Logan's handwriting is terrible. He capitalizes some letters randomly and scrawls others like a dyslexic child. Rory knows this because sometimes he leaves Post-it notes on her computer screen at the newspaper. Post-its that have incomprehensible phone messages on them, like "MickeY RooNey Called from the MasoN-diXON liNe at 4.13PM".
Her mom once went through a phase of writing grocery lists comprised of television characters instead of food. They spent half an hour in an aisle at the market trying to work out what they'd seen Fox Mulder eat other than pizza and sunflower seeds-- neither of which they needed. Even those lists were easier to understand.
Rory guesses the Post-its must be Logan's way of mocking her organized desk, or her color-coded schedule, but she's not really sure.
This note is just as abrupt, and possibly just as taunting. She sinks to the edge of her bed, fingering the soft blindfold and the stiff cream paper.
She'll go for the story, of course. It has nothing to do with him.
Logan's wearing aftershave that smells expensive, and her heart leaps a little when he says the trip will be overnight.
Rory knows that being blind improves all your other senses. Her mom once told her it meant you could hear like a bat and they both closed their eyes and tried to echolocate the kitchen. Stubbed toes resulted. Rory subsequently learned that bats could see just fine. But Rory figures being blindfolded must account for her sudden inability to concentrate on much besides the aftershave and the heat of Logan's leg pressed against her own.
Finn's good humor returns as it gets dark, and Lane's encyclopedic knowledge of music must have rubbed off on Rory, because she wins his playlist guessing game hands down.
"Like-minded individuals, Logan," he says when she correctly identifies the opening bars of Accidentally Kelly Street, and Rory feels the car swerve slightly as he continues stabbing at the iPod. "The lovely Rory and I are a match made in heaven."
Logan places his hand on her knee for a moment. When he takes it away the absence leaves her feeling branded.
"She'd hate Australia, Finn. All that sunshine. Poisonous spiders. Concentrate on the damn road or I'm driving."
Rory wishes she could see his face, gauge his sincerity.
"By all means, my friend," Finn retorts. "More time for me in the back seat with my true love..."
To Rory's relief, Logan just laughs and tells Finn he needs to turn off up ahead on the left.
When Logan takes her blindfold off, and her eyes blink and adjust, Rory all but gasps.
Sometimes as a child the faded sheets she draped over the furniture were forts, and sometimes they were castles. But when she was an intrepid explorer on safari, in her mind's eye it looked exactly like this.
Lanterns and moths, laughter filtering through the trees. Full-length dresses, the clink of champagne flutes. Catered food piled high on tables. It's not at all what she expected and when Logan leaves her in the tent her chest feels tight. She wonders if being around him is always like this: heady, unpredictable.
She calls Dean, his voice on the machine like a lead weight or an anchor that tethers her back to the ground. Crazy, she thinks, getting worked up over a Huntzberger. She digs in her bag for her notebook. The important thing is to stay focused. She's here to write an expose, not to behave like an airhead. Christiane Amanpour would never be so easily distracted.
She would never find her mouth dry at the sight of a boy in a cream suit.
Amanpour would certainly get people to answer her questions, and she definitely would not find herself dragging Logan by the wrist into the woods to whine and stamp her feet and demand answers, while he leans against a tree and grins infuriatingly at her.
"You don't care about anything I'm saying, do you?"
"Fine. Whatever." Rory folds her arms. "I'll just find someone else to interview. Someone cooperative."
Twigs crunch beneath her boots in a satisfying way as she stomps back towards the camp, exasperation leaking out of her. She grabs Stephanie by her sleeve, tugging her away from a stack of profiteroles. Rory marches her toward the bar, filled with new resolve.
"I think I'd like that drink now."
Logan's on the other side of the fire talking to a girl called Violet. Rory knows this because the boys have been calling her 'Viola' all day to avoid the dreaded 'e' and Violet has made it clear that she does not approve. She clearly approves of Logan though, if the way she's draped all over him is anything to go by. But Rory is not looking.
Rory is definitely not looking.
Colin is teaching her to play Mao. Or rather, not teaching her, but Rory's catching on fast. She plays her seven, smiling sweetly at Finn and announcing, "Have a nice day."
Finn lurches back in his chair, clutching his hands to his heart and wailing, "Rory! How could you? My devotion, the way I leer at you? My God, does it mean nothing? Am I so quickly forsaken?"
Rory laughs, relaxing for the first time as Justin points out that blasphemy means Finn has incurred yet another penalty, and possibly a third for something involving a stoat. She looks up and thinks maybe Logan's staring, but now he's tucking Violet's hair behind her ear and saying something that's causing her to giggle, so maybe Rory's mistaken. She turns back to Finn, adding that he has failed to thank her, taking his penalty total to four. When she looks up again, Logan is gone.
Suddenly Rory feels tired and ill at ease. She excuses herself over Finn's strong objections and retires to her tent, kicking off her boots and stretching out on her cot. She's frustrated with herself. She should be at dinner with Dean right now, not in the middle of nowhere surrounded by people who won't speak to her, or who mock her, or who...disappear with people named after flowers. Dean couldn't care less about stupid card games, or the letter 'e', or the way self-involved rich people keep themselves entertained.
Smokey the Bear?! God, what was she thinking.
Rory tugs the blanket over her and sighs, falling asleep fighting with Logan in her head. Dream-Rory's comebacks are witty, sharp, and none of them involve safety mascots.
She's not usually one for girlish things, but the dress takes her breath away. The color is perfect, the fabric exquisite, and she loves the soft rustle it makes as she swings out of the tent.
The day is gorgeous and clear, with the sun launching itself into a cloudless sky, and Rory itches for her camera. Longs to capture all of this. Swallow it up. Tuck it away and keep it for later, when she can take it out and examine it carefully. Logan looks phenomenal in his tuxedo, and she grips her pen and notebook tightly. Her sanity, even tighter.
"I got your event integrity right here, mister," she manages, with a confidence she doesn't begin to feel.
Logan's appraising look rakes up and down, his expression nothing but trouble, and he grins slowly.
"Yep. I got an eye for dress sizes," he congratulates himself. "We go this way."
"Please raise your glasses," the Master of Ceremonies announces. "In Omnia Paratus!"
When Rory got her first A+ at Chilton, her mom insisted they toast the achievement. "Can't be water," Lorelai said, "it'll send you to a watery grave," and then took a lengthy sidetrack into wondering about Davy Jones' Locker with a detour through Iron Maiden's 'Run Silent, Run Deep'. They settled on a dusty bottle of sparkling grape juice that may or may not have been in the cupboard since before Rory was born. It tasted sickly, like perfume.
This champagne tastes like apricots and vanilla, and the bubbles catch the back of her throat. Logan's so close to her, and she feels so clumsy, like at any minute she will clutz out and wind up with wine all down the front of her gown. But then the gong sounds, and the people around her are cheering and running, and Logan twists his fingers through hers for just a moment and gives her hand a tight squeeze.
"And to think," he says laughing, "some groups just go bowling."
He has her at George Plimpton.
Logan's running on about the greats, but all she can think is that she'd climb the side of the Empire State Building for a boy with this smile who knows her the way Logan seems to. The comparison's not fair, and she tries to tamp down rising guilt, but Dean's never once made her feel like she can fly.
"You can back out, you know. No one’s forcing you."
"I know," she says, as she grabs an umbrella, taking deep slow breaths. Miles below her the others look like Victorian dolls, the tents like toys with flags snapping in the breeze.
"You trust me?" he asks, and she wants to say 'absolutely not'. She wants to clutch at him, and shake him. Tell him this is madness, that there are ten girls on the ground who would sleep with him right now if he asked. Girls with money and sophistication, who belong in the Life and Death Brigade. She wants to demand to know what he thinks he's doing up here with bumbling small-town reporter Rory Gilmore.
What comes out instead is, "You jump, I jump, Jack," and before she can cringe outwardly with embarrasment the crowd is calling "In Omnia Paratus!"
Logan takes hold of her hand and it comes down to this: the press of his palm against hers; the sharp intake of breath; the perfect sweep of descent. It's miraculous. Soul-soaring. She never wants it to be over.
As they land, he pulls her toward him and she presses his hand to her heart. 'Feel this', she wants to say, 'see what you've done'.
"Once in a lifetime experience!" she exults, and Logan looks at her like she's everything she's ever wanted to be.
The next day, in the newsroom, Logan puts his feet up on his desk. The vein on Doyle's forehead begins to throb, and Rory's forced to stare down at her lap to keep from laughing. When she eventually looks up he's got his hands behind his head, the afternoon sun in back of him darkening his features. She's thinking about the photos on her camera of the two of them floating effortlessly toward the ground. Logan slows gravity for her. She can't help but smile.
After the meeting he leans over her, spinning a pen around on her desk. The arm of his sweater brushes against her wrist, an impossibly soft dark green that makes her think of the woods.
"Cup of coffee, Ace?"
Too easy, she thinks, to loose your bonds. To float away. Her palm itches.
"Sorry," she mumbles without making eye contact, "I have a thing."
He shrugs and leaves, patting Doyle on the head as saunters out of the room.
Rory sinks back in her seat and picks up the phone to call Dean. She realizes there's a Post-it note on her computer screen that says, "GeorGe PliMpton WanTs his umBrellA bacK".
She hangs up.