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The Gift

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The hair gave Logan a bit of a shock. The long blonde locks were gone, replaced by a short bob, still blonde, but short. Almost as short as when she cut it the first time. He was mildly curious to know what caused the change but he figured it was no longer his place to even ask. It looked good, though, he had to admit that.

Almost a year apart hadn't really softened the blow of seeing Veronica Mars. She still stirred something in him, an ambiguous, dark, confusing rush of feelings. Yearning. Pain. Love. Even nausea. Now was no different. He kept his distance and so did she, he remembered that feeling well.

“Are you high? Drunk?”

He hesitated at her quiet yet blunt question. There wasn't any malice in her voice, just caution. For a moment, he thought about just saying no, but as he stared at her, somehow both imposing and vulnerable there in her large white sweater with one hand on the door, the other spread over her stomach like some unconscious barrier between them, he decided to answer honestly.

Brutally, even. Was there any better way on Christmas Eve?

“Not yet.”

That answer seemed to be good enough for Veronica and she shut the front door of her dad’s apartment. She took a step forward, then immediately stopped, crossing her arms over her chest. “What's up?”

Logan nodded, the ice cold wall of Mars coming up, it was a familiar chill. Truthfully, he couldn't blame her. A year with no contact, no phone call, no emails, no anything, and here he was on her doorstep on Christmas Eve. No catching up, neither of them really cared or maybe they were too scared and too broken to care. Maybe it was just him. He knew what she was thinking. He could see it now in her eyes. He's going to ruin my Christmas.

“I'm not.”

Veronica blinked, shaking her head in faint confusion. “You're not what?”

He shook his head in response, shoving his hands into his coat pockets. “Nothing. Sorry,” he inhaled deeply as her brow furrowed. “I'm not staying long, Veronica.”

“Okay.”

The anger at her short reply was sudden, so much so it surprised him. It felt dismissive, like he didn't matter and while, yes, that might have been true, she shouldn't have been so quick to express it. “Okay?”

Dammit, he shouldn't have had that shot for his nerves before driving over. Or maybe he should've had more.

For a moment, he debated bringing up the last time they officially saw each other, in the college cafeteria. How he knew she had dropped by the Grand afterwards for whatever reason, only to rush away when he didn't answer the door. He couldn't, then, he knew he couldn't open it, couldn't risk them both doing something they'd regret later. It was a moment which stuck with him since, the moment after the knock. The silence, the tension. Then, she was gone. Over and over, he played that moment in his head, drunk and sober.

Veronica shook her head once more, licking her lips. “Logan, my dad's waiting…”

Logan nodded, pulling his hand out of his pocket and with it a wad of cloth. “I found something while I was unpacking at my new place...I moved out of the Grand like you told me to do ages ago…” he trailed off, glancing at Veronica. There was no engagement on her end, she just stood there. She stared at him, not coldly or distantly, but weary. It made him sad, that worn look in her eyes. He was responsible for a lot of the wear and tear in her soul, he knew that.

Before the guilt could fully shake him, he continued. “Remember when we were, like, I don't know, twelve? Thirteen? Whatever. You got really mad at me at Lil’s Secret Santa party because you thought I had stolen your silver pony thing that Duncan gave you after you made fun of me and I said I didn't and even though I swore on my dad I didn't do it, you didn't believe me and wouldn't talk to me for like a week?” he caught his breath as Veronica’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah, I lied, I stole it. Sorry.”

The look that replaced the tiredness in her eyes was indescribable, a blank void as her face relaxed and a silence fell over them.

Then, a snort.

Veronica’s hand flew to her mouth as she chuckled, then, to Logan’s utter surprise, outright laughed. Genuine, muffled laughter that was music to his ears. “Mm.”

Logan felt the smile creep on his face before he could stop it. “Here,” he held out the cloth at his fingertips. “It's not the same one, I think it got lost in the fire. But I thought it was funny-”

“Veronica!”

Her head lifted at Keith’s voice and she turned her head slightly, her eyes remaining on the cloth held between Logan’s fingertips. “Coming!” she called. “What's that?”

“Take it,” Logan waited until she grabbed it to continue. “Like I said, it's not the same. But…”

He trailed off as Veronica held up the tiny silver horse the size of her thumb, watching as her lips pressed together. “We broke up before I could give it to you, then we got back together and I forgot about it. And then-”

“Thank you.”

Logan nodded quickly, lowering his gaze as she lifted her to meet his. “It's nothing. Just a little something. A joke.”

“I love it.”

Silence followed those words, heavy and almost sad. Or maybe it was in Logan’s head, his heart, this heaviness. God, he hated Christmas.

Veronica inhaled sharply, gesturing towards the door. “Logan, I have to go…”

He nodded before giving her a shrug. “Yeah, I know. Go.”

She nodded in return, clutching the silver in her palm. Her teeth nipped at her bottom lip for a moment before she lunged forward, embracing him tightly. Her arms wrapped the best they could over his waist, her face against his chest.

Logan inhaled, slowly hugging her back. He resisted the urge to bury his face in her hair, instead whispering “Merry Christmas, Veronica.”

“Merry Christmas, Logan.” she murmured against his jacket.

She looked up at him, a ghost of a smile on her lips and he knew then he could've kissed her if he had the courage. The look in her eyes, that familiar mix of fear and want, told him she absolutely would have let him, if just for a moment.

He didn't. Another moment to play over and over, drunk and sober.

After another moment, Veronica pulled away, pushing her hair behind her ears. “Take care of yourself, Logan.”

Logan smiled weakly, nodding. A lie would do, it was probably the best gift he could give her. “I will. Be good.”

A wry, almost playful smirk played on Veronica’s lips and he waited for the quip. It never came, she just gave him a brief smile, shoving the pony into her jeans pocket before spinning on her heels and rushing back into the house.

Logan’s head lowered as the door closed, and Veronica was gone, and he was alone again.

Naturally.

They didn't trade empty pleasantries, that was never their style. No promises to call, to meet up for coffee or dinner, to hang during spring break. They both knew it was something that would never happen, not now.

He turned, walking to his car slowly. In a perfect world, Veronica would have flung the door open and ran after him but of course she didn't. She never would run at him, tell him to stay. He knew that.

It wasn't something he was okay with, but something he had to accept. Veronica would go back to college and live the life she deserved and he would go back to the spiral he managed to hide away for ten minutes for her sake. They both got the lives they deserved, he guessed.

At least he made her smile. Merry Christmas, Logan Echolls.