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And Wild Comes the Dawn

Chapter Text

Rory stared in the room as number hats were tossed and people cheered. With a resigned sigh, she turned to walk out of the room. Paris was just down the hall, clearly listening to the elation from the press room.

"Paris …" Rory started.

Paris held up a hand, "Don't. You don't have to pretend to like me."

Rory pointed back to the room, "Did I not just get done telling you how we were friends? Paris, forget them. Forget them all. Don't-" she was cut off by the sounds of crashing from inside the press room, and more cheers as Paris' office was dismantled.

The two women stood in silence as pieces of the make-shift office were thrown out the door, the crashes echoing down the hallway.

Before Paris could say anything, Rory gently pulled her arm and turned her away. "Come on, Paris. I know what you need."

"Gin?"

"I was going to say tequila, but gin works."

"Don't you have something with Logan? Aren't you back together?" Paris asked the question, but her face wasn't serious. She looked as though she'd crumble if Rory said anything other than no.

Rory waved her hand dismissively. "Forget Huntzberger." She meant it too. Yes, they kissed. Yes, they were - maybe - back together. Yes, she missed him. Yes, she'd expected to actually make plans to have dinner with him that night. But some things were more important, and Paris was one of them. The plans hadn't been finalized anyway, so Logan couldn't just assume they were going out. Even if they had, Paris was more important, for tonight.

Paris smiled, the slow smile of someone who is genuinely appreciative that they are a first priority. "Thanks Rory," she said quietly. "You're a good friend. Probably the only one I have."

"You have Doyle," Rory reminder her.

Now it was Paris' turn to wave her hand dismissively. "He's a boyfriend. Not a friend." She frowned. "Maybe I shouldn't be dating him."

"Paris! One thing at a time, okay? Only one major change a day. You can't break up with Doyle today." Rory wasn't sure she wanted Paris to break up with Doyle at all. Paris needed someone to call her out on things, and while Doyle had his flaws, he balanced Paris. As an added bonus, the ways in which Paris felt superior to him had nothing to do with his height, which in turn made Doyle feel better and - and they just matched. No breaking up. Rory adjusted her grip on Paris' arm to a more comfortable looped arm-in-arm and headed for the closest pub.

Two drinks in, and Paris seemed to have forgotten that she ever wanted to be Editor at the paper. Her voice accentuated with every sip, and Rory just sat back and let her talk.

"And Bill, who does he think he is, huh? He thinks he's going to go work for a newspaper? Ha! He'll be lucky if he winds up delivering them when he's through. And Casey, you know he's going to run for editor." She paused, thoughtfully. "Hrm, he'll probably win too, he likes to dangle the possibility of fucking the younger staff in front of them."

"Paris!"

Paris wagged her finger, "Not just the ladies." Rory looked scandalized at this, and Paris was pleased. Shock value was low-hanging fruit with Rory. "I bet you, it's him. How are you going to decide anyone?"

In the blink of an eye, Paris was all business.

Rory sighed and shifted her glass to the edge of the bar. The bartender hadn't stopped by in a while - Paris had been acting like self and then some - and she was hoping to distract Paris.

Paris was undeterred. "Well? Voting? Names out of a hat? Fiefdom?"

It was impossible not to answer, and Rory gave her glass a frustrated shove. Paris took notice and snapped at the bartender. "Hey, moron, we've been empty for a while over here. God, my nanny could do a better job than you. There you go, take our glasses, fill them back up, bring them back. Not a terribly difficult concept. Let me guess, you're studying marketing and you somehow think flirting with Bimbo Barb and her pals results in more money in your pocket? Let me know when you start buying them the drinks, just to get them to stay and appeal to your massive over-bloated ego."

Rory just watched, a sad look on her face. The second Paris was done being satisfied by the emasculation, she was going to turn back to the conversation and -

"The board," Rory said quickly. "The board is probably going to let us decide. I imagine we'll ballot."

Paris ticked off names on her fingers, "That means Casey will definitely run, but he won't have the votes to win outright. Andrew, the slowpoke who thinks human interest stories count as legitimate news stories will probably run, and because Cathy is going to run, Bill is going to try to get- hrm. He'll probably try to get you." She pondered this for a second, then nodded. "Yes, you'll do it. None of them can be trusted with the paper."

The bartender came with their drinks and Paris didn't even glance at him. Rory handed him double the cover; she drank at this bar, she needed to stay in their good graces. He was not interested in lingering and nearly tripped in his hurry to get away.

"I cannot run," Rory said. "I missed a semester. So seniority goes to-"

Paris glared at her over her glass, "Come see me after the first round of voting."

*

What should have been a tranquil hung-over morning with Paris throwing things together randomly in a pan and producing something heavenly was disturbed by the loudest sound Rory had ever heard in her life.

"What is this, the March to Moscow?!" Rory yelled, hands over her ears as she struggled out of bed.

"I bet it's Huntzberger!" Paris yelled back.

"He could have called!" Rory cried, trying to keep her hands over her ears as she unlocked the door.

"You should have called," she whined to a distraught looking Logan, her hands still comically over her ears.

He ran a hand through his hair, "Rory, I've been so worried. I've been trying to call, text, I showed up last night and you weren't here, I wanted to camp out, but the woman down the hall threatened to call the cops - I almost called the cops, where have you been?"

"I …" Rory started, then gestured inside the apartment, "I live here. I went out. With Paris. For drinks. Then … we got back here?" She couldn't remember much past Paris telling her to run for editor. There had been a bit more yelling at the bartender, she'd run out of cash at some point and -

"Paris, did I leave my card at the bar? Paris? Paris are you sleeping? Nobody can sleep through that. Paris, pretending to be dead on the couch isn't going to- you know what, fine. I'll go get it."

Logan held up two hands in the doorway, "Rory, you left your card at the bar? You got that drunk last night? Which bar, I'll go-"

Now it was Rory's turn to hold up her hands. "No! I can do it, I don't need you to- and why were you going to camp out? I went out. With a friend. We-" she wagged her finger back and forth between them, "did not have plans. You just showed up here because you- oh, my phone might be at the bar too."

"Rory!" Logan looked horrified. "This isn't like you, going to a bar, losing your phone, your wallet. C'mon," he pleaded, "let's go down to the bar and make sure your card isn't maxed out."

It wasn't an offer she could refuse, her head still hurt, and she'd address why Logan showed up later. Right now she needed her phone and her card. She meekly nodded her assent.

"Paris, I'll be back."

"Hashbrowns. And Sausage and cheese biscuit," Paris called back.

Rory rolled her eyes, but her stomach grumbled at the suggestion, betraying her.

"We're going to need breakfast," she uselessly informed Logan. The lock in the door clicked shut, but Rory still jiggled the handle to make sure. Paris was always telling her horror stories of young women who thought they were safe, but weren't and besides, giving in to Paris instead of explaining that you'd grown up with a back door that wouldn't lock was just easier.

He sighed and shook his head, "Why do you do this, Rory?" He was staring at her intently, his face almost like a wounded puppy.

Rory looked surprised. "Lock the door even when Paris is inside? Do you know how many young-"

"Put up with Paris."

She felt the feeling from earlier when she realized it had been Logan, that feeling of constantly being on-edge, creep back into her throat. "We're … friends."

"She got herself kicked off the paper, you saved the day, and instead of celebrating that, you shut off your phone and got drunk with her." Logan slipped his hand into hers. "You deserve to be celebrated for what happened."

"And Paris deserves-"

"Paris deserves what she gets," Logan said with finality.

Rory pulled her hand back. "Stop. You don't have to get Paris, that's fine, but she's my friend, and she needed someone last night, and I was there and I'm sorry I didn't call you or text you or wasn't at my house when you wanted me to be, but Paris needed a friend."

"Ace, you know that I love how loyal you are, but-"

Rory shook her head, "No. No but. Anyway, I've just remembered. We came home from the bar and wanted to order Chinese, so I tried to call, but they were closed, and then my phone died. So excuse me. I have to go help Paris make breakfast."

She turned and walked back up the stairs, leaving Logan to stare after her, looking shocked.

*

"And then he was all 'don't be friends with her'" Rory raved into the phone. She was in the living room of the apartment, with a pile of french fries in front of her. "So I just left. Just walked right back upstairs, and I found my phone, but I'm pretty certain my card is still at the bar, and of course, Paris had fallen back asleep and was oblivious to everything, so I had to go back out and get her some breakfast, so she wouldn't know that things with Logan are-"

Rory nodded as she ate fries, offering a few 'mmhmms' here and there. She put the phone on speaker and wandered into the kitchen, opening cupboards.

"- life to go to a certain plan, you know," Lane was saying. "And part of that means that you have the sort of friends that he can slip in and out of his parties and parents and business meetings, and Paris …Paris is never going to be that and part of him doesn't understand why you don't understand that."

The cupboards weren't producing what Rory was looking for, and she was now rummaging in drawers. "I know," she told Lane. "I just wish he understood that Paris and I - we're always going to be together. We can't not. We've got this far already. Now where is the barbeque sauce? I swear Paris picked some up-"

"You two are like a married couple," Lane said. "I wish Zack and I could-"

"No you don't," Rory said. "You deserve someone who supports you and understands your relationship with your mother. Face it, we both need better men."

Giving up on the barbeque sauce, Rory sat on the floor of the kitchen. The fries were getting cold, but without barbeque sauce, it didn't matter.

"So what are you going to do about Logan?" Lane asked and Rory stared at the plate of fries. She didn't know what to say.

On the other side of the cracked apartment door, Paris leaned her head against the doorframe. She drummed her fingers on the wood, looking thoughtful.

*

"So that's 16 for Casey, 18 for Andrew, and 9 for Cathy," Bill announced, to much dismay. Rory felt her stomach churn. Paris may have been an out-of-control control freak, but she knew people. Eerily well. She took a deep breath.

"Maybe … maybe if you guys are okay with the fact that I missed a semester, I could-"

Bill was nodding furiously. Even Casey looked pleased with this. Andrew beamed, but Cathy's face was furrowed as she thought about it.

"I would never switch to either of them," she said. "I'd switch to you."

Other people around the room nodded their assent as well. "Yeah, Gilmore, I like this. This we can do."

So just like that, almost exactly as Paris laid out, Rory was now Editor of the Yale Daily News.

When she got back to the apartment, she half-expected to see her stuff thrown outside. Paris was unpredictable like that. Instead, Paris had a spread out on the coffee table. Chicken wings, fries, pop tarts, what looked like cheese dip, and a plate of various chocolate pieces. A bottle of champagne was nestled in the food, with two glasses ready to go.

"Paris, what is this?" she asked. "And are those-" she pointed.

Paris nodded, "Girl Scout cookies. You do not want to know what I had to go through to get them."

"Please tell me you didn't make the Girl Scout cry."

"If she deserved it, I would have," Paris said. "But no, I did not make a Girl Scout cry. Though if I were teaching Girl Scouts how to sell cookies, they'd be out of stock in two days."

Rory did not deny this. She sat on the edge of the sofa and grabbed a cookie. "So, this is …."

"We're celebrating," Paris said matter-of-factly. She handed Rory a glass and raised hers in the air. "To a new era of the Yale Daily News."

Rory clinked glasses with her and smiled. Paris was okay, she was okay, and this was a -

Right on cue, someone banged at the door. Rory looked at Paris. "Huntzberger," they both said. Rory sighed and set her glass down. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say.

"Do you want me to handle it?" Paris asked.

Rory shook her head. "I'll be right back." She left the chain on the door when she opened it. "Logan."

"I just heard the news! Great job, Ace! We have to go celebrate! I got us dinner reservations at Le Crue."

Rory looked back at Paris, who was trying her best to look indifferent. Rory knew better.

"I am celebrating," she told Logan. "Paris and I are …"

"Ace, c'mon," Logan begged. "Not this again."

Anger flared through Rory. They had only just gotten back together, and he had to know she was still mad at him for what he'd said earlier. "No," she said. "I'm with Paris tonight."

"What is the point of having a girlfriend if I can't hang out with her?" Logan grumbled.

"We are only just back together," Rory reminded him. "I agreed to dinner."

"You kissed me!"

"It was a heat of the moment kiss! A kiss isn't a contract!"

Logan threw his hands up in frustration. "Do what you want."

"I will!" Rory yelled. She slammed the door and twisted the deadbolt for good measure. "God, who does he think he is?" she railed to Paris.

"He thinks he's your boyfriend," Paris offered, helpfully. "You can, you know, if you want. Go with him. I mean, dinner at Le Crue vs … dinner with Paris. I know what I'd pick."

Rory glared at Paris, reaching across her to grab a chicken wing. "You can be a real idiot sometimes."

Paris arched a brow, "So things in Logan-land are not the greatest? You're not back together?" Paris leaned back on the couch. "I gotta say, I didn't really see that coming."

"Which part?"

"The getting back together," Paris said calmly. "I was relieved you finally came to your senses with him, and then there was all the wooing and I thought you might cave, but you held strong. Then the letter from your mother - I mean, that's smooth playing on his end, going to your mother - but you seemed to be holding strong, and then, typical, he swoops in to save the day and you get all weak in the knees-"

"I did not get weak in the knees!"

"-and suddenly he's back in my life again, and you with your innocent-doe eyes and a sugar daddy, preparing herself for eventually marriage and making it big in high-society world. I give you two years after graduation before you're popping out baby-Huntzbergers." She arched a brow at Rory. "I mean, come on, Rory, the story practically writes itself." Her voice scoffed, but Rory missed the apprehension underneath.

She was too distracted by Paris' words. She frowned. She couldn't quite disagree, but it unsettled her. "That's not what I want," she protested. And it was true. Logan was nice, and dating Logan was nice, and he opened up her worldview, but … she didn't want to settle. Her brow furrowed as she thought about it more. She wanted to go run and see the world after graduation. She didn't want-

"I am not having a baby before 27," she said, with finality.

Paris smirked, "Come see me a year after the wedding."

"Ugh, no wedding. I don't want to -"

She stopped and stared at Paris. "Oh god. I don't want to marry him. Paris. I don't want to marry him."

She grabbed the champagne bottle before Paris could say anything and poured them both another glass.

"No," she said stubbornly when Paris opened her mouth. "No more talking about it. We're celebrating. A new era of the Yale Daily News."

And Paris just smiled, and obliged.

*

"Ace, explain it to me," Logan asked, over a reconciliation meal in the mess hall. He had a silly grin on his face, like he already knew what she was going to say and had prepared the arguments against it.

Rory shook her head, "You're gonna have to let it go, Huntzberger. It is what it is."

"Okay, but just explain-"

"Logan! I shouldn't have to defend my friendship to you. I don't ask you to explain Finn and Colin, do I?"

Logan waved his fork dismissively, "That's different. Our families have known each other since our fathers were children."

"So yours matters more than mine because …"

"I didn't really have a choice."

Rory scoffed, "Oh, so because I got to choose, my friendship with Paris matters less than your friendships?"

"That's not what I'm saying, Ace."

Rory sat back, tapping her spoon against the table. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying I don't like watching what you do to yourself to appease Paris. You always put her first. You never give yourself a chance for happiness if it means that Paris will be inconvenienced by it." Rory opened her mouth, but Logan held up his hand, "Let me finish. You make sure that what you do has the approval of Paris, no matter how badly she treats you. She turns you from the strong confident Rory I know into someone passive and contrite. Don't you think you deserve more than that?"

Rory chose her next words carefully, "And now you want me to defend it. Which is what you've wanted from the beginning and what I don't want to do. Can't you just accept that I'm friends with her, that you don't like her, that she doesn't like you, and leave it at that? She's not telling me not to date you, she's not telling me you're nothing but a useless trust fund man-baby-"

"Useless trust fund man-baby?!"

"Hush, I let you talk, you let me talk. Deal?" Without waiting for a response, Rory pressed on, "She's letting me make my own choices, even if she disagrees with them, and she's not pressuring me to do things I'm not comfortable with simply because it would make her happy."

Logan tutted in disgust. "She does that every day."

"God, I'm not doing this!" Rory yelled. She was surprised by how forceful she was. "Stop. Just stop. I'm sorry you can't pre-plan everything without checking with me- and no, I'm NOT sorry for that. I'm not sorry for being there for a friend in need. I'm not sorry for my friendship with Paris. I AM sorry I thought you were someone I should take back. Goodbye, Logan."

And for the second time in as many weeks, Rory walked away from Logan, leaving him in stunned silence. Before Logan could fully recover, there, like a bad dream, was Paris.

"Let's talk, Huntzberger," she said, exuding confidence.

Logan sighed and looked at the direction Rory had gone in. "You planned this. Rory planned this."

Paris shook her head, "No, let's get one thing straight here, Rory doesn't have a devious bone in her body. I'm here, on my own accord. When she told me she was having some sort of make up lunch with you, I knew I had to keep my eye out. Useless trust fund man-baby? All hers. I may hold on to that one, though, it was a good one." She smiled wryly, as Logan squirmed. "I know you. I know your type. I know the use-em and lose-em lifestyle, I grew up in your pretty little world, Huntzberger."

Logan put his clasped hands on the table, whether from sincerity or restraint was up for debate. "You know," he said slowly. "That Rory is different. You know that you are noxious and -"

He was stopped by Paris laughing. He looked genuinely confused. Paris just smirked at him and spread out her arms, indicating he should continue.

"You don't make her a better person," Logan trailed, but without the conviction he had started with.

They sat in silence for a moment, and Logan grew his confidence back as Paris sat there. She looked as though she were shrinking by the second, Logan's barb, though delivered weakly, was still cutting. A few more moments of silence and Logan stood from the table, grinning.

"You take care, Paris."