First and for most I would like to thank my hard working beta's – I know this was a tight time frame but they rose to the challenge magnificently.
Secondly I would like to dedicate this fic to Cuppacuppajoe for being the muse that inspired this fic and to Jules for being the brains behind this little exchange.
The Flag Bearers Meet
"What! You're not coming home for Christmas?" Lorelai sounded overly dramatic as she spoke to her daughter from across the Atlantic.
"Mom, stop sounding like this is the first time you've heard about this. I told you three weeks ago that I have an interview tomorrow that I can't get out of." Rory was applying the final touches to her makeup while she talked to her mother on speaker phone.
"But that's ridiculous! Who has to work during Christmas?"
"Lots of people."
"Like people in retail, public transportation, health services and pretty much everyone in the hospitality industry including people who run inns."
"Hey, I'm not working tomorrow." Lorelai sounded shocked at the innuendo.
"No, you may not be, but I bet some of your staff are."
"Well, it's the selfish guests who want to get away from their families during the holidays that force me to have my staff working."
"Well, I'm feeling sympathetic to them right now."
"Ahhh, that's mean, take it back." Lorelai almost sounded genuinely shocked.
"Take what back?" Rory sounded coy.
"Take back that you don't want to see mommy, the woman who gave birth to you. The woman who went groveling to her parents just so you could get into one of the top college-prep schools so you could go to Harvard so you could change your mind and go to Yale."
Damn, Rory thought her mother always had the whole gave birth and sacrificed card up her sleeve, and there was no fighting it. "Fine, I take it back, I would love nothing more than to be spending Christmas Eve with my neurotic mother, to be home in Stars Hollow than to be at a charity ball, which I will have to stay sober for because I have to get up insanely early to meet with my interviewee who is a firm atheist and said that it was tomorrow or never."
"That's better." Lorelai couldn't keep the sound of satisfaction out of her voice. "How did you get roped into going to this ball thingy tonight anyway?"
Rory was finally happy that the eye makeup on each eye matched, she picked up her phone and walked out of the bathroom and sat on the bed. "Someone told Grandpa that I would be in London during Christmas, so Grandpa asked if I would like to represent the Gilmores at the function."
Rory had made someone sound like an accusation and Lorelai had picked up on it. "Don't blame me, you could have said no."
"No, I couldn't, you didn't hear him talk about how important this function had always been to Gran and how sure he was that his mother would be disappointed in him for not attending, and that Gran would be so proud if I attended."
"So, basically he guilt tripped you?"
"Yep." Rory looked at the time, "I have to go, Mom."
"Why? It's only 12 o'clock?"
"How many times have I told you I'm five hours ahead of you?"
"Oh, that's right you're on mean time."
"Mom, don't make me explain that it's not that kind of mean again."
"You can explain all you want, but any time zone that you're not sharing with me is mean."
Rory spent the drive from inner city London to the large country estate going over her notes for tomorrow's interview. The CEO of GreenScape Technologies Marcus Harding was a notoriously private person and had granted Rory a very rare one-on-one interview. Rory read over the company's mission statement as the town car her Grandfather had insisted she take started to make its way up the long driveway that no doubt led to a stately country manor house.
The car finally came to a stop; Rory looked up at the house and was shocked by the size. It was huge, as in send-a-search-party-if-I'm-not-back-in-ten-minutes kind of huge. Rory closed her laptop as the car door was opened by an immaculately dressed servant. His Christmas red jacket and crisp white shirt almost glowed in the full-moon light. His black pants were almost lost in the night.
Rory stepped out of the overheated car; her body instantly broke out into goose bumps under her floor-length, burgundy velvet dress with bell-shaped sleeves. It was really too cold to just be wearing an evening dress in England in December, but since the distance from the car to the entry was less than a minute by foot, Rory had decided to forgo the hassle of a coat.
Rory walked briskly down the carpet, noting that all the staff outside were dressed the same way as the man who had opened her door; she supposed they were meant to be dressed festively, Rory thought they just looked cold.
Rory stepped inside the grand entry and was impressed with the oak-paneled walls, gild-framed paintings and marble floor. If the entry was anything to go by, this was a beautiful home.
Rory watch longingly as a tray with champagne-filled flutes passed her by; the bubbly liquid would make the night pass quicker, but would make waking up in the morning harder. Rory sighed and turned her back on the bubbly delight.
Rory looked around the room. She knew no one here and noted that she was most likely the youngest person in the room. Rory sighed again. It was going to be a long night
Despite her resolve not to drink tonight, Rory found herself finishing her second glass and desperately looking for a server to bring more her way. The night had started out well; she had hit it off with Sam, one of the few people at the party who was under forty. He also happened to be good looking, charming and one of the hosts of the evening. But she now found herself trapped in a conversation with a grey-haired old man dressed in what seemed to be a nineteen-eighties suit. Rory looked around for Sam now, hoping to use him as an excuse to get away from the boring old man. Her eyes scanned the entire room; she couldn't spot Sam anywhere nor any of the handful of men who were in her age bracket. Where had they gone?
Rory listened to the man before her go on and on about what he thought the problem with Americans was for ten more minutes before excusing herself. She made her way out of the main reception room and down the hallway and into what she assumed was the private section of the house. She wasn't meant to be in this part of the house and if she got caught she planned on saying that she had gotten lost looking for the bathroom.
She stopped in front of a large oil painting that was very Renaissance looking. She stepped closer, looking for a signature on the work when a door just a few feet to her left opened. She moved closer to the painting hoping that the dim light and huge ornate vase she was standing next to would obscure her from the view of whoever was about to walk by.
She didn't dare look behind her as what sounded like six or seven men walked passed her; it was only when their footsteps were growing distant that she sighed with relief at not being caught. She looked down the hall and noted that the group seemed to be made up of all the men that had been missing. Curious as to where they had been hiding, she made her way to the door they had exited. She placed her hand on the door knob, paused and listened for any sound coming from within. After several moments of silence, Rory was convinced the room was empty; she turned the handle and entered the mystery room.
Rory stood frozen in the doorway, stunned not by the fact that she was looking at one of the largest collection of books she had ever seen, or by the Leonardo da Vinci hanging above the roaring fireplace. She was frozen in place by the sight of her ex-boyfriend whom she hadn't seen in ten years standing before her. Even though Rory could only see him from behind, she knew it was him, from the sweep of his shoulders, to the way his pants clung to his butt, to his perfectly styled hair and the sound of his voice. She knew it was Logan.
Thankfully, Logan was so caught up in his phone call that he was oblivious to Rory's presence, giving her time to collect her thoughts. As she saw it, she had two options. She could back out of the room, close the door and avoid what was sure to be one of the most awkward moments of her life. Or she could stay and talk to the man who broke her heart.
Logan turned; taking Rory's first and preferred option away from her.
From the look on Logan's face he was just as stunned to see Rory as she was him.
Logan could still hear Tom, his business associate, talking to him on the phone, but it was like he couldn't understand what Tom was saying.
After ten years why was he seeing Rory now? Why here of all places? He hadn't spoken to her since that fateful day on the lawns of Yale. This was not how he envisioned them meeting up again. In fact, he had long given up any hope of seeing her again.
Finally the trance was broken by Tom saying Logan's name several times.
"Sorry, Tom, I have to go. Something's come up. We'll deal with this in the new year. Talk to you then." Logan ended the call before Tom could ask any further questions. He bought himself time to think of something to say by meticulously closing his phone and tucking it into his breast pocket. Once the motion was completed, he still found himself at a loss for words, so he just stood there, looking into the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen.
Rory watched all of Logan's movements carefully; she could tell by the set of his shoulders and the amount of time he had spent on such a simple task as putting his phone away that he was nervous. She now found him staring at her − intensely staring at her − that she had to look away.
Rory looked around the study and noticed there were several empty glasses littered throughout the room, and it seemed a tray of food had made its way in here instead of the Christmas party.
Rory glanced back at Logan, who had yet to move from his spot in the middle of the room. "So it seems you still form sub parties to survive these things."
Logan shrugged his shoulders, "Well, when something works, you stick with it."
The conversation stalled, this was the first time they had seen or heard from each other in ten years. They had everything and nothing to say to one another.
This time Logan broke the uncomfortable silence, "What are you doing here?"
Rory was thankful Logan had asked a question she could answer easily. "My Gran was a big contributor to this little annual shindig, so I'm here flying the Gilmore flag."
Logan nodded, "I'm the flag bearer for the Huntzbergers tonight."
Rory was not surprised to hear that he was representing his family, "I read that you went back to the family business."
"Yeah, my Dad had a heath scare a few years ago, so I came back. I do most of the travelling now."
"A way of working for your father without actually working with him." Rory made it a statement and not a question.
"Exactly." Logan watched Rory as she moved through the room; she looked just like he remembered her, only her hair was longer, so long that it reached her lower back. She was still wearing it out and curled just like he had always liked. Logan didn't feel it was appropriate to comment on how she looked, so he found a safer topic. "I'm an uncle now… Honor has two kids."
Rory stopped her perusing of the bookshelves and looked at Logan, "My grandma told me, congratulations."
Logan smiled and it was genuine, "Thanks."
Rory decided she needed to say something about what had happened between them, because who knew when the opportunity would come again. "Logan I just ..." Rory was cut off by the return of the men who had passed her in the hallway.
Logan didn't know whether to curse their timing or thank them.
"We have found our American beauty, Gentlemen." Rory looked at the group and recognized that it was the elusive Sam who was talking. "It appears she was not in need of our rescue after all."
Rory smiled, "I'm not the damsel-in-distress kind of girl." She watched as Sam walked closer to her; he was clearly flirting with her. Earlier in the night the flirting had been welcomed, but now with Logan in the room she didn't know how she felt about it.
Sam walked up to Rory and placed his arm around her shoulders, "But I was dearly hoping to be your knight-in-shining-armor."
Logan had a very vivid memory of Rory in his kitchen talking about Henry his suit-of-armor. "I'm afraid, gentlemen, that armor creeps this one out." Logan was relieved that he had managed to keep his voice casual, but he wasn't sure if his eyes stayed neutral as he watched Sam walk over to Rory and put an arm around her shoulder. Logan knew he had no right to be jealous but he was. This was not how he pictured him and Rory meeting up again, her in the arms of another man.
Rory looked at Logan, "I got used to Henry in the end."
Sam looked from Rory to Logan but did not move his arm. "You two know each other?"
Logan nodded, "We went to Yale together but haven't really seen each other since."
Logan's casual tone infuriated Rory; he had made them sound like nothing more than acquaintances, like what they had shared together was nothing.
"How lovely, a Christmas party and school reunion all rolled into one."
Rory kept her eyes locked with Logan's but pressed herself tighter into Sam's embrace. "Oh, yes, isn't it just lovely?"
Rory managed to hold herself together until she was out of the library and had made her way outside. The night air was freezing, but it was helping to calm her. She had just spent the last forty-five minutes smiling and chatting as if nothing was wrong, as if she wasn't angry and hurt, but she had found herself drowning in emotions. The tears she shed froze on her cheeks. After some time, her tears stopped and her breathing found its natural rhythm.
"Are you okay?"
Rory jumped at the sound of Logan's voice, she hadn't even heard him come out. Rory hurriedly wiped at her tears. "No, Logan, I'm not okay. We went to Yale together? That's all you had to say about us? Is that all I meant to you?"
"Rory, you mean a hell of a lot more to me than that, but I'm not airing our personal business to a room full of strangers. It's not like I expected to see you again, like this."
"Hey!" Rory reacted to the anger in Logan's voice. "It's not like I planned this."
"Really? So you've known Sam for a long time, have you?"
Rory couldn't help but feel satisfied that Logan sounded jealous, "I just met Sam tonight."
"Really?" Logan couldn't keep the sound of disbelief out of his voice. "You seemed very friendly with him."
"Logan, what you saw were two single adults getting to know each other."
"Well, it sucked, Rory."
"Well, now you know how it feels, it really sucked the way you walked away from me that day."
"You never tried to stop me!" Logan felt like he had made the greatest point ever. It had always bothered him that Rory had just let him walk away; she had never tried to stop him.
"What was the point?" Rory sounded just as angry also.
"Don't do that! Don't throw my own words back at me. Don't you think that I have regretted them since the day I said them? I pushed you and I'm sorry!" Logan turned away from Rory; he started to pace, burning off some of his frustration.
Rory watched Logan pace, "I sorry, too."
Logan paused mid step, "For what?"
"For not stopping you, for not trying to get in contact with you afterwards." Rory had always regretted that she had let that moment be the last they had shared together until now. She didn't believe she could have fixed things if she had stopped him, but maybe if she had they wouldn't be in this position now.
Logan's voice was full of venom, "Don't blame yourself."
Rory was surprised that Logan still sounded so angry, she responded back with her own anger. "You don't get to tell me what to do, if I want to blame myself than that's my business."
"No, it's not! I was wrong, so you don't get to be wrong about this."
Rory was furious, how dare Logan tell her how to feel, "That is the most asinine argument I have ever heard."
Logan made an unintelligible sound, causing Rory to point at his chest and say, "Do not scoff at me."
"That was not a scoff, that was the sound of utter disbelief. You have made more ridiculous arguments than I will ever make even if I live to be one hundred and eighty three."
"Good! We agree then that you are being ridiculous." Rory crossed her arms over her chest, both from the cold and her anger.
"I never agreed to that."
"You did when you said that this was a ridiculous argument."
Logan stood there in silence; he had no idea how this conversation had turned on him so quickly.
"Oh, my goodness, the great Logan Huntzberger lost for words! I can give you time to form a counter point because you seemed to be out of practice."
Logan stood in front for Rory, invading her personal space, "I never needed practice with you."
Rory looked into Logan's eyes, she knew she should be feeling intimidated, but Logan could never scare her, "It must be senility then."
Logan stepped closer to Rory, causing her to take a step backwards. He shook his head at her, "It's not senility, I think that you are being obtuse."
Rory stepped back again as Logan moved forward, this time her back touched the cold stonewall. Rory shivered, "Dementia."
Logan held Rory's arms, trapping her against his body and the wall. He moved closer to her and whispered, "Naive."
The moment had become strangely serene; Rory could feel the heat of Logan's body and smell his aftershave. She closed her eyes so she couldn't see his face and whispered back. "Alzheimer's."
Logan cupped Rory's face, "Juvenile."
Rory felt Logan's warm breath on her face; it smelled faintly of scotch.
Logan moved in slowly, giving Rory time to pull away from the kiss he was planning but to his surprise, Rory did the opposite − she reached for his lips with her own. The kiss was rough and eager, their mouths moved hard against one another. Logan bit gently on Rory's lip, begging her to let him into her mouth.
Rory was about to grant Logan access when she felt him jump and move away from her quickly. Rory was just about to yell at him when she heard Sam's voice. "Logan, Rory, we were wondering where you were."
"Well, wonder no more because here we are." Logan had wiped his hand over his mouth, hoping that he had removed all of the lip gloss smeared on his lips from Rory's lips. He was thankful for the interruption; this was not how their reunion should have gone.
Sam watched and, clearly, he had just interrupted a personal moment and judging by Rory's swollen lips, it had been a good moment.
"We're going to Eddie's and we're wondering if you would like to join us?"
"What's Eddies? Is it a bar?" Rory asked.
"No, it's the Eddington Estate. They do all these Christmas lights, we used to jump the wall when we were younger and get drunk amongst the fairy lights."
"Aren't we a little old for that?"
"Exactly! We have chosen to recapture our youth tonight."
"Well, I would love to but I don't have a coat." Rory had never been so thankful for not bringing a coat in her life; she needed to get away from Logan before she did or said something she would regret even more.
"Not a problem, Milady," Sam smiled, he still had hope that he would be able to get Rory's number, but first he had to establish what kind of history she shared with Logan. "I'm sure I can scrounge one up for you."
Logan watched Sam smile at Rory; he really didn't like the way he was looking at Rory.
"But what about my driver? He should be home with his family and not waiting for me on Christmas Eve."
"Send your driver home and I'll take you back." Logan had made up his mind that he was going to find some closure tonight.
"I don't know..." Rory was hesitant, spending any more time with Logan than she already had was sure to be dangerous.
"Please, Rory. I have a driver who is single and has no family. I'm paying him an insane amount of money to drive me around over the holidays." Logan could still see the reluctance in Rory. "Please."
Rory understood the desperation in Logan's voice. He was right that if they didn't take this opportunity fate had given them, they may never be given another chance.
"Okay, but just for a little while."