Story: Somebody Else's Page
Chapter: What Useless Tools Ourselves
Description: Rory/Logan. Slightly AU. What if Logan managed to take a little less time off during his college career and made it through without overlapping Rory's years at Yale? She's about to start her first internship at the Stamford Gazette, just as it's being taken over by the Huntzbergers.
Disclaimer: I write fan fiction. I own none of these characters. None of this happened on the show, which is the whole point of fan fiction. You get the idea.
AN: Final chapter! It's here, at long last. I know it took forever. I've enjoyed this storyline, and it was a fun ride setting it against the lyrics of a Modest Mouse song, which are only half-sensical at the best of times. It was an odd pairing in my mind, but a fitting one. Love doesn't always have to make sense. And it rarely has good timing. Enjoy and thanks to all of you who stuck with me through very long waits for chapters.
The weather matched her mood, a grey and heavy dampness that signaled a threatening storm. It was reassuring, like wrapping herself up in a bundle of her own neurosis, a sign that heartache was a part of life but it most certainly was not an excuse to pause. London was dreary at times, but it certainly didn't shut down as a result. It went on, with its ageless grace, and Rory Gilmore had spent the last two months feeling somehow bolstered by the city. It had been a bad day nonetheless, an emotional freefall, and nothing had proved capable of snapping her out of it. She was homesick, heartsick, and all her thoughts effortlessly turned to Logan—even though she hadn't seen or heard from him in months. His absence had not been enough to erase him from her life.
She'd thought about reaching out to him—sending a text when she was feeling lonely or calling when she missed the sound of his voice the most. She'd thought about nothing else for days after they broke up. She'd nearly given in to the urge when she got word that she would be spending a semester in London. Especially when she landed an internship at the BBC and she wanted to share the news with those she loved most. Every major and fairly minor aspects of life had inspired a desire to want to confide in him. She stopped herself every time, sometimes as she found herself dialing in his number. Denying herself just took more self-control at some times more than others.
She pulled her peacoat more tightly around her with one hand, clutching a coffee in the other, and kept her head ducked slightly to miss the increasing drizzle from getting in her eyes. She was headed home, meager and cramped as it was, opting out of meeting fellow interns at a pub in hopes for a little bit of solitude. She wasn't in the mood to be personable, around even people she enjoyed working with. She wanted to watch an American movie, eat ice cream, and go to bed without washing her make-up off. She was ready to sink into her lingering angst for the night and shake it off fresh in the morning.
Only a block from the BBC offices, she heard her name being called ahead of her. "Rory! Turn around, love, we're headed the other direction!"
Rory gave her most sincere smile to show her regret to her cohort, Molly, a co-ed at Oxford. "I'm actually headed home."
"You can't go back to your flat! Today was brutal—you need a pint and I need you to be there so I don't feel like a total cow for ordering more food than the boys."
Rory smiled at her logic, as the slender girl obviously had a better metabolism than even she possessed. "You don't need me to show those boys up. They're pitiful, really."
"Come on! Just come for a bit, and if it's a total drag, we'll split a ride."
Her stomach rumbled as she stood on the street, looking at the pleading face of a decent human being that just wanted a bit of camaraderie after work. She could go for a full pub plate, full of bangers and mash and all the comfort food London bars had to offer. "Maybe just long enough to eat."
Molly linked her arm with Rory's and steered her the other way to more of what London had to offer. It was, after all, why she'd chosen to study abroad—to immerse herself in another part of the world. A world that Logan had wanted no part of.
"Okay, I never say this, but I'm going to say it because I am your friend and more than that, I respect you as a peer."
Rory looked up from her meal, which was all but gone. The prevalence of gravy doused over the whole plate was perhaps her favorite British tradition. She was thankful for her good metabolism and the fact that she walked around the city a lot.
"Do I have food in my teeth?" she asked the woman that had quite literally dragged her out to the pub.
"A bit of lipstick, but that's not what I was going to say," Molly said as she leaned in closer. "There is a very fine specimen of the male form on the other end of the bar, and he's borderline obsessed with your hemline."
Rory blushed on instinct and quickly refuted that claim. "Doubtful."
"Have you seen your legs? I'd trade my bum for your legs. And I? Have an amazing bum."
Rory laughed at her self-assessment. "Thanks. I think. They get me where I need to go."
"If you play your cards right, they'll get you in his bed. If you do nothing else, he'll be thinking about your legs later on while he takes care of his own needs. And he is far too good looking to be left to that."
Rory rolled her eyes. "I'm sure he's very attractive, but I'm not really looking for… that. I'm here for the work and the culture. Not to pull some random bloke," she said, borrowing terms she'd heard from locals.
"Oh, please. I love the BBC as much as you do, but a girl has needs. And this man could take care of them."
"If he's so amazing, why don't you go flirt with him?"
"I did my best sashay on my way to the loo, and he didn't even glance at my bum. His eyes are glued to your legs. Take pity on the chap. Get yours, sweetie."
Rory cringed. "As appealing as that sounds, I really can't."
Molly sat up, intrigued. "You have a man stashed away somewhere? Are you holding out on me?"
"No, no. I mean, I did have someone, a while ago, before I came here. I'm just not ready to date again."
"Bad breakup, then? Men are bastards."
Rory pointed an accusatory finger at her companion. "You just encouraged me to sleep with one!"
"This one can make you forget your ex. I don't care if you were seeing Prince Harry himself, this one can put you right. Don't think of it as dating so much as embracing the present moment."
"I almost want to find out who this person is, that you're such a fan of."
Molly grinned, triumphant. "He's at the end of the bar, two over from the dipshit with the fauxhawk."
"I'm not looking," Rory said, taking a drink of her beer. She wrinkled her nose. "A fauxhawk?"
"At least this place isn't full of bloody hipsters."
"I'll drink to that."
"You really aren't going to even look?" Molly asked, clearly looking past Rory to give the mystery man yet another once-over.
"I'm just not all that boy-crazy, I guess."
Molly's eyes lit up, even as she tried to contain her joy. "Oooh. Yes, I'm definitely a fan of his. You don't have to look his way. He's coming over."
Rory panicked, stiffening in her seat. "Here?"
Molly glanced at her, drolly. "Yes, over here. I think I need to go freshen up. I'll be in the loo."
"I'll come with you," Rory offered quickly.
"Like hell. Stay. Flirt. And for fuck's sake, undo your top button," she said, pointing to Rory's top before she flitted off to somewhere just within earshot.
Rory stared down at the worn wood table top, willing herself not to jump to attention. Her nerves were frayed, raw from missing Logan. She wasn't ready to flirt. She wasn't ready to let go of the idea that they'd had a shot at staying together, even if it was slim to none.
"Come here often?"
She was hallucinating, her mind finally succumbing to the stress of losing him. It was the only option. She'd wanted to hear his voice so much that she was having auditory hallucinations, transposing random men's voices into his. She looked up and held in a choked sob. "Logan? But… this is London. Are you lost?"
He chuckled, but his eyes showed off a strange mix of anguish and hope. "Someone convinced me it wasn't all bad."
Her mind was so full of questions and scenarios, it blurred to a blank slate. "I can't believe it. I'd ask you to pinch me, but even then, I'm not sure it would sink in. You're really here."
"You want to pinch me?" he asked, the side of his mouth ticking up.
"Are you here on vacation?" she assumed, wanting nothing more than to touch him to assure herself he was not only real, but that he felt the same to her as he once had. Just a simple brush of her fingers over his forearm sent shivers down her spine and his arm around her could pool heat in her core. She did her best to appear stoic as she awaited his answer.
"I'm working, not far from here."
She blinked at him. It still felt like a very vivid dream. "What happened to Portland?"
He lifted a shoulder, with light ease. "It wasn't the right fit."
"So you're in London. Working for your dad," she guessed again, though this time she was surprised.
He shook his head, his smile lighting up his face. He looked nearly carefree. "Nope."
"It's a long story—an offer that appeared out of the blue. What about you?"
"I had a similar experience. Someone called in a favor for me at the BBC, and I found out about it just as I got my semester abroad approved. It was your dad, actually, that made it happen. I wouldn't be here without him."
He frowned, a deep ridge forming between his eyebrows. She could feel his wary hesitation. "My dad? Seriously?"
"You… really didn't know?"
"I haven't spoken to him much… Honor checks in, but other than that things have been quiet from the family. She claims he's giving me space. I was thinking of going home for Christmas. Still not sure."
"Oh. Well, after we," she cut off, hiding her bumpy navigation over darker parts of their shared history with a cough, "afterward, I applied for a semester abroad. I probably should have been denied—I was after deadline and I'm a senior, but suddenly I had a recommendation for an internship at the BBC in my hands and the dean that was making the decision apparently was an old Oxford buddy of your dad's contact. Needless to say, I'm not here on my own merit at all, but here I am anyway."
He gave her a reprimanding glance. "My dad doesn't do that. If he wasn't sure of your potential, he wouldn't have lifted a finger, let alone set up a transatlantic phone chain."
"At first I actually wondered," she began, thinking twice of sharing her thoughts, even as she was speaking.
She cleared her throat carefully. "If you'd asked him to write me a recommendation. London was one place I figured you'd avoid. It would have made it easier, if you didn't want to run into me. I wouldn't have blamed you."
"I'd never try that hard to avoid someone, least of all you," he assured her. "Except, ironically, my father."
She swallowed hard. It hurt to keep from kissing him. "It's so good to see you. I've missed you."
He reached out and brushed her cheek with his fingertips. It was a brief and fleeting touch. He was real all right. She turned her cheek into his hand and closed her eyes as pleasure fractured out under her skin from the point of contact and spread across her body. "Can I join you?"
She opened her eyes and did a quick scan. "It seems I've been abandoned by my dinner date, so why not? Full disclosure, she was actually rooting for me to let you come over here and sweep me off my feet."
He sat down, the tight quarters forcing him to tuck his legs in up against hers under the table. "You came here to pick up guys?"
She leaned in, serious and quiet in her honest response. "No. I came here mostly for gravy."
He smiled and gave a short laugh. His hand swept her hair. "You haven't changed."
She raked her bottom lip through her teeth absently. "My co-worker just saw you checking out my legs from across the bar, and she's constantly on me to hook up with guys and have more fun. I told her I wasn't ready to date again, but that never stops her."
He sobered at her words. "I haven't been ready, either. In fact, when I noticed your legs, it was the first time since we split up that I'd even been driven to distraction by a woman. I got this wave of déjà vu, without even being able to see your face."
"You recognized my legs? Legs are pretty ubiquitous," she offered shyly, as she felt a surge of glee well up in her at the thought of him staring at her legs to the point of preoccupation. Glee was replaced by lust as he reached down, his shoulder dipping just barely, and stretched his fingers to trace the curve of her calf.
"I have had very vivid fantasies," he admitted, his voice husky in her ear. Her desire for him swept her veins, a flash flood that she was helpless to fight. "About just your legs."
"The rest of me didn't make the fantasy cut?"
He met her eyes, cutting her attempt at a joke. "I didn't say that."
She swallowed hard and a shiver cut up her spine. "Logan," she began. No other words followed—anything she could say would be too much. All the words that hung between them as they sat with their legs intertwined under the table and his hand on her knee, it was too much. Sensory overload after so much deprivation.
"I shouldn't have ended things," he said bravely. He'd never been afraid to speak his mind, even when he wasn't sure how it would be received. It was a product of his upbringing, most likely, the way he constantly butted heads with his father, his sister, his mother—with everyone he shared a surname. He'd certainly never been afraid to overwhelm her.
She could feel tears building. It was a familiar feeling, sadly, since they'd split up. She wasn't much of a crier, as a rule. She wasn't one of those women who could cry without it maligning their faces, either. She got the full set of puffy, red eyes, snot-producing nose, and dry lips, as if all the moisture in her body was being displaced to aid the sobbing. She'd heard so often that he didn't deserve her tears if he'd been so foolish as to let her go, but even if it were foolish she felt the potential of a shared future deserved to be mourned. It could have been the greatest adventure of her life. They could have been happy, even through inevitable trials and rough times. "Did we ever have a chance?" she asked, speaking her thoughts aloud, the same thought she'd had too often to count.
"You're the only one I had a chance with. I'd never considered a future with someone—being accountable to someone, and building a life with someone. Suddenly I had this glimpse of it with you, but I freaked out, thinking that if I didn't figure it all out, right then, we'd miss our chance."
"And yet, here we are in the same place again, despite all our best efforts to stay apart."
"Here we are," he agreed.
"We shouldn't be allowed to be in relationships, either of us," she professed, knowing he didn't dare disagree. His hand, however, skimmed further up her leg, now to her thigh. It made her want to agree with him, loudly and without the barrier of clothes. She leaned in to him.
"We should be exiled together," he agreed readily. "For the sake of humanity."
She fought for common sense with every last fiber of her being. "Just because we're both here now, though… what if it just ends up like last time? My time here is up in December. Then I'll be at Yale for my final semester and you'll stay in London."
He squeezed her knee. His other hand had landed on her shoulder, his arm around her back along the top of the pub chair. "It'll be different."
She couldn't imagine he had the audacity to suggest he had proof of such things. "How?"
"In what ways?" she demanded.
"I know what it's like to lose you. You can ask Honor—she'll give you an unflatteringly honest account of my spiral during the first few weeks after we split up. I don't ever want to feel that way again. Seeing you tonight, it's like kismet, but for a second time."
She drew in a shaky breath. "You believe in kismet?"
He steadied himself as he held to her, his eyes shining with sincerity and good intentions as he spoke. "I believe I love you. I believe that being away from you doesn't make that disappear from my thoughts. The only thing that makes the ache I feel when I'm away from you is being with you again. It might be a daily struggle, and yes, when you go back to finish at Yale, I'll probably spend way too much time and money on transatlantic flights, but we can figure it out. I will make sure it's not permanent."
She stared at him for a full minute, not saying anything. Part of her was stunned, at the turn of events alone, and the rest of her was afraid that if she blinked she'd snap to attention, only to realize this was some elaborate daydream she was having.
"Rory? Say something."
"I don't want to go back to how things were," she said slowly, and the effect on him was immediate. He sat back in his chair, his shoulders slumping.
She shook her head and scooted toward him. She put her hand on his with tentative reassurance. "I didn't trust what we had before enough. So, that's one thing that has to be different, this time."
"This time?" he echoed.
She nodded. "Yes."
He reached out for her with both hands, cradling her head as he slid in to kiss her. The kiss itself was sound and a bit furious, his lips laying claim and offering promise. She was too happy to mind the way they were bruising each other's lips, right there in the middle of the pub. She was sure people had taken notice, and was almost positive she heard someone utter the words 'bloody Americans' from the back of the bar.
When he pulled back, he smiled at her, his enthusiasm as infectious as always. "So, what now?"
She gave no hesitation. "We should go to your place."
He appeared impressed at the way she'd not beaten around the bush. "My place?"
"I have roommates. Not as bad as Paris, but they probably don't want to hear us all night. Or tomorrow morning."
He let out an excited chuckle. "That's a lot of us to hear."
She leaned in and whispered in his ear. "I didn't even get to tomorrow afternoon."
His eyes closed as they remained cheek to cheek. "I'm gonna like this time."
"Do you live close by?" she asked as her nose brushed his cheek.
"Not close enough," he said. "Are you ready to go?"
Her eyes were normally expressive, but never had they conveyed so much urgency. She stood up and gathered her things, and he made no haste in closing out their bills, even paying Molly's tab. The journey to his flat wasn't long, but it did involve being in public, as he insisted it was usually faster to walk from that point than to bother getting a taxi and waiting in traffic. They walked along at a fast clip, but even with their hands clasped together as a reminder of how much they'd missed each other's touch, it gave them time to think, wild and frenetic thoughts. She was desperate to let him clear her mind of thoughts. By the time they got to his place, she was riddled with every kind of doubt, fear, hope, and promise that could exist between two people.
He turned to face her as he tossed his coat, still damp at the shoulders, on an arm chair. "May I take your coat?" he asked, having been raised with very high expectations of proper behavior. He might ravage her willingly, but he'd accept her into his house like a gentleman first.
She shed her coat and handed it off. "Are we crazy?"
He made a noise, a sharp burst of air through his nose, but instead of answering her with words, he crossed the space and wrapped his arms around her. With one arm around her waist and the other up her back and into her hair, he kissed her with intensive focus on his goal of convincing her of something—she wasn't sure what. His dedication, perhaps. His intentions, maybe. His desire to move them into his bedroom, definitely. She needed a breath and put her hands on his chest, needing only to press gently to gain an inch of space. He always deferred to her in times like that. He might push her with words, but never with physical action. He sighed softly as she stood there, with swollen lips and a furrowed brow. His hand slipped into hers and he tugged her gently. "Come here. I want to show you something."
Curious, she followed him as he led her through the living space to a hallway and back past a few side doors to the bedroom at the end of the hall. His bedroom. His bed, tidy but not completely made, was a massive focal point, but not their destination. He walked her toward the big window, to where his dresser stood in the corner. He let go of her hand, opened the top left drawer, which contained rows of neatly paired socks.
"Is this your cute way of saying you have cold feet?" she joked lamely. He ignored her jest, and rifled through with one hand to the back of the drawer, palming something in his hand, then withdrawing without shutting the drawer.
"You've heard of the five stages of grief, right?"
"Heard of them, lived them, sure, I'm familiar," she said glibly.
He fixed her with a look that commanded patience. He wasn't finished. "My cycle through them wasn't smooth when we broke up. I hit two stages that stuck with me for longer than necessary. And frankly, I never really reached acceptance."
She felt a swell of memories hit her, her own feelings from the same time. She'd been so bent on focusing on her career because any time she took a pause or too long a breath, she missed him with such ferocity that she ached. She blinked back phantom tears and looked down at the floor. Gorgeous hardwood, with a dark mahogany stain. It was a masculine touch that made the room feel more like his. She couldn't help but think it would feel nice in the morning to have a soft rug under the bed. The bathroom was no doubt cold tile, and these were things most men never thought of when furnishing a space on their own.
"Anyhow, while I was grappling with denial—which my anger at myself played leapfrog with, I kept trying to figure out some way to fix the mess I'd made between us. Some way to prove to me and you that I believed that we could make it work, even though all the odds seemed to be playing out against us."
She let out a breath she hadn't realized was being held in her chest. "I know the feeling."
He nodded. "In one of those fits of erring brilliance," he began, "I went out and got this."
He opened his hand to reveal a small box, no larger than two cubic inches, a very specific color of blue. She knew that shade. She'd watched Breakfast at Tiffany's with her mother too many times to count. Her mouth dropped open, probably more than was ladylike. So little of her behavior fit in with what was expected at one of his mother's parties, despite years of Emily Gilmore's lectures of what was expected of a lady. "Got what, exactly?"
In the split second before he opened it, she attempted to remind herself of all the items that could fit in that box. Earrings. A broach. A cocktail ring. He could have had the box lying around from Honor and put some other trinket he'd obtained from a box of Cracker Jacks in there.
All her attempts at denial were stopped cold once he opened the box with a shaky hand and stared at her with his deep brown eyes as he waited for her reaction. She wasn't sure what he was expecting—as she wasn't sure just how far this show and tell experience might go. Should she laugh? Gasp? Kiss him? She couldn't very well offer a yes or no, as he'd asked no question. They were sharing facts up until now. Was this the time to tell him she hadn't slept for two weeks and tried to get Paris to get a bikini wax with her? How far into her own psychosis was she supposed to delve with him, this man who had come to love London on her behalf?
There weren't any words. She stared at it, in all its brilliance and perfection, trying to ignore the sudden itch of her left ring finger that might be satisfied by trying the ring in place there. The metal of the band would be smooth against her other fingers as she rubbed them alongside it to hold it up and catch the light sparkling up at her. "Oh."
"Honor implied it wasn't big enough to make up for the mess I'd made."
She couldn't hide her bewilderment. "There were larger ones?"
He chuckled. "I missed you."
She blushed, realizing he was amused by her random naivety. Not much had changed between them, after all. "I missed you, too."
They looked into each other's eyes for a moment after that, letting the relief of being so close again wash over them. She broke contact first, her eyes drawn back to the ring that he still held out for her to view. She'd nearly forgotten they had come up here to spend the night together. She needed a new word for surreal. Him holding that ring, which was beyond anything she could have conjured in her wildest dreams.
"Are you… what are you going to do with it?" she asked, unable to stop staring at it.
He inhaled, long and slow, his chest expanding under his button-down shirt. He'd discarded his tie and she'd undone the top two buttons herself, in their prior haste to begin undressing the other. Her shirt was untucked and hanging down over the top of her waistband, making her look bedraggled when matched with her mussed hair. He'd always had a preoccupation with her hair, his hands gravitated to the depths of her long locks when she was in arms' length. She didn't want him to give her a ring that night, all she wanted was for him to sweep her back into his arms, feel his seeking fingers against her scalp and finish taking off his shirt. "I love you."
She nodded and approached him slowly. She took the ring box from his hand and put it back in the drawer, nestled among his socks. "I know."
"You asked if we were crazy. I know buying that was crazy. I know that we're not ready to get married, but I am ready to be with you. Even if I had no business buying the ring, I'm not going to return it, because what I feel for you has always been right. I know eventually the ring will be right, too."
Her heart stammered in her chest and she clasped her hands over it on her chest to keep it well encased. She couldn't argue the authenticity of their feelings. They were overwhelming, they always had been. If she'd been able to use good sense or logic, they'd have never gotten together. He had embodied all the clichés people are warned to steer clear of, especially what her mother had warned of all her life—a trust-fund son of privilege, emotionally stunted, full of family strife and drama, not to mention it had entrenched her in a workplace romance with her boss. There had been so much to keep them apart, and even still they'd been unable to stay apart.
She let him continue. "When we first got together, and we told each other all those things, about not being interested in anything long term, how we were in different places of our lives, that neither of us were good at relationships, I know that was true. I had so much to work through, problems that I needed to deal with. I wasn't ready to commit to someone else, because I hadn't committed to myself."
Since he was splaying himself open and sharing his innermost feelings, she gave back in kind, keeping her voice soft but firm. "I was afraid. Part of me always had been, that I'd screw up and it would keep me from realizing my dream—from finishing college and becoming a journalist. It's all I ever wanted, and it was so close. I thought that if I got too attached to you, I'd put my career second and I'd regret that eventually."
"We were hopeless," he said. "Separately. But what we have together, that's something worth fighting for. I think that here, now, we can do this. I'm finding my way, in this city and this job. And you're working, and so close to graduation. If you meant what you said, about trying again—there being a next time—then I won't let you go again. I'll follow you to New Haven or London or Berlin."
She closed the distance that had remained between them, putting her hands to his and entwining their fingers. He watched her as she joined him, the same hope that filled his eyes whenever he asked her to believe in him. But this time, it wasn't just in him that he was asking her to invest all of her faith. She dropped her chin and looked at their hands, the way his thumbs stroked at the back of her hand in earnest. She looked back up into his eyes and smiled. "You should keep it. The ring."
His smile was a light source in the room, drawing its own energy. Drawing her in. She lifted up on her toes to kiss him. He let go of her hands and wrapped himself around her, lifting her higher and turning them toward the bed. It had been his intended destination, after all, since he first saw her legs in the pub. There would be time, later, to slow down and take their time. To make plans. But after months of aching for the want of each other, there was nothing to slow them down. The whole night was spent relearning, retracing, and reveling in each other.
It was the London skyline that they awoke to the next morning, in his bed, light streaming in through the filter of partially cloudy skies. They made promises that would be kept and cherished, drank coffee and eventually went out in search of food. They were ready to move forward, together, wherever it took them. They had each other, and some idea of what it meant to finally let that be enough to carry them through the rest of what life would throw at them.