AN: This chapter didn't come easily. So maybe, it's a filler. But soon there'll be more 'action'. Thanks for all of your feedback so far!

Chapter 103

January 25th, 2005

Rory was still a little shaken up by her dad's visit to her dorm that morning. Boy, did he have the nerve? She couldn't squeeze it into her head how he would ever think it'd be an acceptable thing to do after the stunt he'd pulled at grandma's and grandpa's vow renewal.

She'd only remained remotely civil with him because Paris had been around, and what every cell in her body had told her was to get out of there, rush to class, not standing to have another word with him. On top of feeling betrayed by the way he'd behaved, there was also the embarrassment relating to him having reprimanded Logan like that at the vow renewal and treated her like a child.

She was so angry at her father that her concentration had been off the entire time Professor Roberts had spoken about empiricism and scepticism. And now she knew that reading up on the latter on her own was going to steal another 3-4 out of her evening, adding to her reasons for being angry at him.

Rory was starving on top of everything, having skipped a proper breakfast, running on the granola bar and black coffee she'd made herself in her room that morning, hoping to head off to remedy that. But the second she stepped out of the classroom, she realized her plan was not that straightforward.

Couldn't the guy take a hint? Did she really have to shout, tell him to leave?

Well at least he knew the way to her stomach, she thought, seeing him holding a tall cup of coffee.

"Still here?" she asked, desperately trying to maintain a civil tone. She didn't want to be known as the rude girl, shouting in the courtyard. All she wanted was to get out of there, she didn't even want to look at him.

They took a few steps further, getting out of the way of the moving crowd.

"Still here," Christopher exhaled. "This is for you, coffee. It might be a little cold. Teachers sure talk a lot here at Yale. No bells. Don't they have bells?" he blabbered, feeling a little chilly for having waited a while outside, and Rory could tell he was a little out of his element too. This wasn't the man she knew as her father.

"Nope," she replied swiftly, perhaps a bit rudely. "Thanks for this," she nodded towards the coffee cup, trying her hardest to keep a straight face.

"You're welcome," Christopher replied, looking for the right words. Essentially he was just buying time.

Was he really hoping a similar approach like that morning was going to give different results? - they both thought. They did share a 50% of their autosomal DNA.

"Look, Rory… That manic, desperate guy that came down to your dorm this morning, he left. He's gone, and I'm not going to bug you anymore, okay?" he said.

Then what are you still doing here? - Rory wanted to ask.

"Okay," Rory muttered instead, her gaze scattering.

"I didn't think it through, and I feel pretty dumb about coming down here like this. I just have to say, though, that I hate our relationship, okay? I hate it," Christopher said and Rory could tell he meant it. "This wall, this stupid wall… it sucks," he added, continuing, "And I put it there," takin the blame. "But I wanted to try and do something about it, but I got a little desperate, and I'm sorry," he added.

"It's okay," Rory said, accepting his apology. She did appreciate his apology, but she wasn't sure if something like that - or simply hating their relationship and wanting to do something about it was going to be enough. She didn't know how to forgive him for what he'd done.

Christopher continued blaber a little about Gigi and his dad, but Rory wasn't really hearing him, she was still that angry, and mostly she just observed her father - unshaven and looking like he hadn't slept in days - trying to understand what was going on. She got his message about the fact that he didn't want him and her to end up like him and his father - but that comparison felt so out of place. He never talked about his parents with her, hence she really didn't know what that relationship was really about. She knew Straub was a difficult, oppinionated and loud man, but that was about all. All she had to compare that to was what her mom had with grandma or grandpa.

She felt a little bad by having zoned out but before she could really respond with anything more he was already handing her the packets of sugar for the coffee and saying how he'd see her, as if needing to hurry off himself. He looked a little embarrassed, pityful even.

"Bye," was all she managed to spell out as he already walked off. As if on instinct, or better yet, a defence mechanism, she walked the other way, knowing she needed to eat something to even begin to think straight.

As she made her way to the dining hall, her mind just kept going the odd interaction. Why was it that her father never understood where the line was, or stopped screwing things up? Things had been good and then he'd gotten Sherry pregnant, breaking her mom's heart. She could tell, even if she'd kept most of it to herself. Then when the moment had been convenient, no matter if it had been Emily meddling, it had still been him that had chosen to come meddle with her mother again. Rory knew the two had an undeniable draw. Unfinished business - one could say. But it didn't mean it was the right thing to do. And now he came begging for her attention? What went on in her father's brain wasn't within her grasp, she didn't get him, and yet - the way he'd looked haunted her - her father was a grown man begging to spend time with her.

July 23rd, 2024

Rory and Logan were in the pool with their kids, having spent the first half of the lazy morning making pancakes and just hanging out. The day was warm, but not like the heatwave they'd had last week, almost as if illustrating the climax of their holiday, considering that vow renewal now being over and just a series of the kids' birthdays left to celebrate before they went back home. Rory wasn't really sure which one of their homes really was home if they spoke of going back every once in a while, the firm decision remaining to be in limbo.

Either way it was a relief to relax after the unintentional stress running any big event inevitably had caused. And of course Christopher's letter hadn't helped. But being out here together, just the five of them, it was surprisingly easy for Rory just to hide that mess to the back of her mind. After all, she was resilient when it came to messes created by her father. Besides, deep down, she wasn't all that surprised - at least that was what she tried to tell herself.

She'd talked to Logan a little about the matter, but with Logan the similarity of their fathers' was uncanny when it came to this. And Rory couldn't even really be angry, because unlike her father, Mitchum had hid his secret almost-second-family for much longer than Christopher had.

Logan, however, understood pretty well that it was probably affecting Rory even if she claimed to be fine. And for this reason he didn't want her comparing their fathers much. He knew well how having been lied to for decades felt. It wasn't a good feeling, even if one didn't have high expectations of one's father to begin with.

"Here it comes!" Logan called out and threw a ring-shaped diving toy towards Finny, jolting out of his thoughts as he saw him calling for his attention.

The ring sank to the deep end of the poolt. The 7-year-old just dived right after it. The kid was getting really good at diving, and Logan was actually considering having him explore the field as a sport, as he so willingly did every trick Logan showed him online, mostly playing catch from the bottom of the pool and practicing holding his breath. Sure, it was a little dangerous if done poorly, but the boy seemed to have a good grasp of what he could do. And, of course, he was never really doing this unattended.

Logan had always been good at sports, though he'd never really been much for games played in a team, except for basketball, the reason being largely that his father didn't much believe in things like that. Besides, it was hard to fit team sports into the Huntzberger schedules. But he knew he was giving his kids at least something better than that - with all the kids together they already formed a small team of something. Maybe he could've had had that had his father chosen Catherine instead of Shira, maybe they'd all grown up together in Maine and done lots of boating? - Logan pondered briefly and not too seriously. This topic was definitely making him think about Owen as well.

Rory and the twins were floating like sea stars at the shallow end of the pool, and Rory really couldn't argue that whenever she did that, she wondered how much of the twin's love for the water was due to the fact that she'd swam a lot when she was pregnant with them. She could remember floating just like this on her back when they'd still been inside of her, those thoughts being topical due to their soon-to-be birthdays. She could still recall the calm that it brought her, and it did so now too, at least for a moment. That at least until the splatter and shouts pulled her out of her bubble.

"You ruined my record!" Emma reprimanded her sister, who apparently had floated into her, while she'd counted to 30 and had been particularly proud of her achievement, both the counting to part and the floating.

"You were sinking anyway!" Leigh shot back at her sister.

"I was not!" Emma argued.

"You were too," Leigh continued, the bickering that these two seemed to have ongoing most of the time these days already beginning to give Rory a headache. While she wanted to say she was fine with everything about her dad, she couldn't really deny that the matter had barely given her 3-4 hours of sleep last night.

Rory retreated to the side of the pool, losing herself in thought again, while appearing to be 'present' but really being not.

Rory kept picturing her father's life in Japan - how he lived, what his morning routine was like, what he called his kids and what he did with them. She'd never really had the chance to know him that intimately to know his routines - once he had lived with her mother, she'd already been away at Yale. She wondered whether it really was that impossible to have tried to involve her or G in his life there. Seriously - what would've been the worst thing his wife's family would've done to a man over 50-years-old who was taking good care of his wife and had by now been doing that for years? She just couldn't understand it. The minute she started to think about it, fury rose in her and she just wanted to fly over there and shout at him. Phone just didn't do the reason justice, but she knew she wasn't going to do it. She had pride, she was better than him.

"Relax your brow, you'll get wrinkles otherwise," Logan teased, as he reached her and leaned his elbows onto the edge of the pool, having set the kids up to play fishy in the middle. Logan could tell she was thinking about the letter again.

Rory raised the corner of her mouth, and forced herself to relax her forehead. She already had wrinkles, and Logan knew it, one of the disadvantages of having the Gilmore metabolism that kept her skinny.

"You could call him, I bet he's almost expecting a scolding, so just give it to him. It would probably be better if it'd be you rather than G," Logan noted.

"I almost thought I'd be a better punishment to just pretend we never found it, that we're clueless. Let him sweat," Rory snorted, speaking so the kids wouldn't hear them. She wasn't sure she could do that, she wasn't even sure she could ever talk to him about anything else. All she could think of was that if his number popped up on her phone she'd probably just slide 'decline' at that point.

"He's to blame, I get it. But I bet you have all these questions in your head - maybe it's just better to ask them?" Logan suggested innocently.

"I don't know…," Rory hesitated.

Logan was rarely wrong about things like that. But strangely she feared that maybe she'd learn something that would make it forgivable, but she wasn't sure if that was possible. What excuse was there to not admit to having his two daughters? What excuse was there to lie like that, and come to think of it he was lying not only to her and G but also to his daughter over there, even if she was too young to fully understand?

Emma and Leigh were the same age, some months older - but still, as Mei, Rory's sister whom she didn't yet know. It just didn't fit in her head. It had been a close call that Rory had never really known G either, having had such a large age gap, now that gap was almost impossibly gigantic with Mei. If she did meet her someday, would she ever really connect with her?

But Rory knew something needed to happen. She knew G was taking it harder than she was, not that she knew at that point where G was even, but as a big sister she felt it was her responsibility to handle this, if anyone's. She needed to be the strong and brave one.

"Alright, I'll go call him," she sighed, and emerged from the water, determined to get this over with.