, Rory was quite sure she'd never be able to look Emily and Richard in the eye again. The Bacchanalia unleashed the wicked temptations of everyone in attendance, only to be forgotten about the next day in favor of heralding all of the good that had been done "for the children".
This year's Black and White was being hosted at the estate of Robert and Cherise Bennet, new to the Hartford area but familiar in the traditions and actions of the social circles. Long-time friends of Tweeny and Emily, Cherise was more than happy to host the event; and more importantly, raise her own social status.
Though she had long loathed being a member of the DAR, Rory couldn't fault the charity aspects of the ladies, and though she had been gone for nearly seven years, being back now, she felt obligated to help and was attempting to do her part, which today included putting together the final guest list. It was a task she had lobbied for, for reasons that were completely personal. Going over the list one last time, a faint smile crossed her lips as she traced his name with her fingertips. He was attending tonight. Of course he was. Everyone was.
It had been five years, five months, and a handful of days since she had given him the ring back and watched him turn around and walk out of her life. In that time, she had put on a good show of moving on and letting go. She had left home that summer, working on the campaign trail until she grew tired of political coverage. The end of the year found her in New York City, working as a contributing editor for a small current events magazine. It still wasn't her dream job, but at least she was working from a desk and not from a tour bus. It was in New York that she had reconnected with Logan's friend Finn, of all people, and after weeks and months of his cajoling her into becoming less of a hermit he had finally convinced her to join him at a party he was hosting. There, Rory began to realize that in spite of her mother's contempt for it, and her own initial reluctance to embrace it, Rory didn't mind being swept into that life again. For the most part, she enjoyed it.
There were those other times though; the times that she hated it. Though Finn would try to protect her from it, there was the inevitable party here and there where they would both be in attendance. He would stare at her from across the room when she would first walk in, only to then turn his back to her. She never attempted to reach out to him, and he made it clear he had nothing to say to her. Those nights always ended the same; with her crying herself asleep, alone in her apartment with that stupid rocket cradled in her arms. She tried to fight it, but no matter what she did or who she did it with, Rory had never stopped loving Logan.
Somewhere around the two year mark of their break-up, Rory had reached a decision. She had tried her hardest, she really had, but the harder she tried to stop loving Logan, the more she wanted to be with him. Finn tried to talk her out of it, she realized now that he had known something she hadn't, but at the time, she had found him rather annoying. She had made up her mind, the next time she saw Logan, no matter how he glared at her, she was going to go to him. She was going to get him back. There was a social event being hosted by his sister that following week, she knew he would be there, and she spent the days prior to the event planning their reconciliation.
Logan hadn't shown up to the party, much to Rory's disappointment. It was exactly three days later that the New York Times had splashed the news across the front page of their society section. Logan Huntzberger was engaged. The picture of the happy couple destroyed Rory all over again, and even though the engagement fell apart before the ink had dried on the invitations, she was right back exactly where she had been on her graduation day. Alone. He had made it painfully clear that he had moved on away from her. She needed to do the same.
From that day on, Rory threw herself into her life without really living it. She eventually worked her way up to a career that she loved and she reconnected with old friends that she had cherished, but she was always slightly aloof, not allowing anyone to get too close to her. She wasn't going to make that mistake again. She dated here and there, she was human after all, and sometimes, she needed male companionship as much as the next person, but they were merely flings, never anything of any substance, and defintiely never any declarations of love. All of that had changed thirteen months ago however, and with only two months left before her life changed forever, she realized that however buried they were, the feelings for Logan were still there and something simply needed to be done about it.
Much had changed in the five years since Rory had last spoke with Logan Huntzberger, the biggest change perhaps being Rory herself. Some (Richard and Emily) would say for the better, while others (Lorelai, mostly) would say for the worst. She was still the same Rory she always had been - she still drank her coffee the same way she always had, she still had the annoying habit of wearing her sweater sleeves over her hands, but no longer was she the girl from Stars Hollow. Worldly, Richard and Emily liked to call her. Slutty, Lorelai would interject after shaking her head at her daughter's latest antics. Neither was true in all actuality. She was neither worldly or slutty; she was merely an accomplished young woman trying to find her place in a world she wasn't sure she fit into but was destined to be a part of. She wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted.
Tonight, she wanted him.
She stood at the top of the staircase and surveyed the scene below her through her mask. Her costume was simple; she wore an elegant white ball gown trimmed with crystals and diamonds and dangerously low décolletage. Her hair was curled and pinned up, dark strands falling gracefully around her jewel-encrusted mask. Strands of diamonds, on loan from Emily, adorned her throat and her arms, and she glittered when she moved. She was cinched in and pushed up, virtually unrecognizable to anyone who knew her until she spoke. She had practiced that as well, keeping her voice low and husky to maintain the level of anonymity that she needed. She was decidedly un-Rory tonight, but then again, that was the appeal of a Masquerade Ball, wasn't it?
She needed a drink. Something to calm her nerves and to steady her hand. She couldn't turn back now, she needed to follow through. With a deep breath, she began her descent down the staircase; her descent into temptation.
A masked waiter tried to maneuver his way around her. He was carrying a tray filled with champagne flutes and Rory gracefully plucked up one of the crystal glasses before the waiter continued on his way. Raising it to her crimson lips, she sipped as her eyes darted from one corner of the room to the other. For her first hosted event, Cherise had done well. The ballroom, yes, the Bennet estate had it's own ballroom, had been transformed. To Rory, it was the perfect mix of a Venetian Carnival and the Phantom of the Opera. The room was done entirely in gold and burgundy, the only light coming from hundreds of candelabras hanging from the ceiling. Each server was in a black tuxedo with either a black or white mask.
She was pleased to see that all in attendance had paid careful attention to their costumes, and everywhere she looked there was a sea of feathers and lace and jewels. Gathering her skirts in one gloved hand, she made her way to the main floor, trying to determine her next move. Another waiter passed her, pausing only for her to procure another glass of champagne. She felt a warm hand against the small of her back and smiled slightly, turning into the touch.
"You look gorgeous tonight," he said, raising her hand to his lips. "I wouldn't have recognized you if you hadn't shown me the dress earlier."
"Why Finn, are you saying I'm not normally gorgeous?" she asked lightly, clucking her tongue softly at him as she brushed an imaginary piece of flint from his lapel.
"On the contrary, my dear. You're always smashing, but tonight, you are simply stunning." Finn appraised her again, his gaze traveling down to her toes and back up to her eyes. "Tell me again why I've agreed to be your cohort tonight instead of taking you down to the wine cellar?" He laced her arm through his and escorted her out onto the dance floor.
"Because you and I, Finn?" she grinned widely as he spun her out into a circle before bringing her back close to him. "We'll never be anything more than friends, I'm afraid."
"You speak the truth, no matter how devastated I am by it," Finn agreed. They circled the floor a few more times, Finn glaring at any man who tried to cut in. "So tell me Love, are you ready?"
"No," she admitted. "But it's tonight or never and I'm not okay with never." She glanced up at him, her eyes dark with worry. "Am I wrong to want this?" she asked desperately.
He chuckled and brought her close for a kiss on the forehead. "You're asking the wrong fellow, I'm afraid," he said. "I've never been one to abide well with rules or tact. Everyone here, Rory, they live this way once a year. Me?" He twirled her out again, dipping her low when she was back in his arms. "I wouldn't live any other way."
She giggled as he brought her back up and nodded decisively. "And tonight Finn, I aspire to be you," she said cheekily.
He nodded appreciatively. "If I recall, you've given me a run for my money more than once. Dare I mention New Years Eve in Monaco?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," she said innocently, though her cheeks tinged pink with recollection. Finn winked at her and she smacked his shoulder. For the next several songs, they danced in compatible silence, stopping only when Rory claimed fatigue and thirst.
"You go chat up the old biddies," he said, raising her hand to his lips again. "Your special guest has arrived and I'm going to go greet him. Set him in place, if you will." Finn grinned again. "Shall I come find you when everything is ready?"
"Yes please." They parted ways at the edge of the dance floor and Rory was quickly swept up into a circle of DAR ladies. For the next hour or so, she sipped at her champagne and half-listened to their gossip as she kept an eye on Finn. She could see him talking to Logan animatedly, gesturing in her general direction. She couldn't hear them, but she didn't need to. Right now Logan was being informed that she had voiced her interest in him to Finn earlier in the evening. She watched as Finn directed Logan's attention to her, and her heart pounded as Logan glanced her over, giving her an appraising nod. Hook, line, and sinker, Rory thought triumphantly to herself as she took another sip of champagne.
"Now I can't be positive, but I'm certain I saw Ingrid Fallon's fiance duck into the library with Louise Grant," Constance Bedderton whispered conspiratorially to the other women. Rory had to bite her lip from laughing. Louise had done well for herself since their days at Chilton, snagging not only a respectable husband right after college, but ending up with millions after divorcing him amidst a scandal that involved him and not one, but two flight attendants. Both Louise and Ingrid were in Rory's inner group of friends and all Rory had to say about the situation was that if anything, Ingrid Fallon deserved whatever she got.
"Not only did I see that, dear," Nora leaned in closer. "But I know for a fact that Ingrid herself was in the gallery earlier with the Campbell boy." The elder ladies clucked their tongues disapprovingly and went on with their gossip. Out of the corner of her eye, Rory saw Louise appear at the top of the staircase, one glove missing and the feathers in her hair mussed. Despite looking completely debauched, she had a deliciously satisfied smile on her face and Rory couldn't help but smile herself.
"Rory? Rory dear, did you hear me?" Constance and the ladies were all looking at her now.
She started, turned away from Finn and Logan and focused on them. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"
"I asked you if you had seen Nathan yet? I assumed he would be here by now." Nathan Bedderton was Constance's grandson and another part of Rory's circle, so to speak.
"No Constance, I haven't." She smiled graciously. "I know he's flying in from Los Angeles and I believe he said he would be here as quickly as possible."
"Well he better hurry before one of the other young gentlemen here sweeps you off of your feet." Constance shook her head. "I swear, all of the other girls must hate you, you're simply too beautiful for your own good."
"Isn't she though?" Finn appeared behind her again, placing an arm on her elbow. "If you'll excuse me ladies, I believe this one owes me another dance." With a smile, he gently pulled her away from the group and back towards the dance floor. "Sorry love, looked as though you were bored to tears there."
"I was," she assured him. "But you'll be thrilled to know, Louise bagged Ingrid's fiance in less than an hour of being here."
Finn nodded appreciatively. "You'll be thrilled to know, Louise bagged me in the drawing room the minute I got here," Finn smiled proudly.
"That would explain the smile on her face."
"Are you jealous love? Because we can abort this whole plan if you like and I'll show you exactly what you've been missing all these years." He cocked an eyebrow at her suggestively.
"As always, I appreciate the offer Finn, but I'm afraid my sins are reserved for someone else tonight."
"I was afraid you would say that. But, seeing as how that's the case, I hope you're ready." Before she could ask what for, Finn spun her out in a circle, smoothly passing her into the arms of another masked man, taking his partner as his own. With a wink, he danced the young lady away, leaving Rory right where she wanted to be.
She held her breath for a moment, waiting for him to fully embrace her in his arms, sweeping her into the circle of dancers. They fell into step effortlessly, as though they'd been dancing together forever. She was careful not to look him in the eye as he twirled her around, afraid that once she looked at him she would lose every bit of courage she had. The orchestra switched songs just then, and his grip on her waist tightened, drawing her closer against him. She was very much in his personal space and he in hers. She closed her eyes as she felt his breath on her neck as he whispered into her ear. "You're beautiful." They were the first words spoken between them in five years. Not trusting her own voice, she raised the corners of her mouth in a small smile and looked away. He chuckled, bringing her even closer to him. "So you're a shy one, are you? Finn didn't mention that when he pointed you out to me tonight. Though truth be told, he wouldn't have had to. I would have noticed you all on my own." She smiled again, pleased that he didn't recognize her yet. That small fact would make her next move all the more sweeter.
She slid her hand from his shoulder up the curve of his neck until her fingers wound tightly into his hair, forcing his mouth down to hers for a searing kiss. As soon as their lips touched she felt him stiffen and knew that the charade was over. He saw her through the mask. She pulled away slowly, biting at his lower lip as she did so. "I guess Finn also forgot to mention my name," she whispered in his ear before pulling out of his arms completely and walking away from him. She felt his eyes on her back as she left the dance floor, felt the imprint of his lips still on hers. She didn't look back once as she continued her path through the ballroom, though she knew he was still watching.
Across the ballroom, there was large staircase leading to the upper floor. At the foot of the staircase she cast a look over her shoulder, making eye contact with Logan for the first time that night. She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips before turning away and climbing the stairs. She walked slowly, deliberately, and halfway up, turned back to see if he was following her.
She reached the second floor and stood off to the side, watching him from the small alcove. Couples breezed past her, hand in hand, some being discrete, others, not so much. From her position, she beckoned down to him once more, letting him know she was waiting for him. He acknowledged her, but continued his leisurely pace across the floor, stopping every now and then to speak with someone he knew, to shake hands with his father's colleagues, to kiss his mother's friends' cheeks. Occasionally he looked up at her and shrugged his shoulders, as if saying he was doing his best to get there quickly but she knew better. He was making her wait. He wanted to be in control.
She was more than willing to let him.
Logan was intrigued. He had long heard the rumors of Rory's society makeover though he had never fully believed them, much less thought he would again be on the receiving end of one of her escapades. He had fantasized about it, naturally, but she had been a chapter long closed in his life. Or so he thought. He followed her slowly through the crowd, captivated by the sight of her. She was a way in front of him still, but he could see her outline; the curve of her hips under her dress, her hair pinned up so he could see the nape of her neck. He licked his lips unknowingly, already tasting her skin.
Finally, he began to make his own climb up the staircase, keeping his eye the entire time. She waited until he was about ten paces away from her before she turned and ducked into a darkened hallway. Her heels clicked purposefully against the tile and she smiled when she heard his own steps behind her. He caught up to her quickly, stopping her mid-step. Catching her by the wrist, he pulled her roughly against him. This time he forced her mouth to his, devouring her in a kiss that sent her pulse racing and eliminated any hesitation that lingered. She kissed him back eagerly, wrapping her gloved arms around his neck. He growled as her teeth bit at his lips lightly and grabbed her by the waist, swinging her into the nearest open door and locking it soundly behind them. As their eyes adjusted to the dim candlelight they realized they were in one of the guest lavatories.
She opened her mouth to speak but he advanced on her, silencing her with his mouth once more. With ease, he pushed her to sit on the edge of the bathtub, her skirts bunching around them. He drew back and studied her, his eyes dropping to the swell of her breast, barely covered by white silk. He took a deep breath, willing himself to calm down before it was all over too soon. He had spent nights dreaming of being with her again, of doing everything imaginable and some not, to her body. He'd dreamt of this very moment.
What he didn't know was that she had too. She had waited five years to be with him again, and she wasn't going to wait one second longer. Her fingers slid past his tuxedo jacket, hooking over his belt, pulling at him until he stood in front of her. She kept her eyes on his as she slid her hands up his legs to the front of his pants, caressing him once through the rough fabric before unzipping him. Realizing he wore nothing underneath, she quirked an eye at him through her mask before sliding one hand inside to feel him.
Logan sucked in his breath as she stroked him. He had always loved Rory's hands on him but the feeling of her gloved hand on his skin was a sensation unlike anything he had ever felt before. He felt himself harden beneath her hand and gritted his teeth as she ran the silk completely over his length, gripping him firmly in her fist. She released him a few strokes later, and before he could protest she leaned forward, running her tongue once along his shaft before closing her mouth completely over him and sliding down in one long movement. With her mouth still around him, she removed her gloves, letting one hand move to the base of his spine, urging him deeper past her lips.
It hadn't been a long time since Logan had last been with a woman, but it had been a long time since a woman had made him feel like this. He wasn't sure he'd be able to take much more of Rory's mouth on him, especially as he felt her teeth graze him. With a strangled groan he grabbed her by her arms and pulled her up to kiss her again. His tongue fought against hers as he spun her around again, both of them tripping on her skirts as they moved across the small room. They collided with the sink and without breaking their kiss, he lifted her up onto the ceramic counter. She looked down at him, her bright eyes daring him on from behind her mask. He kissed her on the lips hard before moving to kneel in front of her.
This time, he ran his hands up her legs, pushing the silky layers of her dress over her thighs until her skin was exposed to him. He ran his tongue over the hollow of her knee, unsnapping the lacy garter as he moved his hands higher. From above, he heard her frustrated whimpers as he teased at her, running his fingers over her lightly, tracing the outline of her lips with his finger before slipping into her. One finger at first, then two. Three fingers. He started out slow, gradually increasing his speed as his fingers pumped steadily in and out of her. Hooking one of her long legs over his shoulder he bent forward, replacing his hand with his mouth before she could acknowledge the difference.
"Fuck!" The word escaped her lips before she could stop it and her hands tangled in his hair, frantically pulling him closer into her. Logan felt himself grow impossibly harder as she uttered the word. Never could he remember her being such a receptive lover as she was right now and he felt a pang of jealousy course through him as he wondered who had unleashed this side of her. Jealousy was soon replaced with possessiveness as he doubled his efforts, intent on making her forget every other man she had ever been with. His tongue played with her, evoking memories between the two of them neither had given much thought to in years. He was relentless in his assault on her, paying no attention to her pleas. He knew how to please her, he didn't need her telling him what to do. Hell, he had been the one to teach what pleased her in the first place. Her whole body shook as her thighs tightened around him and her hands clamped down onto his shoulders. She was close, but he wasn't going to let her get any closer.
Without warning, Logan was on his feet again. Before she could protest the loss of contact he had buried himself completely inside her. She gasped as he withdrew and slid into her again, even harder than the first time. He pushed against her, forcing her further onto the counter, her back hitting the mirror with each thrust. A vase of flowers fell to the floor, neither of them paying attention as the glass shattered beneath them. His mouth was on hers again, kissing her brutally as he pounded into her. Her hands worked their way inside of his shirt, her nails leaving long scratches down the length of his back as she tried to hold onto him. It was rare she was this rough with a lover, especially when that lover was Logan, but tonight she couldn't help herself. They both were releasing years of built-up frustration with each other, and partially, she wanted to hurt him. He wanted to hurt her too. So be it that the pain only fueled their lust.
Rory wrapped her legs around his waist, coaxing him deeper. She tasted blood on her lips but couldn't tell if it was hers or his. She didn't care. Their tongues clashed against each other as he slammed into again and again before completely withdrawing, breathing heavily as he leaned his weight against her. She ran her hand up his arm, to cup his cheek. Running her fingertips against the edge of his mask, she moved to slip it over his head.
"Leave it," he ordered, pulling her hand away. He used this hand to pull her off of the counter and turn her around so she was facing the mirror on the wall above the sink. He kept hold of her hand in his and in reaching around to grab the other. Before she knew it, she was pinned against the marble counter with nothing to do but allow him to control her as he held her in place. Her skirts were still around her waist and he used his knee to spread her legs apart. Again without warning, he plunged inside her.
Rory gasped at the new angle and her head fell back to rest in the crook of his neck. She thrust back into him as his hips ground against her. Logan released one of her hands and braced himself against the mirror as he moved in and out of her body.
"Look at me," he whispered into her ear. It took all of her strength to raise her head from his body, bringing her eyes to meet his in the mirror. She wasn't prepared for what she saw.
Logan's mask was off, his entire face visible in the flickering candlelight. His dark eyes were staring back at hers. His expression was one she had seen many times, but hadn't expected to see again. She bit her lower lip, already swollen from him, and forced her hips back against him. She was so desperately close, she thought she would faint before she came.
"Look at me," he whispered again. His teeth pulled at her earlobe and with a flick of his wrist, her own mask was discarded. She stared at the two of them in the mirror, engraving every detail of them coupled into her memory. "Is this what you wanted?" he asked, increasing his speed again. She knew he was just as close as she was. "When you first saw me tonight, was this what you wanted? What you pictured? Is this what you've fantasized about all these years?"
"Yes!" Her breath was coming in shaky gulps, she was unable to catch her breath as he slammed into her relentlessly. "God Logan, yes. Please," she begged. "Please." She nearly sobbed with relief as his fingers found her again, working her clit insistently as he angled her hips lower.
Logan dropped his head to her shoulder, biting and sucking, all the while keeping his eyes locked
with hers in the mirror. "Come with me," he implored her. Images of Rory filled his head, memories of the first and the last time they fucked taking over his senses. He felt his cock swell as she began to shake around him. She was moaning constantly and he wasn't sure they couldn't be heard over the music in the background. He didn't care. He thrust into her once more and felt her clamp down on him as she began to come. She tightened around him again and he felt his own release beginning. They came at the same time, loudly, eyes locked firmly together.
"Fuck," he muttered, leaning against her as he came down. Her heart was pounding and she couldn't catch her own breath. He sensed she was too weak to move so he gathered her in his arms before collapsing on the floor next to the counter.
"Mmm," she sighed contentedly, leaning her head against his chest. They were quiet for a few moments before she lifted her head and looked back into his eyes. "Hi," she said tenderly, moving in for another kiss. This one was much softer than their previous ones. "It's been awhile."
Logan chuckled. "Yes, it's been quite awhile." He looked down at her on his lap and shook his head. "You greet all long-lost exes this way?"
"Lucky me," she returned with a slight smirk. For a few minutes they made idle conversation. To an outsider, they would seem completely ridiculous but to them, it seemed completely normal. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, and not knowing that she would ever have the chance again, Rory took a deep breathing, asking the question she had held onto since she had watched him walk away from her.
"What happened to us?"
She felt him shrug underneath her. "All those parties we were both at and you never came after me," he replied finally. "I wanted you to. Hell, I wanted to come after you but I was too proud. And then before I knew it, a year had passed. And then another. And then another one. And then it just seemed like too late. I started hearing things about you then." He ran a hand up her bare arm distractedly. "You've changed, Rory."
She stiffened momentarily. "I haven't really," she protested softly. He raised an eyebrow at her and looked around the room pointedly. She blushed and ducked her head. "This isn't me, Logan, and you know that."
"No I don't," he said honestly. "I've heard the stories Rory. We share mutual friends. Like it or not, you've changed. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing," he rushed on. "Believe me, if this is what happens when the new you and I are locked in a bathroom, then I'm a big fan. But nonetheless, we both know this is something the old Rory never would have done."
"And you're still completely the same?" she challenged.
"I didn't say that." Logan sighed, leaning his head against the wall. He looked down as her hand found his again, lacing their fingers together.
"Do you think we would have been happy?" she asked. "Five years ago, if I had said yes and we would have gotten married, would we be happy now?"
Logan winced at the vulnerability in her voice. Maybe she hadn't changed so much in five years after all. "Don't do this Rory," he begged. "We can't do this. Not now."
"When else are we going to do it then?" She shook her head. "Logan, I loved you. I wanted to be with you and before I knew it, that wasn't even an option anymore. And without you, look at what I've become! Look at me! Do you think I like myself like this?"
"You can't put this on me, Rory. You can't blame me for how you choose to live your life; for the choices you make. You said so yourself, you loved me. Loved, past tense. So much time has passed. Like it or not, we've changed. And as much as I loved who I was when I was with you and what we were together, I can't sit here and lie to you. I can't pretend I'm not happy with my life now. You can't tell me you're not happy either." He looked down at their laced hands, running his thumb over the solitaire diamond on her left hand; the only piece of jewelry she hadn't borrowed for the night. "Are you happy, Rory?"
Rory was about to open her mouth to scream at him. To tell him no. To force him to look behind her mask and see how she really was, but she stopped herself. What good would it do now? She looked down at the ring on her finger and nodded. "I suppose I am," she said finally. "But that doesn't mean that I don't wish-"
"In another lifetime Rory, we would have been very happy," Logan interrupted. "But in this life? We have to accept this for what it is, and just be happy that we finally got the closure we both seemed to have needed."
He was right. She had never had any intentions of anything past what would transpire this evening between them. "I really did love you Logan."
He helped her to her feet and smoothed a hand over her hair, tucking a stray curl behind her ear. "I really loved you." Before he could think better of it, he pulled her into a warm embrace and kissed her once more. For a moment, she clung to him desperately, trying to commit every sense to memory; how he tasted, the way his skin felt under her hands; the scene of his cologne. Reluctantly, they separated, taking a step away from each other.
"Look at it this way," he said with an old familiar grin. "Who knows? The new us may run into each other at next year's Bacchanalia."
Rory laughed in spite of herself. "Or the Christmas Bazaar," she agreed, happy to be parting on a lighter note. "Save a dance for me?" she asked as they both slid their masks down over their eyes.
Logan raised her hand to his lips. "Always." They held their gaze for a moment longer than they should have and he winked at her, causing her to giggle softly. With a nod, he unlocked the bathroom door and motioned for her to leave first.
Taking a deep breath, Rory tried to regain her composure, smoothing her dress down one more time and trying to cool the blush on her cheeks. When she felt she was ready, she stepped out of the darkened alcove and inconspicuously rejoined the party, falling into step with a fellow member of the DAR as they made their way down the staircase and back into the main ballroom. Her eyes connected with Finn's from across the room and he made a big production of applauding her much to the confusion of the group of people he was conversing with. Rory laughed discretely and searched the crowd for another familiar face. He should have been there by now.
"I have been looking all over for you."
She set her smile before turning around. "I've been looking all over for you too," she lied with a pout. "You promised you'd be here hours ago! Constance has been asking for you all night." She raised her face so that her fiance could kiss her cheek, but he surprised her, kissing her fully on the mouth. For a moment, she was terrified that Nathan would taste Logan, or even worse, herself, on her lips.
If he did, he didn't let on. "Well I'm here now, so I suppose we should make the rounds so I can greet everyone properly." He rolled his eyes as his arm settled comfortably around her waist, drawing her close. Her body reacted naturally, falling into the embrace as it was inclined to do, in spite of the fact that not twenty minutes ago it was another pair of arms she had fallen into with equal ease. "You look dangerous in that costume," he whispered in her ear. "I better not be hearing stories about you at the Club tomorrow morning." He laughed and leaned in to kiss her again. If he only knew. Nathan led her over to where a group of their friends were standing and they were greeted favorably. Before she knew it, she was swept up in another round of heated gossip with the girls while Nathan regaled the guys with tales of the business trip he had just returned from.
This was her life now, Rory realized, perhaps for the first time as she looked around the ballroom, taking in everything and everyone she saw. This was the path she had chosen, and while it surprised even her, Logan had been right. For the most part, she was happy. She wasn't so different from the Louise Grants, Finn Morgans, or Cherise Bennets of this world, and they were no different than her. They were all desperate to make it through life without falling; without letting people see their fears, their hopes, or their regrets. They were all fighting to keep people from seeing beneath their masks.
Every day is another masquerade.