Author's Note at the bottom.
"Do you remember how, when we first met, you didn't like me?"
Rory raised her head to look up at her husband. "Seriously?" she asked incredulously. "That is a very serious understatement."
"What, you mean it went deeper than mild dislike?"
"Yes," his wife replied heatedly, clearly getting caught up in her reminiscing. "You kissed me for the first time the day after I met you!"
"You say that like it's a bad thing."
Rory didn't even bother to dignify that with a response.
"Aw, come on, Ace! I was already attracted to you, I just didn't know how to show it," Logan replied offhandedly. "I mean, you did kind of storm into the newsroom with a fiery presence."
At this, Rory pushed herself off the bed, turned, and sat to face him. She gave him an incredulous expression, and it took him more effort than it should have to keep from laughing. "You showed it pretty well when you kissed me."
"It was barely a peck," he defended. "Besides, you liked it."
His wife gaped at him. "You are not serious."
"Logan, oh, my God," she said incredulously, making her way off the bed. She walked around to his side of the bed, and he turned to face her. When he tried to reach out and wrap his arms around her waist, she moved away and put her hands on her hips. "I did not like it!"
Logan blinked. "Okay."
"No, Logan, I did not like that kiss."
"I don't believe you."
"Well," he pushed himself off the bed, stood in front of his wife, and put his arms around her, pulling her flush against him. "For one thing, if you didn't like that kiss, there is no way we'd be standing in our bedroom right now, with three kids playing downstairs and a fourth one on the way. I think you really liked that kiss; it made you think 'hey, maybe spending the rest of my life with Logan Huntzberger won't be so bad.' You're just trying to start a fight with me, and I have no idea why. So, do you wanna talk about it or are we going to continue this pointless argument?"
"I don't know," she said as she tried to push him away. He resisted, not letting his hold on her loosen, and she had no choice but to relax against him. She buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist. "This house is too big for a young married couple with four kids under ten."
"I quite agree."
"Of course you do. You're the one that wanted to move in the first place."
"...And this isn't really a conversation to have when we're standing up, is it?"
"I'd rather have it now, standing in the middle of our room at night instead of not talk about it for three weeks."
Since she'd broken the news about her pregnancy to him an hour ago, the reality of the situation had started to sink in for her. Until now, Logan's statement about "having options" had seemed ridiculous. It was stupid to even think of them uprooting their life in New York for no reason, instead trying to relocate and organize their lives in a completely different town.
A baby, however, changed all of that. Instead of the fury she had felt when he had initially brought up the subject, she was eager to find a solution to this new issue. Three more years running up and down staircases in the middle of the night for feedings, making sure that her baby wasn't hurt or bleeding or crying...
It just seemed to be too much.
Not to mention the other three kids they already had.
Lydia and Sophia were already involved in community sports, and either Rory or Logan would have to spend all day Saturday, plus practice days, in Central Park, watching the girls play soccer and lacrosse. Andrew, fortunately, was too young to be put in a program, but that was a problem in and of itself. He hated wasting his day watching his sisters, so the parents would invariably have to split up. The girls wanted both Rory and Logan watching them, and thus sibling rivalry already appeared in the Huntzberger household. Weekdays were hectic, what with three different school schedules, Logan's spastic office timings, and Rory's inability to manage the kids during working hours. They had Summer, but even she was getting on in age and their situation seemed to be spiraling out-of-control.
Rory Huntzberger had woken up one morning, pregnant for the fourth time, and felt like an absolute mess.
And Rory Huntzberger hated feeling like an absolute mess.
"I know you don't like the idea of moving from here, Ace. I mean, we have spent a decade in this house."
"It's just not feasible anymore, is it?"
"We can afford it," Logan offered. "It isn't about the money."
"I know that," Rory replied. "But this house is not meant for families with four little children."
"So you want me to look into some suburban neighborhoods?"
"Yeah," she said sorrowfully. "I think that would be best."
"Aw, come on, Ace. It'll be a good thing for us."
"I know, I know. I'm just going to need some time."
"Well, you've got about six months," he said, touching her stomach. "So maybe get used to it quickly?"
"You act like you've already started looking at houses."
"You've already started looking at houses?"
"Not houses, specifically, but towns, some neighborhoods..."
"I cannot talk to you right now," Rory said, stepping away from her husband. "You need to stop doing this."
"Doing what?" Logan asked as he followed her out of the room. When she didn't reply, he just kept walking faster. "Ace! Rory, come on. Wait for me. We're supposed to talk about things, remember? Rory..."
"I feel so tired and I don't even know why," April said as she yawned, stretching her arms out. She almost hit Nate in the face, and he put his hand up to block a potential hit.
"Well its not like you weren't in a serious car accident or anything recently."
"Three weeks ago! Besides, it wasn't even major."
"You had a concussion!"
"I'm still awake, aren't I?"
"April, you are tired because your body has been through an immense amount of physical and emotional stress recently and you haven't taken any time out of your busy schedule to just sit down and take a nap."
"Hey, hey, calm down. Nate, stop freaking out," she said calmly, turning to face him. She put one hand on his face. "I'm okay."
"Yeah," he said shortly, turning back to face the TV. They settled into a comfortable silence for the next hour as the movie played, but neither was paying much attention.
April was close to knocking out. She and Nate had picked up dinner on the way back to her place, set up the take-out on her bed, and then popped in a movie. Star Wars: Episode IV was playing on the screen, but they were both lost in their own thoughts. Nate kept rubbing circles over left hand with his thumb, and April, who had snuggled up close to him and tangled her feet with his, kept trying to keep her eyes open.
"You know I love you, right?" Nate whispered into her hair.
"Hmmm," she hummed contentedly, eyes now closed. "Never forgot."
"Nope. That's why it hurt so much when I saw you again."
"Sorry for not being able to keep my hands off you, by the way."
"It's okay, I forgive you. Five years is a long time."
"It is," Nate agreed. For his part, he couldn't imagine how he had survived those rainy days in London without curling up next to the love of his life with some good tea. "Let's never go five years without talking again, okay?"
"Wasn't planning on it," April mumbled, throwing an arm around his waist and turning into him. "You smell good. And you're comfy. I think you should stay the night."
"I don't have a change of clothes."
"Sleep naked," she whispered, tightening her hold on him.
"Ape, I can't chnage, I can't do anything unless you let go of me."
One eye opened first, as she looked at him cautiously. When she realized he was joking, she opened her other eye, too, blinked a few times, and then tried to sit up.
The look on her face made his heart drop into his stomach, and he felt the sudden urge to go throw up. "I know that face. That's your serious face."
"Hey, Nate?" April asked softly, maneuvering herself so that she was straddling him. He put his arms around her waist, resting them lightly on her hips. "I don't like this."
Trust it. Trust her.
"I hate the secrecy. I can't- I mean- I just- God. I have no words for how I'm feeling right now."
Sigh of relief.
"That's a first isn't it?" he questioned, his relief evident in his smile.
She was undeterred. "I am happy. I feel free and and relieved and so perfectly happy," she smiled. "And yes, it has a lot to do with you, but-"
"No, I think it's mostly just me."
"Nate," April rested her forehead against his, her hair falling around their faces. She kissed him, now fully awake, and any thoughts he had about leaving flew out of his head. "I don't want to hide this."
"No, just hear me out, okay? I know you think- well, I know you don't trust me. I mean, you trust me enough to tell me everything that's happening in your life, you just don't trust me not to leave you. But I'm not going to. I can't afford to. That sounds selfish, I know, and I'm sorry, I just don't know how else to put it. I could say that I can't live without you, but it's not impossible. I mean, just because it's hard to breathe when you're not around doesn't mean I'm going to suffocate, is it? Bottom line is that I can't stand the thought of having to hide the fact that the second best part of my life is, well, a part of my life again, good God, you're the only one that can get me to stop rambling like a teenager, so please shut me up at any point-"
So he did. He kissed her with a purpose, finally, and she felt, again, like she was on fire.
Like she had just turned seventeen again and he had kissed her for the first time.
He managed to flip them over so that she was under him, his knees carefully placed on either side of her thighs. Her arms wrapped around his neck and brought his face only centimeters from hers.
"So the next time we see our families together, we tell them?"
"That might take some time," he whispered, the warmth of his breath on her face. "We could just break the news as we go along."
"Any specific order?"
"Not really," he kissed her neck. "See, when something important happens to me, I feel like telling you. After that, I might as well just put it on Facebook, it's so much more efficient."
"That's so," she giggled as he kissed her nose. "Immature! Nate!"
"Do you even know how long I have been waiting for you? For this?"
"Oh, about nine years or so."
"Ten, if you count the fact that your birthday is in less than six months and I spent more than two months trying to woo you."
"Yes, I wooed you."
"You did not woo me."
"I disagree," Nate said vehemently, his British accent shining through. "I distinctly remember a long rectangular box in a particular shade of blue on a very special someone's seventeenth birthday..."
"Do you also remember how you kissed me for the first time with morning breath?"
"I do not having morning breath," Nate said, rolling off of her. "You do, though."
"Excuse me! I do not~"
The ominous pitch of the doorbell, which echoed through April's two-story townhouse, interrupted them.
"Who in the world..." April asked in wonder, striding over to her bedroom window. As she looked down onto the path in front of her front door, she could see her baby brother's shaggy hair and her younger sister's car parked in the driveway.
It was blocking in Nate's car.
"Okay so don't panic," she said casually as she turned around to face her boyfriend. "But my siblings are in front of my house."
"You're kidding," Nate blurted out.
"Nope, they're right outside. And they seem to be arguing about something...Now Will is pointing to your car. Brilliant. They know." April buried her head in her hands, curls flying everywhere.
"Okay," Nate shrugged. "Let's go let them in then."
"What," she looked up suddenly. "I can think of ten million reasons why that is not a good idea right now."
"I don't like the idea of two teenagers standing outside our house at nearly 10 o'clock at night, Ape. I'm going to go let them in."
Without waiting for an answer, Nate hurried out of the room and down the hall. She could hear him padding down the stairs and heading towards the main entrance, and it wasn't until she heard the creak of the heavy wooden front door that it hit her.
Nate had said "our" house.
"Georgie did something stupid," Will blurted to his older sister as she came bounding down the stairs, tying her hair in a ponytail. When Georgie shot him a look, he shrugged and turned back to April. "In her defense, she always does stupid shit. This time it's kind of bad, though. She wants to confess but she feels as if you'd judge her."
"Oh, well," April looked at Nate. "If you're going to confess something important, we might as well have our turn too."
"You go first," Georgie said eagerly, leaning back onto the couch cushions. "Driving took a lot out of me, I think I'll just sit and listen for a while. Besides, Will has some issues he'd like to talk about, too."
"If this is going to turn into sibling bonding, I can just leave," Nate spoke up. "Or go watch TV."
"No!" The Hayden girls chorused.
"Uh, okay," the young doctor said, easing into the chair closest to him. "I'll just sit quietly and listen."
"You can always give us advice," Georgie said earnestly. "You know we appreciate any and all input you have to offer."
"Georgia Hayden, what is going on with you?" April asked flatly. "You show up at my house randomly at almost 10 o'clock at night, our exhausted younger brother in tow, and then start pestering my boyfriend with questions?"
"To be fair, April, she's not exactly pestering-"
"Will's not exhausted, exact- wait a second, boyfriend?"
"So you two are back together? Yes!" Will fist-punched the air. "My plan worked."
"It was your idea! I knew it!"
"Everybody, shut up!" Nate yelled over the Hayden siblings. Instantly, the three brunettes wide eyes were on him. "Okay maybe I could have been a little bit more elegant about that."
"Yeah, especially considering it's because of me that my sister is even looking at you right now."
"Thank you, Will," April said honestly. "It's good to know you're making full use of Harvard's extensive campus."
"Are the words coming out of your mouth in a different language? Because I do not hear a 'thank you' in that sentence."
"Hey," Nate hit Will's shoulder. "Behave, she's still your older sister."
"Good God, when did you guys get married and get old?" Georgie asked, looking horrified.
"Maybe you don't realize they're acting their age because you're so immature, sis."
Georgie's face fell.
"Wait, what? Does this lead back into whatever it was that you had to tell us, G?" April asked her sister. There were a thousand possibilities running through her mind, and April's imagination ran rampant when she realized her younger sister had driven all this way to confide in her. This was clearly not a matter that their parents could be involved in, but at the same time, Georgie clearly felt trapped enough to come to an adult.
Come to think of it, she did feel slightly old now.
"Hey, Nate, do you think you can get me some coffee?" Georgie asked sweetly. Nate, however, was undeterred.
"No. You can get it yourself. And if you want me gone, then need I remind you how quick you were to have me stay...?"
She sighed. "Fine. Fine. Do you guys remember Wesley Hammond?"
"Nerdy looking guy your age who goes to Brown and interned at my New York office? Yeah, it rings a bell."
"His mom's the one that hired me," Nate added. "We keep in touch, why."
"Um," the 19-year-old said slowly, suddenly shy. "We keep in touch, too."
"Okay," April said blankly. "So you made a new friend?"
"More like we're kind of seeing each other on and off," Georgie tried to explain awkwardly. "I mean, we meet up whenever we're in the same city and we talk when we're not, and-"
"-And you're basically in a relationship with the guy I tried to set you up with in the summer?"
"No," Will said gleefully. "Wait for it, listen closely. Really. This is the best part."
Both April and Nate ignored him.
"I, er. Well, that is to say, I may have lied a little bit about what my name was."
"You did what?" April shouted, standing up. "Georgia!"
Nate, in contrast, was calm. "Oh, this is getting good. What did you lie about?"
Georgie looked away. "My name."
"He doesn't know I'm your sister. He thinks my name is Katie, that I have no relationship to the Hartford Haydens, and that I am the aunt of a four-year-old named Drew."
"Oh, my God. Wait, we bumped into him, didn't we Nate? Over the summer, at Serendipity 3?"
"Did we?" Nate crinkled his brow. When the memory came back to him, he straightened. "We did. That was the day you fought with me about my job and then we-"
"Younger brother in the room," Will pointed to himself. "Don't wanna know."
"I was going to say 'then we had our biggest fight ever at Rory and Logan's,' but your gutter-mind is duly appreciated."
"Urgh," the teenage boy groaned, dropping his head. "I just don't even want to know."
"Can we get back to my irresponsible younger sister here, please?" April snapped. "Georgie, you lied about who you were in the hopes that, what, he would never find out? Did you even think of what happened to him if you actually started to feel deeply for him?"
"I didn't think I'd ever see him again! It was supposed to be one stupid meeting at an airport and then poof! Out of my life forever."
"The boy is the son of Dad's most annoying ally on Capitol Hill, G. Did you really think you'd get rid of him that easily?"
"It isn't stupid to hope, is it?"
"Of course it is," Will answered, kicking his shoes off and stretching his legs over Georgie's lap. "Emotions are tricky things, especially when mixed in with pre-existing relationships."
"Oh, you mean like the love triangle currently forming between you and Isobel and Ryder Pennington?"
"Pennington," Nate asked hoarsely. "Sorry, did someone just say 'Pennington'"
"I did," the younger boy replied, raising his hand shamelessly. "God, he's a cocky asshole."
"No less than you," April shot at him. Directing her attention at Nate, she asked, "Are you okay, do you need some water?"
"I'm fine," he held up a hand. "I just don't like hearing that name."
"You and me both, bro," Will added. "You and me both."
The four of them were silent for a few minutes as they pondered the turn the night had taken, but April broke the silence when she picked up Will's shoes and told him to follow her. Yawning, he walked with her into one of her guest bedrooms on the first floor and collapsed onto the bed as soon as it came into view. Georgie headed upstairs to the other guest bedroom, too tired to drag even her duffel bag with her, and April came back to the living room to find Nate looking up the stairs and rubbing his eyes.
"I'm not going home tonight, am I?" he asked her with a rueful smile.
With a whispered 'no' and a shake of her head, she took him by the hand and led him to bed.
AN: I can try, maybe, to explain to you why it took so long to get this done. I had college stuff and senior stuff and love life stuff and friendship stuff and you know, I didn't need to create a world when I liked the one I was living in.
I still love you guys, and I'm back.
...if anyone is still reading this.
I graduate on the 21st of June and then after that I go to London and India; I won't be back in the States until the 19th of August. Internet will be sporadic until I get back, but after that I have a whole free month before college starts. Yay for quarter-system state schools!