AN: This didn't come easily, but here it is. I know Rory may seem a little...meek in this story, but she's that way on purpose because of her relationship with Mitchum. As the story moves a long, you'll see Rory's self confidence comind back.
"Paris, have you seen my keys?" A throw pillow went sailing across the room as Rory dug through the couch cushions looking for her keys. It was already 6:35 and she was thanking whatever fluke-y circumstance had led the annoyingly punctual Mitchum Huntzberger to be late.
"No," Paris replied apathetically as she walked into the living room, hefting her book bag over her shoulder. "I've got a histopathology exam in the morning. I'll be spending the night in the library so feel free to pull out that Janet costume you're too embarrassed to wear to the show, when you get home. I'm sure Mitchum will love it. He really seems to dig the whole innocent girl act you've got going on."
"It's a Magenta costume, actually," Rory huffed as she dropped to her knees to check underneath the coffee table.
"Whatever," Paris dismissed as she disappeared out the front door.
Rory continued making her way around the apartment in a whirlwind searching for her keys before finally finding them sitting on the bathroom sink. She sighed with relief and picked them up just as the buzzer sounded. "Crap," she muttered, scurrying out of the bathroom. She ran to the front door and pressed the intercom. "I'm coming," she panted into the speaker. "In fact, I'm already halfway down the stairs. Can't you see me walking across the lobby?" She exaggerated as she stuffed her keys, lipstick and wallet into her clutch and shoved her feet into the pair of pumps she'd left waiting by the front door.
On the other side of the intercom her date chuckled heartily and leaned against the side of the building to wait for her, wondering how long it would really take her to make it out of the building. He was more than a little surprised when the door opened not more than a couple of seconds later.
"And here I thought you were lying to me about…" He trailed off as a familiar blonde walked out the door.
"Paris?" he questioned.
"Huntzberger?" she stifled a laugh. "Oh please tell me you're here for Rory."
"You know Rory?" he asked, more than a little thrown by her presence. He had purged all thoughts of the despotic ex-editor from his mind after graduation. She had ruled the Yale Daily News with a vice like grip until she was Howell Raines-ed by the board. That was the last he had seen of her, and he was certainly grateful for that fact, so he couldn't understand what she was doing here, outside of Rory's apartment.
"I'm her roommate," Paris clarified. "She'll be down in a minute, she's preparing her Janet costume for the…ahem...after show." Paris finished, stifling a laugh at the entertaining turn of events.
Logan tried to hide his smile as a picture of his Cherry in a Janet costume, singing "Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me", flitted through his mind. If only Paris weren't joking.
"Need an ice pack for that thing?" she asked, casting her gaze down and then back up to give Logan a knowing look before breezing away.
Logan shook his head, trying to rid it of creepy images of Paris Gellar. How Rory could live with that lunatic was beyond him. He shuddered at the thought of having to see Paris again, but if it meant seeing Rory, he would just have to deal.
"Logan?" He looked up from his thoughts to see the girl he had been waiting for, dressed in a short, black dress, red heels and some clunky, metal jewelry. A look that was somehow appropriate for both a night at the Met and a showing of The Rocky Horror Show.
He smiled at her appreciatively. "You were expecting someone else?" he teased.
"Umm, no…" she stammered uneasily. "I…uh…it's just…" she trailed off. She was nervous. He liked it. "You know this isn't a date." She suddenly spit out.
"Wow, way to bruise a guy's ego, Cherry," Logan laughed, not at all offended by her remarks. Her words and her actions were clearly giving mixed signals, but that had been her since the beginning. He would keep playing along for now.
"I'm sorry, I just…" she motioned behind him. "The limo—it seems a little fancy for 'just friends,' don't you think?"
Logan looked over his shoulder at the town car behind him and shrugged. "I have a car with the company," he said by way of explanation. "Frank gets paid whether I use him or not. I figured I'd put the man to work, right Frank?" He spoke to the driver standing by the rear door, waiting to help them into the car.
"Yes, sir," the man replied politely.
Rory smiled. "Well, we wouldn't want to leave Frank with nothing to do," she conceded, somewhat uneasily. "Just so long as we're clear…"
"Not a date…got it." Logan held his hands up in surrender.
"Alright, then…" she seemed to hesitate for another moment, but then she stepped forward, and slid into the awaiting vehicle.
Mitchum straightened out his packed, travel suit bag, before taking it down off the door it was hanging from and folding it into his suitcase. He should have had the maid doing this kind of menial labor, but Rory always got annoyed with him for not doing things for himself, and besides, he wanted the penthouse empty for the evening. He was going to be gone for a week and he wanted to enjoy his last night with Rory without any interruptions. Of course it would be a lot more enjoyable if she were on time. She was supposed to be there over half an hour ago and he was starting to get a little annoyed.
He was placing a couple of pairs of shoes on top of his suits when his cell phone rang. He picked it up and looked at the caller ID—it was her. "Huntzberger," he answered, purposely sounding distracted as though he didn't realize it was her. He didn't want her to know he was waiting on her.
"Hey," she responded, her voice sounding cautious. "It's me."
"Of course, sorry, Poo. I was just a little busy going over a progress report on the Hong Kong division," he lied easily as he wandered into the bathroom to start packing his toiletries. "What time is it?"
"It's 7:30," she informed him.
"Oh," he tried to sound surprised at the time. "Time flies when you're reading incredibly boring crap. Are you on your way over?"
"Actually…" she hedged, "That's why I'm calling. Something kind of came up."
"Well, what time do you think you're going to get here?" he asked, trying not to sound put out. "I could use a break. I ordered in from Shuan Lee Palace."
"You hate Chinese, and Shuan Lee doesn't deliver."
"You like Chinese, and for me, Shuan Lee will deliver."
"That's sweet," she replied. "But not necessary. I'm um…I'm not going to be able to make it over there tonight," she finally admitted.
Mitchum tried to bite back his anger at her words. He was stuck with a crap load of work and packing to do, and a crap load of food he didn't like, and he wasn't even going to get laid for it. But getting angry at her would just put her on the defensive, it wouldn't get him anywhere.
"I was looking forward to seeing you before I went," he ground out as sweetly as he could, silently slamming his tooth brush into his travel bag.
"I know, I wanted to see you too," she assured him. "But a friend of mine got tickets to that show I wanted to see…remember?"
"And you wanted to see that more?" he replied, failing to control his anger as much as he wanted too.
"It's not like that," she insisted. "But it's only playing one night. I'm not going to get this chance again," she argued.
He took a deep breath to calm himself. This conversation wasn't going the way he wanted to and he needed to change that. "I just wish you would have told me sooner," he suggested as sweetly as he could. "We could have seen each other earlier. I'm going to miss you while you're away."
"I'm sorry," she offered guiltily. "It was last minute, I swear, I would have told you if I'd known."
He ground his teeth in frustration. "Who are you going with?"
"Just a friend."
"Anyone I know?" Rory wasn't exactly Miss Social Butterfly. She hung out with the overly flamboyant copyboy at work, and Paris. That was about it. Personally, he liked it that way. It generally avoided nights like this. He was a busy man, he wanted to spend time with Rory when he could, not have her out with other people.
"Uh…Paris," she offered quickly. "She got the tickets from a patient at the hospital."
"Well, that was nice of them," he responded suspiciously. "Especially since Paris isn't usually known for her bedside manner."
"I know; it took me by surprise too. I uh…I have to go, the show is about to start. I'll call you tomorrow," she promised. Before he had a chance to respond, the dial tone was ringing in his ears.
Rory grabbed drunkenly at her stomach, trying to slow down the hysterical laughter that had her bowled over in her seat. "I can't believe you used a Super-soaker," she gasped.
"You're supposed to," Logan argued. "It's got to rain when Brad and Janet get to the Frankenstein Place."
"You were supposed to use the little squirt gun they gave us when we got there. You weren't supposed to drench the entire Met. They almost threw us out."
"But they didn't. And their props were lame. They gave us a single sheet of toilet paper and I'll bet it wasn't even Scott's."
"That's not the point," she argued.
"It is too the point. If you're going to do Rocky Horror, you need to do it right." The car came to a stop and the previously joyful banter halted along with it.
"Well, I guess this is me," she said regretfully. If she was honest with herself, that night had been the most fun she'd had in ages-after she got over the guilt she felt for ditching Mitchum and then lying to him about who she was with. The truth was, she missed having people her own age to hang out with—Paris not withstanding: her roommate was hardly one for frivolity. That's all there was to it—the desire to have a friend to hang out with.
"Looks like," Logan responded as Frank opened the door for them. Rory slid out of the back seat and Logan followed. "At least let me walk you up," he offered.
"That's really not necessary," Rory hedged, chewing on her lip nervously. "It's not like this was a date." For the first time she wasn't sure if she was reminding him, or herself.
"Right," Logan nodded. "Still," he continued on after a brief pause. "What kind of gentleman would I be if I didn't make sure you made it all the way back to your apartment safely?"
"Not a very good one, of course," Rory admitted, with a hesitant smile, falling back into their comfortable repartee.
"Well you wouldn't want me to ruin my rep, now would you? What kind of good society girl can I catch if they find out I let a beautiful girl like you walk up to your apartment all by yourself?"
"Well, I wouldn't want to put your 'rep' in jeopardy," she consented with a soft chuckle.
"Then it's settled," he concurred, placing a hand on her back and gesturing her into the building with his other arm. "After you…"
They entered the building, making their way to the stairs. Logan looked at the steps curiously. "The elevator's broken?" he asked.
"Why, are your legs broken?" she teased.
"Cute," he replied wryly with a roll of his eyes.
"We poor folk don't have an elevator. You're just going to have to put those legs of yours to work if you want to protect your status as one of New York's most eligible bachelors."
Logan seemed to ponder this for a moment. "What floor do you live on?" he asked.
"Fourth," she confirmed.
"Fine," he pouted after a moment's pause. "I didn't get to the gym today anyway."
"Poor boy," she soothed, patting him on the shoulder. "Come on."
They made their way up the stairs in comfortable silence. "Well, we're here," Rory motioned to the doorway, suddenly nervous again. "I made it safe and sound, and so did your rep," she teased tentatively.
"I guess this is goodnight, then." He tilted the edges of his lips up into one of his patented smirks.
"Goodnight," she replied softly, her eyes meeting his. She was fully feeling the effects of said smirk, amplified by the effects of the alcohol she had consumed throughout the night.
"Good night," he whispered again, leaning in slowly, unable to break away from the hypnotizing gaze of her bright, blue eyes.
Before she knew what was happening—although to be fair, her reaction time was significantly delayed by—mitigating—factors, his lips were on hers. The kiss was easy, comfortable, and she melted into it, just for a moment, before gently pushing him away.
Logan let out what sounded almost like a whimper at the loss of contact, before jumping straight into his apology.
"I'm sorry, that was…" He didn't get to finish as she once again crashed her lips into his.
She had no idea what had come over her. She was in love with another man. And she had done the right thing—she had pushed Logan away. But the second his lips left hers she felt…empty, alone. She loved Mitchum, she really did, but sometimes she just felt so damn lonely. And Logan—she connected with him like she hadn't connected with anybody in so long. So she kissed him.
His hands snaked around her waist, pulling her in closer to deepen the kiss. She wound her arms around his neck, reveling in the pleasure of the dance of their lips. His hands dropped lower, brushing against the curve of her ass, and she moaned in pleasure. Her back came into contact with the wall and Logan moved his lips from hers to kiss her neck. His body pressed even further into hers until she could feel the bulge in his pants pressing into her and she finally seemed to gain enough sense to put an end to things.
"Logan," she groaned, sliding her hands from around his neck, down to his chest to give him a gentle push away. He didn't respond at first, continuing to kiss down her neck until she pushed a little harder and he finally broke away with a grunt, letting himself fall back against the wall in frustration.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. She knew she was sending him mixed signals. It wasn't fair to him.
"God…" She watched silently, as he ran his hands through his hair, and waited silently for the angry outburst she knew she deserved. She had treated him horribly, led him on. She was scum. "What the hell is going on here, Rory?" he asked. There was frustration in his voice, hurt, but none of the ire she was expecting.
"I'm sorry," she repeated again. "It's not you, I swear."
"Let me guess…it's you?" He rolled his eyes at the obviously cliché line.
"I don't know what you want me to say?"
"How about you tell me what's really going on."
"I…" She took a deep breath. She had to tell him something. It was only fair. "Remember when you asked me if I was seeing someone else?"
"Yeah, you said you weren't..." Logan responded cautiously.
"No, actually I said I wasn't seeing Chase. I conveniently left out the part where I answered the actual question."
"Why wouldn't you tell me something like that? Why would you let me…" He stopped for a moment and Rory could tell he was searching for the right words. She understood how hard they were to find sometimes—even for a writer.
"I couldn't," she defended. "No one knows. It's complicated."
"Complicated like…you're secretly bisexual and dating a woman?" Logan suggested cautiously.
"Well I can't think of any other reason you'd have a secret relationship unless you were having an affair with a married man, and frankly, you don't really seem like the 'other woman' kind of person," Logan argued.
"You don't know me very well," Rory whispered, looking at the ground, nervously avoiding Logan's gaze.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Rory fiddled in her purse, looking for her keys and avoiding the question for a few moments. "Can we talk about this inside?" she asked, turning the key in the lock and swinging the door open. Logan silently followed her into the apartment. "Do you want some coffee? I can make us some coffee…"
She nodded her head in understanding. She couldn't avoid this any longer. The talk was inevitable at this point. "I'm not the innocent, perfect, little girl you think I am, Logan," she finally spun around to face him.
"I never said you were perfect."
"You have me up on some pedestal," she accused, slumping down onto a barstool in the kitchen portion of the main room. "I don't know what I did to deserve it, but it's not who I am. Do you know I lost my virginity to my first boyfriend?"
"Oh, well, then you're clearly a slut," he rolled his eyes at her melodramatics, taking a seat on the arm of the sofa, facing Rory
"After we'd already broken up and he'd married someone else," Rory clarified.
Rory waited for a moment to see if he had anything else to say, but there was only silence. "See. You're thinking about me differently already."
"No," he argued. "I'm surprised, yeah, but…you made a mistake, Rory. It doesn't have to define you."
"I'm not saying it does." She stood up from her stool and walked back into the living room portion of the apartment. "But things aren't always that simple. I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person. I make pro-con lists for every decision, I over think everything. And then…then someone comes along that makes me do stupid things, and I can't help it, even when I know it's stupid, because—I love him."
"So, this guy you're with now?"
"I love him," she admitted with a shrug, taking the seat next to Logan.
"And his wife?"
Rory shook her head. "He's not married, Logan."
"But it's a stupid decision to be with him?" he questioned.
"No…yes…maybe," Rory buried her face in her hands. "I don't know. It's just complicated. He's not married, but he does have a family, and responsibilities, and our relationship just doesn't fit in with that. I thought…I thought after a while, once we got serious…"
"That's bullshit, Rory." Logan stood up angrily. "A guy doesn't just keep you his dirty, little secret for nothing. If he hasn't told anyone, he's not going to, and for you to just let him treat you that way…"
"It's not that simple," she interrupted, standing up to face him. "You don't know…"
"I do know, Rory. If he doesn't want anyone to know about you, it's because he's ashamed."
It was everything she'd been worried about for so long. That Mitchum was ashamed of her; that she wasn't good enough for him and that she'd always just be his 'dirty, little secret.' But she'd spent too long convincing herself that it wasn't true. That his desire to keep their relationship quite was really to protect them from scrutiny, because he loved her and didn't want rumors, and media, and the speculation of bloggers with no lives of their own to get in the way of that. It's what she needed to believe because if what Logan said was true, then the last year and a half of her life, and everything she thought she felt, was all a lie. She couldn't stand that thought.
She felt the tears prickling at her eyes and she collapsed down on the sofa, emotionally exhausted.
"I'm sorry," Logan said softly. "I didn't mean…"
"I think you made yourself perfectly clear."
He knelt down in front of her. "There's no reason anyone should be ashamed of you," he assured her. "If he is, he's an idiot. Unfortunately, there are a lot of idiots out there, Cherry,"
She smiled a little at her nickname. She knew Logan was only looking out for her. He really did care. "Thanks. I know you mean well, but…"
"But you're going to stay with him," Logan realized.
"It can be something good—something great, even," she sniffled, wiping at her nose with the back of her hand. "I know it can, I've seen it. I'm just not ready to give up on that."
"Okay," he nodded.
"Okay?" she asked in confusion.
"Well, no" he shrugged. "It's not okay, but you need to figure that out on your own. So for now," he offered, getting off his knees and swinging around next to her on the couch. He threw his arm comfortably around her neck. "…Friends."
She smiled more genuinely, her head dropping against his shoulder in relief. "Friends," she agreed.