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Getting there

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When the police arrive, there’s a lot of standing around and explaining what happened. Once the initial flurry of action from medics, and a lot of gun-toting macho making sure the building is secure, I finally manage to stammer out the bare bones – that Stu Cobbler had shot Gia from across the street, and that he was also the one who’d killed Carrie Bishop. The rush of relief and adrenaline is wearing down, and I’m starting to shake. I know my explanation is vague and a little inconsistent, but I’m having trouble calming my mind to put my thoughts in order. I keep seeing the sudden spot of red on Gia’s chest, seeing her fall in slow motion. I’m not sure they quite believe me when I tell them I managed to take Stu out by myself. I’m just starting to really get to the end of my tether when my phone starts to buzz. Logan, of course.

“Veronica, are you okay? Where are you?” His voice is rough and strained.

“I’m at Gia’s…. I’ve got a lot to tell you. The good news is, you’re off the hook,” I answer, aiming at levity. I’m not sure I succeed.

“Listen, they won’t let me through the police cordon. Can you come find me?” I tell him I’ll do one better, and bully one of the deputies into bringing him through. Nine years of no contact with life-threatening situations have made me soft, and between Gia, my Dad, and those few minutes when I really thought my own life was about to end, I’m not sure how much longer I can hold it together. So when I hear Logan’s voice shouting my name, and turn to see him walking in my direction, I can’t help the choked sob of relief, much less the rush into his arms, the flood of tears that starts as soon as I can bury my head in his chest. He holds me tight for a moment, before his hands start sweeping over my back and hair, and the comforting murmurs start. “Hey, hey, it’s ok. Whatever it is, it’ll be ok,” he repeats, finally tipping my face up and brushing my tears away with his thumbs. “What happened?”

“I don’t really want to have to tell it too many times – can you take me to the station? You can come with me when I give my statement.”

“Sure, of course,” he agrees, and although I know he wants to grill me, he settles for kissing me on the forehead and wrapping an arm around my shoulders as I inform the deputy who’d been questioning me that I was willing to show up at the station later, but in the meantime I was leaving. I let myself lean on Logan, relishing the support, the comforting Logan-ness of him. When we get to the car, I decide to at least give him a quick summary.

“Gia’s dead – Stu shot her through the window, turns out he owned an apartment across the street. He tried to get me too, but I hid…” I pause, my throat closing as I remember the choking fear. “I really thought for a minute that he was going to get me. I sent a text to my Dad… remind me to spin that, later.” I quip with a shaky flippancy. Logan’s mouth and eyes are wide with horror.

“Oh my God, Veronica. What the hell happened? I should have been there… I can’t believe I didn’t go with you.”

“Well, as it turns out, new and improved Veronica can save herself. I beaned him with a golf club – knocked him out cold.” Logan blinks, the desire for wanting to be a hero and go kick Stu’s ass warring with respect for my ability to take care of myself. He looks at me for a long moment, before the corner of his mouth twitches up, and he reaches out to ruffle my hair before pulling me in for a hug.

“My very own pocket-sized superhero,” he mutters fondly.

“Not so pocket-sized anymore, not after lawschool cramming junkfood sessions,” I mutter under my breath, but he hears me, and pulls back to be able to see my face.

“Yeah, well, so we’re not eighteen anymore. I, for one, am glad of that. After all, eighteen year old Logan would be going apeshit right now because you put your life on the line without waiting for backup, but new and improved Logan 2.0 is going to decide to be glad that you came out okay and worry later about it being his fault that you ended up in this mess.”

“You know I wouldn’t be anywhere else, right? I’m glad you called me.” He makes a non-committal noise. “Hey, mind if we swing by the hospital to see my Dad? I called earlier and they said there was no change, but if there’s any chance they’ll let me in to see him…”

“Yeah, of course,” Logan answers, his face still troubled. I think he’s glad to have something useful to do, even if it is just chauffeuring me around in his fantastic car.

At the hospital, they let me stand by Dad’s bed for a little while. It’s awful seeing him so still, so hidden by the wires and tubes coming out of everywhere, but the heart-monitor continues to beep steadily, and the nurses assure me that he’s doing as well as can be expected. The two I meet are kind, able, and speak to him softly whenever they come to check on his readings or make an adjustment to a machine. I’m glad to know he’s in such good hands. Logan waits in the hallway, saying he doesn’t want to drive Dad’s blood pressure up. I suppose if he’s back in my life I’ll eventually have to break it to everyone. It makes me sad that Dad, Wallace, and Mac never really got to know him, the real him, and now even nine years later we’re just going to have to deal with their discomfort again. Assuming we are together. That is so totally something to worry about on a day that is not today, though.

He’s leaning against the wall across from the door to the ICU when I come out, and I can’t believe what a girl he makes me feel. Clearly all going cold-turkey on Logan Echolls for nine years accomplished was to make me forget what this feels like. A few days in his presence and I’m down the rabbit hole all over again, everything in me thrilling to his presence. As he smiles at me, though, all kind eyes and coddling concern, I decide that maybe this time it’s okay. Just now, he’s less of a mind-altering substance, and more just a nice man who asks after my Dad and wants to drive me home. And maybe I’m not an addict, I’m just a girl who’s had a long day, who really wants a hug.

Next we go to the station. I’m just starting to think that I could really get used to being driven around like this. Not having to focus on the road sure is good for being able to brood. Logan is clearly doing some brooding-driving multi-tasking, though, and keeps glancing over at me, but he keeps his peace about whatever’s bothering him. He sits with me as I give my statement, not touching me much, but nudging my knee with his once in a while to remind me that he’s there. It’s not as hard as it was before, and I think I’m able to give a clear description of what happened. Lamb is livid, but since someone found the picture Gia was talking about on Stu’s phone, and I guess what with the shot fired from across the street and the picture, not to mention the press who swarmed the crime scene, not even he can ignore the truth this time. Finally I’m released, with a warning not to leave town for the time being in case they need me to answer further questions.

We fight our way through the reporters in front of the station. Logan tries to shield me with his body as much as he can, and thankfully refrains from punching anyone out. “Maybe I should have brought my wide-brimmed hat and giant sunglasses,” I joke. “I didn’t think to bring my paparazzi evasion gear to a stakeout.”

“If you’re a good girl, I’ll give you a pair of my official aviator sunglasses,” Logan gamely replies.

The drive home is quiet. He follows me into Dad’s house, hovering behind me. “Want a beer? Tea? Is there someone I should call to stay with you? I’m sure Wallace and Mac will see the news before long… maybe you want to call Piz?” He’s all attentive, nervous energy. I blink, wondering whether he’s trying to back away now that his case is closed. Maybe now that everyone knows he’s innocent, I’m just supposed to toddle back to New York.

“Is that what you want? If you have somewhere to be, I’m fine here.” I snap. He blinks and flinches slightly. I immediately feel bad for putting that hint of a whipped puppy look back on his face.

“No!Jesus, Veronica, I just want what’s best for you. You’ve been through a lot, I thought you might want your friends around you. Of course I’m staying put, as long as you’ll have me.”

“Anyway, why would I call Piz? I told you that he broke up with me. You really think I’d let last night happen, and then just go back to him?” Part of me, the part that doesn’t want to just curl up into a ball and cry, wants to get into an argument with him, wants the righteous anger that keeps me from feeling weak.

“No. Veronica, no. I just – what am I supposed to think?” he demands, exasperation creeping into his voice. He starts talking in that soft, intense voice he always used to use when he was trying to get through to me, speaking quickly to get out everything he wants to say before he chickens out – and despite my anger, maybe this time I’ll actually let myself hear him. “I’m truly, genuinely grateful that you came at all. But then when you showed up you were so… you, and so much all the things I love about you, and I couldn’t help, you know, flirting a bit and I thought you were flirting back, and I was starting to think that maybe I could start swinging through New York more often, maybe see what happens… and then suddenly Piz is here. And it turns out that the whole time I had been building delusions in my head you were in a long-term relationship - I mean, you were living with him! So last night… I don’t know, I guess I thought maybe I was the rebound guy, or maybe it was just one last time for nostalgia’s sake or something. I thought… maybe when you really need someone to be there you want the nice guy, the reliable one, not the one you only speak to when he wants to get you involved in a murder case. The one who dragged you back to the shithole of a town you worked so hard to get out of. I mean, the case is over, if you wanted I could call, maybe apologise…”

“Oh my God, Logan, no,” I jump in. “You weren’t wrong, I was flirting. And it wasn’t fair of me. But I’m here now, and I’m glad I’m here. I think I’d been away so long that I forgot what I was missing, and – all of that, I felt it too, I just didn’t want to at first. I don’t want to work out what we are right this second, today, after everything that’s happened. But I know I want you here now. Is that enough?”

“More than enough,” he breathes, pulling me to him in a hug. “So what’s the favoured post-traumatic events routine for all-grown-up Veronica Mars?”

“Strangely enough, all-grown-up Veronica Mars doesn’t get in life-threatening situations often enough to have a routine, so I think we need to go with an old standby.”

“Dessert for dinner and old movies? And maybe I can go pick up some takeout manicotti as well?” That earns him a long, soft kiss. When I pull away he hums contentedly, rubbing the tip of his nose against mine. “Any other requests?” he asks.

“Actually, you’re not exactly inconspicuous. And you were right before; I should call Wallace and Mac. Can you make nice for the evening? Maybe Wallace can grab supplies on the way over?”

“I think I can manage not to murder anyone in the next few hours,” he snarks, then says more seriously, “I want them to like me this time. I’ll make the effort.”

“You don’t need to do anything. It will all be fine,” I promise.

Chapter Text

Veronica rests her forehead on my chest again, and for a moment we stand there, wrapped loosely in each other’s arms. I’m really having trouble believing that after all these years I’ve actually got an armful of Veronica again. If this is a hallucination, I’m happy to stay on whatever mind-altering substance produced it. Maybe I cracked up when I was arrested for murder again, and I broke from reality completely? Or maybe Veronica has really come back to me. Maybe it really is okay just to touch her like this.

When she’s been quiet for so long it’s a possibility she’s fallen asleep on her feet, I start to rub my hands up and down her back.

“Hey, you okay? If you want to jump in the shower, I can call Mac and Wallace.” She looks up at me, smiling. My heart skips about three beats.

“My, you do offer full service, don’t you?” she says, and for a second I think she’s going to turn me down, but then her smile falters, and I can see how hard she’s finding it to hold everything together.

“If you go relax, I’ll show you what full service really means in a minute,” I suggest, giving her an exaggerated leer. She laughs. Mission accomplished.

“Okay, but you better not be long,” she says, and my jaw drops as she pulls her shirt off, tossing it to the floor. Just before she disappears from view, she pauses again, shimmying out of her pants and throwing me a wink. I take a deep, shaky breath, trying to remember what it is I’m supposed to do before I can follow. Oh yeah. The fan club. Fabulous. Someone remind me what I was thinking?

I pick up her phone and resist the urge to snoop. Her contacts list is full of names I don’t recognise, but I quickly dial Mac before I can start to freak out about what those nine missing years mean for me, for getting to know Veronica again.

After just one ring, Mac picks up with a hasty “Veronica, hey.”

“Um, not Veronica,” I reply. “It’s Logan. She’s okay ,” I add hastily before she can start to worry. “She’s a bit shaken up, though, and I thought it would be good for her if I, you know, rally the Scooby gang and make sure she chills out for a bit. Her Dad’s still in the ICU, and it’s been a rough day…”

“Sure, as long as I don’t have to be Daphne,” she replies immediately. I’ve always liked Mac – she’s got a good sense of priorities, and a clear way of viewing the world. I can trust her not to give me a hard time, at least until she gets here and can put her questions directly to Veronica.

“I promised her manicotti and sundaes, but she didn’t want me hassled by reporters… and anyway, I don’t really want to leave her alone right now.”

“I can make that happen,” she assures me. I knew it was the right decision to ask Mac to pick up supplies. Wallace is so not going to be this agreeable.

“Great, thanks a ton,” I reply. “I really appreciate it.”

“No problem,” she says, and I’m not entirely sure I’m imagining the silent “I’m not doing it for you anyway, jackass,” at the end.

“Okay, I’m going to go try Wallace, then.”

“Good luck with that,” she fires back, and hangs up.

Taking a deep breath, I tap Wallace’s name. He, too, picks up quickly.

“What the hell, V! I’ve been calling for ages. What happened?”

“Not V,” I interject. “Don’t freak out, though. She’s fine; she’s just in the shower.”

“I do NOT want to hear about your sexcapades, dude,” Wallace sneers. “You know she has a boyfriend, right? She has, like, a whole life that only involves murder when the ghost of boyfriends past calls her up.” He can’t see me, so I let myself flinch a bit. That smarts on a couple of levels.

“If you’re going to be like this, get it out of your system now,” I warn. “I only called because Veronica’s had a hard day and she wanted you to come hang out. She needs some time to herself, but she could use some friends to keep her from going into full-on freak out later. You know what she’s like.”

“Yeah, I do – because she didn’t lose my number for nine years.” Ouch.

“Oh, and if you think they’re still together, maybe you should call Piz.”

“Okay, seriously, what the fuck are you doing to her life? She was fine this time last week.”

“Yeah, because her Dad being in the hospital is all me too. I’ve left her totally alone and spent nine years trying to build a life out of the train wreck she left, and I just woke up one morning and thought ‘Hey I’m bored, maybe I’ll try screwing up Veronica’s life again’.” I can’t believe how out of control this conversation is. I’m not totally sure why Wallace is being such an asshole, but I think he’s channelling all his worry into blaming me. Which is sort of okay, but I don’t want Veronica having to deal with a room full of testosterone at the moment. I take a deep breath.

“Listen, man, I know you have issues with me. But can you, like, table them for twenty-four hours or so until her Dad wakes up? We can decide on pistols at dawn or whatever when she’s got less on her plate, and when she’s managed to go a full day or two without either getting arrested or almost being killed.” There’s a moment of silence.

“I’m not sure what to do with you being the mature adult of us all,” is what Wallace finally comes up with. “This is the same guy who got into a bar fight at the reunion, like, 30 seconds ago, right?”

“Yeah, well, I’m sure it won’t last,” I say, hoping he gets that I’m (mostly) joking.

“If you can behave, I can,” he replies. It’ll do. “I’ll be by in about half an hour.”

“Make it forty-five minutes,” I say absently, my attention drifting down the hall now that the conversation is going the way it should.

“TMI, dude,” he’s saying as I hang up.

Veronica’s left the bathroom door open, and I decide to take that as an invitation to come on in – although I do knock on the doorframe as I pass on it, superfluously adding “Knock knock,” just to make sure she knows that I’m respecting her boundaries. As always, the initial intimacy of being with Veronica Mars is leaving me a little twitchy. I kind of hoped that at almost 30 I’d be immune to that hyper-awareness I had the other times we got together – not knowing how to stand, what to do with my hands, what to say. What to do to keep her from leaving again.

Veronica is just standing under the spray, her arms wrapped around her torso, her head leaning on the tiles. Taking a risk, I walk forward, rolling up a sleeve so that I can put my arm under the spray. I tangle my fingers in her hair, brushing her cheek with my thumb. “Oh, Veronica,” I breathe. “Tell me what I can do.”

She opens her eyes and gazes up at me through the steam. Taking a shaky breath, she smiles. “You can take off those clothes and get your butt in here, Lieutenant,” she says in low voice that makes me gulp.

“Seriously, Veronica, I’m not expecting anything…” I attempt, making a last ditch attempt to be noble.

“Seriously, Logan, get in here,” she says, and I think the banter is making her feel better, because she really does look more herself. I make quick work of my clothes, stepping in and grasping her head to tilt it up for a hungry kiss. She meets my passion and fervour, and as our mouths and tongues meet, I let my hands drift over her body, one settling on a breast and the other on a hip. I tilt her back against the wall so that she’s leaning her shoulders back as I move the latter hand between her legs, caressing gently before easing a finger in, then two. Despite what I said to Wallace, we’re not getting into anything epic right now, and the way she’s grabbing at me suggests that she agrees. “Logan, I want you,” she demands, and I’m happy to comply. I lift her up, holding her hips, and push smoothly into her. Both of us groan with relief, and for a while I just stand there, kissing her neck feeling her warm and wet around me, until she starts to squirm.

As I start to move, all I can think is “Thank God.” Not that I’ve ever been one to turn down shower sex in general, but I can safely say that it is never quite the same with anyone else. Being with Veronica again after all this time is nothing short of a revelation. Emotions are running high, and what happens is fast, and hard. My fingers hold her hips tightly, and I’m grateful that her Dad’s shower has decent traction so I can push us towards release without worrying about breaking any bones. “Shit, Veronica, I’m going to …” I grunt, holding out as long as I can for her, but thankfully she gasps.

“Me too, just keep …” and the rest of that sentence is lost in a shout, which I gratefully echo. We’re both breathing hard as I slowly lower her to the ground, relishing the sensation of her flesh sliding all the way down my body. As soon as her feet are on the floor I bend my head again to kiss her, trying my hardest to inhale as much of her as possible, not really ready to not be connected to her in some way.

“Man. You sure do know how to make a girl feel better,” she murmurs, looking up at me with a lazy grin.

“I do what I can to please,” I reply, grinning. “Want to hear a secret, bobcat?” She gives me a glare that I interpret as “When don’t I?” “It’s only ever like that with you. The Logan Echolls skills are only sampled at their best when accompanied by a liberal seasoning of Veronica Mars.”

Pretty corny, Echolls,” she groans, but her cheeks are pink, and there’s a reluctant smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. She draws my head back down for another kiss.

“As much as I’m enjoying this, I think I’ve probably just about burned through Dad’s hot water,” she finally says. We climb out and towel each other off, playfully tickling and touching. The reality of this, of trying this again, is kind of starting to kick in and we’re both giggling a bit and sporting these really silly grins. She’s so adorable that I have to keep stopping to kiss her, so it takes us awhile to get dressed again. Honestly, I’m not sure we wouldn’t just have adjourned to the bedroom for more if Mac and Wallace weren’t coming by. I’m really am okay with hanging out with them, though. I do want to just be around her, whatever we’re doing. I need to make sure that whatever we’re starting up is going to turn into something with real substance.

I leave her in the guest room drying her hair, after she shoves me aside for getting in her way. I head to the kitchen and dig around in the cupboards for some herbal teabags. When the kettle boils and she still hasn’t emerged, I leave the mugs on the counter and head off in search of her. I find her paused in the door to her Dad’s bedroom, staring into space. I come up behind her and wrap my arms around her waist. Her hands clutch my forearms, and she takes a deep, shuddering breath.

“Man, you must think I’m such a basketcase,” she says. “Like ten seconds ago I’m all giggling flirty girl, and now I can’t guarantee I’m not going to cry all over you again.”

“Hey, you can cry on me if you want to. You’re allowed to be all over the map; you’ve got a lot to process. If you want to cool things down with us for a while, I’d understand,” I say. She turns around at that and looks at me with determined eyes.

“No, that’s not what I mean. If anything, having you stick around is the only thing that’s getting me through all this. I’m happy about it. Just ... I dunno, bear with me. I hate being a basketcase, so I might not be much fun.”

“Oh, sweetie, you were never that fun to begin with,” I say, deadpan. Her eyes flash with indignation before she starts to laugh. We go back to the living room and cuddle on the couch drinking tea until the doorbell rings. “Um… before you answer that door, in the interests of full disclosure you should know that Wallace is not super thrilled that I’m here. I really do promise to be nice to him though.”

“Oh good. I’m so glad you’ve arranged such a relaxing evening for me, honeybuns,” she drawls, rolling her eyes and getting up to get the door.

Chapter Text

Wallace is fidgeting a bit when I open the door. He pulls me in for a hug, then holds me at arm’s length to look at me. I’m not sure what he sees. I feel a lot better than I did an hour ago – it turns out that sometimes a decent dose of Logan is just what the doctor ordered - but I find that under Wallace’s frank appraisal I start to tear up a little again. I put on a smile and move further into the house, gently breaking his hold on me.

“Hey, Wallace, thanks for coming. Oo, and you brought beer!” I say, noticing the six pack by the door.

“Yeah, well, I didn’t want to come empty handed. Honestly, Veronica, you’re ok? They’re saying on the news that you had to take out Stu Cobbler by yourself? What the hell was Muscles over there doing?”

I glance over at Logan and he bristles a bit at the accusation thrown his way, but true to his word he keeps his peace. He does come join us, but when he gets to us he just picks up the beer, mutters that he’s going to go put it in the fridge and heads to the kitchen.
“We’re on the soothing tea portion of the recovery from shock,” I explain. “We can move onto the beer later. Logan thought I might want something warm to help me calm down before I start getting all drunk and maudlin.”

Wallace gives me an odd look. “Logan Echolls was the one to dissuade you from getting a drink on? Isn’t that, like, his default mode?”

“Not anymore, apparently,” I reply.

“Yeah, it turns out that one of the benefits of being nine years older is that I don’t actually have to act like a stupid teenager all the time,” Logan contributes, coming up behind me. “I can pick my moments.” He looks at me and lifts his hand slightly as though to put it on my back, but then glances at Wallace and pretends that the whole time he was intending to scratch the back of his neck. There’s an awkward pause that is thankfully broken by Mac’s arrival. She’s laden with bags, one of which smells wonderfully of tomato sauce and melted cheese.

“The comfort food has arrived,” she announces as soon as she’s through the door, and Logan once again plays the role of my footman, taking the bags from her so she can give me a hug.

“You still cool, Bond? All body parts accounted for?” she says, looking at me carefully, much as Wallace just did.

“All cool, Q.” I reply. “It’s kind of a long story, though.”

“If you want to tell them, I can plate up the manicotti,” Logan offers. He hesitates for just a second, then steps closer and offers, quietly, “unless you want me to stay.”

“I think she’s ok alone with us, man,” huffs Wallace. Something tightens in Logan’s face, but he just looks at me and waits for my decision. There’s something wonderful about seeing that although he’s still old Logan, my Logan, enough to get into a ridiculous fistfight to defend my honour, he’s also new Logan enough to be able to reign himself in when it really counts. A warm glow spreads through me and I can’t help smiling at him. He blinks and smiles a bit back, the small, secret smile that was always just for me. I take his hand and give it a squeeze.

“Some dinner would be great. You’ve already had to listen to this once.” His eyes are warm but cautious as he nods, rubs his thumb a few times over the back of my hand, and backs away. Mac and Wallace have been watching the exchange with interest, but I pretend I don’t notice and lead the way into the living room. I launch into my story yet again, and if I’m a little less cool than I let on, every time I find myself fading out the quiet, domestic noises of Logan moving around in the kitchen, looking for plates and cutlery and whatever else he’s doing, somehow it loosens the tightness in my chest enough to keep talking. I have to tell them about Dad’s accident first, because I hadn’t really been up to talking about it much last night. Just as I’m launching into the Cobb saga (having skipped over the steamy reunion – some things, they just don’t need to know), Logan starts coming in and out of the room, depositing plates and bottles of beer on the coffee table. I’d been sprawled out across two couch cushions, but when he’s finished puttering I shift my feet so he can sit down next to me. As he drops down on the sofa he slings his arm casually along the back of the sofa, carefully not touching me. I invite him to fill in his side of the story, so he briefly describes the wild goose chase that was trailing Luke Haldeman. They are both appropriately shocked at Logan’s little revelations about son-of-a-congressman Luke’s extra-curricular activities. Logan tells the story well, managing to coax a chuckle out of them both. I wish he’d take longer about it, though, because I don’t really want to move on to what’s next. I think he knows that, because he prompts me kind of apologetically when he’s done. “So the next thing I know I get to Gia’s street and there’s cop cars and ambulances everywhere, ‘cause you know it wouldn’t be a Veronica Mars case if she wasn’t giving me a heart attack,” he finishes, with a joking glare.

I backtrack to the end of my last phone call with Logan, and this time I notice him tense up as I get to Gia’s confession and the shooting. For the first time it strikes me that although all these people had shrunk in my memory to little more than caricatures, they’re still his friends – they’ve been around in his life the whole nine years I’ve been gone. My stomach drops as I think of how self-centred I’ve been today, only worried about myself and letting him comfort me. I know he wouldn’t want to go all vulnerable in front of Mac and Wallace, though, so I settle for leaning into his side and putting a hand on his knee. He drops his arm so it’s actually around my shoulders now and gives a grateful squeeze.

“Man, I can’t believe that,” Wallace says, breaking the silence that fell after my narrative. “That’s some cold shit, to blackmail that many people into being your friends.”

“Maybe you can’t buy happiness, but it sure looks like you can blackmail your way to it,” mutters Logan. There’s another awkward pause before Mac suggests we see what they’re saying on the news. There still seems to be some confusion over what actually happened, but the reporters are making it pretty clear that Cobb was taken down by “the private investigator working for Logan Echolls” (and I have to wonder how long I’m going to stay that anonymous, because buried in the footage is a shot or two of Logan hugging me when he got to the crime scene, and one of him shielding me as we’re leaving the police station).

“You know, it warms my little heart to see Lamb Two: The Sleazinator being proved wrong so publicly,” I say. “Which network shall we gift our little home movie to, to finish the sting?” Mac and Wallace look momentarily appalled until I explain our gag with the camera hat.

“I know just the one,” Logan gloats, and it’s the work of a few minutes to send off the video we took in Lamb’s office the other day.
This little act of revenge has given me my appetite back, and I dig gratefully into my dinner while we all watch the unfolding news coverage. Nobody really seems to know about the blackmail yet, but I’m sure it’ll all come out by tomorrow. What they do know, after seeing Cobb led away in handcuffs, is that Logan is innocent, and despite everything else I feel a glow of satisfaction at a job well done. I’d forgotten how good this burn of righteous justification felt, the rush that comes from proving the whole world wrong. Nothing I’ve done since I left Neptune – not acing exams, not getting the Trumann Mann job, not moving to New York, had ever given me this kind of high. But is it worth the consequences? Is it worth knowing that my sloppy mistakes led to Gia’s death? Something to think about. I must have retreated into my thoughts, because I start a bit when Logan’s knuckles trail down my back.

“Hey, you ok in there?” he asks, eyeing me carefully. I roll my eyes.

“I’m always ok,” I say, hoping that I come off more cool and cocky than vulnerable and uncertain. He snorts.

“Sure you are,” he mutters, but shifts away a fraction to finish eating. When I’ve cleaned my plate I tuck myself back against his side. Logan clearly decides that if I don’t mind Mac and Wallace knowing we’re together again (or whatever we are), he doesn’t. He puts his arm back around me. I think he also decides we’ve been heavy enough for the evening, because he immediately starts making fun of Sheriff Lamb’s bumbling excuses. Mac joins in, and their surprisingly smooth comic flow cracks me up in no time. I find myself wanting to burrow into him, and I recognize this feeling from being with Logan when we were younger – how good it feels to have someone who might be as screwed up as me, but is entirely behind me – someone who can see the worst Neptune has to throw at us and still be able to crack a smile afterwards (even if it is a slightly bitter one).

I look over at Wallace and he’s watching us, a sober look on his face. I assume he’s thinking about Pi; they were good friends, and although I have known Wallace longer, it’s possible he resents me moving on so quickly. I find I can’t quite meet his eyes. He grimaces, and suddenly stands up. “Hey, I’ll take these into the kitchen,” he says. “Logan, why don’t you give me a hand?” Logan looks up at him, a wary expression on his face.

“Sure,” he says slowly, standing up. He picks up my plate and his and glances at our beer bottles to see whether any are empty before leaving the room with Wallace close behind him. When they don’t come back right away I share a glance with Mac.

“I’m assuming you want to go hear what they’re saying?” she suggests quietly.

“Big time,” I answer.

We edge down the hallway taking care not to get in the sightline of the kitchen door. We missed whatever Wallace wanted to say, but Logan is in full, if quiet, flow of a ranting reply.

“Ok, I’m really not emo guy, so I’m going to say this once, and only once, and only because you are Veronica’s best friend in the world and I want to make sure we’re all on the same page. I mean ok, dude, you’re right. I grew up rich, and I was used to getting my way. I’ve lived the ‘dream’,” he is saying. I can almost see him doing the air quotes. “Not just pop stars, I’ve dated movie stars and models, and some perfectly nice, perfectly normal girls, and there’s one thing I can tell you. That sometimes you’re going through, and you’re thinking ‘yeah, this is fine – she’s a nice girl, I could love her, this will be good.’ But the fact is, once you’ve had the real thing, you know the difference. And maybe I’m not the real thing for Veronica. Maybe she’ll get sick of me tomorrow once the rush of solving the case wears off. Maybe she’ll get back to New York and realize that I don’t fit into her life anymore, not that I ever really did to begin with. But I would be a moron not to grab the chance if she does think she wants me. I feel sorry for Piz, I do, but I promise you I didn’t drag her down here just to screw up their lives.”

“No, you just thought you’d screw her,” is Wallace’s blunt reply. Mac and I exchange a wide-eyed look, and I am just about to run in to break up a fist fight, but to my surprise there’s just a sharp intake of breath.

“You better be glad you’re her friend, or you would so regret that, man,” Logan finally says, his voice shaking. “See, this is what I don’t understand. You guys are her friends, but you think so little of her. I mean, you and her Dad and Piz, you say you love her. You say you know her, but you only see the easy parts. You like that she’s smart, that she’s loyal, that she’s funny and different and beautiful. And she is. But you’re all afraid to look too closely – you won’t look past the loyalty to see the dogged determination. You won’t look past the brains to see the way her mind is totally incapable of turning itself off once she’s on a trail. You don’t see that the very best parts of her are the ones where she was broken and she put herself back together through sheer force of will. Those parts are jagged, and raw, and difficult, and they’re totally fucking breathtaking. And until you’re willing to let her be her, you’re locking her in a box, all of you.”

I think my mouth is hanging open. My heart is beating about a thousand miles a minute, and I find I’m having trouble breathing. I lock eyes with Mac again, and she too looks wide-eyed and surprised. There’s a long pause, and then Logan starts talking again.
“Look, I didn’t mean to unload on you,” he says. “But I’ve had nine years to think about what I’d do if I had another chance. I don’t know if you remember, or if you ever knew, but I was never that keen either on her walking into danger like that. But I’ve tried my life without Veronica, and you know, my own job these days isn’t exactly risk-free, so I figure if she can handle my life I can handle hers. I dunno, I can tell how close you guys still are, and I don’t want to be that guy she has to keep off to the side because he can’t get along with any of her friends. So I hope we can be cool, for her sake. But seriously, you gotta give her some more credit for knowing her own mind. Veronica doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to do – unless she thinks she’s going to disappoint the few people she really loves.” There’s another pause. I suspect Wallace doesn’t know what to say. “Why don’t you go back out there? I’m just going to check my messages.”

Mac and I sneak back to the living room. When Wallace comes in, we’re trying hard to look like we’ve been watching tv the whole time. Wallace sits down and looks at us. “You totally heard that whole thing, didn’t you?”

“We did,” I say. “Although I missed whatever you said that produced the whole rant. Do I want to know?”

“I was just standing up for you, V. I want to make sure he’s not taking advantage after your Dad’s accident.” I roll my eyes.

“Like the man said, I don’t do anything I don’t want to do,” I reply, standing up and going to find Logan. He’s leaning against the counter and scrolling through his texts.

“Totally fucking breathtaking?” I ask. His head is still bowed, but his eyes flick up to me and he smiles sheepishly. “Yeah, I heard,” I say. Fair enough that he knows.

“I figured. For all I know you’ve got all the rooms in the house bugged,” he says, thankfully still smiling a bit.

“Not yet,” I say, sidling up to him.

“You’re not going to freak out on me, are you?” he asks, eyeing me warily. “Cuz I think I might have been kind of out of line.”

“No, you weren’t. He’s just gotta give you a chance. I thought this was supposed to be a relaxing evening, though.”

“Sure you want to consider getting involved with a drama magnet?” he asks, unconsciously echoing Wallace’s opinion of me.

“I can take some drama,” I reply.

“Okay, good,” he says, nudging me sideways a bit. “I gotta ask something though. I have about a million texts from Dick and I’m worried about him. Do you mind if I duck out for just a little while? You guys can start The Big Lebowski or whatever, and I’ll just go check on him and come back … if you want me to come back.” I stand up on my tiptoes and give him a soft kiss.

“Go see Dick, and then come back,” I say. “I’ll be fine here.”

“We can have Mac and Wallace to the beach house for a barbecue in a few days if Dick’s cool with it – we can all hang out again when emotions aren’t running so high,” he suggests. This earns him another kiss. We walk to the front door, and I ignore the two pairs of eyes watching us. Logan pauses at the door. He brushes his knuckles along my cheek, and brushes my hair back. My heart swells a bit at the familiar gesture. He kisses my forehead and ducks out quickly with a muttered goodbye, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I look after him like a lovesick schoolgirl for a few seconds. He turns back just before going down the porch steps to give me one last smile and nod before ducking his head sheepishly and hurrying away.

“So,” I say, turning to my loyal sidekicks with my patented faux-perky smile. “Movie?”

They exchange a look. “Listen, Veronica, I didn’t mean to stick my nose in. I’m sorry,” says Wallace. “It’s just he’s never been a very stable guy. I was worried about you.”

“Wallace, I have never been in any danger from Logan. Never.” I try to be as firm as possible.

“I just thought - the case is over; as soon as your Dad is better you can go back to New York and get your life back on track. You could call Piz and work it out, we can keep our mouths shut about Logan if you want…”

“Wallace, stop,” snaps Mac. We both turn to her in surprise. “Logan is right – we have to let Veronica do her own thing.”

“Even if it means dating Richie Rich again? Whose team are you on?”

“I’m on Team Veronica,” says Mac firmly. “Logan was right, you guys are always trying to make her be this safe, normal person, and she’s always trying to make you happy. Maybe you should just let her be her. If she wants Logan, fine. If she doesn’t, fine. Hell, if she wants to give up New York and come back here to be a PI, fine. But it’s her decision and we can’t make it for her.”

By the end of Mac’s little speech I’m genuinely touched. It’s a real relief to have not just one person, but two, point out that I’m not a terrible person for wanting to dip my toe in dangerous waters again. Ever since I got here, it’s seemed like the only one who was glad I was investigating was Logan, and even he felt pretty guilty about dragging me back into his messy life. To hear that at least one of my friends trusts my judgement is a very real relief.

“Mac,” I interject with a serious face. “I’m going to have to hug you now.” Mac rolls her eyes but submits to the hug. I turn to Wallace.

“If I apologise for interfering with your love life, do I get a hug too?” he asks.

“Yeah you do,” I smile, and give him a hug without waiting for the apology. “Now, who wants ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream from a can?”

The rest of the evening really does pass without drama, but eventually the exhaustion of the last few days catches up with me and the next thing I know the movie has been replaced with the news playing quietly, and I hear whispering voices.

“She passed out about halfway through the movie,” Wallace is saying. I feel a hand running up and down my arm and open my eyes.

“Hey there, sleeping beauty,” says Logan. He looks sad but calm.

“Hey,” I reply sleepily. My brain hasn’t quite woken up enough for actual conversation.

“I think Mac and Wallace are going to head out, do you want me to stay?”

“Of course,” I say, sitting up and rubbing my eyes. I figure I must look ridiculous, but an adoring smile flits across Logan’s face.

“Thanks for coming,” I say to Mac and Wallace, holding my arms out for another group hug. “You guys are the best.”

“Let us know how your Dad is doing, I’ll come by and see him when he’s up for visitors,” Wallace says. He turns to Logan and holds out his hand. “See you later, man,” he says. Logan looks gratified and the two guys clap their hands together and slap each other’s backs in a man hug.

When they’re gone, Logan comes back to stand in front of me. “So, do I need to carry you to bed again?” he asks.

“Well, I am feeling kind of faint,” I say in a coy drawl.

“We can’t have that,” he responds, and in a split second I’m swept up in his arms and we’re kissing, and spinning, and for a long time after that everything just feels good.

Chapter Text

As it turns out, we don’t get much sleep that night.

Going to Dick’s had been the right thing to do, but honestly I’d have rather just stayed with Veronica. It’s been a long time since I really fit in with the old 09er crowd; first they didn’t understand my feelings for Veronica, then later they didn’t get the Navy thing. They’re mostly not the sharpest pencils in the box, but they can sense my disdain for their frivolous lifestyle, for the way we all take our unearned wealth for granted. I tar myself with the same brush – it’s a big part of the self-loathing I’ve always wrestled with – but I don’t think that makes them like it any more. Still, I’ve known them all a long time, and Dick in particularly stuck with me through all my ups (recent and unexceptional) and my downs (epic). What’s left of the group, the few who weren’t either dead or under arrest, were already three sheets to the wind by the time I got there. As at the reunion, I got a lot of glares. Apparently everything is my fault for bringing Veronica into the situation, and to be fair I did know that if she was at all the same as she had been, it would be a bit like putting a bull in a china shop. For a tiny person she has an amazing capacity to produce chaos.

At least Dick wanted me there. He gave me a teary hug when I arrived, and I let him babble on for a long time about how awful it was, and how he never suspected Cobb was blackmailing everyone. Not much was required of me except the occasional nod and “I know, man.” It’s when Madison Sinclair stumbled over that the shit kind of hit the fan. Apparently she’d decided that my punching her boyfriend out for their decision to play the sex tape of Veronica at the reunion was Veronica’s fault. Classic. I couldn’t even look at Madison for years after Veronica dumped me over our Aspen hookup. Now we tolerate each other, but even nine years later I can’t completely quell the nausea feel when I think about what happened, and there’s a faint ringing in my ears that sounds a bit like Veronica’s hysterical accusations if I let myself listen too closely. Madison has no reluctance in letting loose on Veronica, no matter how many times I’ve made it clear that that’s not something I’m going to sit by and listen to. Apparently Gia’s death and Luke and Cobb’s arrest was the next logical step after ruining our high school reunion in Veronica’s one woman attempt to ruin her life.

“She was just trying to help,” I interrupted. “California has the death penalty, as people keep reminding me. She was trying to save my life.”

“She should have left well enough alone. What makes your life worth so much more than Gia’s?” It was pretty clear by now that Madison had had enough to drink to turn off what little internal filter she had to begin with, and was just going to let all her spite gush out. Her question stopped me short, though.

“Nothing,” I replied quietly. “I’m really sorry about Gia.” Looking around, I could see that it was really only Dick who wanted me there – for everyone else I was just making it worse, because they couldn’t figure out how to be glad I wasn’t going to jail for life, and sad for Gia and Luke, and mad at Cobb, all at the same time. I clapped Dick on the shoulder. “Listen, Dick, I’m just going to take off, go back to Veronica’s. You know, she’s still got her Dad in the hospital…” The look on Dick’s face almost had me sitting back down. I’m one of the few people that he lets past the happy-go-lucky show he puts on, and in that moment he looked shattered and bitter.

“Sure, go running back to Ronnie, just like always. You’re a great friend until she says jump, and then you’re gone. Some things never change.”

“Dick-look, I really am sorry.” Dick had leaned back and closed his eyes. “Whatever, dude. Look, I really am glad she got you off.” He let it sit there for a second, and then he started sniggering at his unintentional double entendre. “Got you off? Get it?” I rolled my eyes.

“I got it. Look, you know how to reach me.”

“Yeah. See you later,” he said, tiredly. I hated to leave him, but at least he was in his own house surrounded by friends. I promised I’d check in again in a day or two.

So by the time I get to Veronica’s house, I’m feeling kind of wrung out and tired, and more than a little heart sore. When I see Veronica all sleepy and tousled and safe, I’m filled with a rush of gratitude that she’s there, that she’s safe, that at least for this moment she’s mine. It’s nice that Wallace speaks to me like a decent human being when he leaves, but I’m also incredibly impatient for the part where I get to take Veronica to bed. What follows is sweet, and slow, and reverential. I take the time to explore that I hadn’t yet had a chance to, trying to map out on this new Veronica what makes her gasp, and moan, and quiver. When we move together it’s at a steady pace that lets me see exactly what spots and angles make her head roll back. I spend a lot of time looking in her face, watching the waves of pleasure wash across it, trying to memorise everything about her. At the end, we lie crumpled in a sweaty, gasping mess in the middle of the bed.

“Holy crap,” she finally manages. “A gold star for Logan Echolls. I’m not sure I even remember my name.” All I can summon is a grunting chuckle.

“Gotta keep you coming back for more,” I finally mutter, already feeling sleep pulling me down.

I’m really very surprised when I’m startled awake by Veronica sitting up sharply in bed, gasping for breath. I struggle up to a seated position and wrap myself around her, rubbing my hands up and down her arms and muttering semi-articulate reassurances. Predictably, she doesn’t want to talk about what happened in her nightmare, but she is willing to let me comfort her, which is something. What I don’t expect, is that when her breathing has slowed down, she turns around and gives me a deep, consuming kiss. She pushes me back on the bed and starts trailing her lips down my body.

“Veronica?” I say, not awake enough to really know what I’m asking. She just shushes me, and in the darkness she rides me until I’m the one who can’t remember my name.

When the dawn comes, I drift awake again and find that she’s lying on her front next to me. I lift myself up enough to brush kisses along her shoulders, just because I can, and immediately she opens her eyes.

“Well, you’re clearly not asleep,” I say, stating the obvious.

“Yeah, I woke up about half an hour ago and I just can’t make my brain shut off. But I couldn’t be bothered to get up.”

“I’m okay with that,” I say, sitting up and pulling into her arms. “What do you want to do today?”

“I just want to go see my Dad – I’d like to be at the hospital as much as possible.”

“Yeah, I figured. Listen, I have head to San Diego and check in at the base. How ‘bout I drop you off, go do what I gotta do, and then swing back and pick you up when visiting hours are over?” She blinks. It’s not the first time someone I’ve known a long time looks a little taken aback when they have to confront the reality of my life in the armed forces. It is almost the first time it’s actually worried me. I’m pretty sure I’ll find out today how soon my next deployment will be.

“I can drive myself, you know, I have keys to Dad’s car,” is what she decides to say, though.

“I know, but I like being your chauffeur. I’ll even hold the door open for you and call you `Ma’am’ if you want me to.”

“Do you have a kinky chauffeur fantasy?” she teases, smiling again.

“You have no idea how many fantasies I’ve had about you the last nine years,” I confess, hoping not to freak her out. Instead I get a pleased smile.

“Is one of them emotionally exhausted pre-dawn nookie in a fold-out couch in my Dad’s guest room?” she suggests.

“How did you know?” I breathe, as we slide down the bed.

It’s several hours later and the sun is high in the sky by the time I’m parking my car in the Base parking lot. I hear my name, and break into a grin when I see my buddy Scott walking towards me. It’s my first contact with a relatively normal person in weeks, and it’s a huge relief.

“Hey, man, good to see you,” I say.

“I heard you’re finally cleared, good work. That’s some private dick you hired.” I chuckle and scratch my head.

“Yeah, I didn’t so much hire her as ask for her advice on lawyers and the next thing I know I’m a free man,” I hedge. My phone rings, and I wave it apologetically at Scott. “Speak of the devil,” I explain. I also turn around a bit, vainly hoping for some privacy in case I get a bit mushy.

“Bobcat!” I greet her.

“Logan!” she hisses back. I can actually hear the blush.

“Your Dad can’t hear me. You can’t use your phone inside the hospital.”

“You know my Dad. He has, like, super hearing.”

“Yes, dear, whatever you say. What can I do for you?”

“He’s awake! He’s awake, and he spoke to me, and… Logan, they say he’s going to be fine – not right away, of course, but eventually... And I was so relieved, I just wanted…”

“You wanted to share it with me?” I say quietly, genuinely touched. “That’s amazing, baby. I’m so glad you called. Let me take you out for dinner tonight to celebrate. I’ll get you that meal at Mamma Leone’s you didn’t get the other day.”

“You’re willing to be seen in public with me? What about your adoring paparazzi?”

“Yeah, there’s a headline for you: son-of-a-movie-star takes girlfriend to family-friendly restaurant. I’ll risk the picture of me in a lobster bib if you will,” I joke fondly.

“I think I would actually pay to see that on the front of the Enquirer,” she replies.

“So it’s a – am I allowed to call this a date? If we follow it up with a walk on the beach in the moonlight?”

“Oh my God, you are even more cheesy than you used to be,” she groans.

“You love it,” I joke.

“Maybe,” is her coy reply.

“So I’ll do what I have to do here, and I’ll meet you back at the hospital.”

“See you later, sugar lips,” she signs off.

“See you later, sweet cheeks.” I’m embarrassed to realise that I have to pause a second before turning around to get my heart rate back to normal and my stupid grin back to something a little less embarrassing. Scott is leaning on the hood of my car, watching me with interest.

“That was the hot investigator.”

“The same.” He thinks for a minute.

“The heart-breaker, the love of your life – the one from high school.”

“And college,” I correct, as though carrying a flame for my girlfriend from freshman year of college is that much less pathetic than pining for a high school sweetheart.

“And now you’re….”

“And now we’re something. And I’m going to do whatever I can to keep it like that,” I finish. “She’s the one, man.” It’s always a relief to be able to talk to my Navy friends about, well, everything – they know me, trust me, like me, and more to the point they weren’t part of any of the drama around me and Veronica the first time round (or second, or third, or fourth, or fifth).

“Well, word has it you’ve got two weeks to convince her to wait for you,” Scott says, apologetically. “Good luck, man.” He claps me on the shoulder and heads off. “Hey, bring her by for a barbecue if you get the chance. Laura will want to meet her.” I nod agreement, but my mind has already moved on. Two weeks. I’m going to need a hell of a sales pitch.

Chapter Text

By the time Logan drops me off at the hospital visitors entrance with a lingering kiss and a bashful finger wave, I’m bone-tired – although not entirely in a bad way. Two nights in a row of mind-blowingly good reunion sex have left me tired but content in a way that would be perfect if I weren’t still so worried about Dad. When I get to his room he’s still out, but the nurses assure me that he’s now in a normal sleep and that he could wake up at any time. I sit down, intending to enjoy the news coverage of the chaos I caused the Neptune Sheriff’s department, but the warmth of the room and the lack of rest of the last two days weigh down on me, and I can feel my eyes drift shut as I curl into the chair.

 

I awake with a start, trying to work out where I am, and am greeted by the sight of my Dad, awake and watching me.

 

“Hey there, sleeping beauty,” he says softly. “I was starting to think they’d have to wake you up to kick you out.”

 

“Dad!” I exclaim, hurtling out of the chair, only to be stuck on feet that have fallen asleep. Ouch. I hobble over to the bed and sit on the edge. “How are you?”

 

“I’m ok, honey. Still kinda out of it, but okay. I talked to the doctor while you were out, and he thinks that in time I’ll make a full recovery. I’m so sorry you had to go through this.”

 

“Don’t worry about me,” I insist, brushing that off. “I’m just glad I was here already, that Logan was able to pull you free…” I break off, my throat closing up in panic as I think what could have happened if Logan hadn’t been walking by at just the right moment.

 

“It’s okay, Veronica. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry. Anyway, it looks like you’ve been pretty busy. I’m proud of you, honey.”

 

“Thanks Dad,” I reply, tearing up again.

 

“Have you been on your own at the house? Have Mac or Wallace looked in on you?” Now is the moment where I have to decide whether or not to fess up. With all the B roll that has me wrapped in Logan’s arms at the back of the murder coverage, I think hedging is probably useless.

 

“Logan’s been taking care of me. He’s been really great. And Mac and Wallace came by with dinner last night.” Dad frowns, and I can see on the monitor that his heart rate is speeding up a bit. “Dad, he saved your life, did they tell you that? If I hadn’t been in Neptune, if he hadn’t been coming by for dinner, you would be dead now. Please don’t give me a hard time about this.” I can’t stand that after everything that’s happened, we’re going to have the same argument we were having before Dad’s crash. I know that this is partly my fault; in the past Logan would have been perfectly willing to get to know Dad better if I’d given him a chance. If I’d just trusted him more then, everything would be easier now. Talk about your past biting you in the ass. Dad’s watching me closely. Apparently he also decides it’s not worth getting into an argument about at just this moment, because he just looks disappointed in me, sighs, and says, “Well, have Logan stop by sometime then. I should thank him.”

 

“He’s picking me up later. He had to do some stuff on Base. Or whatever.”

 

“You can drive my car, honey,” Dad starts. “You’re still on the insurance.”

 

“I know, but he’s worried about me, so he’s being all mother hen and ferrying me around. And I was planning to be here all day, so it worked out.” Dad’s still looking disapproving, but he’s also starting to fade. “I’m going to go see whether I can talk to your doctor,” I say, getting up. “I’ll be right back.”

 

Predictably, Dad’s doctor is off being busy with someone else’s Dad, but I do have a long chat with the nurse. Part of me still wants to cry at the long list of injuries he’s sustained, and the thought of the long recovery process he has in front of him, but the nurse is upbeat and positive, and seems to genuinely believe that he’ll come out ok. For the first time in days, I feel like I can really breathe. After glancing in and seeing that Dad really is asleep again, I go out front and call Logan. I’m comforted to know that he’s still a total goofball, and I think that silly nicknames are something I can get used to having in my life again. The banter, that perfect mix of snark and tenderness that is so uniquely Logan, I am completely ready to get used to again. I decide to let the fact that he’s already calling me his girlfriend slide because he’s making me laugh at the time. Plenty of time for the “what are we doing” talk.

 

I spend the afternoon reading magazines, watching tv, and talking to Dad whenever he’s awake. We keep it light, skirting around mentions of Piz, New York, the future, and Logan (aside from his case. I give Dad the funny, anecdotal version of how I solved the case, skimming gently over the part where I was in danger). Just as I’m starting to get hungry enough to wonder where my ride is, there’s a knock on the door, and there’s Logan, again in uniform (although unfortunately not the whites this time). I blink. The whole Navy thing is definitely going to take some getting used to.

 

“Hey, just wanted to let you know I’m here,” he says. “I can wait downstairs til you two are done.” I take a breath, resisting my initial impulse to get Logan and my Dad away from each other. I remind myself that Logan is a responsible adult with a career, and I don’t have to worry about Dad thinking he’s a delinquent and asking about his prospects. Logan will not tease me about our sex life in front of my Dad, and he’s no longer the teenage boy who skipped classes to surf and made an endurance sport of underage drinking and did all the other things I knew Dad would disapprove of. Logan’s watching me, looking kind of amused, and I think he knows exactly what I’m flashing back to.

 

“No, come in,” Dad interjects. “I understand it’s you I have to thank for being here instead of six feet under.” I blanch and flinch, and Dad’s eyes soften. “Sorry sweetie. Too soon?”

 

“A little,” I mutter. Logan is looking adorably bashful, though.

 

“No need,” he says, looking acutely uncomfortable. “Anyone would have done the same.”

 

“No, they wouldn’t,” Dad persists. I have to admit, Dad is at least ready to give credit where it’s due. “You risked your life for me, and that’s not nothing. I’m grateful.” He holds up his hand to shake Logan, and I can see Logan pause for a moment, trying to figure out how to take it without disturbing any tubes.

 

“I’m just glad I was there,” he says awkwardly, shaking Dad’s hand. He casts a pleading glance at me. “Are you sure I shouldn’t just wait outside….” Dad takes pity on him.

 

“You kids take off – visiting hours are almost over anyway, and I don’t think Veronica’s been fed for a few hours.”

 

“I promised her Mamma Leone’s,” Logan tells him. “She’s going to try to get a picture of me in a lobster bib on the front page of the Enquirer.” Dad snorts in surprised laughter, and it warms my heart to see my two favourite men laughing together. Maybe we’ll all be okay after all. “Come on, then. Let’s get you some dinner.”

 

“I’m not a zoo animal,” I retort, although I’m gathering my things together as I do. “I don’t have a feeding schedule.”

 

“Sure you don’t,” says my Dad, smiling. He’s watching me and Logan carefully, but I don’t think he sees anything to alarm him at the moment. Hopefully he’s going to give all this a chance. As soon as we’re out of the sightline of the door of Dad’s room, though, Logan swoops in, picking me right up and planting a hand on the wall to support us as he kisses me senseless in a way that would not have made Dad happy. When I find I need to breathe, I ease away and he lets me slide gently down to the ground, ducking to keep our foreheads together.

 

“Hi,” he says, smiling.

 

“Hi,” I reply, probably grinning ear to ear. “What was that for?”

 

“That was for, I haven’t seen you since this morning.”

 

“I could get used to that,” I flirt shamelessly, and am rewarded when he kisses me again. We break apart when I hear a throat clearing, and I’m completely embarrassed when I see that there is a grim old woman in a flowery housecoat glaring at us.

 

“This is a public corridor,” she sneers. “You kids should keep your canoodling to yourselves.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Logan manages, saluting, and waits to drag me around a corner before we both collapse against the wall in gales of laughter. When he can speak again, he asks me, “Why do people keep calling me kid? I’m 28 years old. I just had my ten year reunion, for goodness sake!”

 

“It’s your boyish good looks,” I tease. “Come on, Dougie Howser, feed me already.”

 

We put the top down again as we drive along, and I decide that I really wasn’t just making awkward small talk when I commented on the sun on my arrival in Neptune. When I’m here, feeling the sun on my skin and smelling the salt in the air, I can’t imagine what could have tempted me away from California, den of iniquity or no. I jump a bit when my phone rings a long-distance ring tone, and smile when I see that it’s Rebecca. Becks and I went to Stanford together, and we talked each other into going to law school at Columbia. She’s on the same job interview marathon that I’ve just stepped out of. I wave the phone at Logan and he nods.

 

“Becks!”

 

“Veronica, hi. Um – call me crazy, but is it possible I saw you on the news this morning? I know you’re from Neptune…” I cringe. It didn’t occur to me that so much of the wall to wall coverage would go national.

 

“Um – yeah, I’m in California. You remember I told you about Logan?” Logan glances at me, not even pretending not to listen.

 

“Yeah, you guys dated in highschool, right? I always thought it was so wild that you used to go out with someone famous!”

 

“And college,” I correct. I’ve never been able to class Logan in my head with juvenile, highschool romances. I don’t exactly tell everyone about my past with Logan, but Becks is someone I trust enough to hear at least some of it. “I came out to help him choose a lawyer, and things got kind of complicated. It’s all cool now though – even the idiot Sheriff has figured out it wasn’t him.”

 

“I’m sensing a story,” she guesses. “When are you back in New York? You and Piz can come for dinner next week and tell me all about it.”
“I don’t know,” I hedge. Might as well rip off the bandaid. “Piz and I broke up. And then while I was here my Dad was … was in a car accident, and I’m going to stay out here for a while until he’s out of the hospital I think.” I hear Becks gasp.

 

“Oh my God, Veronica, that’s a lot. Are you ok? Do you need me to fly out there?” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why she’s such a good friend that I trusted her with more of my sordid history than anyone else.

 

“No, no. Dad’s doing ok. And I’ve got friends here, and, you know, Logan,” I say, trailing off a bit uncertainly. Logan’s hands shift on the steering wheel, and he’s watching me really more than he should be with how fast he’s driving. I glare at him, gesturing to pay attention to the road. He rolls his eyes but obeys.

 

“You’ve got Logan,” Becks says, leadingly, and when I don’t answer she squeals. “You’re with Logan again! Oh my God, you’re back with the super sexy ex!”

 

“Maybe,” I admit, non-committally.

 

“Have you slept with him yet?”

 

“Yes,” I answer shortly, regretting answering the phone. If this was anyone else, I would already have hung up.

 

“More than once?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Was it amazing?” I glance once more at Logan, and let a smile curve my lips.

 

“Yes,” I say firmly.

 

“Is he there right now?”

 

“Yes.” She laughs.

 

“Ok, ok, fine. But call me when you’re on your own and give me details.”

 

“We’ll see,” I warn. “Talk to you soon.” When I get off the phone, I try to fill Logan in a bit on my friendship with Becks, and the conversation carries on into dinner. It’s all wonderfully relaxed, and we spend the evening dawdling over delicious food, filling each other in on some of the lighter bits of our time apart. The only thing that worries me is that when I ask him how his afternoon was he shifts uncomfortably and says he’ll tell me about it later… that does not bode well. But by then I’m full of seafood and just enough wine, and I’m feeling boneless and comfortable. We manage to talk each other into wearing the bibs for a few seconds, giggling the whole time. I can’t help but notice that Logan is recognised, and some people aren’t very surreptitious about taking pictures of him with their phones. I can only hope they’re for personal bragging rights, not worldwide distribution, but this kind of thing was always a side effect of being with Logan. When we finish, he holds the car door open for me and hands me in.

 

“Beach?” he suggests. “I promised you a walk in the moonlight.”

 

“Softie,” I chide, but I nod my agreement.

 

“Maybe, but I’m your softie,” he says, pulling out of the parking lot.

Chapter Text

I spent most of my drive back from San Diego mulling over what to say with Veronica. By the time I get to Neptune General, I’ve got a few tacks I think I can take, and I figure I’d better just go with the flow and see which seems best. It is definitely not a conversation I want to leave entirely to chance though.

By the time we finish dinner I’m feeling pretty good, and reasonably confident. Veronica has been relaxed and flirty all evening. She was open to having me interact with her Dad (who I can tell is still not my biggest fan, but maybe that’s a mountain I can climb when I’m back from my next deployment – Rome wasn’t built in a day, or even in two weeks). And I bet she hopes I couldn’t hear what her friend was saying, but she actually had her phone volume up pretty loud, so I know exactly what she was responding to. Surely she wouldn’t even bother to tell her friend about me if she was intending to dump me right away? Although she doesn’t know what I do, that most of the first six months of our relationship are going to have to be long distance.

I’m feeling a buzz of bravado by the time I pull the car in next to Dick’s beach house. I know he’s at the 09er, and it’s pretty good odds he’ll be late, so the beach should be empty. My adoring public had more than enough chances to take pictures of me at Mamma Leone’s; that was fine, but what’s coming next is definitely not for public consumption. It’s a beautiful, warm, moonlit Californian night, and miraculously Veronica actually lets me hold her hand as we walk barefoot along the water, the surf just barely tickling our feet. I think it’s the quietest I’ve ever seen her, and I’d be worried except that whenever I catch her eye she gives me the most amazing bashful smile that is completely unlike her, and it makes me feel like whatever we’re getting into could be something new, something better than it was before. After awhile I stop and suggest that we sit. She does, and I sit behind her, enclosing her in my arms and legs.

“So – I was told something today that I think we should talk about,” I say, once I’d chosen a way to start the conversation. Veronica immediately tenses for flight, although she doesn’t actually get up. She just turns a bit so she can see my face. “Um – do you want the good news or the bad news?” I ask. Veronica always wants the bad news first. At least, she used to. I start to worry when a mischievous grin flits across her face.

“Good news,” she says. I blink, and I think my mouth is hanging open for a second. This isn’t part of my spiel.

“Wait,” I splutter. “You’re supposed to say bad news – you always want bad news first.”

“I’m being unpredictable,” she retorts, and I really, really want to kiss her right now for that adorable, sassy thing she does when she’s getting the better of me – but that would be counterproductive.

“I don’t know where to go from here,” I whine. “I had this whole spiel.” She grins a little in satisfaction at getting the better of me before she sobers.

“Just say what you have to say, Logan,” she suggests.

“Well…” I pause, thrown off my game, and then decide to just jump right in. “I know that you don’t like to rush things, and that you just broke up with Piz and it’s a terrible time to be making decisions - but it turns out that two weeks from today, I’m being shipped out again. For six months.” There’s dead silence, and I have no idea how to read the expression on her face.

“I’m guessing that’s the bad news,” she finally says.

“Well, yeah. But I was thinking about this the whole way back from San Diego, and I think there’s a silver lining.”

“Uh huh.” She is clearly not convinced.

“Well – I know we can’t really decide what we want to be in two weeks. I do. But, you know, I’ll have email and Skype, more or less, and maybe we could use those six months to get to know each other again, without… well, distractions.”

“Let me get this straight – you think you’re going to get to know me better if you have a relationship with me without sex?”

“Um – well, that’s not really what I meant I mean – can I say something that you might not want to hear?” Her raised eyebrow is all I need to remind me that she doesn’t want to hear any of this. “Ok, so – I got the feeling that before, at Hearst, you loved me but a lot of the time you didn’t really like me. At least, the day to day reality of a relationship with me. I thought about this a lot after you left, and – you could handle the real drama. The murder accusations, the fist fights, all the things that would have sent other girls screaming, those you could deal with. But it was the petty stuff you couldn’t take, the drinking and partying, and not wanting to go to pretentious lectures, and gambling, and all that average college stuff that drove you nuts. I knew it did, but that year was my turn to try to be normal, and I kept telling myself that if you really loved me, eventually you’d accept me.” She opens her mouth to object, but I place two fingers over her mouth. “Let me get this out,” I beg. “Please.” She nods, her eyes wide and hurt.

“Back then, our lives didn’t mesh. No matter how much we loved each other. And at the end of the day, it was that as much as anything else that tore us apart – quite aside from major emotional issues that probably should have had professional attention.” I get a half smile for that. “So what I propose is this – we make the most of this two weeks. And then I go off, and we spend six months emailing and Skyping, and learning about what it means to be together now, at this point in our lives, and whether we genuinely like each other. And if you realise at any point that you aren’t sure I’m what you want, for whatever reason, you can just break it off, and not have to look me in the eye every day and feel guilty about it until we snap – and the same goes for me. Because I don’t know about you, but this it. I want to try being with you again, more than anything. But I don’t want to spend another three years on a roller coaster like it was before. It’s not fair.”

Veronica pushes free of me and scrambles a few feet away, her arms wrapped around herself defensively.

“That’s it? You want me to decide in six months whether we’re soul mates or not? You can’t be serious,” she grinds out. I should have known she’d take this as an ultimatum.

“No! No, that’s not it at all. If we still don’t know where we stand in six months, then we don’t know. It’s okay. I just meant – maybe it’s a good start. Just getting to know each other without some of the outside stresses on the relationship.” I hold a hand out to her. She takes it, thank goodness. “Look at it this way – when you go back to New York it won’t make a difference, it’ll be long distance either way. And I can try to spend more time out there when I’m stateside. I may only have a few more years, and if all goes well we can make a plan together when I’m back here full time.”

“What do you want, Logan? Really and truly,” she says, steeling herself and looking me in the face.

“I want you,” I say plainly. This is the simple truth from one of the deepest places of my heart. “But I also want to be someone who can look himself in the eye every morning. I want a career that I’m good at, with people who value me. I just want to be … content. I want something…” I pause, flailing for a word. “Stable.” As I say it, I realise for the first time how true that is. I’ve worked hard to build a solid foundation for my own life, and I’m tired of having my romantic life be so dramatic, perpetually on-again off-again, always waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Veronica looks quietly out at the ocean for a long time. I can’t see her face, but at least her hand holds mine tightly. “I did the long distance thing once, you know,” she says quietly.

“When?” I ask, trying to sound neutral.

“When I first went out to the East coast. I was with this guy, and when he didn’t get into Columbia I felt bad breaking up with him as well as going off to the school he’d really wanted. It was awful. He was jealous, and anyway after I got there it the relationship just didn’t seem worth it. I thought the whole thing just fizzled out, but then he flew out and we had this awful argument, and he told me I was a cold bitch who’d never wanted him anyway.” I’m not sure what to say to this confession. “I suppose that’s one thing about you and me, though, we’re not capable of just fizzling out. We could never be in a situation where you just don’t matter enough to me.” My chest tightens at that admission, and I have to gulp back a wave of emotion.

“No,” I whisper. “That’s not a problem we ever have.” Finally she turns and looks at me, and my heart breaks a little when I see a tear winding down her cheek. “Oh, Veronica, I’m sorry. I’m sorry being with me is always such a mess. I’m sorry I have to put this all on you so soon in the middle of so much other crap.” I tug a bit on her hand, and she comes back to me, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and burying her face in my neck.

“Well, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be epic,” she says. I smile. I asked her once, when we were together just before college and I felt like we were in a pretty good place, what it was I’d said that had brought her back to the Grand the morning after the Anti-Prom. I wish I could remember saying it, but it’s what I’d been thinking for a long time so I wasn’t really very surprised it came spilling out. I do remember how beautiful she looked that night, and how worried I was about losing her. “I need to think,” she says.

“Of course,” I hastily agree. At least she’s not rejecting the whole thing out of hand. “Do… do you want me to take you home? I could stay here tonight.”

“Or we could both stay here?” she asks. “I don’t know where we’re going, but I know I want you with me now. Even if we do just sleep.”

“Just sleeping sounds fine by me,” I agree. I hate to admit it, but after two nights of almost no sleep at all, and several weeks of restless nights worrying about the murder charge, I’ll probably pass out as soon as I lie down. We sit still, listening to the waves for a while, before heading in. I find her a t-shirt to sleep in, and sure enough I have just enough energy to change out of my uniform and curl around her before I’m dead to the world.

Chapter Text

When I wake up, I really think I’m still dreaming for a few minutes. I’m warm and comfortable, curled up on my side with Logan wrapped around me, and I can hear soothing rumble of the ocean through the open window. It’s about as close to perfection as I ever hoped I could get.

Naturally, reality intrudes quickly enough. My heart stumbles a bit as I remember our heart to heart on the beach last night, and I feel tension creeping through my body. Easing Logan’s arm off me I slowly slide from his embrace, trying not to wake him. Once I get a look at him, though, in the cold light of the early morning, I see that I could jump up and down on the bed just now and he still might not wake up. His face is haggard with exhaustion, even while he is unconscious – in fact especially now, without the glint of love and mischief that lights him up when he’s awake. I slip out of bed, put my pants on and grab my phone before moving out to the deck. It’s a completely unreasonable time for any sane person to be awake, but there’s no way I’m going back to sleep now that I’ve started obsessing about what to do.

I’m just settling in for a good, indecisive brood when it occurs to me that while it’s stupidly early on the West Coast, it’s a reasonably civilised hour in New York. On impulse, I take a chance and dial Becks. She hasn’t landed a job yet so she may still be asleep, but it’s worth a go. On the third ring she answers the phone, sounding confused. “Isn’t it still night where you are?”

“Well, there’s daylight, but yeah, definitely still an ungodly hour to be awake,” I concur. “I couldn’t sleep. And there’s no one awake here to talk to.”

“Uh oh, the world must be coming to an end if Veronica Mars is talking voluntarily,” she jokes. I’ve come a long way in nine years, and I have been known on occasion to engage in something almost resembling girl talk, but I’m not usually one to spill. Still, what’s the point in having a support system that is genuinely completely unconnected to my life in California if I don’t take advantage of it for some perspective?

“It might be,” I admit. “So you guessed yesterday that I’m back with Logan.” I tell her the story in a little more detail – no, not that kind of detail, thank you very much. “I just can’t seem to help it,” I find myself saying. “It’s like, okay this is silly, but you know you have a cold, and it drags on and on, and finally you think you’re better, but it’s not til like a week later that you wake up and realise that it’s the first day in about a month you actually feel like yourself.” Becks gives that girly squeal that I have still never mastered.

“Oh, Veronica, this is so romantic! I knew he was the one for you. No one talks about an ex the way you talk about him unless there’s still some serious feelings involved.”

“Yeah, it’s really not – he’s a Navy pilot now, did I tell you? And we’ve got a bit less than two weeks until they deploy him for six months.” There’s a moment of silence.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Does he want you to wait for him?”

“That’s just it – he’s got this whole notion that we can spend the six months getting to know each other again by email, and then if we’ve stuck it out all those months long distance we’re meant to be.” Okay, so that’s not quite what he said. I’m still annoyed at the whole situation, though. I hear a breathy sigh that tells me that Becks still thinks the whole situation is hopelessly romantic. “Becks, you’re not helping.”

“Well – I mean, when you get back here there’s going to be some long distance time anyway, does it matter if it’s California or...I dunno, wherever he’d be? Or is the distance not the real problem – are you having doubts about him? Sounds like he’s pretty serious, if you just wanted this to be a hot reunion fling you should probably tell him sooner than later.”

“Okay, for one thing, nothing with Logan would ever be a `fling’. It’s just – I thought I had more time to figure this out. At least until my Dad is well enough for me to come home.”

“But even if he wasn’t in the Navy, you’d have to decide eventually, right? I mean you live across the country from each other; he’s just pushing up the timeline a bit.” I hate it when Becks is reasonable.

“Maybe,” I admit petulantly.

“I don’t know what to say, Veronica. On the one hand, it sounds like a relationship that’ll be a real hassle. But on the other hand, it’s been pretty clear every time you’ve mentioned him that you still have feelings for him that you never really dealt with; and if it’s still so intense that you jumped into bed with him the same day Piz broke up with you, then maybe you owe it to yourself to go with the flow a bit. Try it out. What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“We could break each other’s hearts again,” I suggest. “We used to be pretty good at that.”

“Wouldn’t you be doing that anyway if you didn’t give it a chance?” she asks. I think about Logan’s speech in college about the difference between a manageable amount of pain and an unbearable amount of pain. He had a point, I now see. I’m quiet for such a long time that Becks starts talking again. “On the other hand, if you’ve got real reservations, then you’re probably right not to rush into anything. I don’t know what to say, Veronica. It’s a crap situation. If you wanted to just cut and run, I wouldn’t blame you.”

“Yeah, I don’t think he’d blame me either, not really. Cutting and running was always kind of my specialty with him. As long as I’m not accusing him of a major crime at the same time he’ll probably be pretty understanding.”

“Major crime?”

“You know – rape, murder, the usual breakup stuff.”

“OK, you two are not normal. Maybe you should stay together to save the general populace from having to risk dating either one of you,” suggest Becks. I can’t help but laugh.

“That’s one way to look at it,” I admit.

“Listen, I have to go get ready for an interview. Call me later if you want to talk some more.” I immediately feel guilty for spending so long bitching about my love life when I know full well that Rebecca is dealing with some pretty major stress of her own. I apologise for being a terrible friend, wish her luck, and make her promise to let me know how the interview goes. I’ve been so caught up in my phonecall that I jump out of my skin when I hear Dick’s voice behind me.

“Whoa, easy there Ronnie. I only said ‘morning’,” he says, defensively holding up the hand that isn’t holding his surfboard. He’s wearing a wetsuit, so he must be headed out to catch the early morning waves. Rather than walking past me to the beach, though, he pauses in the middle of the deck, glancing back at the house to make sure all is still before looking at me with a serious expression on his face. “Look, I’m not nosy like… well, like you, but I heard some of what you were saying, and don’t you dare mess with my friend like that. You screwed him up badly enough last time, and you didn’t even stick around to see the fall out.”

“Dick, my relationship with Logan is none of your business.”

“Really? Because I’m the one who’s been friends with him all these years he was pining for you, while you were off learning how to be a corporate lawyer bitch. Great, you’ve helped him out once this decade. Congratulations. I can really see how important he is to you.” I’m stunned to silence – for once, Dick Casablancas actually has the better of me. When I don’t have an immediate comeback, he shakes his head in disgust. “Not that he’ll pay any attention to me. He’s just pathetic enough to go chasing after any chance he has with you, no matter how much you break him later.” He turns and storms off the deck, heading for the beach. Wow, I’m just two for two this morning.

I’m seriously considering my usual flight techniques rather than dealing with Logan himself this morning, but when I go back inside to collect the rest of my clothes, I’m frankly distracted by the sheer raw sexiness of him. He’s rolled onto his back, and is sprawled across the bed, one arm flung above his head. I think I’m actually drooling. Instead of grabbing my things and running, I find myself sitting on the edge of the bed, running a hand across his chest. He stirs at my touch, opening his eyes and smiling.

“Hey,” he says in a gravelly voice. “I have to admit, I didn’t expect you to still be here.” I almost take it as a reproach, but he’s smiling affectionately as he says it, reaching up to run his fingers along my cheek.

“I woke up early so I just went out on the deck for a bit. I wanted to wish Becks good luck on a job interview.” That’s not totally a lie, is it? I did wish her good luck. “Anyway, it’s been, like almost twenty-four hours. I want you again,” I purr. After all, no matter what I decide about our relationship, I’ve got a very short window of time to enjoy Logan’s physical presence, and I might as well make the most of it. His eyes grow wide, and the light sheet covering him does nothing to hide his interest. “Nine years is a long time to make up for,” I continue, pulling the t-shirt over my head and pulling off my pants before drawing back the sheet. I tug on his arm so he sits up for a kiss and I drag his shirt over his head.

“Am I still dreaming?” he asks with a quizzical little grin. “Cuz I’m sure I’ve had this dream before.”

“Maybe,” I shrug. “Why don’t you just lie back down and I’ll see whether I can do better than dream Veronica.”

He agrees, watching me cautiously. I lean over him and kiss him again, the hunger he wakes in me strong enough to make me ignore his morning breath. His hands start to roam my body, sweeping up my sides to tangle in my hair for awhile, tenderly caressing my jaw before they move down and finally he reaches my breasts. He knows exactly what to do to make me crazy, pinching my nipples with just enough pressure, before one hand moves down, fingers reaching into my underwear.

“God, Veronica, you’re wet already,” he groans, shifting to try to roll me under him. I resist. “Yeah, but I can wait. Just lie back and think of England, sailor,” I quip, kissing my way down his chest. His eyes and mouth are wide and incredulous as I toss his boxers over my shoulders and take his erection in my mouth. I’m not in general a fan of this, but Logan makes me feel so sexy, and always leaves me so impossibly fulfilled, that I kind of like being able to do this for him, like being able to turn him into a quivering mass of desperate, moaning jelly. When he gasps my name urgently, I release him and sit back up for a kiss. I can tell he’s frantically trying to rein himself in. This time I let him flip me, and smugly resign myself to succumbing to his sensual onslaught as he moves his mouth down to where I most want him. No one in our years apart has come even close to being as good at this at Logan is.

For a long time I am completely incapable of forming a conscious thought, until finally he’s sliding up towards me and breathing “Veronica, please,” in a tight voice. Rather than answer I wrap my arms around him and pull him towards me until finally, he’s inside me, and everything is a rush of loud groans, and electric shocks of pleasure, and the whole world shrinks to just the two of us.

After, he rolls to his back, sweat-dampened hair spiky around his grinning face. “Good morning,” he says.

“It is, isn’t it,” I smirk. “Good thing Dick’s out surfing.” Logan gives a guilty start.

“Oh crap, I didn’t even think of that,” he admits. I shrug. I never would have seduced him so wantonly if Dick had been in the building. Logan’s eyes drop to my breasts at the motion, and I have to admit, knowing that I have this kind of effect on someone as inherently sexy as Logan is a rush that never seems to get old. “I gotta say, this new fearless Veronica is pretty hot,” he says, openly eyeing me.

“I wasn’t always fearless? I thought that was part of the problem.”

“Not that kind of fearless. I mean… you used to be a little less demanding about sex. This being in charge thing is new. I like it.”

I give a self-conscious chuckle. “Yeah, it wasn’t til years afterwards that I looked back and saw how bored you must have been. There’d only been Duncan before you, I was such a novice.” When he doesn’t answer, I look up and see that he has a look on his face I can only describe as flabbergasted.

“What are you talking about?” he asks. “I felt a lot of things about you back then, and ok, not all of them were complimentary, but I was never bored. You have no idea how hot were. Are. I wanted you, like, all the time. It was very distracting,” he jokes. His serious eyes bore into mine though to make sure I understand him. I squirm a little in embarrassment, wishing I’d never brought it up.

“I dunno, I guess I’ve always kind of assumed that one of the reasons you tended to jump into bed with oversexed bimbos whenever we broke up was… you know, so that you could be with someone more experienced than I was. Someone more adventurous. With bigger breasts. Who wasn’t going to bicker with you afterwards.”

“I liked the bickering afterwards,” he mutters, rolling on his side to see me better. “Sometimes. It reassured me that we were real, that it really was a relationship. And as for the rest, that’s just silly. There wasn’t, isn’t, anything that anyone else could possibly offer me that would be better than you being yourself. The rest of them… look. When I was with you, it was like I was in a dream. I was always just waiting to be jolted awake to the real world where you knew that I didn’t deserve you. And whenever we broke up, I felt like I was falling back down to my natural level. I … I hated myself a lot of the time, then, underneath all the cocky bullshit. And I didn’t do it consciously, but I’ve talked to some people – therapists - over the years, and I think that I almost purposefully went out and had meaningless sex with these women that you hated and even I kind of despised. It was like I took this sick form of comfort from confirming to myself that I was exactly the kind of worthless schmuck that you were better off without, knowing that everything I did made it less likely that you’d ever take me back.” The whole time Logan is talking, he’s gazing at me with sad, watchful eyes. His hand rests on my stomach, consciously keeping contact with me throughout his confession.

“I shouldn’t have made you feel unworthy,” I say. Most of me is clamouring to head back to the moral high ground that always feels so safe, but that’s what always makes trouble. I have an intense sense of déjà vu. It’s been a long time since I felt so conflicted between the need to be right, to not admit even to myself that I might have been wrong, and the sneaking suspicion that I’d been unfair to him the whole time we were together. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m new Veronica, not judgemental, reactionary, volatile teen Veronica. I’m capable of considering other people’s emotional needs. And if there’s anyone I need to let in, to apologise to, it’s Logan. I need to meet him on his terms, returning honesty for honesty. “It wasn’t fair of me to be so judgemental when we were both just doing our best to sort through a really traumatic couple of years. I was spiralling so far out of control, and as much as I wanted to make us work, I really didn’t feel like I could rely on anyone but myself. And when you throw in all the sexual inadequacy issues that came to light once Madison showed up in our lives again… well. You know what happened. I wish … I wish I could have gotten over myself on time, so that I didn’t lose you for so long.”

“Well, you weren’t totally wrong. I was kind of a screw-up, and some of what I was doing was stupid, if not as dangerous as, say, walking around alone all the time when I knew a rapist was after me.”

“Fair enough,” I concede, which surprises him. “We were both idiots. Can we agree on that?”

“Yeah,” Logan replies with a soft smile and a kiss on my nose. “That we can do.”