A/N: Thank you for your patience, and a huge shoutout to my amazing beta. In the process of wrapping up this fic and tying it all together, its nice to see how much character growth both R&L has done (IMO, anyways). But, yes, they are still infuriating.


December 2017

New York

Viola dropped her huge diaper bag next to Rory, while trying to elegantly fish the baby out of the carrier, before setting her on the floor. "So next Wednesday night, I need you. Tell me you're not busy."

"I'm not sure, why?" Rory lowered the camera aimed at Aiden, who was busy zooming and crashing his bobby car into practically anything.

"Elise's birthday. At our house. We're having friends AND family over. I haven't had guests over for over a year, my house is a mess, and I'm completely out of my depth with birthday ideas." The redhead started taking out her breastfeeding cover, suddenly looking at Rory, "What did you do for Aiden's?"

"We had a bouncy castle."

"Uff." Viola huffed in frustration, "Why couldn't she be born in the summer so we can throw the party outside?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something?" Rory offered, her eyes closely tracking the boy who abandoned playing with the car, and moved towards the low miniature climbing wall.

The first time he approached the wall Rory had tried to steer him away. She was scared he'd fall and break his neck. He was too small for that. But Aiden insisted, repeatedly pointing at the small wall and chanting the only word that smoothly flowed out of his mouth: "Daddy."

Logan must have taught him to climb because the boy demonstrated some skill and agility.

"Hey, do you want to be our DA Pennebaker? Greg's dad always comes with his video camera, but we actually need someone sober to do photography. I just realized we have no family photos with the little one."

"I guess I could set my crack pipe aside for the afternoon and do that. I just have to check with Logan."

"Oh that would be great! Thanks! Let me just update the guest list," Viola opened her Notes app on her iPhone, "You plus one, right?"

"Plus one?" Rory tore her eyes away from the boy who was moving up the wall with the confidence and speed of a natural. Or like he had plenty of practice.

"You plus Logan?" Viola explained obviously. "I don't count kids."

"No, just me." Rory corrected.

"Okay!" Viola typed the info into her app cheerfully.

"As long as you're prying –"

"I wasn't." Viola was slightly taken aback.

"To make a long story short, Logan and I are not talking right now."

"Ah."

"We had a fight. A big one." Rory kept her gaze on her active boy who with every passing day reminded her more of his father. She didn't know why, or what compelled her to elaborate. Rory hasn't known the woman for long, so up until now, Rory just let Logan's colleague assume. "In June. I think we just needed a little break, at least I did. It's more like a hiatus."

A very long, legally messy hiatus. Things escalated so fast.

Viola took the unexpected revelation in stride.

"Well, sometimes a break is good." She offered gently, reaching to squeeze her hand in solidarity.

"Sometimes." Rory half-heartedly agreed, a faint, yet grateful smile forming on her face. It was refreshing to have someone understanding to confess to.

~W~


"I've come bearing gifts." Colin placed a manila envelope on top of the coffee shop table.

Rory looked suspiciously at the high-quality paper with the law firm logo stamped on it. She was starting to regret agreeing to meet with Logan's friend.

"What is it?"

"A time machine," Colin lifted his gloved hand, nudging the envelope towards her.

The irony is not lost on her.

"Shouldn't any legal correspondence go through my fancy-shmancy lawyer, who happens to be warming your bed?" Rory replied sarcastically, the typed print on the paper blurring in front of her eyes.

Logan dropped the lawsuit.

"Crass. Her office is saving on courier fees." Colin dismissed her snarky response with ease, "Clever move recruiting Mitchum. Sometimes I'm absolutely positive you never listen to good advice, and then you turn around and do something like that. You sure do know what makes the boy tick." Colin whistled in appreciation, "Color Ben and me impressed."

Rory inserted the official document back into its envelope. Trying to mentally stop her hands from sweating.

"I'll file it under big life accomplishment on my resume,"

Colin looked at her with his usual amused expression, "You should. Ben is not your biggest fan these days. Let me tell you."

Rory expected that from Ben. Ben was die-hard Team Logan, no matter what. But Colin, so it seemed, was batting for both sides. Though she still didn't completely trust his intentions.

"Well, you did, and now you can be on your way."

"Just water, thank you." Colin took his gloves off, and flagged down a passing waitress's attention. Apparently she was in for another sit down chat. "Logan was just twisting your arm, you know. If he really wanted to set the law-dogs on you, he wouldn't have dragged it out."

Rory looked skeptical.

"It took him twelve hours to ask for a divorce." Colin clearly alluded to Chelsea.

"Is he seeing her?" She asks directly. Finding this to be the perfect opportunity to set the record straight.

Colin looked at her as if she fell off the moon, but Rory was dead serious. "Do you even know what clause 14D is?"

Rory wasn't in the mood for more riddles. "I don't care. It was petty."

"Monday night dinners." Colin smooths the wet mark the glass of sparkling water left, "I think that's quite telling of who he wants to be seeing. Don't you?"

"Well, he's got a funny way of showing it."

~W~


"Then the sad truth hit me in the face -" Finn paused dramatically at the end of his 'I'm-trying-to-discipline-my-daughters' anecdote. "We all become our dads. Besides Colin that is. Colin becomes one of his stepmoms."

"Your envy of my exciting sex life is unbecoming, Finn. That's what you get when you don't have kids." Colin wasn't too bothered, "I'm not their stepdad; I'm just the cool guy who wines and dines their mother."

"Cool," Finn snorted, not even bothering to hide how far removed Colin was from the definition of cool. "Wining and dining is just a euphemism for 'fucking'."

"You bought them alcohol, didn't you?" Logan asked knowingly.

"I call," Colin announced in his play, "It was a bet; he beat me at Nintendo."

"Were you punished?" Finn wondered cheekily. "I'll have you know, Mr. Stepmom. You can have kids and conduct a fulfilling and exciting sex life." Finn threw some chips into the center, "I call and raise. Back me up here Logan."

"You turn to this guy for backup? The only companion Logan keeps these days comes in the form of Rita-Lin." Colin bit back, taking a dig at Logan's renewed pill popping habits while at it.

"Nice one," Finn grinned.

"Your concern has been noted. Now are we playing or not?" Logan said, "Hit me, Colin."

"We're playing, we're playing." Finn assured restlessly, before jumping off his chair, "Let me just change the music. I can't listen to that whiny dude anymore, Logan."

"It's called blues, Finn."

"Yeah, yeah, enough blues going around here. We need something more groovy… turn it up a notch." The Australian flipped through the variety of records in his friend's collection, "When does food get here?"

"Don't know."

Colin stood too, heading to the bar to grab a refill, "The bottle is dry."

"Now that's what I'm talking about!" The soul music started streaming The Commitments' soundtrack through the speakers, "I love that soundtrack."

"Keep it down, he's sleeping."

"That kid can sleep through an earthquake. Nothing ever wakes him up." Finn waved the overprotective father off.

"You cannot be out of Wild Turkey." Colin was, safe to say, outraged that his drink of choice was unavailable.

Logan wasn't too bothered, "I've got everything else under the sun. Pick one and stop your nagging."

Finn barely sat down before the doorbell chimed, "Food! Just in time!"

xx

"Lost your key, love?" Finn was the last person Rory expected to answer the door at this time of night.

She did have a key, Logan never asked her to return it - she chose not to use it.

The grinning presence of the charming Australian turned down the fire under her engine. She would have liked to remain angrier than she currently felt. In the background she could hear Logan and Colin conducting an argument as the Australian moved out of the way silently.

"You cannot be out of Wild Turkey."

"No matter how many times you tell me I cannot be out, it doesn't change the fact that I'm out." Logan turned from his argument to Finn's general direction and his company. For just a moment, she could swear, he lost his cool at the unexpected sight of her, "Hi."

"Hi." Rory stiffly greeted the men around the poker table.

Poker night, the second Wednesday of the month. Terrible timing. And an audience. The room was set up with all the necessary implements, music was playing. Rory recognized the beginning of the Otis Redding cover.

"Hey, Rory." Colin greeted too happily, breaking the momentary tension, "Get yourself a drink! Anything but Wild Turkey."

"I'm okay. Can we…" She refused, using her eyes to gesture away from the group at Logan, who kept himself busy sorting his chips and nursing his choice of scotch. Not Wild Turkey, obviously. "In private?"

For some reason, Rory half expected a round of childish wolf-whistles from his two friends as she waited for his answer, but it never came.

"I'm getting the sense that the woman of the house had no idea we were going to be here?" Colin observed the tension between the two ex-lovers. Yet, Logan didn't seem to be in any rush to correct this misconception.

"Okay that we're here, love?" Finn asked.

"Of course it's okay." Logan finally spoke.

"Logan, I haven't called you 'love' since that sultry night in Bimini." Finn, again, almost managed to put a smile on Rory's face. It did win a small, amused one from Logan.

She didn't want to know.

"It's his place. It's fine that you're here." She didn't live here anymore, yet she knew exactly where everything laid out. She knew where they'd be least overheard. Rory gestured towards the home office stiffly, "Can we?"

Rory Gilmore didn't wait for an answer, her hips swaying away, leaving him no choice but to follow.

"Mate," Finn threw more chips into the pile in the middle once he took his seat back, "I think you're in trouble."

"I fold. Don't stop on my account," Logan mumbled, placing his cards face down before rising.

"Try a little tenderness, okay?" Colin advised his friend.

"Squeeze her, don't tease her, never leave her, You've got, You've got.." Finn hummed faintly along with the tune playing in the background, ignoring Colin's disapproving glare.

"Shut up, Finn." Logan threw the off comment over his shoulder before following the mother of his child into the other room.

"I'll have you know, you're really getting good at the parental thingie, Colin." The exotic commended the lawyer once they were left alone with their game. "Are they going to kiss and make up?"

The lawyer snorted skeptically, "Oh, he wishes."

Finn shifted the cards in his hand, "Five grand they fuck and make nice before New Year's?"

"I call and double your bet.."

xx

"We agreed." The camera swayed dangerously as she turned, once the door softly clicked behind Logan's back. Shutting them away from the band of men in the living room. "We agreed Christmas was mine."

She's mad. He doesn't know what she's mad about. Apparently Christmas, but he's at a loss to know why.

"It is."

"Here." Rory waved the small rectangular piece of paper at him, "Take it."

Logan's hands remained at his sides. "What's that?"

"That is a check."

"Are you buying my silence or something?" He wondered.

"No." She answered curtly, straightening her back with fake confidence, "I don't appreciate being taken care of. So I'm paying you back every cent. Take it."

She waved the currency more fiercely at him.

Logan didn't follow. "Taken care of?"

"I'm not your charity case, Logan. I don't need you to pay my legal fees, I can pay my own way."

"I didn't pay your legal fees." He's even more confused now, looking at the figure written on the check. She didn't look as if she believed him. "Honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't make any payment on your behalf."

He knows better than that. Money was a sensitive issue. Rory's touchiness on the subject, and her insistence on refusing it, has only gotten worse since she broke things off.

"Don't play coy, Logan." Rory's anger is ready to blow, "She said Mr. Huntzberger paid my bill."

Logan's features went from confused to understanding. It's the same expression that graces his face when he solves the mystery in a thriller movie or the weekend crossword.

"I'm going to kill him." Logan muttered under his breath, fingers pinching at the bridge of his nose, "Been talking to any other Huntzbergers lately?"

The way he suggests it tells her that he knows what she's been up to.

"Um.." She feels caught.

And Huntzbergered.

"There's a reason, Rory. There's always been a reason why I made sure to exclude you from any Huntzberger obligations. My family never had any access to this," He points between them, "Until you gave it to them."

"I didn't give it to them!" She's outraged by his accusation, "They…They just took it!"

"Of course they took it, it's what they do!" He looks even more frustrated than her. "I was protecting you from this."

"I don't need your protection." She narrowed her eyes, "I don't appreciate being undermined, manipulated or steamrolled into changing my plans. I'm a Gilmore and a Hayden - I don't need your money." Rory was on her last fuse, "I don't want to go shopping with your sister AND I don't need your dad to give 'Bob' a call."

"Who?"

"Robert freaking DeNiro!"

~W~


Aiden loves the water, and Logan loves bath time. In fact, bath time is his favorite time of the day. Even if it means he usually ends up soaking wet.

"Logan!"

Aiden blew raspberries at the sound of the booming voice.

"My sentiments exactly." Logan laughed, forming funny shapes out of his son's soapy hair. He has miraculously succeeded in convincing the boy to pass on wearing the goggles this bath time. "He sure knows how to crash a bubble party, doesn't he?"

Aiden could spend hours playing in the water. Swashing, splashing, making soap bubbles, pouring cup to cup. Ever since he was tiny, the sound and the feel of running water soothed him.

Soon Mitchum's frame stood in the bathroom's doorway. "The least you can do is state your location, Logan."

Logan made a note to self to ask for his key back. And change the alarm system code to anything other than Aiden's birthday. "Dad - Aiden. Aiden – Dad. Have you two met?"

"Have you talked to the guys in Hong Kong?" Mitchum answered his son's question with a question.

"Have you ever noticed that people in Hong Kong are really chatty?" Logan countered back with his own question.

"You didn't." Accusations. His father was good at accusations.

"Dad, do you know what time it is?"

Mitchum checked his watch. "It's six-thirty in Hong Kong."

"Bath time. Family time. I'm spending time with my son." Logan corrected and filled up one of the play cups to rinse the soap out of his son's hair, "Head up, Aiden. Cover your eyes."

The boy pressed his little hands to his eyes to keep the soap out, tilting his head back at the guidance of Logan's hand.

"Good boy. Almost done. One, two, three, four.." The boy shook his head; water drops sprayed off his blonde mess of hair. Logan laughed. "Kiss."

Aiden obliges, smacking his lips loudly at his father's. Logan smiles brightly. How he loves his ball of sunshine. The boy soon continued to play in the water, filling and emptying the cup.

"Where's Rory?"

Mitchum just had to ruin the moment.

"Ammy."

"Rory is mommy's name, that's correct." Logan praised the boy before answering his father, "Playing with her camera somewhere. Two more minutes, Aiden."

"O." Aiden expressed his dissatisfaction by spilling a cup full of water on Logan.

"Yes." Logan countered, warning, "Not cool."

"The boy needs a mother, Logan."

"Aiden," Logan stressed his name, "has a name and a mother."

Even if they are… awkward.

"A mother who's around."

"She's around."

"Unless she's running around with her camera doing God knows what."

That was nothing new.

"Yes, because his mother has a job." Aiden's mother didn't gossip for a living, like Logan's. Mitchum was MIA for most of his childhood because of his job. He's the last one who should talk. "You are hardly in the position to pass judgment."

"Logan,"

"Just…" Why was he defending her anyway? It's none of his business. "Make yourself useful and hand over the towel."

Mitchum handed the blue towel over, watching Logan fish his protesting son out of the bath. "Your mother is thinking of a special Christmas brunch. Mandatory presence of all family members, she said."

"Rory has Aiden for Christmas." Logan stated firmly.

"She is more than welcome to join." Mitchum offered tentatively.

Logan looked at his father suspiciously. All this Rory championing was unsettling. What was it with everyone making it their business?

"I'm told it's a casual, low-key family gathering, not a social event. You can make an exception."

"Mom doesn't do casual or low-key, and no - I can't." Logan answered stubbornly. "Huntzberger obligations don't apply to Rory."

His father has done enough damage.

"Oh, for fuck sakes, Logan. What the hell is going on with the two of you? Ever since…"

Logan quickly covered Aiden's ears with the towel at Mitchum's cursing. Aiden giggled at his father's animated face as he scolded the older Huntzberger, "Little ears."

Mitchum continued regardless, "Ever since Aaron died you've been -"

Ever since Aaron Rosen died, all hell broke loose. His world turned upside down and he was grasping at straws to gain back the balance.

The last of Mitchum's rant registers in his ear, "...Breaking up with that girl was the dumbest thing you could have ever done. This one really tops your extemporaneous marriage."

"Maybe it's not me who did the breaking up. Ever thought about that?" Logan's tongue clicked, lashing out uncontrolled.

The look on his father's face softened considerably at the unwarranted glimpse of vulnerability.

Towel clad Aiden wiggled in his arms impatiently, wanting to be put down.

"Huntzberger obligations don't apply to Rory. Rory has Aiden for Christmas. Make sure you pass on that message to my sister, too." Logan repeated his stance on the matter, the walls coming right back up. "You did enough damage."

"What damage?!" Logan's dramatic tendencies was something his father always had difficulty to digest.

Logan warped the towel properly around the boy. "Should I ask Barbara Anne if you paid some other people's bills lately? Or would you rather plead the fifth?"

"I was just trying to help set things right."

"Well it backfired, thank you very much. Rory doesn't do handouts." In fact, Rory reacted badly to any form of offered help, or gestures that involved money, even if necessary, and Logan found that frustrating enough alone. His father's involvement just upped her difficultiness,"Rory is my business. She is not a Huntzberger, she's not one of your pawns. You don't get involved. You don't get a milliliter of a shoe in. Got that?"

Mitchum raised his hands to signal he backed down from the topic. When pushed, Logan had the tendency to lash out then pull away.

"Glad we got it cleared." Logan looked fairly satisfied it was settled without a fight, "Are you sticking around for bedtime?"

~W~


"Cocoli?" Aiden's small hand reached out towards his mother offering the mashed green tree, his little teeth decorating his grin like pearls.

"Broccoli." Rory corrected, "No thank you. That's yours to eat."

"Cocoli."

"Eat your Br-o-cc-oli, Aiden. It's yummy." Rory pronounced the difficult word, putting on her very cheerful, encouraging voice. "Here, mommy eats hers too."

She forced herself to chew on the green unappetizing vegetable from her own plate. She hated broccoli with a passion. Greens are only for decoration according to the Gilmore's rulebook. The only time she had ever managed to stomach the green vegetable was during her pregnancy

And even that was an effort..

"More?" Aiden repeated his offer, his head cocked to his side, hand open, suggesting she eats more.

Rory heard Logan muffle a chuckle, keeping his face down to prevent the boy from being too encouraged.

"Um," He cleared his throat, "I handled the Christmas thing, you're off the hook."

"Ah," Rory can't help but feel awkward. She didn't know what exactly she expected him to do with the Christmas situation when she stormed in that night. She was incredibly mad at him for granting her freedom and pulling the rug out from under her feet at the same time. Even if it ultimately had nothing to do with him directly. But the outcome and this recent development was favorable, "Thanks."

Ever since they set some ground rules, the routine of Monday night dinners ran pretty smoothly. Rory didn't want to admit it out loud to anyone, but over the last two weeks it no longer felt like a root canal treatment.

Monday nights felt more like touching base. Something sacred that no one was allowed to disrupt.

"You're welcome. I was- " He glanced at her carefully looking as if he was about to suggest something.

Vinnie Van Dyke's name flashed repeatedly on the cell phone screen for the second time that night. The last Monday before the extended holiday season.

She should have just turned her phone off.

"I'm sorry, I have to take this. I'll make it quick. Promise." Rory grabbed the phone hurriedly, gracing Logan with an apologetic look as she stepped away from the table into the small corridor leading to the bedroom. "Hello?"

"Rory, darlin," Her agent's voice rang force-cheerfully on the other side, "Am I interrupting some hot reconciliation session?"

"No."

Rory peered back to the dinner table, secretly watching father and son's interaction wishing her camera was closed by. They were practicing naming the items on the dinner table.

"Then what the hell took you so long to answer?" She scolded, "Never mind, Listen, Myles Jasper saw your portfolio."

"Really?!" Rory feels her feet rise above the floor with joy,

"He wants to meet."

"When?" Rory asked eagerly.

"Tonight." The fire in her heart went out like a flame drowned in a bucket of water at Vinnie's words, "He's gallery hunting is your chance, you gotta go for it."

"Does it have to be tonight?" Rory felt torn, "I'm kind of in the middle of something."

"He's only in town for the next five hours." Vinnie informed her, "What on earth could be more important than this?"

Rory rubbed the space between her eyebrows, feeling a wave of discouragement take over her. Everything just started falling back into place with the lawsuit dropped. A lot of underlying tension has miraculously vanished.

This will change everything.

"I can't. I already told you Mondays are a little problematic…"

"Rory, sweetie-pie–" Vinona Van Dyke's voice hiked up whenever she got frustrated with the photographer, "let me explain something to you. Everyone in this industry has a role. You take photographs. Beautiful photographs, that's what you're good at. But you want to be more? Don't you? My job, as your agent, is to remind you that this is a competitive, cut-throat as fuck field."

Vinnie was indeed good at that, "I know…"

"You've been yapping about how magnificent this guy is for weeks." Vinnie reminded her, "I've got you an appointment, because I'm that good. I suggest you clean up nice, wear one of your little dresses, sex it up a little, and pitch yourself like a pro. Impress that guy into hiring you for this next collaboration before he hires someone else."

For a woman, Vinnie was pretty sexist, and suggestively blunt. Rory chose to put it down to style.

"It's Monday."

"Yes, it's Monday," The agent said somewhat impatiently, "You can play happy family next week too. This opportunity is happening right now, and you're missing the boat."

"I –" She finds it hard to reconcile that she's literally letting the opportunity slip out of her fingers.

"Ask your ridiculously hot baby-daddy to play babysitter for the night. Problem solved." Vinnie didn't wait on the line any longer. "Text me when you're on your way."

Rory swiped her thumb on the blacked out screen, worrying her lips, contemplating her next move. Her camera stood lonely on the coffee table, the rest of her equipment scattered about because Aiden developed the recent habit of taking pretty much e-v-er-y-t-h-i-n-g out whenever Monday night dinner took place at Logan's.

Discouragement washes over her at the sight of her misplaced items. She wants to go. And she wants to stay. Career versus family. Why did it always have to be one or the other?

"Pasta, peas."

Pasta, please. Rory mentally corrects Aiden's voice over.

It only adds to the rollercoaster of emotions battling inside her. A two word sentence. A recent achievement. He still can't pronounce her name right, the R just didn't roll. But he had come such a long way since they started speech therapy.

"Everything alright?" Logan snuck a questioning glance her way as she sat back down.

"Yes, it's just work." Rory said flippantly and forced her face into a smile. She knows he heard everything; the soundproofing in the apartment wasn't that good. She can't stand the way his eyes linger on her, so she picks Aiden up from his seat, "Let's go wash our hands."

xx

"How's Vinnie?" Logan asked over the sound of running water, standing in the bathroom doorway.

She wished he didn't follow, and just let it be. Logan apparently had other plans.

"Vinnie is Vinnie. She sends her love." Rory chose to focus on a very giggly Aiden. The boy just loved any kind of water game.

Logan looked skeptical, "What else did she want?"

Logan never liked Vinnie, he was firmly of the opinion that the woman lacked boundaries. Which wasn't too untrue.

"Myles Jasper is in town." Rory downplayed the content of her phone conversation with her agent. There was no point going into more details, she highly doubted Logan knew who Myles Jasper is.

"Myles Jasper who is…?"

Aiden turned on the tap louder, when Rory looked at his father's reflection through the mirror, "He's a filmmaker."

"Ah," Logan was fishing, "Is he good?"

"Is he good?" Rory couldn't help but strike. Was he for real? "Of course he's good. He's only THE rising star of filmmaking and video art. He has three BAFTAs! and his last video art exhibition has been extended for over a year because it was so in demand. No one else has the ability to tear apart existing iconic images, decompose and transform them into something so utterly… compelling and fresh. The guy's a genius."

"Sounds like the next Warhol." Logan commented dryly.

"Hmm," she hummed in agreement, "No one ever knows what he's working on but a select few. He says the expectation interferes with the creative process. There's a rumour he's hunting new talent for his next project."

She shuts up at once, inwardly cursing her inability to contain her excitement over something that wasn't going to happen. Because she's not going.

"My father says Warhol was a pretentious asshole." Logan tells the brunette woman who is busy looking anywhere but at him, "Um. So he's in town?"

The disappointment bubbles uncontrollably in her stomach.

"Yep. Hunting for gallery space." Rory moved the soap container as far away as possible from the small hands who happily pumped a generous amount. Aiden loved foam, the more the merrier. "Hey! That's a lot of foam you've got there. Go easy on the soap."

"And Vinnie said it's now or never?"

"Vinnie always says it's now or never, the woman lives by the rule there's no tomorrow. She certainly drinks that way. Vinnie likes to exaggerate."

The running water and Aiden's little squeals are the only sounds.

"Go."

Rory looked up to meet the brown eyes of the man who fathered her baby. Aiden pressed his hand into the opening of the tap. Sending the water jet in every direction, a good amount wetting her clothes.

"What?" She jumped, a little startled by both the water and Logan's instruction. Did she mishear?

One word. She hates to admit that one word from him makes such a difference.

"I mean it. Go," He repeats encouragingly, reaching to turn the tap off and taking the child off her hands, "I've got him."

It's the closest they've been in six months.

She looked at him unsurely. Like he just pulled the rug out from under her feet.

"I can't go like this." She points at her wet clothes, "I have nothing to wear."

Rory wants to kick herself for fishing for excuses. And the lamest one at that.

Logan's eyes check out her appearance. His gaze traveled over her body, travelling up her figure hugging tights, a skirt and a plain Old Navy t-shirt. Her bra is showing through her wet top.

"You left some stuff in the closet." He finally says and effectively moves, carrying Aiden out of the room.

Rory feels like her feet are rooted in place. In a snap of a moment, and quick rundown of a pro-con list, Rory decides to take his words literally and not question whether this is a test.

The mental checklist is already forming in the front of her brain as she flings the closet doors open in search for said items. The only decent item out of all is a familiar glittery hook-up dress.

"Figures." She matters to herself as she holds the item up. There's a reason she left it behind when she hastily packed her things. Stripping and pulling it over her head, her hands unsuccessfully tried to keep the hem down.

It's too short, and she's too self conscious to wear this to the equivalent of a job interview.

Vinnie's words echos in her head, "sex it up."

"Lose the tights, it clashes." Logan says, entering with a pyjamas clothed Aiden in his arms.

"Do you mind? I'm getting dressed." Rory tried to wiggle herself elegantly out of her sheer leggings without flashing anything.

"It's my bedroom." The father of her offspring settled with the boy on the bed, a smirk fixed on his face. His dimples flashing at her. Aiden buries his head in Logan's lap not looking at her. Logan's fingers comb through his hair, "Plus, I've already seen everything."

"I can't wear this." Her hands pull the dress down again after fixing her hair. God knows when she had last worn it. Way before Aiden that's for sure. "It's too short."

"Make sure you keep your legs crossed." Logan's murmur wins him an annoyed glare. The double meaning of his comment flew out of her other ear. "Mommy's pretty, isn't it right Sput?"

Aiden doesn't respond, his head still buried in Logan's lap. Logan's hand running through his golden hair.

"Oh, hush you." She blushes against her better judgement. Rory quickly checks the mirror to see if her make up is intact.

She's good to go.

All left to do is gather up all her stuff and head out the door, grab her portfolio and… Oh no.

"I don't have my portfolio with me."

She could just about have a heart attack now. There's no way she's going to nail it, she's too rushed and underprepared.

"There might be stuff in the safe. I didn't touch…" He can't complete the sentence before Rory hurries out of the room.

In fact, he barely moved anything. He still keeps her shampoo in the shower for some unknown reason.

She's shoving a stack of files and her belongings into her Fjallraven Kanken backpack in the living room, her knee high boots already on, when Logan comes back out, a very silent Aiden hanged on his arm like a koala bear.

"Have you seen my light detector?" She asks hurriedly at a clueless Logan, collecting the various photography items Aiden took out of her bag.

"No."

"Uff." She looked at her watch, then at Logan apologetically, "Never mind. Raincheck?"

"Yeah..."

The door closed as she left hurriedly, too in her own head to say a proper goodbye.

"Mommy has to go, but she'll be back." Logan reassured loudly and pressed a kiss on his son's head, "Just the two of us now, Sputnik. What shall we do? Let's play Lego. Then bed."

The loud sound of the door reopening, makes both Huntzberger males turn their heads as Rory re-appeared in the living room.

"Did you forget something?" Logan asked, confused. Aiden, balanced on his hip, smiled so brightly at her return.

"Yeah." Her arms spontaneously wrapped around him, squashing the child on his left arm between their bodies. The camera poked at their sides. Aiden's hands grabbed her head. Logan's free hand timidly moved to rest on the back of her hip. "Thank you."

She broke away just as abruptly, planting a sound kiss on Aiden's cheeks, "Mommy loves you tons."

Then, again, her camera, her bag and her long hair fluttering behind her like a Kite's tail before disappearing when the door closed.

Xxx

Plates in the dishwasher, leftovers in the trash, table and floor cleaned of stray pieces of pasta. Logan made his way into his son's space illuminated room. Aiden is scared of the dark, so the lamp displaying the cosmos sky is a great solution.

Aiden was quiet for the rest of the night. And slightly more cuddly than usual. Logan had to read 'Bringing Down the Moon' three times, sing two songs off Lou Reed's Transformer and lay with him a while longer before Aiden settled comfortably.

Logan moves to readjust the covers he threw off him in the process of tossing before sleep claimed him. The item clenched in Aiden's tight grip makes him stop and sigh before he pulls out his phone to take a picture.

Sometimes, Logan wishes Aiden was a little less like him.

xxx

Rory stood with her back pressed against the wall outside the gallery, both her hands resting on her quickly beating heart. Boom. Boom. Boom. The blood rushed in her ear in excitement. It feels ten times faster because of the chills sent shivers down her bare legs, they said it was going to snow on the news, but she didn't feel them as she tried to wrap her head around the unexpected turn of events in the cold air of the New York winter night.

He liked it.

Myles Jasper liked her work. Myles Jasper wanted to work with her.

Her phone beeped with the notification of an incoming message:

Found your light detector. The message reads under the photograph of Aiden fast asleep in his little bed, clenching the missing item in his hand.

The little miscreant. Rory typed back with a smile reserved only for Aiden's related quirks.

A laughing emoji appeared in the next line of the App's window followed by a question: Nailed it?

Nailed it. Another grin takes over Rory's Gilmore face. Two simple words capture everything.

I'm glad.

The display of his last message quickly turns watery as a heavy snowflake melts as it touches the electronic device. Rory Gilmore looks up at the slow descent of snowflakes casting down the New York skyscrapers.

She laughs, and sticks out her tongue to catch a mouthful of fluffy snowflakes.

Magic always happens when it snows.

~W~


Rory loved Christmas, the presents, the snow, the tree, the lights, the carols and the Gilmore rituals she could finally pass on to her son. Her mother's over-the-top excitement was catching. After experiencing a very hyper Christmas morning and every festive activity her mother could have thought up - Aiden was so exhausted, he was out like a light.

Finally, a moment to hear her thoughts. Sitting cuddled on the oversize couch in the Gilmore's pool house wrapped in a fuzzy blanket with hot chocolate, and a selection of the fine Belgian chocolates her father gifted her for Christmas. Watching the flames dance in the gas fueled fireplace and channel surfing.

Tapping sounds cut her reverie out.

She stood, set to investigate its nature in the bedroom, assuming it was Aiden playing out and tapping his goggles against the wooden headboard. It had happened before. But now, standing, she could tell the sound was coming from a completely different direction.

The kitchen's window.

"Logan?" Her surprise is telling.

"I parked on the street." He said, keeping one eye in the direction of the main house, "I don't think they saw me. Can you get this open?"

"My grandmother is going to murder you if you break her window."

"No, this is cool. I got a tree stump I can use as a booster out here. Or you can let down your hair." The twinkle in Logan's eyes was too recognizable. Either he didn't care, or he thought he could sweet talk himself out of trouble, "C'mon let me in. I brought cake."

A Gilmore is programmed to never refuse cake.

"Door." She stated.

"Hi," He said with his dimple flashing grin, shamelessly checking out her appearance of matching pajama sections and his candy cane socks when she opened the door, "I was wondering where these took off to."

"No, you didn't, you have four identical pairs." She thrust her hands forward, "Give me that cake."

"Crashed your party?" Logan kicks off his snow covered shoes at the entrance of the pool house as Rory picks inside the tupperware container hosting a colourful, high Funfetti cake.

"Kim's?" Her face lights up. "She bestowed leftover cake on you?"

He sheds his overcoat, remaining in a comfortable pullover and jeans. The worn out ones that she hadn't seen him wear in a while.

"If you mean bestowed as in taking an independent liberty then, yes." Finn's wife had informed him, in a not too subtle manner, she thought him to be an entitled man, and Logan chose for the sake of all parties involved to let this one slide, again. "We should save him a piece."

"If you saw everything he ate these past two days. You would not have said that." Rory hugged the container to her middle.

"I dare not ask." His laughter rings carefree. A small box appears from the inside of his coat pocket, "I got you something."

Rory tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Was she supposed to? She didn't quite know how this co-parenting thing went present-wise. "Ah, I didn't get you anything?"

"Never mind." he shrugs, "It's more of a joint present."

Logan's dimples smiled in satisfaction, as the double meaning sank in at the sight of the content of her Christmas present.

"We shouldn't." Rory blurts out of habit. But there's no real reason why they shouldn't other than the fact that substance makes her lose her head around him.

"Com'on," Eleanor Shubick's lighter released a suggestive flame in his hand, "It's tradition."

Xx

Rory leaned back on the arm of the couch, her legs stretched out across it. Logan leaned on the other end. One pair of funny printed pairs of socks facing another.

"So how did it go?"

"How did what go?" A mouthful of cake muffled her question.

"Your schmoozing with that filmmaker Ike guy."

"Myles?" Rory knitted her eyebrows funnily.

"Myles, Um-um." Logan's deep voice murmured.

"Good." Rory's eyes sparkled as she summed up her last professional development, the jealous undertones flying over her head, "We just jumped right into bouncing ideas, I think there's a potential for a collaboration. We agreed to talk after the holidays, see where we stand. Myles is interested in different stuff than I thought he would."

"Cool." Logan picks up the half smoked joint to occupy himself and the conversation dissolves into thin air.

The sweet smell of weed lingers as the fire eats at it. Rory eats cake, Logan's eyes once again are drawn towards the lines of fairy lights.

"This is amazing." Rory moaned in appreciation as she forked another piece of Funfetti cake into her mouth. The taste lasted buttery and sweet, but not too heavy on her tongue.

The munching phase has definitely set in.

"Can I ask you something?" Rory held the fork at her lips, curiosity winning out, "Did you really steal my grandmother's antique sewing box?"

"Wow, who knew this will come back to haunt me like a boomerang," He said with a slow chuckle, "I didn't steal it, I switched it with a different nick-nack."

She continues to look at him, expecting a better explanation.

"A little Life and Death Brigade business, I've been switching nick-nacks up the eastern seaboard for years. They never notice."

"My grandmother noticed." It makes her wonder if something else is missing from the last time he's been around here.

"What can I say? She's preceptive. Aaron made me return it. I still have Eleanor Shubick's lighter, obviously." He reached out for her fork, "I don't score well on the Gilmore's judging panel do I?"

The way Logan managed to be humble, self aware and yet incredibly cocky at the same time never ceased to amaze her.

"You really don't."

"Better work on my reputation then." He concludes simply. The silver fork breaks the white frosting, revealing the smudged sprinklers in the middle. "I feel like I'm murdering My Little Pony."

Rory lets out a chuckle at his joke. Logan's eyes smile back coyly under lowered lashes.

Snow falls outside the floor-to-ceiling pool-house sliding doors. But inside the fireplace roars with blue light at its base. Rory tries to block the flashbacks of a roaring fire, burning passion, and hot kisses placed over the curves of her body in a sea of fuzzy blankets.

But it's hard not to when she's high, and the toes of crocodile socks brush against hers absentmindedly. She finds herself looking at him. The man on the other end of the couch looks thoughtful. His attention drifted towards the lights hanging on the abundantly decorated tree.

"You're okay?"

"Umm..?" Logan says spacingly, the edges of his lips raise sheepishly at being caught floating. His hand raised to scratch his blond locks, they're much shorter than they used to, tamed to fit the image of a groomed successor. "I'm out of practice."

He gestures at the abandoned joint. Rory shakes her head.

"I better crack open a window. Or I'll face Emily's wrath when she shows up here first thing in the morning." Rory sober up a little at the thought. The candy canes decorating her feet stomp over to the kitchen window the man camped on the couch attempted to make an entrance from.

"On my way to Finn's, the lights were out." He speaks to her back, "At the Rosen's."

The fresh air blows on her nose, the cold front and his wistful admission makes her freeze up. This is what she wanted, is it not? A peek at his innermost thoughts.

"She sold the house."

Nothing follows, as if he waits for her to pick up the thread of conversation. Maybe he waits for her to ask who is the she. To ask anything. But instead, Rory effectively diverted the topic into a safe zone. "I need some water."

"Can I ask you something?" Logan echoes her earlier words.

"Mmmm?" Rory hummed uncommitted, over the glass full of tap water.

"Would we even be together if you hadn't gotten pregnant?" The scrapping of the fork on the plastic container is so loud against his softly spoken question.

Rory Gilmore chokes on her water.

"We're not together." Rory reminded him of their current status, to which he doesn't respond.

He waits, deliberately not looking at her, as if he already knows the answer but needs to hear it. Logan always had the ability to draw unsolicited confessions out of her.

"Probably not." The water doesn't go down easily. "You broke up with me, Logan."

"I didn't break up with you." he contradicts her claim. Logan wets his lips, "You wanted to go, so I let you."

~W~


Seattle

"Please, please, please no more shop talk." Pricilla Atwood begged her husband and his friend, "I haven't been out at New Years' since Miellea was born. I want to enjoy this rare night of cocktails without another word about 'debt versus equity."

Seattle's waterfront glinted extra special for the New Years. The walkway outside the well heated patio off the cocktail bar of Pricilla's choice was thinly crowded with buzzed revelers. It was different from his original New Years plans, a lavish party hosted by Finn.

Logan didn't ask, but was gently alluded by his Australian friend that there was too high a probability for unanticipated run-ins with Chelsea. So he made alternate plans.

"If Ben can, then I can." Logan said smilingly.

"My husband used to be the geek behind the scenes, not the business shark you made him be when you left. Let's talk about something else!" Pricilla scolded her husband's silent business partner, "Show me more pictures of that cute kid of yours."

"Shop talk no? But kids talk, yes?" Logan chuckled, readily handing his phone over for her to fawn over the recent pictures.

"Shut up, you. Oh be still my heart. What's with the goggles?" Priz rested her hand on her heart, quizzing Logan who shrugged, "You should bring Aiden with you next time."

Logan hummed in agreement.

"So what happens now?" Ben asked.

"What do you mean?"

"What's the next move in your win back Rory operation scheme?"

"There's a Win-Back-Rory plan in motion?" Priz's head shoot up so fast in his direction, Logan was surprised she didn't break her neck, "Is that what we're doing? Is this the war room?"

"There's no winning Rory back scheme." Logan denied.

"No?" Ben challenged, "Let's look at the evidence, you insisted on not changing a dot in the parental agreement to keep the tight leash on the Monday night dates."

"Dinner," Logan corrected.

"You dropped that ridiculous custody lawsuit you filed to force her back to New York from Connecticut."

"You dropped the lawsuit?" The smile on Priz's face was so giddy, she slapped her husband's arm "Why don't you tell me those things?"

"It's new. I was waiting to see if Colin wasn't bluffing me and it sticks." Ben shrugged her off, it wasn't as if he would have kept it from her, and continued "You gave up Christmas to keep her sweet."

"Rory loves Christmas." Logan dismissed, "Christmas with the Huntzbergers is not much fun anyways. Aiden didn't miss anything on the big on the festivities front. I was doing him a favor."

Ben snorted. Priz looked at him doubtfully.

"He told his father off for butting in. And he let her blow off their precious Monday 'dinner'" Ben air quoted, "In favor of a job interview with some top notch filmmaker according to Rory. What's he called?"

"Myles Jasper." Logan's face twitches involuntarily sour as he provides the name.

"Oh, you're jealous. A little taste of your own medicine." Priz laughed at him teasingly. She turned to Ben, "Remember that time when Rory was dating that musician college kid and Logan went out of his way to have this guy from Rolling Stone make a call?"

"I did not go out of my way." Logan denied.

Ben nodded dismissively and kept on with his argument, knowingly including Priz on what Logan had hoped would remain a secret, "He casually dropped by on Christmas night for a late night cake and a smoke.."

"Nothing happened."

"Oh Romeo." Priz was already turning tipsy. "So what's the next move?"

"I'm not sure." Logan admitted casually. "I'm winging it."

"You're winging it?" Ben raised his eyebrows.

"I'm winging it." Logan confirmed.

"Winging it?" Ben repeated in disbelief, "You have no strategy? No game plan? No over the top gesture? Nothing at all? What happened to Mr. Plan man?"

"No." Logan shook his head at the pair of amused husband and wife. "The plan is that there is no plan."

"Ah, you know why that is, don't you Priz?" Ben mused in response, too amused in Logan's opinion, "You do know why he hasn't got a trick up his sleeve?"

"Because he's stupid." Priz determined, "He should do some pretty serious groveling and royally apologize if he wants her back. You did some nasty shit jerking her around like that, Logan."

"True." Ben agreed, looking at his friend, a teasing glint dancing in his eyes, his arm stretched over his wife's shoulders, "It's just, this guy has never been dumped before. He doesn't know what to do."

"Get out of here!" Priz gasped in disbelief, "No one has ever broken up with you?"

Logan looked away sheepishly.

"Nope. First time for everything." Ben grinned and Logan could tell he was enjoying this to the man who knew all of Logan's secrets clocked his head to the right, "There's only one problem."

Priz got comfortable in her husband's embrace and looked at him lovingly. "Which is?"

Reminding Logan how he wanted just that.

"The word on the street says the girl doesn't want him back."