AN: This is a sequel to "Maine Event" and "Leaps and Landings" that starts off in January 2019.
It is readable without having read the two others first, but I would recommend it to get everything straight away. I will try to explain a few things along the way as well, but I think it is more enjoyable if you read the two other's first. But a quick recap of the previous stories here (skip this part it if you want):
Odette's and Logan's engagement was a pretence to achieve their (separate) independence, and while it didn't quite work as planned - they did have a pretend wedding but later on Mitchum found out Logan had married Rory instead before the pretend wedding, and Odette's manipulative family was still convinced in getting her back under their thumb. Mitchum helped Odette get a new identity - so her name is Celeste (Este for short). But she also had to give up most of her inheritance in order to fully be independent. There's a certain fear she has to live with - that people will find out that Celeste is indeed Odette (as Odette was of public interest from a wealthy family who just disappeared) and she tries to stay under the radar.
In 2016 where AYITL left off Rory had a miscarriage and asked for Logan's help if she could stay in the Maine house for a while. She started writing the book but never finished, feeling like it was rather a method of processing. Her relationship with Lorelai is much cooler than it was in GG but they're adjusting.
Rory found out in Maine that Mitchum had a second family in Maine with Catherine. This means Logan has a stepbrother Owen whom he has met but who doesn't know anything about his family. Owen works as a schoolteacher in Portland (MN). Mitchum knows that Logan knows, but doesn't plan on doing anything about it. Mitchum divorced Shira in 2017.
Rory and Logan are married, have a baby boy called Finn Richard Huntzberger born October 8th 2017, so he'll be 16 months old at the beginning of this story.
Celeste (Odette) met Jess through Logan and Rory in the spring of 2017 and they fell for each other - they took a chance and decided to have a baby together (as this was one of the reasons Celeste had wanted to escape her family in the first place) after having only been in a relationship for a few months. They married in December 2017 and had their baby at the end of January 2018 (a little prematurely), whose name is Evie Mariano. Jess knows the truth about Celeste's background.
Logan is on the HPG board and works on his pet projects, having slowed down a bit.
Jess is the manager of Truncheon Publishing New York, which the HPG now owns but has a fair bit of freedom. He's a writer, but has in recent years taken a break from it.
Rory went back to school (NYU) to become a teacher and she is now on her second year of her Master's.
April lives in the ground floor apartment of Jess' and Celeste's townhouse. She helps them out with babysitting every once in a while.
Added later as the story developed: this story contains a lot of side-storylines including Finn, Gigi, Paris, a little bit of Lorelai&Luke.
(I hope this was all..)
"I can't do this!" Rory exclaimed, as she marched back and forth Celeste's study, needing to vent.
Celeste sat, legs crossed, on her velvet lounge couch, observing her, the baby monitor beside her and her leather binder on her lap having hoped Rory would be willing to go over her latest drawings for story ideas. She had an opinion on this, but clearly Rory was not ready to hear it just yet, Celeste having by now understood that this was how Rory processed things. While Celeste had never really meant for it to happen, it had become clear that in some ways she'd indeed replaced Lorelai's role in Rory's life, as Lorelai had feared. Rhe came to her not wanting to be judged - to let everything out. And with everything Rory had done for her - keeping up the pretence she had had with Logan, taking a bullet for her with the press and being her support system when she needed one - just to name a few - Rory had the permission to do that day or night with her. Nevertheless, it was with an inner sigh she placed the binder back onto the coffee table, realizing this was clearly not the time.
"I still have a ton of research left to do if I want to graduate this spring. I'm already behind! And if I don't get it done in time my supervisor won't write me into her project," Rory fretted. "I actually have a chance at a career here," she whimpered, leaning against the window sill. She really didn't need the career - the degree nor the job but she craved it - she craved recognition for what she did, what she was able to do, not for what her last name was. Despite years of therapy teaching her how to care less about what other people thought - the fear or falling into the stereotype still lingered.
"Isn't it rather about how you are going to do this not if…," Celeste finally pitched in, representing the voice of reason. She eyed Rory carefully, hoping she wouldn't be too mad at her for pointing out the obvious.
Rory knew she was right, but the timing just seemed just so wrong she wanted to cry.
"Yeah, and look how well I did the first time! I fled to class the first chance I got, I'm no better than the likes of Shira, if I keep this up," Rory added, throwing her hands up in the air.
"Shira went to parties, you went to class. You worked! That doesn't really compare," she argued.
"You know what I mean," Rory replied with a frown.
"You compromised, you found a way!" Celeste pointed out.
"I just got my 7 hours of sleep back," Rory moaned.
"But Finny is awfully cute…," she replied, knowing Rory needed to be reminded of the positives as balance.
"But 30 hours of labor?!" Rory grumbled, shaking her head in disbelief.
"A) second time around is statistically hardly ever as long, and B) if I remember correctly it should be like a 50:50 chance that you'll get that far to actually go into labor," Celeste recalled reading these things somewhere, when she'd gone through her own studious process when she began to think about having a baby herself.
"Well the latter isn't very assuring either," Rory sighed as she sank into Jess' office chair.
Celeste had to admit, Rory was right as well, having herself experience of recovering from surgical interventions with Evie.
"But three kids under three?" Rory groaned again.
Celeste had nothing on that.
"Have you told Logan?" she asked after a moment of silence.
Rory shook her head.
Celeste could guess why not, but above all it was between him and her.
Rory groaned audibly. "I'll tell him tonight," she said, another moment later. Like she had any choice?!
It was then a sudden cute babble with a soft giggles became audible though the baby monitor, and Celeste rose to attend to Evie.
"Does she always wake up this happy? I swear Finny mostly just cries," Rory commented, feeling a little astounded by Evie's giggles, as she trailed after her down the stairs, getting a simple shrug in response.
Jess sat at a late afternoon meeting at the new Truncheon office, that now had moved a few blocks for a bigger space, the company having grown double its size in a year, adding three more editors into their bunch. As Jenn discussed the latest titles that they were publishing, he couldn't help his mind wandering off - after all he knew most of this already, it was his job to know. Noah sat across the table from him - and despite the fact that he'd hired him on Logan's recommendation, who'd known him from Hamburg, he knew he still needed to be a little careful with him. He was one of the few outsiders that had insisted he knew of Celeste's past. They hadn't really confirmed what he knew or what he thought he knew, denying anything as Celeste's own NDA required, but they taken precautions setting a NDA on Noah's contract just in case. But despite that he still didn't really trust him with anything more than straightforward editing. Jess knew that Noah was getting bored - Noah was clearly overqualified for just that, even Logan had warned him about it. Originally he'd only really figured he would need him for the year or so, until Evie was a little older and he himself could put more of him into his work again, but that time never quite seemed to come, realizing somewhere along the way that Evie was only going to be craving more of his attention for the next decade or so if not more.
"And with these titles we estimate be finished with by the end of March," Jenn finished her overview.
Jess felt ultimately bad for not having paid attention. But maybe the inability to concentrate was inevitable with the lack of sleep he'd self-inflicted to get some personal writing done. He'd put his own writing on hold for more than a year, but he had gotten to a point where the accumulation of stories, scenes and glimpses, many of which had gathered inspiration from what he'd been through with Celeste and Evie, just needed to be let out. He hadn't really showed it to anyone yet, not even Celeste, who probably thought he'd been simply working late with Truncheon stuff several nights a week.
"That's good," he replied. "Other's any thoughts?" he asked.
"I heard rumors the Iron Circle is looking to merge," Noah said.
"I'm not really sure we're looking to grow much more at this point," Jess replied sceptically. The Iron Circle was a small publishing house much like Truncheon, when it's first started out, had been, but they had a rather particular focus - mostly graphic novels and not really the kind that were meant for kids. And if it had been anything else he would've had a much easier time saying 'no' to it, but he knew that company held the potential for two good things even without looking into it. First of all it was something Noah was passionate about, having worked with dark themed graphic novels before - and if he wanted to keep it around, that might be a way to do that, and secondly there was Celeste, who'd been aspiring to explore the genre herself. And having a connection there would bring her perhaps a step closer to it. With the NDA on his contract, at least he could keep Noah close by - and he really was good at what he did, certinaly an asset to the company. And partially, it was guilt that he felt - Celeste having been put through and having given so much of herself to raise Evie, putting everything else on the back burner until she dealt with her recovery, the physical therapy, besides the struggles of adapting to a life with a baby. She'd been incredible - brave and strong, while he'd just barely kept up, enjoying mostly the fruits of fatherhood.
"Jess?" Jenn asked, the team seeing Jess had drifted off into his thoughts. "Are we through for today?" she asked.
"Yeah, sorry," Jess replied, running his hand over his face. There was no hiding that he was tired.
The editors scattered, but Noah stayed behind.
"You know, it really would be a very good opportunity. They've been hoping to expand to the East Coast for a while now, they have a loyal clientele, as far as I know the only real reason they are doing this is that the company is small and they're struggling with administrative costs," Noah explained.
Jess nodded - he couldn't disagree with that statement.
"If you don't want a part of it, I might consider suggesting it to HPG," Noah said, sounding determined. It didn't really sound like a threat, more like just the words of a man who knew what he was doing and with connections to Logan and others at the HPG, it really wasn't that surprising. Logan had warned Jess that Noah might get bored and this was living proof of it.
"I'll think about it, okay? Can you get me more details, and we'll talk tomorrow about it?" Jess replied, getting a satisfied smirk in return. The least he could do was hear him out.
Logan was an excellent father - exemplary. He was great with Finny, having with little hesitance cut back on his work hours so Rory could go back to her classes. Rory had no doubt he would welcome the news open heartedly. He'd get carried away, get his hopes up even this early and they both knew how dangerous something like that could be having gone through one loss already. During her drive home she'd desperately tried to look at this from the bright side - the brightest of the side was how happy this could potentially make him, and she really didn't want to shadow his happiness with her side in this.
"Logan? Do you have a minute?" Rory asked, as she leaned against the doorway of Logan's home study at their Upper West Side penthouse, where he'd been stuck writing e-mails the entire afternoon since the nanny had taken over entertaining Finny.
"Always," he replied, and rose to walk over to Rory, wrapping his arms around her hips and kissing her gently in greeting. He could see there was something off about her - she seemed unraveled, nervous.
"I went to Dr. Norton today," she replied, hesitantly.
Logan raised his eyebrows. He knew too well who he was and he was thankful Rory explained herself soon enough, not having to assume anything bad.
"I'm 8 weeks pregnant," Rory exhaled, feeling a stone fall from her chest, her face remaining serious.
"Were you expecting me to not like the news, because you look like you were?" Logan inquired, slightly confusedly.
Apparently she wasn't hiding her hesitance well enough. They hadn't really planned this, but it wasn't really that big of a surprise - there being plenty of occasions when they'd thrown caution to the wind.
"There's more," Rory began. "It's not just one baby, we're having twins," she added.
"Wow, that is big news!" Logan reacted, taking a few steps back and sitting down on the edge of his desk. Even despite the surprise factor, he couldn't help but to smile at that prospect. He'd secretly always dreamt of having a big family and while Rory had said a tentative 'yes' to perhaps having another one 'some day', he hadn't really ever dared to dream of three.
Rory sat down into the Chester leather couch, defeatedly, staring out the large gridded window looking out to their terrace.
"I just wish I was more happy about the timing, you know," she sighed, not really needing to say much more.
Logan did know - Rory's drive to prove herself had been a long time coming and now in the second year of her Educational studies Master's, she was about to graduate. However, instead of the wish to become a teacher that had taken her along that particular path, shed realized pretty soon that she would never really become one, shifting her goal to academics instead. And in that sense she really didn't need to spell it out for him why she wasn't looking more enthusiastic about the news. Academics and motherhood didn't go well together - the world was tough enough without adding three kids into the mix. And he knew that suggesting her to take some time off, wasn't really something she wanted to hear.
He sat down next to her, shoulder to shoulder, taking her hand.
"Yeah, I know, we'll get through this. Things will be fine. We'll find a way...," Rory grumbled before he had a chance to say anything, as if expecting these to be the things he was going to say.
"I love you," Logan said instead, linkin his fingers with hers.
Rory was up early the next morning, feeling rather thankful that the queasiness she'd felt all week, hadn't escalated into full blown morning sickness. Maybe she'd be lucky like last time?
Logan was already out jogging, probably taking his usual 5 mile route along the Hudson river, having left her a note on the kitchen counter saying "Courage, Ace!"
Rory only wished she had that much faith in herself as Logan seemed to have.
Finny was still asleep, thankfully sleeping well until 8.30 on most mornings and she knew she needed to get her game plan together. She made herself a half-decaf - half regular cup of coffee, having learned this trick the last time around to trick herself into believing it was the real stuff, and opened her laptop in front of her.
She was doing her thesis on the importance for modernization of journalism education in high schools, more specifically on how to teach teens about digital platforms and how to assess their quality and trustworthiness. Her thesis was clearly aspiring to be more than a regular Master thesis, not simply wanting to get it over with like most of her coursemates whose main focus was to learn practical methods to manage in front of the class the best way possible. She'd done the preliminary surveys and observational part of her thesis already last spring. And she'd now spent several months developing a programme complying the best practises she'd determined along this process into a programme she'd begun to test out in schools wanting to know whether her ideas actually worked on the students. Now she just needed her supervisors feedback on what she'd been doing so far so she'd know if she could move on to the next step. She'd sent her supervisor, Lisa Mori, who wasn't really that much older than her, but already very well established, and request that she needed a consult, and knowing she was very much a morning person, she'd jumped at the opportunity to get this over with the same morning despite feeling quite sleepy herself.
It was just 7.33 when her Skype rang, Lisa having seen her log on a minute earlier.
"Good morning," Rory greeted her.
"Hi, how are you?" Lisa said. Their interaction, ever since she'd taken that first class with her in spring 2017, had developed to something rather familiar - she was no doubt her favourite professor in a classroom, and she really didn't treat Rory like an average student except when it came to grading, rather as an apprentice.
"I'm good," Rory exhaled. "Did you get a chance to look at what I sent you?" she asked.
"I did," Lisa replied.
"What do you think? Is the sample size enough?" Rory asked.
"It's okay for a thesis. There is no doubt you haven't put the necessary hours into it," Lisa replied.
"But it's not great...," Rory finished the sentence for her.
"If you can think of postponing your graduation half a year, get at least five-six more schools involved, this could be publishing worthy," Lisa added.
"Right," Rory sighed. She'd figured as much.
Lisa could see Rory didn't seem very enthusiastic about her suggestion.
"Listen, I'm not really supposed to announce this, but I really ought to get this done sooner rather than later," Rory began, getting a surprised glance in return. "It's not that I don't want to do this well, I do, and I hope that I can still continue on your project after. It's just that I'm pregnant. It's early, but as this involves you too I figured, you should know. I don't want to give up on what we've talked about, but honestly, the whole thing has been quite a shock and I am really not sure how I'll manage with everything. But I want you to know that until I am able to I want to put pedal to the metal on this," Rory explained, determinedly.
"Okay," she sighed not sounding too pleased to hear the news. Pregnancy was the most common cause for people dropping out or for giving up on the academic career and especially in this field of study in her experience. "Alright, I can probably get my course on research methods that's starting in a week to do a few practice rounds using your programme, I'd have to keep an eye on them and double check everything they're doing but that would at least give us a significant increase in sample size," Lisa suggested, wanting obviously for this thesis to turn into something bigger than just another thesis herself. "But you're going to need controls - a school that does something else but that seems to work well and a school that barely does anything. Preferably not small-town schools," she added.
"Well my school, Chilton Prep, has a pretty decent independent program. It's not huge, but I have an 'in'. I can think of at least 6 editors of various university and city papers that have come from their program, and that just in the past 15 years," Rory replied.
"Yourself included," Lisa reflected.
"Well clearly the programme is not ideal," Rory commented, in an sarcastic tone, knowing well that that was not what she meant.
"Fine, it'll probably work for one of the controls," she replied. "Any ideas for the other one? It would be good if you already had contacts with them. It could get you in sooner probably this way," Lisa suggested. Surely she could ask around herself, but she had enough on her plate and she knew Rory was more capable than most students with things like this.
"I might have one in mind, but I'm not sure they'd go for it or what their current situation is, I'd have to ask," Rory replied, unsure if it really was such a good idea. But Stars Hollow High was too small, and she didn't want to go sending random e-mails to different schools.
"Ask! Let me know what they say," Lisa replied, adding, "and let's get to work then," constructively.
"Okay," Rory said and took a deep breath.
"And Rory? - Congratulations!" Lisa said, smilingly. She might have other priorities herself, but she did understand.
"Thanks," she replied humbly, feeling relieved it had gone as well as it had. Rory didn't want to become one of the statistics and she didn't want to dissapoint her, which only meant that if she was going to do this, she needed to do this now. She was probably crazy thinking she could actually pull this off, but she knew she needed to try.
She hung up the call a moment later, taking a deep breath as she glanced at the clock. If she was lucky she might still have time to send out the e-mail before Finny woke. It wouldn't hurt to ask - surely graduating on time was more important than some complicated history? - she thought, as she typed "Portland high school" into the search field of her inbox.
AN: Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think! Is it too predictable?