Trial of Error
Chapter Five: Two Trips to Stars Hollow
Description: Set just after Will You Be My Lorelai Gilmore? Logan heads off to Vegas with Colin and Finn, but Rory doesn't let it just pass without having her say. Unfortunately for Rory, what happens in Vegas isn't going to stay in Vegas.
Rory stood on the sidewalk outside the run-down apartment building that she had been calling home since Logan moved back to the States, holding the only piece of luggage she'd taken to Vegas—her purse. He leaned against the car he'd summoned to pick them up from the airport. Neither had spoken much since settling into the backseat; in fact she'd woken up once the car came to a stop in New Haven, finding she'd drifted off quickly while resting her head on his shoulder once they'd gotten picked up thanks to the early morning flight he'd arranged.
"So," she said lingeringly.
"I can come with you to Stars Hollow if you want," he offered for the final time.
"We agreed," she protested.
"I know," he said quickly. "I just thought I'd offer in case you changed your mind. I realize things might seem a little too real, now that we're back."
"Right." His words struck a chord with her. "Is that how you're feeling?"
He met her eyes evenly. "The thought of your mother sending out an APB with my picture on it isn't wholly awe-inspiring, but it's not enough to make me change my mind about us."
She smiled faintly. "I'd love to tell you how far-fetched an idea that is," she admitted. "But I'm a pretty bad liar."
"I've noticed." He glanced up toward her window. "What about Paris?"
"What about her?"
He gestured toward the upper story. "When are you going to tell her you're moving out?"
Her mouth dropped open. "I'm moving out?"
His puzzlement matched hers. "Aren't you?"
"Logan, do you realize this was not only my best option, but my only option for housing? There aren't going to be places to rent at this time of year. And I can't move into your apartment, it's too far away."
His eyes went wide with disbelief. "Rory, we can't live with Paris and Doyle."
"Why not? I've been doing it," she argued.
"Yes, and they drive you nuts. You have to wear noise-cancelling headphones if you want to study or sleep, when you do interact with her, half the time you're arguing, and Doyle only cleans up after himself because he's afraid Paris will hurt him if he doesn't," he listed all the issues she normally complained about. "Not to speak of how unsafe the building is, thanks to your 'neighbors,'" he finished up using air quotations.
"It's just a month," she reasoned, which was how she'd managed to survive living there thus far, breaking up her purgatory into manageable survival time periods. If what didn't kill her made her stronger, by the time she graduated she'd be able to pick up the whole building with one hand.
"It is just a month, that's what we agreed on to give this a real chance. I don't want to waste half of that or more dealing with Paris and her issues."
Rory was silenced. He had a good point. "But where else will we live?"
He squared his shoulders, suddenly resigned. "That's what I'll do while you go see your mom."
"You plan on finding a place to live in an afternoon?" She sounded far from optimistic.
He shrugged one shoulder. "It could be longer, if she tries to lock you in the attic or something."
She smiled at what he imagined possible in regard to her mother, which wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility. "I need a place close to campus."
"Rory," he sighed her name out, willing her not to argue every point.
"I'm going to contribute, remember?"
He pressed his lips together and nodded. "Anything else you'd like it to be?"
She cocked her head and thought. "It'd be cool if it was in walking distance of some shops or cafes."
He didn't argue that point. "A high walkability score is always a plus."
"A garage would be even better," she added.
"Cheap was your second demand," he said in astonishment.
"You asked what I would like, not what I would accept."
"Yes, I've gotten a clear picture of what you'll accept," he said, tossing a withering glare at the building again.
"Your contempt for my living situation has been noted, tagged, and filed for posterity," she assured him.
"So you'll let me find us a place?"
She stepped up and put her hands on his chest. "Are we negotiating again?" she asked cheerfully.
"In marriage, it's called compromise, but yes, we are."
"Can I give you free reign and reserve the right to call up the favor at a later date?"
"Let's just keep things as simple as we can for now. Trust me, things have been easy so far. Complexity is lying in wait."
She wrinkled her nose. "Well, you don't have to say it like that."
"Like we're doomed. And where do you get that this has all been easy?"
"Hey," he said, pulling a finger under her chin. "We're not doomed. We're challenged. A little homeless at the moment. But not doomed."
She rolled her eyes at him, and he kissed her. She clung to his shoulders a little too long, lingering in the moment. She gave a little whimper. "I should get going."
"You just have to tell your mom you got married. I have to find an apartment that doesn't exist," he said with far too much good humor.
"I'm not that picky," she asserted.
"No, but you do like to argue."
She kissed him again. "I'll get plenty of practice with Mom. I'm sure I'll like whatever you choose. I trust you."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Really?"
"As long it's close to school," she said with a curt nod.
"Your mom might surprise you," he offered gently.
If it was one thing her mother excelled at, it was surprising people. "She might."
"Does doesn't hate me that much, does she?" he asked, suddenly less confident about her going on her own—or at all.
"She doesn't hate you. She just sees a lot of similarities between what made her unhappy and the lifestyle you're accustomed to. But as long as she knows I'm happy, she'll be fine."
He nodded, accepting the fact that she seemed to believe her rationale. "Okay, so we meet up for dinner?"
"Dinner sounds good."
He kissed her one last time. "Good luck. Keep me posted."
She nodded and watched him climb back into the car. Part of her wished she was getting in with him, but the news she was about to drop on her mother would be far better received one-on-one.
Lorelai was standing outside on the sidewalk, with her cell phone up to her ear as she spouted random sentences and darted her eyes around the town square. Rory approached her on foot, listening curiously.
"You need three dozen donuts delivered by midnight?" Rory asked, repeating the last thing her mother had said into her phone.
Lorelai turned and snapped her phone shut. "You're here!"
"Why did you hang up on your donut supplier?" Rory asked.
Lorelai shot her a knowing look. "I did nothing of the kind."
"Then who were you talking to about donuts and the fact that you were in favor of televised executions, and why?"
"Well, I need something to eat when I watch TV," she defended.
"You were stalling," Rory accused. "You were out here, pretending to talk on your cell so you'd have an excuse not to go into the diner, where the phone is prohibited. Which, actually, is kind of ironic because that rarely stopped you before."
"I was being considerate, and waiting for my party to arrive before getting a table," she supplied.
"Mom, it's not a five-star establishment with a waiting list to get in. It's Luke's Diner and I can count five empty tables from here."
She glanced in the windows. "It was busier earlier. Standing room only. And normally I'd have just snuck in at the counter, but that puts me near the register and the kitchen, and those are two places that Luke tends to linger."
"He's the proprietor. It's not like he can hide in the bathroom."
"It would make things a little easier for me if he could."
"We can go somewhere else. Weston's or Al's," she suggested, willing to patronize any public establishment nearby. If she told her mother in the privacy of their home, there would be no witnesses. It seemed wisest to at least curb her mother's desire to freak out when she told her the big news.
"No, no, we're here, and the good coffee is in there, and Luke still likes you," Lorelai reasoned.
"He still likes you too. He's just healing, the same as you are. And if you're feeling up to making amends, he probably is too."
"I'm not trying to make amends. I can't fix all that went wrong between us. I'm not saying I didn't have any blame, but I didn't have all the blame. There was so much, but it's all in the past. What's done is done. I'm looking to move forward."
"That's very mature," Rory agreed, hoping that viewpoint would stick with her mother for another half hour at least. She was looking to move forward herself, taking the past for what it was. She was going to trust Logan to find them a home and make a go of their marriage. The word still gave her a shiver.
"You okay? You turned a little pale there for a second."
Rory pasted a smile on her face. "I'm good. Let's go in, I'm starving."
"Then let's get you some food," Lorelai said, bravely forging onward for the sake of fresh beginnings and not letting her daughter starve on the street while she worked up her courage any further. The two women entered the diner and took a free table by the window. Lorelai slung her jacket over her chair back. Rory, however, remained in her coat and kept her gloves on her hands as she sat down.
"Are you cold?"
"We're inside. Normally people remove their outerwear once they're indoors."
"Oh, right. I'm fine for now."
"Are you sure you're feeling okay?"
Rory picked up a menu and stared at it as if she'd never seen the offerings before, let alone had the whole thing memorized backward and forward. "I'm hungry. How long do you think he'll put off coming over here? Because I could go up to the counter and order for us."
"I think we have time to enjoy a little pre-meal discussion. If you don't want to talk about your extra apparel or your health, why don't we jump to how things are with you and Logan?"
Rory glanced down at her gloved left hand. "Things are good. I told you we worked things out."
"Yes, you were appropriately vague on the phone. I was hoping that a little face time would prompt you to offer details."
Rory hesitated. "Of our making up?"
Lorelai caught her meaning. "Oh, no, not that part. But what led up to that part," she said as if the words were confusing her.
"I think we should order first," Rory supplied.
Lorelai stared at her daughter with fresh scrutiny. "Oh no. No, no, no."
"You don't want to eat here after all?" Rory asked, concerned about her mother's possibly fragile psyche.
"No, it's not that. I'm saying no to all the obvious signs that are sitting across the table from me."
"What are you talking about?"
"You're keeping your jacket on to hide your appearance. You're starving. You and Logan had some kind of fight that led to him not coming to a baby shower with you, and you disappeared for two days to work things out alone," she said, putting the pieces together in a puzzle of her own making.
"None of those things are all that closely related," Rory began to argue, even though she knew just how they fit together in the jigsaw of her life.
"So you're not pregnant?" Lorelai demanded at the same time Luke finally approached with an order pad tucked in his shirt pocket, a pencil behind his ear, a coffee carafe in one hand, and two mugs in the other.
"I'll just come back," he said, his eyes darting quickly from Rory to Lorelai, finding no safe place to land before he turned and walked as far away from the pair as possible.
"Mom!" Rory chastised in a loud whisper. "God, no!"
"Then what is going on?"
Rory closed her menu and focused on her mother's concerned and confused eyes. "We got married."
Lorelai blinked, and then started to giggle uncontrollably. "Okay, I had that coming."
It was Rory's turn to be confused. "Had what coming?"
"I jumped to a wild conclusion and you came back with a crazy retort," Lorelai explained, but the longer Rory sat in silence, the quieter she became. "Right?"
"Well," Rory said, the urge to take the out appealing greatly in the moment. She thought of Logan, out scouring apartments for rent, trying to find a place where they could live together and thrive despite their very different needs at the moment. All she had to do was tell her mother. Her usually understanding mother. "It started with me going to Vegas, to read him the riot act for missing Lane's shower."
Lorelai's eyelids slid shut. "Oh no."
"He showed up, and I yelled at him, but he'd been making plans to come back early and see me and he'd bought an engagement ring on the way back to the hotel and then he proposed and bought me these flowers and we got married in a little chapel on the Strip," Rory confessed in a rush, to the best of her recollection.
"By Elvis?" Lorelai asked, aghast at the whole confession.
Rory shook her head. "No, not by Elvis."
"Then it's not a total cliché, at least," Lorelai said, thinking out loud. "So, what has to happen next?"
"What do you think happens next?"
"I may have just signed divorce papers after a quickie wedding of my own, but you two have only been wedded for a few hours. You can just get an annulment, right?"
Rory sat up and eased out of her jacket. Next she removed her right glove, then her left, laying them next to her napkin and silverware. "Not exactly."
"Holy Mother of Tiffany and Cartier! Is that the Hope Diamond?" she asked, picking up her daughter's hand and pulling it across the table for inspection. "I never thought your hand would feel heavy!"
"It's stunning, isn't it?" Rory agreed, admiring it again for the hundredth time in a couple of days. It kept taking her by surprise, along with its little buddy next to it which was plain by comparison.
"The whole thing is stunning," Lorelai agreed. "So where is he, your husband?" she said, the words sounding wholly foreign.
Now it was Lorelai who appeared pale. "You're staying married?"
"I know it's a lot to take in," she rushed her words out, wanting to keep her mother as calm as possible. "And I promise it's not because of unintended pregnancy or Logan's job or the fact we happened to be in Vegas or anything like that."
"But you have thought this through, right? Because I know you can see the light at the end of the tunnel at Yale, but you're not done yet. And you said he had some kind of major malfunction at work, so what if his dad decides to banish him to Siberia or something as punishment?"
Rory really wished her mother would have let them order before getting into the nitty-gritty of the situation. She could really use some coffee to go with the heavy dose of reality. "I'm going to finish school, no matter what. He's more than supportive of my education. As for his dad, that won't be a problem."
"His father lives to be a problem. It's what he's good at. He eats, sleeps, and breaths trouble, especially for the two of you," Lorelai contended. "You can't think that getting married will appease the Huntzbergers and get them to leave you two alone."
"No, we don't think that," she agreed. "But Logan's going to quit working for his father."
"He told you that?"
Rory nodded. "He did."
"Are you sure he's not just being fired?"
"That's not how Mitchum works. He'd rather teach Logan a lesson," Rory explained.
"Firing him would teach a lesson."
"Logan isn't going to be happy unless he gets out of there. It doesn't matter if he's good at the jobs his dad picks for him or not."
"I'd say losing that much money is filed under the 'not' category."
"It was a bad deal," Rory said wearily. "Logan couldn't have known going in."
"He's going to have real consequences in the real world. No one else is going to let him lose a fortune and move them to another department to try again there."
"He knows that. He's not immune to hard work. He's incredibly smart and probably overqualified for most jobs out there that will interest him."
"So, he doesn't have anything lined up yet?"
"Not specifically. He's going to talk to his dad on Monday and explore his options from there."
"So your husband is going to be unemployed, and what? Live off your money? Does he know that you don't have any money?"
Rory shot her mother a glare. "He knows my financial status. And he's unemployed, temporarily, but hardly penniless. We might have to be careful, but we'll be fine until we're both working."
"You trust him?" Lorelai asked, needing to hear the truth.
Rory nodded affirmatively. "I do."
Lorelai's posture relaxed from her fight-or-flight response. "You're really married?"
"I know it's weird and sudden," she acknowledged.
"That doesn't matter, if you're happy," Lorelai offered quietly.
"I am. It's not easy, having to tell everyone, but the rest of it, so far," she said, thinking over the highlights of their short honeymoon period, "Yeah, I'm happy."
"When are you going to tell everyone else?"
"He's going to set up a time for us to have dinner with his folks when he talks to his dad on Monday. And I've already got a standing date at Grandma and Grandpa's on Friday, so we're going to announce it then."
"Do you want me there?" Lorelai asked.
"Of course, why wouldn't I?"
"I don't know. I mean, I'll be able to hear Emily Gilmore shouting the news from the rooftops from here, so I wasn't sure my presence would be required."
"Grandma won't be that happy. I mean, it's not like we're letting her plan the wedding. The wedding's done."
"Still. She's been hoping for you to marry him since you first mentioned you'd met him. She might feel a little different once she finds out the silver spoon's been removed from his mouth, but he can't quit his genetics, and that's all she cares about anyhow."
"I hope so. It'd be nice to tell someone and have them be instantly excited instead of leery or sucker punched," she said with a sigh. "Not that I blame you. I know it's shocking and unexpected and all that."
Lorelai reached out and grabbed her right hand. "Hey, I am happy for you. You know that, right?"
Rory managed a smile. "I know."
"Good. Now, I really need coffee. Luke!"
It only took a moment for the flannel clad man to amble over. "You bellowed?"
"Yes. My daughter is married, therefore I need coffee STAT and also we would like to consume our body weight in sausage and pancakes."
"Actually, make mine bacon," Rory altered.
"Ooh, bacon. I'll have sausage and bacon."
"Instead of pancakes?" Luke asked.
"No, in addition to," Lorelai said seriously. "Wait, do you have blueberries?"
"I have blueberry pie," he offered.
"So make mine blueberry pancakes," Lorelai nodded at Rory.
"Oh, yes, me too," Rory said, smiling up at Luke.
"No, I have blueberry pie. I can't make blueberry pancakes," he said with a shake of his head.
"Why not?" Lorelai asked.
"Because the blueberries are already in the pies. Unless you want blueberry pie pancakes, there is no way I can make blueberry pancakes," he said wearily.
"Blueberry pie pancakes?" Lorelai asked dreamily.
"You're getting regular pancakes. And grapefruit," he added.
"I never said anything about grapefruit," she said as he walked away.
"If he brings me grapefruit, I'm making you eat it," Rory told her mother. "That was entirely your fault."
"You'll be thanking me when he breaks down and makes the blueberry pie pancakes," Lorelai said sagely.
Logan had just under two hours to spare, a miracle that he saw as more than fortuitous. He planned to take care of business, in this case better late than never, and even have time to do a little housewarming shopping before meeting his wife for dinner. Even in all the time they'd been together, he had never been sure he would ever end up with a wife.
He stepped purposefully up the stairs to the front porch, but paused before knocking. The hesitation came not from fear of what would greet him, but the knowledge that Rory would have prevented him from being there altogether. He knew that his technicality of obeying her wishes and not showing up while she was there would only get him so far. Even still, a man had to do what he thought was right. As he knocked on the front door, he knew he was doing just that.
Lorelai opened the door, and he watched several emotions pass over her face. In what was clearly a well-practiced maneuver, she wiped them all clear before she spoke. "Logan, hi. You just missed Rory."
He nodded. "I know. She just called me, and we arranged to meet at a restaurant in New Haven for dinner."
Lorelai shifted her weight, but did not budge from blocking the doorway. "I'd ask what's new, but I've just gotten a full update on all things Logan Huntzberger."
"Was it that unpleasant?" he asked, hoping for a shred of acceptance from his mother-in-law.
"Have you ever been forced to eat grapefruit?" she asked.
"Ahh, can't say that I have," he said haltingly, feeling as if a trap were being set. Rory was skilled at such tactics, verbal guerilla warfare, and it didn't take a leap to guess where she'd picked it up.
"Never mind. Listen, Logan, I've been through quite a lot lately, today included, and I'm guessing you came here to see if I'm having a voo-doo doll created in your image or if I'm going to be a friendly face across the Thanksgiving table, am I close?"
He let out a breath. "Actually I came here to let you know that this wasn't the original plan. I bought a ring, and I was going to come home and talk to you and wait until she was done with school."
"That long, huh?" Lorelai asked, clearly of the opinion that even then it would have been too soon, too rushed.
"I love her. More than anything—more than I ever thought I could love anyone or anything."
Lorelai's eyes welled up, if only just a little. "That's what I thought the first time I looked at her."
"I know I'm not your favorite person in the world, and I don't expect to ever be. But I know she is, and I know it would mean the world to her if you are willing to support us. She said you told her that you were happy if she's happy, but I wanted to make sure you knew that I was going to make sure she is happy."
"And you're really prepared to do whatever it takes to make her happy, for the next fifty years of your life?" Lorelai pressed.
"One day at a time," he said.
"Well," Lorelai said, considering his answer. "I promised Rory a long time ago that I would be behind her decisions in life. If that means having you around, then I guess I can live with that," she consented, with a small smile.
"Thank you," he said gratefully.
"You're welcome. Just don't ever, on threat of death, call me Mom."
"How about Lorelai?" he offered.
"Good. Oh, and one other thing. I would never tell Rory how to live her life, I've never done that and while I am always available to give her advice when she asks, I'll refuse to force my opinions on her."
He nodded. He'd seen it in action, the painful months Rory had endured as a result. "I know."
"But for what it's worth I will tell you this: just because the two of you rushed into this particular decision does not mean you can't take your time with all the others."
He caught what he thought was her meaning. "You mean having kids?"
"I just mean give yourselves time for any big change. It takes time to adjust to life changes. Being married isn't something people are instantly good at. It's advice I wish someone would have given me."
"I'll remember that. Thank you, again. I should go—I wanted to get Rory a housewarming gift."
"You found a place?" she asked, perking up.
"I must admit, and if you tell anyone I said this I'll deny it, but if your first act as her husband it to get her out of that crappy apartment, you're setting the right tone as far as I'm concerned."
He couldn't help but smile at the fact she was admitting they had something in common, if just their hate for that crappy apartment. "I'm happy to get her out of there, but it honestly came down to the fact that I cannot fathom living with Paris. Rory must be a saint."
"Don't you ever forget it," Lorelai said as her parting words.