AN: This story is taking place in September 2014, when Rory and Logan have not seen each other since graduation (7 years ago). All I can say is that I do not aim to follow through to the set scenario of AYITL. ROGAN. Definitely AU (which I hope would've happened instead of AYITL), probably a little OOC too. This will be a fairly short, slow build but at times intense, story. Not everything will be an easy read. M rating is there for a reason, because of intimacy rather than strong language. This will include mentions to the other GG characters but will not included them, this is just about Rory and Logan.
Please, enjoy, reviews are appreciated so I know it it's worth continuing.
WHAT HAPPENS IN HAMBURG...
Rory's plane had been delayed, making her skip a decent breakfast, only managing to grab a cup of vending machine coffee from the lobby of the conference hall, which already smelled horrible, but yet it was coffee. Desperate times, she thought. And if she was going to make it through a long day of plenary speakers at the annual Investigative Journalism Conference, caffeine, in any form, was what she required to survive. Normally the event would've been right up her alley, though her own writing varied these days rather from columns to features, usually not quite definable as investigative. Yet, her colleague had broken her ankle just prior to the event and she was sent in to replace her last minute. She was certainly not the one to turn down an opportunity to see the world. Somehow, Hamburg never had been on one of her bucket-lists, however, all she had heard, made it an interesting enough destination to spruce up her day to day. It was not that she had any better ideas for that particular September week. When she usually would visit one of this type of events she would go in well prepared, with the programme underlined and commented prior to the event. This time, however, she hadn't had the time, and she'd noted only a couple of presentations her boss had asked her to make summaries on. Those she had already marked down on her calendar.
She had barely settled at her seat, attempting to sip at the watery cup of coffee, when a familiar name caught her attention.
"And may I present to you out this morning's plenary speaker - Logan Huntzberger, representing the Huntzberger Publishing Group," the long-legged blonde hosting the event said.
"Well I'll be damned," Rory muttered to herself. The last she'd seen of him was at her graduation after she'd turned him down, and he'd told her he wanted all or nothing, but she hadn't been ready. It had left her devastated. The situation had been so abrupt, so raw, like her heart being torn right out of her chest unexpectedly. One day they had been fine and a few days later they'd been broken up. Thankfully, Rory had been swept up by the Obama election campaign tour which at the very least had aided her enough to take her mind off him, helping her heal.
To her surprise it was perhaps just a minute into his presentation, which she was almost unable to pay any attention to, when his eyes met hers, recognizing the familiar face, yet trying to keep the talk going. From that moment it was as if he spoke only to her in the room, as if scared if he looked away she would slip away. Each word that fell out of his mouth sounded so familiar, she'd heard them all before, even if not in the same combination, oozing confidence and making jokes to lighten the audience's mood along with his signature smirk. As his presentation ended, a loud applause followed and he returned to his seat at the front row, still glancing over to her. There were still three presentations to go according to the schedule along with a plenary discussion. Those felt like the longest two hours of her life, and she could see Logan sum up his answers neater and shorter than he probably could've at the discussion part. It was as if he too had already other things on his mind.
Another applause followed, and the crowd began to stir moving towards the exits where lunch was being served. Logan was held up near the stage by further questions, apparently he had been the main attraction in this session. She almost cursed herself for not paying better attention, for the life of her she couldn't recall what his presentation had actually been about. She looked over the programme just to make sure she knew the title, if anybody asked - "Journalistic challenges of 21st century", she read - of course, could the title be any more vague?
"Ace?" the same familiar voice appeared behind her.
"Hi," she replied, getting a mixed reaction to actually seeing him in front of her. It was as if she wanted to cry and laugh simultaneously, instead she threw her arms around him for a strong friendly hug to hide the emotions going through her mind. Oh that smell of his, still the same.
He hugged her back, squeezing a bit tighter, than he would with just a friend, yet releasing her as she did, struggling to keep his cool.
"Oh, wow, I really did not expect to run into you here," she said almost apologetically.
"I'm glad you did. Almost make this thing tolerable. Conferences are not really my cup of tea," Logan said.
"I got sent to this as a replacement, and I really didn't know what I was walking into," she commented. Only then she recalled that she must've looked like crap and smelled awful, straight off the plane, wearing just her black jeans and a simple blue sweater. Her eyes were probably a little bloodshot, feeling dry and itchy from the lack of proper sleep and excess screen time, she tended to subject herself to these days.
"Let me know, whom to make the thank you note out to," he smirked.
"Can we go eat? I haven't eaten all morning," she noted, moving towards the exit.
"Maybe you would like to go grab something outside?" he suggested seeing the line of a hundred-something people queing up to a row of heated trays of food.
"Sure, I trust you know a place," she agreed. Logan Huntzberger always knew a place.
She grabbed her dark denim jacket from the coat-check, leaving her hand luggage behind, and stepped into the slightly damp early autumn weather with Logan leading the way. He really hadn't changed much, he still pretty much wore the same outfits, just a little more slim-tailored, as fashions had changed, hugging his clearly well looked-after body. His face was a little more rough, skinnier even, but the way that mouth of his smirked - looked exactly the same. It had once been her weakness.
"This place is pretty decent. Not Michelin star but decent," he suggested.
"I just need food, Logan, I'd be happy with anything that resembles food right about now," she said.
"Well that it certainly does," he noted, a little awkwardly. He'd never really had to make small talk with Rory before, yet in this setting, after what happened, it felt weird just to fall back into their usual banter. It was as if they were old friends, hell, they were more than old friends, but with baggage, long lost baggage.
"Okay if I order some wine for the table?" he asked.
"Sure," she replied hastily, without really thinking things through. All she knew was, she needed to ease her nerves.
"We'll get the Haywire Sauvignon Blanc, and I'll get the day's special," he ordered from the waitress.
"I'll get the carbonara pasta and the cheesecake. Oh, and a latte with the cake please," she said.
"So, Ace, Rory," he began hesitantly.
"Either is fine, Logan," she said, seeing him struggle.
"How have you been?" he asked.
"Alright I suppose. No huge breaks or anything. I'm freelancing mostly, and got a fixed term contract with the New York Times, until one of their reporters gets out of maternity leave. It's thanks to them I'm here," she explained.
"Yea, I've read a few of those stories. They were pretty good," he noted, thanking the waiter for pouring out their wine. Rory gulped down half a glass of her wine hastily - she was thirsty for one thing, but she also needed to relax.
"How's life in the HPG? I've got to say, I never thought you'd cave," she noted perhaps a little too bluntly.
Logan laughed at her question. It was good old Ace alright. Someone who knew the backstory and who didn't need it to be spelled out for her how complicated his relationships with the family business and his dad were.
"Well, I tried Palo Alto, it went okay, but I sold it. It was just too much work and well, I was a little lonely there. Left all my friends to the East Coast," he said a little bitterly. "And then Honor said she'd be moving to the UK with her family and dad just made me a decent offer around the same time, allowing me to choose my own projects, and I just moved along with her," Logan explained, taking a large sip of wine.
"How is she?" Rory asked.
"She's working in one of the publishing houses, running the place actually. She's still with Josh, they have two kids - Conrad who's 6 and Jordan who's 4," he said.
"I guess we're in that age, where it begins to feel like everyone around us is either married or with kids, or both," she laughed, realizing that the assumption was perhaps a little too painful, perhaps even wrong?
"I know what you mean, mom's been pestering me for years," he smirked. But Rory could see a sad glimmer in his eyes behind the facade.
"I'm sorry, perhaps I shouldn't have brought it up," she began.
Logan wasn't drunk enough to have that conversation hence he brushed the topic aside. "It's ancient history, Ace, let's just enjoy," he said, as their food was brought to the table.
"Wow, that really looks good. What is that?" she asked.
"I think it's a potato pancake of some sort," he said insightfully, looking over his side dish.
"So are you here a lot? You seem to know your way around, and the food?" she noted.
"Couple of months a year, I don't know if that's a lot. Enough so I bought an apartment downtown, hotels get old after a few days," Logan explained.
"How worldly of you," she laughed, biting into her pasta.
"How's your mom?" he inquired.
"She's still in good old Stars Hollow. She's still with Luke, never married, but they seem happy enough. The inn is doing great, though Sookie moved to New York. She's kind of bummed about that," Rory explained.
"It's good to hear, I mean the first part, not about Sookie," he noted, pouring himself another glass of wine and filling up Rory's as well.
"I'm so not going to be good at following the rest of the programme today after all this wine," she noted. "Oh shoot, what time is it?" she recalled, having taken their time with the lunch.
"It's just past 1 PM," he noted, finishing up his lunch.
"I'm supposed to be listening to the next plenary, my boss wanted a summary," she panicked, quickly shoving the last bite of her pasta into her mouth.
"You mean Mark Standstell?" he inquired.
"Yeah, you memorize the programme or something?" she asked confusedly, calming her pace down.
"I'll summarize it for you. The guy has been giving the exact same talk for a year and a half now. And by the number of times I've had to listen to it, I'll do it for you," he smirked.
"Oh, alright then," she settled, feeling relieved, having almost forgotten about her cake and latte that were just brought to the table.
"So do you want me to summarize it now?" he asked, almost teasingly.
It was half an hour later the two left the restaurant, having managed to hear his summerized version on the trends in investigative journalism and discussed his recent projects.
"So, you want to head back or do you want to play hooky with me?" he asked, with a mischievous smirk in his eyes.
...it's one less minute you haven't lived, Rory recalled.
"The latter is tempting, but I'm not sure if I should," she sighed, reluctantly. She was here to work after all.
"Or maybe we could meet up later for dinner?" he suggested, fearing he might otherwise lose contact with her again.
"Sure, dinner sounds good," she agreed, feeling slightly relieved not having to choose.
"Where are you staying?" he inquired.
"I got an Airbnb over at Schanzenviertel," she said, as they walked back to the Conference venue.
"You really didn't get very far with your homework on this trip, did you?" he asked.
"What?" she raised her eyebrows.
"That's a good place if you want to go to a rave or shop for vintage clothes, not for accommodation. I have a spare guest room, you're welcome to stay. I promise you it has a very nice view," he said.
"Okay if I think about it?" she said a little hesitantly. She wanted to spend time with him, surely, but was staying with him just one step too close for another round of heartbreak.
"Of course, but the offer stands," Logan assured. Maybe he was just being a little too forward, clingy even?
They snuck in from the back, taking the few empty seats in the back row, side by side. Standstell was just finishing, and Logan was pretending to speak along as he did, making Rory giggle. She scolded him playfully, for making her laugh inappropriately.
She tried to concentrate on the presenters to follow, but struggled. Logan kept up a good commentary, whispering to her ear half the time. As such, it was probably the most fun she'd ever had at a conference. During the late afternoon coffee break they both mingled separately, occasionally still glancing across the room to find each-other, as if to see if the other one was still there.
"So, have you made up your mind? I have a car waiting, I can drop you off or…," he began.
"Your place is probably amazing, so alright, let's go," she relented, pulling her hand luggage behind her.
"I hope you're not too tired, I didn't quite realize you were straight off a plane," he noted.
"Well I've been sharper than this, but I'm fine," she sighed, as Logan folded her suitcase handle and handed it to his driver.
The black sedan rolled over the cobble street roads, finally pulling at a stop just as it reached a pedestrian pathway.
"This is us, Ace," he said, stepping out. "It's just a few minutes down the road," he added, carrying her small suitcase in his hand, the cobble stones not quite working ideally for pulling it behind him.
"Well by the looks of it we won't have to go very far for dinner," she noted, looking at the pedestrian road with small cafes and restaurants on both sides taking up the ground floor.
"Very true, though most of these are a bit touristy," he noted.
"Well I'm a tourist," she laughed.
"You maybe but I'm taking you where the locals go," he smirked. "But first, let's go rest a bit before we do," he said, opening up door to the stairway.
They walked up the stair up to the fourth floor.
"This is it," he said, opening up one side of the double doors leading into his apartment. The place had white walls and high ceilings. The place itself, certainly more than a 100 years old, wasn't huge. The hallway ran down the middle, the rooms opening up to either sides and a bathroom at the end of the hall. "This is the guest room, Honor usually stays here when she uses this place," he said, opening up the double doors with stained glass panels.
"Thanks, and the bathroom is over there, right? I think I could use a shower," she added.
"Sure, we'll leave say 8ish?" he said looking at the wall clock which was 6.45.
Rory nodded in return, closing the door behind her, a little awkwardly. They'd seen each other naked thousands of times, now as old friends, somehow there was this invisible line that she sensed. She wasn't going to just parade around naked, would she? Yet somehow closing that door seemed like shutting him off, perhaps more strickly that she hoped.
"Oh and there are towels in the bathroom cabinet, help yourself," he called after her through the closed door.
Logan didn't know what to do. She clearly hadn't wanted to part ways either but what was he doing? It had been amazing being around her all day, but was he really trying something? Or were they just friends? Friends above anything, right?
His room was just across the hall from hers. He walked into his, placing his jacket into the cupboard and pulled out the chair of his desk, overlooking the canal, opening his laptop. He might just as well try to get some work done until she got out of the shower. The downside to having an apartment in a old house like this, was that there was just one shower, so he had to wait his turn.
His nostrils filled with the scent of her shampoo, as she walked out of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel. He could barely catch a glimpse of her bare skin through the ajar door of his room, taking his breath away momentarily. Was there an alternative universe where he could ever stay indifferent to Rory Gilmore?
He saved the draft he'd began writing on his laptop, unable to fully concentrate, and headed for the bathroom. Just the very idea that Rory had been in that same shower before him turned him on. He tried to keep his cool, taking a few deep breaths and switching the shower to a few degrees cooler than usual. He stepped out of the shower refreshed, trying to gather himself before stepping out, a towel wrapped around his waist. As he did he almost clashed into Rory, who was just stepping out of her room, already dressed in a red tea-lenght shirt dress, drying off her long dark hair with a towel.
The sight of his toned chest and abs suddenly in front of her was almost too much for her, leaving her at a loss for words momentarily.
"Sorry," he said hesitantly, turning to leave to his room.
"I was just wondering if you have a hair dryer somewhere?" she asked, finally recalling what she came to look for.
"In the bathroom, under the sink I think," he said, closing his door behind him, as she left to search for the hair dryer
He could see Rory was a little tired, hence he suggested they head back to the apartment after dinner. The dinner itself had passed casually discussing their old friends, Colin, Finn and Robert and the things they'd both been working on for the past seven years.
"Do you want a glass of wine?" he suggested, as he locked the apartment door behind them.
"Sure," she agreed, hanging up her jacket.
"You haven't seen the best part of this place yet," he added, opening up the bottle of wine in the small kitchen.
"What, like your bedroom?" Rory joked trying to break some of that awkwardness, wondering whether this was one of his current pickup lines.
"Well, that too, but I meant this," he said smilingly, opening up the door to the small balcony.
"Wow," she sighed. The balcony overlooked the canal, the houses surrounding it and the medieval houses lit up beautifully in the dark autumn night.
"Grab us some chairs, will you?" he suggested, pointing at the two fold up chair placed at the side of the balcony.
Rory complied, taking the glass of wine he held out for her.
"Hold this too," he said, handing her his glass too, "I'll go grab you a blanket just in case it gets chilly," he added.
"It's really beautiful out here," she said as he returned, placing a white woolen blanket over her shoulders. "Thank you," she added.
"I loved it when I was first here, but now, it's become just like a wallpaper really, not half as much fun if there isn't anyone to share it with," he said.
"So why isn't there anyone to share it with?" she inquired, carefully.
"I work a lot, travel a lot, and the name tends to draw in the wrong kind of people, I suppose," he commented honestly.
"What about you? Are you seeing anyone?" he inquired, somehow having been too afraid to approach the subject all day, taking a sip of wine.
"I date, but nothing serious," she replied. "Just as work crazy as you probably," she added.
"We always had that same kind of work ethic, didn't we?" he sighed.
"Well not when we first met, later yes," she tried to joke. "Or do you mean the kind you tried to pull today, trying to get me to play hooky?" she added.
"You know what I meant," he laughed.
"I do," she agreed. "Logan, it's been really good seeing you. I missed you," she said, feeling finally comfortable enough to state that.
"I did too," he said. She had no idea how badly.
"I'm really sorry for how things ended, I swear I went back and forth a thousand times, thinking whether I should call you. But the campaign trail was crazy, and I just sort of compartmentalized you, I suppose," Rory said.
"Hey, I'm the one who should be sorry. I sprung it on you unexpectedly, I made it all or nothing, I'm sorry. I was an idiot," he said.
"You kind of were," she said, trying to ease the tension, laughingly.
"Glad we agree on that," he noted, adding "more wine?"
Rory nodded. She'd had plenty, but somehow the night was too enjoyable to end. The warm autumn evening wind brushed her cheeks gently, and the blanket and the wine warmed her to the bone.
"Hey, you look cold, want to scoot over, I'm sure we can both fit under this," she suggested, looking at Logan sipping at his wine.
Logan complied and pulled the blanket across their shoulders. Her warmth already oozed through his dress shirt just as their shoulders touched, almost making him shiver. It wasn't long until his hand found it's natural position over her shoulder, enabling them to fit even more closely together. It felt natural to her too, and she certainly didn't object. Neither of them wanted to break their newly found comfort, a step in either direction could tip that fragile balance.