Trial of Error
Chapter Six: Reality Bites Back
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 kept her eyes closed, but felt increasingly foolish the longer she let Logan lead her by the hand on the streets of New Haven. It'd been two blocks since they parked and got out, at which point he instructed her to show good faith and took her hand to help her out of the car and navigate the sidewalk.
"Are we close?"
"Very close," he assured her, still pulling her along as she stepped lightly and quickly in her high heels toward the unknown destination.
"If I'd known we were going for a walk, I'd have worn walking shoes."
"If you're done complaining, we're going inside. You can navigate stairs without looking, can't you?"
"Stairs? What restaurant is this again?"
"You ask a lot of questions for someone who is supposed to trust me," he answered.
She pressed her lips together and followed his lead across the threshold of a doorway. "I smell coffee."
"Of course you do," he said with laughter in his voice. "You're like a bloodhound for coffee beans."
"It's not that I would turn down coffee, but I've had a lot today, and I haven't eaten much. My mother made Luke mad and he kept bringing us fruit instead of meat."
"One more flight and you can rest and eat whatever you like."
"I need red meat," she complained.
"I can put you on my shoulder and carry you the rest of the way if this is a matter of weakness."
She would have rolled her eyes had they been open. "I can make it. You're sure it's not too much longer?"
"We're here," he informed her.
"I can open my eyes?" she asked with excitement as they came to a stop.
"Hang on," he said, putting a key into the lock.
"Did you buy a restaurant?"
He laughed. "I know my career options are open, but I'll let you know before I make any big decisions in that regard. Open your eyes."
Rory did as instructed, taking in the view that the open door offered her. "Where are we?"
He extended his arm out toward the dining table that was set with food, in an otherwise sparse space. "Welcome home."
"Home?" she echoed.
"I should carry you across, shouldn't I?" he asked.
"I thought we were having dinner," she said, ignoring his question.
"And I thought I'd surprise you by having dinner in our new apartment."
"Logan, it's," she began, trying to come up with anything other than the descriptor of small. She didn't need a big place, especially given that she had little furniture of her own, but it was definitely small and nothing like any apartment she expected he'd select.
"Let me tell you more about our new home. It's above a coffee shop. It's in the heart of a ton of restaurants and shops, and it's just a few blocks from campus—walking distance if you're fed and not wearing those heels. There's a parking lot for tenants in the back. It's not a garage, but it's dedicated. And I know it's small, but that makes it cheap."
She couldn't believe her eyes or her ears. "So this is our kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom?" she asked as she looked around the big open room.
"There is a door to the bathroom," he supplied. "You can go in."
She stepped out of the hall and looked around. The kitchen appliances were in place, and looked functional enough, especially with her penchant for take-out and quick meals. The dining room set he'd put in was small, a bistro table meant for two, but it would allow for more important pieces like a good-sized bed on the far wall and a couch and desk to be added. "Are you sure you won't mind the cramped living quarters? You can't be used to sharing this kind of space with someone. Your family had personal boundaries, I bet. I've seen your house; you practically had your own wing growing up."
"That was my father's house. This is mine, for now," he answered easily.
She leaned into his shoulder with hers. "I knew I smelled coffee."
"I knew you'd like that part, having that downstairs. And you have to admit, sharing a confined space with me is far more enticing than having your own bedroom across from Paris' room."
"I admit, it might have its benefits. I'm amazed that you found anything at all, let alone something that matched my whole list of desirable qualities."
He nodded to the table. "I thought you were hungry."
"I am," she said, turning in toward him and pressing her lips to his. He caught her weight as she leaned into him, intensifying the kiss. She grazed his cheek and nuzzled his earlobe. "There's no bed."
"I don't need a bed," he said, his words rushed out on an exhale. He flipped her around so her back was to the wall and eased her to it. "Not tonight."
"Where will we sleep?" she asked, what she thought was a reasonable question.
"I'm capable of roughing it on the floor, if you're there next to me. Tomorrow we'll go test out every mattress in the store."
"I have classes."
"We'll go after. I can pick our apartment by myself, but the average person spends a third of their lives in bed, and I think we might trend a little higher, so it's important we pick it out together."
"That's a lot of time in bed," she noted, as his lips returned to her skin, and his tongue ran along her collarbone.
"Well-spent time," he said, not needing to convince her with words as she practically melted into the wall behind her at his touch.
Clothes were shed effortlessly and she had only one other decorating tip as her breath became labored. "Before we get a bed, we should probably put up some window coverings," she said, indicating the adjoining floor-to-ceiling windows on the opposite wall. It made for a lovely view out their dining area, but left little in the way of protection for their current state.
"I'll just kill the lights," he said, reaching out for the wall panel. The light shifted from overhead to spilling in from outside, leaving them in streams and shadows. Her eyes adjusted to the shift, the transition made easier by the tactile cues of his body that were long-since known to her.
"Are we really going to sleep on the floor?"
He chuckled into her hair. "We could go back to your bed."
She shook her head. "Paris needs some time to … adjust to the news."
"It went that well, huh?" he asked.
"She's sure that you tricked me into this somehow."
"I guess asking Paris to believe in the power of love is asking too much, isn't it?"
"Asking Paris to bank on any human emotion other than rage is a recipe for failure. At least Mom was supportive."
"Did you tell Lorelai that you were drunk?" he posed.
She shook her head. "No. I didn't want her to think I viewed this as a mistake. I may not remember much, but I don't want to set it up for failure by prefacing the story with that kernel."
"It's okay to admit it's a risk. That's true of any marriage," he said. "I could hurt you or you could hurt me, but we're aspiring to something bigger than all that."
"We're aspiring to greatness?" she asked.
"I'm aspiring to greatness right now," he assured her, shifting his position slightly and making her fully aware of his meaning. He gave her no reason to doubt him that night.
She woke up sore. Her limbs ached and her back was less forgiving. She squinted at the sunlight pouring in the uncovered windows and noted that the hardwood floors were newly polished. They were not, however, comfortable.
"Logan," she said, her elbow prodding his ribs. "Get up."
He grunted, clearly not as eager to get off the floor as she was. His forehead was pressed down into his forearm, which at least offered muscle as padding she supposed, but she couldn't see how that would be much of a help against the hard wood.
"Seriously. You need to get up and be in line when the mattress stores open. I don't even care if you get a frame, just something other than this floor. Or move my twin mattress from Paris', if she hasn't put attack dogs at the door. Maybe a nice camping mat would suffice, even, but get something while I'm in class."
He blew out a breath, not indicating having heard a word she'd said.
"I heard you, Ace. I got very little sleep last night, so I'd appreciate a few minutes of extra rest before you send me out shopping."
"Says the man who doesn't have to sit through two hours of the most boring philosophy lecture ever unleashed on undergraduates. I swear that man's voice should be used as a white noise generator. It makes me tired even when I'm rested. I might as well skip and nap in the library. Oh, man, just thinking of those comfy chairs in the back makes me ready for a nice catnap."
"My wallet's in my pants, over there somewhere. Get enough cash to keep you running on caffeine all day. Just leave my credit cards, so I can get a bed. I'll do rush delivery. I have no need to face Paris, and no offense, but your mattress is too soft anyway, not to mention it's too small."
She looked at him. "You don't like my mattress?"
He gave her a sleepy smile. "Is that a problem?"
She felt indignant, though it wasn't to be classified as a true problem. "You've never complained about it before."
He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him. "Because I would rather sleep with you than worry about my mattress needs. I think I proved that last night," he said, knocking on the floor with his knuckles.
"I do like the apartment though. Did I tell you that last night?"
He kissed her arm. "You were appreciative of a great many things last night."
"I don't want to go to class. I want to go with you, if only to reacquaint my back with back support."
He shook his head. "No way. You finish school, no matter what, remember? That includes going to all your classes, no matter how boring the professor is."
She sighed. "Yeah, I know. So what else is on your to-do list today?"
He stretched stiffly. "Let's see. Job hunting, calling my landlord to end my lease in New York, and calling movers to pack up my apartment."
She froze momentarily. "When you say it all like that, it makes it sound real."
His hand ran over her arm. "It is real."
She nodded and kissed him as he leaned in toward her, but her thoughts were racing away from her. Panic swept through her, but she remained as calm as she could outwardly. "I should go shower. I'm hoping some hot water will loosen up my back."
"Go. I'll jump in after you leave," he said, rolling onto his arm again.
She looked at him, laying on the hard floor for a second before pushing herself upright to make for the bathroom. She hoped that after a good hot shower she'd feel calm again. She wasn't sure what had triggered the freak out, but she was operating on the idea that it was normal and it would pass. She just hoped it went as fast as it had come.
Lorelai blinked at first, as if trying to adjust to the image before her. "Um, hi. Why are you here?"
"I had time between classes," Rory said off-handedly.
"Enough time to drive here and back?"
"The next class is just a discussion with a TA."
"You love those," Lorelai pointed out.
"Yeah, well, this TA is kind of an idiot. He has no understanding of symbolism, and I always get a headache after arguing with him for fifty minutes."
"So this is about your annoying TA and nothing to do with the fact that you're a newlywed?"
Rory chewed at her bottom lip. "It's a little weird. Being married."
"Yes, it's definitely weird," Lorelai agreed. "Being married, not your being married. Well, okay, let's go with both being a little weird for me. Being married was weird and you being married, both weird."
Rory frowned. "But not at first, right? You were happy at first, with Dad."
Lorelai cringed. "Don't do that."
"Compare the two situations. They are nothing alike," Lorelai assured her. "Trust me."
"We both eloped," Rory stated.
"Yes, but, we eloped because I was nervous, and it was your dad, and he's always had this way of talking to me that makes me want to believe him, even when I know he's just," she cut off, not wanting to expound the point. "He's your dad. I love him, because I've always loved him and he contributed to your existence, and we had to try. It was going to happen at some point."
"Because you always wondered what it would be like?" Rory asked.
Lorelai nodded. "Of course I did. How could I not, given our history? And even though I always said it would have been a mistake, part of me hoped I was wrong. But you and Logan, that's different. You don't have this long, complicated history and a kid, and all that baggage. You're just young and impetuous and in love. That's romantic."
"We are young, though," Rory agreed.
"Well, you're not sixteen," Lorelai said. "You're both legal adults."
"Yes, but I'm not done with school. He's soon-to-be unemployed. We don't even have a bed yet."
Lorelai frowned and grabbed Rory's arm, dragging her out of the kitchen of the Dragonfly Inn and out the back door to the grounds. "You're freaking out."
"Of course I'm freaking out! I'm married, Mom!"
"You were fine yesterday! What happened? Did you talk to his parents? Were they mean?"
Rory shook her head. "No, he found an apartment and we had dinner there, and we slept on the floor."
"That's worse than camping," Lorelai commented with distaste.
"Yeah. But in the morning, we were sort of planning our day, and he said he would get a bed in there, and look for jobs, and have his apartment in New York packed up."
"Sounds reasonable, given the circumstances. Why don't you just use one of the two beds you have now?"
"Apparently my bed is too soft and small and he has this thing about not bringing big pieces of furniture with him when he moves."
"Luke would appreciate that," Lorelai mused.
"He's packing up his whole life and moving it into our tiny little apartment."
"He got you a tiny apartment? Mr. Lap of Luxury himself?"
"He got what I asked for," she said resolutely.
Lorelai smiled. "Good for him."
"Mom, big picture. He's moving his whole life for me."
"He's your husband. I think that qualifies as normal behavior for husbands. Well, good ones, anyway."
Rory covered her eyes with her hands. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and I'll be back in my room at Paris', waiting for him to come back into town so we can fight about him blowing off Lane's shower. I really thought we might break up for good, you know?"
Lorelai didn't look like she knew at all. "But instead you got married?"
"He was being so evasive, and I was so tired of trying to support him while biting my tongue. He was driving me crazy, so crazy that I couldn't stop obsessing over it. I wasn't in my right mind when I went to Vegas."
"I know you were upset then, but you two worked it out, obviously, or why else would you have said yes when he proposed?"
Rory leaned back against the fence. "I don't know."
"What does that mean, you don't know? You can't remember?" she asked, clearly not serious about the suggestion.
Rory met her mother's eyes. "I don't. I can't, not yet. The more I try to focus on it, the less get."
Lorelai looked stricken. "Why don't you remember?"
"I might have had a few drinks, to calm myself while I was waiting for Logan to show up at his hotel."
"Tell me you're kidding."
Rory shook her head silently, though her sheepish expression said enough.
"You don't remember him proposing, at all?"
"All I remember is him getting me a bouquet, before we had the ceremony."
Rory nodded. "That's it. It's more than I remembered the next morning."
"Rory," Lorelai said, incapable of scolding her or laughing at her, though both seemed appropriate.
"I know, okay? I know how crazy it is and that it might not work, but I promised him that we'd give this a shot."
"You promised him? So, he's the one that wanted to stay married after your got drunk and wound up legally bound to one another?"
"He was sober that night, and he's been so supportive this whole time. I couldn't say no, because obviously some part of me wanted to marry him, or I wouldn't have, even when I was that drunk. And I love him, so we agreed to try this for a month, for real."
"So you're only married for a month?" Lorelai asked, utterly confused at the complication Rory had thrown her way.
"No, we're married for good, but we're not considering an out for at least a month."
"An out being an annulment?" Lorelai supplied.
"Yes. I can't tell you how shocked I was, when I woke up and realized what we'd done, and he wasn't immediately on the phone with his lawyers, trying to sort this out."
"It does seem to be his M.O.," she agreed.
"He's taking this really seriously, at least he seems like he is. He's done this one-eighty, in terms of focus on his whole life. And most of it is aimed at me."
Suddenly it all made sense to Lorelai. "Which has sent you into panic mode."
"He can't build his life around me! I'm this mass of undecided options. School's not done, and I have all these avenues I'm exploring, and I don't know what I want my life to look like in three months."
"Including being married to him?"
"I'm an awful person. I want to be as sure as he is, I do. I owe him that much at least."
"Are you sure he's not just putting up a good front for you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, isn't it possible that he's freaking out on some level? Or will soon?"
"He did say he's good in times of crisis, and that he tends to react after the fact," she said, slowly nodding with her mother's logic.
"There you go. He's probably just as wigged out as you are, on some level. You're not alone in this. And hey, a month is nothing in the grand scheme of life. You've been living with Paris for how long now? Surely you can manage another month with Logan. You liked living with him before he left for London."
Rory nodded, her thoughts filled with her mother's reasoning. "I don't mind living with him. I've missed it, honestly."
"See? This isn't exactly the same as just living together, but it's not all that different. And you have to give him credit for being so supportive of all this. He's not exactly the marrying kind."
"He's really not. The fact that he'd already bought a ring before he knew I was in town says a lot; I know he wants this to work. I know he loves me."
"Did you at least let him know that you're freaking out before you came all the way out here?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Because you're married. That's how it works. You have to be honest with him about how you're feeling, good and bad. I guess that's where it comes in handy to remember your vows, but my point is that if you don't tell him what's going on with you then there's no way for him to help you through it. Remember how upset you were with him at the shower, because things were going south for him at work and you found out after the fact? You were mad because you thought you could have at least helped him in some way, but he didn't talk about any of it. It's a two-way street," Lorelai advised.
"You learned a lot about marriage in a short time," Rory noted.
"Yeah, well, it was a real learning experience. Not a successful one, but if we can't learn from our mistakes, then we're screwed, right?"
"I'm going to be a terrible wife."
Lorelai tsked and shook her head. "Hey, you can do anything you put your mind to. If you want to be a good wife, then you will be. All it takes is time and energy, and probably a drawer full of lingerie."
"Any other pearls of wisdom for me before I head back to New Haven?"
"I wouldn't mention the drunken nuptials to his folks. Or mine," she added.
"That I actually figured out on my own, as inept at all the rest of this marriage thing as I am."
"I'm here, if you need anything else," Lorelai said, giving her a parting hug.
"Thanks. I'll see you Friday?"
"I'll be there," she promised. "For better or worse."
"I'm home," she called out in the apartment as she opened the door, which seemed overkill given the size of the space. Nothing had changed in the time she'd been gone, save for he was now seated at the table, fully dressed instead of lying semi-nude on the floor. His cell phone was on the table and the paper was open in front of him.
He smiled up at her. "How was your day?"
"Honestly?" she asked, putting her bag on the floor and sitting in the empty chair. "School was fine, but I was a little freaked out this morning, and I was having trouble shaking the feeling, so I made a little detour between classes."
He sat up straighter. "What kind of detour?"
"I went to see Mom."
"Yeah. I didn't tell her the nature of everything that happened between us before, and I'm sorry I didn't keep it between us, but I didn't know how to tell you that I was freaking out. You're being so wonderful about everything, but I just needed her to know what was really going on."
"You don't have to be sorry for talking to your mom, or for freaking out."
"Really?" she asked with relief.
"I get that this is a huge change. I know we lived together before, but that just felt like you adding some of your stuff to mine. This is a whole different prospect, us getting all our stuff together, and starting over."
"Exactly! I mean, I always kind of felt like I was staying with you, not that you ever made me feel like I was a guest, but it felt like a temporary solution. This is a decision we're making, to combine our lives. I know I should have talked to you about it, but Mom was really helpful. She was actually pretty insightful about the way marriage works."
He hesitated. "In the nature of full disclosure, you're not the only one that went to see your mom about our marriage without telling the other."
"You went to see her?"
He nodded. "Yesterday, after you left Stars Hollow. I know you didn't want me to come with you, and I get why. But I wanted to make sure she knew that this wasn't all on you."
"That's sweet, in sort of a misguided way. You didn't need to do that."
"I did. I'm kind of taking you from her, in essence."
She didn't argue. "I promise from now on I'll come to you first with my concerns."
"I appreciate that," he said with a smile. "Are you still freaking out?"
"I might feel better after a good night's sleep. Did you order a mattress?"
"It'll be here by six, which gives them just over an hour to get here."
"My hero," she said, getting up to check the fridge. "Hey, you shopped."
"I like to keep food in the house, remember?"
"Yes, I do seem to remember about you," she said, pulling out a bottle of water. "Any job leads?"
"Nothing concrete. I set up a meeting with this guy for next week. He wanted to do it sooner, but I told him I had a lot going on and I wanted to officially resign before I could get into negotiations with anyone else."
"Where does this guy work?" she inquired as she sat back down.
"At a tech start-up in California."
She paused mid-sip. "California?"
"It's just a meeting. He's going to be on the east coast next week, so he's fitting me in. I'm not going anywhere, not yet. But if it goes well, you can get a little sun while I check out the scene because that would take a couple of days."
"You'd consider living in California?" she posed.
"You wouldn't?" he asked in return.
"I've never thought about it. It's really far away from here," she said.
"You've grown up wanting to be an international correspondent. By definition that's having a desire to live really far away from here."
"California's not international," she defended, "and besides, you can be based out of New York and cover stories all over the world. It's just travel. I love to travel."
"Which is why I thought you would consider living somewhere new for a little while. We don't have to be tied permanently to any place if we don't want to be. If my job takes us to California for a while, yours might take us to Japan next, and after that, who knows?"
"You wouldn't mind hopping around like that, not having a true home base?"
"Not as long as we're together. I'm always up for a new adventure," he said amicably.
She was still feeling side-swiped. "I've never been to California."
"It's just a meeting. It might not even warrant a visit out there."
She tried to consider the positive in the situation. "But if it does, I'll go with you. It might be the perfect timing to get away, after everyone finds out."
He grinned. "How did your mom take it, the fact that you were drunk in Vegas?"
"She was cool about it. I thought she'd at least mock me mercilessly, but she talked me down from the ledge. I know I shouldn't invite trouble, but I didn't expect everyone to be so on board with this. Even you," she said.
"You thought I'd be quick to get rid of you?" he asked dubiously.
"I wasn't sure what was going on with us recently. I knew I didn't like it, but I wasn't sure how to bring us back to where we used to be."
He gazed at her with pensive reserve. "And now?"
"Now? Logan, you're the model husband. In fact, if you don't start throwing your socks on the floor or leaving the toilet seat up, I'm going to assume you're a pod person."
That drew a chuckle from him. "I promise, as soon as my clothes get here, I will start leaving them on the floor. But we don't have much floor space, so remember you asked me to miss the hamper."
"I'm just asking for a little imperfection. You're making me look bad."
"You could never look bad," he said, standing up to sidle up next to her. "Trust me on that."
"You're sure you don't want to reserve your judgment for, I don't know, about a month or so?" she asked, bringing up their only buffer.
"I've known you for a long time, Ace. My mind's made up."
"The month was your idea," she said, as her notion of his ideology and his actions clashed.
"I didn't suggest the month for my benefit," he said slowly, as if not to startle her further.
"Then why? So you could tell your father that you were taking it seriously?" she guessed.
"No, it has nothing to do with my father at all," he argued firmly.
"Then what made you put that out there?"
"For you," he said emphatically. "I made the offer for you. I could see how freaked out you were, Rory. It was plain that your first instinct was to undo it, but I couldn't let you do that. Not after the night we had, not without you remembering what had happened between us first."
"Then help me, Logan. Jog my memory, if you're so upset with my not being able to remember every last detail," she said, feeling put on the spot.
"I don't want it to come from me. I know you trust me; I know that whatever I tell you, you'll believe, and I appreciate that more than you know. But I told you before, I don't want it to come from me. I don't want to tell you how you feel about me. Honestly, I'm hoping it doesn't take a month. I hope you wake up tomorrow and remember me asking you to marry me, that you remember what went through your mind before you answered me, and you remember that in spite of all the reasons it might have been a bad idea to act hastily we decided to act in favor of our happiness. I want you to remember the way you looked at me after we kissed at the officiant's urging. Of course I want all that, and of course I'm upset that you can't."
She groaned and stood, turning in a circle in their small dining area. "You think I don't want the same things? It's killing me, to see you so certain about this based on events that I was a part of and can't recall. I know we were in the same place before Vegas, weren't we?"
His voice was rough. "I really don't think we were."