Chapter 4: Logan's Balls
"So… how does it feel being a Yale graduate?" Rory asked the moment Logan managed to fight his way through the crowd of graduates, their families and the other people celebrating the momentous event. She had to say, he looked damn good wearing his cap and gown and, of course, his diploma in hand. Once again she felt her heart swell with pride. He sure had come a long way from the carefree dope she had met at the beginning of her second year at Yale, only doing what was necessary to get by in school, to one of the top ten percent students of the graduating class.
"Happy to have schoolwork behind me and ready to sail into a new world," he grinned, pulling her towards him to kiss her deeply.
She returned his kiss joyfully and for a long while, they were contently lost in their own world. Eventually though, Rory drew back to gaze into his eyes with her hands locked around his neck. "You really did good. I am so, so proud of you, Logan… I hope you know that." He probably did; but he had been told far too rarely that anyone was proud of him and certainly not by people who really counted. Like his parents. And seeing his eyes soften with emotions, she was glad she had remembered to tell him.
As if summoned, someone cleared a throat behind her and, by Logan's tense reaction, she already knew who had approached them even before she turned around in Logan's arms to come face to face with the entire Huntzberger clan. She gave a nod and a cold smile, saying nothing. They weren't here to see her anyway. They probably would have preferred that she not be here at all, judging by both Shira and Elias' glare. She had a real smile for Honor and Josh only, giving them a little wave with her fingers. She was about to move away to give Logan's family their moment with him alone but the second she tried to step aside, Logan's arm around her waist drew her closer and kept her firmly in place.
Fine with her.
"Well done, Logan," Shira told him, a bit stiff but still a compliment.
The moment was immediately ruined though by his bastard grandfather who snorted. "Not good enough if you ask me. You could have graduated with honors, a summa cum laude or at least a cum laude, if you hadn't partied through college. You should have at least made the top five percent of your class." He glared at Rory who did not flinch, returning the glare back. How dare he ruin this day for Logan like this! Okay, he may be right, but Logan still had made the top ten percent, which was impressive enough, knowing how little he had worked in school.
"It is acceptable enough." Mitchum surprisingly voiced her thoughts, calling off his father. But then he looked hard at his son, with a displeased frown. "You stand by your decision?"
Having no idea what he was talking about, she glanced sideways at her boyfriend who simply nodded earnestly. "Absolutely."
His father stiffened, but she thought she also saw some kind of approval from his facial expression. Huh. Strange. What was going on here?
"Well, I don't care how you did it. The important thing is… you are now a Yale graduate. I'm very proud of you, little brother," Honor interrupted the tense moment between father and son and came forward to give Logan a heartfelt hug; and then, she gave Rory a hug, too. Putting aside her questions for the moment, Rory returned Honor's hug, whispering her thanks into the blonde's ear. Honor sure had her moments and she knew how to give her brother a well-deserved boost from time to time.
They invited Logan for a drink that he declined politely which was all right with her. After some more meaningless small talk, they all went their separate ways. Much to Rory's relief. Logan was scheduled to leave for London at 9 o'clock the next morning and she wanted more alone time with him before his departure. Maybe she was being selfish, but she simply wanted him to herself during the last hours at home before an ocean would separate them.
The thought of him leaving was unbearable enough and she honestly didn't know how she would be able to take the separation. She had no choice but to bear it. Ever since their big fight, the talk and blissful reunion, everything between them had been great. Really, really great. They had come to such a deep understanding of each other in the days that followed. They had grown close together. And more than ever, she was convinced that he was the one. Oh, she knew it was way too soon to think about a permanent relationship like marriage or even kids; but, deep down she still knew that when the time for that would come, it was going to be with him. Something she could very well live with and look forward to. And he was on the same page as her, just like he had told her that meaningful day − a thought that was very soothing, especially now in face of his looming departure.
God, it would really be so hard. To not have him close, not be able to kiss him regularly, to not sleep in each other's arms night after night. Sure, they would probably set a new standard for long-distance relationships, talking and writing to each other as often as possible, as well as visiting. But it wouldn't be the same, not by a long shot and her heart hurt at the mere thought of having to let him go tomorrow. She had firmly vowed to not let that spoil their last hours, but now that their time together was running out, it was impossible not to think about it and not let it affect her. Still, she did everything to put up a brave façade. It was hard for Logan, too, she knew that, and she wouldn't make it harder for him by losing it. There was more than enough time for that later on, after his plane had taken off. Yeah, until then she should hold it together. She had to.
They were going to dine royally together in their favorite restaurant in the city. After that, it was back to their apartment where Colin and Finn would be waiting for them with other good friends for the surprise farewell party. She had warned them ahead that everybody must leave by two o'clock. Best friends or not, his last night home was hers and she wasn't going to give that one away. She needed that one last opportunity to physically share her love for him, hoping that the euphoria of their lovemaking would last until the next time they could share their love again which would probably be months away.
Then in the morning it would be off to the airport. She didn't know yet how she should say goodbye and see him walk away from her. It was going to be unbelievably hard if not unbearably hard but it wouldn't and shouldn't stop her from taking him to the airport. No matter what, she needed to be there, kiss him goodbye and wave until he was inside the 'passengers only' area.
And only then would she allow the misery and anguish over their forced separation show.
"Wait a minute! We're going the wrong direction!"
Logan had waited for Rory to catch up on Frank not heading into town but out of town. She had taken longer than he had anticipated, then again, she had been awfully quiet, lost in her own thoughts for a while. And he had a pretty good guess of the reason why. She may not want to show her unhappiness about his impending departure, but he was no fool. Besides, ever since their long and hard talk about their relationship a few weeks back, they had grown so much closer together that rarely was there a moment when he couldn't read her mood pretty well and sometimes even her thoughts. Apart from London looming over them, everyday had been absolutely blissful. But the nearer they got to the date of his supposed leaving, the more silent his Ace grew. Also, she seemed to be savoring each and every one of their kisses, touches and lovemaking; she seemed to be memorizing, storing up every sensation for the time when he would be away from her. And a couple of times, she had cried. Of course, not in his presence because she would always put up a happy, encouraging face in front of him, but he had figured it out anyway.
He never called her on it, but rather understood why she preferred to act as if nothing was wrong. It was different now. It was not as if she was not sharing her feelings but rather she was protecting herself from the heartache to come. To be honest, he didn't feel much better about it himself. He, too, couldn't bear the thought of their imminent separation, especially with the way things were between them nowadays. In the end, he came to accept that he simply couldn't.
So when Rory reached for the intercom to ask Frank about their direction, he caught her hand. "Ace, no. He's not going the wrong way."
"But…" she stopped, narrowing her eyes. "Has this anything to do with your father's comment back there? About you being sure?"
Of course she had already made the connection between his father's little comment she overheard and its relevance to where they were going. Then again, it was a small miracle that his father or any member of his family didn't mention his decision in more detail. Also, it was very surprising that his dad hadn't been angrier. Hell, if he didn't know it any better, he could almost swear that he had seen some pride in Mitchum's hard eyes. But that was impossible, wasn't it?
"Yes," he replied with a start, squeezing her hand. "Uh… Look, don't get mad."
She raised one of her eyebrows. Then she sighed. "You've got a surprise for me, don't you?"
Despite his nervousness about what he had to confess, he had to lift one corner of his mouth.
She nodded wistfully. "So what is the surprise? Where are we going?"
Straight to the point. He wasn't sure if this was a good sign. Still, he hoped his answer to her questions would pacify her a little. "To the airport."
Before he could say anything more, all color left her face and her eyes grew very big. The fear in them nearly choked him. "You already have to leave now?"
Freeing one of his hands out of her death grip, he cupped her cheek. "Shit, Rory, no. That's not it at all."
A quiver ran through her and she gazed at him with some of her panic subdued. "No?"
"No," he soothed her, stroking his thumb over her jaw-line. "Quite the contrary. We're going to JFK to board an evening flight to Hanoi." He held out his hand, one corner of his mouth lifting. "Will you come with me?" He was asking for way more than that; he felt good when she immediately put her hand into his.
At last, her panic had ebbed away and she covered his hand with hers. "Always." Then she frowned. "Hanoi?"
"Yeah. You planned Hanoi for our first stop on our Asian trip, didn't you?" He extremely enjoyed the puzzlement on his Ace's face. That was why he liked to surprise her so much. She would always be mistrustful, always almost ready to reject whatever surprise he had and then, she would always slowly start to accept the surprise until she loved it. Well, he hoped she would come to love this surprise too.
"Yes, I did. Are you saying we're going after all? That you booked us the trip according to my original plans?" Oh yeah, she was excited. Good. She wouldn't allow herself any joy over it yet as her next words proved. "But what about London? What did you have to sacrifice so Mitchum would wait until after the summer? Your trips home for the next year?"
Losing his smirk, he took a deep breath. Now came the hard part. "I'm not going to London, Rory. Actually, I quit. I'm not going to work for the Huntzberger Media Corporation at all."
His Ace's face didn't show surprise this time. Her face showed shock! "What? But… What are you going to do then?"
"You remember Jamie from the LDB? He started an on-line news site, really innovative. Last week he called and offered me an opportunity to be a partner." He stopped there, collecting his thoughts. All had gone so fast and he himself had a hard time believing that he truly wasn't going to work in the family business. "I already told you before, if I could, I'd leave the firm. But what options did I have? As the Huntzberger heir, no serious publication company or news agency would have hired me. And forced into it or not… I do love the news business. Just not when I have to work for my father and always be under his control. He is so suffocating and I hate it. When Jamie called… I didn't have to think long. Only long enough to do some due diligence on his business. And it's good, Rory, it's really good. I always wanted to lead the HMC into the virtual ether. It's the future. The printed paper won't die out till a few more years even decades, but the focus will shift, that's obvious. Jamie's site is spectacular and, we can develop it into one of the leading internet news sources." The more he talked about it, the more his enthusiasm grew. This was right. This was perfect for him. And he just knew it.
"Are you really sure?" Rory asked very seriously. "Can you afford it?"
"Yes, I'm sure," he confirmed with absolute certainty, not minding the question. "And sure, I won't be able to live the way I'm used to, but I won't be exactly poor either. I'll still get the dividends from my trust plus for a few years now, I have put some money aside for opportunities like this. And besides, the meager salary I'll get as a working partner should sustain me comfortably enough." But yeah, he definitely would have to cut back. He could do it though. To be Mitchum-free, it was a small price to pay. And fortunately, he had a girlfriend who could teach him a thing or two about living on a budget. "I'll have to work my ass off for this to work but, Ace, I will be able to work without my father and my family breathing down my neck. I'll be free at last and be able to do what I want, my choice, on my own. This is what I always wanted and I know… I know that this is the right thing for me."
For a moment she studied him very closely. Very much to his relief, she finally nodded. "If you really feel good about this, then it will probably be very good for you. It is truly admirable that you want to go on your own and do what you think would be best for you. And I've got to admit, it does sound perfect for you."
Her words were encouraging for the part of him that still held a few doubts about taking such a big step into uncertainty and independence. Having grown up as he had, it wasn't easy to break away from his family's expectations, the reason why in the end, so many of his friends ended up doing exactly what they were supposed to do. "It is. You'll like the site. The articles are outstanding and the blogs are really at the pulse of life. It targets and focuses more on people our age, although there are sections for kids and for older people. The site is small for the time being. It's a promising concept. Once I have access to my trust account, I will invest more money into the business so we can expand and broaden our target markets and what the site covers so that eventually it will be the website for news."
"Look at you… all business already," she commented with a smirk.
He shrugged. "Dad made sure I know how the business works at a very early age. Just because I hated the training didn't mean I didn't learn after all. Or can't use the knowledge I have attained through his guidance as foundation for my own venture." Which was what his father realized when he had gone to see him yesterday to tell him he was going to leave the Huntzberger group and start a business enterprise with a friend. Proof enough that he was ready to be on his own.
"Good for you," Rory agreed as well. Then she hesitated, biting her lip. "So I assume you have to work from…?"
Ah… Of course. "New York. Jamie has set up the office, just a small one with five workstations, but that's all we'll need for starters. I'll have to find an apartment there, I won't have the time to come to New Haven every day and there's also quite a lot of traveling involved, but still…"
"It's not London," she finished for him, her eyes starting to shine incredibly.
He grinned. "It's not London."
"And you can still go on this trip first?" she wanted to know, her eagerness coming through at last.
"Well, I do have to write a few articles for the site based on what we'll see and experience, but it won't take much of our time. I'll email Jamie once a week and this way, we can take all the time we want for our trip." This was good because they had planned on visiting several Asian cities which would take at least six to eight weeks, maybe ten.
She startled him by wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. "Oh, Logan. That's wonderful! You're not leaving and free from Mitchum! And on top of it all, we even get to do our trip." As soon as she had hugged him, she pulled away to slap his chest. "How could you keep all this from me? And what do you mean… we're on the way to the airport? We can't! We first have to pack and if you're going to stay in New York we'll have to clean out our apartment. And I have to find a place for next year! Oh, and my passport! It's in Stars Hollow. And jeez, Mom! I've got to tell her all this and that I won't be home this summer after all. No way can we do all that and be on time for our flight!"
Laughing, he shook his head. Now that was his Ace! "Have some trust in me, Baby. I took care of everything," he assured her, pulling out their passports from his inner breast pocket. As she stared at them, he smirked. "And with the help of many little elves, the things that still needed to be done will be taken care of as well. First, your mother brought this one," he waved with her passport, "and packed two suitcases for you. She also talked to Christopher who'd like to pay for our apartment next year for you. If that's not what you want, I also talked with Paris and it sounds like you could have your old room in their apartment. Though I prefer that you stay in our apartment till you graduate. Not just because I will be spared of the experience of watching Doyle and Paris playing house, let alone listen to them when I come to visit you, but simply because that neighborhood is not safe enough and I don't want to worry about you all the time. So please, please stay and accept Christopher's offer, yes, Ace?" he asked, not caring that he was begging here. He really wanted her to the stay at the first place they had called home even if he would be spending a lot of time away from there. But most of all, he simply couldn't bear the thought of something happening to her and Paris' place was practically an invitation for trouble. Anything could happen at that area and he would not want to take the chance, especially with Rory as a walking target for all those low lives living there.
To his utter relief, she blushed and tilted her head. "I'll think about it and, maybe, I'll take up his offer. Paris and Doyle are great friends but I still prefer not living with them, if I can. Besides, our apartment... It's home. Our home."
"I know," he agreed wholeheartedly, kissing her cheek. "And I'll be home as often as I can, I promise."
She put her head onto his shoulder. "You better."
Smiling, he continued to get her up to date. "Okay, back to our trip. Paris also promised she'd email you all things Yale so you're in the know for your next semester. Oh, and Finn and Colin know about our trip. They did not want to waste the chance to have a party so they will still party tonight but at the pub not at our apartment. And I fear there will be another party when we get back to celebrate 'Logan's balls' to quote Finn. Thank you for planning the surprise party for me... it was a really great thought, Ace."
Her head shot up. "You knew…" Her eyes narrowed. "Since when did you plan all this?"
"Only the last three days. I knew about Jamie's little project of course, hell, we've been working on the website idea for a long time now. That's why he called and offered me the opportunity when he finally had enough investors and advertisers to launch the site." Not that he had thought they would ever actually realize this baby when the two of them had shared their dreams of being free from their families and start their own news business. That it actually happened and, even more than that, he had the balls to go through with it and quit from the family business which still felt more like a dream than reality. But it was real. And that had a lot to do with the woman beside him.
She had reminded him that he actually loved this business – and was good at it. Her life and the lives of her mom and her friend Lane had shown him that anyone with determination could break free from any set path. She had always believed in him, encouraged him, been proud of him; although sometimes he also disappointed her, making him want to redeem himself. And finally, she had given him reason to believe in himself that gave him courage and confidence to take this step. Not to mention that the motivation of wanting to remain close to her was a large part of his decision to turn his back on his father and stay in New York to work with a friend.
New York would not be as far as moving to London but it would still mean that they would not be living together. Between his work and her studies, they could work out a schedule that would allow them to see each other regularly and do weekends, and occasional weekday, sleepovers. That was, if she forgave him for not telling her sooner of all this. And sure enough, there was already her question in a slightly hurt voice that cut through him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He had expected this question sooner or later. Didn't mean it was any easier to answer. "For starters, it all happened really fast. You still were in the middle of your finals when Jamie first called and I didn't want to disturb your concentration. I figured also that it was for the best to not get our hopes up before it was definitive." He could see that this wasn't good enough for her. They were valid reasons but he had to admit, there was another one and probably, the most important one. "Ace, I needed to do this on my own. This is not about not sharing my life with you. It's about me, on my own, deciding what to do with my life and we both know that even if I had told you about all this sooner, you would have told me that this was something I had to figure out for myself, without your influence. If it doesn't work out, I have only myself to blame and I want it that way. You can understand that, can't you?"
Her eyes softened. "Yeah. Yeah, I understand. And you're right. I would not have wanted to influence your decision even if I wanted you to stay close and not go to London." She took a deep breath and tilted her head. "Still, a little warning would have been nice. And how did you manage to arrange all of this in so little time?"
Relieved that she accepted his motivation for this surprise, he shrugged. "I still don't tell my secrets, Ms. Gilmore. Even more now that I am a member of the free press and have to protect my sources."
"I'm going to hear that a lot from now on, won't I?" she asked with an eye-roll that he answered with an amused nod. Oh yeah, she would. "Okay, keep your secrets. I'll find out eventually on my own anyway." Her eyes sparkled and he had no doubts that she would sooner or later get him to talk. Or someone else who would give her helpful hints. She was good at that. One of the many reasons why he loved her so much. Besides, some of her methods of getting him to talk were more than worth the 'interrogation'.
"So mom packed my suitcases? Oh boy! Broke or not, you'll pay for any stuff I'll have to buy because I might not be able to wear the clothes she deemed suitable for a trip to the Far East. Then again, you'll probably thank her on your knees upon our return."
Intrigued, he lifted an eyebrow. "And why would I do that?"
"Let's just say that she likes to mess with my wardrobe and the things she packs are mostly so scandalous that I'm blushing at the mere thought of wearing any of the outfits she packed for me." She snorted. "Not that I'll have a choice. There won't be any one piece I would pack voluntarily."
"Oh yeah?" She was right. He definitely liked the thought of that.
"Don't get too smug. You probably wouldn't want me to wear in public a lot of the clothes she packed," she told him dryly.
"Well, we'll see. I told her to pack the normal stuff. Oh, and our coffee of course," he said, ignoring her comment. Surely she exaggerated. There was hardly anything in Rory's wardrobe that he wouldn't want her to wear outside of their home.
"Our coffee? Since when did coffee become ourcoffee?" she asked, her turn to raise an eyebrow.
He grinned. "Since I brought you that coffee from Costa Rica. I have sworn I would join the love fest for the holy coffee if it would break the ice that had grown between us. And it sure did its job as an icebreaker, didn't it?"
Her smile was warm when she slowly nodded before she cuddled into his side, tucking her head under his chin as her arms slipped around him to hold him close. "Yeah, I guess it did. Logan?"
"Hmm?" Already distracted by her closeness, he played with her hair as he calculated the time left before they reached the airport. Surely they should have enough time to have a little fun, shouldn't they?
"Thank you…" she whispered, so heartfelt it even doused his horniness, for the moment. "… for staying here. For fighting for us. For giving us this trip." She looked up at him, her expressive eyes showing the depths of her emotions, baring her soul, telling him so much without words that left him wordless as well. "Thank you for bringing home that icebreaker. It was a gift for both of us."
And she kissed him, long and deep and hard and he responded to her kiss to show her that there was no need for any thanks. He needed her and losing his Ace wasn't an option. Not for him. And he was fairly certain not for her either. At least that was what her kisses and touches told him and what he could see whenever he looked into those beautiful eyes he had fallen in love with the first time they met. Or the second time. Whatever.
And, yeah! There was more than enough time for a little fun.
Queen Ferret's Prompt: My request – I want an AU fic set in season six. Everything right up to Logan's accident in Costa Rica has happened as per the show. But I want to see how Logan and Rory would have fixed their relationship without Logan's accident. Must be in character, cannot be a song fic. Smut, angst, fluff are all fine.
(Author's note: So, that's it. Unbelievable. A story that is actually already finished. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as I have enjoyed writing it. I'd like to thank all you wonderful people who took the time to review. I got to admit, I thrive on them and I really love reading how you feel about something I wrote. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you all.
Queen Ferret, I hope that the story I wrote fulfilled your prompt and that this is more or less what you had hoped for. Either way, thank you for this interesting idea.
As for my other stories: First, I'll finish Shot to Happiness. Originally I wanted to have it finished by the end of last year, but then the fic exchange happened. I promise to finish them all, it's just slow going as I don't have much free time and I also try to work on the original stuff I have started when I have time to write.)