A/N - I think this may be the longest chapter from Marty's POV that I've done thus far. Enjoy!
40 - Short Circuited
"Are you free for dinner tonight?" Rory asked from beside the tall architect, the pair of them having just shared lunch together.
"Two meals in one day? Well, aren't we chugging along nicely," teased Marty.
"If that's your attitude, mister," she rolled her eyes in mock anger. "Then you can forget I even asked."
"What time should I show up?" he smiled, his larger hand grasping her smaller delicate one. He gave her hand a small squeeze.
She squeezed his hand back. "Seven o'clock sound good?"
"Sounds great," he nodded. The new couple arrived at Rory's Prius in the restaurant parking lot, where they shared a quick kiss.
Rory gazed up at him. "You need a ride back to work?"
"No, it's just a block and a half that way," he said, hiking a thumb over his shoulder. "I'll be fine. Besides, I could probably use the exercise."
"Okay, I'll see you tonight then," she smiled, the pair sharing another kiss before Rory entered her car.
"Can't wait," he smiled back as she closed her door. Rory looked at him through her window and gave Marty a little wave before pulling out of her parking spot. The acrhitect watched her leave for another moment then turned in the direction of the Thompson Group offices down the street. He began to hum a nameless tune during his short walk, only to snort at himself when he realized that he'd been humming in the first place. When he reached the crosswalk leading up to the office building where the Thompson Group was located, Marty couldn't help but think on how strange that it was just under two months since Andy had left him standing at the altar and here he was already in another relationship. And not with some random girl either. Marty was now dating none other than his college crush, Rory Gilmore. The girl who'd ripped his heart out not once but twice back when they were in Yale, both times by choosing a certain blonde douche over him. While approaching the office building he briefly wondered what would happen if Logan decided to suddenly show up in Chicago, but that thought was interupted by a distracted Marty almost bowling over a surprised young woman at the front doors. "Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there. You okay?"
"I'm fine, no thanks to you," she snapped, walking away indignant.
"Okay then," he muttered sheepishly. Marty glanced at his watch and swore under his breath when he noticed that his lunch break was almost up. He rushed towards the elevator and made it just in time to slide inside as the doors shut. Marty released a sigh of relief as he hit the button for his floor, then relaxed against the back of the elevator. A slow, familiar tune began to waft from the radio speakers overhead but Marty couldn't quite place it right away. When Marty could finally make out the lyrics of the song though, he clenched his jaw so hard that it actually started to hurt from the strain. The memory of deep green eyes, curly blonde hair and lithe arms holding him almost stole his breath. It caused Marty's chest to ache and his throat to tighten.
'...exits or offstage lines could
make me feel bitter or treat you unkind.
Wild horses, couldn't drag me away...
Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away.'
'I know I've dreamed you a sin and a lie.
I have my freedom but I don't have much time.
Faith has been broken...'
"Hurry the hell up, you stupid elevator," growled Marty, desperately wanting to escape from this song that his former fiance had loved so much. He painfully blocked the song to the best of his ability, no doubt bringing strange looks from the two or three other people who were occupying the elevator with him. When the doors finally slid open Marty was out of there like a shot, almost bowling over several people on their way inside in the process. Upon arriving at his office the fuming architect practically slammed the door shut and more or less threw himself into his chair, brown eyes glaring out the window in fury. He didn't even look back at the door when somebody knocked and quickly entered unbidden, instead choosing to continue his stare down of the Chicago skyline.
"I was wondering if you'd ever reach the angry phase," remarked Rob, the door clicking shut softly behind him. "In fact, I thought you skipped it altogether." He paused. "Actually, I was hoping that you had." Rob shrugged. "Anyway, what set it off?"
"I'd rather not say," the fuming Marty said in a restrained voice, still maintaining his resentful vigil on the world outside.
"Well, you're no use to me in this condition," his superior stated without any further preamble. "Go home, calm down, and come back tomorrow, bright and early." Marty turned to protest, but Rob cut him off. "No discussion, Martin. Go home."
Without another word Rob left his subordinate's office, an action that Marty decided was probably best copied. It was no use arguing with Rob when he made up his mind anyway. After gathering his work (in case the urge to be productive took him over later on), Marty left his office as well and headed towards home like Rob had suggested.
About halfway home though an idea occurred to him, whether or not if it was a good one was up for debate. At the next red light he came upon Marty quickly grabbed his cellphone and brought up his contact list to search for a certain number, his intent one of both kindness and deception.
"Hey, it's me," he answered, trying his best to sound ill. "I'm afraid I won't be able to make dinner tonight. I'm not feeling well. Might have been something I ate."
"Oh, I knew we should've ate someplace else," his new girlfriend grumbled, upset.
"It's not your fault, Rory. I did insist, after all."
She sighed. "Do you want me to come over?"
"No, I should be fine if I drink lots of fluids and rest," he assured.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. We'll just reschedule the dinner for tomorrow or the night after, okay?"
"Okay," she relented. "See you then, Marty."
"See you then, Rory," returned Marty before ending the call, feeling briefly guilty for lying until remembering why he was postponing in the first place, It's better this way, he reasoned to himself. Now I won't risk taking my anger out on Rory. With that finished Marty continued the drive home, once more attempting to ignore the mass of mixed emotions now churning in his stomach. Huh, guess my white lie is actually causing me to get sick. Who would have thought that was even possible?
Once he got home Marty didn't really know what to do with this unexpected time off. Despite his indecision the architect couldn't bring himself to pick up the phone and explain to Rory why he had bailed on dinner, even though Marty desperately wanted to just that. Instead he sat down on his couch, face forward towards the flatscreen television. Though his simmering anger from earlier had abated some, it lingered still and was now directed more at himself rather than the memory of his former fiance. As the characters on whatever insipid show played out on the screen in front of the architect, Marty wondered how he could allow a simple song get the better of him. Suddenly feeling emotionally exhausted, he decided to rest his eyes for moment.
It was an undeterminable time later when a startled Marty sat up straight in his seat, the knock at the door bringing him back to reality with an unpleasant jolt.
"Never realized how uncomfortable this couch is," he muttered under his breath while rising to answer the door, his aching body telling him that Marty needed to exercise more often. It was with that thought in mind that he opened the door and quickly had to step back in avoidence of his girlfriend's sudden entrance. "Rory?"
"Alright, I know you said that I didn't have to come over tonight," she babbled in her trademark fashion. "But with our dinner cancelled, I honestly had nothing better to do and I was worried about how you're doing. Especially when I realized that you had left work early because of whatever this is that's made you sick."
Marty shut the front door and followed her into the living room, taking note of the white paper bag that Rory had deposited onto the coffee table on her way into the kitchen.
"What's in the bag?" he asked.
"I stopped by the pharmacy on the way here," she answered from the next room. "Grabbed some stuff for upset stomachs and such. Pepto. Gravol. You know, that sort of stuff." The reporter re-entered the living room, a full glass of water in her left hand and a spoon in her right. She placed both on the coffee table, then pointed to the couch. "Sit, please."
Marty complied with a soft grunt, his weight causing the couch to groan lightly underneath him. As he watched Rory rifle through the paper bag for whatever stomach medication she believed Marty would need, the architect's guilt returned to plague him. "Rory..."
"Here, swallow these and take a sip of water," she cut him off, two pills held out in her palm. "Then I'll go make you some chamomile tea. I remember Luke telling me that chamomile tea is good for nausea and upset stomachs."
"Rory, that really isn't ne-"
"It's fine, Marty, I'll be right back," Rory interupted again, depositing the medication in his hand before getting up to disappear into the kitchen.
"Damn it," he muttered, leaning back into the cushioned couch to stare up at the ceiling. A tired, almost ragged sigh escaped his lips. Caught in a lie that was meant to avoid potentially hurting the woman in the room, Marty knew now that coming clean was his only option. He just hoped that Rory wouldn't be too angry or hurt by his actions. After setting the pills down beside the glass of water atop the coffee table, he decided to wait for his girlfriend's return. Marty didn't have to wait long.
"Why didn't you take those?" she asked, immediately noticing the discarded meds.
"I don't need them," he stated matter-of-factly. "Never did. Not really, anyway."
Her delicate brow furrowed, bemused. "What do you mean?"
There's that naivete again, Marty thought as she sat down in the space next to him. The achitect remembered the last time he'd encountered this particular trait of Rory's, back when he'd helped her look for that Anna girl during their sophomore year at Yale. She had been endlessly complaining about Logan and wondering why he was targetting her. After having to listen to her whine for the entire duration of their search, Marty finally lost his temper and ended up calling her annoying for being so damned naive. It wasn't a pleasant memory since it marked the beginning of the end of their friendship at the time. He sincerely hoped this moment wouldn't mirror that one, especially now that he and Rory were more than simply friends.
"Marty?" she asked, her bemusement now turned to concern. "What's going on?"
Might as well get this over with, for better or worse, the architect morosely decided, his brown eyes meeting those imploring azure ones. "I can't really think of any other way of saying this, so I'll just put it plainly. I didn't cancel on our plans because I got food poisoning. I cancelled because I didn't want to risk starting an argument."
"I'm not quite following what you mean," the usually sharp minded reporter stated. "What could we possibly get into an argument about, Marty? What happened between our lunch and now that cou-" She paused mid-sentence. "Are you having second thoughts?"
"No, I'm not having second thoughts," he denied.
"Then quit being so damn cryptic and tell me what the heck is going on!" Rory demanded, her patience finally at its end. Their gazes met again and Marty could see she was more anxious than angry. "I'm sorry. I'm just..."
"I know," finished Marty with a nod of understanding. "Me, too." They shared another glance before he continued. "After you left and I headed back to work, things were fine. I was looking forward to our dinner, I was even humming." He chuckled despite himself. "Then I got into the elevator and that's when my mood changed."
"What happened in the elevator?" she asked, laying a hand atop his own.
Marty grasped her hand and let out a sigh. "The radio was playing 'Wild Horses'."
"Andy's favorite," Rory guessed.
"I just got so mad," he rasped, his voice strained by emotion. "Mad at her for leaving, then mad at myself for still letting her get to me like that. Then I remembered everything you said when we started dating and I-"
"Shh, you don't need to explain anymore, Marty," Rory softly interjected, index finger pressed ever so lightly on his lips. "I get why you cancelled now. I get it." She gave him a small reassuring smile, her hand slowly lowered to lay onto his thigh. "And I'm not mad at you."
"Really? If I were you, I'd be furious," he remarked.
"Okay, I admit, I'm not exactly thrilled by this news," the blue eyed brunette confessed. "But furious? No." Rory raised her hand and caressed his cheek. "This is one of the reasons why I insisted we take things as slow as we've been taking them though. To give you time to heal." She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his in an almost chaste kiss, then went back to caressing his cheek after they separated. They gazed at each other for several more moments until Rory broke the comfortable silence. "I love you."
"What?" Marty blinked in surprise, not at all expecting that admission. From the expression on his girlfriend's face, it looked like Rory hadn't meant to divulge that information either. "Rory..."
"I should go now," a panicky Rory stated, practically jumping from the couch like it had been lit aflame. "Sarah's probably wondering where I went." She gathered her purse from the coffee table, almost dropping it in her haste to escape. "Good night, Marty!"
"Good night," a dumbfounded Marty whispered back to the empty space now before him, the front door closing loudly behind his retreating girlfriend.
Nice job sending Marty those mixed messages, Rory. No wonder his brain went poof at the end there. O_o'