Title: Bachelor Party Prep

Description: Rogan. Following in the one-shot series of Amends and Normal Is the Watchword. Rory enlists Logan's friends to give him a surprise. She just didn't expect to get quite so much help from them in the process.

Rating: M, for adult themes and language.

Rory Gilmore opened the front door to her house with a dramatic flair normally reserved for her mother and upon seeing the two men standing across the threshold waved them frantically in.

"Get in here before anyone sees you," she said by way of greeting, formal utterances never big in their set, despite being bred of higher society, but her demanding words were a stretch for even for them. She glanced furtively out the door, seeing only someone from the neighborhood walking their dog. She waved amiably to the unknown neighbor and hastily closed the door, locking it to have extra notification should her fiancé arrive home unexpectedly. The two men had plenty of experience pulling fictitious stories out of thin air, but Logan had an accurate ear for BS—even more so when it came to his two cohorts—and so she was resolved that her intended be none-the-wiser of this particular assembly.

Colin and Finn, her soon-to-be husband's oldest and dearest friends, stood with anxious expressions in her foyer, watching her as if she were exhibiting signs of a head injury.

She stared at them, waiting for them to explain their concern. "What?"

Colin glanced at Finn, the former being the better spokesman of the two—despite his naturally sardonic wit and his utter lack of regard for receiving a slap by way of a retort to any of his comments. He was simply tied closer to reality. The two rarely required actual words to converse between them, and she was sure they were exchanging barbs about her as they gave each other silent half nods and knowing looks.

"Is something wrong?" Rory pressed.

"That's sort of what we wanted to know. You were very cryptic in your email, and while we're always up for aiding and abetting bad ideas, you are engaged to our best friend and we're hesitant to partake in any activity that leads to him using information he has on us. It's a long list and we like our freedoms."

"And libations," Finn added.

"That's liberties," Colin corrected.

"What's the difference?" Finn inquired, feigning confusion.

Rory paused a moment, and then shook her head at them dismissively as she walked past the two and toward the kitchen.

"Should we follow her?" Colin asked.

"I've found it's usually unwise to cross the fairer sex. No matter how much incriminating evidence Logan has in his possession, she's the one that holds his reins."

Colin frowned. "I think you just said we should follow her."

"After you, mate," Finn nodded as he clapped his friend on the back.

Rory was busy pouring wine. She had three stemless glasses out, and she emptied the remaining contents of a bottle of red. She knew Logan knew the best food to pair it with and that it was from one of the vineyards that they invested in, but all she knew about the wine in particular was that it was fruity and not too winey.

"As an avid drinker, I'm going to regret saying this at some point, but isn't it a tad early in the day to start drinking?" Finn asked as they watched her complete her task.

She frowned at the empty bottle then met the Australian's eyes straight on. "It's six o'clock on the east coast. Does that make you feel better?"

He shrugged. "As they say, it's always five o'clock somewhere."

"You don't need help with a body or anything, do you? Or did Logan do something stupid?" Colin inquired from his position leaning in the archway. It unnerved him slightly to see her of all people acting skittish and off-kilter. If she were having pre-wedding jitters, he doubted that she would turn to Logan's best men—though perhaps she would seek their advice if she feared he was having second thoughts. But save for sending them information about what to wear, where to show up (both forwarded from one Emily Gilmore), and reminding them vehemently no fewer than seven times that he didn't want to go to a strip club the night before the wedding rehearsal (which Colin had assumed came as strict orders from one Rory Gilmore), Logan seemed unnaturally at ease with the idea of getting married. Of course, Colin's own father had been unnaturally at ease at the idea of getting married as well—all six times he'd walked down the aisle. Confidence and success were not bedfellows when it came to marriage in his book.

She shook her head, handing them glasses before moving to stand behind one of the kitchen chairs. She and Logan ate breakfast in the kitchen; and most meals, really, unless they had guests over. They had a small table with four chairs in the eat-in area, and Rory preferred its use to the formal dining room, which was nowhere near as ornate or oppressive as the formal dining areas of her grandparents' home or his family's home, but for the two of them it still seemed excessive. She tapped her fingers along the top of the rung as they both sat down dutifully.

"No, Logan's great. He's at work. That's why I wanted to meet with you now. I have a favor to ask."

Finn took a sip of wine. "Did you just realize that Logan is to be the only man you're legally allowed to have sex with for the rest of your life once you're wed?" he asked with a proper level of distaste. "Love, as much as I'd enjoy giving you a memory to last a lifetime, I'm not sure the cost is worth the reward. Unless you enjoy bondage?"

Rory's face screwed up in a mix of horror and surprise. "No! God, Finn, a thousand times no, to all of what you just said."

"I find it's best to just listen to every fourth word or so he says," Colin informed her, not at all put off by his friend's offer to the beautiful brunette that was currently their hostess.

"How is that better?" Rory inquired.

"It's like white noise, and thus easier to ignore. Or you can ply him with about three bottles of this wine, then his accent will get so thick he'll start to sound like Crocodile Dundee on tranquilizers, which ups the entertainment value."

"Blimey, I think I'm nearly offended. Or else I require more wine," Finn protested.

Rory paused, considering the two men she'd reached out to for aid. "I'm starting to think this was a bad idea."

Finn reached out and touched her arm. "We'll be serious. No sexual advances, and we'll keep our imbibing in check. What do you need from us?"

She inhaled deeply and squeezed the top of the chair, leaning over it for support. "I know you guys have a bachelor party planned for next week."

Colin and Finn exchanged more furtive glances, having yet another silent exchange that likely amounted to frantic, "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!" sort of exclamations.

"Hey, stop that!" Rory admonished them.

"Look, I get why you wouldn't be comfortable with the idea of him ogling slutty girls with fake tits," Colin acknowledged. "But he's already said no to strip clubs, and not in the 'no, really, guys, I shouldn't' kind of way. Due to his repeated demands to steer clear of any business that promotes the appreciation of the female form in all its glory, it'll be tame by The Waltons' standards. A few drinks, some well wishes, and he's on his way to wait for you at the altar."

Rory bit her lip. "Actually, I need you to take him to a strip club, despite his professed disapproval."

The reaction on Finn and Colin's faces were identical and moderately humorous. It rivaled their attempt to remain stoic the time her grandfather had helped her gain retribution for a stunt Logan and the boys pulled in one of her classes, eons ago during their undergraduate days at Yale, before Rory and Logan ever began dating. Perhaps including these two into her plot wasn't the worst idea she'd ever had. After all, they did have the perfect resumes to help her pull off a stunt such as the one she had in mind.

"I think we've fallen into some sort of wormhole, Colin. Don't look directly into her eyes, it's a trap," Finn stage-whispered.

"Listen, I'm all for chicks who are cool with the whole look-but-don't-touch approach to relationship longevity, but he really doesn't want to go. We gave him the hard sell. I'm not sure what the hell you do to him in bed, but he's hooked. He's got no interest in seeing other women flaunt their goodies in his face. But if it makes you feel better, if we strike out with your bridesmaids at the wedding, we'll be at the breakfast buffet at the nearest strip club to the reception site. We of course plan on closing that place down," he smiled.

"Wow. I think you two need to work on editing your thoughts before you speak. But, just so you can make the best use of your time, my bridesmaids are all happily married, and one of them does Krav Maga and especially enjoys making men cry with just her words. As for my sex life, I'm not telling you what we do in bed, but I'm going to do my best to take that as a compliment. And I really hope you're kidding about the breakfast buffet, because that is sad."

"Paris is in the wedding?" Finn asked, shuddering at the only take-home message he received from her speech. "That woman is scary."

"Yes, she is, but she's one of my oldest friends. So you will be nice when you walk down the aisle with her, or else I can't be held responsible for any bodily damage she inflicts upon you. And if you ruin my wedding pictures, I will send her back for seconds."

Finn slumped back in his chair. "So much for scoring with hot bridesmaids. I thought that was some sort of unwritten law. You stand up for your buddy, you enjoy the desperate friends of the bride."

"Finn, you need to raise your expectations for what constitutes a relationship," Rory sighed.

"No, he just needs to get laid. See, you happy people who fornicate regularly forget what it's like to be out there. It's hell for us single guys, it's every man for himself. All we ask for the occasional lucky break in the form of desperate bridesmaids or a wingman grenade," Colin smirked.

"Well, my wedding is not the place to look for one-night stands. Are we clear? And if you hit on my mom again," she warned, an accusatory finger pointed their general direction.

Colin and Finn raised their hands defensively. "I still say that woman can't be your mom. I mean, maybe your hot older sister," Colin offered. "Or a slightly older cousin, but come on. Whose real mom is that hot?"

"Please stop!" she requested, holding up her hands. "Seriously, guys. It's my mom. You're going to have to accept the fact, let's let it be sooner than later, huh?"

"Fine," they muttered in unison, looking much more forlorn than properly ashamed of themselves.

"Thank you. Now, where do we stand on getting Logan to that strip club?" she asked in all seriousness, as if it were a normal request.

"Is this some sort of test?" Colin asked, still wary of the out-of-character askance.

She frowned, tilting her head just slightly as she stared at him. "What? Why would this be a test? What kind of test?"

He shrugged. "I don't know, of our moral fortitude, or maybe of Logan's?"

She let out a heavy sigh. "I understand that you two are set in your ways of finding and/or making mischief, particularly of the drunken or naked variety," she cast a raised eyebrow Finn's way at the latter addition. "And as I've already agreed to marry Logan, I trust his moral compass to be set to a standard that I can depend on. He and I have, and will continue to have, no secrets. Except for planning surprises for the other, which is the category this conversation falls into, so you will not immediately phone, text, or tweet him in regards to our little meeting, whether you agree to help me or not, capisce?"

"What's your backup plan, Gilmore?" Colin asked, failing to agree to her terms without knowing how expendable he was in her view. This woman left little to chance if she could help it, and asking their help indicated a true need for assistance. There was no way she was betting on them fully at the onset.

She hesitated, taking another sip of wine. "I'd rather not say."

Finn stood, switching his gaze between them twice. "Well, if you don't need us, we should be on our way. We have the lamest bachelor party in the history of the universe to plan," he baited them both, intrigued by the bride-to-be's request and ready to get his partner-in-crime on board. He was nothing if not a dutiful optimist. He found everyone had a much better time when they favored the odds, but at times the more stubborn personalities needed to butt heads before seeing the light. He knew they'd take his bait.

Rory sighed after holding Colin's hard gaze for a moment. "Fine. If you two won't help me, I was going to rope Mitchum into assisting me, but that is an avenue I'd rather avoid."

Colin looked impressed. "You have the old man in your pocket?"

She shrugged one shoulder. "He and I have an understanding. That's all I can say."

"One of these days, you're going to tell us how you make all these powerful men, us included, into your puppets," he took a long pull on his glass.

She sat up, encouraged. "Does that mean you'll do it?"

Colin nodded to Finn, who sat back down, rubbing his hands together in propensity. "Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?" he asked gleefully.

She nodded, standing to clear her glass to the sink. "I can email you the location and the time, if that's okay? I know the way, but it'll be easier to send you the address and then you can just route to it with your car's GPS," she gave an easy smile. "Thanks, guys, really; having you guys get him there takes a load off my mind. Everything else is set."

Finn appeared to have just lost his very favorite puppy. "Wait, that's it? We're done?"

Rory nodded, visibly relieved to have gotten what she wanted. "Yes."

Colin shook his head, arms crossed over his chest. "You are so not getting rid of us that easily. We need to know what kind of situation you're sending our boy into. As his best men, it's our duty."

She rolled her eyes. "I told you, it's not a trap, or a test. It's a strip club. I know you've been in strip clubs before."

Finn leaned forward. "Yes, Love, but we're getting the distinct impression that you've been to the one in question, and we'd like more details on both the nature of your relationship with the club and just why you're so keen on getting Logan there on the verge of your impending nuptials."

Rory smiled, half amused at what was surely racing through Finn's mind and happy to sorely disappoint him. "I went there for a story. Corrupt politician, with lots of strippers in his life, among other activities his constituents wouldn't approve of—not to mention his wife. The place was his hangout. But the girls I interviewed were really nice, and one is going to do a favor for me."

"How nice was she?" Finn asked, his mouth watering despite the slightly drying effect of the wine.

"Finn, that's a despicable question," Colin announced.

"Thank you," Rory nodded to Colin, pleasantly surprised by his admonishment.

"It's much too vague," Colin went on. "Did you and this stripper engage in any foreplay?"

Rory closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. It'd been a while since she'd spoken with the boys in person, and she'd forgotten how very taxing it could be at times. But she did remember one fact—it was easiest to distract their attention rather than argue with them. "Logan and I had a fight about the bachelor party situation."

"So, you are the reason he told us not to plan a strip club," Colin pressed.

"No," she amended. "I told him to go, that I trusted him implicitly, and that it was his last chance to have a guys' night in a club with beer and naked ladies before marrying me. He refused. He said he was past all that, that he only wanted to see me naked, and that bachelor parties are only for the single guy friends of the groom to get to see naked women on a varying scale of attractiveness."

Colin and Finn exchanged a look. "He's throwing us under the bus."

"And here we're agreeing to help him by aiding his bride."

"I think Mitchum is going to have to be the mouse in your pocket after all," Finn shook his head at Rory.

"What? No!" she pleaded. "Wait! I'll tell you why I want him to go to the strip club. To that strip club," she added, hoping to sweeten the pot.

Colin and Finn were appeased enough to stay in their seats. She could feel the blush hit her cheeks as the words she was about to speak flashed through her mind. She picked up her glass and poured a bit more wine from the new bottle.

"The contact at the club, she agreed that if I brought in a private party such as this, she could let me use one of the back rooms for a couple of hours."

She had their attention. They were both staring intently at her, trained on her words. Neither spoke, but both seemed to be waiting for more.

"I want to give Logan what he wants, so as a surprise, when he gets to the private room, the person stripping for him will be me."

Finn's eyes closed and a faint smile spread his lips apart. Colin's eyes widened and his mouth opened to speak, but it seemed for the time being, Rory's words had short-circuited him.

"So, wait-you're willing to strip in front of Logan's dad," Finn asked, not finished, "but you didn't want to have to ask him to help get Logan to the venue? How does that work?"

"Isn't your grandfather invited to this thing, too?" Colin asked, aghast only slightly.

"I'm not stripping for all of you!" Rory shouted, louder than normal due to the wine. She cleared her throat. "You guys will be in the main club area, but they have back rooms; I guess it's fairly common for clubs to have private areas where guys can go to see dancers in a more, um, intimate setting?"

"So, did your stripper friend tell you what normally goes on in those back rooms?" Finn asked.

Rory blinked. "Not specifically, but don't the girls usually just dance a little while taking off their clothes? That's all stripping entails, right?"

Colin and Finn yet again shared a knowing look, much to her chagrin. "Here's where we really help her out," Colin said.

"Agreed. Rory, you've come to the right men for this job. If you want to give Logan what he wants, you need a crash course in the inner workings of a strip club."

Rory rolled her eyes. "Guys, I'm not naïve. I've seen strippers."

Colin shook his head. "Rory, when guys go back to private rooms, they aren't just looking to see a girl shake some T&A and get ninety-five percent uncovered. You need to put on a show."

"A show?" she asked, looking from one to the other. Her level of concern was rising, not from involving these two, but from her lack of understanding on what she was going to have to do to truly wow her fiancé. And that was her intent. She was going to pull this off, even if she had to take instruction from Beavis and Butthead to do it.

Finn nodded. "I mean, I'm certain that you could walk into that room in any scantily covering outfit, wiggle around to some music and have your way with our dear boy, and he'd be more than happy for the novelty given the change of scenery. But I'm sure you two have had sex just about any place two people can have sex, and this isn't just about sex, is it?"

Rory shook her head adamantly. "I want this to be perfect. It's his bachelor party, and I want him to have a big send off. If he only wants to see me naked, then that's what he's going to get. Tell me; give me all your ill-gotten expertise on how to give him the best damn lap-dance he's ever gotten."

Colin rolled up his sleeves. "It starts with the outfit. Do you know what you're going to wear?"

Rory nodded, suddenly uncertain now if it would meet their approval. "I have this matching black lace set that he hasn't seen yet. Something similar proved popular in the past, but he um, you know. It… tore," she cleared her throat, doing her best not to meet their entertained eyes.

Finn shook his head. "Save it for the honeymoon. You need some pasties, darling, and I've found jewel colors the most alluring. Perhaps sapphire, to set off your eyes," he smiled appreciatively, so much so that she felt as if he might have had x-ray vision all these many years and simply never informed her.

"Pasties? Where do you even get…?" she trailed off.

"I know a place," Colin nodded, agreeing with his cohort.

"Of course you do."

"For the bottom, I suggest a crotch-less thong," Finn informed her with a straight face.

"A… what's the point?" she blinked, flabbergasted at the very notion of underwear that covered absolutely nothing.

Finn smiled. "It's just a little something to tuck the bills into. And with panties like that, the bills are worth far more."

"Truer words have never been spoken," Colin agreed.

The idea of Logan sliding a bank note against her thigh was more of a turn on than she'd anticipated, as she mulled over his advice for a moment. She snapped back to the present and realized they were both watching her as she enjoyed her little daydream. More blushing ensued. "Again, not to sound like a Puritan, but I have no idea where to find such a, uh, garment," she used the word loosely.

"It's just your New England roots, Love, don't fret. They have fetching ones at the same shop I would recommend for the pasties. It doesn't matter what you wear over that—you can go the cowgirl route, police woman, fire fighters are popular in some places—wait, you attended a Catholic school?" Finn inquired.

"No, just a prep school," she corrected.

"But you wore some plaid skirt and jacket to one of my parties, Logan nearly took you against the wall, if memory serves?" Finn remembered.

"Right, the Tarantino thing. Yeah, I used my old uniform. I might still have it somewhere," she began, mentally trying to remember where that might have been stored.

Colin shook his hand dismissively. "We can recreate the schoolgirl thing easily. Trust me, that's a classic."

Rory blew out some air. "Okay, well, I appreciate you guys helping me, even if there isn't enough alcohol in the world to make this conversation seem appropriate."

"We're not done," Colin informed her.

She blanched. "We're not? But the outfit is all planned."

"The outfit sets the tone. The rest, well, that we can't do for you, but we can put a picture in your mind," Colin smiled.

"What kind of picture?" she gulped. She thought they'd given her more to think about than she'd ever imagined already.

"Good strippers, the kind that rake in the big bucks and don't mentally scar you," Finn began, a scholar on the topic, "they are masterful in their ability to tempt, give you a taste, and then torment you with what you want to happen next."

Rory had been firm in her desire to truly apply herself to this task as a wedding present to Logan; not only to 'win' the argument they'd had, but to assure him that their marriage would be far from routine, never boring, and full of surprises. It was an assurance that she not only wanted to give him, but herself as well. She never wanted to become complacent with him. Stripping had seemed like a simple enough task, especially with her connections at the club. Taking off her clothes seemed a no-brainer; impossible to screw up. She was beginning to think otherwise, as she looked at the completely somber faces of her fiancé's friends, who had both no doubt been his companions to any other strip club ventures he'd experienced in the past.

"Okay, I hear you. So, I give a little then pull back?" she asked diligently. "You're saying I should be coy."

Finn nodded. "And remember, you can touch him, not to mention yourself, but he is restricted. He can only do to you what you allow him to do. Power is all yours and most arousing."

Colin leaned in a fraction of an inch, studying her. "Are you sure you're up for this?"

She squared her shoulders. "I can do anything I put my mind to. This is all good information. What else?"

Colin nodded, not bothering to give a consolatory glance at his friend. "The stripper pole."

Rory swallowed. "The what now?"

Colin stood, ready for his soliloquy. "Now, I know it's daunting. It's a workout, officially, and if you don't do it well, you shouldn't bother. But there will be one, and if you can pull it off," he whistled low. "How strong are your thighs?"

Rory's eyes widened in surprise. "Uh, average, I guess?"

Colin shook his head. "Then don't try anything fancy. Stick to twirling around it, leaning back to show off your silhouette, but without practice, I'd steer away from anything truly acrobatic."

Rory frowned. "I tend to shy away from anything acrobatic in nature anyhow. Well," she blushed again, as another memory of her and Logan crept up from her memory. "Without a spotter, anyhow."

"Damn, Logan is one lucky son-of-a-bitch," Finn muttered, resting his chin in his hands as he stared at her in wonder.

"Uh, thanks. Hey, would watching Striptease help? I only saw it once, years ago, but I seem to remember Demi Moore being very, um, good with that pole."

Colin shrugged. "It can't hurt. But seriously, I've seen a lot of strippers fall off the pole, and it's not pretty. Just use it when it seems appropriate. I'd let you practice on mine, but we don't have that kind of time here."

Rory's mouth dropped open. "You have a … never mind. I'm going to choose to pretend I never heard you say that."

Colin smiled assuredly. "Your prerogative."

"I'm very good at it," Finn interjected. "I have very strong thighs."

"Please stop there," Rory pleaded, squeezing her eyes shut.

"Your loss," he smiled, not disheartened.

"I'm okay with that," Rory assured him. She took a deep breath, doing her best to take in the lot of knowledge she'd received thus far. "Is there anything else?"

Colin pondered a moment. "We discussed pasties, thongs, power, poles," he listed off.

"Stage name!" Finn blurted out excitedly.

"Oooh, how could we forget the stage name?" Colin smacked his forehead with the butt of his palm. "Damn, that is so key."

"I need a stage name, like a stripper name? Isn't that my first pet's name and the street I grew up on? Because we never had pets; my mother tended to commit involuntary manslaughter to small animals. As for my street, I never thought of Maple as a particularly alluring word."

Colin shook his head. "Forget that. You need something completely opposite your personality. When you strut into that private room, you aren't Rory Gilmore, soon-to-be Huntzberger. You are someone else, someone he's never seen naked and someone he'd die to see unbutton just one more button of that outfit. You need a name that conveys what you're about to do to him," he explained with gusto.

"Wow. You guys have way too much expertise in this arena," she shook her head, but looked up apologetically. "Not that I'm not grateful."

"So, what is it you want to do to him?" Finn asked, ignoring her comments.

Rory's mouth dropped open slightly. "You want specifics?" she blinked.

"God, yes," Finn answered honestly, "but I'll settle for the general tone you wish to set. That can help with the name," he winked at her.

She swigged more wine. "Right. Well, mainly I just want to render him completely speechless—completely blown away. I want to own the room, with him not able to take his eyes off me and what I might do next. I want to literally drive him to distraction."

"I need a cold shower," Colin admitted, immediately moving into the kitchen.

"We have a sprayer on the sink," she offered with a sheepish grimace.

"I was thinking a cold beer would suffice," he opened the fridge and obtained his ale before returning to the table. "So, she needs to go superhero. School girl with a mean streak."

"Rumor!" Finn pronounced, pointing the recently emptied wine bottle at her in triumph, nearly christening her.

"Don't I need two names?" she inquired.

"No," they barked in unison.

"Okay, persona, outfit," Colin double-checked, "I think that's it. Now we just need a basic rundown of your set."

"My set?" she asked again, feeling far more unprepared than she'd anticipated. There were just so many specific elements she hadn't accounted for.

"Some say the music is irrelevant, and for the most part, it is; as long as it inspires you to roll your hips and arch your back, you're good to go. Don't forget to arch your back, it's as important as the knee spread," Colin pointed a finger at her.

Rory just stared at him in bewilderment, giving a feeble nod.

"So, you'll have on a skirt, a button up shirt, and what, knee socks?" Finn inquired. "You can keep those on, I should think."

"Hair has to be in two low ponytails, one over each shoulder. Finn's great at hair and makeup, if you need help," Colin assured her.

"Uh," she nodded again, flustered. "Okay?"

"We should let her envision the rest. She won't be able to do it if she can't imagine it happening first," Finn said to Colin.

"Affirmative. Let's hear it, Gilmore. You walk in the room to find Logan sitting there unsuspecting, and the music starts. What do you do first?"

She blanked, and then she did her best to put herself in the situation. "I smile at him?"

"Wrong! Do not smile at him, at least not right away and not without the air of malice!" Finn clapped a hand to his forehead. "Oh, we have so much work to do!"

Rory sulked back in her chair. "So, what should I do first?"

"You strike a pose. I know it sounds cheesy and straight out of a Madonna video, but hey, who was better at taking her clothes off on stage back in the day other than Madonna?" Colin reasoned.

"Listen, guys, maybe I'm aiming too high here," Rory began backpedaling.

"NO! Sweetheart, I realize that you probably would rather walk over hot coals than sit across from us discussing such indelicate topics, but the fact that you heralded us for this effort proves that if it's something worth doing, it's worth your full effort. Press on! Go the distance!" Finn encouraged.

Rory frowned at Colin. "Is he always like this? I feel like he's my coach and I'm down at halftime."

Colin sipped his beer. "He gets riled for certain topics. Stripping is one of those topics. Hell, the prospect of anyone getting naked in general is usually enough to get Finn excited. You understand my meaning."

Rory took a moment and considered her two mentors. Not finding sufficient motive to push through the pain, she closed her eyes and tried to picture Logan's face as he sat in wait in the back room, realization washing over his features as she stepped into the space as her alter-ego. That instant, not to mention his pleasure for the duration of her act, was worth it.

"Okay, so I step into the room and fix him with a really withering glare," she began, much to the boys' approval.

Colin beamed proudly and clapped her on the back. "You're going to do just fine, Gilmore."

"I don't know, Colin; I'd feel better if she described a bit more of what she was going to do, step by step."

"Nice try, Finn," Rory shook her head in amusement.

Finn pouted for a brief moment, but then brightened. "But I do get to take you shopping, correct?"

Rory stiffened. "Uh, Finn, if you just point me in the right direction, I think I can manage by myself. But thanks. I think."

He pointed at her. "Don't forget. Sapphire pasties."

"I promise, Finn," she nodded meaningfully.

He smiled, pleased with himself, and she hoped not able to conjure up the image of them in use in his mind's eye.

"I think it's time we discussed payment," Colin informed her, as she turned to clear the rest of the glasses and empty containers from the table.

"Payment?" Rory frowned. "Helping a damsel in distress isn't thanks enough?"

Colin scoffed. "Come on. We come all the way out here to prep you for a striptease, which not only will we not get to witness, but I'm assuming we'll have to pretend we never knew about for the rest of our lives—and you're not going to throw us one bone?"

Rory considered this, and the act of friendship the boys had bestowed, not only to Logan, but in all reality to her. She tried to hide her smile as she responded. "Fine. You can hit on my mom, but it's not my fault if Luke tries to murder you. Just remember, he has a diner. He'd have no problem getting rid of your bodies."

Colin looked to Finn again, seeking agreement to terms. "I can live with that."

"I'll be sure to stretch before the ceremony," Finn nodded.

Rory couldn't hold it in any longer and gave a chuckle at their mock-seriousness. "Hey, this means we have a secret from Logan. That sort of makes us friends in our own right, doesn't it?"

Finn stood and swung an arm around her shoulders before kissing the top of her head. "Darling Rory, we've been in love with you as long as he has."

Rory blushed and kissed him on the cheek. "That's very sweet, Finn."

"Hey, are you a size seven shoe? I think I still have some of my ex-stepmother's stripper heels you could borrow," Colin offered as a gesture of camaraderie.

Rory paused and pondered an appropriate response. Before she could answer, they all froze at the sound of the garage door being opened.

Rory checked her watch and swore. "He's early!"

"Don't worry; it's not our first time fleeing a scene before an unsuspecting man arrives home to his beautiful woman. We can be discreet, contrary to reported lore," Finn promised her.

"I hope you're kidding, but thanks. For everything," Rory shooed them to the back door in the kitchen, instructing them that the latch on the gate sometimes required a little force to open. By the time she'd shut and locked the door, taking one peek to see their retreating forms disappear out of their yard, she hustled to sit at the dining room table, flipping open the enormous binder that housed their wedding plans, a copy of the master edition Emily Gilmore was using back on the East Coast, as Logan walked into the house.

"Hey," he stopped short in the kitchen with a smile. "I thought I was going to beat you home."

She shook her head and gave him a weak smile. "I had some wedding stuff to take care of."

He sucked some air though his teeth. "Ah, The Binder of Doom," he teased knowingly.

She nodded. "It is our wedding. I should know something about it."

He moved to shut the binder on the table, his arms encasing her in the process and dipped his lips to her neck. After a series of warm kisses trailed up to her ear, he spoke. "Hey, as long as you show up, I don't care if you call my mother by the wrong name. In fact," he began.

She turned at an angle to confirm the wide smile on his face. His eyes were twinkling and she knew that while he was joking, he was also completely serious on a base level. She kissed his cheek.

"It's getting close now, the wedding," she reminded him softly, watching his expression carefully to notice any changes before he spoke. His face remained relaxed, his smile genuine and easy.

"Are you really afraid I'll forget my own wedding day?" he asked genially.

She shook her head. "No, it's just sort of just hitting me. We have a lot to do to get ready, and you have that business trip at the beginning of next week, and," she began listing off reasons to be stressed out.

He kissed her, to silence her itemized list. "You need some wine," he nodded with authority. He moved to step away from her and she bolted up and spun toward him, grabbing his lapels, not wanting him to calculate how much alcohol had disappeared from their residence since he'd last been home. "Whoa, Ace. I know it's a little early in the day, but," he justified.

She'd had more than she realized, as she felt her head twirl and tightened her grip on his jacket to stabilize herself. He felt her imbalance and his body reacted; his arms slipping around her waist and pulling her against his chest. She made a mental note not to drink in order to gain courage before taking the stage in stripper heels.

"You okay, there?" he asked gently in her ear.

"Yeah, just got up too fast. Forget the wine, let's just go upstairs," she offered, hoping the notion of sex would be enough to circumvent any other discussion.

He hesitated, though she could tell he was inclined to just carry her up the stairs. "Is this some sort of pre-wedding jitter reaction?"

She considered the question. "Not in the way you're thinking."

He frowned. "I'm confused."

She smiled. "But we're still going upstairs, right?"

He smiled in return. "That depends. Are you going to show up for our wedding?"

She brought her hand up to his cheek. "I have no doubts about marrying you. I'm not thrilled about being related to your mother, but other than that I'm looking forward to it."

He kissed her softly, in a lingering fashion that assured her they were definitely on their way upstairs. They'd probably even end up on the bed, eventually, but that might not necessarily be their first stop. Her head was once again spinning by the time he pulled away, but this time the alcohol had nothing to do with it. "Dad has already promised to hide all her cigarettes and to slip her a tranquilizer before the ceremony. He says he wants to be able to properly celebrate the occasion."

She kissed him back, her weight still mostly supported by his arms. She could stand on her own, but he hadn't let go in the slightest and continued to hold her firmly to him. It tested her ability to hold a proper conversation. "It doesn't bother you that your mother needs to be medicated to approve of our wedding?"

"If they really didn't approve, they just wouldn't come. My dad is actually more upbeat about this than I'd thought. He actually told me he was proud of me."

As Logan's fingers stroked her neck, Rory's thoughts drifted back to a conversation she'd had with Mitchum back in New York, before she moved her life out to California to attempt to start over with Logan. She'd never told him that his father had been her prompting; that Mitchum Huntzberger of all people had given her the kernel of hope necessary to believe that she and Logan could have a future after all.

"He loves you."

He nodded, accepting the sentiment. "I think he loves you too."

She gazed up into his brown eyes. "I never thought he liked me, not really, until just before I left New York."

"Oh, yeah?" he asked, stiffening almost imperceptibly. His fingers stilled against her shoulder.

She bit her lip. "He never told you? That he saw me?"

Logan shook his head. "He went to see you?"

She shook her head in return. "No, we ran into each other, at a publishing party, the kind you hated," she remembered with a wistful smile.

"Lots of schmoozing, lots of booze, lots of egos, sounds familiar. Go on."

She took a deep breath. She hadn't been keeping this from him on purpose; she'd just always assumed the right moment would reveal itself. It seemed to be upon them. "He basically cornered me in the middle of the room, and told me that I deserved more from my career, and led me to believe that you might have missed me."

He closed his eyes. When he opened them again, she was actively holding her breath. "Logan?"

His mouth was set in a line. "That's why you came out here? My dad asked you to?"

She shook her head again, this time in a very determined manner. "No. I came out here because he gave me the hope to. I'd never seen him like that, Logan. I mean, yeah, he was still sort of a self-important ass about it, because I think that's just who he is, but he seemed to genuinely care; about you, about me, and about us. It took me a few days, to make sure I trusted my gut about his intentions, but the draw was too big. I figured if I got out here and you told me to go to hell, at least I'd know I tried."

He stroked her cheek and hair with one hand. "My dad really did that?"

She smiled. "I told you. He loves you. He might be happier about our wedding than we are."

"I feel like I just witnessed the Grinch's heart growing three times," he mused.

"It might behoove you to believe his sincerity when he tells you congratulations after the ceremony. And not to roll your eyes during his speech at the rehearsal dinner. Whether or not you invite him to your bachelor party is up to you."

He smiled. "God, you know me so well."

She shrugged. "I pay attention now and then. So, are Colin and Finn still giving you trouble about the bachelor party?" she asked, unable to stay away from the subject completely.

He released a deep breath. "I told you, don't worry about it. It's decided. I have been known to have a good time without the aid of naked women."

She smirked and pushed a finger into his chest. "Admit it, sometimes having a naked woman around makes you very happy."

He let out a stilted laugh. "True, I enjoy the company of a certain naked woman," he kissed her again. "But unless you've been moonlighting as a stripper without my knowledge, I doubt I'd see anything that piques my interest at a strip club. Besides, I told you, the party isn't really so much for me. I don't need to celebrate the end of my bachelor days. Those were long gone the moment I fell in love with you."

She felt a mix of joy, sentiment, and excitement swell up in her. She reached her hands out to his cheeks, pulling him against her in a kiss that kicked things up a few notches. Her chest pressed into his and his hands slipped down to cup her ass. "I just want you to have a good time."

"Mmmm," he groaned and pecked her lips once more. "If that's true, then let's grab a bottle of wine and go upstairs."

She leaned up on her toes again to kiss him again, her tongue forcefully obtaining entry to his mouth and allowing him to taste the evidence that she'd already imbibed.

His eyes lit up. "Just how much have you had to drink? Because I like drunk Rory. She does some really dirty things."

She playfully batted her eyes. She knew how to be coy. Ramping it up to Colin and Finn's expectations would be a stretch, but hey, she had to start somewhere, right? And besides, maybe a shot or two couldn't hurt before her performance next week. "Take me upstairs and find out."

He scooped her up, tossing her playfully over his shoulder as she squealed and giggled and feigned protest at his barbaric techniques. If he'd been at all suspicious of her earlier activities, he was now too focused on the squirming woman in his arms and already planning other ways to make her squirm against other parts of his body. She was happy to provide the distraction. With any luck, she'd be more far more distracting with the pasties.