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The Long Way Home

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She gathers herself systematically until she's satisfied with the mask she's sculpted.

She packs Logan's shirt- okay, three of his shirts- in her bag and cleans up his little corner the best she can. It takes about three and a half hours after her brief panic attack to shower, wash her hair, get herself together. Hair done, light makeup applied, clothes on.

Dick points at her with the spoon in his hand as she lugs her bags to the door. His surfboard rests against the wall, the bowl of cereal in his hand coming precariously close to dipping over to the floor. “Y'know, Logan left four hours ago. I'm going to start charging you rent.”

She looks up at him and his gaze seems to soften and shit, her mask isn't as hardened as she thought.

“Come on, Ronnie...Logan's coming back. He always does.”

“I-” she nearly flinches at the slight quiver of her voice and clears her throat. “I know.”

Stronger. Better.

He gives her a smirk, and it is like their previous exchange had never happened. “If you get real lonely, I can clear my schedule...”

She rolls her eyes, making her way to a hasty exit. “Yeah, I'll swing by ten after never, Dick.”

* * * * *

Subject: Tower, this is Ghost Rider.

You know, when I said I loved you, I meant it in a friendly neighbor way. A good luck, comrade of sixteen years way. Just so you know.

Hope you're riding through the highway to the danger zone!

Subject: RE: Tower, this is Ghost Rider.

I love and miss you too, Veronica. In a friendly neighbor, comrade of sixteen years way. Just so you know.

Do you have any idea how many Top Gun jokes I've heard? I've lost that loving feeling.

* * * * *

Case after case. She takes any case she can, no matter how small, to keep Mars Investigations afloat while her father recuperates. Mac quits Kane Software and jumps on board the currently sinking ship.

Her father is doing better, he's finally released from the hospital and is able to walk around the house with the help of his cane. She ignores the looks of judgment he shoots her every so often. She carries on, though, enjoying the work and determined to prove her father wrong.

When she's not working, she hangs with Wallace and Mac, drinking and catching up on Game of Thrones. She doesn't think she's laughed so much in years. She had missed them. It's so nice to just be herself.

Whenever Logan manages a Skype call, she puts on her brave, happy face for him and the warmth in his eyes always leaves her wanting more. They keep their conversations light, or at least they try to. She's shocked by how much she misses him. The hole in her chest only grows as the days go by. The longer he's gone, the more her feelings intensify. It's becoming almost painful.

One hundred and sixty-two days to go.

* * * * *

Veronica runs into Piz by chance one day when she drives to Hearst college on a case. She doesn't even know why the hell he's there. She's not sure she wants to find out. He stands in front of a bulletin board with a group of students and what looks like a professor, speaking and holding up some fliers.

He spots her seconds after she stops in her tracks at the sight of him. He falters in his speech, the hand holding the fliers lowering. She doesn't move, waiting for the ice cold shoulder.

She knew he definitely didn't owe her politeness, he didn't owe her a damn thing. Hell, they didn't owe each other anything. Did they even have anything to say to each other? Actually, she knew what she would have said to him. “I'm sorry I hurt you.” She wanted to let him know nothing that happened was planned, there was no way she could have predicted what happened. And yet she stays on her spot, staring at him and waiting.

Then, he smiles, raising his arm and waving at her.

She exhales, relieved, and lifts her hand, waving back briefly. She backs away and turns as the students turn to look at her, continuing her walk to the dean's office.

* * * * *

She's lonely.

Even with her father and all of her friends around, she's lonely. She knows why, she misses Logan. For two weeks, she was spoiled. He was always there, always listening, always touching. She misses tiny things like holding hands. Kissing. Resting her head on his chest while her foot rubs over his leg. The feel of his body against hers as she gives in to sleep. The low tone as he murmurs in her ear. The way the corners of his eyes would crinkle when she said something that amused him.

These pangs hit when she catches couples being disgustingly couple-y in her line of vision. When she hears a song she could remember him bobbing his head to. When she's stuck on a stake out at two in the morning without company and she allows her mind to drift for a precious few seconds. These pangs leave her sadder, always.

She knows she's not alone. She has her friends and her father. She knows this. And yet, she can't describe this very particular loneliness, the kind they can't fill and it frustrates her.

She gets angry, an anger she doesn't know what to do with. Logan doesn't answer an email fast enough, he misses a Skype meeting, he tries to call her and the connection is so broken and full of static, she sits with her jaw clenched, waiting for the call to drop. It's not his fault. It's definitely not his fault, but she misses him. And she doesn't know how to tell him. She's not a whiner.

Instead, she pours herself into her measly cases and channels her aggression and the emotional seesaw into catching some cheaters. She dives into it so when Logan does finally get through, she can greet him with a smile like the brave little toaster she is. Feelings aren't something she can express properly, so she trades the more complex ones for those she can control. Determination. Pride. A happy smile that's too tight. A laugh that's too sharp. A posture that's too rigid. Goodbyes quiet enough so he can't hear the tremble in her voice.

God, she's lonely.

* * * * *

Veronica stabs her spoon into her ice cream, giving her father a sidelong glance before returning her attention to her bowl. “Have you talked to mom since...”

He sighs, scooping up ice cream on his spoon. “Here and there. Maybe you want to give her some legal-”

“Ha, no. No, thanks,” she says with a laugh. “I am perfectly fine doing the heavy lifting way over on the detective end.”

“Your brother is a character-”

Half-brother,” she interrupts, unable to keep the sharpness from her voice. “What exactly is happening right now?”

Her father sets down his spoon, holding up his hands defensively. “All I'm saying is, time has passed and you shouldn't hold grudges-”

“I'm not holding a grudge. I've let it go even though I don't have to. It doesn't mean we have to spend Christmas together. We can just leave it at that.”

“It's good to have-”

“I don't need anything else,” Veronica says firmly. “I have you, and Wallace, and Mac, and Lo-” she cuts herself off, staring down at her bowl. This is going somewhere it doesn't need to go and she truly wishes her father hadn't chosen their family time to talk about it. “I am fine, dad. Promise.”

Her eyes close briefly as he runs a hand over her head. “Veronica, it's important to have closure.”

She gives her father a tight smile, picking up her spoon. “I don't need closure. I have you.”

* * * * *

She sits at an angle for the next Skype session so he can't see the darkening bruise just over her cheekbone. A stakeout gone wrong and she was lucky to have her taser on hand. A stupid mistake led to the incident, and it wouldn't happen again.

“Hey. Look at me.”

She tugs on her hair in what she hopes is a casual move as she faces Logan, fixing a smile on her lips. “Hey, you.”

After a moment delay, he leans forward. “Move your hair. Please.”

Veronica presses her lips together. Of course he would notice, even through the slightly pixelated interruptions in their video chat. Nothing ever slipped by him, it always made their relationships interesting. Two people always looking, always searching.

She pushes her hair behind her ears, gives him a grim smile and waits. After the delay, he reacts. She can see him inhale sharply, his jaw clenching. “It's not that bad.”

“Shit, whoever did that is so fucking lucky I'm across the ocean because-” he cuts himself off, bringing his fist to his mouth as he shakes his head.

“Yeah, he got it worse,” she says lightly with a laugh. Her smile fades when he stares straight ahead at her, or right where she would have been on his screen. He doesn't say a word, just lets out a breath, his jaw still clenched. “I'm okay, Logan.”

“I know you are. I just...I just wish I was there.”

She sits up, smiling bright and hoping her good mood is infectious. “So how's it going?”

* * * * *

She starts to take evening lessons on how to use her gun. Her father goes with her sometimes and gives her pointers. Many times, she has to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from telling him no, she won't be using it. Deep down, she knows he's right, it's necessary. It doesn't mean she has to like it.

Even Logan offers to show her how to use the gun when he gets back. She's almost appalled at how he swiftly takes her father's side, like her having a gun was the most obvious of ideas. Several email exchanges told her Lt. Echolls was heavily trained, which obviously included hand-to-hand and armed combat. He could actually seriously hurt or even kill a person if he really wanted to. Luckily, he hasn't had to use his weapons beyond the training areas. Yet.

She tries to pass the gun back to her father numerous times, and he always rebuffs her, insisting it was for the best, especially if they were to be partners.

She accepts it, but it doesn't mean she has to like it.

* * * * *

She grins when he finally appears. “Hey. Two days!” Her smile fades when the look of near-pain on his face finally registers. “What?”

“Thirteen. Thirteen days.”

Veronica feels her chest tighten. “No, we have two days. You said a hundred and eighty days,” she swallowed hard, hating how small her voice sounded then. “I counted. A hundred and eighty.”

“Approximately. The dates have changed,” he sighs heavily. “Don't be mad.”

“I'm not mad!” She lowers her head, wiping at the corner of her eye. “I'm just...disappointed. That's all.”


She lifts her head at the sound of his voice. The devastation must be clear on her face because he inhales sharply, a strained smile on his face that she was sure was supposed to be comforting. “Yeah.”

“Remember, after this, I'm home. I won't have to do this again for a year. At least. Maybe never again.”

She laughs, trying to keep the bitterness from her voice. “Well, that's some good news!”

“How are you? Other than me just ruining your day.”

“The usual. It was actually boring today. Mac and I organized the files.”

“Your excitement never ends,” his smirk fades. “I wish I could touch you, Veronica.”

She puts a grin on her face, even though it doesn't reach her eyes. That was a loaded comment from him, she knew what it meant. He missed her, he missed her body, he missed her everything. She knew exactly what it meant, she felt the same. The nights are lonely, she turns to someone who isn't there, she sees or hears something absurd and wants to tell him so he can laugh too but he's not there. She misses his body against hers, she misses his strong arms around her, his hand holding hers. The loneliness is something her friends and her father unfortunately cannot fill and it is just brutal.

Instead of vocalizing it like she knew he probably wanted, she carries on. “Thirteen days! Then it's non-stop one on one time in a hotel far away from Dick for a whole day before my dad reports me missing.”

Logan laughs, rubbing at his eyes. “Can't wait.”

She fidgets, glancing down at her lap and allowing herself one moment of weakness. “I miss you, too.”

* * * * *

She waits until Logan signs off to allow herself a good cry and for the first time, she isn't sure she can deal with this. She hopes he doesn't change his mind, she hopes he keeps his word about this being his last tour. She allows herself the moment to stop being Miss Optimism and to really face the reality of her life as it currently was.

Her nerves are shot after that spring break case and her mother now nipping at the back of her mind. She misses Logan. She isn't taking not having Wallace around all the time well. Her money is dwindling. She had just begun investigating Weevil's case and it's already overwhelming her. Her father's health is constantly worrying her. She doesn't want to carry a fucking gun.

She had wanted to talk to Logan, to vent at him about her mother for a bit, to hear him, to have his voice soothe her. However, now they had thirteen more days apart. She couldn't even bring herself to talk about her recent problems after Logan decided to pile one more on her. Fuck.

For a moment, she considers running back to New York.

She starts to double over in her seat, burying her face in her hands until her father's voice rings out from the living room-

“I hope you're done with your boyfriend because the pizza is here and the DVD is raring to go!”

Veronica sits up slowly, wiping at her eyes. She takes several breaths, composing herself. This all wasn't so bad, it was just a setback. Eventually, everything would fall into place. It had to. “Coming!”

* * * * *

Subject: :)

I can't wait to see you.

The email, sent two days before Logan returns, is a loaded, single sentence. Logan can say a lot in one sentence.

He misses her. He's sick of the job after six and a half months. He can't wait to have some good food in her company. He wants to touch her. He wants to fuck her. He's ready to be home. He's missed every bit of her.

Yes, Logan Echolls can put a lot into one sentence and knowing him, knowing how he knew how well she knew him, he had planned for that sentence to hold genuine impatience and promises and intentions.

She knew him well and she knows exactly what he had intended in that sentence, which is why she finds her hand slipping between her thighs that night. She gives in to the memories of him, letting her body respond to the particularly intense and private thoughts. She works herself up the way she knew he would if he were there, flashing and rewinding to the hotter moments of their numerous encounters until she finally comes, biting on her bottom lip as her toes curl.

The next morning, she sends him a reply, equally short, knowing he'll get exactly what her message was.

Subject: RE: :)

It's all I could think about last night, so ready.

* * * * *

She feels like such a girl.

Logan comes back tomorrow at noon, and she hates how anxious she is.

Three outfits sit on the bed, a fourth about to join them. She can't decide what to wear, what impression she wants to make. He had jokingly warned her about leaving the daisy dukes at home, and a quick internet search pulls up a lot of women in flowery, bright dresses and yeah, that's not happening.

He had been visibly surprised, then endearingly pleased when she told him over their final Skype conversation that she wanted to go to the meet up. It had taken a week of no contact and careful thinking, but she was sure this was what she wanted to do. She had made it clear that she wasn't there to talk to anyone or because she couldn't wait but because he obviously needed a ride and of course, he had assured her, he knew that was totally the reason, he totally got it. She can see him holding back but even through the computer screen, she can see the happiness in his eyes. It was infectious.

She goes for a black dress with black flats and decides to spice it up with a leather bracelet and red lipstick. Conservative and respectable enough not to offend anyone, but there was enough cleavage and the skirt was short and loose enough to get Logan's attention. She was going to have his attention.

“Are you going to a funeral?”


She finally settles on black jeans, boots, and a light blue tank top. She puts her leather jacket over it because she can't be too conservative and Logan loves that jacket. She hides the outfit before her father could make a crack about it too.

* * * * *

Veronica steps forward abruptly when she sees him, her eyes never leaving him as children begin to run to their parents.

He's searching for her in the crowd, eyes scanning as he walks slowly. She sees him kind of grin as a little boy runs into his mother's arms before shaking the hand of another man in uniform.

Oh, fuck it.

With a shake of her head, she takes off in a sprint for him, so fast her hair flies over her shoulders. She can feel the tears in her eyes when he smiles wide as he finally spots her and he immediately drops his bag, walking at a more hurried pace.

She almost stumbles to a stop just in front of Logan, nearly bumping into him. “Hey.”

He can't even keep the smile from his face. “Hey.”

They stare at each other for what feels like a lifetime until she finally reaches up, grasping the sides of his face in her hands and pulling him down to her.

They ignore the camera shutters near them and she knows there are professional photographers taking their pictures but she can't bring herself to care, not when he's finally back in her arms. She nearly melts into him as he wraps his arms around her waist and picks her up so they're eye to eye and she laughs, resting her forehead against his as he leaves quick kisses on the corners of her mouth.

“God, I missed you,” he whispers in her ear and the mere gesture sends a shiver down her spine.

She doesn't respond, doesn't have a quip or a joke, all she can do is smile and enjoy the feeling of his body against hers. Her hand runs over the top of his hair, enjoying the feel of him there, right there.

Logan finally releases her, leaving a kiss on her forehead before turning to pick up his bag. She stands alone, watching families reunite and listening to the jovial music play and she allows, for a brief moment, the mood to infect her. As hard as the last six months- hell, the last twelve years- have been, it was all coming together. Everything was working out.

Veronica entwines Logan's fingers with hers as they walk, holding on to his hand with both of hers. “So, I got us a hotel room in San Diego, there's room service so there will be food and champagne waiting for us when we get there, and dad's expecting us for brunch tomorrow afternoon at some fancy schmancy restaurant.”

“Your dad's really okay with us spending twenty-four hours locked in a hotel room?”

“Absolutely not so we just didn't go into details,” she grins as Logan laughs, leaving a kiss on the back of her hand. “I have a spare set of clothes for us in the car, bought some toiletries and more importantly, condoms-”

“How is my baby?”

“I'm smiling, aren't I?”

“Not you, my car.”

* * * * *

The room door isn't even completely closed before Logan is spinning them into the wall, undoing her jeans as she unbuttons and tugs off his shirt. His eye contact is aggressive and she's nearly trembling in anticipation.

She's removing her jacket while Logan yanks her pants and underwear down and she stifles a gasp as his mouth trails over her thighs as he unzips her shoes, tossing them to the side before removing her pants completely. He's kissing up her body and she's trying to pull him up, nearly groaning in frustration when he kisses over her clothed stomach and breasts before facing her.

They both seem unable to speak as she undoes his pants, pushing them down as he kisses and sucks on her neck. Before she knows it, he's picking her up and pinning her against the wall and she's crying out as he thrusts into her deep. They wait a moment, letting the intense sensation ebb, staring at each other, never breaking that contact. Her fingertips trail briefly over his cheek before he's moving, hard and rough and she's meeting every jerk of his hips. Her fingers curl into the back of his neck, his mouth opening against hers as they move together.

It wasn't going to last long, this was six months of want. She didn't care, they had the whole day and night, she just wanted him as he was now. She needed her fix.

This was the best homecoming for them both. Together, all alone, and without all of that outside noise. Just them.

Her legs spread as the pleasure intensifies, his hand slipping between their bodies and adding more pressure and she's moaning now, her arm winding and her fingers gripping at his hair. “Don't stop, don't stop.”

“Yes, ma'am. So bossy,” he grunts, stifling a groan.

She smiles, gasping when he starts thrusting faster. Her hips rock against his and she inhales deeply. “Follow orders, lieutenant.”

Veronica's hand clutches over her head at the wall as he thrusts harder, faster, his teeth baring against her neck. Her legs lock tight around his hips, his grip on her thighs tight. He groans loudly as he comes, his fingers digging into her skin. She swallows hard as he keeps moving, her hand falling hard on his back, her nails scratching into his skin. A hoarse moan escapes her when she comes, her head falling back and hitting the wall.

When she's caught her breath, she lifts her head, her smiling mouth brushing over his. “Like you never left,” she says breathlessly, leaning into his kiss.

* * * * *

“Good news is,” Logan announces loudly, moving his feet as Veronica walks on the mattress, juggling a bottle of champagne and a plate of french fries. She drops beside him, handing over the bottle. “I'm done for a year. I can rent a place, we can hang-”

“I thought you were done for good,” Veronica says, holding out a fry. She can feel the slow, horrible churning of her stomach, the alarm of something going wrong. “You said you were done.”

“I said maybe,” he replies before taking a bite of the fry from her fingers. “I want to be,” he sighs at the faint pursing of her lips, leaning over and kissing her bare shoulder. “I am hoping I'm done. Okay?”

She nods, moving her head as he opens the bottle. “I hope you're done too.”

He takes a long drink of champagne, leaning back against the headboard. “You'll come by if I get a place, right?” A smile plays on his lips. “It's going to get lonely, me all by myself, no one to keep me company...”

“Maybe,” she bites back a smile when he chuckles, shoving a couple of french fries in her mouth. “We'll see.”

“Ouch. You're not planning to stay living with your dad, are you?”

The sudden silence between them is tense and awkward. She turns her head, chewing slowly on her food. “What's wrong with me living with my dad?”

He sits up, perhaps sensing the beginnings of a fight and eying her warily. “Nothing...but we're adults. It's going to get weird.”

She gives him a look, her eyes narrowing. “Why should I get my own place when you'll be gone in a year? I'm going to have to push my budget so things don't get weird?”

Logan's lips press together as he gives her his own look of irritation. “Okay. You knew-”

Veronica sets aside the plate, turning and straddling Logan's hips. Time to stop the fight before it starts. She smirks as he inhales slowly, taking the bottle from his hands. She takes a long sip before setting the bottle down on the nightstand. “Okay. Time out,” she leans forward, kissing him softly and she is relieved when he kisses her back. “Let's start over.”

She decides to take this talk in a casual route, to give Logan a chance to better explain himself. Give them both a chance at correction. She doesn't want to go down the same road of being told one thing and him doing another or the two of them hiding their grievances until they explode. She's just not willing to do that part of their relationship over again.

“I don't think,” she begins carefully. “We should start off your return with omitting of truths.”

He looks up at her, rubbing her hips tenderly. “What do you mean?”

“You said you would be done in a year-”

Logan sighs as he sits up, resting his hands on her hips. “Babe, I said a year and a half. Two years tops. And then I'm officially done. I have to fulfill my commitment. But once that's done, I'm done. That I promise you. We just have to cowboy up on this one.”

She nods, wrapping her arms around his shoulders when he starts kissing her neck. “I just want us to be clear.”

“You have me for one whole year. A year. After that, we'll see what they have for me, and after that...I'm all yours for good,” he lifts his head, kissing her cheek softly. “If you'll have me.”

And that's that. The fight is over. They actually talked through something, with no bloodshed or tears. Holy shit, maybe they were adults. Maybe they were really ready for this now.

Veronica smiles, running her hands over Logan's shoulders. “I'll always want you.”

* * * * *

Veronica plops down next to Logan as he finishes tying his shoe, leaving a light kiss on his shoulder. “I almost forgot to tell you,” she says, near-breathless with a rare excitement. “The new dean of Hearst is a major asshole. I did a case for him and he refused to pay up so it's go time.”

Logan shakes his head before gazing at Veronica, a look of pure adoration in his eyes. “That's my girl.”

She leans in, letting her lips brush over his. “Wanna help smoke him out? Mac's already offered her services. Wallace can't because of some silly conflict of interest so-”

He interrupts her with a kiss, climbing to his feet and pulling her up. “Always work with you.”

Work? I'm going to enjoy this, buddy! Get on my level.”

“I'm on, I'm totally on,” he chuckles, grabbing their bag and letting her lead him to the door.

She glances over her shoulder at him. “Weevil's also going to be around the office a lot so you need to be nice.”

Logan's smile fades abruptly. “Wait- what?”

* * * * *

Logan takes back his car after their twenty-four hours of bliss, claiming he had to make sure Veronica took proper care of it. She lets him have the moment of male bravado, knowing full well she'll be coaxing the car from him eventually during his time home. However, now it was back to reality, back to brunch with her father, back to work, and back to their normal. At least this time, Logan was going to be there at her side.

They drive back to Neptune, Logan at the wheel and holding Veronica's hand. When they would reach a red light, one would lean over for a kiss or they would just smile at each other. Ah, the honeymoon period, absence did make the heart grow fonder, all of that cliché crap. It was nice.

She had things to do. Bad guys to take down. People to help. Her father was starting to bend at letting her fully help with the corruption problem within the police department. Her business cards just came in. She had to figure out how to pay off her loans. How to deal with suddenly having Logan around all the time. Everything had changed. It was going to be hard.

Logan groans, pressing on his horn. “This fuck keeps cutting me off-”

“Why don't you just drive over him since you're riding his ass so hard?”


Veronica knew what they had was never going to be officially normal. Her job wouldn't allow that, and that wasn't how they were built. They would always be difficult, complicated. They would always fight and make up and she was pretty sure she liked it that way.

She smirks as Logan huffs next to her, rubbing his arm gently. He seems to relax slightly, leaning back in his seat.

They were in a great place now, but she didn't know what the future would hold. How they would handle each other after years apart and lives ruined. She was willing to find out, though. She wasn't afraid anymore, she wasn't going to run.

All roads would lead back to each other.

Veronica shifts in her seat, squeezing Logan's hand. “Hey,” she smiles slightly as he glances at her. “Let's take the long way home.”