5:00 AM – great – wide awake, but exhausted.

Jumping out of bed, Rory went to the office to get her thank you note cards. She wanted to write a note to the nurse from last night and get to the hospital before the shift changed so she could hand it to her. It was such a strange feeling to be thanking someone for giving her permission to go home and rest, but it was the right decision; reflecting back on her words and tone, she realized that in her exhaustion she was actually helping Logan to breathe on his own, it was her desire to see him extubated so she could sleep, but sleep had come because someone else better equipped had been there to take care of him. The feelings of total inadequacy washed over her, for the first time she really wasn't enough for him. That fear had existed when he was supposed to be marrying Odette, that his life was ordained and it would be perfect and somehow her presence would ruin it, but then Lia made her presence known and it was clear, they were meant to be together – fate, kismet, preordained; whatever anyone wanted to call it. But they were good together and right. Sighing she sealed the envelope and slipped it in her purse. Putting a sticky note on the fridge that she had left, grabbing some fruit she headed out the door, quietly leaving before anyone else could be disturbed.

The drive in was just one wish – let him be extubated.

Walking into the Cardiac ICU, she nodded to the staff, turned right and saw him. Crazy hair splayed on the pillow, hands resting by his side, and he was sleeping – on his own. The tears of relief leaked out of her eyes, this is ridiculous, she thought to herself, I am crying. But the tears kept coming, relief and joy, exhaustion and love were taking over. He was breathing on his own, she had her Logan back.

Leaning over the bed, gently kissing is forehead and murmuring, "good morning, Logan, it is so good to see you." Torn between wanting to see his eyes open and hear his voice and letting him sleep. She took his hand, it was warm – more tears of relief. "Oh, Babe, you are warm, wow, it is so nice to have your warm hands back." As she talked to him and held his hand, his eyes opened.

Looking around it was obvious he was confused, "Ace?"

"I'm here, Babe, right here."

"Where am I? Ace, what is going on? Am I in the hospital?"

"Yes, Logan, you are in the hospital. You had a heart attack on Tuesday, and they put in a stent."

"What day is it?"

"Thursday, babe, Thursday. It is ok, everything is ok."

"Ace" his brow was furrowed, his face sad and his eyes questioning.

"yes"

"Is this a dream?"

"No, Logan, it isn't a dream. I really wish it was, but you are here."

"Ace?"

"Yes?"

"What happened?"

Rory gently explained again that he had a heart attack and was in the hospital. When the nurse walked in, she pulled her aside to ask about his questions and not remembering.

"It is the medicine; he isn't really with it yet. You'll be answering those questions a lot as the sedatives leave his system and he starts to actually really be able to take in his surroundings." she stated.

"But will he remember? Any of this?"

"Most don't remember. Most don't remember anything leading up to their heart attack and definitely nothing from the surgery or the cooling. He might eventually remember some stuff leading up to the heart attack and some stuff post the intubation, like being cold and shivering, but for the most part, he won't remember any of this."

Rory sat down next to Logan, holding his hand and kissing his forehead, reassuming him everything was going to be ok. This would be her memory, not his – that took a minute to process.

"Ace?"

"Yes Logan, I'm here"

"Is this a dream? Am I dreaming?"

Relief washed over her face as she heard Finn's accent making its way through the ICU. Colin responded a laugh erupted. She quickly pulled out her phone

To Lane: you around?

To Rory: in town shopping. Lunch?

To Lane: Yes, heading out of the hospital in 5

"Love? Logan? Hey." Finn leaned over and hugged Rory and reached for Logan's hand.

"Hi Finn, Colin!" turning to Logan, "Babe, I am going to let Finn and Colin entertain you for a bit. I need to run a little errand and will be back in about an hour – 2 tops. Ok?"

Logan looked at her and then to his friends. He knew them, he felt safe and nodded his head in agreement.

"yeah, Rory, you head out and get some air – we've got Logan here and well, I am sure that you don't need to hear Finn recount the Passion of the Christ."

While there were eye rolls, there was also a smile. Logan obviously remembered Finn's antics and that was a relief. Rory grabbed her bag and gave Logan a kiss before exiting the room.

20 minutes later, Rory pulled up to a local restaurant and spotted Lane's car, she walked into the restaurant looking for her best friend and felt a wave of relief as she saw a hand waving her over to a table in the corner.

Lane got up and wrapped her arms around Rory, "hey."

"Hey" Rory whispered back and leaned in letting herself feel the love that only a lifelong friendship can impart. They sat down after a minute, "he is going to be ok and I kinda need to focus on something else right now." Lane squeezed her hand and started telling her about Steve and Kwon and their adventures of living on their own. Lane was pretty sure that Rory wasn't taking much in, but she was starting to look a little less shell shocked and aware of the world surrounding her. They ordered a lunch and Lane practically fell over when a bowl of fruit request was made.

"Um, Rory, are you?"

"Pregnant? No. definitely not – Auntie is here in all of her glory."

"Ah, ok, but fruit?"

"Yeah, it just tastes good and everything else just sort of turns my stomach."

"Well, I guess miracles will never cease."

"miracles?
"Yes, Rory, you are going to need to eat a lot more fruit and less processed food now with Logan having a heart attack."

"huh, hadn't thought of that, I guess I just love him so much and we are so in tune that my body has already switched to that new diet just to make it easy for him." She chewed her lower lip thoughtfully, but smiled. There were going to be a lot of changes, but they were going to experience them together. Relief washed over her "together Lane – we are going to face all of this together."

"Yup, you are." Lane gave her a huge smile and for the first time she felt confident that her bff was going to be just fine.

Lane and Rory parted ways in the parking lot and Rory headed back to the hospital. Seeing Lane had made such a huge difference and she walked into the room just feeling so much better.

"Ace?"

"Yes Logan, I'm here"

"Is this a dream? Am I dreaming?"

Rory sat in the chair next to him and held his hand. Explaining one more time what had happened. Then she asked if he remembered Colin and Finn being there that afternoon. He looked at her and wrinkled his brow. "I think so"

She smiled, progress.

Soon it was 5pm, and the tech delivered dinner, Rory uncovered it for Logan, took a sniff and it turned her stomach, but she still plastered on a smile. He had eaten 2 sips of soup at lunch. She was hoping that he could eat more now. He picked up the fork and took a bite of the mashed potatoes. He grimaced but ate one more bite before putting down the fork, "that is not fit for human consumption."

"I agree, and yet – we don't have a dog handy to pass it off to." Rory responded with a smile on her face, something with levity.

They sat together, holding hands. "Do you want any more Logan?"

"No, thank you. I'm not hungry."

"Ok"

"You can eat it, if you are hungry."

"Oddly, while I have been feeling hungry, nothing tastes good except for fruit."

"Ace, are you?"

"No, no, I'm not"

"Are you sure?"

"Yup, 100%"

"Oh, … oh. Ok" Logan had a hint of disappointment in his voice with that revelation.

"I think it was my body's way of trying to heal you, help you grow strong. I seem to crave fruit when I am responsible for bringing someone life."

"Wow, Ace, that is deep."

"What's deep, Rory? Hey Logan! Good to see you awake" Mitchum's voice carried in the room before his entrance.

Logan grinned seeing his father, Rory was thrilled that they finally had a relationship, he reached out and shook hands. It was the most interactive Rory had seen him all day. Mitchum explained that he had spent time talking with HR and to consider himself on convalescent leave for at least 45 days.

"So, you give me a break if I have a heart attack, dang wish I had known that when I was younger." Logan joked.

Mitchum's eyebrows knitted, "I would have given you 36 hours when you were younger, you can thank this lady here who showed me the way." He inclined his head toward Rory. It was at that moment that she really got the difference in how Mitchum approached the world pre and post grandchildren, but really post COVID. That year had given him a new perspective and changed his relationships. The two were talking about work when Rory excused herself from the room.

In the waiting room she pulled out her phone and called her mother, "hey Babe, how is it going?"

"Hi Mom, it is going better, tonight at least. First thanks for hanging out with the kids today. Sounds like they are seriously considering releasing him tomorrow, so we should be home – pass on the good news."

"Oh, Ror, that is awesome news and just in time for Grandma's arrival."

"Perfect, and Mom,"

"Yeah"

"Thanks!"

"Sure, you're welcome, wait thanks for what? Is this a trap?"

"No, no trap, just listening to Mitchum and I realized that if I hadn't been raised away from society, well, I wouldn't have the relationship, family, or anything that I have now. I know you were upset when I embraced this life, but I don't think you realize how much I didn't actually let it influence me. I could have chosen to ignore everything, but I didn't; I figured out how to bring my own brand of Stars Hollow into Hartford and well, I think the worlds have blended pretty well."

"Yeah, you done good kid. Even Luke isn't afraid to walk through the front door anymore, and I don't ring the bell, so you've got the 'I'm a little bit country and a little bit rock'n'roll' going here."

Rory let out a laugh at the reference, "um, you know that is still before my time."

"Can't help it that you missed Donny and Marie."

"Ok, Mom, anyway, again, thanks and I will text as soon as I know anything for certain."

"Sounds great kid; give Logan a hug for us; the kids can't wait to have dad home."

"I am on board with the kids. Thanks Mom." Rory pressed end as she sat back and realized that through all of the ups and downs, she had been raised to value people over money and while they had money, she had definitely taught her kids to value the people in their lives first and foremost.

The End


Author's note.

Sorry it has taken me so long to update. As I said these last few chapters have been semi-autobiographical and since the start of the story is actually later than this part, you do know that Logan lives (thank heavens I didn't have to go re-write the beginning). I am writing every day now for my work and doctoral degree and while I love creative writing, my exhaustion levels don't allow for it. Thank you for reading and I hope you love Rory being Mrs. Huntzberger as much as I do. I have always seen their relationship mirroring Richard and Emily.