Stranger things have happened than this; she finds the keycard to Logan's old suite at the Grand amongst her stash of nine year old memorabilia, lying between old photographs of her and Lilly, which is kind of ironic in a way, but also not, and she can almost trace his sixteen year old smirk on the blank smoothness of the card. There is an ache somewhere in the centre of her chest that she forgets about most times, and which always surprises her, catches her off guard, just a little bit, whenever she breathes in next. She doesn’t know why she still has that nine years later (the keycard; she does know.)
‘I miss you,’ she writes with her finger, in big, loopy handwriting, on fogged up windows, and dirty walls, on the wet sand at the beach, all around town, like it’s in secret ink and only visible under concentrated lemon juice, and somewhere, far away, the clock strikes down the hour, but she still waits another minute before getting up. There's a whole bunch of people on the East Coast, whom he doesn't know, who think he's an asshole, nine years worth of them, but nobody in New York ever really asked her to stop talking about him, and if they meet him now, Lt. Echolls in his fancy dress whites, they're going to think she's a liar.
What she does is stupid, she knows, renting out a suite in the Grand for a night and blowing off an entire two weeks’ worth of payment for nostalgia and when she sets up her laptop and leans back, “remember this?” it takes him twenty seven seconds that she counts off in her head to remember, and she expects him to say something like “how could I forget?” and instead, he just says, “yes.”
But when he smiles, there’s an edge of teenage insolence to it that she used to hate (love?) and she dreams of taking off her clothes and wiping it off and watching his eyes. And okay, yeah, she hates needing anyone, but maybe she wants Logan to need her, just a little bit. Want her, yes, but need her too, like some part of him would just stop functioning if she went away again. She’s always been just about that selfish; it’s an open secret around Neptune, no need to be coy.
"Your mother used to like me," she had reminded him, once, when she was angry, and he was angry as well, when he said, "you're in good company, then, huh, she loved my dad too."
The shampoo in the bathroom is different, and honestly, she’s not even sure why she’d expected it to not be, after nine years, like Neptune was stuck in a time-warp while she was away and everything should be the same, just as she left it, and when she comes out of his shower, she should smell like him. He used the Grand shampoo because he couldn’t ever be bothered to buy it himself, his zipcode made it physically impossible, and there was something heady about being nineteen and wearing her boyfriend’s shirt and using his soap, even though it embarrassed her and she covered it in wisecracks and quips and a layer of denial so thick, she kind of mistook the surface for the real deal more often than not.
But sometimes, most times, he would look at her a certain way when his shirt was too big and hung off her, evenly almost, because she was flat as an ironing board, but it wouldn't feel like that, and she would have to look down.
“A woman’s body is not a temple,” she remembers sagely quoting once, zipping up her boots and avoiding his eyes, and he'd leaned insolently against the door and crossed his arms, all hard outlines and lean angles, and said, “but I already took off my shoes.”
She thinks, sometimes, of calling him and saying; I saw a house overlooking the beach, and some real estate agent tried to sell it to me, and I think I’d die if I lived in it. She thinks of calling him up and saying; the ocean is starting to look affordable to me now, and isn’t that stupid. She thinks of calling him up and saying, if you’d stayed a little while longer, we could have happened. She thinks of calling him and saying, “we lost Neptune somewhere along the way, but when you come back to me, I think we’ll get it back, so you better come back, okay, I can't live my life out lost in my hometown.” and if her referentiality has moved from The Big Lebowski to Casablanca, then, well, fuck her life.
She gets as far as the phone in her hand and when he picks up on the other end, she hangs up, before calling two minutes later and saying, “dad’s making lasagna again,” and he says, “it’s four in the morning here,” and there's no adequate response to that, really, except, “I'm so sorry,” and she can hear his uneven breathing when he admits, “maybe I can finally fall asleep now,” and she thinks, oh, god.
The sheets are different too, but the thread count is probably not- not different- because it feels the same, or maybe it’s just that she’s forgotten what it used to feel like and she only now knows what she wants it to feel like; she has a psych degree, she knows all about these things and can use the word 'transference' correctly in a sentence. Except she doesn't know whether it's possible for it to exist with the same person over and over, and maybe she should have stuck to psych and never gone to law school, because then yeah, okay, she wouldn't have been able to argue her way around all the felony charges, but at least she'd have known all her issues in a checklist.
The room, though, is too pristine, considering all she really remembers is the disarray, and her clothes on the floor; it looks like a foreign land where she can't remember the language he used to write with his tongue all over her body, or the phonetics of his love-making, and she needs him to teach her the alphabet all over again, and be patient, because she's a slow learner in some things, but that's okay, because he's patient in some things.
“They don’t use the same sheets, Veronica” he tells her, “that was nine years ago, they changed the brand when I was still living there, probably changed it a shit-ton more times since.” And she want to say, do you know how bored I’ve been for nine years , and is it sad that at this point I’d even go to the Camelot with you and leave the windows open.
There is this one time when she does say, “I think I’d tell you to keep the uniform on, the entire thing, the entire time.”
And his mouth quirks at the corners, “that would make things kind of hard, don’t you think?"
And she says, “yeah, well, you know what they say about the ones that come easy.”