24. Confrontations and Dinner Invitations

Rory Gilmore made her way through Bellamy Hall with a kick in her step. Professor Bell had complimented her last paper, leaving her in a happy bubble of academic approval. She stepped outside to the courtyard, side-stepping away from the crowd of fellow students going about their day. As the masses clear a bit, she spotted something that made her smile grow larger. Like all week, Rory found Logan Huntzberger sitting in one of the far end corner benches with coffee beside him, which she knew was for her. She slowed down her pace, taking a moment to take him in as he concentrated on his smart phone. She wasn't a superficial woman, she knew that beauty was more than skin-deep but looking at Logan she couldn't help but sigh with girlish appreciation at his handsomeness. His windswept hair that she knew he spend time perfecting to act like he didn't spend time on it, his warm chocolate eyes sparkling with intelligence and humor, his charming grin, lips curved upward when he saw her. Like now as he spotted her and her study of him. Rory blushed as his smile grew slowly and playfully like he could hear her thoughts. She took a steady breath as she closed the distance between them, sitting down next to him as he removed the coffee cup.

He leaned in sideways, one hand on her knee as he kissed her tender and light, smiling softly at her as she pressed her forehead against his. "Hello, Ace."

Rory closed her eyes as he kissed her once more, remembering how a week ago he greeted her the same way in a very different setting.

** Rory eyes felt heavy; heavy in that 'never want to open them again' way. She didn't want to open them, even behind her eyelids she knew it was morning and that in her inebriate state last night she had forgotten to close the shades, that or her cruel evil mother had made sure they were parted. Because even though she had officially decided that she was going to live a life in the shadow of closed eyes, she could feel the sunlight on her face. Next time she spoke to Finn, she was going to tell him he was right.

They so needed a darker sun.

Besides the sun, she could feel something tickling her face, running over her eyes, cheeks and nose. She blindly swat at it with her hand only to hear a light chuckle. Evil, evil mother.

"Lorelai." Rory whined pitifully, trying to hide her face into her pillow, only to hear the laughter louder and…male?

Rory saw a shadow come over her as someone kneeled beside her bed, with the face close to hers. Slowly and hesitantly, she cracked open one eye, regretting it instantly. There in front of her with a cheery amused smile was Logan's face.

"Hello, Ace."

Rory squinted at him, wondering if she had had more to drink the night before than she had realized.

"You're a hallucination, not real."

Logan raised an eyebrow at her words, waving a foam cup in front of her face. "That's a nice way to greet a man hopelessly devoted to you enough to bring you the best coffee in the state."

"Coffee?" Rory perked up a bit, her fingers reaching out, her eyes widening when she touched the cup and his solid hand. "You are real?"

Logan nodded, his lips curving as she bolted up from the bed, looking around, her eyes wider than he'd ever seen.

"You're in my bedroom, Logan."

"Yes."

"My bedroom… in my house… in Stars Hollow." Rory said slowly, reminding him as much as herself.

"Yes," Logan repeated just as slowly as if talking to a small child.

Rory groaned. "Please tell me you broke in."

Logan opened his mouth only to be cut off by laughter coming from her doorway. Rory groaned again as she looked over, not surprised when she saw her mother standing with a wicked grin on her face, her eyes practically dancing with glee.

"Morning, Sunshine, I've been getting to know your boy toy." Lorelai answered her silent question happily as she continued to sip on her own coffee. "So far he's okay, he brought a bribe and he's pretty enough."

Rory rolled her eyes at her mother but smiled nonetheless as she heard the sincerity in her mother's voice and the effort. "Glad to meet your approval, Mom." Rory answered, all the while looking at Logan, blushing happily when he gave her a soft look, his hand pushing a piece of wayward hair out off her face.

"Hello." **

"Hello." She breathed as he broke the kiss.

Logan passed over the coffee in his hand, smiling as he shook his head when she looked at it and not him adoringly. Her addiction was very amusing. "Sometimes I think you love coffee more than me."

"Of course not, coffee is just a very close second." Rory answered without really thinking about her answer, missing the happy look on Logan's face as she drank her coffee.

"So," Logan hedged, feeling a bit flustered that her not quite but still there admission of love. "How was class?"

"Excellent!" Rory said, ready to tell Logan all about it when her cell phone rang. Pulling it out of her bag, she sighed as she saw the name of who was calling.

"Emily again?" Logan guessed, not at all surprised when Rory nodded a frown on her face. He could still remember the confrontation he had witnessed between Rory and her grandparents the week before when he had driven her over to their place to drop off her grandmother's jewelry and pick up her car.

** "How's the headache, Ace?" Logan asked as he looked over at her as they stopped at a light.

"Hmm… better, thanks," Rory turned from the window. "So….you going to tell me?"

"About?" Logan teased.

"Logan," Rory pouted. "Tell me."

Logan laughed. "She told you she liked me fine, Rory."

Rory simply gave him a look.

"I liked her, too." Logan continued, reaching over to take her hand. "You two are a lot alike, so, of course, I liked her. She's protective of you but easy-going enough, it went fine, Rory."

"Good!" Rory sighed relieved, she knew that her mother had said she would try but she had still been worried until now.

"Hmm," Logan hummed questioningly as he pulled into the Gilmore Estate. "There's more to that, isn't there?"

"Never mind," Rory answered as she opened her side of the door. "Right now, let's concentrate on getting in and out of here. Hopefully without either of my grandparents noticing, I really don't feel like dealing with them after last night's stunt."

No sooner when the words were out of her mouth that the front door to the house opened with both her grandparents stepping out to greet them with wide smiles. Even from a few feet away she could see the calculating glint in her grandmother's eye. It filled her with sadness that for the first time ever, she felt the opposite of affection for the people before her and that she now viewed then with a cautious expression, expecting the worse from them. She got in a rush how her mother felt around them. She felt Logan beside her, his hand closing around hers and while she appreciated the support, another part of her cringed when she saw the scheming smile on her grandmother's face grow, like she had won something, like she had made this happen instead of betraying her trust and suddenly, Rory felt incredibly angry.

"Good Morning." She said curtly before they could start. "I came to drop off your jewelry, Grandmother."

"Oh, Rory." Emily waved off. "You could have given them to me next week."

"I also need my car." Rory answered, handing over the jewelry bag. "We'll be going now."

"Nonsense!" Emily interrupted. "Come in for lunch, both of you."

Rory remained silent, crossing her arms, amazed at the boldness.

Logan cleared his throat when the silence dragged on. He could see that Rory's grandparents weren't aware of their granddaughter's ire. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Gilmore, Richard." He said, addressing the two elders he knew well.

Emily turned to him with a smaller smile as she had been studying Rory. "Hello, Logan, what brings you by?"

"Rory needed a ride." He explained easily, knowing that the less information, the better; the Gilmores, his parents, the less they knew was always best.

He knew he was right when Emily smiled again, almost in triumph.

"How nice of you, Logan." Richard answered happily.

"Yes," Emily continued. "Were you at our little party last night, Logan?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Well," Emily started, pleased. "So glad you two hit it off, I…"

"No." Rory cut in, taking a step forward and pointing at her grandmother. "No, you don't get to take credit for this."

"Rory…" Richard started, surprised at her outburst, getting cut off by Rory, too.

"Are you two seriously going to stand there smiling like you guys didn't do anything wrong?" Rory asked, flabbergasted.

"Wrong?" Emily questioned, confused but defensive, as she heard Rory's tone, reminding her too much of Lorelai. "What did we do wrong?"

Rory looked over at Logan, seeing his support, sighing as she looked back at her grandparents, seeing no understanding in their eyes. "How about betray my trust?"

"Oh, Rory, please!"

"You guys totally blindsided me with that party," Rory continued, her voice growing strong. "You used the fact that I was happy you guys were planning something together since your separation…"

"Rory!" Emily said scandalized, looking at Logan.

Rory rolled her eyes. "Logan doesn't care, Grandmother, you knew I would have never agreed to that meat market last night if I had known what it was and you used my love for you guys to get me there. What did you guys think? That I would be happy with last night? Let you guys find a suitor and sell me off? How many cows am I worth, Grandmother?"

"Rory," Richard spoke up. "That was never our intention."

"Yes," Emily said, aggravated. "Really, Rory, we just wanted you to meet people of your stature, obviously we were successful."

"I already told you, you don't get to take credit for me and Logan." Rory snapped, pushing down the need to apologize when her grandmother jumped. "Logan and I are completely our doing and none of yours or your business."

Logan watched as Rory stared down her grandparents once again, squeezing her hand. "Maybe we should go."

"Agreed." Rory nodded, starting to turn, but stopped once more when her grandfather called out her name. "I'll see you guys on Friday because I have to."

She looked at them sadly, already knowing that she would forgive them eventually but wouldn't forget anytime soon. "You know I've always given Mom crap for how untrusting she is when it comes to you guys but now I finally get it, you guys saw my trust as weakness and used it against me, I won't make that same mistake again."

This time when they called out her name she didn't turn to look at them, getting into her car, she followed Logan out. **

"They haven't stopped calling, huh." Logan stated, already knowing the answer.

"Nope." Rory answered. "And I have to see them in two days for dinner, that's going to be fun."

Logan pulled her close to him, running his hand over her hair as she pressed her face into the crook of his neck. "It'll be okay."

"Liar." Rory joked as she pulled back, kissing the corner of his mouth in gratitude.

"This is precious," an accented voice broke through their moment.

Rory and Logan looked up, the latter sighing as they spotted Colin and Finn smirking down at them.

"Isn't it precious, Colin?" Finn asked. "These lovely lovebirds."

"Adorable!" Colin trolled.

"Yes," Logan said, rolling his eyes. "We're cute, we're great, get lost. I was planning on making out with my girlfriend. Disperse and do the same."

"Steph is in class." Finn explained easily, ignoring the smiles the three shared at his quick statement that implied Stephanie was his girlfriend.

"And I don't have a girlfriend." Colin reminded them, instantly regretting it when Logan and Finn shared a smirk, regretting it even more when Finn opened his mouth.

"Yet," Finn smirked, looking at Rory. "McCrae here has a thing for your roommate, luv."

Rory coughed to hide her smile as they all looked on, watching the way Colin flushed while glaring at them.

"I do not!" Colin protested, rolling his eyes at their grins. "Paris and I get along, that's all… we have to, we're going to be partners for the rest of the semester."

Finn scoffed. "You're attracted, admit it."

Colin shook his head. "Just because I find Paris beautiful…"

"Awww," Rory gushed happily, causing Logan and Finn to laugh out loud.

Colin glared at them once more and turned to leave, throwing over his shoulder a parting shot. "You all suck."

Rory, Logan and Finn laughed harder, the sound following him.

xxx

Colin grumbled under his breath as he made his way through the hall leading to his dorm. Idiot friends and their accurate deductions. Rounding the corner, he stopped short when he found the subject of his friends' teasing standing in front of his door, leaving a note on the whiteboard hanging there.

"Paris." He called out cautiously, cursing the fact that his pulse sped up at the slight smile she gave him. He hadn't been lying about them getting along. Since their truce, they had been developing a friendship he greatly enjoyed. Paris was prickly but, then again, so was he, neither were the easiest to get to know or get along with due to their high defenses. They had that in common. Paris was very smart, with a dry wit he enjoyed. She was pushy and could cut a person with her words but instead of being offended or going down his typical 'ass' route, Colin found himself amused and even charmed when she baited him.

He found her beautiful; he hadn't been lying about that either. He wasn't like Logan or Finn, when the three were together he was often forgotten for Logan the golden boy, or Finn the charmer but that didn't mean he hadn't had his string of beautiful woman in his past. Stephanie was a perfect example of that, with her stunning face, teasing ways and killer body. And while Paris' beauty wasn't in your face, her personality being anything but bubbly, there was no doubt that Paris was beautiful. Damn it, he was attracted.

Very attracted.

More than anything, he wanted to know what she tasted like, he'd seen her apply a clear fruity-flavored lip gloss once and he wanted to know if it tasted like cherry like the label claimed. He wanted to see how she looked out of the loose clothes she favored. He wanted to know if she turned soft and mellow after a good round in bed. He wanted to know all that and so much more. More than a passing fancy, he wanted to know her in way that he hadn't felt since he'd been in love with Stephanie.

"Hey, I was leaving you a note." Paris explained needlessly. "I need to change our study date, from Monday to Tuesday, if that's okay with you?"

"Sure," Colin answered, his brow scrunched up. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," Paris answered, looking around, her face flushed. "I just have something that night."

"Oh?" Colin questioned, licking his lips nervously. "Hot date?"

"No," Paris hesitated, sighing embarrassed. "This speed dating thing, over at Anderson hall, stupid I know."

"No," Colin answered, his gut clenching at her words. "I'm just surprised, that doesn't seem like your sort of thing."

"It's not!" Paris exclaimed quickly. "It's so not my sort of thing, but it's been awhile since Asher and I figured I'd give it a try." She sighed again. "Forget it, like I said it's stupid, we shouldn't change our study date for it, let's just keep it for Monday."

"Or…" Colin started slowly, his pulse picking up as he realized what he was about to do. "We could still have our study date on Tuesday and go out on a date date on Monday."

Paris gave him a wide-eye look, "What?"

"I like you," Colin blurted out. "You're smart, funny, snarky and I like it, you call me on my shit and I really like it, I think you're beautiful with your neat French twist and sensible sweaters. I know I'm probably not your type and seeing how we started out I'm surprised that you are my type, but you are and I was wondering if maybe you'd like to have dinner…with me."

"You like me?" Paris questioned, still surprised.

"Yes."

"You think I'm beautiful?"

Colin nodded quickly. "Very much… yes."

Paris smiled a rare happy smile. "And you want to date me?"

Colin smiled too, breathing easier at the happy look on her face. His head screaming 'yes!' Filled with more confidence, he got closer to her, grinning when her breath caught as he raised a hand to touch her cheek.

"Yes, Paris."

"Then…" Paris breathed. "Yes."