Three hours and another episode of 'quality time' later, the two naked bodies half wrapped in sheets laid immobile on the hotel bed. Rory's plane was leaving just after 11 PM, giving them a couple of hours to spare. Rory couldn't help but to feel a little frivolous for being in London with Logan like this. It was as if he hadn't truly needed her in the way she had thought. And now, her mind, heart and breasts longed for her baby. While she had to leave to reunite with Hope, Logan had to stay a week to delegate some of his father's tasks at HPG. He had learned in the past few days that Mitchum had never truly removed his authorizations, which pretty much meant now with him gone, Logan was automatically in charge whether he liked it or not.
"Are you sure you are okay?"
"No, not sure."
"What do you mean?"
"I think I am still in denial", he sighed. "I feel like he is on a business trip somewhere in the world, just away."
"Makes a lot of sense. He must've been away a lot, and I guess it must feel a little like it does now," she reflected.
She pulled up her phone, after five seconds she read out: "denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance."
"Stages of grief?" he asked, remembering having heard that list somewhere before.
"I wonder whether I should try to make you angry at him or angry at the situation, perhaps this would help you to move past the denial?" Rory theoretizised.
"I am always angry at him, at least in some ways. That's too easy." he replied, remembering all the things he had said to Rory or about her, how he'd manipulated him and how he'd played him like a marionette according to his plans. But these things he had already accepted, that was just the way Mitcum was.
"I can add one new thing to that list that I hadn't thought about before," Rory offered, half jokingly.
"Well it's not strictly his doing, we did it, we had Hope when we did. But the circumstances were his doing, the dynastic plan," Rory said.
"True," he agreed.
"His dynastic plan is the reason why we can't move to London with Hope. Not before her age is not so easily differentiable at least. Right now everyone who knows you and knows you were engaged until earlier this year, will ask about her age or guess it, and they count back the months and they will know when she was conceived, even if just roughly, it's enough. And while you and me know better and can decide not to give a damn, she can't yet. And once she begins to understand, people may tell her or write about her. They might tell her that she is different, less pure, unwanted, result of infidelity...you name it. I hate Mitchum because I will always be a little afraid of people finding out and hurting her with that information. And that hate will last until the public stops caring about what Logan Huntzberger has been up to." Rory explained.
"Were you really considering moving here?" Logan asked.
"I did, but after today I just don't think there is any way," she sighed, "I'm sorry, but I can't live in such fear."
"Thank you for considering it, Ace. It means a lot to me that you really did. And I agree," he sighed.
"What will you do, if we can't move here?" she asked.
"I thought about selling it, but that just doesn't seem very bright. Building that sort of company from scratch is not possible these days - it's like killing a perfectly healthy and smart human being while his organs could still be used to salvage somebody else and the brain could be used to make the world a better place. There is just no point in that. But I think, if London is out of the question, it only leaves me with the option of moving it to the States. I won't be able to salvage all of it, but it won't kill the company," Logan explained, pausing.
"Like amputating a leg," Rory said comparingly.
"It's not going to happen overnight, and will take some travelling back and forth, but I think within a year, I could have it set up in New York or Boston…," he thought out loud.
"But I guess the work will still be quite similar," she hesitated.
"In some ways, but I am not Mitchum. It was always his drive to push himself to the max, make the most money, push the company to grow and grow," he explained.
"I don't want to be apart from you for a long time," Rory sighed.
"Me neither, but as Hope grows, we can travel together sometimes, it all depends on where and for how long we are going." he explained, adding "you forget, this gives you career opportunities as well."
Rory never liked charity, but now by being Logan's wife it certainly put her in a different position. HPG was huge, and it owned many publishing houses, magazines and newspapers and other types of ventures all around the world.
"Shira told me she wanted to get to know her granddaughter," Rory added after a few minutes, changing the subject.
"She did?" Logan said.
"She kept saying how she hoped we could overcome our differences. Pretty much as close to an apology as she is able to, I think. But I have trouble trusting her. No offence," Rory said.
"None taken. I guess we'll take it one step at the time. We have no reason to hide Hope from her, I'll start by just talking to her more and if she wants she can come and visit," he said.
She stared at the ceiling for a good few minutes.
"Logan, are you angry yet?" she asked.
"No, the same," he replied, turning himself to kiss Rory.
"Thank you for coming here to be with me," he whispered.
Jess was holding Hope on his chest facing her outward as they listened to Rory's book reading from the back of the room. He found it easy to keep Hope happy in a book store with lots of colorful images around. Rory had done this now a couple of times, each time her confidence improved, seeming more and more like a fish in water.
"Huh, I thought I was never going to end," Rory exclaimed as she returned back from the stage, 45 minutes behind schedule.
"Your readers didn't want to let you go, they obviously love what you have to say," Jess replied.
"It still feels so unreal," she sighed.
"Get used to it. Ever thought about a sequel?" he encouraged.
"No…," she said doubtfully. "There's not much…," she began, only then realizing a lot had happened since the time where her book ended. She had ended her story around the time she made up with Lorelai and returned to Yale. Her world had changed completely ever since, especially in the past year. But she was unsure whether there was a story there the readers would want and what she wanted to tell.
"No rush, but it's a thought. I'd be happy to be your editor again, not that you really need Truncheon anymore", he added referring to Logan's recent re-involvement with the HPG.
"We'll see, but you haven't lost me to HPG yet. You're still a contender, Jess," she replied with a smile.
Logan had been in New York for a couple of days setting up his new office when Rory found an envelope in the mailbox. It didn't take her long to figure out what the hand written card with "Get ready" meant. After all, her birthday was the next day. While a surprise would've had its perks, this allowed her to prepare for a night out - find a babysitter and make sure there's milk in the fridge.
"Thank you, mom," Rory said, hugging Lorelai who had just arrived to pick up Hope, "you are such a big help."
"No problem. I kind of love it, you know. A few years back I was still thinking if maybe Luke and I could have our own baby, but this way we can skip the waiting part and just enjoy the nice bits. You'll deal with her tantrums and boyfriends, and I get to just cuddle and corrupt her," Lorelai replied hugging Hope tightly.
"Ha-ha, don't let her have any spray cheese just yet," she added laughingly.
"Happy birthday, kid," Lorelai whispered to her ear while hugging her.
A few hours later Logan pulled up in a awfully familiar 1946 Ford Coupe Cabriolet.
"Hi, Ace," he said kissing her on the lips, "I forgot the wardrobe," he commented with a smug smirk. Logan headed to their bedroom closet and pulled out one of the large garment bags that had been waiting there since he shipped over his things from London, and unzipped it. Inside were two coats, Logan's suit and two tophats. Rory recognized them from last year, even the hat she'd left at the King's Head Inn that sad morning.
"You had them all along?"
"Of course, I couldn't throw them out. At the time it was going to be my last memory of you," he said and kissed her again, now with some more tongue.
Rory was ready, wearing a short black dress under her coat, and just as Logan had done it the year before, tilted her hat a little, said, "more beautiful than ever, Ace," and kissed her, making her quiver slightly from excitement.
"Now, Ace, once we get in the car, I want you to close your eyes, and not peek," he instructed.
"Considering I was up twice last night, I might fall asleep," she half-joked.
"Don't you dare," he laughed.
"Are we going far?" she asked as the car pulled away.
What seemed to be an eternity later, the car stopped to the sound of 1930's music. Logan opened the door for her, instructing, "Don't peek yet, Ace," and took her hand.
"Now, open…," he said.
"How did this get here? What is this?" Rory asked, astonished.
"Colin bought it," Logan replied. Why and how were rather irrelevant after that answer.
"He thought there needed to be one of these for adults," Logan explained, adding "and he always did have a soft spot for tophats."
They stood at the entrance of a fully lit up retro amusement park titled "In omnia paratus" with some befitting steam-punk detailing. Edison bulb light strings shed dim light to the paths between the buildings, caravans and rides. Upside down magenta umbrellas created a ceiling above the dancefloor where the band played the Charleston.
"This is amazing, thank you Logan!"
"Well I had a little help from my friends," he replied smugly.
"And by 'for adults' do you mean…?" she began raising her eyebrow slightly.
"Colin is not that kinky anymore, but there's a burlesque club and open bar," Logan replied laughingly.
"It's just 'wow'," she exclaimed taking in all the lights and the costumes of the people already on the dancefloor.
"Shall we?" he asked, offering his hand.
"Lead the way!" Rory replied. She was ready for anything.
AN: I thank all of you that made it to the finish. This was my very first FF, it just came so easily, though with some sleep deprived days, but I loved doing it. I hope you liked it. Reviews are very welcome.