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We're terrible together

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Going to the 5-year reunion had been Paris’s idea. Something about showing off to their “lame, unproductive and unmotivated millennial peers” how successful they’d become. Well, Rory thought, that was all easy for Paris to say. She had graduated from Harvard Med top of the class and was now in her intern year at Mass Gen, and not to mention married, co-owner of a new house with Doyle. Meanwhile Rory… Well, she had an amazing time on the campaign trail, which led to her current stint in D.C. with the Obama administration, which she liked and all because it got her to travel all the time. But it still felt temporary. She still hadn’t found what she really wanted. Christina Amanpour-level success, or whatever it was. Her dreams were getting hazier and hazier by the day.

 

Maybe she was one of those unmotivated peers Paris was talking about.

 

In any case, surprise, surprise; Paris bailed at the last minute due to her hectic call schedule, leaving Rory to fend for herself. It actually turned out to be a good time though. She caught up with Lucy (auditioning for a role on Broadway) and Olivia (running her own art gallery in New York); ran into old friends like Tanna (pursuing a mathematics PhD at MIT), Janet (pregnant in her second trimester and still running marathons), and Glenn (left the news industry for the more lucrative computer programming scene); greeted some people she recognized from her Yale Daily News editorial team (all, reassuringly but also depressingly, nowhere closer to Christina Amanpour fame than she was).

 

One of the more unexpected encounters happened towards the end of the day, when she was refilling her coffee.

 

“My God - is that Rory Gilmore?”

 

Rory nearly dropped her cup at the sound of the familiar Australian accent. She turned around, breaking into a wide smile at the sight of two very familiar faces.

 

“Finn! Colin! What are you doing here? You’re not in my year.”

 

“Why do you think?” said Colin dryly, nodding over at a girl in a dark purple dress by the bar.

 

“Finn, you romantic, you. Not bad. She’s pretty cute.”

 

“She’d be cuter if she agreed to go out with me,” Finn said woefully.

 

Rory laughed. “It’s great to see you guys. Really.” She meant it. These guys were a little much at times, but their wildness and stupidity was somehow endearing. She realized she missed them. She hadn’t seem them since-

 

Her smile faltered a little, and she thought Colin must have seen it. He just offered her a smile though, and gripping Finn, who was craning his neck ogling in the direction of the bar, started to pull away. “Nice seeing you too. I better get this one back to the car before he does something crazy. Bye, Rory.”

 

“Bye, love!” sang Finn.

 

Rory smiled, and the word bye was just at the tip of her tongue. But instead what came out of her mouth was, “Wait!”

 

Colin and Finn paused, looking at her over their shoulders.

 

She cleared her throat, trying to look nonchalant. “H-how is he? Logan?”

 

His name sounded so foreign. She hadn’t spoken it in so long.

 

Colin and Finn looked at each other; there was a graveness to their demeanor. Rory’s pulse quickened. “What? He’s alright, isn’t he?”

 

“He’s okay, Rory. It’s his grandfather. He died last month, and now Logan’s back in London.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yeah, it’s a shame. His company was doing pretty well in California. But- you know, the Huntzbergers were never happy about him giving up the family biz- and now this-”

 

“Of course,” murmured Rory.

 

“He’s okay,” repeated Colin.

 

“He hasn’t run off to Costa Rica again,” said Finn, “so he can’t be that bad, eh?”

 

Rory nodded. She knew there was a lot more that they weren’t saying, but the awkwardness by now was really killing all three of them, so she let them off. “Good luck with the girl, Finn,” she said as farewell.

 

They ambled off, leaving Rory alone with her coffee and her thoughts.

 

-

 

She opened her laptop later that night on her bed, and, biting her nail, logged onto Facebook. In the search bar she typed “Logan Huntzberger.” It was easy to find him. His name wasn’t the most common, and they had about a dozen mutual friends.

 

His profile picture showed him grinning affably, the sun in his face, as he sat on a ledge somewhere with mountains in the backdrop. It could be Norway or Switzerland. He looked like an average joe kind of guy in this picture, not the heir to a multinational newspaper conglomerate, but she thought it suited him. She scrolled through his photos, but there weren’t that many; there was a few of him on the beach in California, one of him in a suit and tie at a conference, some of him goofing off with Colin and Finn in a pub, one of him posing with Honor and Josh. She noted there were none with him and a girlfriend. Not that she would mind if there were. He deserved to be happy. She wanted him to be happy.

 

She hovered over the “friend request” button nervously, and, taking a deep breath, clicked on it. Then she immediately slapped her laptop close.

 

What was she doing? She’d done so well over the last five years. Not even a drunk text that would have her humiliated the next morning (she had deleted his number, that was why). Logan probably still hated her anyway. Actually, she was too vain to assume that. It was more likely he’d forgotten her, and she could just imagine his perplexed, confused expression when he received the alert that she’d added him on Facebook.

 

She was just trying to go back and cancel her request when her computer ping’d. She stared at her screen. Logan had accepted her request.

 

Before she was able to even register that, the Facebook Messenger window popped up. He was messaging her.

 

It was just one word. Hi.

 

Regaining her composure somewhat, she replied, hi.

 

There was a pause. She could imagine him waiting curiously on the other line. She took another deep breath and typed, I’m sorry about your grandfather.

 

A few seconds later, Logan typed back with, Ah, you're kind. Especially considering he was a pretty big asshole to you.

 

She smiled at that. Well, forgiveness is one of my many virtues.

 

That I know.

 

She shifted in her seat, unsure how to respond to that. But then Logan followed with, so, how’d you hear? They write something in The Wall Street Journal? '92-year-old former business tycoon dies in tragic blimp accident?'

 

You would never guess…

 

-

 

If it weren’t for a call from her mom, Rory probably would have slept till two in the afternoon. Bleary-eyed, she struggled to crawl out from her covers and pick up her phone.

 

“Morning daughter dearest,” chirped Lorelai. There was a lot of commotion in the background, a lot of heated yelling. Rory winced and had to hold her phone away from her ear for a moment.

 

“What is going on over there?”

 

“Stars Hollow Tri County Baseball Tournament.”

 

“Since when did we have one?”

 

“Since Taylor created one 'cause Woodbridge was all snooty about beating us at the Pie Fair last year so you know, we have to kick their ass at something. Now he’s trying to get Luke on the team ‘cause Kirk got disqualified after he kind of accidentally - I think accidentally anyway - bat the ball into the Woodbridge guy's groin like Mia did to that annoying jock kid in The Princess Diaries. Hey, you sound tired. You okay?”

 

“Yeah… just slept late yesterday.”

 

“Something for work?”

 

Rory almost told her mom the truth. She told her mom everything. But the thought of her mom’s reaction almost anytime Logan was concerned made her hold back.

 

“Yeah, it was an assignment,” lied Rory. “I just got really into researching for it, and time flew.”

 

“Well don’t die over it, babe.”

 

“I promise to make it till lunch at least.”

 

“Attagirl. Alright, Luke’s about to pop an aneurysm screaming at Taylor right now so I’ll call you later tonight.”

 

“Okay, Mom. Remind Luke not to murder in front of witnesses.”

 

Rory hung up, and looked down at her phone. There was an unread message from Logan. She knew she should stop. They had a good conversation last night and they’d caught up, and any nostalgia should be over. It should be enough just knowing there weren’t any bad feelings between them. It should be enough.

 

But Rory opened the message anyway.

 

-

 

She wasn’t actually new to this being-friends-with-your-ex thing. She was friends with Dean again, even after breaking his heart two times. And she was friends with Jess, the boy who had broken her heart once. So she told herself this wasn’t weird. She was consulting Logan over drafts of her articles now and then, because he knew journalism. And Logan was only texting now and then because he was lonely, probably even depressed in London, even if he would never admit it; she was just his outlet to vent. It wasn’t weird.

 

But that was probably the strangest thing: it didn’t feel weird. It should feel weird, talking to someone who was such a big part of your life once, someone you’d once imagined you would be with for good. Someone you’d ended things with on the most painful, terrible note.

 

But it didn’t feel weird.

 

-

 

It was two weeks later that she mentioned, just on an aside, that she would be in Hamburg to cover the Hamburg Summit between China and Europe in November.

 

And he said hey, he was going too.

 

She stared in disbelief for a moment at her phone. Really?

 

Yeah. The HPC has their eyes on China. They’ve been playing hard to get, apparently.

 

She had a moment of panic. It was one thing just chatting with Logan by phone, safely buffered by an electronic screen and the Atlantic Ocean between them. But seeing him in person again? Should she try to get out of the assignment? Oh, but she was looking forward to it… It’d be dumb to throw away this opportunity just to avoid someone. (And why should she avoid him?)

 

She hesitated just briefly before replying, See you there.

 

-

 

This was why she should avoid him.

 

She knew at once when she saw him walking over, that this was different from Dean or Jess. She did not have the flutter in her stomach or the warmth over her face when she saw them again. An ache in her heart, sure. Stabs of guilt, sure, for how she’d treated them. But with Logan- Rory suddenly felt like she was that stuttering, awkward didn’t-know-where-to-look teenager again. She was wearing her lucky outfit but somehow the confidence boost was not kicking in.

 

“Hey,” she said, trying her best to stay cool.

 

“Hey Rory,” he said.

 

She didn’t know if they should shake hands (weird) or do the European kiss thing (definitely weird), so she just opted to do nothing but nod up and down like a bobblehead and smile. Nice, Gilmore, that snide little voice in her head that often sounded too much like Paris scoffed. Very cool.

 

“So,” she said, crossing her arms (her favorite defense mechanism). “Nice room, huh?”

 

“I don’t see any Velazquez.” He was grinning. God, how did his eyes do that thing. The twinkling thing.

 

“You’re full of references to that dinner at your house. Is that all you remember about me?” Good. She was able to retort somewhat intelligently. She took a deep sip of her wine.

 

“Not at all, Ace.”

 

She couldn’t help but smile. It probably should have made her more uncomfortable to hear that old nickname again, but somehow it was the opposite. She relaxed.

 

“You look good, Logan.”

 

“Thanks. You too. I like you with short hair.”

 

She tucked a few chin-length strands behind her ear. “I had hair this short when I was at Yale, actually. In freshman year I think. So you didn’t know me back then. Oh, probably because that was the year you were sailing around the world and sank your dad’s yacht off of Fiji. Doyle told me.”

 

She was so rambling.

 

And Logan was watching her ramble, smiling, like he did back then. Oh, this was a bad idea. Such a bad idea.

 

“This seat taken?” he gestured at the chair across from her.

 

She should just lie and say, yes, that she’s here with someone, and he would get the hint and give an apologetic nod or smile and walk away. It’d be so simple.

 

But Rory’s stupid heart was saying something different. In the end, her heart won.

 

“All yours,” she said.

 

-

 

She shouldn’t be surprised to wake up in a hotel bed, naked, next to Logan. She was an adult; she knew this was coming from the moment he sat down across from her. But still. Her and Logan. Again. She didn’t move for a while, just stared at his blond hair, thinking back to last night. There was some booze involved, that was for sure, but she couldn’t blame all of it on that. She did want this. It was as if five years really hadn’t passed for her. 

 

He shifted around in his sleep. He looked so peaceful. 

 

She bit her lip, and nudged him a few times.

 

“Hey.” He grinned at her, leaning over to plant a soft kiss. He didn’t seem bothered at all by their situation.

 

“Logan,” she whispered. “Should… we talk about this?”

 

“Talk about this,” he repeated. He raised himself up on his elbows, and she averted her eyes from his midsection. She wanted no distractions.

 

“You know, about what happened.”

 

“Well, it wasn’t a mistake, if that’s what you’re saying,” he said. “At least, not for me.”

 

Logan was always so direct. She wished she could be like that sometimes. “I- um, I was thinking…” She floundered for words. It was very difficult to formulate speech when you’re fighting the urge to make out with the man in your bed.

 

A ringtone cut her short. It was Logan’s phone. Logan glanced at it and groaned.

 

“Mitchum. I swear-”

 

“You should get that,” she said.

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yeah, I’ll wait.” It bought her time to sort through her feelings.

 

He picked up his BlackBerry, pulling on his shorts. “Yes… I know. I’ll have the documents to you… No, Dad. I know what I’m doing. Yes. I will be back in London tonight. No? Then why-? Look… I can’t leave now…

 

He stood at the window, pulling his hair and sounding frustrated. Rory only caught more bits and pieces of the conversation, but it was enough. Enough for any excitement to fade, replaced by the harsh disappointment of reality. It was too clear that despite whatever feelings she still had for Logan, this was a mistake. He was back working for his father now; back with his family, where he belonged, maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, but it was his family. He had his obligations. As much as she disliked Mitchum and Shira Huntzberger, she couldn’t stand between them and their son, again. They thought she wasn’t good enough for Logan back then; there was no reason for them to have changed their mind. After rejecting him once, she didn't think she deserved for them to think any differently.

 

She reached for her clothes.

 

“Rory?” Logan was watching her, done with his call. She couldn’t look at him. He might see she was close to tears, and she didn’t want to see the hurt in his face.

 

“Listen… I didn’t realize how late it was. I have to go. My flight…”

 

His pause was only a few seconds too long. “Let me get you a cab,” he said.

 

She was glad for her bangs; it gave her some cover as she grabbed her bag. “I’m good,” she said. “I have change on me. Thanks… thanks. I’m sorry.”

 

“Rory.”

 

She gave in and looked up at him. He was standing very close to her, his brown eyes looking into hers. She was afraid he was going to say something like I love you, because that would crush all her resolve, but instead he gently wrapped his arms around her. And she didn’t pull away. She allowed herself this hug.

 

“Safe flight,” was all he said.

 

-

 

It should have been a clean break. But, because Rory was very, very bad at all things involving her love life, it wasn’t.

 

Somehow they continued to text. Text pretty soon became calls, time difference be damned. Rory moved from D.C. to New York. She picked up a few part-time columnist jobs for some human interest publications. She traveled less than before, but when she did end up in Brussels or Lyon he always found time in his tight schedule to meet, and vice versa on the occasions he came to the East Coast for business. The mistakes just kept happening. Every time, she told herself it would be the last, but then something would go wrong at work and she’d be texting him, and the cycle continued. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him to break this off. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him she still had feelings for him, either. Maybe he understood some of this, because he never pushed her, never brought up anything. It was as if they had some unwritten rule not to discuss what they were doing, what this was turning into.

 

She didn’t realize it had already been three whole years of this, until her mom commented one day on her “dry spell.” And she realized, with a start, that even though she sometimes forgot, what she and Logan had was not (couldn’t be) a relationship.

 

In one vodka-enriched night of gusto she decided to download a dating app.

 

That was how she met Paul. Sweet, but bland, boring Paul. He was predictable, safe, and had an equally unremarkable family who loved Rory. He was… uncomplicated.

 

She told Logan about Paul. It was a mean and cowardly move, but it turned out not to matter. Logan only said he was happy for her.

 

Their what’s-this-thing continued anyway.

 

She shouldn’t be surprised at all when a few months later he told her about his engagement. She had relinquished her right to him, after Paul, that day in Hamburg and probably way before on her graduation. She shouldn’t feel hurt or possessive, but she did. She Googled his fiancee’s name for three hours instead of working on her current assignment. And all she said to him was, she was happy for him.

 

Their what’s-this-thing continued anyway.

 

One day in Munich she told Logan, a little tipsy, “We’re terrible people.”

 

“But we’re terrible together,” he said.