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Logan dropped his keys on the small table by the front door and kicked the door closed with his foot. He walked into his home and flipped through his mail. He had the newspaper tucked under his arm. He set the mail down on the kitchen counter and placed the paper near the small stack of envelopes. He turned around and reached into the refrigerator and pulled out some raw vegetables and chicken breasts.

 

“Hey, Dude.” Dick's voice casually greeted from the doorway.

 

Logan turned and set the food on the counter. He looked back at Dick. “You could have started dinner. I know you just sit around all day, eating your brownies.” He smirked.

 

“But, if I did, I wouldn't get this awesome view of your gluts!” Dick chuckled and walked around to the mail, before flipping through it. “I did work today, you know.”

 

Logan dug back inside the refrigerator and pulled out a couple more vegetables and closed the door. “Yea? What did you work on?” He reached down and pulled a cutting board from the cupboard.

 

Dick straightened his back and pushed out his chest. He was grinning wide. “I plan on opening a surf shop!” He was giddy.

 

Logan raised a brow and looked over to him. “Is that right?”

 

“Yea, Dude. I'm going to sell boards and suits and shit. Maybe have a little snack bar. You know surfers get hungry! Maybe something like breakfast burritos or something.” Dick shrugged, still grinning. “You know, something awesome.”

 

Logan grinned. “Yea, man. It sounds great.”

 

“I met with some investor people today, some suits. You know the type.” Dick opened a letter and read through it.

 

“Yea? Go well, then? What's next? Locations?” Logan turned and grabbed a knife and started to cut up a red bell pepper into strips.

 

Dick put the letter to the side. “Probably, I think so.” He shrugged. “I am hoping I get to help design the building.”

 

Logan chuckled. “It's your company, Dick. You should be able to tell people what you want.”

 

Dick grinned and nodded. “Right.” He opened the newspaper up and looked at the front page. His demeanor changed immediately. He spoke softer and milder. He slouched a bit. “Whoa.”

 

Logan turned, his knife raised a bit off the pepper. “What?”

 

“Dude.” Dick looked up at Logan, his face showing shock. He turned the paper around and showed Logan the front page.

 

Mafia Member Slain in Bloodbath

 

There was a picture of Gory Sorokin, probably from his Hearst days, smiling at the camera.

 

Logan dropped the knife onto the cutting board and rushed over to Dick. He snatched the paper from him and looked closer at the picture. “Fuck, that's Gory.” His eyes scanned the article. Gory had been shot to death in his family's bar, along with his top henchmen. They believed it to be an inside job, considering how close the shooter was to Gory. “Gory's dead.” Logan blinked up at Dick. He was on the verge of smiling, but the shock was keeping his lips in place.

 

“Does this mean what I think it means?” Dick asked, grinning.

 

Logan lowered the paper, but still held it in his hands. “It means it's safe for Roni.” He smiled a bit.

 

“Dude!” Dick clapped a hand on Logan's shoulder loudly. “Let's go find her!”

 

Logan nodded, turned slightly, and went to put the paper on the counter. He pushed the sides together and shoved it on the counter with a small grunt. “Fuck, we have no idea where she is.”

 

Dick's shoulders dropped. “Dude.” He slowly smirked. “Know who could figure it out?”

 

Logan raised a brow, his lips still in a rough frown. “Who.” It wasn't so much a question. He knew who Dick meant. But, what he was about to suggest was illegal.

 

“Mackie! She can do anything, you know that!” Dick grinned. “You know Roni is out there somewhere, being all sad and shit without you. Mac would love to find her. This is awesome!”

 

“Mac isn't allowed to do that, Dick. It's illegal to hack government agencies.” Logan sighed. Dick's heart was in the right place and Logan had to appreciate that. Dick had witnessed the last five years of torture for Logan. The first three were thinking he caused the love of his life to die, all for some orange soda he didn't even like. His car had a bomb placed in it and Veronica drove away in it. He was devastated. His world shattered. It took him a couple years to just to be able to breathe without feeling the sharp pain in his heart. He was suicidal for a while, but somehow Keith Mars got through. If the father of the girl he loved didn't blame him, maybe it wasn't so much his fault. He talked to Keith even after Keith moved to Illinois. They grew apart with time, but he was grateful to the man who pulled him back.

 

Three years after the car explosion, the most wonderful night of his life happened. He discovered Veronica was alive. He was hurt and confused and angry at her, but deep down, he was thrilled and relieved. She talked of witness protection and engagements, but she was alive. They would deal with the hurdles of life together.

 

But, she didn't stay. She flashed in front of him for a second, but he couldn't keep his hold on her. She slipped back into the abyss. She had been right, though. It was worse knowing she was out there and not being able to be with her, not knowing how to talk to her or see her. She had been doing that for five years now. Logan was about to pull his hair out at two. It hadn't gotten easier. He was looking for her everywhere he went. He would come home for the day and be exhausted from being on alert the whole time he was out.

 

She had been right about another thing too. It hadn't been safe for her to be there in Neptune, or with him. Logan couldn't join witness protection. He was the son of two Hollywood stars who both had tragic ends. He had been photographed more as an adult than he ever had been standing next to his parents. He was recognized in Los Angeles or New York. He was too familiar and famous to be hidden away. He fantasized about it after he saw Veronica last. He thought maybe he could join her somewhere. She wouldn't have her friends and Dick would be alone, but they would have each other. That was all he really needed. But, after a surfing trip that lead him to some other locations, he realized he wouldn't be able to blend in. Veronica had done it so well. She had colored her hair and got brown contacts and Logan hadn't been able to see her underneath. She had become a new person with the smallest of changes. She was the love of his life and he hadn't recognized her. It made him paranoid sometimes to think she could be so close to him and he wouldn't know it.

 

But now, with Gory dead, he was safe. She was safe. But she was out there doing who knows what, or who knows who. She had been almost engaged the last time he saw her. He wondered if she was married or had kids. The thought made him bend over like he had been punched in the gut.

 

“Dude. Mac can get in and out of that like it's no one's business. Give her a call.” Dick grabbed the paper and looked down at it. “Fucker is dead. Let's get Roni back!”

 

Logan sighed and looked up at Dick. Dick was grinning wide and nodding like he would persuade Logan eventually. Damn him. Logan grabbed his phone and scrolled down to Mac's number. He tapped the call button and moved the phone the side of his head. He sighed at Dick. “I have no idea why that always fucking works.”

 

“You appreciate my wisdom.” Dick grinned and walked behind Logan to steal a pepper slice. He crunched on it as he walked out of the room.

 

Hey Logan.” Mac's voice answered. She wasn't her cheerful self. Logan understood. Logan, Wallace and Mac all walked around like something was missing from their lives. They all felt Veronica's absence.

 

“Hey Mac. Get the paper today?” Logan tried for cheerful, or even hopeful.

 

Logan, it's the twenty-first century. Old men in nursing homes read paper papers.” Logan could hear the smile in her voice.

 

“Well, do you know?” He chuckled a bit at her insult.

 

What am I supposed to know, Logan?” Mac sighed, already tired of this game.

 

“Gory was shot and killed.” Logan doesn't say more.

 

Mac is quiet for a bit. Then, softly, she started to mumble. “So, if we find V, she can come home?”

 

Logan grinned and nodded, not caring she couldn't see it. “Yes, exactly! Dick thought, which is scary, I know, but he thought you could find her. I get that-”

 

Shh. I'll talk to you later, Logan.” Mac ended the call.

 

Logan blinked down at the phone and closed out the call. He sighed and looked down at the phone. He had no idea who else to call to find Veronica. He felt lost.

 

 

Veronica was lost. She looked down at her phone and growled at it before looking up at the row of buildings around her. She was supposed to be finding some boutique she could find some new paint brushes in, but as soon as she got to the boardwalk, it was like it flashed out of existence. She ran a hand across her red bangs and played with one of her dual braids hanging over her shoulders. She turned and looked down the street then back the other way. “Well, shit.”

 

A woman grabbed her young son and walked dramatically around Veronica, glaring over at Veronica like she was the Anti-Christ.


Veronica sighed and offered a small apology, watching the woman walk away. She glanced over a vendor and continued on, but she had to look back. She ran over there, eyes wide as she scanned. She looked down to the paper in the rack in front of her. Gory was dead. Her lungs burned as she tried to catch her breath.

 

A man noticed and grabbed Veronica's arms just below the elbows, holding her steady as she gasped for air. She felt the world swirling around her. She felt her knees buckle and she was set on the floor. The reason she was in this life was dead. She wondered if she could go home. She let out a cough and she could breathe again. She inhaled sharply. She wondered if Logan had waited for her.

 

The man came around and looked down at her. He was concerned. Veronica looked up at him and smiled brightly. “I can go home.” She kissed the man hard on the lips and stood up. She turned and ran back to her car. She sat in the car and pulled out her cell phone. She called the number to her protection agent.

 

This is Tucker.” His voice was warm, but business. Veronica could see him sitting at his desk, filing away and barely registering he answered the call.

 

“This is Abigail.” Veronica bit her bottom lip. She had practiced her name for days after she got it, trying to get it to sound like she was comfortable with it. She had walked around her new apartment, talking to herself. She would ask herself if she wanted cream in her coffee or if she had left the window in the bathroom open. She had been Abigail for a while now. She was sure she sounded like she had been born with the name.

 

Abby! How are you doing? Are you alright?” He started off happy, but she could hear the dread coming over him.

 

“I'm great, Tuck. I was wondering if I could come in and chat.” Veronica played idly with her nail on the steering wheel. She was nervous. She didn't know how to ask the man who worked so hard to keep her safe to release her back into the world.

 

He paused. “Abby, I don't know. I mean, is it important?”

 

Veronica wanted to laugh. It was only the most important thing to happen to her in five years. “He's dead.”

 

Who is dead?” Tucker asked slowly.

 

“The bane of our existence.” Veronica simply stated with a smile on her face.

 

You sure? I haven't gotten any word on it.” Veronica heard shuffling of papers. She pictured him trying to find some memo or post it lost in the small mountain of papers on his desk.

 

“It's front page news, even here in Miami.” She bit on her bottom lip.

 

Crap. Ok. Don't do anything until I call you back, alright? I know what you are asking, Abby. I get it, I really do. But, your safety is top priority. Even if he is dead, it might not be safe for you.” He sighed. “I know your hopes are up, and I don't want to tell you that it won't happen, but it might not. You need to be ok with that.”

 

Veronica felt her lip quivering. “Even if he's dead? I don't understand. I mean, who else would care about me?”

 

Abby, shhh. Calm down. I'm going to make some calls and see what's what. Just, um, don't do anything out of the ordinary. Go home, paint, whatever. It might be a couple days until I have news for you.” Tucker was trying to keep control of the situation. Veronica had a habit of acting without thinking and Tucker had dealt with the cleanup of those mishaps. Veronica remembered how much he hated that she had gone to Neptune and what a big headache she had caused him. But, he seemed to understand and worked with her getting moved somewhere else.

 

“Tuck, I just want to go home. I want to be me again.” Veronica sighed and leaned her head back against the headrest of the car. She could smell the Pacific Ocean from here. Sure, she was probably smelling the Atlantic Ocean, but it smelled a bit like home.

 

I know, Abby. But, we have to be safe, right? You can understand that?” Tucker's voice was strong. Veronica noticed he wasn't pleading. She knew he knew she understood.

 

“Ok. Hurry up and do what you have to do.” She grinned a bit. “What are you wasting this time for?” She giggled a bit.

 

Tucker chuckled. “Go be good, Abby. I'll call you in a couple days.”

 

“Ok, Tuck. Thanks.” Veronica ended the call and sighed. “So close.”

 

 

Logan was going insane. He was about to start screaming at people on the street. He was so frustrated and had no release from it. He tried sports, but he was suspended from the country club. Apparently, it was frowned upon to use a racket as a weapon on other members or their guests, even if the other member was a whiny bitch. He knew Veronica should be heading home soon and he was anxious to see her. It had been nearly a week, five days, to be exact, since he had seen the paper. He even called Keith, but got no answers from him. Keith acted like Veronica was still dead. Logan went along with it. He didn't ask if Keith had heard from her or even implied she was alive. They only talked about Gory's death. But, Keith didn't even know if it was true. No one had told him anything. That didn't help Logan's frustrations.

 

Now, in the early morning hours, he was sitting on his surf board, watching the sun rise up over the beach. He hadn't taken a wave in a while and really had no desire to start anytime soon. He was letting the ocean calm him. It had always seemed to work in the past, but this time was different. He smirked as he thought maybe it was because both of them were trying to be together but couldn't. If one of them would just not try so hard, Logan could use the ocean to ease his anxiety.

 

As long bobbed along with the waves, he let his mind wander to what Veronica could be doing. He wondered if she was awake, or if she was closer to the west coast and still asleep. He wondered what color her hair was and what her name was. She was so good as slipping into roles. He wondered if she liked it a bit, or if she was tired of acting. Logan thought of how he was the child of a darling Hollywood couple, but it was the daughter of a sheriff who was the actor between the two. She was better than he was. He didn't think she enjoyed it enough to get paid to do it though, outside of investigating.

 

He wondered where she was and what she had seen. It had been five years and she had lived, more than likely, outside of California. Sure, Logan had been places. He had stayed in resorts and hotels of the finest quality, but he suspected the US government wasn't putting Veronica up in Aspen or Martha's Vineyard. No, Veronica was probably in some hick town in Alabama learning how to net crawdads. Logan chuckled loudly at the thought of Veronica doing anything with disgusting fish bits. The thought of her touching guts or cleaning a work space made him giggle. The simple idea of her on a boat surrounded by grizzly fishermen made him hyperventilate. It had looked like Logan found a way to de-stress.

 

 

Mac looked up at the men in suits sitting across from her in a small white room. There was a metal table secured to the floor and a series of cameras, all pointed at her. She had been handcuffed to the table. Late yesterday, she had been taken into custody and delivered to the FBI offices in Los Angeles. She had been put on a plane and flown elsewhere overnight. She didn't know where she was now.

 

“Can I get you anything to drink, Miss Mackenzie?” One of the suits asked, looking over at the brunette. He had short, wavy, light brown hair that had little curls near his ears, the kind of curls that showed he had been sweating recently. He seemed nice.

 

“No, thank you.” Mac sighed. She looked down to her hands, noting how her hands looked in handcuffs. She didn't seem as traumatized as she thought she would have been. She smirked at that. “Where am I?”

 

“Miss, Mackenzie-” Curly started.

 

“Cindy or Mac is fine. It's a long last name. You don't need to keep saying it.” Mac smiled and looked up to him.

 

“Cindy, I am Agent Tucker. This is my partner, Agent Rhynes.” He pointed to his partner who was merely sitting there, looking through folders. Rhynes was a slender black man with a soft, fuzzy beard. “Your current location is classified. We understand you were a close friend to Veronica Mars and were recently caught trying to hack into the Witness Protection database to find her.” Tucker didn't seem upset. He was merely stating the obvious facts.

 

“I am requesting an attorney.” Mac grinned.

 

“That's nice.” Tucker looked down to a notepad. “Currently, you are not under arrest.”

 

Rhynes reached across the table and removed the cuffs from Mac's wrists.

 

Mac blinked and tilted her head as she looked to the men. She pulled her hands back to her lap and rubbed her wrists. “Then why am I here?”

 

“A couple things. Can you tell me if you found out anything about your friend?” Tucker looked up at her and waited.

 

“I didn't find anything.” Mac answered slowly. She was sure this was some trap and she was going to be sent to some prison where the women of Orange is the New Black seem like bunnies.

 

“Why not? You are quite skilled in computer software and programming. I'm sure if anyone could find information on your deceased friend, it would be you.” Tucker was still calm.

 

Mac blinked. “Deceased?”

 

“Veronica Mars died in 2007. We have photographs of you at the funeral.” Tucker's voice softened a bit. “Does mental illness run in your family?”

 

Mac blinked. “Wait. What?” She could feel her heart pounding. She wasn't sure now if Veronica was alive or dead and this asshole had to be playing mental games with her.

 

“Do you have episodes where you think the government is out to get you, Cindy?” Tucker asked in a relaxed tone. His hand on a pen, ready to write the answer down.

 

“No, of course not!” Mac heard the blood in her ears.

 

Tucker nodded and made a note of something. “And how long have you hacked into the United States government? High school? Junior High?”

 

“Never! I didn't even get in!” Mac was panting. She was holding onto the chair's seat with both hands, trying to ground herself and keep from falling over from shock. “Where is Veronica?”

 

Tucker looked up, blinking. “I told you, Cindy. Veronica is dead.”

 

“No! I saw her in 2010! I saw her at a party and she was alive, but she had to go. She wouldn't tell us where, but she had to go.” Mac reached up and ran her fingers through her hair.

 

“You saw her where?” Tucker asked, pen back against the paper.

 

Mac sighed a bit. “In Neptune. She said she was getting engaged.” She looked between the two men. Rhynes hadn't done anything since he removed the handcuffs.

 

The door flung open quickly and a small woman entered. “What is going on here?”

 

Mac turned and looked up at the woman. Her hair was long and straight and a dark red in color. Her eyes were a pretty shade of green and reminded Mac of emeralds. Mac raised a hand to her chest as she gasped softly. She blinked. “V?”

 

Veronica smirked and looked down at Mac. “I am so sorry, Mackie, but you can't just hack the government and not get punished.” She turned to look at Tucker and Rhynes. “However, these bumholes were being cruel and unusual.” She shot them each a glare.

 

Mac blinked and looked between her and the men in suits. She jumped up and engulfed her friend. “I was so worried.”

 

Veronica hugged her friend back. “Tuck is normally harmless. I think I might have tested him too much.” She leaned her head on Mac's shoulder. “I've missed you.” Her voice got softer.

 

“Oh, V, I've missed you too!” Mac tightened the hug. “Are you coming home?”

 

Veronica sighed and pulled back. “Unknown status. They can't determine if I am still in danger. Until then, I'm in Limbo.” Veronica played a bit with Mac's long brown hair. “You ok?”

 

Mac smiled. “I'm better.”

 

“This is adorable, but I need to go do actual work.” Rhynes stood and walked out of the room.

 

“He's always so much fun at parties.” Tucker smirked.

 

“Mac, this is Tuck. He's been the guy keeping me safe.” Veronica grinned as she turned Mac to face Tucker again.

 

“Mac, it's a pleasure, really.” Tucker stood and reached a hand out to shake.

 

Mac reluctantly took it and shook it cautiously. “So, I'm not in trouble?”

 

Tucker pulled his hand back. “No, actually, you did very well in a test we set up. Or maybe 'trap' would be a better term. Either way, if you want to try to work with us, we could use someone like you.” Tucker smiled. His eyes widened suddenly. “This is not an official offer to work for us.”

 

“I told them about how awesome you are at computers and stuff. I knew you would look for me, but it would be with the best intentions. Tuck got some computer buddies to put the trap into place.” Veronica pouted and bit her lip. “I didn't mean for them to tell you I died, again.”

 

Mac smiled and reached out to hold Veronica's arm. “I'm ok. It felt weird, like I was expecting some weird 80s computer screen to pop up and ask me if we should play a game.” Mac laughed.

 

“I don't get that reference, but I'm sure it's hilarious.” Veronica grinned brightly.

 

Tucker chuckled. “I got it. Cute.”

 

Mac grinned over at Tucker and blushed a bit.

 

Veronica smirked, looking between the two. “So, Tuck, what's next for me?”

 

“Back home.” When Veronica and Mac's faces both lifted, he cleared his throat. “Current home.”

 

Veronica sagged. “And Mac?”

 

“Well, she's already here. If she can stay off social media and her phone, she can hang with you for a day or two.” Tucker smiled.

 

“Really!?” Veronica's face brightened back up again. “This isn't payback for me ruining your cruel joke, is it? This is legit?”

 

Tucker laughed and nodded. “She has to call you by your new name and if, for some reason, you can't go home soon, you'll be relocated again. You know that means new identity, blah, blah...” He waved his hand around in a circle to continue the speech Veronica surely knew.

 

“How many identities has she had?” Mac was unable to hold the question back.

 

Veronica grinned. “Six? Seven?”

 

Tucker glared at Veronica. “Four.” He looked to Mac. “She's trouble. I can't wait to get rid of her.” Mac noticed Tucker had a smirk on his face. Tucker packed up his papers. “So, visit this dead girl for a day or two, or back to California?”

 

“Visit.” Veronica and Mac said at the same time. They turned and grinned at each other, giggling.

 

Tucker sighed. “Alright, here are the rules. Do not talk about her multiple personalities in public for any reason. She's Abigail Carson here. She goes by Abby most of the time, but if you want to call her Abs, that's on her.” Tucker grinned.

 

“Ok.” Mac nodded. “Abby Carson.”

 

“She'll explain what she does later. Leave your phone here. You can have it back when we take you home.” Tucker reached out his hand.

 

Mac reached into her pocket and pulled it out. She turned it off and handed it over. “Not going to bug it or try to break into it, are you?”

 

“How hypocritical of you, Miss Mackenzie.” Tucker took the phone with a smirk. “Don't worry. It'll be in the same condition as you last saw it.” Tucker pointed to the door. “Go, have fun.”

 

Veronica walked over to Tucker and stepped up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Thank you, Tuck.”

 

Tucker blushed a bit. “You have been patient. I think this week has been hard. We are trying to get you home, I promise. This way, you are entertained and I get a break until we sent Mac home and I get to create a new identity for you.” He growled down at her, but it was weak.

 

Veronica turned, slipping her arm under Mac's and pulled her out the door. “Welcome to Miami, Mackie!”

 

 

“Hey Wallace.” Logan slipped his phone between his ear and shoulder and wiggled the keys from the lock on his front door. The mail was stashed in his armpit as he walked into his beach house.

 

Have you heard from Mac lately?” Wallace sounded worried.

 

“Uh, Maybe a week ago? I called her after that thing about Gory came out.” Logan took a couple steps towards the kitchen after closing the front door. “Why?”

 

I haven't been able to get anything but her voicemail in a couple days. It's unlike her to not call me back.” Logan heard the pout.

 

“I'm sure she's fine. Have you gone to her place?” Logan flipped through his mail, deciding none of it was more important than Mac.

 

I'm here now. Her car is here and there's no lights on. I don't know if I should call her parents.”

 

Logan paused at the mention of parents. He was so used to not worrying about them, or Dick's parents even. Mac's parents would worry. “Uh. I might have done something stupid.”

 

There was a pause on the line before Wallace spoke slowly. “What did you do?”

 

Logan was a little offended that Wallace didn't question his ability to do stupid things, but this wasn't the time to be selfish. “I started to ask her to look up someone's whereabouts.”

 

To hack, you mean.” Wallace sighed. “You think she got caught?”

 

“Well, maybe? I mean, I didn't think Dick's idea was the best, but she-” Logan started, a little hesitant of accepting full blame.

 

Wait a minute! Did you say it was Dick's idea?” Wallace chuckled. “There's no way Mac followed an idea of Dick's. Did she know it was Dick's suggestion?”

 

“Uh, actually, yes. I think I did mention Dick.” Logan smirked. “You are right. She's too smart for that. She told me to shush, then hung up on me, though.” Logan bit his bottom lip gently.

 

Fuck. We are too desperate for that outcome.” Wallace sighed.

 

“Yes, we are.” Logan sighed back. “Want to come over and get drunk? I think shots are in order.”

 

Sure. Let me call Cliff and have him make some inquiries. It's about all we can do if she got caught.” Wallace groaned.

 

“I'll order some pizza. See you soon.” Logan hung up the phone. “Fuck.”

 

 

“And this is my humble abode.” Veronica gestured into her cute loft apartment. It wasn't big, but it was enough for her. “We'll probably be cramped in here, but since it's been a while since I had a meaningful conversation with someone, I'm willing to deal.” She smiled wide for Mac. “Want anything to drink? Eat?”

 

Mac walked inside and looked around. The apartment smelled of lavender and paint. She saw the crazy colors on the walls and paint splatters all over the floor. She walked around and noticed the various canvases and looked over a few. “You paint?”

 

Veronica nodded, closing the door. “I do. It calms me. I zone out when I paint.” She smiled and set her keys down next to the door. “I sell them down the street every weekend at this flea market thing.” She shrugged. “The government actually covers my rent and expenses, but this gives me something to do.”

 

“How long have you been here?” Mac asked, walking around to look at the knickknacks and oddities throughout the apartment.

 

“Almost since you last saw me, which is a huge record for me.” Veronica giggled.

 

“So, you never married that guy?” Mac raised a brow.

 

“I broke things off with him as soon as I got back. I knew I couldn't.” Veronica sighed and plopped on her couch. “Not with Logan knowing I was alive.”

 

“He's still single too.” Mac smirked down at her friend. “In case you were curious.”

 

“Well, we'll see if I can go home. If not, you might want to tell him to move on. I hate thinking he's sitting around waiting for me to show back up.” Veronica looked down to her hands.

 

“Oh, he's tortured. All the girls swoon over him. He's determined though.” Mac sat in a chair. “He knows about Gory.”

 

“I wish we knew more. Wish I could spit on his corpse.” Veronica mumbled out.

 

“So, living like a hippie, not quite got the mentality of a hippie.” Mac giggled.

 

“Oh, five years ago, I wanted to watch him get eaten by fire ants over the course of a week, then lit on fire. I'm getting the hang of this hippie thing.” She smirked over at Mac.

 

“Obviously.” Mac laughed.

 

“So, how are my people?” Veronica adjusted a bit on the couch to look more at Mac. She had missed her friend so much.

 

“Good. Dick moved in with Logan. Not because he couldn't afford a place of his own, but Logan was lonely and likes having Dick around.” Mac frowned a bit.

 

“Logan doesn't have any family, Mac. Dick is his family.” Veronica smiled a bit. “I wouldn't want to live with Dick, but that makes sense for Logan.”

 

Mac nodded. “Wallace is teaching at Neptune High.”

 

Veronica shook her head slowly. “That poor boy.”

 

“He's coaching the JV basketball team. He loves it.” Mac grinned and her dimples threatened to pull her whole cheeks in with them.

 

“That's cool, I guess. He loved playing.” Veronica grinned back, unable to resist Mac's dimples.

 

“I'm back in Neptune. Palo Alto was not for me. I like feeling special and there's too many nerds up there.” She laughed.

 

Veronica chuckled. “I knew it.”

 

“Am I missing anyone?” Mac asked.

 

“Piz and Parker.” Veronica supplied.

 

Mac grinned big. “Married. They eloped a couple months ago.”

 

Veronica's eyes widened. “What?”

 

Mac nodded. “Yea, went to Vegas, came back married. We're pretty sure it was Parker's idea.”

 

Veronica nodded and chuckled. “I would say so. Piz was never spontaneous.”

 

“So, what do you do for fun around here?” Mac looked around, like a bar was going to pop up around them.

 

Veronica laughed. “You want to go out and see Miami?”

 

“I want to see you have fun.” Mac smiled with some sadness in her eyes. “When we last saw you, you looked so sad and lonely. Do you have friends?”

 

“I have people I know. I see them in passing.” Veronica shrugged. “I don't recommend witness protection for the lighthearted.” She forced a smile.

 

“V...” Mac gave her friend a look of pity. “We have to go have fun. You deserve it.”

 

“Like, where?” Veronica asked, suddenly unsure how to have fun.

 

Mac grinned. “A club? Want to go dancing?”

 

Veronica blinked. “Uh. I don't know, Mac.”

 

Mac reached towards her friend and held her hand. “It's ok. We can go to a bar or maybe shopping?”

 

Veronica looked to Mac's hand and squeezed it. “No, a club sounds like fun. Just, um..” She didn't make eye contact with Mac.

 

“I know, V. I've got your back. If you want, I won't even drink.” Mac grinned. “But, lets go see if redheads are more fun than blondes.”

 

Veronica looked up at her friend and nodded with a shy smile curving her lips.

 

 

“Mac could be held at Guatemala Bay!” Dick whined, pouring more shots for his drinking buddies. “I think she's too cute and little for that place.”

 

Wallace just blinked at Dick.

 

Logan smirked. “If she is anywhere, it's probably not Guatemala.”

 

Dick shrugged and pushed the shot glasses towards the other two men. “You are more skilled in law than me.” He downed the shot and set the glass down gently. “I mean, I could ask my dad. He might know.”

 

“I don't think being an ex-con gives you a head's up where they hold hackers.” Wallace chimed in, downing the shot with a bit of a shiver.

 

“Maybe she went to work on a project.” Logan shrugged, slamming the shot back and pushed the glass back towards Dick.

 

“She would have her phone and it wouldn't go to voicemail.” Wallace sighed, pushing his glass towards Dick.

 

Logan nodded. “Probably.” He leaned back in his chair. “Fuck.” He looked at Wallace. “Cliff know anything?”

 

“Of course not, but he's looking into it. He's going to call me if he learns anything.” Wallace sighed, watching Dick.

 

Dick lined up the shot glasses and tried to fill them without stopping the flow, but he ended up making a mess. He handed the other men their glasses.

 

“Jesus, Dick. Stop wasting the expensive stuff.” Logan sighed and downed the shot.

 

Wallace did his shot and looked at the glass, swallowing hard. “Do you think V is having fun?”

 

“I'm more curious if she knows if Gory is dead and if so, how hard she's trying to get back. It's been a week. Doesn't she want to come back?” Logan sighed and pushed his glass back to Dick.

 

“Roni's coming, man. Even I know how much she wants to be back here.” Dick took his shot and leaned back.

 

“Yea, man. She's trying. And we're get Mac back too.” Wallace nodded, a grin forming on his face.

 

Logan looked over to him and couldn't help but smile. “Feeling it yet?”

 

“Yea, man. This does sneak up on you.” Wallace giggled.

 

Dick huffed. “Pfft. Maybe for a lightweight like you. Lo and I are trained in the art of alcohol.” He looked to Logan. “Want some chips? Maybe we should play some Halo or something. Feeling like a girl sitting around talking about feelings and shit.” He scooted of the chair and tripped over his feet, landing hard on the floor. “Ow.”

 

“Lightweight.” Logan chuckled and grabbed the bottle and poured himself and Wallace another shot.

 

 

Veronica looked at herself in the mirror and let out a sigh. “Are you sure about this? I mean, you don't know the clubs down here. Maybe this is a little too revealing.” She tugged the halter top down, trying to cover as much of her stomach as possible.

 

Mac giggled and walked out of Veronica's bathroom in a similar outfit, but her stomach wasn't exposed. “I'm sure men like to see skin. I read it in Cosmo.” She smirked.

 

Veronica turned and looked up at Mac. “And why aren't you exposing your middle?”

 

“I have the cleavage thing.” Mac shrugged and looked down at her breasts. “If you think we could trade, I'll trade.”

 

Veronica pouted a bit. “I can't believe you are making me go out there half naked and mock my boobs in the same breath.”

 

“We all have our cross to bear.” Mac sighed, then giggled at Veronica.

 

Veronica giggled back. “You sure I don't look too slutty?”

 

“Depends. Want to get laid tonight?” Mac asked as she adjusted her hair.

 

“Not really.” Veronica tilted her mouth.

 

Mac turned and looked to her. “Then no. You look like you are a tease. Run with that.”

 

Veronica laughed. “Just remember, I am Abby. Don't call me Veronica or V or Mars.”

 

“What about Bond?” Mac grinned.

 

“I think that would be ok.” Veronica smiled sweetly to Mac. “I've missed you so much, Q.”

 

“I know the feeling.” Mac returned. “Ok, let's go get our drink on.”

 

 

Hours later, as the sun began to rise, a loud knock woke Veronica. She growled and glared at the clock. She looked on the other side of the bed and had to smile as the sleeping Mac next to her. They were both still in their club outfits. They had been too drunk to deal with zippers or clasps. Veronica rolled off the bed, avoiding Mac and went to the front door. She looked out of the peephole and blinked. She opened the door and looked up to Agent Tucker.

 

He blinked down at her, then smiled. “You girls have fun last night?” He raised a brow at her appearance.

 

“We did. Why are you here? You never come here.” Veronica was nervous. “Do I need to wake Mac?”

 

Tucker turned and looked to the sleeping brunette on the bed. “Have you confirmed she's still alive?” He chuckled.

 

“She snores.” Veronica walked towards the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker. She tried to do it quietly, but her limbs were still asleep. “So, what news do you have that couldn't wait until I rehydrate?”

 

“We still aren't sure who shot Gory, but we're about eighty-five percent sure you are safe.” Tucker smiled.

 

Veronica raised a brow. “What does that mean?” She didn't want to jump to conclusions.

 

“I talked to my boss and he wants you out of protective custody. He wants to send you home.” Tucker adjusted the pot so the coffee entered before it started to flow off the lid.

 

“So, am I safe?” Veronica sat down at her small kitchen table. Her eyes were wide and she couldn't think.

 

“We think so. We will never be completely sure. So, if you think we should wait for that, you'll never get it. But, we are pretty sure.” He shrugged and grabbed three mugs down from the cupboard.

 

“So, I can just be Veronica again?” She looked up at him.

 

“In a couple days, sure. We have to send you back and remove Abby from the system, add Veronica back.” He waved his hand, implying more stuff on his end. “You get to pack up the things you want to keep, the rest goes into storage for someone else to use.” He grinned. “Keep whatever you want, but know we won't ship furniture unless it was yours to begin with, so you shouldn't expect to keep any of that, but clothes, hobby stuff, books, that type of stuff? Yea, it's yours. You can work on packing while I do the paperwork. You can call your dad, but no one else yet. I'll let you know when you can. And Cindy shouldn't call anyone either. Your friends have probably noticed her absence though.” He smirked.

 

Veronica nodded as he spoke. She was going to go home and there was a small, uncomfortably small chance she wouldn't be safe. “What if I'm not safe?”

 

“If someone attempts to harm you, and you get away, we will take you back in and you won't be released. Veronica Mars will die. Completely. You'll be tucked away in some small town.” He paused and raised a brow. “Are you not comfortable with fifteen percent chance?”

 

Veronica slowly smirked. “I'm fine with those odds. They are better than my normal ones.” She chuckled.

 

“Do either of you know how to talk without yelling?” Mac's voice growled as she came into the kitchen.

 

Tucker poured her a cup of coffee and handed it over without a word.

 

Mac grunted a thanks and sat down next to Veronica. “What's the deal?”

 

“Mackie, I'm going home.” Veronica grinned to her friend.

 

Mac's eyes widened and she looked to Tucker for confirmation. “Really?”

 

“Yea, in a couple days. Want to help her pack?” Tucker poured the other two cups and put one in front of Veronica.

 

“Sure, if it will get us back home sooner.” Mac grinned and sipped the coffee.

 

“I need to go see my dad first.” Veronica softly spoke, watching Tucker.

 

“We can do that.” Tucker smiled. “He called us earlier this week. Appears Mr. Echolls called him to fish for information about Gory's death and where you were, without outright asking.”

 

Veronica blinked. “Logan called my dad?”

 

“They were close after we thought you died.” Mac spoke softly. “Your dad got him through some depression.”

 

Veronica turned and looked to Mac. “Oh.”

 

“Your dad was strong for all of us.” Mac smirked. “Of course, he wasn't actually mourning you.”

 

Veronica grinned a bit. “He was a little. He had to give me up too. I haven't seen him in five years.”

 

“Me either.” Mac grinned. “Will he come back to Neptune too?”

 

“I don't know.” Veronica sighed, sipping her coffee.

 

“I'm going to leave you two to pack and sleep and shower.” Tucker chuckled. “I'm glad you had fun. I'll call you when I know anything else, but I wanted to see your reaction to this. I deserved that.” He looked to Mac. “She's a hellion, ya know.” He winked to them both and turned towards the door. “I'll let myself out. Be good, girls!” The door closed behind him.

 

“Home.” Veronica sighed softly.

 

“Home.” Mac repeated, smiling at her friend.

 

 

After a short trip to Chicago, Veronica and Mac stood on the porch of Logan's beach house just as the sun was rising. They hadn't bothered to call or give them warning. Mac claimed it would be so much fun to surprise them with both of them returning together. Veronica shrugged. She was at Mac's mercy since she didn't have their numbers.

 

Veronica was wearing a simple tee shirt and jeans with black Converse shoes. Her lower half was covered in paint splatters. She didn't have much clothing without paint on it. Her rich red hair was in the twin braids again, casually resting in front of her shoulders. She had stopped wearing the green contacts and her light blue eyes popped with the crimson hair.

 

Mac giggled as she rang the doorbell. The two young women waited outside without speaking. They were both nervous and excited and wanted to see the expression Logan had on his face when he saw them both.

 

But it wasn't Logan who answered. It was Dick. Dick opened the door, yawning. He was in board shorts and his hair was all over the place. He had just woken up. He blinked down to the brunette and glanced to the redhead. “What?” He looked back to the brunette. “Mackie? You ok?”

 

Mac blinked and looked to Veronica, before looking back to Dick. “Uh. Yes, Dick.” She laughed. “Look who else is here.”

 

Dick blinked at the redhead, but turned back to Mac. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her and picked her up. “Don't ever listen to another one of my ideas ever again!”

 

Veronica chuckled at Mac as she had no choice but to hang there.

 

“Dick, you are right. I shouldn't have done it in the first place.” She squirmed. “Um, put me down?”

 

Dick sighed, pouting a bit and put her down. He looked to the redhead. “You look familiar.”

 

“Hi, Dick.” Veronica smirked.

 

“I don't remember ordering a redhead, but what the hell?” He took a step towards her.

 

Veronica's eyes widened as he wrapped her up in a hug and repeated the same hug he just gave Mac. “Ugh. When I get my taser, I'm so going to get you for this.”

 

“Nonsense, Ronikins. You love me.” Dick put her down, grinning wide.

 

“Is Logan here?” Mac asked, giggling at the two.

 

“Probably.” Dick didn't move.

 

“Can we come in and see him?” Mac sighed.

 

“Oh, yea.” Dick moved back and opened the door. “Lo? You up?” He yelled it upward.

 

Veronica walked into the house, looking around it. It smelled like Logan and it calmed her nerves a bit.

 

“Dude, I am not going to show you how to use the Keurig again.” Logan walked out from behind a door and stopped. He blinked at the redhead standing in his living room with her back to him. “Oh, we have company.” He smiled. He was scruffy looking with a couple days worth of stubble on his face. He was in a tee shirt and a pair of basketball shorts.

 

“Dude.” Dick grinned. He pulled Mac closer to him and pointed at her. “Look who's here.”

 

Logan rushed towards Mac and scooped her up in a hug. “Oh my god, Mac! I was so worried! We all were.”

 

Mac giggled and hugged him back. “I was in a good place.”

 

Veronica turned and smiled at the three of them. “Well, I wouldn't say Miami was 'good', but it was humid.” She smirked.

 

Logan put Mac down slowly and turned. Big brown eyes blinked over at the redhead he had dismissed in his living room. “Roni?”

 

“I call her Pippy.” Mac giggled.

 

Veronica giggled a bit at Mac, but didn't take her eyes off Logan. “Hey.”

 

Logan seemed to teleport directly in front of her and cupped her face. He bent down and kissed her. He wrapped a hand around her back and just held her against him.

 

Veronica kissed him back. She felt calmer the longer she was embraced.

 

Dick cleared his throat. “Do we need to go for a long walk?”

 

Logan broke the kiss and panted down at her. “Are you back? Are you safe?”

 

Veronica grinned up at him. She nodded. “I'm back. I'm about as safe as they think I can be.”

 

“Eighty-five percent safe.” Mac piped up.

 

Logan blinked and looked up at Mac. He looked back to Veronica and raised a brow. “That's all?”

 

“It's a cruel world.” Veronica smirked. “It would never be 100.”

 

“But, Ronica, I don't want you to get hurt.” Logan pouted a bit and played with her hair. He took a moment to look at the color and shook his head.

 

“I'm getting it dyed back to blonde soon. I thought seeing you would be more important.” She smirked up at him.

 

“I like it, Pippy. I like the braids.” Mac giggled. “Oh my god! Pippy is a hippie!”

 

Veronica groaned.

 

“Hippie?” Logan looked between them.

 

“Abby Carson, painter from Miami.” Veronica twirled her hair a bit. “I sold my artwork in a flea market.” Veronica grinned wide.

 

“You paint?” Logan asked, still holding her tightly with one hand.

 

“Yes.” She smiled. “It relaxes me, helps me not get too intense about things.”

 

“Why didn't you take art classes in high school?” Logan chuckled.

 

Veronica grinned up at him.

 

“So, party tonight, right?” Dick asked. “Wallace will want to come and we could get some of the cooler kids. Casey and Luke and maybe Gia.”

 

Veronica looked over at Dick. “Eh, I don't know.”

 

“Because you aren't safe?” Logan asked softly.

 

“No.” She smiled up at him. “Because I'm not sure who I am right now and I don't want to be around people who don't really know me.”

 

Mac walked up behind her. “I got her to go out drinking with me in a halter top.” She nodded with a huge grin. “Now is your chance to get her to do what you want.”

 

Logan blinked down at Veronica.

 

“Yea, Dude! Get her to have a threeway!” Dick offered.

 

Veronica chuckled. “See? Old Veronica would have yelled at him, but I think that's funny. I have lost who I am.”

 

“I'd say!” Logan pulled her head to his chest and he kissed her head. “Ok, we'll invite Wallace and Weevil.”

 

“What about Pizker?” Dick asked, fiddling with the Keurig, making a confused face.

 

“Uh.” Logan blinked and looked down at Veronica. “Parker and Piz-”

 

“I heard.” Veronica released Logan and walked over to Dick. She bumped him to the side with her hip and adjusted the K-cup and put a mug underneath. She closed the lid and pressed the button. She turned back around to look at Logan. “Either way on those two.” She smirked.

 

“So, Wallace and Weevil.” Mac grinned.

 

Dick watched his coffee brew. “Maybe we could play poker.”

 

Logan laughed. “Roni is pretty good at poker, Dick.” He couldn't keep his eyes off her.

 

“So, strip poker. Everyone is a winner with strip poker.” Dick pulled his mug out and doctored his coffee with cream and sugar.

 

“I'm kind of glad I'll be passed out by 7pm.” Veronica laughed. When they all looked at her with strange faces, she smirked. “Time change.”

 

“Miami.” Logan smiled. “Where else did you live?”

 

“New York was where I lived when you last saw me.” She leaned against the counter.

 

“Where you were engaged.” Logan softly said, the smile fading.

 

“Never engaged. I turned him down.” Veronica kept her grin.

 

Mac smiled and walked over to the coffee maker and made herself a cup.

 

“So, just New York and Miami?” Logan asked, the smile returning to his face.

 

“I spent a few months in some small town in Arizona, but it was too dusty. I couldn't handle that.” She shook her head.

 

“One more.” Mac smiled.

 

“I was outside New Orleans. They had me on a shrimp boat.” She squirmed. “It took months for me to get that smell off my hands.”

 

Logan coughed and bent over, laughing loudly.

 

 

The foursome decided to have a cookout instead of a party, something low key for the half a dozen people. Logan didn't let Veronica leave his side or sight the whole day and Veronica didn't seem to mind. She would, eventually, but today, it was nice to be missed that much.

 

When Wallace arrived, he rushed into the living room and grinned down at her with a huge grin. “Supafly.”

 

Veronica bounced up and opened her arms, grinning just as wide. “Papa Bear!” They embrace and Veronica squeals.

 

“Hey! No breaking her! I just got her back!” Logan pouted dramatically.

 

Wallace snuggled with her on the couch while the foursome told Veronica about their current lives. When the doorbell rung, Veronica jumped up. “We all know I'm the only one happy to see who is on the other side of that door. I'll get it.” She walked to the door, but Logan followed. He stayed back a bit, giving her the illusion of privacy. She opened the door and smiled at the stocky Mexican on the other side.

 

“V.” Eli breathed out. “Damn, Chica. You look good for a dead girl.” He opened his arms. “Give me some love.”

 

Veronica smiled softly, the sweet bashful smile that she didn't let many people see. She walked out to him and hugged him tightly.

 

Eli held her and put his head in her neck, breathing her in. “That was a long five years.”

 

“I missed you too, Weevil.” Veronica hugged him tighter sniffling.

 

“I knew you couldn't have been dead.” He rubbed at his face as he pulled back. “I heard there was some food.” He tried to brighten the mood.

 

Veronica pulled back, her eyes wet. She smiled and nodded. “Sure. We're about to throw the steaks on the grill.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him inside.

 

Eli walked in and looked up at Logan. He nodded. “Opie.”

 

“Paco.” Logan replied. He looked away from Veronica only for a second to greet Eli.

 

Eli smirked and nodded to Logan. “Hey, man. Can I talk to her for like a second in private?”

 

Logan's eyes widened. He looked to Veronica.

 

Veronica smirked and nodded. “It's ok, Logan. I'm not going anywhere.”

 

“Well, a private room would be nice. But, yea, she's not leaving the house, man.” Eli chuckled.

 

Logan lifted a brow. “What do you plan to do in a private room?”

 

“Private stuff.” Eli smirked. “Don't worry, I'm not going to touch her. I just need to talk to her.”

 

“Guest bedroom, through there.” Logan sighed, pointing down the hall.

 

“Thanks.” Eli took Veronica's hand and lead her into the room. He released her hand and closed the door. “Opie is glad you are back too.” He chuckled. “He let you go potty without him in the room?”

 

Veronica smirked. “I've managed. What's up?”

 

“I saw you survive.” He bluntly said.

 

Veronica blinked. “What?”

 

“Five years ago, exploding Range Rover? I saw you being stashed in a dark SUV and hauled off.” Eli walked over to the bed.

 

“Oh.” Veronica's mind was racing with who he might have told.

 

“When I found out about your funeral, I figured it was a witness protection thing.” Eli continued, sitting on the bed. “Right?”

 

Veronica leaned against the wall and nodded. “Yea.”

 

“I have a confession.” Eli took a deep breath.

 

“Ok.” Veronica tries to prepare for what Eli could be telling her. Five years ago, getting the smallest bit of information from him was hard. Now, he wanted to be a fountain and she wasn't sure she was prepared to get wet.

 

“I trust you, V. I trust you won't tell anyone. But, I need you to know that I didn't just let you get shipped off.” Eli looked down to his hand, playing with the zipper on his leather jacket.

 

She nodded. “I won't tell anyone, Eli.”

 

Eli nodded. “Good.” He looked up at her. “I worked my way into Gory's gang and killed those motherfuckers for you.”

 

Veronica blinked. “Um. What?”

 

“I worked my way up their ladder, getting closer and closer to Gory. I was one of his guards. I knew who he talked to and about what. When the timing was perfect, I killed everyone who knew about you, who would give a shit if you were still alive.” He kept his eyes on her.

 

“Eli, um...” Veronica couldn't think as he talked.

 

“I know, murder is bad, but these fuckers stripped you of your life and they fucked with your friends and your dad. You all deserved to be happy.”

 

“Jesus.” Veronica pushed off the wall and walked to the bed and flopped down.

 

“I know.” He smirked. “I know. I get it. These guys weren't good men at all. I didn't kill innocent people. I killed people who murdered, raped, robbed. I did the world a service, but it was for you.”

 

“Eli, I... I never wanted you to kill anyone for me.” She stumbled over the words.

 

Eli smiled. “I know. But, I had to. I had to make it safe for you.” He lost his smile. “You had fought so hard to get respect and happiness and then, bam! It was gone. You were robbed of so much, Chica. I had to help you get some of that back. You gave up so much for Echolls and your friends, to keep them safe. I had to do my part to keep you safe. I had to.” He smiled again at her. “No one else was going to do it.”

 

Veronica blinked over at him. “Eli... I.. I don't know what to say.” She was shocked and it warmed her heart that someone cared that much about her. She hated the fact he killed for her, but this was how Eli showed affection. “Thank you, Eli.” She offered a stunned smile.

 

“I know, you hate that I did it and whatnot, but tough. It's done.” He paused and looked up under dark lashes at her. “You deserve a happy ending, Chica.”

 

Veronica blinked and grinned bigger. She pounced on him and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, Eli.”

 

Eli wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight. “If it comes to it, I'll be happy to give up my freedom if you get yours.” He kissed her head gently.

 

Veronica pulled back, kneeling on the bed and looked over at him. She was crying, but smiling big. “You are simply the best, Eli. You are an angel or something. You are my hero.” She chuckled and sniffled. “Just, don't ever do that again.”

 

Eli's eyes were threatening to spill down his cheeks and he nodded. “Roger.” He wiped at his eyes and cleared his throat. “So, redhead? Kind of hot on you, V.”

 

Veronica laughed and pushed at his arm. “Stop!” She crawled off the bed. “Is that it? Can we go chow down or any other confessions?”

 

“That's all the secrets you get from me today, V.” Eli straightened his jacket and stood. “Going to have to snoop to get the rest.” He flashed her a wink and moved to open the door. “It's about time a rich white dude served me dinner.”

 

Veronica laughed as she walked into the hall. Logan blinked, seeing the signs of tears on both of their faces, but they were smiling. He walked over to her and hovered. “You alright?”

 

Veronica nodded. “Yes. And you get to serve Weevil tonight. I can't tell you why, but he deserves only the best service.”

 

Logan blinked and looked to Eli. “Is that right?”

 

Eli smirked. “I'll start with a beer, imported if you have it.” He sat on a stool and looked around. “Nice house.”