AN: This fic was written for the RL fic exchange. All the fics that are part of the exchange are clearly labeled and I highly reccomend you check out each and everyone and leave reviews. If things go well, there will be more exchanges in the future which means a resurgence of R/L fics. And who doesn't want that?
This is only the first chapter there are two more to come, so it doesn't end here kiddies. Look for the last two chapters tomorrow.
This fic was written for Katie DV. Katie, I hope you enjoy your fic and it lives up to you expectations.
Strands of tiny, white lights blinked on to illuminate the living room and dining room. The Christmas lights had been down for less than a week before Logan had lugged them back out of storage and hanged them back up again. They bordered the windows and doorways, they wound up the columns that separated the two rooms and along the banister that led upstairs. They were everywhere, casting their glow upon the freshly decorated rooms, revealing a walkway of rose petals, an elegantly decorated table for two, crystal candelabras, and little candy hearts covering every free surface.
"Thanks, Honor. I never could have done all of this by myself."
"Logan, Logan, Logan…" Honor shook her head teasingly from the seat she had just taken on the sofa. "You don't have to thank me; I'm your sister. I help you because I love you—and because you promised to baby sit Jack for a week while Josh and I are in Barbados."
Logan laughed. Honor's son, Jack, could be a terror—he got that from the Huntzberger side of the family. But Logan didn't mind. He loved his nephew, and to be honest, he was actually pretty good with the kid. Add in a little help from Rory, and they were quite the team. Besides, he figured it would be good practice for when they had kids of their own.
The thought of being a father had never really crossed Logan's mind until a few years ago—at least not in a happy, loving, good kind of way. When he was growing up, family had always been something Logan had thought of as an obligation. He was expected to grow up and get married to a woman who looked good, planned parties and gave him children—a son to groom as the next CEO of the company, and a daughter who was cute and proper, and attracted a wealthy man of good breeding to enhance the family's social standing. In Logan's world, family was about business and power.
Until he met Rory and she showed him that love was real and that a family could be warm and happy. And over time, with her, he grew to want that more than he could have ever imagined. Rory Gilmore had changed his whole world, and now he couldn't imagine one without her in it. So that night, he was going to ensure he never had to.
That night, he was going to propose.
"Colin and I, however, would appreciate a nice, heartfelt thank you," a muffled, Australian voice crooned as Finn walked around the corner from the kitchen carrying a plate and fork. He patted his mouth with a napkin and smiled at the brother and sister.
"Finn, is that what I think it is?" Logan growled, trying to keep his composure as he glared at the plate in Finn's hands.
"That depends," Finn remarked, oblivious to his friend's mounting wrath. "Do you think it's a piece of that mouth-watering tiramisu you had out?"
"Finn!" Logan snapped. "Are you insane? That was for Rory!"
The Australian man glanced down at his plate then back up at his friend and shrugged. "Reporter Girl couldn't possibly eat all that cake"
Logan clenched his fists and breathed in deeply, counting to ten as he tried to reign in his anger.
"What's going on?" Colin's voice cut through Logan's mantra as he joined the rest of the group. "God damn it, Finn!" Colin screeched seeing the plate in his hand. "I'm sorry, Logan," he turned to his blond friend. "I went to the bathroom; I was only gone for a minute."
"It's not your fault," Logan replied through gritted teeth.
"We can go out and pick up another cake for you."
Logan shook his head, resigning himself to the situation. "There's no time."
"Look at it this way," Honor offered, "everyone loves a good Finn antic. She'll probably just laugh when you tell her what happened."
"Yeah, what she said," Finn chimed in. "I bring joy and laughter into people's lives. Just you watch, you'll be thanking me for this tomorrow."
Honor had a point. Logan himself could feel the amusement bubbling up and undercutting the rage he had been feeling a moment before. It was almost impossible to stay mad at Finn and his stupidity. Almost.
"Just go," Logan ordered, but he was smiling slightly. "Everything is done and Rory will be home soon."
Honor and Colin nodded in acceptance, ready to leave Logan to the special evening he had planned. Finn, however, was not so quick to comply.
"You're kicking me out?" he gasped, setting the plate down and holding his hand over his heart as though he had been truly wounded. "I'm hurt, devastated, crushed—after all I've done for you."
"Finn," Colin said, grabbing his friend by the arm. "Shut up." Colin began to lead him towards the door, but Finn broke free, and rushed back to where he had been standing to grab his tiramisu.
"Can't forget this," he said seriously, taking another large bite off the fork. He headed back towards the door where Honor and Colin were waiting for him and gathered up his things. "Thanks for the cake, Mate. Mind if I take the plate and bring it back to you tomorrow?"
Logan rolled his eyes, half out of annoyance, half out of amusement—make that three quarters annoyance and one quarter amusement—and watched as his friends piled out through the door into the snowy winter night.
Rory was bouncing with excitement as she approached the posh, Brooklyn walk up she shared with her boyfriend. She had had the most amazing day. First she had woken up to a veritable winter wonderland…the entire city coated with a fluffy layer of beautiful, white snow. The morning had started off with a bang—quite literally. She couldn't help herself—she blamed it on the snow. She wound up being late for work, but then again, so had her boss, so she had gotten away with it. She found out her article was slated for the front page in the next day's issue, and then she had gotten the phone call that gave her the most exciting news of all.
It wasn't official, but she would know more that evening. She couldn't wait to get home and share her excitement with Logan. He'd probably be a little sad, but she knew he'd be happy that she was getting such an amazing opportunity. She wondered if she should tell him right away, or wait for the call. They had told her she would hear from them by seven, which wasn't very long, and she didn't want to jinx it. It was probably better to wait and tell him officially.
She stood on the patio and shuffled through her bag looking for her keys, finally finding them in one of the side pockets behind a Starbucks card and her lipstick. Shifting her bag back on to her shoulder, she placed the key in the lock and opened the door.
It was beautiful…perfect. She especially loved the Valentine hearts strewn all over. She picked one up—"Be mine" it exclaimed—and popped it in her mouth. She was definitely having the most amazing day.
"Welcome home, Babe," her boyfriend greeted her, coming to the door to help her with her coat and bag. He gave her a chaste kiss before pulling away and revealing a big grin. "How was your day?"
"It just keeps getting better," she admitted, tossing her gloves onto a table by the front door and circling her arms around Logan's neck. "This is beautiful Logan." She gave him a kiss. "What's the occasion?"
"I need an occasion to decorate the house and make you a romantic dinner?" he asked innocently.
Rory gave him a dubious look. "Umm…yes," she laughed.
"Think about it, Ace," he coaxed, leading her into the dinning room. She stared at him in confusion. "What's today's date?"
"January 18th," she said hesitantly, still not getting what the occasion was.
"I'm hurt, Ace," Logan said, standing hands on hips.
"Oh my god," she squealed as the significance of the day suddenly dawned on her. "It's January 18th!"
"By George, I think she's got it."
"I can't believe I forgot."
"I know. Obama would be very sad to hear you didn't remember his big day. It is the anniversary of his inauguration," Logan teased.
"And the anniversary of the day we got back together, you big goof." She smiled and hit him playfully in the arm. "It's so sweet that you did this."
Rory was amazed by Logan's thoughtfulness. She was usually the first one to look for an excuse to celebrate something, so she wasn't quite sure how this date had almost slipped by her.
One year. It had been one year since Rory and Logan had reunited and put the past behind them. She could still remember how heart broken she had been at her Yale graduation when Logan had walked away from her, engagement ring in hand. But what other choice had there been? She wasn't ready to get married. It wasn't that she couldn't see herself married to him someday, it was just that that someday was still somewhere in the hazy, undefined future. She had too many things in her life that needed sorting out before she could take that kind of step. So she had said no, and he had walked away, unable to continue on in their relationship without a commitment to forever.
She had gone on with her life the best she could. She had taken a job reporting on the Obama Presidential campaign for an online magazine. For a year and a half she traveled the country, writing about every rally and town hall meeting right up until the inauguration.
She had, of course, attended and, as it turned out, Logan had been there for the historical night too. He no longer worked in the journalism field, but he had his contacts. Things had started out awkward, segued into a blow out argument, and ended in a hotel room.
That night had been another defining moment in Rory's life; the end of one era and the beginning of another. She was starting a new job at a traditional newspaper in New York the following week. Only this time she was ready to move forward and experience life's uncertainties with the man she loved. Because if there was one thing she had learned in the year and a half they were apart, it was that there was no getting over Logan Huntzberger. She still loved him, and luckily, he still loved her. And best of all, he was moving to New York to head up the new branch of the internet company he was a partner in.
"A seat, Madaam?" he asked in his best faux French accent, pulling out her chair for her.
"Merci, Monsieur," she responded, sitting in the proffered seat and settling her napkin onto her lap. Logan pushed her chair into the table and disappeared into the kitchen to bring out the first course. He set a plate in front of her, and one across the table, before taking a seat to join her.
"Caramelized onion and feta cheese tart," he announced proudly. Rory glanced down at the plate and back up to her boyfriend.
"You made this?" she asked warily.
"Yes," he laughed.
"And it's safe to eat?"
"Hey," Logan objected.
"Well, I'm sorry, but when something seems too good to be true, it usually is, and you—my friend—seem too good to be true."
"Is that supposed to make me not be offended?"
"Did it work?" she smiled her sweetest smile at him.
"Just eat your tart." He pointed at her plate with his fork.
Rory did as she was told, and cut into the delectable appetizer sitting in front of her, popping a piece into her mouth. "Holly crap," she mumbled through a mouthful of food. "This is, like, the best thing I've ever had in my mouth."
"And I'm offended again," Logan pouted.
Rory rolled her eyes. "The best food I've ever had in my mouth," she amended. "Happy?"
"Much better, thank you," Logan smirked.
"How did you learn to cook like this, and why have I never known about it?"
"I just followed the recipe," Logan replied with faux modesty, "—and Honor helped me," he admitted. "She took cooking classes while she was pregnant before deciding it was just easier to employ a chef."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Rory laughed but was cut off by the sound of ringing from her purse hanging on a hook by the door. Her eyes widened in excitement as she glanced at her watch and realized it was already 6:30. It was the call she was waiting for; the one thing needed to make her day perfect. She jumped up, pushing her seat backward and toppling it over in her excitement.
"Ignore it," Logan suggested, wondering what was so important she would interrupt their evening. "We're eating."
"I can't," Rory replied, rushing towards the bag. She reached into the side pocket and pulled out the cell, fumbling it in her excitement and accidentally hitting the "talk" button before the phone was anywhere near her face. She quickly got a hold of the device and brought it to her ear. "Rory Gilmore speaking…" she panted into the phone. "Yes, of course, how are you…wonderful to hear…uh huh…uh huh…of course, it would be my pleasure…That's amazing…yes….of course…thank you…thank you…uh huh….thank you….I'll see you then." She hung up the phone and let out a trill of excitement.
"Good news?" Rory looked up to see Logan laughing at her enthusiasm.
"I got the job," she squealed, dropping her phone on the entrance table and rushing towards him, throwing her arms around his neck from behind. Logan turned in his seat to face her, the smile on his face replaced by a look of confusion.
"I didn't know you were looking for a job," he queried. She loved her job, or at least that was what she always told him. It was a relatively small paper for New York, but she got to do a lot of big articles and she got along well with all of her colleagues and her boss. She was happy there.
"I wasn't," she admitted. "I was recruited by a head hunter. I got the call this afternoon. They asked me if I could meet them for a screen test some time this week. I was so excited I said I could meet them today if they wanted and they said today would be perfect so I went down there during my lunch and now I've got the job. It's totally short notice, I know, but they said the opening was sudden and they had to fill it immediately..."
Logan smiled at her ramble. She was cute when she was excited. He was still a bit confused though—that was the problem with her rambles. Rory-stream-of-consciousness wasn't always completely informative. "Screen test?" he asked for qualification.
Rory nodded her head enthusiastically, completely unable to keep the huge grin off her face as she responded. "For New York Nightly," she squealed again.
"New York Nightly?" he repeated, his own, already huge, smile growing.
"I'm going to be on TV," she beamed.
Logan stood up from his chair and circled his arms around her waist, spinning her in triumph. "That's amazing, Ace," he laughed, stopping only to kiss her passionately. "I always knew you were headed for amazing things."
"Oh God," Rory squealed again. "I can't believe I'm finally going to be a foreign correspondent."
Logan dropped his arms from around Rory's waist and took a tentative step back. "A what?" he asked.
"I know," Rory's excitement was at fever pitch and she didn't seem to notice Logan's sudden and complete lack of it.
"A foreign correspondent?"
"This is, like, a total dream come true."
"As in someone who corresponds on foreign matters?"
"I can't believe this is happening." She let out a bark of gleeful laughter and did a pirouette. She was thrilled, elated…this was everything she'd always wanted. This day was truly perfect. Nothing could ruin her mood.
"Like…matters in foreign lands?" Logan's frown was deepening as Rory flung herself into his arms again. "Lands far away from here?" he mumbled, knowing she wasn't hearing a word he said.
"We need to celebrate." She looked around at the decorated room. "Well, I guess you've already got that covered," she chuckled.
"Rory," Logan pushed her gently back so he could look her in the eyes.
"What?" she asked, sobering slightly as she noted the seriousness in her boyfriend's face.
"You can't take this job," he said simply.
Rory's jaw literally dropped as her merriment morphed into anger. "I'm sorry, I didn't know I needed your permission," she snarked.
"How about my opinion?" he countered. "Did you ever even consider that?"
"I thought you'd be happy for me. I've wanted this ever since I was a kid."
"No, you wanted this when you were a kid."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, just…things change Rory. When I was a kid I wanted to be a cowboy."
"That is so not the same. You can't compare some stupid kid fantasy you had when you were five to the dream I've had for the last twenty years."
"And what about our dream Rory?" he asked, slipping his hand into his pocket to feel the small, velvet box. "We've talked about this. We've talked about how many kids we're going to have and if we're going to buy a house in Nassau or Westchester—hell, we've looked at houses. We've discussed the fact that we're going to have a fall wedding in a vineyard and honeymoon in Thailand. It wasn't just me this time…we decided these things." He'd screwed up the first time around…planning a life for them in San Francisco without talking to her about it. He'd thought she'd appreciate the thought he'd put into their lives together, but then again, he'd been a stupid kid back then. He knew better this time. He knew they needed to plan their lives together together. He knew that any life altering decisions needed to be discussed and worked into their lives only now she was the one making life altering decisions without so much as a thought towards him. What was she thinking? Hadn't she learned anything from the disaster that was their break-up?
"We can still have that."
"When? On the eighty-four days a year you're actually in the same country as me? Are you going to weekend in our home and raise our kids via Skype?"
"We'll figure it out. Christiane Amanpour has a husband and son and she's the World's most famous Foreign Correspondent."
"Yeah, she got married and had a kid after working her way up at CNN for almost twenty years. I love you, Rory, but I'm not waiting twenty years."
"What are you saying?" she asked warily, tears stinging at her eyes. This was supposed to be the most wonderful day of her life and she was on the verge of tears. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Logan took a deep breath, squeezing the hand in his pocket. This wasn't how this was supposed to go down. He'd wanted the night to be perfect. This was far from it, but it didn't change a thing. He had to do this. "I'm saying I want to marry you." He slowly sunk down onto one knee and pulled his hand out to show Rory the box he now held.
"Oh my God," Rory gasped as he flipped the lid to reveal the sparking diamond ring within.
"Ace, please. I love you." He looked up at her with complete and total adoration in his eyes, but Rory couldn't see that. All she could see at that moment was red. She couldn't believe the nerve of him.
"I can't believe you," she scoffed. "I can't believe you're doing this…again."
"It's an ultimatum. It's an ultimatum with a ring. It's like graduation day all over again."
"Yes. You're making me choose. You want me to settle down like a good little wife or you're going to leave me."
"I never said that," he told her indignantly, standing back up again.
"You implied it."
"Why? Because I'm asking you to think about us—to put our dreams first? Rory…" He took both of her hands in his but she immediately recoiled, crossing her arms defiantly over her chest.
"What?" he asked incredulously. This wasn't happening. She didn't really mean that.
Or maybe she did. "But…but we talked about this."
"I'm not going to be manipulated into marriage, Logan."
"This isn't manipulation. I have the ring. I decorated the apartment, I made tarts, and chateaubriand and baked tiramisu. I planned this. And you knew it was coming. I'm not asking you this just to keep you here."
"But in the end, that's what you want, isn't it?"
"Well of course that's what I want. I'm not asking you to marry me because I hate being around you."
"God," she scoffed. "I can't believe I thought you'd changed. You're still the same Logan who can't stand not getting his way. It's just like last time. Well that's just fine. Walk away, see if I care."
"It's not like last time, Rory. I'm not going anywhere."
"No, you're right. You don't get to walk away this time. This time, I'm going." She turned around to head for the door and started gathering up her things.
He stared at her, mouth agape, as she threw on her jacket and slung her purse over her shoulder. "Rory, wait…" She made a motion for the door but paused and Logan's heart stuttered in his chest with anticipation. She wasn't going to walk out on him after all.
"And you know what?" she finally asked, turning around. "I'm taking dessert with me." . It was the least she deserved after his stupid ultimatum. The wallowing would start the moment she walked out that door—she needed something chocolate-y to hold her until she made it to the convenience store down the block. She marched straight into the kitchen and grabbed the cake off the counter. "Why is there a piece missing?" she asked, looking down at the cake and then up at Logan who had followed her into the kitchen.
"Finn," Logan answered dejectedly. He stared at her, wishing there was something he could say to make her stay, but he was coming up with nothing.
"Oh." She shrugged her shoulders. She stared down at the plate for a moment, trying to find the courage to move. The pain in her chest was tangible, making it difficult to breath. The tears were threatening to fall from her eyes. She really needed a piece of that cake. "Good-bye, Logan." And then, she really did walk away.