And then there were finals. Which are still going on. :P I must get back to studying as soon as I post this, but here you go! Merry Early Christmas! I hope you all have wonderful holidays! I also hope you enjoy this chapter and review it. ;)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Yes, I will still be working on this story as fast as I can, but I'm also going to start a Buffy The Vampire Slayer fic soon, I believe. I just finished watching all seven seasons of the show, which I only started 4 or 5 months ago, and I loved it. I want my own Giles. :P (In the awesome British librarian can-fight-too father figure sort of way, of course.) Anyway, it'll be a season 4 or 5 Giles and Buffy friendship Watcher/Slayer relationship thing with much angst and hurt/comfort, and it'll stay with canon/continuity, if anyone's interested. Maybe I'm crazy, but many of you already knew that. LOL. Actually, it'd be great if any of you mentioned whether or not you'd be interested. Thanks! Enjoy the new chapter. :)
Luke made it back to the house with April an hour or so later, and by then Rory and Lorelai were ready to greet them. It was evening already, and the four of them walked into town to eat at the diner. Lorelai and girls went home afterward, leaving Luke there to make sure Ceasar and everything was prepared for his absence.
April was happy enough to sleep on the couch, but Rory saw no reason to make her when there was trundle bed in her room. After all, they were something like sisters now...
That, and she didn't feel like being alone with her thoughts just now. She knew there were things that needed to be thought about, but she preferred to wait—at least until they were out on the water. That seemed a better place to do it.
Rory felt asleep quickly, but she woke from a dream halfway through the night to the sounds of restless tossing and turning from the trundle. She rolled to glance over the edge of her own bed, and found April staring at the ceiling. She looked at her for a moment before speaking.
"Hey. Everything okay?" she asked quietly. There was no answer. "April?"
The younger girl blinked and glanced at her. "What? Oh. I'm fine. Just excited, I guess. Not that a boat trip is the most brilliantly exciting thing to do with a fourth of one's summer, but I haven't seen Luke since Thanksgiving. Things got kind of busy this year."
"So I heard. I'm sorry you couldn't get here for the wedding."
"Me too. Yet another reason why Dad has a lot to make up for this summer."
Rory nodded once. "I guess so. Are you sure you don't mind me coming?"
"No, of course not. I mean we're sisters now anyway, sort of. Just because it's not biological doesn't mean the relationship's not important, right?"
She smiled a little. "Yeah...that's right." She shrugged. "I had it great, with my mom and all, but...I suppose there was always some small part of me that would have liked to have a sibling."
April nodded once. "The innate wish of any only child, I suppose; I know how you feel." She sat up, and Rory followed suit after a moment.
"Well, I guess we're not anymore—only children, I mean."
"I guess not."
Rory nodded. "Well, now that that's settled..." she chuckled. She didn't know where to go from there. She did like April, but right now talking to anyone at all that didn't know about—
It just seemed awkward.
She took a deep breath, deciding to do her best to get past it. Maybe for her it was also about getting away one more time, but this trip was first and foremost about spending time with Luke and April. If she couldn't do that, then there was no reason to bother them by coming along.
Rory leaned forward, arms resting on her crossed legs. "So...ready to go back to sleep yet?"
"Not particularly. But I can be quiet, if you want to. Do you mind if I turn a lamp on though? I brought several books, and—"
"Yeah, that's fine. I uh...I don't think I'm going back to sleep either, though."
"Sorry about that; I probably woke you up."
"No," she answered, shaking her head. "It was a dream, that's all."
"A bad one?"
April looked at her for a moment. "Are you okay?"
Rory blinked. "What?"
The younger girl shrugged. "It's just that...I didn't really hear from Luke at all for the last few weeks before I got here. It was like he was...distracted or something. And on the drive here from the airport he seemed a little off, like he was worried about something—presumably whatever had been distracting him before. When I asked him how everybody here was he kind of reacted weird."
"He seemed very quick to say that everyone was fine, gave a few details about Lorelai and the inn and sort of skipped over the subject of, well, you..."
Rory swallowed. "Oh, that? It's-it's nothing, really. Things have just been crazy recently, at work and such, settling into the new job in Hartford and all, and I know he was concerned...uhm...that's it, really, I'm sure."
April nodded slowly in understanding. "Okay...sure."
And she wasn't completely buying it, was she?
Rory let out a breath and sank back under her covers. "I think I am just gonna try to get back to sleep. You can go ahead with the lamp and read or something if you want."
"Yeah. Good night."
The sun was high and bright the next day, and Rory could hear the water lapping against the dock under them as she hugged her mother.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Lorelai asked again. Luke and April were already on the boat, so she was able to elaborate. "I'm mean I'm not so sure a boat trip is the best companion to morning sickness."
Rory let out a breath. "Maybe I haven't been on one in a while, but I've always been fine on boats. I'll be fine. Besides, the uh...it hasn't really been that bad, Mom. Really."
Lorelai snorted. "Lucky you."
She grimaced, and her mother pulled her in for another quick hug.
"Don't mind me. Completely ignore me if you want. Just...take care of yourself, I guess, and try to have some fun..."
"Yeah, I'll try, anyway. I promise. Thanks, Mom," Rory answered quietly.
Lorelai kissed her forehead, and handed her the only of her three small bags Luke hadn't already loaded for her. "If you start feeling too bad, get off and hop on a bus home, you hear me?"
"I hear you, Mom," she huffed, smiling in amusement at her mother's protectiveness. Lorelai ushered her to the edge of the dock, where Luke took the bag from her and then offered his other hand to help her aboard. She accepted the offer and made in onto the boat without any incident.
Lorelai stepped back as Luke cast them off, waving enthusiastically. "Have fun! Call when you can. Don't leave me uninformed or I'll kick your collective asses when you get home!"
Rory waved, April chuckled, and Luke gave a mock salute, and they were on their way.
Three days later, the time on the water with Luke and April seemed to Rory to have done her a world of good. She did get sick at times, but it wasn't much worse than she'd already been dealing with, and overall she felt much better besides. Most conversation was light and laughter wasn't so hard anymore as it had been for the past few weeks.
It was amazing what three days could do.
It was amazing what family could do.
Family. This was her family now, and it felt good. She'd never doubted that it would, but she didn't think she ever could have imagined how good.
But feeling good didn't keep Rory from sitting alone sometimes on one of the bench seats at the edge of the deck, leaning on the railing and staring out across the water. She had a lot to work out, she knew, and watching the waves and breathing in the sea air while she thought about it all was one way to do it calmly. When she was there Luke kindly left her alone, and April seemed to take the hint.
Until the fourth day.
It was early morning, and by some miracle Rory was the first awake. She'd gone up on the deck to watch the sun rise. The water was there, but there was no movement save for the waves in the water itself. The boat was anchored for the night.
She didn't realize she wasn't alone until April sat beside her, pulling her knees up on the bench and looking out on the water with her.
"Pretty, isn't it?"
Rory blinked and glanced at her step-sister. "Yea. I don't think i've ever seen one over water."
"Me either—and I definitely won't get the chance where I live now. Not much water in New Mexico period."
"I guess that's true," she chuckled.
April nodded silently, and looked at her for a long moment.
Rory shifted uncomfortably. "What?"
"You're pregnant, aren't you?"
That garned considerably more blinking. "Excuse me?"
April shrugged. "There was all the weirdness I mentioned before we even left, Lorelai was obviously in over-protective mode the day we did leave, you get 'sea-sick' at the weirdest times—often when we haven't even been rocking very much at all—you wouldn't touch the chicken Luke made day before yesterday, and you do a whole lot of the staring-off-into-space thing. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I don't think I'm wrong."
Rory's mouth opened and closed a few times before she got out any sound at all. "I...ah..."
"I'm sixteen, Rory. I know things. I also have a friend who had a baby three months ago, but that's slightly irrelevant..."
She swallowed, staring at the younger girl. The look she was getting in return was honestly curious, not pushy, but still...not telling was one thing. Lying was another. She didn't want to lie—not to April.
"I uh...yeah," she confirmed softly.
April nodded slowly. "And I take it I would have heard by now if you were engaged or anything like that."
"I see..." She glanced out at the water again. "Well I won't ask questions or anything. Even that much was probably none of my business. Granted, that usually doesn't stop me, but..."
Rory gave her a small smile. "Thanks." She sighed. "I knew you were smart, but I guess now I have to give you extremely observant, too."
"Comes with the science background."
"Makes sense now."
April nodded, and after a moment she spoke up again. "So what are you gonna do?"
Rory winced and focused on the sunrise again herself. "I know I'm going to have it. After that...it's all a big blank. Mom and Luke are the only two other people who know right now, and I already know they'll do whatever they can for me, but...I still don't know. What's going to happen, I mean. I don't know exactly what I want to do."
"Well...like I said, one of my friends in New Mexico just had a kid. I know a few things. Mom wasn't so happy about my continuing to, well, be her friend, but what was I going to do? Abandon her because she made one mistake? That's stupid. So uh, I guess what I'm saying is..."
Rory smiled more genuinely that time. "I think I get it, April. Thanks."
She hadn't seen many sunrises in her life, and in the rareness of the occasion and the semi-comfortable silence after this particular conversation...it didn't take her long to realize the appropriateness of the metaphor.
This was the start opf something. What, Rory didn't know...
But she couldn't run from it anymore.
Lorelai hadn't heard anything from her traveling crew since Tuesday morning, so she was more than eager to get the call from Rory's cell Thursday afternoon.
"What have you kids been doing that you forgot to let me in on it?" she complained good-naturedly as she answered.
"Hey, Mom. Sorry, uh...things got...interesting yesterday. I'm not on the boat anymore."
Her eyebrows went up. "Not on the boat? You heading home? Does the paper need you back, or did you get sick? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mom. You don't have to worry about me. I am heading home, but not right away. I got off because there's something I need to do."
"Like what, honey?" Lorelai asked anxiously.
She heard her daughter let out a breath. "I'm in Chicago, at O'Hare. I'm on a layover on my way to California. I...I have to tell Logan about the...the baby. I think he at least deserves to be told in person."
Lorelai made it to the couch and carefully lowered herself into the cushions. "Okay...I guess I understand that. It's a good step, but...do you even know exactly where he is? Do you have an address?"
"Grandpa found it for me. It only took him an hour to call me back yesterday. He has his ways."
She snorted. "Don't I know it. But what'd you tell him?"
"A pointed lack of details. I just told him I needed it. I don't even rmember exactly what I said. Maybe I told him I'd found something I needed to sne d back; I don't know. Grandpa protested a little, but he got the address."
"So we're safe on the grandparent front for now."
"Yeah...for now. But we have to tell them when I get back."
Lorelai's mouth dropped open? "When you get back? As a few days from now when you get back? What happened to the wait-as-long-as-possible plan?"
"Who said that was the plan?"
"Sweetie, sanity said that was the plan."
She could almost hear Rory shaking her head on the other end of the line. "Mom...we can't do that. I wish we could, but...you know it'll just hurt them worse if we don't see fit to tell them sooner than when-we-have-to."
Lorelai swallowed. "Yeah. I know. But are you sure...?"
"I'm sure. Or, well, no I'm not—but I don't think we have a choice. Coming out and telling them is about the only chance we have of softening the blow at all. Or I have. I suppose I'd understand if you wanted to be very far away."
"Rory, don't talk like that. I love you, and you know I'll be there for you. Maybe I'll be terrified right along with you, but I'll be there."
Rory chuckled quietly. "Yeah. I know." She paused. "Thank you. Again."
Lorelai pulled her feet up under her on the couch. "No problem, kiddo." She bit a lip for a moment, wondering what else she was supposed to say that this point. "Good luck. Until you get back I'm just a phone call away, okay? Let me know if I need to come out there and yell at him for you. Or beat him up. That too. Whatever's needed."
Her daughter's laugh was a little stronger this time. "Thanks, but I think the idea of this exercise was to do something right, and handle it myself."
"If you insist."
"I know, I know," she sighed. "Just...be careful." Not that there was any danger...unless to her daughter's heart.
Rory seemed to know she meant. "Thanks, Mom," she answered quietly.
The water was quiet, and as the sun set in the distance Luke and April sat on the deck of the boat, eating the food they'd picked up at the nearest store when they'd left Rory at bus station on shore that morning. She'd been bound for the nearest airport, and was doubtlessl well on her way to California by now.
"Is she gonna be okay?" April asked eventually.
Luke sighed. "I sure hope so." He winced. "You do know that it's not like we were keeping it from you; it's just that none of us knew just what we were going to do about any of it yet, and—"
"It's fine," she answered honestly. "Believe me, I know enough about adults by now to get a few of their reasons for doing things—protect the innocent minors from unneeded information, and all that. That, and it wasn't exactly my business. It's cool. I just hope everything turns out okay."
Luke could help but smile a little at his daughter, marveling yet again at how lucky he was. "Yeah. Me too."
The apartment building was nothing like the house with the avacado tree. From the outside it seemed just like every place Logan had had in Hartford, or New York...exactly the same. As far as Rory knew, he was working the same job he'd wanted to bring her with him to take two years ago. Only in the end he didn't have her, and the house he'd found had apparently been long forgotten because there would have been no one to share it with.
Somehow it made her sad, that he was the same. That he hadn't moved on like she'd tried to. She didn't even need to see the apartment building to know that. She'd known it since the last time she'd seen him, from the way he talked.
Logan had never let her go, and what she had to tell him now wasn't going to help.
But he had to know the truth.
Rory pressed the buzzer for Logan's apartment number, but there was no answer. After another few tries, she could only assume he wasn't home. She'd gotten in in the middle of the night and found a hotel to sleep in, and she considered going back there and returning here later, but there was always the chance he would be out again. So she waited. There was bench down by the sidewalk, and she sat there, waiting. She didn't know how long she planned to do it, but in the end it wasn't an issue. She only had to wait twenty minutes.
He came around the corner she'd expected, from the direction of what she'd assumed to be the main parking lot for tenants of the building. She must have been right. It was mid afternoon, and Logan looked to be coming back from work. He was dressed for business, but a little rumpled and carrying an overstuffed briefcase—probably work for the weekend, considering it was Friday, after all.
She stood up, debating whether or not to call attention to herself or wait when he glanced up and\saw her, slowing to a stop a few feet away.
For a long, uncertain moment Logan only stared, but he was the first to break the silence.
"When you ran off, you gave the impression I'd never seen you again."
"At the time, I thought that was what I meant," Rory answered honestly. She crossed her arms uncomfortably. "Can I come in? We need to talk."
Logan let out a slow breath as he looked at her, until finally he motioned to the front doors of the building in a silent invitation. He didn't say a word as he passed her and took the steps, and she followed him quietly.
The apartment, too, was just what she'd expected it to be—open floor plan, on one of the upper floors of the building—perhaps a bit smaller than his other apartments, but this was California.
Logan set his briefcase on a chair just inside the door and moved to the kitchen area, motioning her to the stool seats around the island. "You want anything?" he asked, pulling a beer from the fridge. He started to reach for another, anticipating her answer, but she stopped him.
"Uh, water...would be fine. Thanks."
He paused, picked up a water bottle instead, and turned to hand it to her across the island's countertop. Rory took it, and when she lowerd herself onto the stool beside her Logan sat too, across from her, and opened his bottle to take a drink or two from it.
"I'm sorry," he said finally.
"I'm sorry what happened upset you."
"But you're not sorry it happened."
He hesitated. "I know it was stupid, but...no. Not exactly. Is that so wrong?"
Not necessarily, but his perspective was bound to change in one way or another.
Logan spoke again when she didn't answer. "Rory, what are you doing out here?"
"Well I'm not here to kiss and make up," she said, not sure how else to get around to the subject at hand. "Not that I'm angry, exactly..."
"Yes you are. I know you are. It's written all over you."
She huffed. "Fine. Yes. So I'm angry—but more at myself than at you."
"I could have said no. All I had to do was say no, and it wouldn't have happened. But I didn't. It happened, and we have to deal with it. That's the only reason I'm here at all."
Logan scowled in confusion. "What do you want me to say?"
"I don't want you to say anything yet; I want you to be quiet. I'm not finished." Rory twisted the cap from the water bottle ans swallowed some, stalling.
"I'm pregnant," she answered finally. She hated to be so blunt, but—well no, she didn't. Maybe it was true that she was more angry with herself, but it didn't come without some anger in Logan's direction.
He stared at her, and his mouth opened and closed several times before he looked away, still tongue-tied.
"I'm going to have it, but I'm not here to ask for anything. I just thought you deserved to know."
She waited then, for Logan to say something. It was another long moment or two before he even looked up, and when he did he only stared at first, as if deciding whether or not to believe her.
"So what, I deserve to know, but not to have any say?"
Rory crossed her arms again. "I'm not aborting this baby, Logan. Think about where I came from myself; no matter how much this whole this freaks me out, I can't just do that..."
There it was again. Reality knocking. Her crossed arms droped from tightly around her chest to a gentle loop around her middle as she swallowed, remember that there was a...a person in there.
She didn't realize until he called her name that her eyes had glazed over. She blinked back the sudden tears, swallowing convulsively. "I'm fine," she answered automatically, swiping once at her eyes.
Logan swallowed as he looked at her. "You're not kidding."
She slid off the stool, crossed arms settling higher again. "No I'm not kidding; why the hell would I make this up?"
"Rory, I—I don't know—"
"Do you think I do? Do you think I have any idea how this is going to fit into my life? Or...how my life is going to fit into this, I guess I should say. I don't. I don't I know anything yet—not how I'm going to deal with this, if it's a boy or a girl, if I'm going to keep it..." Rory let out a breath and glanced at the wall—just away. "I don't even know if I'm going to put your name on the birth certificate."
When she looked at him again his mouth was open, but no words were coming out.
"I'm only here because you needed to know," she reiterated quietly. "I don't want anything from you, and I don't expect this to fix anything between us. I just didn't want to do to you what April's mother did to Luke, and never tell you. But as far as that goes, if I keep the baby I don't expect you to be even as present as my dad was. I'm not sure I want you involved at all, but then again I don't really know what I want yet. I'm barely through processing the fact that this is real; I-I haven't time to think about anything else yet."
Somewhere in there Logan had stood, and come halfway around the island. He wasn't very far away now, and she was resisting the urge to back up.
"Look, maybe I should just go now; I don't know that there's anything else to say..." She tried to bolt for the door, but his voice stopped her.
"And you run off again? Drop that bomb and leave?"
Rory turned back to face him again. "What else is there to say, Logan? I'm sorry? I am sorry. I'm sorry I let it happen, and made you think...whatever you thought then. I'm sorry we can't just forget it ever happened. I'm sorry things ever went wrong in the first place, but they did. I'm sorry that I don't know if being sorry will ever change anything. But I know it doesn't right now." She took a deep breath. "So I should go. I've done what I came to do, and I should go, because it doesn't change anything now. Right now we're still over."
Logan didn't seem to have an answer to that. He looked away for a long moment, maybe thinking, maybe stewing...and finally he brushed past her and went to his briefcase, where he pulled out his checkbook.
"Logan, I told you I don't want any—"
"Just let me do this, okay? So I don't feel completely useless and caught off guard," he shot back harshly. Maybe she deserved the tone, a little. Logan sighed as he filled out a check, and when he was done he handed it to her. "There that should cover the plane ticket and the ruined clothes I never got the chance to reimburse you for."
Rory blinked as she looked at it. "Th-this is too much."
"If they haven't started yet, you'll have medical expenses soon."
"Rory, I still don't understand everything that goes on in that head of yours, but I know this...situation is just as much my fault as yours. I don't know what you'll want later, and I don't know what I'll want, but you should take that now. Let me do that much, even if you won't take anything else later," he said, looking at her imploringly.
She swallowed and quietly slipped the check into her purse. "Fine." She went to the door, and she didn't expect him to say anything else. He very nearly didn't. Only when she was half way out did he call her name again. She looked back one more time, poised to shut the door.
The confusion and annoyance had melted away, and there was pain on Logan's face, carefully masked as a small, resigned smile. But she saw it anyway.
"You know where to find me when you know what you want."
Rory nodded once, gave him something of an apologetic smile in return, and left.