A/N: So I haven't written any fanfiction whatsoever in several years now. I went so far as to remove all former traces of fanfiction from the internet, and let my account become inactive. Then, last night, this story idea popped into my head, refusing to leave. Before I knew it, I was doing research. Then when I sat down to write, I wrote 2 and a half chapters without stopping. And so, I decided to bite the bullet and return to writing fanfiction again. We'll see how this turns out, since I haven't done this in years.
Of course, feedback is appreciated. Particularly since it's been a whole since I've played around and someone else's sandbox.
Disclaimer: Gilmore Girls isn't mine. We all know this.
On the outside, Rory Gilmore appeared to be just fine. Despite being nervous about starting her new job as a journalist following Barak Obama's presidential campaign, she had adjusted to life on the bus with apparent ease. Her stories were good. Great even. The articles had started off a little shaky at first, but they had improved steadily each time she submitted something to her editor, Hugo, for approval. She was being social, making friends with many of the other reporters she travelled with. She spent most of her time with other internet journalists, but had exchange words with quite a few journalists from the bigger named papers. She talked to Oprah in the bathroom at an event in Chicago. She gave Senator Obama a piece of gum once. If Rory were to sit and evaluate how things had been going so far, she'd definitely say that she was happy with her life at the moment.
Of course, it wasn't without its difficulties. Rory missed her friends and family immensely. She missed her mom more than she thought she would. Rory was used to talking to Lorelai on an almost daily basis, in addition to seeing her at least once a week. Now, she was lucky if she could call her mom once a week. They made up for this by sending frequent emails. Rory found that, as a journalist who was constantly on the move, it was easy to start writing an email to her mother at almost any time, and finish it when she got the chance. (This was often at 3 o'clock in the morning, a time Lorelai would not be happy with receiving a phone call anyway.)
She missed her grandparents more than she expected. Particularly, she missed seeing them every week at Friday night dinner. Not because she necessarily enjoyed these weekly dinners. In fact, many of the dinners were painful events that she had purposely tried to block out of her memory. No, Rory missed Friday night dinners because the one thing worse than these dinners were the phone calls Richard and Emily now expected from her. Rory found that, most of the time, she didn't have the energy required for the proper discussion of events that Emily expected. In addition, Emily would get upset when Rory went a long time without calling her. Since Rory's schedule was so hectic to begin with, Rory soon discovered that, in order to speak with her grandparents at all, she would just have to put up with Emily's occasional complaining.
She missed her best friend Lane, as well as Lane's husband Zack and their twins. Rory had been looking forward to watching the twins get bigger, and demanded frequent picture updates. Lane had taken to sending Rory picture messages to her cell phone. These messages had evolved into frequent pictures from around town. A random picture of the town square. A picture of Taylor loosing it at a town meeting. A picture of a coffee mug from Luke's. A picture of Kirk trying to sell rocks that looked like Jesus in the town square. A picture of Miss Patty inappropriately pinching someone's butt. These small reminders of her home made her miss it a little more and a little less, depending on the day.
Surprisingly, Rory missed her other best friend, Paris. Although sometimes the two behaved more like mortal enemies, Rory had to admit that Paris sort of grew on her. They had known each other for seven years, and Rory couldn't seem to shake the girl. After living with Paris on and off for four years, Rory certainly missed the girl's many eccentricities. (If that was even the correct word to describe Paris.) She also missed Paris's blunt advice. She had never met anyone with the ability to tell it like it is the way Paris does. The two of them spoke occasionally, but it had been difficult with Rory on the road and Paris beginning her first year at Harvard Medical School. The two friends and once roommates had also resorted to email to stay in communication, having abandoned the phone mostly. They only spoke on the phone when a story required the used of tone that could not be conveyed in email.
She was dealing with the whole "living out of a suitcase" thing and eating a lot of fast food quite well, considering. Normally, Rory would have no problem eating junk food. Her mother had raised her on a diet of absolutely no fruit and vegetables. But Rory had standards, and McDonald's burgers did not meet those standards. Unfortunately, when on the road, good food was often hard to come by. One thing Rory had learned on the campaign trail is that the United States was not lacking in McDonalds food chains. In addition, most small towns that were not Stars Hollow were severely lacking in good coffee. Rory found that her caffeine withdrawal when cut off from a decent cup of coffee, particularly when added with sleep deprivation from an all night drive on the bus, often caused her to snap at her fellow reporters. Most of them had learned by now to make sure that any food stops they made involved getting Rory some coffee.
The constant movement was hard at first, but Rory found the fast pace invigorating. Rory's entire life up until that moment had been a routine. She went to school, studied hard, all working towards becoming a journalist. Now that she was a real journalist (something, she realized, that real journalists do not refer to themselves as) she thought that her current job was exactly what she needed. It was an adventure. She had little time to stop and think which, above all, was probably the biggest perk of her job. When she stopped to think, she found time to miss him.
It had been exactly one year since Logan Huntzberger, her boyfriend of almost three years, had proposed to her at her graduation party. One year since she had no choice but to decline. And one year since Logan had walked away from her and moved to California. She hadn't seen or spoken to him since, and time had not made it any easier.
Rory felt as though she had no right to miss Logan. After all, she was the one who said no. If she said yes, she wouldn't be missing him at all. She would have followed him to Palo Alto. Rory remembered sitting in her apartment in New Haven, staring at that blue box, urging herself to say yes. She loved Logan. She wanted to be with him. But Rory just couldn't bring herself to do it. If she did, she would have been saying no to all the other job opportunities out there. She probably would have turned down the job covering the Obama campaign, a job that was turning into one of the best experiences that a recent Yale graduate with journalistic aspirations could ask for. And what if she couldn't find a job out in Palo Alto? Rory knew that she wouldn't have to worry about money with Logan, but she refused to become the Huntzberger trophy wife. She wanted to work. Moving across the country to be with her fiancé, with no job prospects, threatened to turn Rory into the person she promised herself she would never become. She had almost turned into that during the semester she dropped out of Yale, and Rory would be damned if that happened again. She couldn't allow herself to get any closer to that life.
Then there was the fact that Rory and Logan had never even discussed their future together before he proposed. The closest they ever came was a conversation about factoring each other in as Rory's graduation from Yale approached. That's not to say that Rory hadn't thought about it. Of course, she often fantasized about what their life would be like if they got married. She once told her mom that Logan might be The One. Towards the end, Rory had stopped worrying about whether or not her relationship with Logan would work. She knew that she loved him, and she felt that she had a future with him. But she always thought that Logan would take longer to get there than she would. This was fine with her, because Rory needed time to plan as well. They needed to have Talks about whether or not they even wanted to get married, because Rory wasn't sure herself. How many kids did they want? How soon? Would Logan be okay if she were an overseas correspondent before they have kids? Would he be okay with her being a working mother? How would he make sure that he didn't overwork himself the way his father had, so that he would always make it home in time for dinner? Would they always live in Palo Alto? What if Rory received a job offer somewhere else that was too good to pass up? These were things she needed to know the answer to, but they were conversations the two of them never had.
Rory knew that all of these little things just added up to the fact that she was scared. She didn't realize how scared she was of marriage until the moment that Logan asked her to be his wife, and she hesitated. Lorelai had told her that her hesitation meant that she wasn't sure of Logan, but that wasn't it at all. Rory had never been surer of Logan. Despite all of the questions she had that needed to be answered, she always figured that in the end the two of them would be able to work something out. It was the idea of marriage itself that had caused her to hesitate. Rory had no idea how to be a wife, much less how to have a husband. She had no real examples to follow. The truth of the matter was, Rory said no because she wasn't ready to say yes yet. She needed more time. She said no not because she didn't want t be with Logan forever. She said no because she had to be the one to say no.
She didn't think that either of them were ready for all the marriage entailed. Rory found justification in this with the fact that they had never once spoken of marriage before. That's not to say that relationships can't work without the proper planning. Lane had married Zack without them ever discussing the future. But Rory and Logan were not Lane and Zack. Rory was a planner. She made lists. Many of her rash decisions, such as the time she went to New York to see Jess, or the time she had stolen a boat with Logan, often resulted in disaster. Rory wasn't about to let marrying Logan become one of those decisions she would live to regret by not thinking and talking about it first.
Part of what made Rory and Logan work was the fact that Logan never planned anything out. Logan was impulsive. He jumped without looking; only realizing the consequences of his actions later. Logan had been the one to encourage Rory to not be afraid of taking risks. But there were some risks that Rory wasn't ready to take. She wasn't ready to jump into marriage with Logan, when there was the possibility that marriage could destroy everything that made the two of them good. She wasn't even sure that Logan had really thought it through before proposing. He seemed so sure that everything would work itself out. How could he not be as afraid as she was? How could be he so calm? Rory had so many fears and doubts, but Logan wasn't like that. To Rory, it seemed that Logan had made the decision that he wanted to marry Rory and asked her a few days later. It was an impulse decision. Rory couldn't marry the man she loved if he was only marrying her on impulse. Marriage was something you needed to think about. Rory needed to be sure that her husband, whoever he was, had fully thought it through first. Yes, Logan may have appeared sure of himself at the time. But was he really?
Rory sighed as she stared out of the bus window at the never ending highway. She had fallen into the trap of thinking about Logan, and now she missed him. She missed the smirk that could make her both incredibly angry and crazy with desire. That smirk always brought a smile to her face, whether he was being particularly arrogant or teasing her incessantly. She missed the way he could always make her laugh, even when she was angry at him. She could never figure out how he could so easily diffuse a tense situation. She missed his calm reassurance when she doubted herself. She missed their easy banter. She missed the way she could feel him smile when he kissed her. She missed the way he swirled the ice cubs in his glass before taking a sip. She missed falling asleep in his arms, and waking up in them the next morning. She missed the way he seemed to charm everyone without any effort at all, although it had taken a bit of work on his part for Logan to finally charm Rory as well. She missed straightening his tie when it was crooked. She missed the way they teased each other. She missed talking to him every day, about nothing and everything. She missed the days that he would surprise her by just showing up, unannounced. She missed making love to him. Not their relationship had been all about sex. But she couldn't deny the fact that she had never wanted anyone the way she wanted Logan. No one had ever been able to bring out that side of her before. She missed how he could keep up with the fast pace and pop culture references that littered her speech. She missed watching him try to figure her out, because Rory was most certainly not like any other girl that Logan had charmed before. She missed the way he'd pretend he wasn't watching her while she read a book on the couch. He always looked away when Rory finally, "noticed," acting as though he hadn't just been staring at her for about ten minutes before she finally put an end to it by, "catching" him. She missed hearing him call her Ace. Even more, she missed the rare occasions when he did call her Rory. He always put so much feeling into her name when he said, like she was the most special person in the whole world. She missed the way he challenged her, every single day.
Rory missed just about everything there was to miss about Logan Huntzberger.
She thought about calling him, several times. When Hugo had first offered her the job, Rory had pulled out her phone to call Logan without even thinking. She was just about to press send when she remembered that she was no longer with Logan, snapping her phone shut again. Rory was sure that Logan didn't want to hear from her, that he didn't care. But every time something big happened, Rory's first impulse was still to call Logan. Occasionally something would happen, and she'd be reminded of some small inside joke between the two of them. A couple of times when the campaign brought her to San Francisco, she thought about asking him to meet her for coffee. But she couldn't bring herself to call him. That would only set her back in her so far unsuccessful attempts to forget him.
Dating prospects were few while on the campaign trail, for which Rory was grateful. She didn't feel ready to be dating anyone just yet. A week into the job, Rory had agreed to have dinner with a reporter named Dave who was also an internet journalist, but the date had been a disaster. It ended with Rory crying over her dessert about how much she missed Logan. Luckily, Dave understood, having just broken up with his girlfriend as well, and the two had become friends. Her second date was even worse. Rory went out for drinks with a photographer named Jake that she met at democratic candidate debate. It had been a month since the breakup, so Rory figured she was safe. Everything was going well, until Rory burst into tears when Jake kissed her goodnight. The second his lips had touched hers, Rory froze. She was suddenly stuck by how his lips were not Logan's. She had shoved him away, the tears falling fast, mumbled a hurried apology, and retreated into her hotel room. Luckily, Jake wasn't on the trail with Senator Obama, so the two never saw or spoke again. When a journalist for a newspaper in Houston (she hadn't bothered to learn his name) asked her to dinner, Rory declined. She recognized that she wasn't ready to date yet. After three years of being in a relationship, Rory needed to focus on being single for a while.
This shift of focus away from a relationship, Rory believed, was responsible for her success out on the campaign trail. Rory put everything she had into her articles. She put an effort into developing friendships with her fellow reporters. As long as Rory didn't stop to think about Logan Huntzberger, Rory was happy with how her life was going. She figured that one day, she wouldn't think about him so much. Eventually, there would be a day when everything did not remind Rory of him. But it would take her time to get over her three year relationship with Logan.
It took Rory a while to even be able to talk to the mutual friends she shared with Logan. Many of them had been his friends first, so Rory had been unsure whether or not any of them even wanted to speak to her. Then one day, a couple of months after Rory joined the Obama campaign trail, Rory received a distressed phone call from a not-so-sober Australian.
"Rory!" Finn had shouted into the phone, causing Rory to wince slightly at the volume. "Why is it that I haven't heard from you in two months?"
"Is that a serious question, or are you just calling to rub it in like an ass?"
"What are you talking about, love? It's like you dropped off the face of the earth. I was just at the bar thinking about how I haven't heard from you since graduation. So here I am, calling you, wondering why that is."
"I didn't think you'd want to talk to me," Rory said very slowly, as though she were talking to a very stupid child.
"Why wouldn't I want to talk to you?"
Was he being serious? "Finn. Logan and I broke up. He asked me to marry him, and I said no. Then he walked away from me."
"So what? Finn, why would you still want to talk to me? I broke Logan's heart." She left out the part about him breaking hers in return by walking away.
"Rory, my naïve friend, do you honestly think that, after knowing you for three years, I could stop being your friend just because you and Huntzberger have ended your relationship? Now, I have my own opinions on the subject, but as both of your friends, I am not about to share those thoughts with either of you. I'm not putting myself in the middle of that."
Rory shook her head. "But Finn – "
"No buts, love. Logan may have been my friend first, but I've known you for three years now. I care about your well being just as much as I care about his."
That made Rory smile. "I – thanks, Finn. I thought…well, I didn't think any of Logan's friends would want to have anything to do with me after…" She couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence.
"I won't lie to you. Not all of us are particularly thrilled with you at the moment. Colin's being a bit over protective of Logan right now. I won't go into details, but he has said some rather nasty things in anger on occasion. However, you should know that some of us are trying to not take sides. I, for one, do not want to stop being your friend. So I have decided that I won't."
After that unusual declaration, Rory went on to tell Finn all about her new job, while Finn told Rory all about his latest antics. Rory still wasn't sure what Finn actually did for a living. She wasn't even sure if he worked at all. It comforted Rory to know that Finn hadn't changed one bit since his graduation.
So Rory added Finn to her list of occasional phone calls. Each time they spoke, she was struck by how good of a friend Finn was becoming. She was starting to realize what Logan had seen in the crazy Australian in the first place. Underneath his drunken exterior was a person who could really listen to you. He noticed everything. People told him everything as well, because as someone who was drunk often, most people didn't take Finn seriously. Rory soon realized that Finn wasn't just some drunken idiot. He was a great friend.
They never discussed Logan. She wanted to ask him how he was doing. But like the phone calls never made, Rory couldn't bring herself to ask Finn. And Finn, politely, never brought him up. Logan became the one subject they were never to mention.
Rory smiled as she thought about how much closer she and Finn had become since graduating from Yale. He was a reminder of the good times she'd had there. With the way things ended with Logan, it was sometimes hard for her to look back on her time at Yale without some painful pang in her chest. So many of her memories from Yale were filled with Logan. Becoming close with Finn reminded her that she didn't have to look back on her time with Logan with sadness. Despite the way things ended, Rory couldn't regret one moment of their relationship. Still, it was painful to think about sometimes. Finn helped her to remember the good that came out of it. All that she learned about herself. The ways in which Logan had changed her for the better. The adventures she had.
Yes, Rory was grateful of Finn's kindness. It still shocked her that Finn could be so nice to her, after everything that had happened between her and Logan.
So as she was falling asleep on the campaign bus, one year after she turned down Logan's proposal and he walked out of her life, Rory was a little surprised when her phone started buzzing to see Finn's name flashing across her caller id.
A/N: Sorry you don't really get any information as to what this story's actually about in this chapter. It was starting to getting a bit too long, and I really needed to set the tone for Rory's mental state before I got to that. Don't worry, you'll find out in the next chapter.