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Mistakes

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Part I

END OF JUNE 2007

Veronica slowly opened her eyes and found herself in an unfamiliar dark room. She squinted but couldn’t make out anything in the space. Trying to sit up proved to be impossible as she tugged on the ropes tethering her arms and legs to a solid sturdy surface.

If she had to guess, she was anchored down on some kind of table. Maple or walnut, a hard wood that could withstand rough wear and tear treatment.

She tried to twist her wrists, feeling along the rope for knots she could pick or stray nails to use as a makeshift knife. There was nothing of the sort. The rope was too tight and disappeared down into drilled holes in the table where she assumed led to the knots, out of reach.

There was no panicking yet. She just needed to find a way to get out and she would be fine.

Veronica called out into the dark room to see if anyone else was around, tied up or available to help her. No one answered, she was calling out into an empty void.

She closed her eyes to think. As soon as she did she heard a soft click above her and a soft yellow glow illuminated her eyelids. She opened her eyes and saw a single bulb lit above her. The light only made visible the table she was on; the rest of the room outside the circle of her light remained in the shadows.

Panic and fear began to creep into her bones. The atmosphere was different compared to five minutes earlier, she could feel it, there was a heaviness in the air. She was no longer alone.

“Veronica, where are the tapes, Veronica. Where are the tapes?! Where are the tapes?!”

A voice she never wanted to hear again in the flesh whispered then yelled out at her in the dark room. Her head thrashed side-to-side trying to locate the face that belonged to the sinister voice beyond the dark.

Aaron stepped forward out of the shadows and moved to stand right next to the table. His hands reached out and ran down her arms slowly in a seductive manner. He flashed her his award-winning smile as the anger from just moments before melted from his face replaced by a malicious smirk.

Veronica flinched at his touch and tried to squirm out of his reach but she couldn’t go anywhere, the ropes attached to each wrist held her in place. She was trapped by Aaron again only this time there was no freezer door between them to protect her.

He leaned over her to whisper in her ear. His breath was hot against the side of her face as his chest pressed against hers. “You’ve been a busy girl, Veronica. Lilly would have been proud to see the woman you’ve turned into, you have just as much spunk as she did.”

Veronica’s skin was crawling and she turned her head to the side away from Aaron, putting as much distance between them as she could in her current situation.

He ran a finger down the side of her face. “I should have sampled you when I had the chance. We could have had a lot of fun, you and I. I know I would have enjoyed it and taking one more thing away from my ungrateful son would have been the cherry on top.”

Veronica closed her eyes trying to escape Aaron, his words and touch made her stomach turn. She wanted to scream out and fight back but there was no one around, nowhere to escape. His hands were running down her body slowly until another voice entered the room. She didn’t pay any attention to the third person in the room because she was preoccupied with the relief of feeling Aaron’s hands leave her body.

“Hi, baby.”

Duncan walked out of the shadows and stood on the other side of the table across from Aaron. He bent over Veronica and pressed a kiss to her lips.

She turned her head away from Duncan trying to dislodge his lips. “Get off me!” Nausea built up in the pit of her stomach once more.

Duncan looked at her with a hurt expression from her verbal and physical rejection of his affection. “I love you, Veronica. I’ve always loved you. Even when I shouldn’t have, when I thought you were my sister, it didn’t matter you were special. That night at Shelly’s was one of the best nights of my life. I saw the love in your eyes when you walked into the party so confident in that beautiful white dress and again when you touched my cheek before we made love. I knew you and I were meant to be, we still are.”

Duncan smoothed down Veronica’s hair, fingers trailing down her neck, over her collarbone and breast, coming to a stop at her hand.

Veronica shuddered and tears ran down her cheeks. She was trying not to cry in front of them but she had had enough, she couldn’t hold it in any longer. “I don’t love you, Duncan. I’m not sure I ever did, I just loved the idea of having the fairytale dream, but I was wrong. I don’t want the fairytale, it’s not who I am anymore.”

Duncan grabbed her hand and held on softly. “Don’t say that, Veronica. I know you love me.”

She yanked her hand out of his. “I don’t love you and I never will. That night at Shelly’s was not loving, you ra −…”

She jumped when a third set of hands that were not her own settled on one of her legs down by her ankle.

“Dick still thinks I’m a virgin. You see, I know how to keep a secret.”

She looked through her blurry eyes and cried harder when she saw Beaver looking back at her.

His hands moved up her leg as he spoke. “Did you ever tell Duncan what we did together at Shelly’s after he left you? I guess not since he left town before even you knew what we did. If he knew he probably wouldn’t have taken you back senior year. He wanted pink sweater Veronica and he could pretend you were still her because you had only been touched by him. Little did he know you’d been with me too.”

Before she could respond to Beaver another set of hands landed on her other leg. She didn’t need to look at him to know who it was. He was the most recent of her violations.

“What am I gonna do with you?” Mercer made his way up her body. When he got to her head he leaned down to her ear. “Let’s fix that hair of yours.”

A loud buzz, like a pair of hair clippers sounded in her ear. The table started to spin, four pairs of hands passing over her body as she moved from rapist to rapist. “Stop! Don’t touch me! Please, stop! Let go of me, please!” Tears flooded down her face and her nausea from the spinning table and present company intensified. Veronica closed her eyes hoping it would help with the motion, if nothing else.

Suddenly the table stopped turning and she opened her eyes to an empty room. The air was thinner and she could breath more easily. She cried in relief, happy to be alone once again.

Veronica bolted upright in her bed, clothes soaked through with sweat, her heart pounded in her chest as tears rolled down her cheeks. She quickly climbed out of bed and ran to the hall bathroom where she emptied the contents of her stomach.

The nightmares had started up roughly a month ago around the one-year anniversary of Aaron Echolls’ death. Tinseltown Diaries had released a special memorial episode highlighting Aaron’s most noteworthy performances and his involvement in the Lilly Kane murder trial, which had been an outright lie. He was guilty and very few people in the public believed that fact.

The TV special brought up all the traumatic events of being locked in a burning abandoned freezer. All the emotions she never really dealt with after the fact, because she was too busy caring for her dad, finding closure for Lilly’s death and trying to keep Logan out of jail.

Slowly, over the next few weeks more of her torturers had started making guest appearances. It was as if her subconscious was trying to tell her she needed help. She had buried the feelings deep down for so long that after one traumatic memory crept up to the surface, they all did.

Tonight’s nightmare had been the worst of them so far. Never before had the dream featured all four of her violators together at the same time. This was also the first time the nightmares had made her physically sick to her stomach.

Still trembling Veronica rinsed her mouth out with mouthwash and splashed some cold water on her face. She carefully made her way back to her room hoping she didn’t wake up Wallace who was asleep on the couch.

The summer had started out poorly for both of them. After the fight in the cafeteria between Gory and Logan, she had decided to break up with Piz. It was in that moment Logan looked up at her with that proud smirk on his face, she knew she couldn’t hide behind Piz any longer, she loved Logan and his actions proved that he loved her too.

It had been a messy end to their relationship, a lot of yelling from Piz about being led around for months and not fully giving them a chance to thrive. He had chewed her out and then left for his New York radio internship. The anger and hurt in his voice didn’t bother her as much as his harsh words had. He would never know, but his words had cut her in her deepest fears and insecurities.

Veronica had dismissed her own internship at the FBI; not wanting to be the talk of the town at Quantico after her pseudo-sex tape was released. Instead a few days after the semester was over she ended up on Logan’s doorstep at the Grand seeking comfort.

He let her in and one thing led to another and they ended up naked and in bed together. Their mistake, again, had been not talking before getting physical and yet expecting a different outcome each time.

She woke up the next morning in his bed alone. A note left behind on the nightstand said he was going out of town on a surfing trip with Dick and would be back in the middle of July. He didn’t even leave a way for her to contact him and there was no emotion in the note. It was simple and direct, I’m leaving, I’ll be back, but in what state she didn’t know. He didn’t even wake her up to say goodbye and she knew he regretted what they had done the night before.

Heartbroken and humiliated she spent the next few weeks moping around. Wallace had felt bad for her, or the reason he thought she was moping around was because of the sex tape. She hadn’t told him about her one-night stand with Logan. He chose to spend the rest of the summer with her instead of going on the Invisible Children retreat.

Which is how Wallace ended up on her couch last night. They had gone to a carnival just outside the city limits of Neptune to eat their way through mass amounts of food trucks and listen to the live bands. Once they had gotten back Wallace just decided to spend the night, too exhausted to drive the few miles across town to his house.

Veronica looked at her alarm clock, now almost four in the morning, and tried to fall back asleep. Her stomach was still upset, but within twenty minutes she was able to fall back into a restless slumber.


When morning rolled around Veronica woke up feeling worse than the night before. She felt weak, fatigued and a little dizzy. She sat up, which ended up being a terrible mistake, threw back her covers and hastily made a dash to the bathroom.

After vomiting several times she was shaking and drained. Not wanting to move far she crawled over to the corner of the bathroom, away from the toilet and rested her cheek on the cool tile of the tub.

She didn’t remember having any more nightmares or dreams after the one that woke her up at three in the morning, so she was confused as to why she was still feeling nauseated from it.

Veronica felt like the room was spinning so she closed her eyes and clutched her stomach hoping to keep the nausea at bay. After a few minutes she had fallen asleep against the tub.

Sometime later the door to the bathroom flew open and banged against the wall startling Veronica awake.

She watched as Wallace ran in with a hand over his mouth and puked up everything in his stomach. She cringed at the sound and hoped she wouldn’t vomit on reflex.

When he was finished he scooted away until his back was resting against the wall. He finally noticed Veronica sitting next to him, eyes closed and pale. He nudged her leg to get her attention. “What are you doing in here?”

Without opening her eyes she responded, talking slow and quiet. “Same as you, Papa Bear.”

“Good, because this is all your fault.”

Her eyes snapped open with her eyebrows knotted together in confusion trying to figure out how his vomiting spells equated to being her fault. “What?”

Wallace held a hand over his stomach. “I told you not to order that seafood basket last night. Never trust fish cooked at a carnival and plus it was sitting out in the heat for who knows how long.”

“Excuse me? Okay, one, you may have told me not to order it but you still ate it, I didn’t force you to eat it so that’s on you, buddy. Two, you don’t know it was the fish. We could have gotten food poisoning from any one of the twenty things we ate yesterday. This is not my fault.”

He blew out a shaky breath. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t your fault. I feel terrible and I’m taking it out on you.”

Veronica gave him a slight smile. “It’s okay. I’m sorry, too. I dragged us to that carnival, if I hadn’t then…”

“V, really, none of this is your fault. I shouldn’t have said it was.” He placed a hand on her foot, the only part of her he could reach without getting up. “Hey, we had fun though, didn’t we, before all this?”

“Yeah, we did.”

“How long have you been sitting in here?”

“Maybe an hour before you burst in, I don’t know for sure, I fell asleep. This is round two for me though, I ran in here in the middle of the night too.”

Wallace slowly stood up using the wall for support and held out a hand to Veronica. “Come on, Supafly, let’s go lay down, my butt is starting to go numb on this floor.”

She grabbed his hand and stood up, swaying a little before finding her balance. They made their way out to the living room and sat down on the couch, each of them on an end with their feet mixing in the middle sharing a blanket.


 

Veronica and Wallace were watching a movie when Keith and Backup walked through the apartment door from an all night stakeout.

Keith released Backup from his leash and held up a white paper grocery store bag with greasy food stains, shaking it around to intensify the aroma. “Hey, kids, I bought donuts for breakfast.”

When the sugary fried smell of the donuts wafted over to the couch both teens scrambled to their feet, hands over mouths and darted in opposite directions. Wallace took off toward the hall bathroom and Veronica ran to her dad’s bathroom, where they both emptied their stomachs once more.

Veronica was bent over the toilet when she felt her dad gather up her long hair and hold it to the side out of the way, rubbing-soothing circles on her back as everything left her body.

She flushed the toilet and continued to sit on the bathroom floor contemplating if this was a good place to just hang out for the rest of the day.

Keith handed her a small glass of water and sat on the edge of the tub watching as her shaky hands brought the glass up to her lips and then moved it away without taking a sip. “You need to drink something or you’re going to be dehydrated. A few small sips every few minutes.”

She set the glass down on the tile floor and brought her knees up to her chest, laying her head down on top. Her voice was hoarse from all the vomiting. “I can’t. Everything just comes back up and I’m tired of getting sick, it hurts.”

“I know, which is why you need to drink a little something in intervals or you are just going to keep throwing up.” He brushed a few sweaty strands of hair away from her face. “I know this isn’t the best time for an interrogation, but I need to ask you something and I would like an honest answer from you. Can you do that?”

Veronica nodded her head and looked up at Keith with a worn out expression.

“I know you and Wallace drink when you go out, I’m not naïve, and being a former officer of the law I choose to look past your underage drinking, but I saw your car out in the parking lot when I got home. Please tell me you did not drive home while intoxicated last night, because I know I drilled that lecture into your head at a very young age, even before the sex and condoms talk.”

“Dad, I promise we did not drink last night. This is not a post alcohol binge. We went to a carnival and ate our weight ten times over sampling all the food stands. I’m pretty sure we have food poisoning.”

Keith chuckled. “That’s my girl.” He stopped laughing when he saw her un-amused expression. “Do you want to sit in here or do you feel up to moving somewhere more comfortable?”

“It would be easier to just stay here all day. I wouldn’t have to move and the cold tile would feel great on my face, but my body is aching from sitting here.” She gave him a small smile. “Maybe I’ll come out of this with a nice six pack from the intense work out my abs are getting expelling everything in my system.”

“Here.” He lifted the glass of water in her hands back up to her mouth. “We can go back in the living room after you drink about a fourth of the water in that glass.”

She gave her dad a grimace and it reminded him of when she was five years old and didn’t want to eat the vegetables on her plate. She huffed out a breath and slowly took sips of the water until Keith was satisfied with her fluid intake.


 

Veronica gingerly made her way back into the living room with Keith trailing behind her. She sat down on the couch and slowly turned to lie down on her side bringing a blanket up to her chin.

Keith set down the glass of water she didn’t finish from earlier with a straw on the coffee table and headed toward the kitchen.

Wallace was sitting at the counter nibbling on a piece of plain toast. “How you doing, Supafly?”

“Not good. You?”

“I’m doing a little better.”

“Way to rub it in.”

Wallace took another bite of his toast and took a sip of water from the glass Keith set down in front of him. “You should have some toast. It’s bland and doing a good job at staying down so far.”

Veronica scrunched up her nose and covered it with the blanket. “I’ll pass. Just thinking about food right now is making my stomach turn.”

“You do seem to have it worse, but you also ate twice as much as I did.”

“Believe me, I learned my lesson. Next time we will just stick to ice cream at Amy’s. Skip the carnival all together.”

After Wallace finished his toast he moved into the small living room and sat in the chair next to the couch. He turned on the TV and watched Sports Center while Veronica drifted off to sleep.

A little over an hour later Wallace was beginning to feel a lot better so he gathered his things and had Keith drive him home, promising to come by tomorrow to pick up his car. They left a note on the coffee table for Veronica, telling her where they had disappeared to, in case she woke up while they were gone.

Roughly ten minutes after Keith and Wallace left Veronica woke up and dashed off to the bathroom again. Once she was finished emptying her stomach for hopefully the last time she stripped off her clothing and turned on the water to the shower and sat in the tub letting the lukewarm water run over her.

The steam from the water seemed to help. Plus, the feeling of being clean again after a full day and night of vomiting helped a great deal. She was starting to feel somewhat normal once more.

After her shower she took Wallace’s advice and made some toast. She was weak and dehydrated and knew she needed the nutrients.

Keith came back home from dropping Wallace off to find Veronica eating and drinking again. “Feeling better, Kiddo?” He bent over and kissed the side of her head.

“Much better. I think I just need a good nights sleep and I’ll be good to go again.” She stood up and rinsed off her plate before giving Keith a hug. “I’m going to bed. Goodnight, Dad.”

“Goodnight, Honey.”

Veronica closed her bedroom door and pulled her phone from the top of her dresser and hit two on her speed dial before lifting it up to her ear.

She listened and counted five unanswered rings before the call switched over to voicemail.

“You’ve reached Logan with today’s inspirational message. “It is important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move on. –Steve Maraboli.” Leave a message.”

Veronica moved her lips to the words saying them along with Logan before she hung up the phone and placed it back on her dresser. She knew he wasn’t going to answer. She had been calling his phone for the past four weeks, ever since she woke up alone in his bed, listening to the same message. He hadn’t taken his phone with him when he left on his surf trip; she saw it sitting on the bedside table when she left the suite that morning.

She ended up calling him once or twice a week just to hear his voice before she went to bed. She ached to talk to him, but she would just have to wait another two weeks before he came home.

Veronica climbed into bed, turned off her bedside lamp and drifted off into a restless sleep, which had become her norm since the beginning of summer, ever since Logan left.

Chapter Text

By Monday, the following week, four days after Veronica and Wallace went to the carnival that led them to a subsequent rough night and day, everything was back to normal. Or as normal as Neptune could be.

Veronica was still feeling some of the effects of her food poisoning spell; now only up to about seventy percent her normal speed. The vomiting and dehydration she suffered from combined with night after night of tossing and turning for weeks on end had left her beyond exhausted and irritable.

Currently, she was sitting at the reception desk at Mars Investigations uploading the photos she took last night from a stakeout at the Camelot onto the computer so she could print out the best ones to add to a file for a client.

Keith had left earlier this morning, headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to track down a bail jumper. He gave Veronica strict instructions not to take on any new cases that went further than a stakeout while he was gone.

That was fine with her. Her caseload since the incident with Gory and the Castle had significantly dropped off. She stuck mostly to surveillance jobs and background checks. Tasks that wouldn’t put anyone she cared about in jeopardy again.

She still felt incredibly guilty that Keith had sacrificed his career in order to keep her from being charged with breaking and entering into the Kane home.

He was disappointed in her actions for reasons he didn’t know of, but unlike the last time she let him down by helping Duncan escape town with baby Lilly, his trust in her didn’t waiver. He was just mostly worried and concerned that her behavior would be self-destructing.

Veronica felt that way too. After Gory’s threats and her retaliation in uncovering the truth she was quickly spiraling. Spiraling so far out of control she felt like leaving Neptune and never coming back. Keith’s unconditional love had grounded her and Wallace’s close proximity all summer had pulled her out of the danger zone, the point of no return and set her straight again.

The other piece was Logan. Even though he had left her alone in his bed like some random floozy hookup with a nameless face, he gave her motivation. His promised return gave her motivation to stay in Neptune, because if she left she would be leaving Logan and that was the opposite of what she wanted.

Veronica looked down at the monthly calendar that laid on top of the desktop surface. Since Logan left for his trip she had been crossing out the days as they passed. His note that he left behind that had said he would be back in the middle of July now had an endpoint in sight. Except she didn’t know what the middle of July meant to him.

Did he mean he would be back in the middle as in the second week out of the four and a half week month? So, next week. Or did he mean the absolute middle as in around the fifteenth or sixteenth day of the thirty-one day month, which would be the third week in July? She just didn’t know.

Veronica was driving herself insane thinking it over. Counting down the days until the boy who wasn’t hers, but she wanted him to be, hoped they could be, returned home. She was pining and it was pathetic, but she was in a weird mood today and she blamed it on PMS.

She leaned back in her chair, removing her gaze from the calendar to put it out of her mind and stared at the ceiling in thought. Her arms came up and crossed in front of her chest, tenderly holding her sore breasts.

When she had woken up yesterday her chest had been sore. So sore in fact that she hadn’t worn a bra all day because it felt too tight and uncomfortable. Today had been no different. Her breasts felt fuller than usual like they were going to pop. And so the choice was fairly simple, the over the shoulder boulder holder had to go.

Wallace entered Mars Investigations unbeknownst to Veronica and saw her zoned out and holding her lady bits. “Girl, what are you doing? Anyone could have walked in seeing you grope yourself and that’s not going to earn you any business.”

Veronica didn’t move and didn’t even look embarrassed. “No one is coming in, Wallace, I’ve been here all day and nothing, not one person.” She finally moved her gaze to Wallace and saw his weirded out expression from her still holding herself. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m PMSing. You can judge me all you want when you have a uterus.”

She pouted feeling miserable. “Being sick last week threw off my cycle and now it’s coming at me full force. My boobs are so sore I couldn’t put a bra on this morning and I just feel like they are pulling me down, which just ends up making my back ache.”

Wallace’s face was scrunched up in disgust. “Okay, that was way, way, way too much information. I really didn’t need the specifics into your lady, uh, cycles or whatever.”

“Being a girl is hard on the body, Papa Bear.” Veronica removed her hands from her chest and flexed her back before relaxing again into the chair. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought we were meeting up later tonight.”

“We were, but I saw this flyer on the bulletin board by Dog Beach when I was walking by with Darrell a while ago. I just decided to come by early and show you. Look.”

Veronica took the flyer from an excited Wallace and looked it over. “You want to go to a Fourth of July party?”

He smiled and rubbed his hands together as if it were the best idea ever. “Yeah and since your dad won’t be home for the holiday by Wednesday, I thought we could party on the beach. What do you think, Supafly?”

She was smiling back at him. “It does sound like fun and can’t possibly end worse than our last great idea.”

“Our?”

“Okay, my great idea.” She looked down at the flyer and read the activities of the night. Barbeque and smores around a large fire pit, live music, games; sports and activities followed by a phenomenal firework display after the sun went down. “I’m in, let’s go.”

Wallace sat down in one of the chairs in front of Veronica’s desk. “You know this will probably be our last big outing before school starts.” His voice got soft. “I’m really glad we got to spend this summer together. I don’t want to be a cliché, but this was and is the best summer ever.”

Veronica’s bottom lip quivered and she had to bite it to keep her trembling hidden from Wallace. Her eyes were welling up with tears too.

She didn’t know what was wrong with her. Her emotions and moods flipped on and off like light switches lately. One minute she was fine, then the next she would be pissed off at the world. Or so happy she couldn’t stop smiling all over a video she saw online of baby otters cuddling and holding hands. Then sad and moping over Logan. And now sappy and crying because of Wallace’s heartfelt confession.

She was a mess. A true emotional disaster.

Instead of responding to Wallace she chose to change the subject. If she didn’t she was sure she was going to start bawling in front of him trying to explain in words how much their friendship truly meant to her. She didn’t want to freak him out though. “Mac comes back from her family camping trip tomorrow. I’m sure she could use some distance from her parents and brother. We could invite her to the Fourth of July bash with us if you want.” She smirked at him. “Unless you want to keep me all to yourself for one more event.”

“As nice as that sounds, we should invite Mac. Five weeks of camping with her family, all living in one room inside a RV…that girl needs to have some fun.”

“I’ll give her a call tonight.” Veronica packed up the case file sitting on the edge of the desk, locking it away in the desk drawer and shut down the computer. “Are you ready to get out of here? Since it’s still early we could grab some dinner before we head to the theatre.”

Wallace nodded and waited for Veronica to stand up. “Sounds good to me. I’m in the mood for sandwiches though so let’s go to that new café down the street.”

Veronica sighed in relief. “I’m so glad you didn’t pick creatively tonight. I’m still a little nauseous and wary so something easy on the stomach like a nice grilled cheese and soup sounds wonderful right now.

They walked out the door and Veronica turned around to lock up the office before they left. As they were descending the stairs Wallace spoke up. “What movie are we seeing tonight?”

“Knocked Up. It’s a comedy. I thought we could use a laugh after the weekend we had.” 


 

Wednesday, Fourth of July, the evening of the big holiday bash. Veronica was standing in her room in a robe staring into her closet, just after she finished blow-drying her hair and applying a light coat of makeup, trying to decide what to wear. She was planning on dressing casual since the party was on the beach and she didn’t know what activities her, Wallace and Mac would partake in.

Even in the summer the ocean water was cold and since it was getting dark there was no reason or need to swim. She skipped the bikini option and settled for a simple cotton pair of underwear with a matching colored bra to start.

Her breasts were still sore as she continued to wait for her period to begin. Veronica checked herself out in the mirror after her shower, she looked and felt slightly larger in the chest area and under normal conditions she would have welcomed the tiny growth if it weren’t for the complementary pain.

She had thought about running out to the store to buy a new bra, up one size, to see if it made her discomfort lessen, but ultimately decided to suck it up. She didn’t want to spend the extra money on a contraption that would only get used a few days out of the month. She would just use a heating pad when she got home. It worked for easing cramps; surely it would help with tender breasts too.

Veronica slipped on a pair of blue jean shorts; a red tank top and a navy zip up hoodie for later on when it got chilly. She stepped into a pair of white Keds, sticking with the customary red, white and blue themed apparel without taking it over the top.

While waiting for Mac and Wallace to pick her up she threw a few items into a small bag; a small blanket, phone, house keys, a few tampons, just in case, her taser and some cash for food and drinks.

Just as she finished packing her bag there was a knock on the apartment door. She flung open the door and Mac engulfed her in a hug. “Bond! You have no idea how good it is to see you!” She pulled back and smiled at Veronica. “I’ve had to sit around a campfire with my family singing songs for the past month and a half without a computer in sight.”

Veronica laughed. “I am so sorry, Mac. That’s why we invited you to come with us tonight. We figured you could use some good old fashioned party fun with your best buds.”

“You really have no idea.”

Wallace stood off to the side letting the two girls catch up for a moment before he jumped in. “Okay, ladies, who’s ready to see some fireworks!” He moved toward the door and held it open. “Let’s go, slow pokes. We don’t want to end up getting stuck sitting by a trash can.”

Veronica rolled her eyes. “We will not get stuck by a trash can, the party is on the beach and there will be plenty of seating space available.”

“I know. I’m just trying to get you two to hurry it up. The bash has already started.”

Veronica quickly let Backup out to do his business and fed him before they all left the apartment complex and headed toward Dog Beach.


 

Veronica and Mac were sitting away from the massive crowd in the dry fluffy sand so they could talk without yelling over the live bands playing. Wallace had disappeared a few minutes prior to snag them all some drinks.

“So, besides getting sick off carnival food, what else did you and Wallace do while I was gone?”

Veronica leaned back on her hands trying to stretch her back and relieve the aches. “We had a lot of movie marathons with the whole fifth grade slumber party vibe. Ordering pizza, eating junk food into the wee hours of the morning, playing cards, prank calling our enemies and making friendship bracelets.”

Mac laughed and Veronica continued without the sarcasm. “We went to a Padres game with my dad a few weeks ago. A few trips to the zoo. Nothing too big or crazy, just enough to keep us busy, out of trouble and having fun.”

“Have you talked to Logan?” Mac was genuinely curious how their relationship was holding up after the big fight with Gory in the cafeteria. She knew some harsh words were shared a few days before the fight and then Veronica had broken up with Piz after, but she didn’t know where that left Logan and Veronica now.

Veronica sat up and gathered sand in her hands, sifting it between her fingers, needing something to focus on other than Mac’s face. “I haven’t seen or spoken to Logan since the end of the semester.”

It wasn’t an outright lie. Just a small omission of one night, which she planned on keeping to herself. She wasn’t worried about judgment, well maybe a little from Wallace, he was not a big fan of Logan's on any given day and telling him that Logan had abandoned her would just further propel his dislike.

It was weakness she didn’t want anyone to see. Weakness that when times got tough she ran back to Logan. Why? No one seemed to understand it except for her. Logan, for as long as she could remember, represented comfort, safety and love.

And for the first time he had shown her exactly what she needed, what she wanted the night she showed up at his door and then he took it all away the morning after.

She needed him to come back so she could find out why.

Wallace came back with drinks breaking their conversation and pulling Veronica from her thoughts. “Here you go. The lines at all the food stands are insane. I’m glad we ate as soon as we got here or we would be waiting forever.” He handed Mac and Veronica their own red solo cup filled with beer.

There were a lot of kegs spread out around the beach that groups of partygoers had brought, which made underage drinking slightly easier on this alcohol infused holiday.

Mac and Wallace immediately began consuming their beverages, getting in the spirit and letting go enough to still be somewhat safe and responsible, but also being teenagers and having fun.

Veronica brought her cup up to her mouth and took a small sip. As the aroma of the bitter alcohol within the plastic cup surrounded her nose her stomach summersaulted. She removed the cup away from her face and stood up handing her beverage to Wallace. “You can have this. I’m going to go get a soda or something. I’ll be right back.”

She left to head up to the parking lot where all the food and drink stands were setup. Leaving behind two friends with odd looks on their faces.

While standing in line she wondered when all this post food poisoning nausea would pass. Earlier when they had grabbed food, she hardly ate anything. She was doing fine with her hamburger and fries until someone sat down close by with a funnel cake. The pungent deep fried smell was enough to ruin her appetite. She had to concentrate very hard on tampering down her urge to gag and vomit.

As the line to the drink cart inched forward, Veronica found herself standing beside a barrel trash can filled to the brim. The cornucopia of leftover, ditched and rotting food sent her running for relief. She got out of line and quickly sprinted across the street, not bothering to look at what establishment she stumbled into, she just needed a bathroom.

Once she was inside the clean and sterile restroom she locked the door and just barely made it to the toilet before hurling her light dinner into the porcelain bowl. She flushed away the contents and moved to the sink to wash her hands, face and mouth.

Standing in front of the mirror her nausea was better. The potent smells were gone and with nothing left in her stomach it finally stopped tossing and turning.

Veronica stepped out of the bathroom and leaned against the wall with her eyes closed trying to psych herself up in order to get back outside.

“Are you okay, dear?”

Veronica’s eyes snapped open to an elder woman in her seventies with light blonde hair cut short, wearing a pair of blue jean capris, a yellow blouse and a navy blue apron on top. She was standing behind a cash register and Veronica looked around to find herself in a small tea shop. “I’m sorry I burst in here like that. There were just too many smells out there and they finally got to be too much for me.”

The elder woman smiled as if she knew from experience what Veronica was going through. “Nonsense, dear, it is quite all right. It happens to us all in the beginning. Here have a seat and I’ll get you something to settle that stomach of yours.”

Veronica wasn’t sure what the woman was talking about. The beginning? The beginning of what? She pushed the thought aside and sat down at a small table and watched as the older woman moved around the shop gathering a few items off the shelves before moving behind the counter again.

A few minutes later she returned setting a ceramic glass tea cup on a saucer down in front of Veronica and took a seat in the other chair with her own cup of tea. “Drink up, but blow on it first, it’s probably a bit hot still.”

Veronica looked at the teacup with hesitation. The last time someone who wasn’t in her inner circle handed her a cup of tea she ended up roofied and passed out at a rapist’s mercy. She didn’t think the older woman planned on drugging her, but it wouldn’t be the first time an unsuspecting person played her. “If you don’t mind me asking…what’s in this tea? I don’t mean to be rude, but I try not to accept drinks unless I’ve seen them being mixed myself.”

The woman gave her a gentle smile understanding the suspicious nature of the questioning. “Well this here is your standard generic tea and then I added a scoop of ginger. Ginger will not only provide flavor, but it helps with nausea, which seems to be your problem at the moment. At least that’s what I gathered from your hasty entrance.”

She smiled as if it was a regular occurrence in her store and nothing to be ashamed of. “I’m Ellie, by the way. I can make you a fresh cup of tea and you can watch if you’d like.”

“No, this cup is fine. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you did anything to it, I just…haven’t had the best luck in the past and it makes me a little nervous still.” Veronica didn’t know why she was opening up to this woman, but she just had that grandmotherly presence that made her feel warm, at ease and want to spill her life story. “And I’m Veronica.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Veronica.” They both began to sip on the tea Ellie made and talked for several minutes to pass the time. Not really getting into anything personal just yet, but enough small talk to feel comfortable around one another.

When Veronica was finished with her tea Ellie cleared the cups out of the way. “How much do I owe you for the tea?”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s on the house as long as you promise to come by and visit me again.” She held up a finger as if she forgot something and walked to the corner table, grabbed a small bag and came back. “Here. Take these with you as well. It’s a bit too hot out there to drink tea, but you can eat these. They’re ginger chews, so when you feel nauseous again, just pop one of these in your mouth and it will help.”

Veronica smiled and accepted the gift. “Thank you. I better get back to my friends before they send out a search party, but I promise to come back again sometime.”

“Goodbye, dear.”

Veronica left the shop and headed across the parking lot back to the spot on the beach where she left Mac and Wallace. The ginger tea had kicked in and she was feeling better, less nauseous than she had felt in days.

She found Wallace and Mac just as the first firework went off lighting up the sky in red, white and blue colors as the beachgoers erupted in cheers.

Wallace swung an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to hear over the loud explosives. “You were gone a long time, we were starting to get worried. Are you okay?”

She looked over at him with a real smile and nodded her head. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

The three of them bundled together and laid down on the blanket Veronica had brought, letting all their worries slip away to just enjoy this simplistic moment with each other, the last big summer blowout before the new school year.


Keith came home Thursday morning and made Veronica breakfast before he went into the office. He left it on a plate on the counter knowing she would be up not long after he left.

Veronica looked down at the eggs, bacon and toast waiting for her and grimaced. She ended up taking two bites of egg before rushing off to the bathroom. She was getting really tired of throwing up.

For the next couple of days she found herself waiting in her room until her dad left in the mornings. One reason was to avoid eggs for breakfast and the other was to avoid him. She didn’t want him to know she was still getting sick. He would worry too much and end up taking her to the hospital and she really wanted to avoid that option if at all possible.

So instead she had been nibbling on the ginger chews to keep the nausea away while he was home and if she had the urge to vomit she ran the faucet or the shower in the bathroom as a cover to drown out the sound.

By the end of the weekend she was out of the ginger chews that Ellie had given her. She didn’t just want to mask the nausea, she wanted to get rid of the puking too and put an end to it all.

Veronica headed to the store and walked the pharmacy aisle, trying to find some over the counter medication that would tackle her symptoms. She stopped in front of the cold and flu section and considered her options.

She reached for an item on the shelf and paused, the next display over catching her eye. She picked up the little pink box and it was like a light bulb went on in her head, everything clicked and made sense now. She looked down at the box again in shock. “Oh, no.”

 

Chapter Text

A few aisles over from the pharmacy Madison Sinclair, home from college for the summer, was shopping for condoms. She was technically single and having a very casual summer fling with a local Hearst senior majoring in computer programming, specifically aimed at video game production, which was why she was at the local store outside of the 90909 zip buying protection.

She had to be prepared at all times for a little fun and a no strings attached rendezvous. She couldn’t rely on the guy to keep them well stocked so she took on that responsibility herself.

Madison plucked a box off the shelf and exited the aisle to head to the check out lane. On her way she passed by the pharmacy aisle and stopped when she saw Veronica Mars. She was going to walk up to Veronica and give her trouble until she saw the little pink box in her hand.

With a new idea in mind, Madison stayed at the end of the aisle and pulled out her cell phone. Veronica was too absorbed with the box in her hand to notice anyone else around her, so she snapped a picture of Veronica and then walked away with a smug smirk ticking up the corner of her mouth.


 

Veronica stared down at the pregnancy test in her hand frozen in place. The never ending vomiting and nausea, sore breasts and the late period that never came. Could she actually be pregnant or was she just projecting her symptoms because of the box weighing down further in her hands?

She snapped out of her stare and looked back up at the shelf containing the wide variety of pregnancy tests. Picking up a second box from off the shelf she walked away from the aisle and quickly moved toward the self-checkout lanes. Now that the idea was in her mind she had to get home and find out for sure.

The car ride home was completely silent. She didn’t turn on the radio; she just sat in a haze trying not to think about what it would mean to see a positive result. Veronica tried thinking rationally, just because she displayed early signs and symptoms of being pregnant didn’t mean she was.

Jumping to this conclusion was normal. Women went through pregnancy scares all the time and in a few minutes she would probably be laughing at how ridiculous this all was. She wasn’t pregnant, she couldn’t be, but she would humor herself anyway.

Veronica pulled into the Sunset Cliffs apartment complex parking lot and noticed her dad’s Crown Victoria a few spots away. He was supposed to be at the office all afternoon. She panicked slightly and felt frustrated. She just wanted to get inside and take the test that would decide her future.

For a teenager, the most difficult and nerve-wracking test to take was the SAT’s. The higher the score the more doors opened up for college opportunities, which would lead to a better education and eventually a hard working employee at a respectable company or trade. It was the test to pass per se.

However, no one ever mentioned that the SAT’s would be a cakewalk compared to a pregnancy test. For someone who excelled naturally in academia, top of her class at Neptune High and could pass any test with ease after an all night stakeout with little to no studying, this was the one test she wanted to fail.

To pass would mean she was pregnant and she didn’t want to be pregnant at nineteen. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be pregnant at any age. She had plans for her future and raising a baby was not included. She needed to take the test, but she couldn’t do it while her dad was home and she couldn’t put off not knowing any longer.

Veronica thought about driving to a gas station or to the Neptune Grand, since she still had the keycard to the penthouse Logan had given her last year, someplace private and away from her father’s investigative eyes and ears.

With her mind made up she sent a quick text to her dad letting him know she would be spending the night at Mac’s. It was risky because she wasn’t going to ask Mac to cover for her, like Wallace, Mac was becoming more skilled at reading her and she would know something was wrong and react accordingly. She just had to hope Mac wouldn’t decide to drop by the Mars apartment tonight exposing her in a lie. Veronica stuck her key back into the ignition and pulled out of the parking lot headed toward the Grand.

After she pulled into a spot in general parking she grabbed the grocery bag containing the two boxes of pregnancy tests and shoved them into her messenger bag. Taking a deep breath she opened the car door and walked inside.

Stepping onto the main elevator Veronica began to panic again. It was the second week in July, possibly the week Logan came back from his trip. What if he was in the room when she walked in? She cursed herself for being so stupid in thinking this was the best place to go.

The elevator doors opened on the top floor and Veronica stepped out holding her messenger bag tightly across her chest as she made her way down the hall. She paused outside Logan’s door and quietly knocked. If he was back home already at least she could make up some excuse and leave instead of just barging in.

After a few minutes of waiting she figured he was still gone and used her keycard to gain access to the suite. Standing just inside the room she looked around. It looked exactly the same since the last time she was here six weeks ago. Besides housekeeping that came in every week to tidy up and restock, she would have been the last person in the room.

Veronica opened the door to Logan’s bedroom and laid her bag down on the bed and pulled out the test boxes. She had two First Response boxes giving her a total of six pregnancy tests that had a ninety-nine percent accuracy rating as early as four days prior to a missed period. Since she was about two weeks late by now taking the test too early wasn’t an issue.

Reading over the directions, each stick had to be in contact with her urine for five seconds and then the results would come in approximately three minutes later.

She knew she didn’t need all six sticks, but she had bought an extra box just in case. Just in case there was a false positive, a physically observable defect with one of the sticks or if she accidently dropped it in the toilet. It didn’t matter which scenario or how ridiculously expensive the tiny plastic tests were, she wanted to be sure and she had six chances to get it right, or wrong perhaps.

Veronica took one box with her into Logan’s bathroom and laid everything out on the counter. Being the investigator that she was she wanted to eliminate any and all possible errors and explore all her options, just like in a court of law all her evidence needed to be sound with no room for inadmissibility. She pulled the cap off one stick and held it under the sink tap for five seconds before placing it back on the counter. If this was a science experiment, this stick was going to be her control variable.

She took the other two sticks and walked over to the toilet. Pulling down her pants and underwear she sat and took a deep breath. This was it; once she peed there was no turning back. She uncapped both sticks and started to pee. Midstream she held the first pregnancy test in place, after five seconds she removed it and just for kicks soaked the second stick.

When she was finished she walked back over to the vanity, set both sticks down and washed her hands while watching the clock. Three minutes until the moment of truth.

She paced back and forth across the large spacious white tiled bathroom. It seemed fitting, almost comforting even, to take the pregnancy test here in this suite because this was the place where it all started. Whether she was pregnant or not, that night six weeks ago led her to this moment and once again she was alone thinking about the night her and Logan shared together.

Two minutes and thirty seconds to go.

MAY 2007

Veronica had knocked on the suite door and waited for Logan to answer. She would understand if he didn’t since less than a week prior she had been here to tell him he no longer held a place in her life. It was incredibly harsh and at the time there was a lot going on; her sex tape being forwarded around campus, crude comments thrown in her face, tracking down the person responsible for her public humiliation and Piz needing medical attention from the beat down Logan had delivered to him defending her honor. She was stressed and frustrated and the cold words she spat out at Logan were just that, a release of exploding tension, she really didn’t mean them.

Standing on his doorstep now should have been enough for him to realize that. When her life was falling apart she sought out Logan because he made her feel safe, loved and comforted. He had made her feel that way from the moment they met seven years ago on a muddy soccer field. Even during her year of enduring his torture, they may not have been in physical contact, but the fact they couldn’t quite end their vendetta was because it was a form of comfort. A twisted form of comfort, but comfort none the less.

Logan opened the door and Veronica saw a shocked expression quickly flicker across his face before he claimed a mask of indifference. “Veronica, what are you doing here?”

“Can I come in?”

Without saying a word or giving so much as a headshake Logan stepped aside and allowed her entry into his suite. She walked across the room slowly, nervously rubbing her hands up and down her thighs against her jeans before taking a seat on the couch.

“Would you like something to drink?”

She saw him standing a few feet in front of her, one hand tucked in his front pocket, the other holding the back of his neck. Logan Echolls’ tell tale sign that he had no clue what to do in this given moment, she was obviously making him nervous too. She shook her head no to his offer for a beverage and continued to sit staring at her hands on her lap. Now that she was here she didn’t know what to say or how to ask him what she wanted to ask.

Logan took a seat on the couch a good foot away from her. She could feel his eyes on her as the minutes ticked by.

“You are being uncharacteristically quiet. Is everything okay, Veronica?”

That was the million-dollar question wasn’t it? Five days earlier Gory had threatened her in the Hearst cafeteria leading to the most talked about brawl on campus considering the parties involved. Four days earlier she had broken up with Piz, not heartbreaking on it’s own, but the truths revealed during their bickering had been hurtful. Three days earlier the results of the Balboa County Sheriff’s Election were announced, removing her father from office once again because of her problems and mistakes. And then yesterday, the day she called Quantico to rescind her internship offer, throwing away an amazing shot of one day becoming a FBI agent. So was everything okay? No, it wasn’t, she was very far from okay.

Being ever so good at expressing her true feelings she didn’t tell Logan any of that, instead she just shook her head no.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.” She paused for a minute while she worked up the courage to make her request. “Could you just…” Her fight or flight response took over and she flew. She didn’t want to be rejected and humiliated on this couch in front of Logan after everything else that had happened this week. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have come here. You probably have plans tonight and I don’t want to keep you, so I’ll go.”

“Veronica, wait.” He reached out and gently grabbed her forearm keeping her in place and unable to run. “You don’t have to go. What were you going to say? Could I just, what?”

She looked up at him with misty eyes and pushed through her next sentence with as much confidence as she could muster. “Could you just hold me like you used to when we were kids?”

Without letting go of her arm he nodded his head, scooted over closer to her until their thighs were adjacent to each other and pulled her in toward his body. His arms circled around her in a hugging embrace while her head rested on his shoulder. Her left arm slipped behind his lower back as her right hand came up and laid flat against his chest. Logan squeezed her a little tighter and placed a kiss to her forehead before resting his head on hers.

This right here, this human physical contact was exactly what Veronica needed. A few minutes wrapped in a Logan cocoon was enough to ease her mind and make all her troubles temporarily disappear.

He used to sit with her, wrapped around her, like this in their early teen years before they paired up romantically with the Kane heirs. When Lianne would drown herself in vodka and forget she even had a daughter or would spend the evening drunkenly arguing with her father, Veronica would find herself at Logan’s house held tightly in his arms. He knew what she was going through, their mothers both fell ill to the same disease, so they leaned on each other and together they eased the pain.

A few minutes into the embrace she felt Logan’s hand begin to soothingly rub up and down her side. He turned his head and pressed his lips to her forehead again, holding them to her skin longer than was necessary for a comforting kiss.

When his lips moved away from her head she looked up and stared directly into his warm chocolate eyes. The look he gave her was filled with so much love and heartbreak, he wanted to take away all her sadness and she wanted to let him. For the first time she came to him when she needed him.

Veronica tilted her head up to catch his lips with hers. He responded immediately, which only further propelled the heat of their kiss. She slid onto his lap and straddled his waist, pushing her body against him as much as she could until there was no space left. She ground her core down into his and he let out a moan.

His hands came up and quickly worked her fitted graphic tee over her head and a moment later his tee shirt joined hers thrown haphazardly around the room.

Logan slid his hands under her butt and lifted her up so he could walk them back to his room. Her legs wrapped around his waist, hands gripping at his shoulders as his mouth moved down her neck. He gently laid her down on the edge of the bed and began untying and removing her jeans and pulled them slowly down her legs never taking his eyes off hers.

She was left in nothing but a matching black bra and panty set and felt a shiver work its way up her spine as his gaze took in every inch of her body. She sat up and pulled him closer to the bed so she could work on removing his pants. He crawled up her body forcing her to lie back against the gazillion thread count sheets.

Veronica pulled his head down to hers and crashed her lips against his, both of them fighting for dominance with their tongues. When they broke for air Logan gave her one of his predatory smiles and she knew she was in trouble. He was going to tease her until she begged him to send her over the top.

Several minutes later her body was bare and humming, every nerve ending was on fire and impatiently waiting for release to fire off. Veronica pulled on his arms bringing him back up to her level. “No more teasing. I need you. Now.”

He smiled and lowered his head to capture her mouth again. The kiss grew rapidly and right before he broke away he thrusted into her. Veronica let out a pleasured filled gasp and screamed out his name as they both fell over the edge, one after the other.

Shortly after, exhausted and extremely satisfied, they both drifted off to sleep tangled together. There was no other place she wanted to be and she slept great knowing she was safe in the arms of the boy she loved. This time was different; she could feel it and she would tell him how much she needed and wanted him in the morning.

Thirty seconds to go.

Veronica stopped pacing and stood in place as the second hand on the clock moved closer to the number twelve. Her three minutes were up. She walked slowly toward the vanity and picked up the First Response pregnancy test box to check the key symbols. If she saw two pink lines in the reading window she was pregnant, one line meant she wasn’t.

She picked up her control stick, the one she ran under the sink’s tap water. One vibrant pink line ran down the middle of the window as she expected. Congratulations sink, you are not pregnant. Gathering her strength she picked up the two pregnancy test sticks she actually peed on and looked down at the results. Both sticks showed two dark pink lines in the window like the example on the test box. She was pregnant.

As tears streamed down her face Veronica angrily threw the pregnancy tests across the counter. “Goddammit, Logan!” She sunk down to the floor as gut-wrenching sobs escaped her body. What was she going to do? What were they going to do? She didn’t even know if she and Logan were a they. They had sex, amazing sex; he knocked her up and abandoned her all within an eight-hour period, there was no time to talk about their relationship status. If he regretted the night they shared, would he regret the baby they made and leave her to raise the child on her own?

She cried harder and started to hyperventilate at the thought of being a single mother at twenty. She knew she wouldn’t be completely alone she still had her dad. Oh no, how was she going to tell her dad? He was going to be so mad and disappointed. This news was going to break him. What was she going to do?

Veronica didn’t know how long she had been sitting on the floor of the bathroom. Her tears had stopped flowing and dried up some time ago but she didn’t get up. She felt numb. How could this be her life?

The sheer energy it took to bawl one’s eyes out left her physically and emotionally exhausted. On shaky limbs that were partially asleep she pushed herself off the ground and cleaned up the bathroom. She grabbed the pregnancy test caps and sticks along with the test box and threw them back into the grocery bag. She didn’t want to leave any evidence behind to accidently be found by Logan before the next housekeeping visit.

The digital clock on the bedside table read 10:37pm. Veronica walked over to the dresser and pulled out one of Logan’s solid colored tee shirts. She stripped out of her clothes and threw on Logan’s tee. She brought the neck of the shirt up to her nose and felt more tears prick her eyes when the shirt smelled like him. Veronica pulled back the covers on his bed and crawled in, tightly surrounding herself in the soft fabric before she closed her eyes and cried herself to sleep.

The next morning Veronica woke up with her hand held protectively over her belly. Not even twelve hours after confirming she was indeed growing another human being inside her she was already experiencing the effects of motherhood. Lesson one: protect your child.

She laid in bed for a few minutes before the tiny seed told her it was time to get up. She quickly jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom emptying the contents of her stomach. The morning sickness made her realize she needed to call and setup an appointment with an OBGYN. Not only could the doctor give her an official pregnancy test, but they could also tell her when she was going to stop throwing up.

Veronica got dressed and shoved Logan’s tee shirt in her bag. She was keeping the shirt, it was the least he could do for her right now and she was sure he wouldn’t even know it was missing. She looked up OBGYN’s in the area and after choosing one she set up an appointment for the following day. Confident she didn’t leave anything behind she remade the bed and left the suite.


 

A FEW DAYS LATER

Logan and Dick entered the suite after returning from their six weeklong surf trip. They were both gross and exhausted from traveling all day so they parted ways and headed into their own rooms for a bit of space.

He flopped his bag down on the floor and moved into the bathroom to take a shower. When he was finished he walked back into the bedroom and threw on a fresh tee shirt and pair of shorts.

He pulled his charger out of the nightstand drawer and attached it to his phone that he had left behind while he was gone. As the phone powered on it began to buzz with all the notifications coming through. He scanned the screen and saw he had around twenty missed calls, two voicemails and seven text messages.

The text messages were nothing important, different people inviting him to hang out while he was out of town. Two voicemails from women he met in Mexico who didn’t realize he never had his phone with him and gave them his number for that exact reason.

Logan’s eyes widened in surprise when he saw fifteen of the twenty missed calls had been from Veronica. He figured she was likely calling to yell at him for leaving Neptune without saying goodbye, but he didn’t expect her to still be trying to yell at him for the entire time he was gone. She never once left a message either so maybe she wasn’t all that mad, but then why call fifteen times? She knew he hadn’t taken his phone and he left her a note that he would be unreachable for a while.

He set the phone down on the table and laid down on his bed. He turned his face into the pillow and inhaled. His eyes popped open and he rolled off the bed once he recognized the lingering smell. Marshmallows and Promises. Veronica. Surely after a month and a half her scent wouldn’t still be on his pillow. Had housekeeping not come in? They usually came by every weekend.

Confused, he sat back down on the edge of his bed and picked up his phone. After hitting dial he placed the phone up to his ear and waited for the soft reply on the other end of the line. “Hey, would you like to come over?”

Chapter Text

Veronica slowly opened her eyes and stretched the sleep from her tired body. She was waiting for the tiny human growing inside of her to send her running for the bathroom. It was becoming a pattern to wake up with morning sickness, while the rest of the day was a bit more unpredictable.

She had gone to the doctor the day after she took the home pregnancy test and one blood test later they had confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. Her new OBGYN, Dr. Swaldoe sent her home with a few informational pamphlets, prenatal vitamins and a reminder card for her first prenatal appointment the following week.

Her homework for this week was to bring with her any questions she had to her first appointment and to consider her options. Dr. Swaldoe had sat down with her for several minutes and discussed all the options available for whether she wanted to keep the baby or not.

Veronica had already made her mind up and even though she never planned on having kids she decided she was going to keep her baby. The tiny marshmallow growing inside her was a piece of her and a piece of Logan and she couldn’t get rid of what they had made together. Whether he regretted the night they shared or the child they made, in that moment their baby was made with love and that was enough for her.

She pulled herself up and sat on the edge of the bed for a minute. Like clockwork she leapt off the bed and dashed down the hall. When she was finished she walked back into her room and opened her underwear drawer, where she was keeping all her prenatal vitamins. She didn’t want her dad to stumble upon them in the bathroom medicine cabinet and figured this was the next safest spot in the apartment.

Eventually Keith would find out she was pregnant. Her stomach would begin to grow over the next few weeks and it would be impossible to hide a new baby bump on her slim figure. She figured as long as she wasn’t showing too much, the end of the first trimester would be a good time to tell him. By then, she hoped she would be able to break the news to him without breaking down into a puddle tears. These damn pregnancy hormones were making her feel weak and vulnerable.

After placing the vitamins safely back inside her drawer she went to the kitchen to throw together something for breakfast. Her appetite had been poor lately since most foods ended up making her nauseous. She was surprised her dad hadn’t picked up on her slightly decreased appetite, but then again he had been working at the office a lot and she hadn’t seen him much over the last two weeks. He was finishing up a big case and would be home more soon so she had to try and fake her way through meals or he would know something was up well before she wanted him to.

Veronica popped two pieces of bread in the toaster, grabbed the peanut butter from the pantry and a banana from the counter. She ate her breakfast and went back to her room to get dressed.

Pulling on a tee shirt and a pair of blue jean shorts she noticed she didn’t need a belt. She walked into Keith’s bathroom and stepped on his scale. Her eyes widened when she saw the three-pound weight gain. She wasn’t mad about the weight; she knew it would happen, it was vital for the baby to grow. What surprised her most was that it was another physical piece of evidence that this was all real. In under a year she was going to be a mom to someone and it scared the shit out of her.

Once she was dressed she took Backup for a quick walk and then grabbed her car keys and left the apartment. She had a rather difficult day in front of her and had to get going.


 

The bell over the door chimed as Veronica entered Tea by the Sea. Ellie was helping another customer up at the counter and told Veronica to have a seat at one of the tables and she would be over to see her soon.

The small shop was set up for shopping and consumption. Shelves lined the walls with different flavors of tea, teapots and teacup sets and boxed baked goods. Along the back wall was where the cash register sat along with a small café counter for ordering tea and goodies to consume on the spot and tables for relaxing and conversation ran down the middle of the shop. The place had a Starbucks vibe but instead of coffee beans filling the air it was a calm, sweet smelling aroma of various fruity flavored teas.

When Ellie finished ringing out the last customer in the shop she walked toward Veronica’s table with a big smile on her face. She set down a fresh pot of tea with cups and a plate of cookies. “It is so nice to see you again, Veronica. How are you feeling?” She poured Veronica a cup of tea and handed it to her.

Veronica took a small sip of the tea to make sure it wasn’t too hot before taking a larger gulp. She smiled at Ellie for making another pot of ginger tea. “You knew didn’t you? You knew I was pregnant the last time I was here. How?”

Ellie’s face lit up. “I didn’t know for sure, but I had a good feeling. I also didn’t want to say anything because it was pretty obvious that you didn’t know yet. Congratulations by the way!”

“Thank you. I still can’t believe this happened to me.” She took another sip of tea and picked up a cookie off the plate. “So, how did you know?”

“Call it a mother’s intuition. I’ve been in your shoes three times and you never forget the experience. Plus, I have five grandchildren and a significant portion of my customers are expecting mothers.” She pulled a cookie off the plate as well and took a bite. “How did the daddy take the news?”

Veronica fidgeted with the strap on her messenger bag. “I haven’t told him yet. He’s been out of town since…” her hand came up to rest on her flat stomach for a moment and then dropped back to her lap. “I heard he came home a few days ago though, so I was planning on going over there today to see him and to find out where we stand with each other now.”

Ellie smiled gently as she watched Veronica fidget and refilled each of their teacups. “You want to be more than his friend.”

“Yeah.” Veronica added as she nodded her head. “I expected us to get back together, but in the morning he was gone. So I need to know where I stand in his life now before I mention the baby. I’ve been on the receiving end, just like him, of having a parent who decided to abandon their child and the pain never goes away, it’s not something you ever forget. I don’t want my kid to go through what I went through, what Logan went through, so I need to make sure he won’t leave again because I’m done running too.”

“I think that’s a good idea, you’ll need his support.” Ellie hesitated a moment before she continued. “Can I offer you a piece of advice?”

Veronica slowly nodded her head and looked up to meet Ellie’s eyes.

“Whatever ends up happening with your relationship status with Logan, when you decide to tell him about the baby try and catch him when he’s in a good mood. I’m not saying he will take the news badly, but I wouldn’t want his reaction, whatever it may be, to turn being pregnant into a negative experience for you. He is allowed to react however he chooses, just like you had your own reaction and trust me, they will likely be very different because you are physically carrying the baby and going through the motions while he is just watching. He may be a little less thrilled and in more denial because it won’t really be real for him until he sees a baby in some form, whether on ultrasound, the size of your soon to be expanding stomach or right at birth.”

Veronica took in Ellie’s words and then chuckled slightly. “So if he throws objects across the room I should just consider that a normal reaction into parenthood?” She saw Ellie give her a rather worried look and went on to explain. “After I saw the results of the home pregnancy test, I sort of threw a temper tantrum. I was scared and angry so I threw the sticks across the bathroom and put all the blame on Logan for getting us into this mess.”

Ellie smiled somewhat amused. “I’d say your reaction was understandable considering the circumstances. How do you feel about it now?”

“Scared mostly. The anger I felt initially is gone, although this was not planned by any means; I don’t regret that I’m pregnant. Do I wish we had been more careful so this didn’t happen, right now at least? Yes, of course, but I have no regrets about having Logan’s baby. If it were anyone else…”

“You love him.”

Veronica nodded her head. “Yeah. I’ve known him since we were twelve. Even during our fallouts when we were against each other, the bond was still there; we couldn’t let the other one go. It was vital, in many ways, to keep the connection.”

“You love Logan, but are you in love with him?” Ellie grinned at Veronica’s blush and watched her take a deep breath before responding with a nod of her head. “Well, you’ll have to bring Logan by sometime. I’d like to meet the young man who can make you blush like that.” She wanted to make the conversation lighter so Veronica could relax more before going over to Logan’s. “How about I fix us some lunch and you can tell me about what you are majoring in?”

Ellie went behind the small café counter and whipped together a few items while Veronica began telling her about being a student at Hearst and what she wanted to do once she graduated.


 

Veronica stood nervously outside the door to Logan’s suite. She hadn’t knocked yet; she just stared at the one object separating her from Logan. Flashbacks of standing in this exact spot the morning after Alterna-Prom ran through her mind. She was in the same situation now, showing up at Logan’s door, telling him she was ready to give them another try. Although this time she didn’t want to give them another temporary chance, she wanted this time to last until they were old and gray. Veronica knocked on the door and hoped this time a busty brunette didn’t come to the door too.

After a few seconds the suite door swung open to reveal a bleach blond surfer. “Ronnie. I’m a little disappointed. I thought your rich dude satellite would have pinged three days ago when we got home. What trouble are you here to stir up today? Make any new sex tapes while we were gone? The first one is getting kind of old, by the way, might want to start thinking about a sequel.”

Veronica clenched her jaw to keep from lashing out; she needed to stay calm for her next conversation. “Dick. Is Logan here? I need to talk to him.”

“He’s in the shower.” Before Dick could respond further Veronica pushed past him into the suite and walked toward the living room. “Gee, Ronnie, do come in, mi casa es su casa.”

Veronica sat down on the couch to wait for Logan while Dick went back to the video game he was likely playing before he answered the door. The longer she sat on the couch the more anxious she got. She had a general idea of what she wanted to say, but she hadn’t worked out the exact wording or sentences she was going to use yet and her time to rehearse and practice was dwindling down.

She heard the water to the shower turn off and her stomach filled with anxious butterflies, her time was up, he would be out in a few minutes. She just hoped he had the decency to put on some clothes first or she wasn’t going to be able to think properly to tell him what she came here for.

Five minutes passed and the door to his room never opened. Just as she was about to get up and make the first move she heard giggling and playful screaming come through the wall. She froze in place on the couch with wide eyes. “Who does Logan have in his room, Dick?” She was trying to speak calmly though clenched teeth.

“I don’t know. Julie or Jessie…Jasmine, maybe, something with a J. It’s hard to keep track, new chick, new day, dude.” He turned and raised his hand up for a high five as if she was one of his frat brothers.

Veronica ignored his hand and closed her eyes trying to fight back the bile turning in her stomach. “I’m going to be sick.” She quickly jumped off the couch and ran through Dick’s room to his bathroom and heaved her lunch into the toilet.

She sat back on her heels to catch some air while slowly rubbing her stomach. Anger toward Logan quickly built up inside her. What was he thinking? How could he do this to her over and over again - Kendall, Hannah, Parker and countless others who weren’t her.

Veronica stood on shaky legs and washed her hands in the sink. She took a deep breath before leaving the bathroom and put on the bravest face she could conjure.

Dick didn’t even look at her as she reentered the room, his face was plastered to whatever fighting game he was playing. “You better not have upchucked all over my floor, Ronnie.”

She continued on to the small kitchenette and grabbed water from the fridge to swish and spit some of the after taste out of her mouth. She collapsed back on the couch, not ready to leave before she exchanged a few words with Logan and to see what type of girl he was shacking up with these days.

Her head was cradled in her hands when Logan and his female companion left the bedroom. She looked up to see Logan lead a tall black haired girl to the suite door. Her hair was long and perfectly messed after, what Veronica assumed was several rounds of sex and not a game of human tickle me Elmo, although based on the sounds coming from his room earlier it was a toss up. Her body had curves in all the right places and was more than generously endowed up top with cleavage popping out of her skintight dark purple dress.

Veronica looked down at her own body and felt the need to cover up. How could she compete for Logan’s attention in a simple pair of blue jean shorts and a plain tee shirt? Even with her new pregnancy breasts coming in, she was barely breaking past the A cup threshold right now. Not to mention she was gaining weight every day in all the wrong places and would be the size of a whale soon.

She watched Logan kiss, Julia one last time before sending her on her way, for probably the first and last time if she had to guess. That thought only made her feel worse. He turned back around and finally saw her sitting in the living room. The small look of guilt and fear that quickly passed across his face before he schooled his features made her feel a little better, but not enough to completely settle her nausea as she looked back at him.

He took a few steps into the room, his eyes fixed on the tiny blonde across from him. “What are you doing here, Veronica?”

She narrowed her eyes at him and stood up. “Can I talk to you…” swinging her gaze to Dick who was now paying close attention to their conversation, “privately?”

Logan nodded his head and started walking toward his room, but stopped and turned around when Veronica began to protest.

“You have got to be kidding me. I’m not going to talk to you in your room that still reeks of terrible sex and cheap perfume.”

“Fine! Dick can you give us some privacy?”

“Sure man.” He turned off the television and headed toward the door. “I’ll see if I can track down some hot chicks we can take out tonight.”

After Dick left Logan stood waiting for Veronica to tear into him like she usually did, but she didn’t say anything. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

Veronica didn’t know what to say. Logan’s tone was cutting and she didn’t know how they got to this point after no contact for almost two months.

Logan’s impatience was clear in the way he said her name. “Veronica?”

She stared down at the floor and barely spoke above a whisper. “What did our last night together mean to you? Because I thought we…I wanted to…and then you were gone.”

He watched her closely and had a hard time looking her in the eye but ultimately stayed strong and didn’t look away. “Look, Veronica, we just got swept up in the moment. You were upset and I tried to make you feel better. That’s all it was and I wish we hadn’t done what we did that night because it obviously meant something more to you.”

Veronica’s lip was trembling and she bit down on the side of her cheek to keep the movement from being seen. “So, it was just sex to you. You used me as a pleasure release like all these other women who have been in and out of your life these past few weeks.”

“Isn’t that why you came to me that night? You needed a pick me up and you and Piz weren’t quite there yet, so you came to me.”

She was so lost. Her head was spinning at the things he was saying to her. It was almost like the Logan Echolls from junior year was standing in front of her again, the obligatory psychotic jackass was back to hurt her. “No, I came to you because I needed you, Logan. I lo…I, ugh, dammit. I thought we−“

“You thought wrong. There is no we between us, there can’t be.”

“Why not?” Veronica added, barely holding it together.

He made sure to look her straight in the eyes so that his message was clear. “Because I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be with you, Veronica, it doesn’t work with us.” Logan deflated, all the fight in him disappeared and he had given up. “We’ve tried and I just can’t do it again. There’s no future for us anyway.”

The floodgates opened and hot tears streamed fast down her cheeks. Her heart shattered into a million pieces inside her chest at his hurtful words. “You couldn’t be more wrong.” She picked up her messenger bag and wrapped her arms tightly around her stomach. “There is a future for us, I guess you just won’t be a part of it.” And with the last word she left and didn’t look back.


 

Three days later Veronica woke with a start and realized she was crying. She looked over at her clock and saw that it was just after three in the morning. This was the third night in a row she had woken up from a nightmare. The nightmares were all the same with slight variations. Logan spewing hurtful words and telling her he didn’t love her, didn’t want to be with her, and then she would be forced to watch as he got intimate with random voluptuous women. She wished she could go back to the nightmares where Aaron, Duncan, Beaver and Mercer taunted her because at least she knew those were no longer reality.

She was constantly nauseous, unsure if it was from her vivid nightmares, morning sickness or a mixture of both. If she had to guess she would say the tiny marshmallow didn’t like the things daddy had said either, which just made her even more upset.

What a terrible time it was to hear that Logan didn’t love her. She was already a mess from her rampant pregnancy hormones and on a regular non-pregnant day his harsh words would have made her cry, but these days she was inconsolable, when she was alone of course.

She knew eventually she would have to tell Logan about the baby. No matter how much of an asshole he was being right now, it was unfair and cruel to keep the information from him. Whether she allowed him to actually be a part of the child’s life was one thing, but he would at least know he had a daughter or son. She wasn’t a monster or trying to be a bitch, she just wanted to do the right thing for her child.

After trying and failing to fall back asleep Veronica climbed out of bed and quietly grabbed some cleaning supplies from the kitchen to bring back to her room. Thoroughly cleaning every inch of her space allowed her the control she desperately needed along with a nice distraction.

She dusted every surface, nook and cranny until her room was spotless. Next she went into her closet and rearranged her clothes. Moving the shirts and dresses that had a loose fit to one side so they would be ready to wear when she needed the extra room to hide her baby bump.

It was still a little early before her dad would be up and she was trying to avoid him as much as she could. He would know immediately that something was off with her, he likely already did and she knew she would burst into tears if he asked her if she was okay. Veronica grabbed a change of clothes and quickly showered before locking herself in her room again.

Several hours later Veronica was lying on her back on the floor of her bedroom wearing a pair of blue and green polka dot pajama pants and Logan’s shirt she stole from his room the previous week.

Music was on in the background and Backup was snuggled into her side. She was staring at the ceiling and munching on saltine crackers, apple slices and carrots from a plate that was balanced on her chest when there was a small knock on her bedroom door. “Come in.”

Mac peeked into the room before she opened the door fully and entered with Wallace trailing behind her. They took a seat on the floor next to Veronica and gave her worried looks, neither one wanted to be the first to speak.

Veronica took pity on them and broke the awkward silence. “I guess you’re not here to join the cuddle party?”

“Your dad called us. He’s pretty worried about you and so are we.” Mac added.

Wallace jumped in next. “When was the last time you left this apartment, Veronica?”

She looked up trying to remember how many days it had been but she was having trouble because she didn’t even know what day of the week it was currently. “Monday, I think.”

“That was three days ago.” Mac and Wallace exchanged glances. “What’s going on, Supafly? We’ve barely seen or heard from you in two weeks.”

“It’s nothing. I just have a lot on my mind right now.”

Wallace raised his eyebrows in question. “Like what? We can help you figure out whatever it is you are having trouble with.”

Veronica shook her head. “No, you can’t.” She wiped away a tear that rolled down her cheek. “I will tell you both eventually, but not right now, okay? I’ll be fine, I promise, I just need some time to process everything first.” She wiped her face dry again and moved the plate of food resting on her chest to the floor before intertwining her hands together over her belly.

After a few minutes of silence Mac turned to Veronica. “I have an idea. How about we get you up and out of this apartment for a little bit, an hour at most. We can take a walk and then come back and order take out for dinner and watch movies with you until your dad gets home.”

“You might as well say yes because Mac and I aren’t leaving you alone, V. You’re stuck with us for the rest of the day.” Wallace added.

Veronica thought it over and decided she could benefit from a little time spent with her friends. It was just a few hours and they would hopefully provide enough entertainment to keep her thoughts off of Logan. “Okay, we can go for a walk. Just let me change first.”

Wallace and Mac watched Veronica gather some clothes and head into the bathroom to change. Mac sat down on Veronica’s bed and glanced at Wallace. “What do you think is going on with her? It’s gotta be big, Veronica never cries, well, I mean I know she cries, but not in front of us or other people.”

Wallace sat down next to Mac on the bed and watched the bedroom door to make sure Veronica wasn’t going to overhear them. “There’s only one person I can think of that could cause her that much pain.”

“You think whatever is going on with her has to do with Logan?”

“Yeah, I do and it doesn’t surprise me at all. I think it’s time someone had a chat with him. He needs to be put in his place. I’m tired of seeing Veronica get hurt over and over again by him. She deserves better, Mac.”

“You need to be very careful, Wallace and really think before you do or say anything to Logan. I don’t know if you understand yet, but Logan is special, he’s off limits. You weren’t here when Logan first moved to Neptune. He was different - kind, warm and gentle. Over the years he changed into that jackass you met when you transferred, so that’s all you see him as. Veronica still sees all the traits he had at twelve; she constantly sees the potential inside him even when he acts like an asshole. I spent some time with him last semester and I finally understood why Veronica doesn’t drop him from her life. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but I suggest not getting involved and let them work it out on their own because Veronica will pick Logan every time, even over you and me. She is not a friend you want to lose.”

They chatted for a few more seconds before Veronica came out of the bathroom. Once they hooked Backup up to his leash all three of them headed toward the beach for a slow walk and to get some fresh air.

Chapter Text

Keith was in his office at Mars Investigations finishing up the case files that had taken over his life for the last month. Everything that could have gone wrong or sent him on a wild goose chase had happened. He spent weeks running in circles because the evidence was all over the place and he was, unfortunately, working with the unremarkable Balboa County Sheriff’s Department, who were always ever so helpful.

He was glad to finally be able to close the case. Together they apprehended their suspect who was currently sitting in a cell waiting trial. Keith just had to finish filling out the paperwork and write an invoice to send off to the client and the Sheriff’s Department for his time worked to put an official end to this case.

After working for a while he pushed everything to the side and decided to run down the street to grab a hot sub sandwich for lunch. On his way back he picked up the mail and let himself back into the office.

His mind drifted off to Veronica when he was done with the case file. Tonight was the first time in a week that he would make it home in time for dinner with her. Even with his case keeping him away more than he would have liked, he noticed that she had been spending more and more time alone in her room with the music on and less time with Wallace and Mac. He could only remember a few select times that had her seeking isolation like this and it was usually after a breakup.

He didn’t think she was dating anyone new since Stosh, but he hadn’t exactly been home a lot to notice a new guy in her life. He couldn’t get her to open up the few times he had tried and hoped with time she would be able to move on like she always did. The problem was that a week had already passed since she first locked herself in her room and no progress had been made so far. To say he was worried was an understatement.

With two hours left until he packed up to go home for the evening, Keith picked up the stack of mail and started flipping through each piece. He opened the returned invoices with payments attached and set them aside to take to the bank tomorrow and tossed the junk mail in the trash. There was one larger piece of mail in the pile, a large mustard colored shipping envelope addressed directly to him instead of Mars Investigations. Not unusual in and of itself, but certainly noteworthy.

He pulled his letter opener out of his desk drawer and slid it across the top envelope flap. The contents spilled out on top of the table, where there included a typed letter folded in half, a DVD in a clear container and a smaller white envelope, the size of a greeting card with no written annotations on the front.

Keith picked up the free folded letter and scrawled on the outside was Keith Mars for Parent of the Year. He ignored the obvious jab and flipped the letter open to read:

It’s a good thing you didn’t win the Sheriff’s election. How can you keep and eye on Neptune when you can’t even keep an eye on your daughter.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Citizen

Curious as to what this concerned citizen had sent him, Keith popped the DVD into the disc drive on the computer and sat back to watch.

The video began playing and Keith saw Veronica sitting on her knees on a bed in Wallace’s dorm room talking on the phone “I so wish I could be with you right now.” She got off the bed, set the phone down on Wallace’s desk and leaned against the dividing wall. “Well, how about that? It’s like I never left.”

Keith finally noticed Piz sitting on the other bed in the room and his hands gripped the arms of his chair a little tighter. His investigative spidey senses were tingling, a scene that was all too familiar to him was about to play out in front of his eyes and his daughter landed the starring role.

“Yeah, those twelve weeks just flew by.”

“No, they didn’t. They took for-ev-er. All those weeks of thinking about you and…” Veronica straddled Piz’s lap “…and missing you…and all those pent up feelings. What am I ever going to do with all of them?”

Keith’s breathing was becoming more erratic the more he watched the video play out. Professionalism went out the window, he couldn’t remain a clinical observer, it was personal and he was watching through his father lens. He saw Veronica do some kind of small cheer and almost punched his fist through the computer screen at what he heard and saw next.

“Did it involve me being naked?”

“It did.”

Veronica and Piz started kissing, the make out growing more heated by the minute. Keith quickly turned off the video once clothes started coming off. He removed the DVD from the disc drive and placed it back into the clear case it came in. His eyebrows were furrowed together tightly and it took everything he had in him not to book a plane ticket to New York to drag Stosh Piznarski back by his ear and beat him senseless for making a sex tape with his daughter.

Keith picked up the smaller white envelope and pulled out a single photo. He gasped at what he saw and quickly shoved the picture back into the encasing. For the next hour until he went home he sat silently fuming and stared at the wall trying to prepare for what he was going to say to his daughter when he got home.


 

Veronica slowly woke up from her nap and stretched her limbs out on the couch. She hadn’t done a whole lot today besides laundry and cooking dinner, but she was unprepared for how much it would affect her. Veronica was used to being exhausted in general, it became her baseline over the last few years from staying up all night working on homework, case work and adjusting to being an adult after the end of her childhood was ripped away. But her pregnancy induced fatigue was in a league of it’s own.

Climbing off the couch she checked the time on the microwave clock and saw she had a few minutes to set the table before her dad arrived home. Just as Keith walked in the door Veronica pulled a glass dish out of the oven. “Hey, Dad, you’re just in time. I made lasagna and breadsticks for dinner.”

Keith set down his briefcase and pulled the yellow envelope from the side pouch. “Dinner can wait, Veronica. We need to talk.”

Veronica was facing away from her father adding the finishing touches to their meal, but when she heard his hard tone she turned around to face him and saw an expression on his face she wasn’t used to seeing, especially one directed toward her. It was a mixed look containing disappointment, anger, hurt, embarrassment and hatred, for whom she didn’t know. “Okay. What’s going on?”

“Come sit down.” She started to object and Keith cut her off with a raised voice. “Sit. Now. Veronica.”

Veronica moved into their small living space and sat down in the single chair next to the couch looking up to her dad for what to do next. This was uncharted territory for her. Sure, Keith had been mad at her before but never to this level. She couldn’t think of anything she had done recently to deserve whatever lecture he was about to unleash on her.

Keith dumped the contents of the envelope onto the coffee table and handed Veronica the note that was included to read. “This package was mailed to the office this morning. You could imagine my curiosity after reading that note and then I played this.” He held up the DVD case and popped it into the DVD player. “Maybe you can explain to me what the hell you were doing?”

Veronica was scared. After reading the letter and seeing the DVD container, she had a pretty good feeling what her dad had seen and it made her nauseous.

Amateur foreplay and mild nudity. It was her introducing role into the world of porn, the gift that kept on giving, like chlamydia or herpes. She looked up at Keith with sad and humiliated eyes. “It’s not what it looks like.”

Keith paused the tape at the same spot he had when he had watched it earlier in the day. “Not what it looks like? I think it’s pretty clear, Veronica, this video captures you having sex with your boyfriend. What I want to know is how a concerned citizen got their hands on this footage and why there is even footage in the first place.”

“It’s a long story.” Veronica added looking down at her hands twisting in her lap, avoiding the disgusted look she was sure to see on her dad’s face.

“Well, then I guess it’s a good thing we have all night.”

Veronica started the story from the point when Logan brought the tape to her attention and that the video had been circulating through forwarded emails. She saw Keith smirk slightly when she told him how Logan beat up Piz thinking he was the guilty party to blame, but the smirk faded just a fraction when he heard Piz had not filmed them. She explained how Gorya Sorokin was the real culprit and she planted a bug in his room to find out more about him. That bug led her to a secret society, the Castle, which unfortunately Wallace was tapped to join. Wallace’s undercover mission turned into a new lead and was how she ended up unknowingly at Jake Kane’s house.

Keith was standing above Veronica listening as she told him the backstory to how the sex tape came to be. “So Jake Kane is the leader of the Castle?”

“He holds the strings pretty tight. When I went to that house, I didn’t know who owned it, I was following a trail. I was standing in the hall, there was a picture of Lilly on the wall and that’s when I knew. Then I heard voices and hid in Jake’s office. Gory and Jake came in talking about the new pledges. After they left I stole Jake’s hard drive for the list of members.”

“Jake covered, he said the hard drive contained five years worth of software, but there wasn’t software on that drive was there?”

Veronica shook her head no. “There was a list of all the Castle members going back to before 1939. The Castle taps top people in each field, people who grow up to be very powerful and lucrative because of their membership status. Part of the initiation process is spilling top secrets about one’s self, often incriminating confessions. It’s a fail safe. If the members dish about the Castle, their confessions would snatch every ounce of power and status they have and they’re left with nothing.

Veronica’s voice became soft and a tear slid down her cheek. “I’m so sorry, Dad. I went back the next day to return the hard drive. Jake wanted to arrest me for stealing, but I threatened him that if he did I would release everything on that drive. I just wanted him to leave you out of it, but it was too late, he had already served his revenge. This is why…I’m the reason you lost the Sheriff’s election. I’m so sorry.”

Keith watched Veronica pull herself back together. “It’s okay, Veronica, what’s done is done. I wish you would have just told me the truth when I came to you the first time, but I understand now why you didn’t.”

“Are we done talking?” Veronica didn’t have an appetite anymore and considering the heaviness of the talk they just had, she didn’t think it would be too suspicious if she went to bed without dinner.

“No, we are just getting started.” He picked up the small white envelope lying on the coffee table and hesitated before handing it over to Veronica.

Veronica took the envelope from her father and noticed he didn’t say anything. The look on his face was unreadable, but his body language, hands on his hips and never taking his eyes off of her, scared her more than before. Whatever was inside this next envelope she recognized as being the real reason they were having this big talk tonight.

She slowly flipped up the flap and pulled out a photo. She froze when she saw it was an image of her captured at the store holding a box of pregnancy tests in her hands. Even without her first hand experience of being there the side of the box was clear as day, there was no mistaking what was in her grasp.

“Are you?”

Tears filled Veronica’s eyes as she looked up at her dad. This wasn’t how he was supposed to find out. Her voice was quiet and broken and she barely got out her next word. “Dad…”

“Are you pregnant, Veronica?”

All she could manage to do was nod her head as heavy sobs wracked through her body.

Keith had assumed as much after she avoided his first line of questioning, but he needed to hear the confirmation from her. Hearing his nineteen-year-old daughter tell him she was pregnant sent him into a frenzy. “How could you be so reckless? I taught you better than that! How could you be so stupid and not think about the consequences of your actions?”

Veronica’s head was buried in her hands, bawling hard, as Keith continued to yell at her. She expected this, but it still hurt to hear the things her father was saying to her. She never wanted to disappoint him. “I know and I’m so sorry. I should have been more careful. I know that. “

“You’re damn right you should have been more careful.” Keith calmed down some as he watched Veronica cry. He was still angry, but it also broke his heart to see her so upset. He took a few deep breaths and lowered his voice, forcing himself to calm down. “Have you been to the doctor yet?” She nodded her head yes. “And how, how far along are you?”

She wiped her eyes even though more tears continued to fall. “Eight weeks. I only met with the doctor briefly for an official confirmation. My first prenatal visit is tomorrow.”

Keith did the math quickly and knew his suspicions were correct, his grandchild was created roughly two months ago and there was a sex tape to prove it. “So you’ve decided to keep the baby?”

“Yes, I’m keeping my baby.” Veronica added with a slight glare in her eyes. How could he even ask her that? Although, she had asked herself that very same question just a few short weeks ago, hearing it come from her dad felt like an attack. Like he didn’t think she was capable of being a mom and would be a failure to her kid just like her own mother.

“Have you told Stosh yet?”

“What?”

“Stosh, Piz, the father of your child, Veronica! Have you told him about the baby yet?”

Veronica averted her gaze from Keith. He wasn’t going to like the next piece of news. “Piz…” she cleared her throat, “…Piz isn’t the baby’s father. That’s what I was trying to tell you earlier when I said that tape is not what it looks like. Our make out got a little carried away and I know what it suggests, but I didn’t have sex with him.”

“You didn’t?” Keith’s eyes grew a little wider. “Then who is the father, Veronica?”

“Logan.” She took a deep breath to keep from crying again, but it didn’t help. “I know how you feel about him and you don’t have to worry, he’s not…there’s no…” She wiped another tear away. “I don’t want to talk about Logan right now, okay? I’m really tired. Can we stop for now and continue this talk another day, please?”

He nodded his head. “Okay. We will talk more later.”


 

Keith watched as Veronica, face stained with tears and dark circles under her eyes, walked back to her room and closed her door.

He was disappointed in himself for how he reacted. He shouldn’t have yelled the way he did, he didn’t want to see Veronica cry, didn’t want to be the cause of her tears, but he felt blindsided. It wasn’t easy for him to find out his daughter had a sex tape, which played a part in his second ejection from office or that at nineteen she was pregnant with a baby who’s father was a hot-headed, volatile, reckless smartass with authority issues.

If he was being honest, he had been happy to hear Logan had beat up both Piz and Gory. Piz for sleeping with, or actually not, but at least seeing his daughter naked. And Gory for videotaping and distributing the sex tape. Now that happiness had faded because Logan was the one responsible for knocking up his daughter.

He couldn’t help but think back to what Veronica had said before shutting down. Her sentences were broken and incomplete. There had been pain in her tone and in her expression when she said Logan was the baby’s father, but for him not to worry.

Based on Veronica’s own heartbreak and inability to discuss Logan, Keith would bet that Logan turned Veronica away and wanted nothing to do with fatherhood. That thought angered him more than anything. If Logan didn’t want to be a father to his child that was his right, but he was going to have to tell Keith to his face that Veronica was going to be a single mother.

He peeked in on Veronica a short while later and found her asleep on top of her bed looking rather worse for wear. He immediately felt horrible that he had caused a lot of her distress tonight. He slowly backed out of her room and moved into the kitchen to put away the dinner they never ate. He’d wake her up in a few hours to make sure she ate something before it got too late. It wasn’t only Veronica he had to take care of; his grandchild needed him now too.


 

The next day Veronica sat in the waiting room after signing in for her first prenatal appointment. The room was packed with expecting mothers and fathers in various stages of pregnancy. Some women looked like they could pop at any moment and others like herself, had little to nothing to show.

A quick survey of the occupants in the room left her with the feeling – one of these things is not like the other. She was the only one who did not have a partner, spouse or friend to sit there with her for moral and emotional support. No one to hold her hand as her nerves intensified. There was no one to blame but herself either.

Keith offered to accompany Veronica to her appointment, but she had told him no, this was something she needed to do on her own.

It was another twenty-five minutes before she was called back to see the doctor and was escorted down the hall by a nurse. “We are going in room number five off to your left. There is a gown and warm blanket waiting for you on the table. Go ahead and change, I’ll give you a few minutes and come back in to get started on a few routine tests before Dr. Swaldoe sees you.”

Veronica quickly changed into the hospital gown provided to her and waited for the nurse to come back. She had read online ahead of time what to expect during this first visit, but she was still nervous and a bit scared. She needed Logan, especially in this moment, but he was clear in that he didn’t need her.

Before she could dwell and replay Logan’s confession the nurse came back in to get her. Vitals were taken and a new weight was obtained. Veronica was up four and half pounds thus far and smiled once again when she saw the value. Urine and blood samples followed before she was deposited back into her exam room.

Dr. Swaldoe entered and smiled while extending her hand. “Veronica, it’s great to see you again.” A detailed health, sexual and family, history of hers along with as much of Logan’s history that she knew of later and they were able to get to the most anticipated part of the appointment. “How do you feel?”

“Tired and nauseous.”

“Then you’re right on schedule. Most women experience fatigue and morning sickness through the first trimester, but every pregnancy is different. I’d say you probably have another good month or so before you begin to notice a considerable change in your energy level. Your appetite should pick up any day now too. Take it easy and get as much rest as you can, you’ll need it once your little one comes along.”

Dr. Swaldoe talked to Veronica for a little while longer. Taking the time to answer all her questions and explain the importance of exercise to her and what foods to eat and avoid.

After the dreaded physical and pelvic exam, Dr. Swaldoe wheeled in a portable ultrasound machine.

Veronica jumped when the cold jelly squirted onto her stomach. Time was moving in slow motion as she watched the ultrasound machine light up as the probe travelled her belly.

Dr. Swaldoe froze the image and explained to Veronica what she was looking at. “And this right here is your baby. It’s too early to identify the sex, but he or she is about the size of a raspberry. I estimated your due date to be around March 5th.”

Veronica’s eyes were locked on the screen. She felt herself starting to get choked up and couldn’t help the rogue tears that ran down her cheeks. This little blob who was only roughly eight weeks grown and who hadn’t even made it into the world yet held her heart. She couldn’t believe how easy it was to love someone so much, so unconditionally.

Dr. Swaldoe printed out the ultrasound photos and handed it to Veronica before leaving her alone to change back into her street clothes.

Veronica carefully placed the photos in her messenger bag and made her next appointment four weeks out before leaving the doctor’s office and driving home.


 

While Veronica went to her prenatal appointment, Keith had an appointment of his own to get to. Except his was more of a surprise crashing of sorts rather than a scheduled get together.

Just as he was about to knock on the Grand’s penthouse suite door, it opened on its own. A red headed girl wearing a tight black tank top, which came to a stop around her navel, blue jean shorts hung low on her hips with a black lace thong riding above her waistband but below the flower tramp stamp on her lower back, was attached to Logan at the mouth.

Keith’s nostrils flared, jaw clenched tight as he cleared his throat to break apart the hormone filled moment from the two young people in front of him. One of who was near the top of his shit list.

Without breaking the kiss, Logan spoke around his date’s mouth. “Dude, this isn’t a free show. Keep moving.”

“Your date needs to head home, Logan, because this dude needs to speak to you” he smirked as Logan quickly jumped away from the girl as soon as he recognized who was in front of him, “and I’m sure you won’t want an audience for what I have to say.”

Keith watched as Logan promptly shoved Piper from the suite and practically told her he would not be seeing her again. She didn’t seem to grasp the concept of a one-night stand and Keith shook his head at having to witness the encounter in the first place.

Logan shut the door and walked into the main room toward his guest. “Mr. Mars—“

“Don’t talk, Logan. Right now you’re just going to listen. I don’t know what you said to Veronica, but she can’t even get through one coherent sentence without bursting into tears when your name is mentioned. From what little she did say it was enough for me to piece together what happened, which is why I’m standing in front of you now. If you don’t want to be a father to your child that is your choice, I can’t make you, but you will not float in and out of Veronica’s life when it is convenient to you. Do you understand me?”

“Wait, what did you just say?” All the color drained from Logan’s face as he stood still staring at Keith almost paralyzed. “Veronica’s pregnant?”

Keith’s anger drained quickly as he watched Logan slowly process every word he said. “She hasn’t told you yet, has she?”

He shook his head no. “And the baby’s mine?”

“Yes, Logan, the baby’s yours.” Keith added in a soft voice like he was talking to a child himself. He didn’t know what reaction to expect from Logan but he was sure it wasn’t this.

“Veronica is carrying my child.” Tears sprang to Logan’s eyes and a small smile slowly grew across his face. He stood there for a moment as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks before his smile gave way to a deeply upset expression. “No, no, no, what did I do?” He dropped to the couch with his head buried in his hands repeating the same line, “I made a mistake, oh god, Mr. Mars, what did I do?”

Keith tried to get Logan to open up for over an hour, to find out what Logan was talking about, but was unsuccessful. The best he could get out of him was a plea to let him come over to apologize to Veronica and to make it right again.

Keith was still confused as to what had happened between Veronica and Logan. He never understood their connection, it was too complicated and messy, and figured he never would. He told Logan to take the weekend to gather his thoughts, think about the new news he was given and to come by the apartment on Monday to see Veronica. He couldn’t promise Veronica would be receptive, but he gave Logan his permission to try. It was all he could do.

The rest was up to them.

Chapter Text

Three days. Three long days had passed since Keith dropped by with life altering news. Logan sat in his room torturing himself with how one fifteen-minute conversation with Veronica two weeks ago jeopardized his entire future. He replayed the words he said to her and wanted to take them back. All of them. He never wanted to say them to her to begin with, but knew he had to. He wanted her to hate him for what he did; it was the only way to move forward because self-punishment wasn’t enough. He needed to be blamed as well.

He knew better than to sleep with Veronica when she was dating Piz. She came to him for comfort that night, not Mac, not Wallace or even Piz, she needed him. Why? The answer was simple. They had been friends for a very long time. The Veronica that needed comfort that night was not the nineteen-year-old girl who took down murderers and rapists; it was thirteen-year-old Veronica who couldn’t carry the world on her shoulders alone anymore.

Logan knew his role when she asked to be held. He was supposed to be a close friend and hold her until she felt safe, whisper in her ear that everything would be okay and none of it was her fault. He had played that part many times no thanks to Lianne and watched as his grasp and encouragement made the world lift off her shoulders.

However, they hadn’t been those thirteen-year-old kids in a long time. They no longer gave and received comfort through hugs and pinky promises; they had evolved in more ways than one. He went off script when he started running his hands gently up and down her sides. That one simple gesture pushed them over the thin line from friends to lovers. Sexual tension built, ready, aim and fire.

He could blame Veronica for initiating the kiss or not pushing him away and reminding him that she was taken, but he didn’t. He didn’t blame her at all. It was his fault that she became unfaithful to Piz that night. He let his feelings overwhelm him. The slight pressure of her body pressed up against him, the softness of her lips and skin combined with the way she was looking at him was too much. He had her and couldn’t let go.

He took advantage of her emotional state and it sickened him. How could he do that? Like father, like son. So the morning after he realized what he had done, he left. He slid out from underneath her, packed a quick bag, scribbled a note and didn’t look back at the girl he loved sleeping peacefully in his bed. She wasn’t his to love, she was with Piz.

He spent all summer trying to block that night from his mind. He didn’t want to remember the mistake he had made. He hated himself and he hated that night until Keith Mars showed up on his doorstep and changed everything. He told him Veronica was pregnant and that Logan was going to be a dad and suddenly he didn’t hate that special night anymore. How could he? It was the night that tethered a little piece of him to Veronica forever, a piece no one else could claim.

Since then he couldn’t stop closing his eyes and picturing the future. Being a father scared him, for obvious reasons, but he was also soaring high above the clouds, utterly and truly happy. Every time he closed his eyes he always saw the same thing, a beautiful little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, a miniature replica of her mother.

He pictured a red faced screaming newborn entering the world, unaware of how much she was loved. Looking down at the little baby lying on Veronica’s chest, his arms cradling them both, keeping them protected and together.

He pictured a pint-sized girl with hair falling just past her shoulders under a helmet with knee and elbow pads, climbing onto her training wheel-less bike radiating trust in him that he wouldn’t let go until she was ready.

He pictured a talented and athletic girl showing no fear as she rode a wave next to him into the shore. Smiling and pumping her fists in the air as Veronica captured her first run.

He pictured an intelligent and beautiful teenage girl sitting horrified on the couch in their living room as Veronica interrogated the boy taking his daughter out on her first date. He glared at the young boy silently instilling fear in him to communicate the level of respect in which to treat his little girl.

He pictured himself looking to the left and smiling with tears in his eyes at the amazing woman his daughter grew up to be as he walked her down the aisle.

He pictured it all.

By this point Logan wiped the tears from his cheeks and realized Veronica was both right and wrong. There was a future for them, all three of them, but there was no chance in hell he would miss it. He was all in. He wanted this life, to be a dad and raise a kid with the woman he loved. But before any of that could happen he first had to get her to listen, so he could apologize for all the untrue and hurtful things he said and did.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but he didn’t plan on giving up. He would never give either of them up again. They were his family…he finally had a real family.


 

Logan sat in his black Range Rover for thirty minutes outside the Mars’ apartment complex working up the nerve to get out of the car.

Since he already had permission from Keith to come over his only obstacle was Veronica. He was ninety-five percent sure that when she saw him she would tell him to go to hell and slam the door in his face. He wouldn’t blame her after how their last confrontation went. But he needed the chance to explain and beg for forgiveness, so that left him with one choice and once choice only. Use her own emotions against her.

He had heard some women experienced a fluctuation in emotion during the first trimester because of the over abundance of hormones running through their bodies. Small triggers like tiny clothing or Hallmark worthy commercials could turn a seething pregnant woman into a fountain of happy tears in two point five seconds. Logan hoped Veronica was one of those women.

He climbed out of the car and grabbed the gift he had picked up at the store on the way over. He didn’t plan on the added stop, but the closer he got to Sunset Cliffs the more nervous he found himself. To buy a little more time he stopped to walk the aisles and that’s when he found himself in the baby department. Out of all the stuffed toys his eyes locked on a little light grey plush stuffed animal elephant and that was it, the first present he would give to his kid.

Logan lifted his hand up to the door, took a deep breath and knocked. The twenty seconds or so it took for Veronica to answer the door felt like hours. Her face transitioned from surprise to questioning and then resolved anger like a stoplight moving from green to red.

“Logan. Think of more to say?”

Her arms crisscrossed over her chest like a protective wall to keep him away. At least she didn’t turn him away; he still had a fraction of a chance to make this work. He lifted the stuffed elephant from his side and held it out for her. “I’m so sorry, Veronica. I know my apology probably doesn’t mean anything to you right now, but I am so incredibly sorry that I hurt you, that was never my intention. I just wanted you to hate me; I didn’t mean a word of what I said. I needed you to make me pay for what I made you do that night.”

She didn’t take the stuffed elephant from him and her forehead scrunched together in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“You were dating Piz and I knew that, but once you kissed me all thoughts of him just left my mind. I wanted you so bad, I always want you and I couldn’t stop on my own. I needed you to tell me to stop, but you never did, so we kept going. You were unfaithful to Piz and it’s all my fault. I want you to be happy and if what we did that night made your relationship with Piz harder, then I’m sorry.”

He wasn’t giving Piz a stamp of approval; his feelings about Piz hadn’t changed and likely never would. Something about the kid just rubbed him the wrong way, but he didn’t want to get into the why. That would lead down a dangerous self-pity path and this was about stepping up and doing what’s best for Veronica. He wanted her back, but he knew stomping all over Piz wasn’t the way to go about it, it never worked for him in the past.

“Logan…I wasn’t with Piz when I came to see you that night. I broke up with him the day after you beat up Gory in the cafeteria.” A hurtful look scattered across her face. “Do you honestly think I would have slept with you if I was still with him?”

He played with the ears on the elephant as a distraction to avoid looking at her. “I wasn’t really thinking, that’s the problem. I was more concerned with the fact that I made things more difficult for you, again.”

“That’s why you left?” He nodded his head slowly and she scoffed. “You know you made everything worse by leaving. I woke up planning to tell you that I wanted us to get back together, that I…but you were gone and I was alone. If you would have stayed we could have avoided this entire mess and we would have been together right now.”

Logan took a few steps closer. “I’m so sorry, but I’m here now and we can make it work. I want to make it work, Veronica.” He took a few more steps closer to her and wrapped his arms around her stiff frame. “You, me and our baby.”

Veronica went even stiffer in Logan’s arms, but didn’t pull away. “You know about the baby.”

“Yeah, I found out on Friday from your dad. Why didn’t you tell me you’re pregnant?”

“Because you didn’t want me.” A hiccupped sob escaped and she started to squirm in his arms, trying to pull back to break the embrace and create some distance, but Logan just held her tighter. After a few seconds she stopped fighting him and sunk down to the floor bringing Logan with her. “I can get past there not being an us, but you have to make a choice in regards to the baby. You’re either all in or not at all. I don’t want him or her to know what it feels like to have a parent walk away.”

Logan brushed some hair away from her face and laid his cheek on top of her head. “There is no choice to make, I’m all in. I want to raise this baby with you and I’m not talking about shared time like divorced parents. I want us to be a family, you and me living under one roof, together for the entire ride. I love you, Veronica and this baby who isn’t even here yet I love her too. There’s no one else I want to spend my life with than you, Bobcat. Please, just forget everything I said two weeks ago, none of it was true.”

Veronica moved out of Logan’s arms and scooted back until there was a yardstick length of distance between them. She wiped at her eyes and fixed him with a glare. “That’s all great to hear, Logan, but I just can’t forget it and move on with a little apology. You hurt me, more than you can imagine! And you say that you didn’t mean it, but how do I know that? How can I trust you not to completely shattered my heart again?” She slowly stood up and tried to take a calming breath while looking a little green. “I want to be with you, Logan, but you have to prove to me that I can trust you again.”

He stood up as well and tried to take a step closer to her but she put up a hand to stop his approach. It broke his heart to hear and see all the damage he caused, Veronica was always getting the short straw where he was concerned. It also hurt to know that he lost her trust, once again. Besides waiting for her to say those three little words all he ever wanted was her trust. “I will. I’m in this with you, Veronica. All the way, I promise.”

“Good.”

Her lips formed a straight line and she nodded her head. It wasn’t quite the response Logan was expecting. It sounded like she was in a rush, throwing out one-word answers to hurry the conversation along so she could shove him out the door. Except she wasn’t moving or even looking at him or the door, she was staring at the floor not looking so hot. “Are you okay?”

She shook her head no and briefly looked up into his eyes before she quickly clamped a hand over her mouth and ran down the hall to the bathroom.

Logan was a few seconds behind Veronica. When he saw her bent over the toilet he crouched down next to her, gathered up her hair to keep it out of her face and rubbed slow circles on her back like she used to do to him after a night of heavy drinking.

Back in the Fab Four days, Veronica was always the caregiver of the group. She hardly ever drank with them; instead she volunteered to take care of all their hangover needs. At the time he thought it was sweet, no one had ever taken care of him like Veronica had. Years later he realized how thoughtless it was of Lilly, Duncan and himself to allow Veronica to take care of them like that.

Veronica rarely had a drink because her mother was a drunk. And she was an expert at curing hangovers because she had to do it daily for her own flesh and blood. They should have been more respectful and aware. She ran to them to escape Lianne’s addiction and all they did was drink to get drunk.

Then Lilly was murdered and Duncan became a medicated zombie and eventually left the country. It was just he and Veronica and she was still taking on the role as his caregiver. Holding him together at Lilly’s funeral and again when he found out his mom was dead, holding his hand during Aaron and Felix’s trials and chasing away his lasting abusive nightmares. She spent almost eight years taking care of him and now it was his turn to properly take care of her.

Veronica flushed the toilet and sat back on her heels. Concern laced Logan’s face and tone. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just waited too long to eat lunch. The morning sickness is worse when my stomach is empty.”

“Let’s get you some food then. What do you want? I can make something, although I can’t promise it will be edible, or I can order in—“

She put her hand on his arm to silence him. “Logan, you don’t have to do that. I’m perfectly capable of making my own lunch. I’m pregnant not an invalid.”

He brushed her hair away and tucked it behind her ear. “I know. But you said I had to earn back your trust. How can I do that if you don’t give me the opportunity to shine?” He added a little smile on the end and knew she wouldn’t be able to resist.

“Fine, but I would like a pizza from Cho’s.”

“I think I can handle that.” They both stood up and Logan grabbed onto Veronica as she started to sway. “Whoa, are you—“ at her glare he stopped, “right, you’re fine, I’ll stop asking. In the meantime, let’s get you to the couch and you can rest until the food gets here.”


 

Veronica wanted to protest that she really was fine. The morning sickness was annoying but becoming the norm in her life. Her dizziness was new over the past few days and easily explained by the increase in blood volume circulating through her body. However, she held back in her protests when she saw the look of concern on Logan’s face. She had to remember that this was all new to him and letting him take care of her would ease his worry.

Once he had her comfortable on the couch under a thin blanket he placed an order for delivery and grabbed the stuffed animal elephant he tried to give to her before. “This is for you. Well, actually it’s for the baby, but since she can’t enjoy it yet, I’ll let you hold onto it.”

Veronica took the elephant from him as tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. It was a small gesture, bringing over a child’s toy, but that small gesture meant a lot to her. It helped curb her fears of raising a child alone. “You keep saying she.

He took a seat in the chair next to the couch, the end closest to Veronica. “I figured it was better than saying it. And I’m positive she will end up being a she. Blonde hair, blue eyes, permanently pint-sized,” he wiggled his eyebrows at her teasingly, “fiercely independent like her mother, taking names and kicking ass along the way.”

She laughed for the first time in weeks and momentarily forgot that she was heart broken and mad at Logan. “I went to the doctor last week and she did an ultrasound to check that everything was okay. I have a picture, do you want to see it?”

He nodded and Veronica slowly climbed out from under the blanket to grab the picture from her room. She handed it to him and watched his face carefully as he took his time looking over every inch of the small photograph.

His eyes welled up with tears and one spilled over down his cheek, which in turn brought Veronica’s tears to the surface again.

"There’s not much to her is there, but god, Veronica…she’s beautiful.”

“Yeah, she is.” Veronica wiped the tears off her face and resettled into the couch watching Logan completely entranced by their baby. “You can keep that picture, I have another one.”

He looked up with a look of awe on his face and smiled. “Thank you.”

The look on his face and his words weren’t just a thank you for giving him a copy of the photo. His thank you went much deeper. He was saying thank you for being the mother of his child, for giving their kid life and for finally giving him a family who would only bring him happiness.

They sat in silence, absorbing the moment, until their pizza arrived. Logan stayed through lunch and even a movie before making the decision to go back to the Grand to avoid being there when Keith got home. He didn’t want to push his luck with either Keith or Veronica since he was working so hard to earn their trust. All seemed fine with Keith on Friday, but Logan was still the boy who knocked up his teenage daughter, he would have to slowly ingrain himself into their lives comfortably.

Veronica walked Logan to the door keeping a solid three feet between them as he crossed the threshold and spun around on her doorstep. “Do you think you could keep the baby a secret for a little while? At least until the end of the first trimester, then we can think about who we want to tell.”

He nodded his head. “Okay. Sure.”

“And this…thing, with us. I meant what I said earlier. I do want us to be together, but I need to trust you first, so…”

Logan slowly smiled, “so…we will go slow. Does this mean we are dating?” He took a step closer and leaned down as if he was whispering a secret. “You know, we’ve never dated before. We jumped straight to the relationship, every go around, without me trying to woo you. And I would love the chance to woo you, Veronica Mars.” He took a step back and stuck out his hand. “So, dating?”

Veronica couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face or the butterflies that fluttered in her belly. She stuck out her hand to meet his. “Dating. Very slow dating.”

A big toothy grin that stretched ear to ear was plastered on his face. “Your birthday is next week. And I know you usually spend the day with your dad, but if you’re free the day before I’d really like to take you out to celebrate, just the two of us,” he pointed to her stomach, “or three I should say. That can be our first official date.”

“I suppose that would be alright. Where are you taking me?”

“You’ll find out next week.”


 

Shortly after Logan left for the evening Keith came home and Veronica brought him up to speed, not on the specifics, but enough information to make sure the firearms stayed locked away.

When she started to fall asleep on the couch after dinner Keith nudged her and told her to go to bed.

She went willingly. With no nap throughout the day combined with the emotional rollercoaster Logan’s visit brought, she was down right exhausted.

Getting ready for bed, a mundane routine, which allowed for Veronica’s mind to wander and reflect on her day.

Opening the door to see Logan standing there looking so sad and guilty was unexpected and initially, besides being angry, she thought he dropped by to tear her down again. An apology, while being a good start, was the last thing she expected from him and sadly not enough to reverse the hurt she felt.

As much as she wanted to push him away for hurting her, she couldn’t. He was her biggest weakness and as long as he walked this earth she would always be there for him. No matter what he said or did, or what she said or did, she loved him too much to stay indifferent. So she let him in, both physically and emotionally.

Words were said, tears were shed, laughs were had and now she was dating Logan Echolls. Logan Echolls. The father of her child. It seemed silly since they had been off and on a total of three separate times, but Logan was right they never dated. The thought of them dating for the first time now made her giddy with excitement, like she was fifteen again waiting for her first kiss.

She just had to remember to take things slow unlike every other time they got together. The foundation had to be strong or any kind of blow would lead to destruction. An option she was not willing to accept. They had to be a team this time around. Hard work…understatement of the year, but it would be worth it in the end.

Veronica crawled into bed, turned off her bedside lamp and snuggled deep into the warmth of her covers with her arms wrapped tightly around the plush stuffed elephant. Within a few minutes she was fast asleep. No nightmares or insomnia, just sweet dreams of her budding little family.

Chapter Text

A closet filled with clothes and still Veronica had nothing to wear. She took off the outfit she was currently wearing and tossed it on the bed. She had already tried on three different combinations and none of them felt right. Too casual. Too dressy. Too butch. Nothing felt right for a first date, slash, birthday celebration.

Veronica sat on the edge of her bed and stared at the clothes in her closet. She was in a new bra and panty set because her breasts had finally out grown all her other sets comfortably. She splurged a little when she bought them to wear on her date. Not that Logan would end up seeing them because they were taking things slow, but because they made her feel more confident about her changing body. And okay, yes, they were a little bit for Logan, the modest cleavage they presented was sure to grab his attention and that made her feel good too.

All week she felt good. Her appetite was returning and her bouts of morning sickness were lessening each day. Exhaustion was still her default setting, but she would take being tired over being nauseous any day. Talking with Logan the week prior and cleaning up their main miscommunication had been a major stress relief.

There were still a few issues between them, the plethora of women he slept with over the summer, her inability to trust him completely, fear that they wouldn’t make it, the insecurities of parenthood and those three little words she couldn’t bring herself to say out loud. She truly believed they could overcome them all with time, which was why slow dating was crucial to their survival this go around.

So far, ten days to be exact, dating Logan was going well, very well. Although there wasn’t much to mess up or really truly fix in such a short amount of time, small efforts and changes had been made though.

She had only seen Logan three or four times in person since they hashed things out in her living room. Some days he would stop by to bring her lunch while her dad was at the office and then together they would take Backup for a walk around the block or down at the beach. Other days he just stopped by to drop off books, puzzles and movies to keep her company, knowing she was somewhat avoiding Mac and Wallace until the news about the baby broke.

He was giving her a respectable amount of space, not pushing the boundaries of their new relationship, and she was absolutely sure it was his Jedi mind trick. His absences only made her want him more. This was how a girl became addicted to Logan. Small doses of him that flooded every inch of her system with warmth that left her craving her next chance to be with him. This was the pleasurable torture that came with dating they never explored in the past.

The time they did spend together was a dream. It was them, as it always had been; banter, quips, sexual tension, safety, playful jabs, comfort and ease. But now there was a slight change in the air between them, an openness that had never been there before, the building blocks that would eventually lead to intimacy were taking root. It was the one thing Veronica wanted in all their other attempts but never could achieve.

On the days Logan didn’t visit he kept their connection alive. Sending texts throughout the day wishing her a good morning or night. A few calls that ranged from brief minutes to sometimes an hour or more.

It was nice and also frustrating. He was making it so damn difficult for her to keep a level head and to continue to take things slow. The only thing that kept her from jumping into his arms or into his bed right now was the unbearable pain she experienced by having her heart shattered. She didn’t trust him enough not to do it again.

Veronica saw the time displayed on her desktop clock and quickly hopped off the bed. Logan was going to be here soon to pick her up and she still didn’t know what to wear. She sifted through her closet once more and paused on a casual summer dress. It was yellow with one-inch straps that flowed loosely and stopped just above her knee, decorated with white flowers and blue and brown stems and leaves.

It was perfect. Dressy and casual rolled into one. The dress hid her bloated stomach and paired with her new bra and pregnancy boobs provided her with ample cleavage, only moderately exposed, still keeping her classy.

After putting on the dress she slipped into a pair of light brown sandals and applied finishing touches to her hair and make up. She slung a small lightweight purse across her body completing her outfit just as there was a knock on the door.

She crossed the apartment and flung open the door with a smile. “Logan.” Seeing him standing there, right in front of her, wearing a tight fitted tee pulled deliciously across his chest paired with jeans sent butterflies through her body. She could feel them in every part of her from her head to her toes. Had they always had this intense connection? Or was it amplified from not getting to touch each other the way they craved in so many months?

“Wow, you look,” his eyes roamed every inch of her, drinking her in, almost like years had past since the last time he saw her, “…absolutely gorgeous, Veronica.” He leaned in and gave her a hug, placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. “Happy birthday.”

“Thank you,” she added, unable to lose the smile on her face. “Are you going to tell me where you are taking me today or is it still a surprise?”

“I thought we could go to the zoo. We haven’t been there together since we were kids, it seemed fitting for our first date, a full circle back to where our friendship really took off.” He looked at her stomach briefly and his smile fell just slightly. “Unless the zoo is too much walking, then we can go somewhere else—“

Veronica put her hand on Logan’s arm to stop him. “The zoo is perfect. Plus exercise, especially walking, is highly recommended for pregnant women, it’s what all the pamphlets and books keeping telling me anyway. And baby animals, Logan, we love baby animals! Two birds, one stone…”

He laughed and grabbed her hand, interlocking their fingers together. “Let’s go to the zoo, Bobcat.”

Once they were on the road to the zoo Veronica couldn’t help but think back to the first zoo trip they ever took and how odd that seemed now. So much had happened to them over the years, it was amazing that their lives continued to blend together and like Logan had said, come full circle.

SUMMER 2000

Logan and Veronica were walking through the zoo alone. They had come with Duncan and Lilly, who after an hour had claimed they had seen enough animals to last them the rest of their lives. Veronica knew her best friend was not thrilled about being at the zoo, walking around in the heat, so she kindly suggested they take a break in one of the indoor gift shops. As Lilly and Duncan shopped, Logan and Veronica continued to enjoy the animals.

Logan had been excited to see every exhibit since his family never took him to such places growing up. Veronica was more than happy to show him around and watch his face light up at each stop.

They had been walking around for roughly an hour after visiting the monkeys, bears and tigers when they came across the elephant habitat. Several of the elephants were actively moving around, eating, bathing, playing and Logan pointed out a bench for him and Veronica to sit on and watch.

After they watched the elephants for a few minutes Veronica turned to Logan with a small smile of her face. “From now on every time I see an elephant I’m going to think of you.”

Logan looked at her in confusion, his eyebrows scrunched together in thought. “Because of my ears?” His hands covered his ears suddenly feeling very self-conscious.

Veronica chuckled and grabbed a hold of his arms to remove them from covering up his insecurities. “What? No. There is nothing wrong with your ears, Logan.”

“Lilly says they are too big and stick out.”

“Lilly is…well, Lilly. Just ignore her. Really, there’s nothing wrong with your ears, I think they are kinda cute.” She traced the outside edge of his ear to prove her point.

Logan felt a trail of heat over where her fingers had traveled. He tried to play it cool so she wouldn’t notice his reaction to her. “Cute?”

“Handsome? Is that better?”

“Much.” He smiled and turned back to watch the elephants. “So, why do you think of me when you see elephants?”

“Because they are tactile mammals. They use touch to communicate their moods and emotions. Each touch can be differentiated between playful, loving, care giving, defensive and protection for themselves and for others. I’ve only known you for a couple of weeks, but I’ve noticed that you are a very tactile person. And your touches change with your moods, just like those elephants.”

She went on to explain all the ways his touch changed with each mood, giving examples and demonstrating as she went and Logan didn’t know what to say, he was speechless. No one had ever paid such close attention to him before to pick up on his behavior like Veronica had. He felt a connection with her when they first met, and it wasn’t until now that he realized how close of a connection they really had. Duncan was his best friend, but Veronica was the one he wanted to talk to and share things with. She was his friend, but also so much more, he just didn’t understand it all quite yet. He could feel it though.

They stayed and watched the elephants play for a little while longer before they moved on to other exhibits.

In the limo on the way home that day Logan had given Veronica a brown leather string bracelet with a silver metal elephant on it that he had bought in the gift shop. He bought one for himself, smiling as he showed off his own and deemed them their new friendship bracelets.

Veronica smiled to herself as the memory passed. She still had the bracelet Logan had given her that day; it was buried at the bottom of her jewelry box. The bracelet hadn’t been worn in years, not since she started dating Duncan, but she saw glimpses of it every time she opened the box to get out a necklace or a set of earrings. She could never bring herself to throw it out no matter how bad things between her and Logan had gotten.

Then she remembered what he had given her last week and her heart melted. “The stuffed animal elephant you got for the baby, it wasn’t a coincidence was it?”

It took Logan a minute to fully understand what she was asking. He turned to look at her momentarily before focusing back on the road. “No, it wasn’t a coincidence.”

Veronica wiped a few tears from her lashes. She needed to trust Logan again and he was taking her trust all the way back to the beginning to where she first gave it to him. The elephants represented a reminder of a strong foundational friendship and god, she was so screwed…she was falling in love with him all over again, only this time she was falling ten times harder.


 

When they arrived at the San Diego Zoo Logan purchased their tickets and they headed toward the main pathway that forked off to the left toward Monkey Trail.

Walking hand in hand they slowly made their way down the trail, passing by and looking at the flamingos, monkeys, bird, tigers and bobcats along the way.

As the time ticked on, Logan steered Veronica toward Alberts. It was a tree house restaurant located in the Lost Forest, where Monkey Trail and Treetops Way connected.

Logan had placed a reservation ahead of time so they didn’t have to wait for a table. The hostess took them to a two-top table on the outside deck with a view of the private waterfall.

Veronica looked at Logan in awe. This restaurant was one she had always wanted to try, but it was typically too full and cost a little more than she and Keith were willing to spend on a meal, so she never got a chance to try it. “This place is really beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here.”

“You are more than welcome, Veronica.”

They picked up their menus and glanced over the options before the waiter appeared to take their order. They decided on a smoked spinach and artichoke fondue with tortilla chips and pancetta as an appetizer. Veronica ordered a Bacon Chicken Grill with everything on it including lettuce, tomato, onion and white cheddar on a toasted brioche roll and a side order of fries. Logan opted for the Ancho BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, pickled red onions on a potato bun with coleslaw and fries.

Shortly after the waiter brought them their appetizer and a few waters before leaving them alone to enjoy the food and the scenery.

Logan watched Veronica dish up her portion of fondue with a small smile, feeling incredibly lucky to be sitting across from her on a date. It still didn’t feel real, he thought he royally screwed up and thanked every star she was giving him another chance. “How does it feel to be twenty?”

“Well, I’m not twenty yet. I’ve still got,” she looked down at her watch, “…roughly eleven hours left until my birthday.” She gave him a smart-ass smile. “But it feels relatively the same, no big milestones at twenty except for no longer being considered a teen. So I guess that’s something.”

“You know…once you turn twenty, I will officially be dating an older woman, which makes you a cougar my dear.” He laughed as her jaw dropped open in mock outrage.

“And just for that comment the baby and I would like ice cream for dessert.”

“Low blow, Mars, using the baby. You know I can’t deny our beautiful daughter anything.”

“I’ll remember that for when I want a pony.”

“When? You always want a pony.”

She smiled at him and laughed again. “What if we have a boy, what will you do then?”

He reached over and placed his hand on top of hers. “If we end up having a boy I will love him the same as if we were having a girl. As long as we are a family, gender doesn’t matter.” He turned playful again. “But…she is a she. I just know.”

“How do you know?”

“I thought you got an A in biology. Men determine the sex of a baby.”

“You have no control over it though! It’s not like you checked a box saying which one you wanted.” She was laughing hard at the serious look on his face as if she just revealed some hard learned truth.

“My X swimmers are notorious. There’s no way a Y got the job done first, they know to hang back.”

Veronica shook her head at the ridiculousness of his answer, still laughing. “You seem awfully confident, care to make a bet on it?”

He flashed her a large smile, the one that made her swoon. “Absolutely. Winner decides the name for the baby?”

She stared down at his outstretched hand and moved her own toward his so they could shake on it. “Deal.”

The waiter arrived at their table with their meals. Before he left Logan placed an order for an ice cream sundae for dessert so it would be ready when they were done eating.

They finished their meal with small talk, the upcoming school year and what classes they had each signed up for. Veronica was sticking with criminal justice as her major while Logan was undecided and planned to continue to take his general education required courses.

No shared classes between them this semester, but they were on campus at the same time so they could still see each other regularly throughout the day. Fall semester wasn’t going to be difficult to navigate, although the spring semester would prove to be more of a challenge since the baby would be born right in the middle. They decided to put off that conversation for now and just focus on the next couple of weeks first. Looking too far ahead was only going to stress them out.

Once they finished eating Logan paid the bill and tipped the waiter before interlocking hands with Veronica and leading her to their next destination.

Holding her hand seemed so G-rated and very middle school, but he didn’t care, he just wanted to touch her, feel her next to him. Wrapping his arms around her seemed like too much of a risk for their newly budding relationship and facing the simplest form of rejection from her would still hurt.

He had no problem taking things as slow as Veronica wanted as long as she was still his in some capacity. He didn’t want to lose her ever again.

They walked across the Bashor Bridge into Panda Trek territory. Stopping to watch the panda bears for a few minutes before moving on to the lions, sloths, cheetahs and of course, the elephants.

Logan sat down on the same bench from seven years prior and patted the seat next to him. Veronica smiled and obeyed his request, settling in next to him watching the elephants play in the summer heat.

There was a female elephant in the back of the heard standing by a tree. She was big news, making headlines for the zoo, drawing people in because she was pregnant and due soon. Everyone wanted to visit to see if the new baby elephant had been born yet.

Logan stretched him arm along the back of the bench and watched Veronica as she watched the elephant in question. “Did you know pregnancy for an elephant lasts twenty-two months?”

“I’m so glad I’m not an elephant. Although I’m going to be as big as one at nine months.”

“You are still going to look beautiful, no matter how big you get. You know that, right?”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, you are. And I can’t wait to watch our daughter grow.”

She smiled and placed a hand on her stomach.

Logan reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black velvet square box. “Happy birthday, Veronica.”

She held the box in her hands and looked up at Logan. “You didn’t have to get me a present. Bringing me to the zoo was more than enough.”

“I know, but you deserve something to open for your birthday.” He nodded toward the box. “So go ahead.”

Veronica flipped open the lid and ran her fingers gently over the object inside. It was a white gold open heart shaped necklace on a matching white gold chain. One side of the heart was solid; the other was covered in twenty round cut aquamarine gemstones. “Logan…it’s—“

“Since the baby is due in March I thought…do you like it?”

A tear ran down her cheek as she stared down at the necklace. This was her Logan. The Logan she loved. The one who was charming and loving and who knew her better than anyone. Twelve-year-old Logan who grew up, the Logan reserved just for her. “It’s perfect.” She looked into his eyes as the tears fell and smiled when he brushed them away with his thumbs. “Can you help me put it on?”

He nodded and carefully lifted the necklace out of the box, waiting for her to lift her hair off her shoulders so he could reach around and clasp the ends together.

She let her hair fall back into place as the necklace hung around her neck. She touched the end of it with her fingers and sank back into the bench, pressed against Logan’s side, head on his shoulder watching the elephants.


 

By the time they had covered every inch of the zoo it was time for dinner. Logan took them to an Italian restaurant before heading back to Neptune.

With a full stomach and a long day of walking and excitement, Veronica was wiped out. She tried to keep her eyes open on the way home but the steady rhythm of the moving car, the landscape passing by the window in a blur and Logan’s soft voice made her lose control of consciousness and she drifted to sleep.

Logan pulled into the Sunset Cliffs apartment complex and shut off the car. He looked over at Veronica sleeping soundly, head against the door, softly snoring and he smiled. Quietly, he climbed out of the car and went around to her side. Careful not to wake her, he slowly opened the door and supported her head so it wouldn’t fall forward and jerk her awake.

He leaned over and unbuckled the seat belt, untangling her from the mess and scooped her into his arms. He picked up her small purse and eased her out of the car; with her face against his chest he could feel her warm breath sliding across his skin and seeping into his heart.

The passenger door closed after a quick hip check and he made his way toward apartment 110. Doing the best he could, given his hands were full; he knocked on the door and waited to see if anyone was home.

Keith opened the door and before he could say anything he saw Veronica asleep in Logan’s arms and opened the door wider to let him in.

Logan carried Veronica back to her room and gently laid her down on top of her covers. He placed the small bag down on her dresser and carefully worked off her sandals.

With Keith in the room next door, Logan did not attempt to put pajamas on Veronica. Instead he left her in her dress and slipped her legs under the comforter, tucking her in. “Happy birthday, Veronica.” He bent over and placed a kiss to her forehead. “Sweet dreams, girls.”

He closed her door on the way out and found Keith standing behind the kitchen island, leaning on his forearms. “Goodnight, Mr. Mars.”

“Keith.” Logan stopped his progress to the door and turned around. “You can call me Keith, Logan. You got my daughter pregnant and you’re the father of my grandchild, I think it would be better to be on a first name basis. Don’t you?”

He nodded back. “I never did thank you for giving me another chance with her. I know you don’t like me very much and you probably wish I wasn’t the one responsible for what happened to Veronica. But I love her and I love that baby and I’m going to prove to you that I can be good for them.”

“I do like you, Logan, I just don’t like some of the choices you have made over the years, which leaves me a little hesitant to see you with my daughter. One day soon you will be standing in my shoes and you will understand what I mean.” Keith moved around the counter and stood in front of Logan. “This may surprise you, but I always figured we would end up here, you and Veronica with a kid. Granted, I didn’t expect this future vision to happen so soon, but the possibility of it ten years from now, when you were both in your thirties, has always occurred to me.”

“It has?” He looked at Keith with an expression that screamed bullshit.

“I’ve known you since you were twelve. You, unlike my daughter, wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s not a secret that you love Veronica. I saw it at twelve and I see it now, the look in your eye when you look at her has always been the same. It shocked me more when the two of you started dating the Kane kids instead of each other.” He leaned in and whispered, “and between you and me…I never liked Duncan.”

Logan’s eyes widened not believing what he was hearing. “You didn’t? Hmm…you had me fooled. I didn’t know being the one on the receiving end of threatening talks and being thrown out of homes by angry fathers was what constituted as being the more favorable option for boyfriend. I’m going to have to update my feelings journal.”

Keith smirked and had to admit Logan’s theatrics always did entertain him. He was a lot like Veronica in that way. “Do you think I treated you unfairly over the years?”

“Compared to Duncan? If I’m being honest, then yes, I think you did. I don’t recall you having any conversations with him about being with Veronica. Did you?”

“Why would I?”

“That's my point. You clearly liked him better,” Logan mumbled under his breath.

“I just told you I didn’t,” Keith added with a smile. “A father doesn’t need to scare every boy that takes an interest in his daughter, contrary to what you might believe. He only threatens a boy for two reasons – the first reason being that said boy is dangerous - and or - a total creep, in which case you try to scare the hell out of him hoping he loses interest really quick. That kid Troy from your high school, he fell into this category.”

Logan held back his remark, smiling internally that Keith did not approve of Troy from the start as well. “What’s the second reason?”

“The second reason…is that you realize that boy has the ability to replace you, to become the number one man in his daughter’s life.” Keith watched Logan’s eyes soften as the pieces began to come together. “And that category has always and only belonged to you. Does that make sense?”

Logan nodded unable to find his voice at the moment.

“Anyway, what I’m essentially trying to say is that if you continue to treat Veronica right, you and I won’t have a problem. You have my support and I’m here for the both of you no matter what. We’ve had our differences in the past, but you’ve given me one of the greatest gifts, so I’m willing to forgive and forget the bad times. A fresh start between us.”

“Thank you, Keith.” Logan stared at the one man whose approval he always sought. He didn’t know what to say other than thank you so he said nothing at all and left feeling happier than he had in a long time. Things were finally starting to look up for him and Veronica.

Chapter Text

“Come on already!” Veronica growled to herself sitting in an empty car staked out in front of the Camelot. It took a lot of groveling to get her dad to let her help out by taking this job while he chased down a bail jumper.

He didn’t want her taking any jobs that required her to do fieldwork. She understood his concern, not wanting to see her taking any unnecessary risks that could put herself and the baby in harms way, but she was going stir crazy sitting in the apartment day after day.

She hadn’t been by the office in weeks and if she was being honest, she missed it. A lot. Ever since she admitted her part in Keith’s failed re-election a weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she was ready to jump back in and start taking cases again.

Nothing big. She wasn’t looking to go after serial killers or drug cartels; she wanted to keep the baby safe just as much as her father and Logan did. But she needed to scratch an investigative itch somehow, so office work, stakeouts and low level cases were agreed upon.

However, now as she was bouncing her leg up and down rapidly in the car she was having second thoughts on thinking a stakeout was a good idea in her condition. She hoped these two adulterers came up for air soon because she desperately had to pee. Pregnancy and stakeouts did not go hand in hand. Not to mention she was hungry, again.

Veronica pulled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a container of apple slices from her messenger bag. Halfway through her second dinner or two hours overdue midnight snack, the door to the room she was watching opened.

She snatched her camera up and started snapping away as the couple engaged in a rather passionate, yet disturbingly sloppy – almost like they were sucking each other’s faces off – goodbye kiss. “Yuck.”

Satisfied with the money shot she captured, she waited a few minutes until the coast was clear and pulled away to go home.


 

The next day Veronica pulled her tired body out of bed a few minutes past noon. The nine hours of sleep she got hardly seemed like enough. There was either going to be a nice long nap awaiting her later this evening or she was going to have to give up the late night stakeouts for a while.

She padded into the kitchen and made herself a bowl of oatmeal with some fresh fruit before jumping in the shower. She took her time standing under the warm water, letting it run over her head, down her body and watching the water and soap combo swirl around the drain.

When the water had turned cold ten minutes in she jumped out and quickly toweled her body dry before the AC could freeze the droplets on her skin.

Dropping the towel to the floor she stood in front of the mirror completely nude and turned to the side. This was a game she liked to play every week to see if she was starting to show. She gasped when she saw a slight protruding bump extending her lower abdomen. It was small and hardly noticeable unless one knew what to look for, but it was definitely there.

Veronica picked up the towel, wrapped it around her body and dashed to her room to grab her phone.

Veronica 12:58pm: Come over? I have something to show you.

Logan 1:03pm: Be there in 20.

With little time she went to her dresser and grabbed a bra, underwear and some striped sleep shorts, then over to her bed and pulled on Logan’s tee shirt. The shirt covered the shorts completely and for a second she thought about changing, not wanting to give Logan the wrong impression, but ultimately decided against it. He would be seeing what was underneath her clothing regardless of what she was wearing anyway.

A knock on the door sounded and Veronica practically skipped down the hall. She opened the door with a big smile and twinkling eyes that gave away her excitement. “Hey!”

“Please tell me you don’t open the door dressed like that for everyone.” He groaned as they moved into the apartment, not bothering to hide what seeing her dressed the way she was did to him. “Wait a minute. Is that my shirt?”

She looked down at her outfit and bit her lip trying to hide a smile. “Uh, yeah. I stole it.”

“When?”

“Over the summer while you were gone.” Her innocent and somewhat teasing smile sunk a little at the troubled look on his face. She gently nudged him to sit down and took the seat across from him on the coffee table. “Do you want the short version or the long version?”

He held her hands between his and rubbed a thumb over her knuckles. “Long version. I want to know everything I missed.”

Veronica nodded. “Back in June, Wallace and I went to a carnival and we ended up with food poisoning. He got over it within a day, but I didn’t, for two weeks I kept getting sick. Eventually I hit my limit and I went to the store to pick up something, anything, that could help. After seeing the boxes of pregnancy tests…it dawned on me that I could be pregnant also because that night—“

“I didn’t wear a condom.” He tilted his head back remembering his mistake – at the time they were too caught up in each other to use common sense or to fully understand the consequences. She didn’t get pregnant from a broken condom; she got pregnant because they didn’t even bother to use one. They left the goal wide open.

“And I wasn’t on birth control.” She squeezed his hands lightly bringing him back to the present. “I couldn’t take the test with my dad here so I went to your suite. You weren’t there and I still had my keycard so I let myself in. I took the test, got really angry, cried on the floor for a few hours and then went to bed. I slept in your shirt and took it with me the next day. That’s why I have it now.”

That’s why he could smell her on his pillow; she had slept in his bed and must have just missed her leaving when he got back. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that alone, I should have been here with you.” Logan brought her hands up to his mouth and kissed them hoping to take away any ounce of pain she may have felt that day. “Do you,” he cleared his throat, “do you regret getting pregnant?”

“No, because it’s with you, no. I was angry with myself and…with you…in the beginning for throwing a wrench in our future, but I never once thought about not keeping the baby. Every time the choice came up I always picked him—“

“Her.”

She smiled and tiled her head playfully. “Because it’s you and me.” A minute of silence passed between them before Veronica worked up the courage to ask him the one question that had haunted her since the day he left town and left her alone in his bed. “Do you regret that I’m—“ she couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence, her insecurities bubbling up.

“Not for a second.”

Veronica saw the intense desire building up in his eyes during their intimate moment and quickly stood up before they did something they weren’t quite ready for.

Logan smirked at her, fully aware of why she had put some distance between them. All in due time he thought. “So, there was something you wanted to show me? Or was that something just my shirt?”

Veronica laughed and shook her head. “No. Actually, I wanted…” she grabbed the edge of the tee shirt and lifted the hem up to the bottom of her breasts, exposing the sleep shorts and her entire abdomen, “to show you this.” She turned to the side, facing the front door so Logan could see her in profile.

He stood up; eyes glazed over in awe at the sight of her bare stomach and moved to stand in front of her. He knelt down, which left his head just slightly above her belly and looked up at her with a smile.

She knew he would have no problem seeing the slight swell in her form. Logan had every inch of her body memorized, which made identifying the changes easy for him.

His palms slowly connected with her skin on each side of her belly button, fingers curling around her sides. Keeping his left hand flattened over her bare stomach he stood up, right hand sliding around the back of her neck bringing her head forward closer to his. Their lips met softly and molded together instantly, taking it slow and just enjoying the moment and the taste of each other.

Veronica pulled back to catch her breath and rested her forehead against Logan’s. “What was that for?”

“You still owed me a first date kiss since you fell asleep on the way home. This seemed like a good moment to collect.”

Logan got back down on his knees again and placed his hands back on Veronica’s stomach. It was quickly becoming his favorite view. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to the exposed skin.

Heat pooled where his lips touched and she smiled at him as her right hand automatically ran through his hair while her left kept her shirt bunched around her breasts.

The front door swung open without a knock before either of them could process the world outside their little happy bubble. “Supafly, where have you—“ Wallace and Mac stood just inside the door with matching open mouthed expressions, unbridled shock did not even begin to cover the frozen in place scene before them.


 

Mac sat on the arm of the chair. Veronica and Logan took to the couch sitting close enough that their legs touched. The energy in the room felt like a principal’s office, two kids looking down at their laps while waiting for the interrogation to begin and punishment to be dealt out.

Wallace stopped pacing back and forth across the expanse of the small living room and turned to the two on the couch, Mac looked on highly amused. “V?”

She looked up to see Wallace waiting for an explanation. No one had said anything since him and Mac burst through the door and she knew he was confused and growing impatient. “Yes, Papa Bear.” He scowled at her for not taking him seriously. “What do you want me to say, Wallace?”

“The truth would be nice. Is this,” he gestured between her and Logan, “why you basically dropped off the radar? Are you and Logan back together?”

“It’s complicated…but yes. We’re dating.”

“And that, uh…moment Mac and I walked in on was what?”

“It was exactly what it looked like.”

“Some weird form of foreplay?” Wallace scrunched up his nose slightly grossed out and also relieved that he hadn’t seen more of something he shouldn’t have seen at all. Then another thought hit him and he looked amused. “You’re so lucky it was me and Mac, what if your dad had walked in and saw Logan making out with your stomach?”

Veronica rolled her eyes while Logan smirked at Wallace. “Keith likes me.”

Wallace looked at Logan like he had grown three heads. “Since when?”

Veronica bit her bottom lip and looked down at the floor.

“Veronica?”

She looked at both of her friends who were watching her closely waiting for an answer. She could see the concern in their expressions and a little bit of hurt from not being in the loop to the secrets she kept hidden lately.

Logan placed his hand over hers pulling her attention back to him and gave her a nod of encouragement.

“My dad has always liked Logan, but even more so now…” she took a deep breath and quickly rushed through the reveal of her secret, “since Logan made him a grandparent…I’m pregnant.”

Wallace and Mac’s jaws dropped once more, simultaneously. It would have been funny if Veronica weren’t waiting on bated breath to see what they would say about her news.

Mac’s shock wore off first and she moved to sit next to Veronica on the couch, wrapping her arms around her in a hug. “Congratulations, Bond.”

Normally the hug would have been too much, they weren’t the kind of girls to seek physical comfort from friends, but under the circumstances Veronica let it slide. “Thanks, Q.”

“When is the baby due?”

“The beginning of March, she’s eleven weeks along.” Logan added with a proud smile.

Wallace finally snapped out of his shock induced silence and locked eyes with Veronica somewhat skeptically but needing confirmation in order to wrap his head around everything. “You’re sure it’s—“

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence.” Veronica stood up and snapped back with narrowed eyes, a cautioned threat in the tone of her voice. She could see Mac and Logan watching the two of them closely, not fully understanding the change in the atmosphere from just mere moments ago. “Of course I’m sure. Why does everyone keep asking me that? I’m not my reputation.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to look out for you.”

Veronica moved to stand in front of Wallace, placing her hand on his arm with a smile, the energy in the room becoming less tense with each passing second. “I know, but it’s not necessary, things are good for once.”

He remembered the day she had cried in front of him and Mac in her room on the floor. The pain she desperately tried to keep hidden from everyone, more importantly the source of the pain, but overall it was too much to contain. She broke in front of them that day, unwillingly showing vulnerability and heartbreak he had never seen on her or anyone else before. She didn’t deserve to feel any more pain in her life; she had suffered far more than any one person should.

Wallace pulled her into a hug and spoke quietly so only she could hear him. “Are you happy?”

“Yeah, I am.” She pulled back so he could see the real smile on her face.

“Good. Congrats, V.” He turned to look over Veronica’s shoulder at Logan, who was now standing a few feet away like a guard dog, ready to step in and protect Veronica if the need were to arise. “You too, Logan.”

Logan nodded his thanks. Veronica rolled her eyes at the simplicity of the male interaction. A nod here, half hug half backslap there, a little pat on the butt and all was forgiven. Or as much as possible between those two. They wouldn’t ever be close friends and she was okay with that as long as they remained civil. She couldn’t stand the thought of losing either one of them.

The sound of Veronica’s stomach growling broke the silence that had settled over the group and they all laughed.

Logan pulled out his phone and began placing a delivery order for Thai.

“Triple the order.” Wallace and Mac both shot Veronica an odd look for adding more to an already large order. “What? You guys are staying and I eat for two now. Trust me, we won’t have any leftovers.”

After lunch Mac and Wallace stuck around for a few hours to hangout knowing they only had a few more days before the semester started and they had to move back into the campus dorms. Veronica didn’t mind, she missed seeing them regularly over the last couple of weeks. Now that her big secrets were revealed there was no reason to avoid them anymore.

She was surprised how well they took the news of her pregnancy. She was almost expecting Wallace to tackle Logan or leave in anger, but he didn’t. He was actually making an effort to find some common ground they could both stand on without coming to blows or using heated words.

Veronica looked over at the boys lounging on the couch and smiled as she watched them bonding over some game on Sports Center. Everything was changing and for once she didn’t mind or try to stop it.


 

The next evening Logan parked his car along the beach and jumped out to open Veronica’s door. He planned for a romantic night lying under the stars, snuggled together under the darkness of the moon - hoping to sweep her off her feet with intimacy; the proven woo technique to all lasting relationships. But as they walked across the parking lot apparently Veronica had a different plan. She was pulling him further away from the ocean and closer to the storefronts across the street.

She looked over her shoulder with a soft smile, never releasing his hand. “There’s someone I want you to meet and then we can continue our date.”

When they entered the local tea shop, the bell chimed announcing their arrival, an elderly woman bounced around the counter with a heart-melting smile and scooped Veronica up in a hug. Logan hung back somewhat astounded that this older woman was able to get his prickly soon-to-be-girlfriend, again, to willingly wrap her arms around another human being who was not related to her.

“Oh, Veronica, look at you, you are just glowing! Motherhood suits you well, my dear.” Ellie finally noticed that Veronica was not alone and tilted her head in question, for which Veronica silently responded with a nod. Ellie’s smile grew once more as she looked at the young man she had never met. “Oh my and you must be Logan!” She pulled him into a hug and released him after a minute smirking at Veronica. “I can see now why you blushed so hard the last time we spoke. He’s a very handsome young man indeed.”

“Ellie!” Veronica shouted as her face turned bright red in embarrassment. “Logan, this is Ellie, she owns this shop. Ellie, you already know who Logan is.”

Logan looked at the older woman confused. “You do?”

“Veronica has been in here several times over the summer and we usually have lunch and chit chat. She’s told me many stories about you. Congratulations by the way on becoming a new daddy. I can tell you will be a natural.”

“Really?”

Ellie motioned to one of the tables for the three of them to sit. “Of course. It’s all in your eyes. They are the windows to the soul, if you believe in that sort of thing and yours radiate nothing but love. You also have your mother’s eyes and she was a woman who exuded grace.”

Logan felt Veronica place her hand on his thigh under the table and he laid his hand on top of hers feeling the comfort she was giving him. “You knew my mother?”

“Not personally, no. I did see her once; this was many many years ago back when she was more involved in theatre. My husband took me to see one of her plays for our anniversary and she was wonderful. You could really tell she loved being on stage. The audience gave her a standing ovation that night.”

Logan smiled at the memory Ellie was sharing. It wasn’t often he heard such pure tales that hadn’t been tainted by their haunted past. He liked hearing about his mom being happy; he didn’t get to witness too many of those days himself.

“Now your father, I saw him in that movie, oh what was it called,” Ellie placed a finger to her lips in thought, “Breaking Paint.”

“Breaking Point,” Logan corrected with a smile. He understood now why Veronica took a liking to and was able to bond with this older woman. She was one of a kind and warm, just like every mother should be.

“Either way, it was awful. I should have gotten a refund on the way out. Two hours of my life I will never get back.”

Logan laughed and met Veronica’s own gaze smiling back at him.

Ellie watched the two kids in front of her for a moment and melted at their cuteness. “What are you both doing this evening? Just enjoying a night out on the town.”

“We were headed to the beach, Logan’s taking me to gaze at the stars for our second date. I just wanted to stop by and see you first before you closed up for the night so you could meet Logan.”

“Well don’t let me keep you from your date!” Ellie hopped up and went behind the counter. “I’ll pack you up some dessert to take with you. Logan, do you like tea? I also have water or juice.” She didn’t give him a chance to respond before she continued on. “I’ll just give you an assortment.”

She packed a few items from the bakery section, some warm chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cupcakes along with an assortment of beverages and brought them over to Logan and Veronica.

Logan reached for his wallet and Ellie waved him away. “You both are like my adoptive children now, you never have to pay here. I only ask that you come by and visit every so often, my kids are all grown and moved away with their own families, I have no one to spoil anymore.”

They both said their goodbyes and thank you’s before heading across the street to the beach.


 

After finishing off the snacks and warm tea that Ellie had given them they sat side by side in the sand conversing. The sky was clear and dark, decorated with tiny dots of light. Ocean waves rushed into the shore in rhythmic tandem and quieted over the sand before being pulled forcefully back and swallowed by the vastness of the deep blue. A chaotic peace.

As the sun descended further into the horizon, the air chilled considerably and Veronica began to shiver. Logan ran back to the car and grabbed a large red plaid flannel blanket from his trunk for times like this.

Walking back to the beach he unfolded the blanket and draped it around his back holding a corner in each hand. He had an idea and wanted to test out his ability to be smooth.

It was going to be like those scenes in all the romantic movies where the couple is watching a movie and the guy decides that twenty minutes in is the perfect time to stretch those stiff muscles and limbs. The guy’s arm gracefully comes down to rest around the girl’s shoulders and pulls her in close. Operation cuddle - mission accomplished.

The move itself was creative, but it was tried and done by every male around the world. Logan didn’t like it, it was too pushy. He didn’t want a girl to feel trapped into sitting there uncomfortable with him invading her space because she was afraid to hurt his feelings by telling him to move. So he never used it. Instead he had a different move, it was just as smooth, just as cheesy, but it wasn’t forced, he left the option to cuddle or not open.

Plus, he wanted to test Veronica to see how comfortable she was with him now after these past few weeks, if her trust in him was beginning to rebuild or not. He was going to set it up but he wanted her to make the move first.

Logan sat down against a log a few feet away from where he left Veronica. She gave him a questioning look and all he did was hold his arms out wide, showing off the warm blanket she could be sitting under if she moved.

Veronica stood up, brushed the sand off her backside and without hesitating took a few steps closer to Logan and sat down in between his legs.

He was shocked when she sat, of course he was hoping she would sit there, that was the intended goal to his plan, but he never expected her to actually go for it, especially without prompting. He thought she would have chosen to sit next to him.

He closed his arms around her, enclosing them both in the warmth of the flannel and gave her the ends of the blanket to hold.

She pulled the blanket tighter around them so the cooler air could not seep inside and relaxed against his chest. She felt Logan’s large warm hands rest on her stomach and she smiled. This was her safe place.

They sat in a comfortable silence for several minutes wrapped together under the stars, breathing in sync and filled to the brink with happiness.

“My next prenatal appointment is Wednesday…can you…I mean, do you want to come with me?”

Logan kissed her cheek softly, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Do you think we will get to hear the heartbeat?”

“I hope so.” She smiled uncontrollably. “Have you thought about names yet? We should be able to find out the sex in the next two or three appointments.”

“Hmm…I was thinking Reese, Olivia or Anna for a little girl and Ryan or Lucas for a little boy.”

“I like Anna and Lucas. The others are okay.”

“Just okay?” There was a playful tone in his voice, “what did you come up with then?”

“If we have a boy I was thinking Aiden, Finn or Noah, and for a girl…Charlotte or Riley. What do you think?”

Logan ran all ten names through his head and scrunched his nose behind Veronica’s back. Only one name stood out to him as a real possible winner, but instead of giving her his honest opinion at the moment he just shrugged. “We still have plenty of time to decide.”

“That we do.” Veronica smiled and snuggled back further into Logan’s embrace and soaked up the feeling of being held by him again.

Chapter Text

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

Logan groaned and rolled over slapping the alarm clock on the bedside table turning it off. Getting up early to surf was one thing, but getting up early to go to class was not an activity he enjoyed.

In the past he had no motivation or reason to go to class. He was rich and loaded with millions, which didn’t require him to have a college education in order to get a job to make a living. He already had a living and he was set for life with funds.

He had motivation and a reason to go to class now, several of them in fact. He wanted to be a better person not only for himself but also for Veronica and their daughter. He needed direction and purpose and graduating college and finding a job he enjoyed would give him that.

The other more immediate motivator to get up at the crack of dawn was Veronica. He offered to pick her up and take her to school and she had said yes. So here he was getting up at five-thirty in the morning to get ready to take Veronica to breakfast before her eight o’clock class.

Logan climbed out of bed, jumped in the shower and then got dressed before grabbing his book bag and heading out into the main suite area. He was a little surprised to see Dick awake and sitting on the couch in a pair of board shorts eating cereal. “Hey, man, what are you doing up? I thought you didn’t have class until one.”

“I don’t, but I was gonna hit some waves this morning. What are you doing up?”

“I’m picking up Veronica.”

“No, no, no, no, no!” Dick put his bowl down on the coffee table and quickly stood up. “Why the hell are you picking up Ronnie? Is that who you’ve been spending all your time with these last few weeks?”

Logan ducked his head and rubbed the nape of his neck. “We got back together.”

“Yeah, for how long, dude? I don’t know why you keep going back to her. She dumps your ass for the smallest most ridiculous things and then you mope around all emo-like for months and I have to put you back together. I don’t like being the responsible one, it’s not fun!”

“It’s different this time, Dick. We both want this relationship to work this time, it has to, I can’t lose them, they’re all I have besides you for family.”

“Them?” Dick’s eyebrows rose in confusion.

Logan internally cursed himself for the slip up. He figured it was okay if he went ahead and told Dick. Wallace and Mac already knew and so did Keith and Ellie, one more person should be okay. And plus, Dick was like a brother to him, he trusted Dick.

He took a deep breath before revealing his secret to his best friend. “Yeah, them. Veronica’s pregnant.”

Dick’s eyes widened in shock but he recovered quickly punching Logan in the chest. “You knocked up Ronnie!? And Mr. Mars didn’t kill you? Dude, do you know how lucky you are?”

“I know. He’s actually the one who told me she was pregnant.”

“What are you going to do about the kid?”

“Be her father. Raise her with Veronica. Be the parent we never had. I mean she’s not even here yet and I love her more than anything in this world. All I want to do is protect her and watch her grow up. I don’t know how our parents could neglect us like they did, I can’t even imagine doing that to my kid.”

“You’re going to be a great dad, Logan.” Dick moved to give him a half hug, half slap on the back. “Even if I’m not totally on board with your special lady friend, I am happy for you.”

“Thanks, Dick.” Logan readjusted his book bag and took a few steps closer to the door. “And please at least try to be nice to Veronica. She is carrying your niece or nephew.”

“You’re making me an uncle!?” Dick asked excitedly.

“Yeah, you’re like family to me. So be nice and don’t tell anyone about the baby. I don’t think Veronica is ready to go public yet.”

“Don’t worry, dude. I won’t tell anyone.”

Logan said goodbye and walked out of the suite. His day had started off good and once he picked up Veronica he imagined it was only going to get better.


On the other side of town, Veronica was scrambling to get ready before Logan showed up. She had slept past her alarm, accidently turning it off instead of hitting snooze. Staying up until nearly one in the morning when she needed to get up by six was a horrible idea.

It wasn’t her fault entirely; she just had a difficult time falling asleep. Her mind wouldn’t turn off, jumping from one topic to the next – Logan, her classes, back to Logan, what sounded good for breakfast, once again Logan and then finally the baby’s next ultrasound on Wednesday.

By the time she did fall asleep it was late and she was exhausted. What’s new? She had slept like a rock and now she was greatly paying for it.

After taking a quick shower and drying her hair she applied a thin layer of makeup spending a little extra time on her eyes trying to hide the faint dark circles that appeared over night.

Before she could run back to her room to throw on some clothes a knock sounded throughout the apartment announcing Logan’s arrival. Veronica tightened the sash around her robe and went to answer the door. “Good morning,” she greeted him with a smile.

Logan sauntered in wearing his typical school uniform of jeans and a button up long sleeve shirt. He leaned down and captured her lips in a heated kiss before pulling away to cool himself down. “Mhmm, yes it is.”

“I have to finish getting ready. Give me five minutes?” He nodded and let her shuffle back to her room.

Veronica pulled on a tank top and a loose fitting tee that didn’t hug her frame. Anything too form fitting showed her small baby bump and she wasn’t ready for the attention that would draw yet. She went to her dresser and grabbed a pair of jeans, sliding them up her legs and stopped struggling when she couldn’t button them. “No, dammit! Not today!”

“Veronica, are you okay?” Logan called from the other side of the door obviously hearing her outburst.

“No.” She walked over to the door with her pants unbuttoned and flung it open to see Logan with concern written over his face. “My clothes don’t fit, look at this,” she demonstrated the problem she was having, completely frustrated and annoyed with the situation.

Instead of laughing Logan just smiled and cupped Veronica’s bump, kissing the surface of her belly protruding outward the most.

Every time Logan kissed her there she melted, all her immediate problems slipped away, her body relaxed and it was just the three of them together. A family. He kissed her forehead so gently, so loving; she felt tears welling up in her eyes. “What am I supposed to wear?”

“What about a dress or those shorts you’ve been wearing all summer?”

“The classrooms are too cold. I’ll be freezing all day, I need pants.”

“Don’t you have any sweatpants?”

She shook her head sadly. “No, just pajama pants.”

“Wear those then.”

“That’s a great first impression,” she huffed. “I can’t wear pajamas to school on the first day of class.”

Logan thought for a minute before walking over to Veronica’s dresser and pulled out a thick two-inch wide brown leather belt from one of her drawers. “Here. This will get us through today until we can get you some new clothes after school.”

He slid the belt through the loops on her jeans and buckled it. The jeans were still unzipped and unbuttoned but the large belt hid most of it and held the pants in place on her hips. “What do you think?”

Veronica frowned, “you can still tell that my fly is wide open and everyone can see my underwear.”

“I think I have a hoodie in my car you could wear that will probably cover you. Do you want it?”

“Yes, please.” Logan ran out to his car while she finished getting ready. He came back in a few minutes later with a green hoodie that stopped mid thigh on Veronica. She picked up her messenger bag and books and followed Logan back out to the car.


When they arrived at Hearst Logan parked and went around to open Veronica’s door. He grabbed her books and walked hand and hand with her into the cafeteria.

They found an empty table in the back of the room and dumped all their belongings down to save their seats. As Veronica began to follow Logan he turned around and stepped in her path. “I’ll go grab our breakfast, you hold down the fort and make sure no one steals the table or our stuff.” He saw her pout at not being allowed to tag along and smiled, she looked so adorable with her bottom lip pushed out. He wanted to capture it between his teeth. “What do you want to eat?”

The pout slid off her face as the conversation turned to food. A topic that often left her with glazed over and happy eyes. “One of everything?”

“Of course, how silly of me to even ask.” He kissed her forehead, “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Stay out of trouble.”

Ha! She wasn’t the one who started all the trouble in the cafeteria last year, but the warning was fair. Trouble did seem to follow her around even when she wasn’t actively searching for it. She just hoped this school year went better than the last.

Veronica sat back down at the table and laid her head down across her arms. She closed her eyes and tried to catch a quick power nap before Logan got back with their food. Not long after she relaxed a voice coming from behind her caused her to jump in her seat.

“Veronica?”

She followed him with her eyes as he took the seat next to her, turning it until he was facing her. His smile was bright, reaching all the way up to both eyes, bringing out his dimples and making his eyes shine. He was happy and excited to see her and she could honestly say the feeling was not mutual. “Piz.”

“It’s so good to see you. You look great by the way.”

A red flag pinged in Veronica’s mind. He was lying to be nice; she knew she didn’t look great today. She had dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep, she had gained weight since the last time he saw her and nothing said smoking hot like wearing a hoodie that was three sizes too big and bunched around the elbows because the sleeves were a mile too long for her short stature. Whatever was on his mind she knew it wasn’t going to be good, he was buttering her up.

He leaned in to hug her, but she flinched at the last minute and put more space in between them causing him to drop his arms immediately and pretend the moment hadn’t occurred, continuing the conversation to hide his embarrassment.

“How was your summer,” he asked, the smile on his face seemed to be permanently stuck in place. It was starting to creep her out. He didn’t even smile this much when they were together.

“Uh, good. Quiet, mostly.” Her summer was anything but quiet, but elaborating would lead to follow up questions and she really needed him to be gone before Logan got back. “How was your summer?” Damn politeness.

“Eye opening. My internship was amazing when I wasn’t getting coffee for all my idols, but I realized that it was only half of what I want. Look Veronica,” he reached out and gently picked up her hand to hold between his, “I think we made a mistake by breaking up.”

Veronica looked toward the cashier line and saw a line full of students waiting to pay, none of which were Logan. “Piz, I—“

“Please, just let me get this out first. I love you, Veronica. And I’m sorry for the things I said, I was just angry and heartbroken that you were walking away from us. I’ve thought a lot about us since then and I know that we can be good together. You are worth the risk and this time I’ll try harder to be what you need, to stand up with you as you fight your battles. I love you, Veronica. Can you give me a second chance?”

She pulled her hand out of his grasp and wrapped them tightly around her stomach. “Piz, I’m seeing someone.” He started to object and she cut him off by continuing. “It’s serious. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel the same way as you do, there was a reason we broke up.”

“Yeah, well, you broke up with Logan countless times and yet you took him back every time he looked your way,” Piz harped. “I’ll do anything for you, Veronica. What can this new guy give you that I can’t?”

Veronica looked down at her lap. She hated being backed into a corner. She decided to take Logan’s approach from senior year when Gia had asked him to tell her exactly what he thought about her. Nothing got a point across like complete honesty. “A baby.”

“What?” She looked up in time to see Piz’s shocked face, thinking he misheard her and almost falling out of his chair when he saw that she wasn’t joking. “Wait, are you saying you’re…”

“Yes.”

“I…you…but we…what the hell, how could you do that in just a few months!? And with who!?”

“I think it’s time for you to go, Piz. We are over and the rest is none of your business.”

“Yeah, okay. Have a nice life, Veronica.”

Veronica watched as he got up and walked away. She turned her attention back toward the buffet line and saw Logan concentrating heavily on the two large trays in his hands piled high with food trying not to spill.

He set the trays down on the table and sat in the plastic chair facing Veronica that Piz had vacated only a minute earlier. “I think I got one of everything they sell here so I hope you and Anna are hungry.”

Veronica looked up briefly and saw Piz standing at the edge of the food court by the door watching her and Logan. He got his answers by the way his face was pinched in disgust and anger and left with one more glare in her direction. And the tradition continues - making enemies on the first day. Good job, Veronica.

She focused on Logan again and smiled at all the food he bought for her. If she weren’t already in love with him and carrying his child, she would be based on the amount of food alone. “Aiden and I are starving!”


After the nasty run in with Piz on the first day of classes Veronica was glad she didn’t see him again. He was still roommates with Wallace, but any activities where he might run into her or Logan he turned down. He was avoiding her, probably heartbroken all over again and she really hadn’t felt any remorse over it. After what he said to her when they broke up, how could he expect her to be pining around for him three months later?

As she sat in class listening to her professor go over the syllabus for the semester Veronica’s mind floated to what Piz had really said. It didn’t go unnoticed that he told her he would stand next to her in support during battle instead of fighting her battles for her. He wasn’t a fighter, more of a peacekeeper. In reality he was Duncan, he stood idly by while the world unfolded around him.

An idle life was not what Veronica preferred. Standing idly by was a cowards approach and she liked being on the front lines. It was the main reason why watching Logan pummel people, no matter how wrong, was so arousing to her. He never stood idly by, he was always on the front lines fighting the good fight right along side her.

That level of protectiveness was so uniquely Logan. It scared her in the early days of their relationship, that he could love her so much to step in front of a bullet for her even when they were at odds. No one had ever done that for her, except for her dad. Not Piz, not Leo and certainly not Duncan.

Logan’s love was like magic. He could inadvertently push her away and make her come crawling back with one look or one action. He had done it many times. His love was all consuming, when he loved he loved completely. He gave everything to her, his heart, his body and his soul. He was an endorphin rush she couldn’t resist.

So why did she keep going back to Logan? That’s what Piz wanted to know. The answer was complicated and if she had a year maybe she could lay it out for him, but to keep things simple it all boiled down to one thing. Love. Every cell in her body was in love with Logan, had been for years and not being able to be his was unbearable. So she went back over and over again. This time though she didn’t think she was going to let go.

As classes ended for the day Logan met Veronica in the quad and walked her back to his car. They stopped at the mall on the way home and purchased Veronica some new clothes. She wasn’t quite ready to rock the maternity outfits yet so they bought a few pairs of jeans in increasing sizes for when she started to really show and outgrew her clothes once more.

By Wednesday afternoon they were both vibrating with excited energy. They sat together in the waiting room for the baby’s second prenatal appointment. Veronica looked around the room and didn’t feel out of place, she wasn’t alone this time; she had Logan to hold her hand.

“Mars?”

Veronica and Logan stood up and followed the nurse down the hall to a scale. “Nine pound gain, you’re right on track, Veronica.”

The nurse deposited them into an exam room and ran through some of the routine tests. She also took down as much of Logan’s medical history as he knew now that he was present to supply the information. Once she was done she left them alone and promised the doctor would be in soon.

Logan sat in one of the blue plastic chairs along the wall and looked over at Veronica sitting on the edge of the exam table. “When the doctor comes in do you want me to stay in the room or step out?”

She looked up at him with a teasing smirk. “You’re not squeamish, are you?”

“That sort of depends on what they are going to do to you. This isn’t going to be like a gynecologist visit, is it?” He shivered as the mental images passed through his mind.

“Why is that gross? You’ve seen my lady parts before. How do you think we got here?” Veronica said framing her hands around her stomach to accentuate her bump.

“I know exactly how we got here,” a slow smile slid across his face as he closed his eyes, “best night of my life.” He opened his eyes again as the memory passed, “but there is a big difference in admiring your beautiful body in my bed and watching a doctor use a torture device to stretch you open.”

“As wonderful as you make that sound, and you’re not wrong by the way, I don’t think you have to worry. They didn’t give me a gown to change into so I don’t think I’m getting a pelvic exam today.”

“Then I’d like to stay. If that’s okay with you.”

“These appointments are as much for you as they are for me, of course you can stay.”

Logan stood up and moved beside the exam table and pulled Veronica into a kiss. “Thank you.”

There was a quick knock on the door before the doctor walked in. “Good afternoon.” She turned to Logan and shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Logan. How do you feel, Veronica?”

“I feel good. Tired and hungry all the time, but really good.”

“Being tired is normal, but if it becomes excessive be sure to call the office and we will get you in for some blood tests. All your results from today came back fine, you’re not anemic, it just takes the body time to adjust to the pregnancy and growing another human being is a lot of work, feeling tired is reasonable. Just make sure you are still getting enough rest and drinking plenty of water.”

Dr. Swaldoe wrote a few things down in Veronica’s chart before turning back to the couple at the exam table with a smile. “Ready for the fun part?”

“Yes!” Logan and Veronica responded simultaneously.

“Veronica you don’t have to take your jeans off, but just unbutton them and shimmy them down a few inches. I’m going to get a quick measurement of your uterus and then we will move to the ultrasound and doppler.”

Veronica did as she was told and laid back on the table. Logan’s hand gripped hers and she gave him a gentle squeeze back without letting go.

Dr. Swaldoe measured Veronica’s stomach and then brought over the machines and probes. She started with the ultrasound and moved the wand around Veronica’s uterus until she found the best view of the baby. Like the previous time she explained exactly what they were looking at, pointing out the head, brain, two arms, two legs, heart and stomach. She froze the image on the screen and hit print.

Logan gripped Veronica’s hand a little tighter and she turned to look up at him. There were tears in his eyes much like the first time she showed him the ultrasound photo. Only then did she realize she was crying too when Logan took his eyes off the screen and looked down at her, wiping the tears off her cheeks.

“And now for the heartbeat.” Dr. Swaldoe placed the probe on Veronica and within a few seconds a rapid thumping sound filled the room.

Logan and Veronica listened to their baby’s heartbeat for several minutes before the appointment ended, both continuing to cry, it was the happiest they had ever felt.

They scheduled the next visit four weeks out and left the office with smiles and new updated photographs.

When they got back to Veronica’s apartment Logan followed her inside. Keith was in the kitchen chopping up some vegetables when the door opened. “How did the appointment go?”

“We got to hear the heartbeat.” Veronica fished out one of the ultrasound pictures to give to her dad. “And the baby is healthy as far as they can see.”

Keith got a little choked up looking at the new photo of his grandchild, which was starting to resemble an actual baby instead of a little fuzzy pebble. He wiped his eyes and blamed his emotions on the fact that he was cutting up onions right before the kids walked in, but Veronica wasn’t buying it. “Staying for dinner, Logan?”

“I would love to, thanks.”

Veronica smiled and grabbed his hand pulling him down the small hallway to her bedroom.

“Dinner will be ready in half an hour and keep the door open,” Keith called out before they crossed the threshold into Veronica’s room.

She rolled her eyes, “I’m already pregnant, what could we possibly do that we haven’t done already.”

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that, honey.”

Veronica closed her bedroom door and crawled onto her bed, sitting with her back against the wall. Logan sat right beside her and held out the ultrasound picture of the baby for both of them to look at as Veronica laid her head on his shoulder. They stayed in this position for the next thirty minutes until dinner was ready, not saying a word, just enjoying the moment together as a budding family.

Chapter Text

Duke Green was an ordinary man. He was ordinary in the sense that no matter where he went he could blend in with the crowd. He became near invisible. It was what he preferred and what made him so good at his job.

He had been hired, by his boss, for a variety of odd jobs over the past year, but mostly his skill set had him observing and tailing unsuspecting persons. It was a good job, relatively easy, great pay, loads of traveling, full coverage of expenses and fascinating marks.

His current assignment was to tail a petite blonde. He knew very little about her and further details were not provided during his briefing. At first it seemed odd, usually he was given an extensive background on each mark to better prepare for his assignment, but this job was different, he wasn’t given anything to go on besides her name and a photograph to identify her with.

Not only was his boss more obsessed with this particular mark more so than the others, he showed the importance of this assignment through paycheck. On a typical mission after setting up a meet and greet between the intended mark and his boss, Duke would find himself fifty thousand dollars richer. This time he was getting two hundred and fifty thousand just to tail the small blonde girl, learn her routines and set up a meeting and another two hundred and fifty grand when the assignment was complete. He didn’t know exactly what that meant, the meeting usually meant the assignment was complete, but for as much as he was getting paid he wasn’t going to question it. Whatever his boss told him to do he would do it with a smile for this case.

In the middle of the sunny California afternoon with his sandy blonde hair, sunglasses and earth toned clothes he blended in well with the masses encroaching on the Santa Monica Pier. He had the tiny happy blonde in his sights along with the tall brunette accompanying her and followed the couple from a distance as they circled the stands.

They had no idea they were being watched and knowing that sent a wave of euphoria through Duke’s body, it was an incredible high. This was the internal adrenaline rush that came with the job and he loved it.


Veronica sat at a picnic table near the concession stands and food kiosks in Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier waiting for Logan to return with their lunch.

The sun was high in the sky and the mid day temperatures had risen enough to make wearing a jacket unpleasant. She shucked her blue jean jacket off her shoulders and placed it on the bench beside her leaving her in an olive green tee and a pair of dark wash jean capris.

As she waited, listening to the ocean waves break and the seagulls circling for scraps, she found herself watching the moms around her. She didn’t have a shining example to learn from, or maybe she did, a how not to parent your child example brought to you by Lianne Mars.

Being a mom, the physical idea of it, was becoming easier to accept every day she saw her stomach. The mental idea of being a mom was still unbelievably terrifying. There was too much to worry about, too much she could do wrong that would screw up their child. It wasn’t farfetched, they saw how parenting mistakes damaged their peers, unfortunately it was the Neptune curse.

Veronica watched a mom of two sitting on a bench feeding her kids an afternoon snack. One boy looked to be about six or seven and was fascinated by the rollercoaster zipping by above him. The other boy was smaller, maybe two or three and was mesmerized by the taste and feeling of melting cotton candy on his tongue. He kept sticking his blue colored tongue out at his mom who would make a silly face back and he would belly laugh until he popped more fairy fluff back in his mouth.

Veronica didn’t know anything about these people, but all her investigative senses told her this was a mother who would do anything for her kids. She wanted to make them smile, she probably went to every soccer or tee ball game and she wanted them to be happy undamaged adults.

Those were things Veronica wanted and hoped she could provide for her baby too.

She looked in another direction, out onto the pier walkway and saw another mom of three who was not having an easy go of things. She had one child strapped to her chest in a bjorn, one child on a leash pulling away like an excited dog on a walk and the third child holding her hand and attempting to pull her attention toward the park.

Veronica didn’t condone using a leash on her child, but the strong determination of the kid pulling his mom along made her laugh. That poor mom definitely had her hands full, but she was still a good mom doing the best that she could with what she had.

Before Veronica could snoop on another family Logan plopped down on the bench across from her and handed her a burger, a basket of fries and lemonade. She had worked up quite an appetite from walking around the boardwalk earlier in the day that she immediately dug into her food forgetting conversation and moaned with pleasure during each bite.

Logan watched Veronica hungrily and smirked as he ate his own lunch. Once they were done he gathered up all their trash, “what would you like to do first?”

“Well considering I can’t ride any of the rollercoasters, I guess that leaves games.”

They circled the game booths, taking inventory on which ones had the most attractive prizes for people of their age. Veronica saw one prize hanging up above the playing area that immediately drew her in. She hooked her arm through Logan’s and smiled up at him. “Let’s see how your ring tossing skills are.”

A scrawny high school kid stood behind the booth and greeted them as they walked up. “Welcome to Riptide Ring Toss, one ring around any one glass bottle will win you any prize hanging above us. Five dollars for twenty rings or ten dollars for a bucket of fifty.”

“We’ll take a bucket.” Logan handed over a ten, “thanks, man.” He turned back to Veronica with a smile. “Prepare to be impressed, Sugarpuss.”

“I sure hope so with fifty rings.”

“Shh. You are blowing my concentration.” Logan tossed a few rings, none of them circling the neck of a bottle.

Veronica tried not to laugh at how hard Logan was trying. The tip of his tongue was sticking out between his lips as he tried a few different ways of tossing the rings. He looked adorable and her stomach fluttered knowing Logan would do almost anything to win her a theme park prize before the end of the day. She loved how much he loved her.

With less than ten rings left in the bucket and not a single ring around a bottle Logan decided to change his approach. He picked up one of the rings and held it in both of his hands as he held it out for Veronica. “Kiss for good luck?”

“I’m not kissing that. Do you know how many people have touched those rings?”

“Come on, Veronica, it’s for good luck! Like Vegas.”

“Sorry, no.” Veronica took a single step forward and stood up on her tip toes to better match Logan’s height. “But I will give you a good luck kiss instead.” She placed her hands on each side of his head and pulled him down to meet her lips. The kiss was more than chaste but less than inappropriate for a family park.

Logan was slightly breathless when the kiss broke and rested his forehead against Veronica, eyes locked on her intimately. “Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

“Would you do me the honor of being my girlfriend…again?”

“You’re such a dork, but yes, I’ll be your girlfriend…again.” She laughed and kissed him once more before releasing him back to the game.

The scrawny game attendant was staring at Veronica with his mouth wide open and a schoolboy crush look in his eyes.

Logan stepped up and threw his ring. It bounced off two bottles and circled the rim of one bottle before tipping over the edge and sliding down in between the slats. He picked up another ring and threw it as steady as he could. This time the ring only bounced once before finally coming to a stop around the neck of a bottle.

“That’s a winning throw, what colored prize would you like?”

“The tan one in the corner.” Logan thanked the kid and wrapped his arm around Veronica’s shoulder, kissing her temple and handing her the bear he just won wearing a white tee shirt that said I Love You Beary Much. “I’m sorry it’s three years late.”

She smiled and turned to kiss him again. Now that they were officially back together and not just dating she couldn’t stop touching him and kissing him. It was getting harder and harder to keep her feelings for him hidden. He was always so open about how he felt and that was one of her weaknesses, being vulnerable. “It’s okay. It means more to me now.”

Veronica wasn’t just talking about the teddy bear. Her relationship with Logan meant more to her now at twenty than it did at seventeen. What they had now was real, the love itself was real, it wasn’t puppy love or explicitly a high school romance; it was life long and domestic. They were really trying. It was both physical and emotional and becoming more intimate every day. This is the future she always wanted with Logan and had long ago given up on the reality of it happening after several failed attempts, until now. Now it was possible and she was going to fight like hell to make this relationship work. It had to.

They spent another few hours playing games and breaking a few times for snacks. The sun was beginning to set and all the rainbow colored lights on the rides and booths illuminated the pier making it visible from miles away.

Logan steered Veronica over to the ticket booth that sold day passes and single ride tickets for all the rides in Pacific Park.

With Veronica being pregnant, for safety, she was choosing not to ride any of the rollercoasters even though her stomach wasn’t large enough to prevent the safety bar from closing. All the rides warned against pregnancy, but there was still one ride Logan felt confident enough in to ensure his girlfriend and daughter would be safe to ride, and that was the Pacific Wheel, so Logan bought two single rider tickets.

Waiting in line to ride the ferris wheel, Veronica stood in front of Logan. His arms were wrapped around her waist while his chin rest lightly against the top of her head. She was leaning back against him as her arms crisscrossed over her body and laid on top of his arms mindlessly tracing over his fingers.

Since they made their relationship with each other official in the last few hours it was like a light switch reaction, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. It wasn’t surprising; they were always very tactile with each other. The surprising thing was the intensity. Maybe because they hadn’t touched like this in months, since their rekindled one night stand or maybe because feelings and emotions were bubbling high at the surface and begged to be exposed for the first time. Either way it felt right.

When they got to the front of the line the ride attendant held open the metal cage door to a yellow car. Veronica stepped in first and sat down followed by Logan. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to his side as the wheel began to turn.

Veronica laid her head against Logan for a moment before breaking the silence. “The last time we were here was with Lilly and Duncan, do you remember that day?”

He nodded, “yeah, it was the summer before high school. Lilly and I had just broken up for the umpteenth time for some ridiculous reason and you sat next to me on every ride. That was a good day.”

“Lilly didn’t think so. She wasn’t happy I didn’t stand by her and cater to her every need.”

“Why did you side with me that day? I was always curious. You know Duncan would have kept me company.”

Veronica scoffed thinking about their non-adventurous friend. “Duncan hated rollercoasters, you would have been riding alone.”

“So you stuck by me just so I wouldn’t have to ride alone?” Logan quirked an eyebrow at her even though she couldn’t see his face, wondering if Veronica was going to tell him the truth.

“No. I wasn’t only Lilly’s friend, you know, you were my friend too and you needed me that day. She didn’t, she just wanted to be the center of attention, typical Lilly. Sometimes I think you and I had the better friendship out of the four of us. Lilly and I talked about clothes and boys, but you were the one I talked to about everything else and early on Duncan didn’t talk to me hardly at all.”

“Do you ever miss those days where it was just the four of us against the world?”

“Yes and no. I miss Lilly and the adventures we had, the memories we made, how we will never get to see her again. But at the same time…”

When she didn’t continue Logan prompted her, hoping she would open up, he really wanted to hear what she was thinking and why she felt the need to hide her thoughts from him, especially when they were about Lilly. “At the same time, what?”

“This sounds awful, but if I was given the chance to bring Lilly back I don’t think I would because all of this,” she motioned between them, “you and me, wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t be sitting here together right now and we wouldn’t be expecting a baby together either.”

“I think you’re wrong. I think this is exactly where we would be, although kids probably would have come a little bit later in the future.”

“You think if Lilly were still alive you and I would be together, as a couple, in a relationship right now?” Veronica asked not quite believing him.

“Yes, I do. I told you before when you were investigating Lilly’s murder, our last break up before she died was final. It wasn’t because she wasn’t around for us to make another go at it; we just took the relationship as far as it could go. And why would I want to be with someone who repeatedly cheated on me, I saw enough of that at home. I wanted someone I could have a future with and I only saw that happening with you, even back then. It was always going to be you who I ended up with, Veronica.”

Veronica didn’t respond. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, she could feel her pulse down in her toes and wondered if Logan could feel it too. He probably thought his words had scared her and if they were anywhere else instead of a moving ferris wheel she would bolt, but it wasn’t true.

She didn’t want to run anymore. She just couldn’t respond because his words had touched her so strongly that she couldn’t formulate a coherent thought to make a sentence. She needed a few moments to get her brain working again so she could tell him what she should have told him a long time ago.

Her heart was still beating fast, but it was more from being nervous now than a reaction to Logan’s admission. Butterflies were released in her chest and she felt them take flight and migrate to her stomach, it was a horrible feeling - the build up before she laid her emotions bare.

She shouldn’t feel this exposed and this vulnerable. She shouldn’t feel like she was setting herself up for rejection because she knew how Logan felt about her, but she did. She did fear rejection and vulnerability because this was the biggest moment in her life. There was no turning back, if she was going to say it she had to mean it and tell him with confidence.

The ferris wheel paused. The ride they had paid for was ending and people were exiting as new riders got on. Each car had to be brought back to the unloading dock and their car was currently sitting at the top waiting it’s turn.

Veronica took a deep breath and closed her eyes briefly before scooting a little closer to Logan. His arm was still wrapped around her shoulders and her head was still resting against his chest, but his body was tense, waiting for her to say anything that would let him know they were still okay. “Logan?”

His body relaxed at the sound of her voice and pulled her closer kissing the top of her head. “Yeah?”

No more running, Veronica. Just say… “I love you.”

She lifted her head off his shoulder so she could see his face and he immediately tilted her head up and crashed his lips onto hers. The kiss was hungry and passionate instead of soft and slow. They had time for soft and slow later, but right now Logan needed her, he needed her to feel how much he loved her and how much those three words coming from her meant to him.

Veronica was trying to pour everything she had into the kiss. She needed to feel Logan as much as he needed to feel her, it had been over three months since they touched and kissed like they were now.

Logan lifted her off the bench beside him and placed her in his lap, straddling his thighs. He wrapped his arms around her lower back and pulled her against him, her arms wrapped around his neck, nails running over his scalp and through his hair.

“Ahhem.” They hadn’t realized the ferris wheel had moved again and was stationed at the loading dock until the ride attendant cleared his throat while holding the metal cage door open, waiting for them to come up for air and exit.

Veronica broke away first and ducked her head into Logan’s neck to hide her embarrassment.

“I love you too, Bobcat.” He placed a quick kiss to her exposed neck and whispered in her ear, “why don’t we get out of here, skip the movie on the lawn and take the long way home instead.”

She nodded her head as he helped her out of the car. She kept her gaze down, avoiding the wide-eyed stares from the people waiting in line while Logan walked off the ride proudly with the biggest smile that had ever graced his face.


It was dark outside, the sun had set hours ago and the only light came from the moon shining in the sky.

Duke had followed Veronica after leaving the pier. She climbed into a black Range Rover with her male companion and they were currently parked off to the side in the shadows of a park. He watched as they each climbed out and moved into the back seat of the SUV. It was very clear what was about to happen and Duke was disappointed he couldn’t catch a glimpse, the Range Rover’s windows were tinted blocking out peeping eyes.

He sat in his car waiting for the couple to emerge from the backseat. It had been an hour and he had seen no movement around the car. Duke didn’t know whether to be impressed at the boy’s endurance or jealous that he wasn’t the one taking her for a ride.

Never had he ever messed around with or engaged with a mark in any type of sexual act or relationship. Mostly because many of the marks he was assigned to were male, but even with the females he never broke from business professional. If he had he would have immediately been terminated. His boss built a very respectable, yet feared, persona around the business and affairs with clients and marks didn’t play into it.

He had to admit that a chance at being with Veronica was tempting. She was very attractive, a ten, anyone with eyes could easily see it. He would never act on his fantasy, he loved his job too much to risk it and following her around twenty-four-seven was second best so he stuck with that.

The obnoxious ringtone from his phone screeched out into the silent car and broke Duke from his thoughts. He didn’t have to check the caller ID he only ever received calls from one person on this phone. “Boss?”

“Duke, what’s the update on Miss Mars?”

“Unfortunately, there’s not much to work with. I’ve been following her for a week now and she’s a bit more complicated than our other marks. She doesn’t have a routine, every day seems to bring on different activities and she’s never alone.”

“I don’t think I need to remind you how important it is for me to meet with her.”

“No, sir.”

“Our window is extremely limited, I only have a few weeks available Duke. If you mess up this assignment everything I have done will have been for nothing. She is the final piece.”

“Understood, boss. I will not let you down, I promise.”

“If you can’t get her alone soon, then you’re going to have to get creative. You have two weeks, get it done.”

The line went dead before Duke could respond.


Logan pulled into the parking lot of Sunset Cliffs and went around to open Veronica’s door. They stood in the parking lot for a few minutes to say goodbye so Keith couldn’t catch them making out on the porch.

They had done so much making out tonight, like teenagers who just discovered how to kiss, that Veronica hoped her dad wasn’t still waiting up for her. There was no way she could explain her swollen lips, flushed face and tangled hair.

It would be awkward, he would assume they had just had sex in the back of Logan’s car and he would be wrong. They mostly just kissed with some occasional heavy groping, but all clothes remained in place all night long. As much as they wanted to, they also didn’t want the first time they slept together after exchanging I love you’s to be in a car. They had time, there was no rush to have sex, neither of them was going anywhere.

“I don’t want to leave. Do you think your dad likes me enough to let me sleepover?”

Veronica’s back was against the side of the car as Logan continued to work his way down her neck, spending extra time at the place that made her knees go weak. “He, uh—“ She couldn’t think about anything other than the sensations Logan was eliciting throughout her body.

He smiled against her exposed skin, “I’ll be the perfect gentleman.”

“I find that hard to believe right now.” She grabbed his chin and brought his lips back to hers. “Besides, a little separation is good. Builds character and longing. One day you won’t be able to get rid of me and…”

Logan stopped kissing her and stood with a stunned expression on his face.

“I just meant that—“

“I know. If I thought you were serious I would marry you tomorrow. I know you aren’t there yet and that’s okay, there’s no hurry as long as we’re still together. And by the way, I could never get tired of being around you, I love you.”

Those three words still didn’t come easy, but she was making progress. She had said them earlier on the ferris wheel and didn’t regret it all, it was just going to take time before they rolled effortlessly off her tongue.

Her trust in Logan wasn’t complete yet, there were still insecurities she had about him, it had only been a few weeks since they got back together. There were talks they needed to have and until they did, until she regained trust in him, those three words would continue to feel unnatural and scary to admit out loud.

Logan kissed her once more before watching her walk across the parking lot to her apartment.

When she got to her door safely she turned around to wave goodbye to him as he pulled out of the parking lot, “I love you too, Logan.” She opened the door and walked inside clutching the ring toss teddy bear to her chest.

Chapter Text

Part II

Textbooks, spiral notebooks, folders, notecards, pens, highlighters and pencils were scattered across the white leather ottoman in front of the couch.

After several hours of homework and studying after class Veronica and Logan decided to take a break by watching a movie.

They were curled up on the couch as The Big Lebowski played on the flat screen TV attached to the wall. Veronica was laying in front of Logan, his left arm draped around her waist, palm spread out flat across her baby bump as she stared at the movie, not really paying attention. She was too busy thinking about Logan to devote her full attention to one of her favorite movies.

Logan made her proud. He was attending every single one of his classes, completing all his assignments on time and actually dedicating time to study. They were roughly only a month into the semester, but it was making her happy to see him reach the potential she always knew he had.

For as long as she knew him, Logan was always a C student with the exception of a couple A’s and B’s here and there. Intelligence wasn’t his problem; Logan was one of the smartest people she knew. His problem was application, he didn’t like to apply himself in school because he didn’t need or want to.

He didn’t see the point of trying hard, when the point of getting good grades was to go to a good college and then get a good job to make a fair amount of money. He already had the money so the effort needed was unnecessary.

The other part was largely related to Aaron’s abuse. It wasn’t a topic they talked about, like her rape, some traumas were better left in the shadows; they were too much to bear in the light of day. But Veronica assumed Logan’s poor performance in school and aggressive behavior toward society were intentional to some degree, in order to cope with the beatings, in thinking he was giving Aaron reasons to hit him instead of taking lashes for no reason.

Seeing Logan now, she was amazed at how far he had come in life. He was becoming a better person for himself, no longer under the harmful clutches of others.

Logan’s hand slipped beneath the hem of her shirt bringing her out of her thoughts and back to the present. Her breath hitched as his fingertips lightly danced across her skin heading north toward her twin mountains. She let out a soft moan when his hand brushed against her breasts and Logan took that as his cue to keep going.

He rolled so that he was hovering above her, careful to keep his weight off her and the baby, balancing on his knees between her legs with his hands on either side of her head. He lowered his upper body enough to meet her in a kiss, slipping his tongue inside her mouth, deepening the connection between them.

Veronica placed her hands on Logan’s chest and pushed him away slightly so that he was resting back on his heels. He raised an eyebrow in question and she eased his mind by grabbing the end of his shirt and pushing it up and over his head.

A playful smirk took over his face and while he had her sitting up he discarded her shirt as well. Fair play. His eyes immediately dropped to her chest, her pregnancy-engorged breasts straining against her black bra. He lowered her back to the couch and made quick work sucking, biting and kissing her exposed neck as his hands roamed every inch of her nearly exposed torso.

“Logan…” Veronica whimpered as her arms circled around Logan’s shoulders pulling him as close as possible. She was sure her nails were cutting into his back, but he didn’t seem to notice or care.

The door to the suite slammed shut and they both jumped out of their skin.

“Logan, are we—“ Dick rounded the corner and stopped, smiling like a kid in a candy store when he saw the compromising situation his half naked friend was in. “Nice, dude! Whoa, Ronnie, check out your hoobity-boobities! I wasn’t sure you even had boobs.”

“Dick!” Logan used his body as a shield to cover Veronica from Dick’s peeping eyes.

“What? Before her eggo got preggo and her baby boobs grew in her girls were pretty much nonexistent.”

“Turn around, Dick!” Veronica yelled out clinging to Logan, trying to burrow further into the couch to escape her embarrassment.

“Relax, Ronnie, it’s not like I haven’t seen boobs before.”

“Yeah, well you haven’t seen mine and I’d like to keep it that way. Turn. Around. Now. Or better yet, just leave.”

Dick scoffed, “this is my place, you can’t kick me out.”

“Dick, turn around and close your eyes!” When Dick was turned Logan climbed off the couch and gathered up his and Veronica’s shirts, quickly slipping them on and sitting back down on the couch next to his now fully covered girlfriend. “You can turn back around now.”

“So, what are we doing tomorrow night?” Dick asked as he took a seat on the adjacent couch.

We aren’t doing anything.” Veronica bit back at Dick with fire in her eyes.

Dick didn’t seem to take the hint and carried on. “Perfect, there’s a Pi Sig party tomorrow night and we should totally go! We haven’t been to a raging party at all this year.”

“We’ve only been back in school for a few weeks.”

“What’s your point, Ronnie?”

Logan watched his best friend and girlfriend rib back and forth, head turning side to side like he was at a tennis match. Usually he didn’t like the two of them arguing, but this particular topic was highly entertaining because it was probably the only one Dick could outlast Veronica on. He sunk back into the couch with a small smile and waited until he was needed again.

“Why would I go to a Pi Sig party? I’m pregnant, I can’t drink anything there.”

“You don’t drink at parties anyway. And pregnant chicks can party, so what other lame excuse do you have?”

“I hate the Pi Sigs and the entire Greek system, people in general really. Who am I going to talk to when you drag Logan off to play beer pong or whatever other idiotic drinking games college guys play?”

“You can bring Ghost World and Willis to keep you company.”

“Wallace.”

“What?”

“His name is Wallace. Seriously, Dick, how do you not know this? And Mac hates being called Ghost World by the way.”

“Logan?” Dick looked to his friend for help.

“Sorry, man, it’s up to Veronica.”

Dick could see Veronica swaying in her decision when he mentioned her friends, so he played the only card he had left. He moved across the living space and got down on his knees in front of her. He was not above begging. “Please, mom. Can we go to the party? Everyone else is going. Can we go too? You don’t want us to be the weird kids who stay home on a Friday night. Please, mom, please!”

“Fine, we can go!” Veronica threw up her hands to cut off his begging. “Don’t ever refer to me as your mother again and stop staring at my chest!”

Dick stood up smiling. “Thanks, Ronnie, the party will be awesome, trust me.” He left the room and carried on to his own room in the suite leaving Logan and Veronica alone on the couch.

Logan saw the pout on Veronica’s face. She put up a good fight, but losing to Dick was always hard. “Ice cream and then I’ll take you home?”

“Okay.” She turned and gave him a quick kiss in thanks before standing up and collecting her scattered items around the room.


 

The Pi Sig party was in full swing when they arrived. Since it was Luau themed they moved the party from the Pi Sig house to one of the member’s private home off campus because it had a pool.

Lights were strung in the trees, inflatable palm trees that doubled as coolers decorated the front yard and loud dance music floated down the street.

Partygoers were encouraged to dress in beach or Hawaiian themed apparel, which meant bikinis, coconut tops, grass skirts and board shorts.

All of which was a big no no to Veronica. She wasn’t going to announce her pregnancy at a frat party wearing a skimpy string bikini. So she showed up with Logan wearing blue jean shorts and a tropical white flowing button up shirt. Standing together they looked like a tacky tourist couple’s Halloween costume minus a big flashy camera hanging around their necks and sunscreen-covered noses.

Logan placed a hand on Veronica’s lower back and guided her toward the front of the house where one of the Pi Sig members was standing behind a table collecting cover charges and passing out Hawaiian leis.

As they walked up the stairs to the porch, the tall black haired Pi Sig party greeter took his time perusing Veronica’s body. He picked up a purple-flowered lei and stepped closer to the tiny blonde. “Wanna get lei-d?”

Before Veronica could respond to the suggestive comment Logan stepped forward blocking her from view with his fists clenched at his side as he practically growled at the dumb frat guy who thought it was appropriate to flirt with a girl right in front of her boyfriend.

The Pi Sig dropped the lei and held up his hands to ward off the pummeling he knew would come if he didn’t apologize. “Dude, it was just a joke. You know, because we are handing out leis.”

“It’s still not funny.” Logan threw a ten-dollar bill on the table to cover his and Veronica’s entrance fee and then picked up a multi-colored lei from the table and placed it around Veronica’s neck. He moved her toward the door and bent down to whisper in her ear, “you can only get lei-d by me.”

Veronica snorted at his terrible reused joke as they made their way inside and saw Mac and Wallace waiting for them.

“Did you get hit on by the creepy door guy too?” Mac asked as she held up her blue lei.

“Yeah, but Logan took care of him.”

“Without any blood shed? Aw, wittle Logan’s growing up.” Mac said as she tried to pinch Logan’s cheek in a teasing manner, for which he ducked out of the way.

“On that note, I’m going to go find Dick.” He looked down at Veronica. “Will you be okay with these two for a little while?”

“Of course, go play, I’ll be fine.” She turned back to Wallace and Mac who were smiling at her with goofy grins. “How much have you two had to drink?”

“A few beers, but we promised to stop once you got here. We’re just a little tipsy, it should wear off soon.” Mac said with a little giggle.

Wallace, who was handling his alcohol slightly better than Mac, bumped into Veronica’s shoulder, “you and Logan seem good.”

“We are, very good actually. How’s your love life Fennel?”

“Girl, the ladies love me.”

“So no new dates, huh.” Veronica said with a smile.

“No, but we just got new uniforms in and let’s just say the ladies won’t be able to resist me when they see me on the court this season.” Wallace made a pretend shot in the air as if that explained everything.

“What about you Mac, any new guys?”

Mac laughed and shook her head. “No, I’m voluntarily choosing to be single for the foreseeable semester. I just want to have some fun! I might hook up with Dick later.”

Veronica and Wallace looked at her in shock with their mouths wide open.

“I’m kidding!” Mac laughed even harder than before. “See that reaction from the two of you, that was fun!” When she saw neither of their expressions had returned to normal she clarified. “Seriously, I would never sleep with Dick. He’s great to play video games with but that’s as far as our relationship goes.”

Wallace, feeling a little grossed out by the thought of Mac and Dick getting it on, turned the conversation back to Veronica. “How’s the peanut?”

Veronica’s eyes lit up when she talked about the baby. “Growing fast. Although, it probably has more to do with me being constantly hungry and shoveling food into my mouth every chance I get. I’ve gained eleven pounds already. I’m surprised more people can’t tell I’m pregnant.”

“I probably wouldn’t have even noticed, Bond, if Wallace and I hadn’t walked in on you and Logan that day. You both have been really good at keeping it a secret.”

“It hasn’t been easy, but we’re going to keep the baby a secret for as long as we can. I have a feeling people aren’t going to be very congratulatory towards us when they find out.”

“You have us to help you keep the vultures at bay.”

“Thank you, both of you.” Veronica looked up and saw some people vacating the couch and grabbed Mac and Wallace so they could snag the seats before someone else swooped in.

An hour or so later the group, now mostly sober, had migrated from the couch to the back patio and now back inside the house to escape the pounding music and incredibly drunk co-eds out by the pool.

Veronica stood off in the corner of the living room, leaning against the wall watching Logan play a game of pool across the room. Wallace and Mac were standing in front of her but she had tuned them out, focusing intently on her boyfriend instead.

Bikini clad college girls gradually migrated around the pool table hoping some of the guys would teach them how to play. Bending them over the table and instructing them where to aim.

Veronica rolled her eyes at the women who were throwing themselves at the guys until she noticed two very attractive girls standing closer to Logan than she was comfortable with. Both girls were tall and brunette, one in a hot pink thong bikini, the other in black and both running their fingers over Logan’s tee shirt clad chest.

Logan was making an effort to escape, politely brushing off the exploring touches of the two beautiful women in front of him, trying to slip past them, but finding himself backed into a corner.

Veronica wasn’t worried about how the situation looked, she wasn’t concerned about Logan cheating on her, she knew it would never happen he was faithful to a fault. What bothered her most was the type of girls that traditionally flocked to him or him to them when he was single.

Seeing those women all she could think about was this summer when she went to see Logan after his trip and the girl hanging off him. How she felt when she compared herself to his one-night stands. It was one of her biggest insecurities she couldn’t seem to get past, not measuring up to what Logan preferred.

Cutting off Wallace mid story, Veronica straightened up and pushed off the wall. “I’ll be right back.”

“Are you okay?” Mac looked at her concerned.

No. “Yeah, I just need to use the bathroom.” She pointed down at her stomach as an excuse, “pregnant remember, I always have to pee. There’s probably a line so I’ll come find you when I’m done.” Veronica didn’t wait for Mac and Wallace to respond, she took off toward the stairs heading to the second floor, relieved to be able to remove the Kendall shaped bimbos from her line of sight temporarily so she could regroup.


Logan saw Veronica walk away with a pinched face and he panicked. He just got her back and her trust in him was still shaky at best, he didn’t need these women trying to hang all over him compromising the good life he was building.

Without using too much force Logan carefully separated the girls and slipped between them leaving them standing there with shocked expressions that anyone could turn them away. He was never interested, but they had snuck up on him and cornered him.

Logan took the stairs two at a time searching for Veronica but didn’t see her down the hallway. He opened the door to one of the rooms and quickly closed it after being told the room was occupied. He made his way through the rooms and still no sign of her. The master bedroom was empty and he thought about returning to the lower level when he saw a light escaping from under the closed bathroom door.

He raised his hand and knocked, “Veronica?” The water from the sink turned off a moment later and Logan tried again, “Veronica, please let me in so I can explain.”

She opened the bathroom door dejectedly, hoping he would drop the conversation before it started. “Logan…”

“No, you need to know. Nothing happened with those girls downstairs. I was trying to leave, but they kept getting closer and I couldn’t just push them…”

“I know.”

“You know?” He asked somewhat confused. He was expecting he’d have to dig himself out of a hole or fight off wrongful accusations, but she already believed him for once.

“I saw you trying to turn them away. I’m not mad at you, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Then why are you hiding up here?”

“I’m not hiding. I had to use the bathroom.” Veronica responded with an innocent expression, waving her arms around the bathroom as if the reason she was in here was self-explanatory.

“There are bathrooms downstairs.” He challenged not quite believing her sudden burst of energy to escape the party was solely related to using the restroom. He knew her better than that.

“Yes, but those are easily accessible and the lines are long. I’m pregnant and can’t hold it and those very smart drunk college kids downstairs didn’t think to venture upstairs to the open bathrooms with no lines.”

“Veronica.” His tone was soft, but pleading. He wanted honest answers. There was something bothering her and they couldn’t work through it unless she told him what was going through her head.

They had been making progress, opening up and sharing with each other, but he could see she was on the edge of shutting down and keeping things bottled up. He grabbed her hand and gently held it in his for support, lightly running his thumb over her knuckles to show he was here for her.

After a few seconds she pulled her hand out of his grasp and took a few steps away from him. Turning her back to him so she wouldn’t have to see his face and so he couldn’t see how close she was to breaking. “Why are you with me, Logan?”

“What? Where is this coming from?”

“The women surrounding you tonight, the woman I saw you with earlier this summer and all the women you take up with in between your relationships. There are commonalities, these women are tall, gorgeous, feminine, big breasted, curves in all the right places, experienced…and I’m…I’m just me.”

He slowly stepped toward her and laid his hand on her shoulder unsure if she would push him away or not, but she didn’t move. “I love just you.”

She turned around and finally looked up at him, tears glistening in her eyes. “But I’m not any of those things you seem to be attracted to.”

“Veronica…” he pulled her against his body and wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace, laying his cheek on top of her head. “I’m not attracted to those qualities. The reason I gravitate toward those women when I’m single is because they don’t remind me of you. And when we’re not together I’m miserable and don’t want to be with a woman who looks like you, who is a reminder of everything I lost. None of those women has ever meant a single thing to me, it was just physical.”

He slowly pulled away from her and turned her around so that she was facing the bathroom mirror over the sink with him standing behind her. He locked eyes with her and lightly kissed her temple.

“You want to know what I’m attracted to? I’m attracted to five-foot-one blondes with beautiful baby blue eyes and a wicked smile that makes my heart skip a beat. Graphic tees and jeans that hug all the right places. Combat boots and soccer uniforms with knee socks that capture my undivided attention. Head tilts and quips to keep me on my toes. Curiosity and intelligence that never slows. And most importantly the mother of my child because she is the most amazing woman I have ever met. I owe her everything.”

Veronica’s nose was red and her cheeks were wet with tear tracks as she blubbered softly. Every word Logan spoke had made her cry harder and more uncontrollably. She felt silly now that she ever questioned his devotion to her, but she needed to hear it from his mouth. Only he could heal that insecurity within her.

She turned around in his arms and through a tear filled blur reached up on her tiptoes and kissed him. “I love you.”

He smiled and wiped away some of her tears that were still falling, “I love you, too.”

Veronica still had her arms wrapped around Logan’s waist and rested her head against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart to help calm her down. “I’m sorry about before.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I should be apologizing to you. I’m sorry I made you feel this way.”

“You don’t, normally. I’m just, god I’m a hormonal mess today, it’s gross, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, you’re allowed to be.” He kissed the top of her head and they stayed like that for a few more minutes until Veronica’s post-cry hiccupping breaths had evened out. “Are you ready to go back to the party?”

She nodded her head. “Yeah. Could you give me a few minutes to pull myself back together? I don’t want everyone to know I’ve been up here crying like a girl.”

“Sure. I’ll see if I can track down a bottle of water for you.” Logan separated himself from Veronica and gave her one more kiss. “I love you.”

He saw her smile and stepped out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him to give her some privacy to clean up. He smiled to himself as he made his way back to the chaos of the party. They had communicated like adults and avoided a huge blowout that in the past would have been a catastrophic event that led to a break up. Mac was right, they were growing up and they weren’t going to make the same mistakes they had in the past.


Veronica stayed in the bathroom for a few minutes to compose herself and to make sure her red nose and splotchy cheeks had returned to normal. She didn’t want to return to the party or to Mac and Wallace with evidence of her latest breakdown. They would ask too many questions and it wasn’t something they would understand anyway.

She made her way back downstairs and did a quick lap around the first floor not finding anyone she recognized. Stepping outside to the patio around the pool she scanned the crowd and checked the lounge chairs around the perimeter of the pool.

Mac, Wallace and Logan were no where to be found so she turned to head back inside, walking around the pool and trying to avoid being splashed by those doing cannon balls off the second story deck above.

“Is your name Veronica?”

She turned to see the person calling her name. A blonde girl in a neon green string bikini, red solo cup in hand and swaying slightly off balanced, like so many others here, from having too much to drink. “Yeah.”

“Veronica Mars as in Mars Investigations?”

Veronica didn’t want to talk to this girl, but the potential new client aspect along with her undying curiosity had her plastering on a customer service friendly smile. Always ready to take on a new case, she had mouths to feed and lots of diapers to buy in her future, extra cash was always needed. “That’s right.”

“You stupid bitch!” The blonde in the bikini screamed full force.

“Excuse me?”

“My boyfriend dumped me because of you!”

Veronica looked at the blonde as if she had grown two heads in the last thirty seconds. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t even know who you are or who your boyfriend is.”

“Ugh! Kristy Smith hired you because she thought her husband Tom was having an affair. You took pictures of Tom and me together and gave them to Kristy. Then Steven, my boyfriend, found out and dumped me! It’s all your fault that my life is like a total mess right now!”

The vein in Veronica’s forehead popped and she just couldn’t hold her comments in any longer. Release the severely pissed off pregnant woman, professionalism be damned. “Yes, because you sleeping with married men is all my fault. Do you even hear yourself right now? Piece of advice, next time don’t keep the curtains open for the whole world to see. Or better yet don’t cheat on your boyfriend.”

“You bitch!” The blonde tossed her half filled beer cup in Veronica’s face and gave her a big shove in the chest.

The unexpected blow combined with being temporarily blinded by the beer shower knocked Veronica off balance and sent her flying backwards into the deep end of the pool. Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd at the catfight that had just taken place.

“Ronnie!” Dick who had seen the tail end of the argument dove into the pool immediately to pull Veronica to the surface. She was sputtering and coughing from the water that she had swallowed and had gone up her nose. “Are you okay? You’re not hurt are you?”

“No, I’m fine.” She started swimming toward the shallow end, Dick close beside her to make sure she didn’t drown from not being able to touch the bottom. When they got to the shallow end Veronica started to stand up, looked down at her clothes and quickly dropped back into the water. “Dick, wait!” She grabbed onto his arm to keep him in the pool with her.

“What’s wrong?”

“My shirt is white.”

He casually leered down at her thin see through shirt, “very spring break!”

She slapped him upside the head. “Eyes up here, Dick. My shirt is white and wet and clinging to my body. The second I get out of this pool everyone here is going to know I’m pregnant.”

“Oh. No problem, I got your back, Ronnie.” Without warning he picked her up bridal style and started making his way through the water.

“Whoa, what are you doing!?”

“Stop squirming before I drop you. I’m solving your problem. Just put your hands in your lap and no one can see your stomach.” He climbed out of the pool and carried her over to the far side of the property along the fence where a few forgotten towels were hanging up to dry. “Here, wrap this around you.”

She stood with her back to the party and draped the semi-damp towel around her dripping wet body. The cold air kissed her slick skin and made her involuntarily shiver as her teeth began to chatter, “where’s Logan?”

Just then Logan appeared next to her along with Mac and Wallace. “What happened? Why are you all wet?”

“Some crazy chick yelled at her and pushed her in the pool.” Dick recapped as he dried his chest with a towel.

Logan stepped closer to Veronica and cupped her cheek, tilting her head back so he could look into her eyes. “Are you okay?”

She nodded her head and leaned into his hold, “yeah. Can you take me home? I’m so done with this party. All I want to do is go to bed.”

They said their goodbyes and Logan led her out to the car through the backyard so they didn’t have to walk back through the party. He turned on the heat once they got settled and drove her home.

When they got back to the apartment Keith was sitting in his chair with his feet propped up on the coffee table watching TV and trying not to doze off. He did a double take when he noticed his daughter walking through the door wrapped in a towel, dripping water all over the floor and making squishing sounds with each step she took in her soggy shoes. “What happened to you?”

“Wet tee shirt contest. I came in first, pops!” She pumped her hand in the air with her index finger raised.

“That’s not funny.”

“Talk to Logan. I’m going to take a shower.”

Keith looked at Logan expectantly waiting for answers. “Well?”

“I don’t know what happened. I left her by the bathroom to get her a bottle of water and the next time I see her Dick is carrying her out of the pool.”

Logan grabbed a roll of paper towels from the kitchen under the sink and began cleaning up the trail of water Veronica left across the apartment floor. Keith sat in his chair a little surprised at what he was seeing.

As soon as he was done drying the floor Veronica emerged from her room in baby blue pajamas with white unicorns decorating the fabric. She saw Logan smirk and open his mouth to speak so she quickly cut him off, “don’t even say it.”

“What? I’m not allowed to tell my girlfriend how adorable she looks in her cute little matching pajamas?”

“Uh huh. Sure you were.”

Keith rolled his eyes and stood up to end the flirty banter, “as fun as this conversation is I would like to know why you had to be fished out of a swimming pool tonight.”

“It’s not as bad as it sounds, dad. Some girl figured out who I was and got mad because we apparently took a money shot of her affair and she got dumped. She tossed her drink on me and then pushed me into the pool.”

He threw up his hands in mild anger, not at anyone in particular, just angry at the situation. “That’s it, I’m pulling you from field work and all cases. From now on you are my receptionist only for the duration of your pregnancy. We’ll talk about if and when you can take on cases again after the baby is born.”

Veronica’s jaw dropped at her father’s statement. “Wait, what?” She put her hands on her hips as she looked at him incredulously, “you’re giving me a time out over this. It wasn’t even that bad.”

“But it could have been, Veronica. This line of work is dangerous. What if instead of the pool she pushed you down a flight of stairs or if she had used some kind of weapon against you? I’m not doing this to punish you, but you’re not the only one I have to look out for. If something were to happen to you or the baby…” He couldn’t finish his sentence, the thought of something happening was too real given their history and he didn’t know how he would survive without her.

Veronica’s upset deflated. She knew where her dad’s head was at and it scared her too. If she let anything happen to this baby… “I know. I’m doing the best I can to keep him safe.”

“I know you are, honey. You’re already a great mom, but we all have to be more careful.” Keith looked up at Logan to see that he understood he was talking about him too. He gathered Veronica in his arms; “I’m just trying to keep you safe, Veronica. I love you.”

“I love you too, dad.” She stepped out of his embrace and kissed him on the cheek. “I’m going to bed, goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Veronica turned toward her bedroom and Keith saw Logan start to follow her down the hall. “Uh, Logan, your bed is through that door.” He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder toward the front door.

Logan faced Keith with an innocent expression and smiled. “I’m just saying goodnight to my daughter. Tuck her in, maybe read her a bedtime story.”

“Mmmhmm. You have fifteen minutes, it’s late.” Keith turned and smiled, shaking his head as he made his way to his own room. Kids.

Chapter Text

Veronica was sitting up in Logan’s bed leaning against the headboard in one of his solid colored cotton tees. His right cheek was smashed up against the top of her stomach with his left arm draped over her waist while he slept.

His chest was bare; in fact his whole body was except for a thin gray sheet covering his lower half. His breaths were even and slow and Veronica couldn’t take her eyes off of him as she slowly ran her fingers through his hair repeatedly.

She was happy. She couldn’t remember a time when she was this at peace with her life. Before Lilly died Veronica was happy, but it was a superficial happiness. When she was out with her friends, for the most part everything was great, unless Lilly and Logan were in the middle of an off period. Once she crossed the threshold back into her house the happiness faded. Her mom was either drinking in the kitchen or already passed out upstairs, unaware that the world continued to turn without her.

When her dad got home from work she was genuinely always happy to see him. He was the most important person in her life and she loved the few brief minutes they got to spend together talking about their days, joking or planning the next daddy-daughter activity. Not before long her mother would reappear from her nap and their home became a battle zone. Her parents yelled and screamed at each other and Veronica hid in the trenches of her bedroom with her music turned up just enough to block out the worst of the bickering.

Some days she would find sanctuary at Logan’s. He would do everything in his power to keep a smile on her face by taking her swimming, vegging out in the media room as they watched the South Park movie for the hundredth time or just being silly kids. She cherished those moments that Logan could distract her from what was waiting for her back home.

Now as she was looking down at Logan’s innocent face sleeping on her stomach, the only time he was completely still and at peace instead of fidgeting she realized this was everything she wanted. She was in love with Logan and he was in love with her, they were building a life that would connect them together forever. Her dad was supportive and stayed even when she let him down. Wallace and Mac were loyal and accepting of all the weird facets of her personality that usually made it so hard for her to make friends. Her mother wasn’t around, but Veronica didn’t let that bring her down, she didn’t consider Lianne a part of her family anymore, she was just a woman who gave birth to her. She didn’t need her mother in her life to be happy because she was already there.

Veronica looked over at the clock on the bedside table. She didn’t want to go home, she just wanted to stay snuggled up with Logan, but she hadn’t spend enough time with her dad lately and she needed to get going. She decided to give herself another thirty minutes to bask in the afterglow and replay the perfect evening from a few hours earlier in her mind.

Veronica used her keycard to enter the suite. She was supposed to be meeting Logan after his afternoon class in the quad so that they could go to an early dinner. However Veronica’s class got out early and she was too tired to sit around and wait for Logan on campus. She texted him to meet her back at the Grand instead and crawled on top of his bed falling asleep as soon as her head hit his pillow.

She was aroused from her nap when she felt several light kisses being pressed against her skin beginning at the base of her neck and trailing up behind her ear. She smiled as a strong arm tightened around her waist pulling her closer to the firm form spooning her from behind. Her voice was husky and groggy from sleep; “if you don’t stop that we won’t make it to dinner.”

“We already missed dinner, sleepyhead. You’ve been napping for nearly four hours.”

“What?” Veronica turned and stretched her arm out to grab the clock on the bedside table; it was indeed almost seven o’clock. “We can still go grab something.”

Logan pulled her back to keep her from getting out of bed and rolled her over until she was on her back with him slightly above her. “I’d rather just eat you instead.” He leaned down and brushed his lips against hers.

“I’m still going to need food if…”

He cut her off with another kiss. “I already ordered room service, it will be here shortly. In the meantime…” He placed several more kisses down her neck, between her breasts over her shirt and on her bare stomach after pushing her top over her head and tossing it on the floor.

Veronica’s nails skimmed Logan’s scalp, her breath quickening with each touch of his lips against her skin, leaving a trail of heat in his wake until she was arching up off the bed seeking more.

Logan undid the button on her jeans and slid them off her along with her underwear in one smooth stride. He took a moment to gaze lovingly at her body left only in a bright red bra. He watched with lust filled eyes as she sat up and unhooked her bra tossing it over the side of the bed joining the rest of her clothes. “You are so beautiful.”

“And you are wearing too many clothes.” She kissed him once more before pulling his shirt off as he kicked off his pants and boxers.

He worked his way up her body starting low around her ankles, placing kisses every couple of inches on her soft skin until he reached her core. Slowly he brought her to the edge without letting her find release quite yet, dragging out the build up of pleasure, overloading her body with his touch.

Veronica didn’t think sex with Logan could get better. It wasn’t a joke when she told him he could go pro, he had skills that no one at nineteen should have. Ignoring the thoughts of how those skills were acquired she focused on what he was doing to her.

Every sensation he was eliciting could be felt throughout her entire body, each touch a mini orgasm pulsating through her. She was extra sensitive due to hormones and her changing body and it was the best sex of her life. Or maybe it was the best because they were in a good place, they loved each other and it showed in his pace. It was girly to admit, but they were making love, it could never be just sex with this much emotion and intimacy between them.

Logan moved up her body, kissing her deeply, as he finally pushed inside her. They moved slowly together, taking their time to reconnect before eventually allowing themselves to fall over the edge together.

They laid curled up together for a few minutes after trying to catch their breaths and come back down from the high. Logan climbed off the bed and tossed his shirt to Veronica to throw on while he slid into his boxers. He opened the suite door and pulled in the waiting room service cart that was still warm and climbed into bed with their food.

Veronica smiled at the memory. After having dinner they ended up going another round, this time less tender and slow, more heat of the moment passion and animalistic need.

Carefully, without waking Logan, she slid out of bed and gathered her scattered clothes around the room to change. She fixed her hair and brushed her teeth before walking back over to the bed where Logan was now stretched out on his back like a star fast sleep.

She bent down and placed a kiss on his forehead, causing him to stir and reach out for her, opening his eyes when she wasn’t in bed with him. “Why are you dressed? Come back to bed.”

“I have to go home it’s getting late.”

“Okay. Call me when you get home so I know you made it back safely.”

“I will.” Veronica gave him one last kiss and ran her fingers lightly over his tired face before standing up to leave. “Get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Be careful. I love you.”

Before she could respond he was already asleep again. He didn’t get a four hour nap this afternoon like she did and after their eventful night he was worn out. She didn’t know how they were going to function once the baby came along, sleeping would become a treasured commodity. She quietly closed the door behind her and left to head home.


Duke followed Veronica home from the Grand, careful to stay at least five cars back. Last week he had managed to slip a tracking device in the hood of her silver Saturn while she was in class. It made following her around town easier and logged her travel activity into his laptop so he could try and find a pattern in her day-to-day routine.

So far he had been unsuccessful. She spent most of her time at home, the Grand, Hearst, the beach and Mars Investigations, but each day she went to those places in a different order and at varying times. He was no closer predicting where she would be at any given time, let alone being at one of the locations with her gaggle of friends.

He had learned a little bit more about her in the two weeks he had been on her tail. He knew that Mac and Wallace were the names of her best friends. Logan was the tall brunette that he had seen with her at the Santa Monica pier and who seemed to also be her boyfriend. Duke didn’t care too much for him, he was too entangled and protective of Veronica and Duke couldn’t get close enough to make contact with her safely with Logan around.

He tried the week before at the Pi Sig party by sending over two beautiful women to distract Logan while he snuck off to find Veronica. He seriously underestimated Logan’s faithfulness and his shot at a meeting with the blonde was blown when Logan immediately ran after her. He retreated to his car for the rest of the evening and waited until the couple left the party.

Now with only a few days left until his two-week deadline was up, Duke was beginning to panic. He had never had such a hard time corning a mark before. If he didn’t setup a meeting for his boss within the next two days he was going to be out of a job and half a million dollars that came with this assignment.

As Duke followed Veronica across town toward her apartment he got an idea. Instead of following her all the way home he turned his car around and headed back to where he was staying. He knew what he had to do now to get her alone, but he couldn’t do it tonight, he needed time to prep. He smiled as he thought about his plan and the sweet paycheck that would be in his account before long.


 

The next day after class Veronica entered Tea by the Sea with her messenger bag slung across her body and a large take out bag from Luigi’s cradled in her arms. The aroma rising out of the bag made her stomach growl. She hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch and she was starving – like that was anything new - salivating at just the thought of stuffing the famous pasta in her mouth. She set down her stuff at an empty table and lifted the food containers out of the bag.

Ellie entered the shop from the back room carrying a few boxes of tea to restock the shelves when she saw her favorite guest. “Oh Veronica, I didn’t even hear you come in.” She set down the boxes to put away later and wiped her hands on her apron before pulling Veronica into a hug. “What’s all this?”

“Dinner. I thought I could bring you something to eat for a change. I didn’t know what you liked so I picked up a few different things I thought we could split.”

Ellie smiled and took a seat, “thank you. How have you been? How’s school?”

Veronica quickly dished out her pasta as she answered, “my classes are great, interesting even. I’m taking an introductory profiling class this semester and it’s something I could see myself doing in the future. At the very least it helps give me an extra edge as a private investigator.” She rolled her eyes in frustration and a little remaining anger, “that is if I’m allowed to work for my dad again.”

Ellie raised her eyebrows in question, “if you’re allowed? Did he fire you?”

“No, but I’m benched to receptionist duty until the end of my pregnancy and then my promotion to work cases again will be open to discussion.”

Veronica had only been taken off her cases for a week and it was already driving her crazy. There were a few opportunities to take some cases under the table without her father or Logan knowing, but she was trying to be better and ultimately turned them down.

“You’re not going to like this, sweetheart, but I agree with your dad. The receptionist gig is temporary, Veronica. If you or the baby were to get hurt or worse…there’s nothing temporary about that. Your dad is just trying to keep you safe. There will always be more cases, but there will only ever be one of you.”

“I know and I’m trying to be safe. I’m just not used to keeping the bench warm while everyone else gets to keep playing.”

Ellie smirked knowing just how she could lift the blonde’s spirit. “Just think about how much more time you’ll have now to spend with Logan.” A smile graced Veronica’s face as she looked down at her lap self-consciously. “I’m surprised he’s not here with you. The way that boy looks at you, I assumed he would gladly follow you everywhere just to be near.”

“We have been pretty inseparable lately and I would have brought him, but he’s off having a boy’s day with his friends. Surfing all day and poker all night.”

“So, things are going well?”

Veronica played with the white gold heart shaped necklace around her neck; the one Logan had gotten her for her birthday, as she let out a real smile. “I finally told him I loved him.”

Ellie felt her heart flutter with joy and love at Veronica’s confession. She knew Veronica’s mother had abandoned her, they had talked about it a few times, briefly, and even if Veronica would never admit it, Ellie could tell she missed having a mother figure around. She assumed it was one of the reasons Veronica continued to come visit. It warmed her heart that Veronica looked up to her and trusted her enough to be open when it was against her nature. She felt honored to be a surrogate mother to both Veronica and Logan.

With a hand pressed to her chest, Ellie excitedly gushed, “so when’s the wedding?”

Veronica’s eyes widened as she choked on the sip of water she had just taken. “That’s a little fast don’t you think? We’ve only been back together for two months.”

“Maybe, maybe not. You have known him for eight years, that hardly seems fast to me.” The corner of her lips ticked up, “I also haven’t heard you deny wanting to marry him either.”

“Can you please pass me the manicotti?”

Ellie’s smile grew exponentially at Veronica’s evasiveness as she passed her the container of food.

The two women talked for a little while longer before Ellie resumed her work, restocking the shelves and helping customers. Veronica stayed at the table and worked on her homework until it was time for her to head over to the office.


Once Veronica left the little tea shop by the beach Duke followed her down the street to Mars Investigations. Confident that she would be working for while, he left to grab a few last minute supplies before getting in place to implement his plan. He was growing desperate as the deadline grew closer, this was his one and only shot, he couldn’t mess it up.

He pulled up the tracking software on his phone and watched as the blinking blue dot representing Veronica’s car sat outside the PI office. All he had to do now was wait for her to come to him. 


 

When she walked into Mars Investigations the light in her dad’s office was still on so she popped her head in. “Hey, dad.”

“Hi, honey.” He stood up and followed her out of his office turning the light off on the way and stood in front of her desk. “I’m heading out to the Camelot and will probably be home late. Could you work on last month’s invoices? I want to get those out tomorrow.”

She nodded her head, “sure, no problem.”

“Thank you. Don’t stay too late and remember…”

Veronica rolled her eyes, “I know, I’m not to take any cases of my own.”

Keith smiled, “I was going to say if Logan comes over tonight remember that Backup tells me everything.” He gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head. “And also no cases.”

“Like I’ve said before, I’m already pregnant, which means that Logan and I—“

“I love you, Veronica. I’ll see you in the morning.” Keith quickly cut her off so he could continue to live in denial about how his grandchild was conceived.

After he left Veronica spend the next two hours finishing up the remaining invoices, stuffing them into envelopes and gathering postage to send them off in the mail the next day. She also cleaned up the office a bit, filing away cases that were lying out in the open and straightening up the kitchen and her desk before calling it a night.

She gathered her things and locked up the office before climbing into her car, dumping her bag and her textbooks into the passenger seat.

The roads were light with traffic tonight, which was nice because she just wanted to get home, take Backup out for a quick walk and then curl up and go to bed.

A few streets away from the block that housed her apartment, Veronica pulled up to a red light. Without the hustle and bustle of other cars on the road sitting at a red light felt like an eternity.

Finally the light turned green and she accelerated through the intersection. Just five more minutes and she would be home, two if she hit all green lights the rest of the way.

Approaching the Main Street and Ocean Drive intersection next, Veronica saw the orange lit countdown for the pedestrian crosswalk ticking closer to zero, meaning her green light was going to change in a few seconds to yellow then red. She pressed her foot down on the gas pedal enough to pick up a few miles per hour hoping to skid across on a green light still.

As she entered the intersection she looked both ways and froze when she turned her head to the right. Immediately, her arms tightened into rods pushing her away from the steering wheel, eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights, chest constricting as her breath caught and heart beating wildly, a pure instinct reaction. A black truck without illuminated headlights barreled into her from the passenger side.

The passenger door caved in at crunching angles, glass sprayed out in bite-sized pieces raining over her, creating little slices across her skin as they flew by. Her buckled body moved with the motion of the crash, slamming up against the driver’s side door, head colliding with the un-shattered window as the car came to a stop in the middle of the road.

Veronica’s vision doubled as she tried to unbuckle her seatbelt, unable to focus long enough to perform the simple task, fighting to stay awake. She felt something warm running down the left side of her face before the world faded away and everything went black.


Jerry Sacks was one of three responding deputies to an accident called into the station just after 11pm. He hated motor vehicle accidents because he never knew what scene he was going to stumble across when he arrived.

Thankfully, this scene wasn’t too traumatic. A black Ford truck was t-boned into the passenger side of a silver Saturn SUV. Since he was the first deputy to step foot out of his vehicle, he took charge and approached the wreckage.

The driver’s side door on the truck was open, the airbags had deployed and laid deflated over the inside of the cab, no personal effects seemed to be strewn around. He approached the Saturn next noting the mess of scattered items throughout the passenger side floor, but didn’t pick anything up, careful not to disturb the scene. The driver’s side door was open, the seatbelt stretched and hanging outside the vehicle. The driver’s window was cracked, resembling a spider’s web, with a stream of red at the center, the result of a head hitting the solid glass with force.

Sacks stood up and looked for the drivers of the vehicles to get a statement. Not finding anyone nearby he moved toward the EMT’s who were the first responders on the scene, “did another bus take the drivers to the hospital?”

A stocky man in a navy EMT uniform shook his head, “there was no one here when we arrived. The cars were empty.”

Deputy Sacks walked back to his patrol car as the other deputies began documenting the scene. He ran the license plate on the truck first and it came back unregistered. He typed in the plate number for the Saturn and felt a lump form in his throat; the vehicle was registered to Veronica Mars.

He recalled the blood he saw on the driver’s side window and his heart sank at the news he was going to have to deliver. With slightly shaky hands he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a familiar number from the past.

“Hello?”

Sacks closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose when the voice on the other end of the line was calm and unsuspecting. “Keith, it’s Jerry.”

“Jerry, it’s been a while, what can I do for you?”

“Keith, there’s been an accident—“ Sacks didn’t get a chance to finish as Keith’s panicked tone rang in his ear.

“Veronica. Is she okay?! What happened?! Where are you?!”

“It was a passenger side collision, two streets over from your apartment. I think she was on her way home.”

“Is Veronica okay? Can I talk to her?”

Sacks took a deep breath and let it out before he responded. “You can’t talk to Veronica, she’s not here at the scene and they didn’t take her to the hospital.” He paused a second to gather his strength, “Keith…Veronica’s missing.”

Chapter Text

“No, no, no. Veronica, I thought we covered this already, actually I know we did, multiple times. You’re red satin, not yellow cotton.”

Veronica was lying on her bed, semi-listening; playing with the floppy ears on the gray elephant Logan had gifted her for the baby. “I know, Lilly. I’m like a rocker chick now, remember?”

“Then why is there a yellow cotton dress in your closet?” Lilly pulled out the dress in question Veronica had worn on her first date with Logan to the zoo and held it in the air as proof.

“I can wear yellow cotton without being yellow cotton.”

“Obviously.” Lilly hung up the dress and flopped on the bed next to Veronica. “You did get knocked up from a one night stand. That isn’t exactly yellow cotton behavior. I’m so proud of you, Veronica Mars.”

Veronica looked at Lilly in disbelief. “You’re proud of me for getting pregnant?”

“No. Well yes, you and Logan have always belonged together and you’re both going to be amazing parents, but I meant I’m proud of you, of who you became. You got dealt some very crappy cards because of the mistakes I made and you had to learn to be strong and fight back. And now I need you to fight back again.”

“What are you talking about?”

Lilly laid her hand on top of Veronica’s stomach. “Take care of him.”

“Lilly—“ Veronica clutched her head suddenly as a stabbing pain radiated above her temple.

“I have to go now. It’s time for you to wake up.” Lilly slid off the bed and walked toward the bedroom door. “Be careful, he’s not stable. I love you, Veronica.”

Another sharp pain shot through Veronica’s head, more intense than the first. She clenched her eyes shut as she rode through the pain until she felt herself beginning to drift away.

Veronica slowly opened her eyes, eyelids heavy and fluttering as her vision swam before clearing. The pain she felt in her dream was real, her body ached and her head was pounding. Black truck…car accident…

She tried to grab at her head to make the pain stop but her arms wouldn’t obey the command from her brain. Veronica realized she couldn’t move at all. She lifted her head slightly, enough to see she was lying in a bed, tied down actually, in a four point restraint.

Her eyes scanned the room, noticing for the first time that she was not in her home or the hospital - nothing was familiar. Well, not exactly, the setting wasn’t familiar, but the feeling was, she had had this nightmare before, except this time she wasn’t asleep.

The lights were dimmed and by the blackness reaching beyond the windows it had to be the middle of the night, meaning she wasn’t out for long, but longer than necessary for a bump on the head. That worried her more than her surroundings. Had she been slipped something to keep her unconscious longer? Please, no.

Trying to avoid a full-blown panic she kept searching the unknown location with her eyes for clues. It was a small one-room cabin like one would expect to see in the middle of the woods used for hunting. The furniture was minimal. A fireplace on the parallel wall with two recliners facing forward, a queen sized bed in the corner along the far wall, a wooden table with four chairs and a door that she assumed led to the bathroom.

She couldn’t see the front door or kitchen from her position, but based on the layout of the room they were probably behind her.

A figure moved in her periphery and she strained her neck as much as she could to get a better look as to who took her. She couldn’t see who it was and the panic began to set in.

“You’re awake.”

Veronica knew that voice. It wasn’t one she was likely to forget. It used to make her happy to hear, like she was special and loved. Over the past year, however, her brain was pushing her to deal with everything she tried to ignore in the past. Frequent nightmares brought to light her true feelings and hearing his voice now made her skin crawl.

Duncan moved into view and sat down on the edge of her twin-sized bed. He traced his fingers around the tender spot on her forehead. The pain his touch inflicted didn’t make her flinch, but his close proximity did. She was uncomfortable being near him and this situation did nothing to help.

“You hit your head pretty hard. I cleaned up the cut and put a bandage on it, but you’ve got a nasty bruise.” He cupped her cheek and rubbed his thumb back and forth along her skin soothingly. “You’re still so beautiful, Veronica. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t miss you.”

She turned her head away from him to dislodge his grasp. She didn’t want to be touched or hear his declarations of love. “What am I doing here, Duncan? Let me go.”

“Are you in pain? I found some Ibuprofen in the cabinets for your head if you want it.”

She was in pain, but she wasn’t going to take medication from him. “No. I can’t take anything anyway. You do need to take me to the hospital so I can get checked out.”

“Right, the baby.” He moved his hands to the hem of her shirt and pushed it up to expose the swell of her stomach. “I saw your belly when I was cleaning your cuts earlier.”

Veronica clenched her jaw to keep the nausea at bay. The thought of Duncan possibly doing things to her, even just a simple touch, while she was passed out, again, made her stomach turn. Her eyes welled up with tears and she didn’t try to hold them back.

He placed his hands along her baby bump and smiled. She could tell he was imagining the baby belonged to him, like they had created the child together. He bent his head over her stomach and kissed her abdomen. It was an intimate move and one he didn’t have the right to do, it was an action that only belonged to Logan.

“Duncan, stop!” Veronica choked out as she thrashed against the restraints. Duncan was clouding over her happy moments, creating traumatic reminders where happy memories used to be.

He blinked as he sat up, the sweet daydream he was imaging broken by her yelling and bringing him back to the real world, the real world where he was not the father of her baby. Darkness flooded his eyes and his jaw set hard and straight, he didn’t remove his hands, instead he tightened his grip on her pushing her hips down into the bed. “Who’s the father, Veronica?” he spat out with venom.

She had two options; she could tell the truth or lie.

The boy beside her wasn’t the boy she used to know. He was cold and dark, unstable and dangerous. He was unpredictable in his thinking and she honestly didn’t know whether the truth or a lie would be better right now. The only factor she considered and that mattered the most to her right now was keeping the baby safe.

“That’s none of your business.”

“It’s Logan’s isn’t it? That’s why you won’t tell me. If it were anyone else you wouldn’t feel the need to protect them, but with Logan it has always been different. A slap in the face. How long did you wait until I was gone before you jumped into bed with him, huh?”

Veronica visibly flinched as Duncan’s voice grew louder. She needed to calm him down somehow. If he had one of his fits there was no telling what he would do and she couldn’t protect herself tied down like this with him holding all the power. “It wasn’t like that—“

“You’re mine, Veronica, you belong to me! You’ve always been mine! He will never be good for you, just look at what being with him has done to you!” He pointed at her stomach, becoming more hysterical by the second. “But I can be good for you. I came back for you because I love you. I’m still in love with you, Veronica. And I know you’re still in love with me, too, you just don’t remember, but I’ll help you remember.”

Duncan bent over her and crashed his lips against hers; pouring every emotion he had into the kiss trying to get her to remember the love they used to share. His hands explored her body, running up and down her arms, over her shirt and grabbing her around the waist.

This was a nightmare, she couldn’t fight back against Duncan’s assault, he was everywhere, touching every inch of her, smothering her. She tried wiggling against the restraints, it was her only protection, but she stopped immediately after doing so only fed Duncan’s delusions that she was a willing participant in all this.

“I love you, Veronica.”

His kisses moved from her mouth to her cheek, jaw and down her neck. “Stop! Get off me! Duncan, please, stop! Please!” Fight back. Lilly’s warning ran through her mind again.

“Duncan,” Veronica said barely above a whisper, her voice sounded loving even though she was trembling with fear.

He halted his kisses down her neck and moved back up her body so he could look in her eyes. “Yeah, baby?”

“I love Logan.” Veronica snapped her head up as fast as she could. The sickening crunch of bone and cartilage followed by incoherent curses let her know she had hit her target.

Veronica watched through waves of pain as Duncan moved away from the bed clutching at his bloody nose. After a minute he let go of his face and went into one of his fits, turning over furniture and smashing items against the wall until he ran out of steam and collapsed onto the second bed across the room.

Tears ran down her cheeks as she cried, her body shaking involuntarily as her adrenaline faded. Her head was pounding twice as hard now, but she wasn’t going to pass out this time. She couldn’t, she had to stay awake and alert, she had to fight back and be ready for the next attack. She needed her dad and Logan.


 

Twenty hours, it had been twenty hours since Veronica went missing. Eighteen hours since Keith had told him about the accident and the entire 64,800 seconds within those hours left Logan numb.

The first twelve hours following Veronica’s disappearance had been spent using every resource possible to find her. The black truck that hit her had been a dead end. It wasn’t registered to anyone in particular or reported stolen. They even looked into the traffic cameras in the area and were told by Balboa County’s finest that all feeds had been off this week due to a system upgrade.

Logan didn’t trust the sheriff’s department to lead a thorough investigation so he called Mac to check on the traffic cameras herself. Unfortunately, the deputies had been correct for once and their second chance at a lead crumbled.

He hadn’t broken down yet either, he had to stay strong to find his family, but with each passing minute his hope dwindled that he would find Veronica unharmed.

By hour fifteen Keith had gotten a message from Deputy Sacks telling them to tune into the six o’clock news. Apparently, Vinnie had a soft spot for Veronica and had allowed a story to run about her before the twenty-four hour mark. It was unheard of; a missing person from the 90902 zip code getting media attention so soon, usually they wouldn’t even bother to report on it since the lower classes didn’t matter in this town.

A few minutes before six Mac, Wallace and Dick had shown up at the apartment for support. Mac and Wallace took the couch, Keith sat in his favorite chair leaning forward over his knees with nervous anticipation and Logan and Dick stood waiting for the news to begin.

The logo for the news program popped up on the screen along with a header displayed under the live broadcast feed of a beautiful dark haired reporter. KTML Channel 9, six o’clock news with Martina Vasquez.

Thank you for tuning in this evening as we go to a breaking story in Balboa County – Neptune. Last night, twenty-year-old Veronica Mars, the daughter of Neptune’s former sheriff, Keith Mars, was reported missing. Her disappearance followed a motor vehicle accident on Main and Ocean sometime between ten and eleven. The sheriff’s department is actively investigating Ms. Mars’ disappearance and at this time they have not disclosed any suspects.

A recent photo of Veronica popped up on the screen.

Veronica Mars is a sophomore student at Hearst College. She has blonde medium length hair, blue eyes, standing at approximately 5’1 and was last seen wearing jeans and a gray tee shirt with a blue jacket. She is also reported to be roughly four months pregnant. If you have any information regarding Ms. Mars’ disappearance please contact the hotline displayed at the bottom of your screen.

Up next stay tuned for…

Logan clenched his fist and spun on his heel as he stormed out of the living room and slammed the door to Veronica’s room, encasing himself in privacy, away from the concerned eyes of the others. He was furious. Furious at the sheriff’s department for being incompetent, at Martina Vasquez for being a messenger, at Keith for giving those details to the press and at himself for not doing his one job to protect the two people he couldn’t live without.

There was a light knock on the bedroom door after a few minutes. Logan had stopped pacing and was now facing Veronica’s bulletin board with all the pictures she had taken over the years. “Go away, I’m not in the mood for company.”

His request went ignored and the door opened to allow Keith to walk in closing the door behind him to grant them privacy once again. “Logan.”

“What the hell were you thinking giving them that information, Keith? You had no right to allow them to announce Veronica’s pregnancy on the news! It’s nobody’s business but ours!”

Keith sat down on the edge of Veronica’s bed unphased by Logan’s outburst. “I know you’re upset, but I didn’t make this decision lightly. You have to understand I’ve been in law enforcement for a very long time, I’ve dealt with missing person’s cases, I know the outcomes and the likelihood of getting those loved ones back. Each day that passes the less likely that person is to come home, especially in Neptune. People are not going to give a rat’s ass about a twenty-year-old college girl that went missing, but they will pay attention to a pregnant mother. We’re playing to the hearts of the public, they’re our only hope right now.”

“I know, but I still don’t like it.” Logan discreetly swiped at a few tears trying to escape. “If you wanted sympathy you should have released my name. The Echolls name unfortunately still holds a lot of good weight in this damn town.”

“No, absolutely not. Releasing your name was never an option,” Keith responded adamantly without any hesitation. “I want to keep your identity as the baby’s father quiet for as long as we can.”

Logan’s jaw clenched defensively, his anger building once again. After all this time, these past few months especially, and Keith Mars still didn’t accept him being linked to Veronica. No one would let go of the past long enough for him to prove he was good enough, stable enough to be what Veronica needed. He was always going to be an embarrassment, a loose canon that held Veronica back in Keith’s eyes. Veronica deserved better.

“Wouldn’t want the masses to know the son of a murderer knocked up the sheriff’s daughter, right?” Logan seethed with narrowed eyes.

Keith recognized his mistake and relaxed his stance to be more inviting hoping it would put Logan at ease. “I’m not keeping your name out of the press for that reason. You’re not your father Logan and what he did has no impact on my assessment of you. I’m keeping your identity anonymous to protect you. The second we link you to Veronica the press and paparazzi will show up at the door and hound you for a comment, wanting to get a glimpse at how you’re dealing. I’m not going to sacrifice your privacy for more media coverage.”

“You should. I don’t care about what happens to me. I care about getting my daughter and Veronica back. I’ve had to deal with those vultures my entire life I can handle it again.”

“I know you can handle it, I have no doubts about that. However, I’m in charge, this is my call.”

“They’re my family, Keith—“

“They’re my family, too, and so are you. I couldn’t protect Veronica but I can protect you and that’s what I’m going to do. We have to take care of each other because Veronica needs us. The baby needs us.”

Logan turned around, away from Keith, as a few tears slipped down his cheeks. He walked over to Veronica’s nightstand beside her bed and picked up the twelve-week ultrasound picture of the baby resting against a photo of him and Veronica. His voice when he started talking was small and broken, “our next doctor’s appointment was supposed to be tomorrow, you know? I read that at sixteen weeks she is about the size of an avocado and starting to grow toenails, which means she has little legs and feet now and I won’t get to see them. ”

“You will see her again, Logan. Both of them.” Keith had been waiting for this moment when the gravity of the situation and Logan’s exhaustion from staying up for nearly two days straight started to catch up with him. He carefully placed a hand on Logan’s shoulder, careful not to startle him, “how about you take a shower and then get some sleep. I asked Richard to bring over a bag of clothes for you earlier so you can stay here if you’d like.”

“Okay.” Logan wiped his face dry and followed Keith out of the room to grab his bag and take a shower. After getting cleaned up and ready for bed Logan made his way back into Veronica’s room. He picked up the stuffed elephant off her bed and pulled back the sheets, climbing in and surrounding himself with Veronica’s scent.

It was comforting to be in her room, but it also hurt knowing she wasn’t here with him. He turned on his side and cradled the elephant in his arms, much like he imagined Veronica doing every night - sleep taking over his body quick. The last image he saw before his eyes finally closed was the little fuzzy black and white picture of his daughter under a photo of Veronica.


 

Veronica had stayed awake throughout the rest of the night. Light was beginning to break through the windows illuminating the cabin a bit more. Duncan was still passed out and from past experiences she knew after a fit he usually remained somewhat comatose for several days.

That was the main reason she had had the idiotic idea to stimulate an episode of his. Now she just had to figure out how she was going to get out of these restraints and escape before he woke up and became an active member of society again.

A set of keys jiggled in the door and a few seconds later an average looking man entered carrying a brown paper bag filled with groceries and a dark green duffle bag. He smiled when he saw Veronica was awake, “good morning, sunshine.” He took in the state of the room, over turned furniture and blood trails along the floor, “Jesus it looks like a crime scene in here. What happened?”

“Broken nose, I hope.”

The man smirked and grabbed a towel out of the kitchen to clean up the blood along the floor and on Duncan’s face. He didn’t seem concerned with Duncan’s state of being and Veronica found that interesting. He’s witnessed Duncan’s episodes before. After he cleaned up the room he brought a chair over to the bed to sit in.

He undid the restraints around her arms and legs, Veronica tried to get a swift kick in but he was too quick and grabbed both of her legs, slapping a pair of handcuffs around them and securing them to the metal railing along the bed. She couldn’t escape, but at least he was allowing her to sit up. It was better than being tied down completely.

“Who are you?”

“Duke. Would you like something to eat or drink?”

“No, I’m not hungry.”

Her stomach growled in protest at the mention of food and Duke laughed while shaking his head. “It sure sounds like you are.”

“I’m fine.” Veronica watched him closely, but his face was a mask, he only showed her what he wanted her to see. “Why am I here?”

“That I don’t know. Really. You’ll have to ask Mr. Kane. All I know is you were the piece that would make everything come together. All the progress he’s made thus far and all the work I’ve done relies solely on you now. I have no idea what his end game is.”

As far as kidnappers go, Duke was a best option sort of scenario. He was straightforward with his answers and as far as she could tell he wasn’t lying. She didn’t want to be here at all but if she had to pick between Duke or Duncan she would rather be in the company of Duke. “How long have you been following me?”

“Who says that I was?”

“I know it was you driving the truck. You were waiting for me, which means you knew where I would be and that only comes from being followed. Plus, Duncan isn’t a get your hands dirty kind of guy, none of the Kane’s are, they always hire out their dirty deeds. So, answer my question, how long have you been following me?”

Duke smiled again. He had fun watching Veronica from a distance, but he didn’t pick up her spitfire attitude from surveillance. He quite liked interacting with her. “You’ve been my assignment for a little less than a month. I began watching you a few days before you and Logan went to the Santa Monica Pier.”

It was extremely unnerving that he had been watching her for so long without her knowing about it. She was usually very good at spotting a tail, but she had no suspicions she was being followed. Veronica kept her face blank; he didn’t need to know that she was terrified to be here.

“You know, you’re a hard person to track. You change your pattern daily, which probably comes from being a PI. I must say I enjoyed the challenge of trying to pinpoint where you would be next. It made my job a lot more stressful, but it was highly entertaining. Kinda like cat and mouse.”

“You may be good at surveillance and blending in, but your background and research skills are poor,” Veronica’s smile turned malicious, “and because of that when I get out of here, I am going to destroy the both of you. If you think I can’t then you’re already proving my point.”

Duke looked confused so Veronica clarified. “I’m pregnant and you had the audacity to hit me with a car. If anything happens to my baby you’ll be wishing you were already six feet underground.”

Chapter Text

The apartment was crowded. Veronica had been missing for nine days and gradually over those nine days more and more people had moved in trying to help and seek comfort. Keith had his room, Logan was still occupying Veronica’s room with Backup, but now Mac, Wallace and Dick had moved in. Mac slept on the couch and Wallace and Dick shared an air mattress on the living room floor.

In any other circumstance it would have been funny for Logan to see his best friend roughing it out on an air mattress with Veronica’s best friend. It meant a lot to Logan that Dick was here. He liked Veronica’s friends but it was nice to have his own friend around to lean on when he was uncomfortable sharing his emotions with the others.

Although, hiding his emotions was becoming fruitless. Every day he broke a little more. Every day he cared a little less who saw him cry. None of them judged or mocked him, they felt it too, hugs, silent company and shoulders to cry on was the new normal.

The investigation into Veronica’s disappearance was slowing. That was optimistic. The investigation was dead and cold, no longer active. Sheriff Van Lowe had sent over one of his measly lower level deputies the day before to inform them that the sheriff’s department had exhausted all their resources and were unable to come up with a lead to further investigate. They had other cases that were now considered a priority over finding Veronica.

It was all bullshit. They hadn’t looked for Veronica. They did the necessary minimum requirements to cover their asses in saying an investigation had taken place. Yes, they looked at the traffic cameras, they alerted the media and the community at large, they bagged and tagged evidence and they manned the hotline phones for a tip, but none of that mattered. By the third day they had called it quits and by the eighth day they finally labeled it a cold case.

Logan almost lost it on another squad car for their incompetence and disrespect. He wanted to show them that their efforts were not to be rewarded. Keith, however, had calmed him down and told him it was better this way. If the sheriff’s department was investigating that meant Keith couldn’t touch the case if they wanted it to be handled by the book. With it now being a cold case they were going to release some of the evidence back into their custody, like Veronica’s car, and they would begin their own investigation.

Today he and Keith were going to pick up Veronica’s car, search through it and then take it to be repaired or scraped depending on the damage. It was the last place Veronica was so it only made sense that it would be the first place they started.

Logan rolled out of bed and patted Backup on the head. He quietly made his way into the kitchen and pulled out a few pans trying his best not to wake the three occupants sleeping in the living room. It had become somewhat of a routine for Logan, getting up first to make breakfast for the others.

He felt so helpless over the last week and as a thank you to Keith for putting up with him and holding him together he showed his small thanks by making breakfast. It wasn’t much, he knew he needed to do more for the man who had become a real father to him, but it was all he could think of to do right now.

Keith came into the kitchen as Logan transferred a stack of fresh pancakes onto the last empty plate. Fresh cut fruit sat in a bowl next to a plate piled high with toast and the smell of fresh brewed coffee wafted through the apartment. “Good morning. How’d you sleep?”

The conversation started the same way every morning; it was part of the new routine to make sure they were taking care of themselves. “Fine. I got five hours. You?”

“Six.” Keith reached out a handful of cups and poured the desired beverages for all the kids he had somehow managed to live with now. “Let’s wake the squatters and get them off to school so you and I can figure out how to get Veronica back.”

After breakfast all five of them took turns getting ready. The first couple of days had been a challenge and they quickly figured out they couldn’t all take a shower in the morning. The water only stayed warm for two maybe three people before it turned to ice. Since then they figured out a system and within an hour they were ready to walk out the door.

Dick drove Mac and Wallace to campus, while Logan and Keith headed to the sheriff’s department evidence garage to pick up Veronica’s car. They looked at the car first and determined they would have to have it towed to an auto shop. The front passenger side wheel was bent and turned inward making it impossible to drive off the lot.

Keith pulled a business card out of his wallet and told Logan to call a truck to tow the car to the location on the back of the card. While Keith went inside to sign the paperwork Logan made the call. Within twenty minutes a red tow truck arrived and loaded up the vehicle.

Logan followed the tow truck across town until they reached a garage named Angel’s. The area was familiar, but he didn’t make the connection until an old rival stepped out of the main office and began walking toward them. Logan turned to Keith, “you’re going to let paco look over Veronica’s car? This is important Keith, we can’t miss anything.”

“Eli is good with cars, Logan. He will be able to spot suspicious damage that I won’t and lord knows you know nothing about cars. Veronica trusts him, so I trust him.” Keith moved to get out of the car, “please behave, he is doing us a favor.”

“Fine.” He climbed out of the car with a huff and rolled his eyes. It was going to be a long day.

“Sheriff. Echolls,” Weevil nodded in greeting as he stopped in front of them.

“Weevs.”

“Look, I’m sorry about Veronica and your kid. I know you and I don’t get along very well, but I’ll help in any way I can to get V back.”

Logan nodded his thanks. It was hard for him to accept the biker’s help and even harder for him to admit that they could actually benefit from having Weevil on their side. He had connections and skills that he and Keith didn’t and later down the line they might come in handy.

After the tow truck unloaded the car and left, Logan and Keith watched as Weevil checked it over. He started superficially, assessing the damage to the passenger side before moving under the car to assess the frame. “The car isn’t totaled, but it will probably cost a couple thousand to fix.”

“Scrap it. I’ll buy Veronica a new car, we’ll need something safer for the baby anyway.” Logan wasn’t going to put his family back into a car that had been involved in an accident. He also didn’t want Veronica to have to deal with this car again, the car she disappeared from. He wasn’t going to make her relive those memories every time she had to go somewhere.

A tank would be better anyway.

Weevil continued to look over the car, checking under the hood and running mechanical tests to look for damage that existed outside the accident, a probable manipulated cause for the accident. “Hey, Sheriff, I got something you’ll want to see.”

Keith and Logan leaned over the hood to take a look at what Weevil was pointing out. “A tracking device?”

“I think it’s safe to say Veronica wasn’t tracking herself. Don’t those things have serial numbers?”

“Yeah, we can see who it belongs to.” Keith looked at Logan with a hopeful expression, “this is the lead we were waiting for.” Keith snatched the tracking device off Veronica’s car and walked back to Logan’s Range Rover to pull out the laptop he had brought with him.

A few minutes later Keith returned. His hopeful expression from earlier was gone and now he wore a grim smile.

“Well? Who does it belong to? Who took Veronica?” The wait was driving Logan insane; nine days had been too long.

“I don’t know. The device is registered to Mars Investigations. It’s one of mine.”

The three of them stood there in silence as reality sank in. Veronica was gone and whoever had taken her had covered their tracks and covered them well. They were back to square one and out of options; basically all they could do now was wait. Wait and hope that one day soon Veronica would come home.


 

Veronica stood in front of the kitchen sink in the small one room cabin washing dishes so she could prepare dinner. It didn’t take much to convince Duncan to let her do the cooking. He didn’t know how and thought it was sweet she wanted to cook for him, a sweet little domesticated household. She didn’t care about domesticity with him, she wanted to cook for the baby, not comfortable with Duncan or Duke preparing her food and the freedom of not being restrained cooking allowed.

The sky was dark and she could see her reflection in the window over the sink. Dark circles stained her face under her eyes, a result from lack of sleep. It was amazing she was even still standing.

Every night Duncan would crawl into bed with her. Handcuffed to the bed at the wrists she had no choice but to share her twin sized bed with him. He curled his body around hers and draped an arm over her, but wouldn’t touch her baby bump. He could pretend that Logan wasn’t in the picture if he didn’t touch or focus on her growing stomach, instead his arm stayed draped high on her chest often cupping her breasts in his sleep.

These sleeping arrangements made it impossible for Veronica to sleep at night. She couldn’t close her eyes when Duncan was touching her, groping her and snuggling against her. She stayed awake and tried to distance herself emotionally, replaying memories of Logan in her mind, anything to keep her sane and strong.

When she did sleep it was forced. When her body couldn’t handle the level of exhaustion she was feeling she nodded off. It was always during the day and for one or two hours at most. The ever present fear she lived in kept her from sleeping for long lengths of time and typically only happened when Duke dropped by for his daily check in.

Veronica looked forward to Duke’s visits everyday. He dropped by for four or five hours to give Duncan a break, where Duncan went during those hours she had no idea and didn’t really care. She felt comfortable enough with Duke to sleep without any worries that he was going to take advantage of her.

Duke brought her fresh clothing every other day and allowed her to take a shower and freshen up. He even allowed her privacy to change and bathe, something Duncan never granted her, he liked to watch under the excuse he had to make sure she didn’t try to escape.

It was a ridiculous notion because she was trapped in this cabin. The bathroom didn’t lock or have windows and the front door locked on the outside. It was why Duke had to come by each day to relieve Duncan for a few hours. He just wanted to assert his power over her.

Veronica poured a box of spaghetti noodles into a pan of boiling water next to a pan with simmering sauce and tossed a few pieces of garlic bread in the oven. A few minutes later she removed the noodles and strained out the remaining water before mixing in the spaghetti sauce. She dished up the plates, took the bread out of the oven and poured each of them a glass of water.

Duncan came up behind her and kissed her on the head while taking the plates of food off the counter to carry over to the table, “this looks delicious. Just imagine what you’ll be able to do in a full sized kitchen.”

That statement put Veronica on high alert. Duncan hadn’t mentioned his big plan she was apparently a part of. Every time she tried to bring it up he would immediately take the conversation in a different direction, but it looked like he was ready to start talking.

They ate the rest of their dinner in silence. Veronica didn’t want to make small talk with him; she didn’t want to talk to him at all unless it was to gather information. When she was done eating she pushed her plate aside and waited until he was finished too.

“Duncan?”

“Yeah baby?”

Veronica fidgeted with the napkin in her lap, “it’s been twelve days…are you ever going to tell me what I’m doing here or are you just going to keep avoiding my questions? Where’s Lilly? You never talk about her.”

His eyebrows pinched together at the reminder, eyes drawn down not looking up at her.

“Duncan, where is Lilly?” She was growing increasingly uncomfortable with his silence.

“She wouldn’t stop crying,” he finally responded barely above a whisper.

Veronica’s hands gripped the paper napkin in her lap until it was wadded up in a ball. “What?”

“When we left Neptune she was fine, you know? She seemed happy, she smiled a lot and she was quiet. But as the months went on she became fussy and cried nonstop. I fed her and she cried, I held her and she cried, I put her in her crib or her rocker and all she did was cry. I couldn’t get her to stop and I was exhausted. I didn’t know how to be a dad or raise a baby. I was eighteen and on the run, I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Veronica watched Duncan drag his fork through the leftover spaghetti sauce on his plate. Her heart was beating fast at the grave situation he painted. She was too afraid to ask him to clarify or elaborate further, fearing what he might say. How could she have left Meg’s daughter in Duncan’s care?

Duncan looked up and must have seen the incredulous look on her face, he dropped his fork immediately and quickly rushed to say, “I didn’t hurt her, Veronica.” He looked hurt by her silent accusations. “How could you even think that?”

Unbelievable.

She shook her head, clenching her jaw to keep her mouth shut. She had a lot to say, but she didn’t want to get off topic. He was finally talking about Lilly and she couldn’t miss her chance to find out how the little girl was, if she was in danger. “If you didn’t hurt her, then where is she?”

“She’s with Meg’s Aunt Chris. That was Meg’s original plan before the bus crash, she was going to move in with her Aunt Chris so she could help raise the baby away from her parents. I didn’t have anyone else to turn to so I took Lilly there. I just needed Chris to watch Lilly for a while to give me a break, a few weeks at most.”

Duncan pushed back his chair and stood up, beginning to pace back and forth around the table. “When I came back to get Lilly, Chris wouldn’t hand her over. She said I wasn’t fit to raise Lilly, that I was too unstable. I was exhausted, what did she expect? She said I could have Lilly back when I showed her that I could take care of her, that I wasn’t a threat to her. Babies need support and stability.”

Veronica closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. A headache starting to form in the center of her forehead as the pieces of this ridiculous puzzle came together. She should have seen this coming from the first day. “Where does Chris live, Duncan?”

He ignored her question and kept talking, racing through his words, speaking a mile a minute. “I understood then why Lilly was so upset, why she kept crying all the time. She needed more than I could provide for her. Little girls need mothers. Lilly needs a mother, she needs you, Veronica. I want you to be her mother.”

“No.”

“I love you, Veronica and I know that Lilly will love you too. You will live with us and I will take care of the both of you. We can finally be a family—“

Veronica pushed off her chair with force, sending the chair crashing to the ground behind her as she slammed the palm of her hand down on the table making the plates and silverware jump in place. “Goddammit, Duncan, I said no! I already have a family; this baby and Logan are my family, not you. It will never be with you.”

The mention of Logan made Duncan flinch; his eyes were dark and cold as he stared back at her with a narrowed gaze. “How can you still choose him after everything I’ve done for you? I’ve always loved you. I’ve never stopped. Logan has hurt you over and over and he will do it again. I could never hurt you.”

“Are you kidding me? Take a look around, Duncan! For the past two weeks you have held me captive against my will. You restrained me to a bed, forced me to share that same bed with you while you sexually assaulted me repeatedly, watched me as I showered and denied me access to any prenatal vitamins or medical attention. Not to mention all the things you did to me in the past,” Veronica wiped the tears from her eyes.

“What I did to you in the past?” Duncan looked at her confused.

“You raped me!”

He threw his hands up in frustration, “you’re still crying rape? I didn’t rape you, Veronica! You were there, it was consensual, and we already dealt with this years ago, let it go.”

“No! I won’t just let it go! I can’t remember that night, still. Do you know why? I was drugged, which means I couldn’t consent. And I know you were drugged too, but you were still with it, you could still remember. And to top it all off, you thought I was your sister at the time and you still went ahead and slept with me. Did you know Beaver raped me too that night? I was treated like a party favor because you left me alone.”

Tears slid down Veronica’s cheeks as she sobbed, everything she had been through breaking her down, “you always hurt me.”

“None of that stopped you from crawling back into my arms senior year.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, I was in denial. I so desperately needed a part of my life to be normal, to feel like it was before Lilly died. Plus, I was still in love with Logan and I settled for you, I took the easy way out. Our relationship was never hard; I could push aside what you did back then, but not anymore. I know it was rape and there will never be a you and me in any variation, not as a family, a couple, friends or even acquaintances. I’m done with you in my life.”

Duncan moved closer to Veronica and she took a step back, “you’re done with me? That's just great, then I guess I’m done with you, too. I don't want Logan's sloppy seconds anyway, let alone that parasite growing inside you.” He grabbed her wrists ignoring her yelps of pain and pulled her over to the bed where he handcuffed her to the rail. He tightened the cuffs more than usual, “I’ll figure out what to do with you tomorrow.”

Veronica watched as Duncan went back over to the table and picked up their dishes from dinner and rinsed them off in the sink. He grabbed some clothes and encased himself in the bathroom, she heard him turn on the shower and let her head drop back against the wall as she closed her eyes and rested for a few minutes.

When he came back out, he turned off the lights and tucked himself into the other bed across the room.

She breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn’t forced himself into her bed again. After the night she had had she didn’t know if she would be strong enough to lay there with him. Veronica was still afraid to fall asleep with him in the room so she sat on her bed, watching him throughout the night, to make sure he didn’t make any unwanted moves.

The next morning as light poured into the cabin, Duncan woke up and headed for the bathroom. While he was taking care of business Duke walked through the front door.

Veronica didn’t even realize Duke was there until he was bent down in front of her touching her knee to wake her up. She had fallen asleep while Duncan was in the bathroom.

Duke unlocked one of the handcuffs and handed her a chocolate chip muffin, banana and a small carton of juice. “Hey, how are you doing?”

She ate her breakfast in silence, not bothering to answer him or even look him in the eye. She was done being held in this cabin. She was done with Duncan and Duke. She was done with small talk. She was just done period, she wanted to go home.

Duncan came out of the bathroom and called for Duke to step outside with him for a moment. They left the door open a crack, but Veronica couldn’t hear what they were saying. When they came back in Duncan looked at her coldly before switching to indifference while Duke looked troubled. It made Veronica nervous.

No longer hungry, Veronica pushed the remaining pieces of her breakfast aside. Duke bent down in front of her and removed the remaining cuff around her wrist. He handed her a fresh pair of clothes and told her to go change in the bathroom.

When she came out dressed in a clean tee shirt and a pair of sweatpants both men were waiting for her. As she moved further into the room she saw the place had been cleaned up a bit and on the table sat a single syringe.

Veronica froze and looked for an exit strategy but it was useless, Duncan and Duke stood in the way of her only exit. They both took steps toward her; Duncan plucked the needle off the table while Duke towered over her.

Her bottom lip quivered as tears clouded her vision, “Duke, please, don’t—“

“I’m sorry, Veronica.”

Before she could process or prepare his right fist drew back and slammed into her face. Pain erupted almost instantly and the last thing Veronica felt was the back of her head hitting the floor before everything went black.


 

“Sammy, stay seated. Do you want to walk or not?” Bailey argued with her two year old son who would not stay seated in his stroller as they made their way across Balboa Park toward the playground.

“No walk, mommy,” he said before popping his thumb into his mouth and sat back in his stroller.

“Then you have to stay seated.”

A minute later Sammy took his thumb out of his mouth and pointed ahead excitedly, once again trying to climb out of his stroller. “Look, mommy, look!”

“Oh my god.” Bailey picked up her speed a little while simultaneously pulling her cell phone out of her pocket and dialing for help.

“911 what’s your emergency?”

Bailey bent down next to the prone form lying in the grass and checked for a pulse, “hi, there’s a young woman unconscious in the park by the playground near pavilion number five. Please hurry. I think she’s that missing pregnant girl from the news.”

Chapter Text

Veronica’s eyes fluttered a few times before she was able to gather the strength and energy to keep them open. The room was pitch black and her vision hadn’t adjusted yet to be able to see much in front of her. She ran her hand over her stomach protectively and jumped when she felt another hand pressed against her skin. No, no, no.

“Hey, it’s okay, you’re in the hospital and you’re safe.”

“Logan?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” he responded as he cupped her cheek, gently running his thumb over her features, remembering to carefully avoid the large bruise surrounding her right eye and cheek. “I’m right here.”

A small light turned on above her head and she relaxed when she got her first look at him in two weeks. He looked as bad as she felt. His eyes were red from either crying or exhaustion, probably both. He had a fair amount of scruff decorating his face where smooth silky skin used to be before she disappeared. He was a beautiful mess and she couldn’t take her eyes off of him for fear of being taken away again.

She placed a hand on his cheek like he had done with her only moments ago as tears sprang to her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry—“

“Shh.” He cut her off with a chaste kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. “It’s not your fault. Do you hear me? None of this was your fault.”

“I couldn’t keep him safe,” she sobbed as she removed her hand from his face and placed it back on her stomach. “I tried but I—“ she sucked in a gasping breath as her respirations came in quick and shallow, “they…they drugged…I—“

Noticing her obvious distress Logan moved quickly. He climbed in bed next to her and held her tight against his chest as she continued to cry. “The baby is fine. Dr. Swaldoe did an exam when the paramedics brought you in and they’re monitoring her continuously. That’s what this device is for,” he pointed to the band around her stomach, “to monitor the baby’s heart rate.”

Veronica withdrew her head from Logan’s chest to look down at the band wrapped around her belly with a little sensor attached to it, the one she hadn’t paid any attention to since she woke up. She was more worried about letting Logan down, already failing at being a mother, that she hadn’t noticed the medical equipment she was hooked up to.

He placed his hand over hers on her stomach and she started to calm down, left with only a few small hiccupping breaths every so often. “You did great, Veronica. You kept her safe.” Logan placed a kiss to the side of her head. “I missed you both so much,” he said with tears in his eyes, unable to hold them back any longer.

“We missed you too.” She pulled his arms around her tighter and snuggled further into his embrace, loving the way Logan always made her feel – safe. “Where’s my dad?”

“He went out to get all of us something to eat. I told him I could have anything he wanted delivered, but I think he needed to stretch his legs. He was getting pretty antsy waiting for you to wake up.”

“How long have I been out?”

“About twelve hours. You were found this morning in the park. The doctors ran a tox screen when you were brought in and they found a mild sedative in your system so they weren’t sure exactly when you were going to wake up.”

Veronica felt guilty for making them worry. The past two weeks had been a nightmare, but she had to imagine it was ten times harder for her dad and Logan, waiting with fear that she might not come home.

Logan brought her out of her thoughts by pulling her closer. “Your dad should be back soon. Are you hungry?”

“No, not really, I’m just really tired.” She laid in Logan’s arms for a few minutes listening to the steady rhythm of his heart as his thumb moved in slow circles over her abdomen. “Logan?”

“Yeah?”

“You haven’t asked me about what happened. Do you already know?”

He paused his ministrations, “no, but you don’t have to worry about that right now. We can talk about it tomorrow.”

“Thank you.” She knew it was hard for him to let the topic slide; he would want to know what happened in detail, as would her dad. She loved that he was putting her first, even though she never really expected any different. It was too much, to rehash the past two weeks at the moment; she needed a little more time to process.

Logan kissed her on the head and tried to slide out of the bed, but Veronica threw her arm around him to prevent him from getting up, “wait, where are you going?”

“You said you were tired, I was going to let you sleep.”

She pulled him closer and snuggled into his side resting her head on his chest. “I am tired,” her voice dropped low, barely above a whisper, “but I need you to stay, at least until I fall asleep.” She shuddered as she remembered the nights she endured in the cabin with Duncan, “I can’t—“

“I’m not going anywhere, you’re safe.” He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes.

“Logan?”

“Mhmm.”

“I love you.”

He smiled and pressed his lips to her forehead, “I love you too.”


The early morning sunlight shining through the East facing hospital room caused Veronica to squint when she opened her eyes.

Logan was pressed against her from behind, still sleeping. His face was buried in her neck; she could feel his warm breath tickling her skin every time he exhaled, his right arm draped around her body, hand spread out across her now definitely noticeable bump. He had his entire world in his hands.

Veronica stretched her limbs, inevitably waking Logan up in the process. He pulled her closer to his body and pressed his lips to the spot where her neck met her shoulder and applied a gentle pressure, not enough to leave a mark, but enough to elicit a breathy moan from Veronica.

She reached back to thread her fingers through his hair, ultimately encouraging him to keep up the sensations he was creating by holding his head in place.

He smiled against her neck, “good morning, Bobcat.”

“Good morning,” Keith responded loudly and with a hint of warning.

Both kids startled, not realizing they had an audience.

Logan moved as quick as lightning and nearly fell off the side of the bed trying to put some distance between himself and Veronica while avoiding Keith’s smug, I still carry a gun, eyes.

He stood next to Veronica’s bed nervously staring down at the floor, wishing he were anywhere else besides where he was right now, the room where Keith had seen and heard him making Veronica moan without even using his hands.

“Hey, dad,” Veronica attempted to break the awkward stiffness in the room, “I missed you,” she said with a watery smile.

Keith immediately forgot what he had just witnessed, got up out of the visitor’s chair and moved to sit on the edge of Veronica’s bed, running his hand over the side of her head and kissing her forehead. “I missed you too, kiddo. You had everyone very worried. How are you feeling?”

“Exhausted and a little sore, but otherwise I’m fine.” She watched her dad and Logan share a look, silently communicating that they didn’t believe her and that she was anything but fine. “Really, I’m okay. When do I get to go home?”

“We’re not sure.” Logan took a seat at the foot of the bed; “Dr. Swaldoe will be in later today for another check up on you and the baby. If everything is okay—“

“If?” Veronica’s heart constricted at his words, “You said the baby was fine.”

Keith placed his hand on top of Veronica’s to comfort her, “honey, the baby is fine. I was here with Logan when the doctor assessed you yesterday. It’s just routine that they keep checking and monitoring, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong.”

“Okay.” She swiped the back of her hand quickly under her eyelashes, ridding the tears away before they fell. “Okay,” she said one more time trying to convince herself that she had nothing to worry about. Easier said than done.

“Are you hungry?” Keith hopped off the bed and grabbed a brown paper bag sitting on a small table behind them, “I brought bagels and cream cheese. Figured it would be better than hospital food.”

Veronica nodded her head, happy for the small subject change, “Yeah, I’m starving actually.”

She reached in the bag Keith handed her and snagged two bagels, one cinnamon and one chocolate chip, before passing the remaining options to Logan. He took a blueberry bagel, which left the hazelnut raisin for Keith.

While they were eating they made small talk, trying to keep the conversation light before they had to get into the dark tellings of Veronica’s kidnapping.

“You’ll never guess who slept on an air mattress in your living room while you were gone?” Logan said with a twinkle in his eye.

“Who?”

“Dick and Wallace. Together.”

“No!” Veronica’s face lit up with glee. “Please tell me you took a picture of that.”

Logan smiled and took out his phone to show her, “I took many pictures. Look, here Dick has his head on Wallace’s shoulder.”

Veronica was laughing so hard she had tears running down her cheeks. “I’m going to need copies of those.”

“Then I guess you’ll want some copies of these too.” Keith held out his phone with more pictures, a sly smirk on his face.

She took the phone and flipped through a few photos before looking up at Logan with a loving smile.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because all of these photos are of you.”

“What?” He took the phone from her and scrolled through the images. They were all of him sleeping in Veronica’s bed, snuggled up with Backup, his arm draped under the dog’s body and Backup’s head resting on his chest. “Keith! You took pictures of me?”

“Veronica wouldn’t have believed me without them. I had to.”

They spent the next few minutes laughing and making innocent jabs at one another before the room grew heavy, once again reminding them of why they were sitting in the hospital.

Keith placed his hand on Veronica’s knee to grab her attention, “are you ready to tell us what happened?”

No.

Logan noticed her hesitation and grabbed her hand; “if you’re not ready you don’t have to do this right now.”

“Actually she does.” All three heads turned to the voice coming from the door. A blonde haired woman who stood around five-foot-nine in a pair of black slacks, a blazer and a white button up shirt with her hands resting on her belt buckle slowly made her way into the room. “Veronica. Mr. Mars. It’s good to see you again, however I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances. And you must be Logan Echolls, unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to meet the last time I was in Neptune.”

Veronica locked paranoid eyes on the blonde, not liking the fact she was here. “Agent Morris. What are you doing here?”

“When the key suspect of a federal kidnapping case goes missing herself less than two years later…it sort of sends up a red flag. The FBI is handling your kidnapping now and I volunteered to be the lead liaison since we know each other so well.”

Shit! How was she supposed to keep her kidnapping and the smuggling of Duncan and Lilly out of the country separate? If she said anything to the effect of being an accomplice they could arrest her and she would spend the rest of her life in prison.

“The FBI is willing to grant you full immunity of persecution to the kidnapping of Faith Manning if you testify against Duncan Kane.”

Veronica closed her eyes and thought about Agent Morris’ offer. She knew, Agent Morris knew who was behind both of these cases. It wasn’t hard to figure out, whatever leaps she made to get here were not based on a revenge plot against a teenage sleuth who outsmarted the Feds. Agent Morris ran with logical and rational conspiracies and it paid off.

The only reason her dad and Logan didn’t figure it out like Agent Morris had was because neither of them had any reason to believe Duncan was involved. Duncan left two years ago, with no contact, and he left as an honorable man, leaving town to give his daughter a better life. They had no reason to think this dark cloud that had descended on their lives was caused by none other than Duncan Kane.

He was like Cassidy Casablancas in the eye of the public. A do-good boy, smart, rather shy and idle, a little socially awkward and unable to satisfy women. In the shadows Duncan was just like Beaver. Dark and sinister, controlling and aggressive with complete disregard to the harm that is unleashed onto other people if it benefits him in any way.

This realization had shifted her morals, she wasn’t trying to protect Duncan anymore, he deserved to pay for what he did, but little Lilly didn’t. She still felt a strong desire to protect Lilly, to keep her promise to Meg and keep Lilly safe and out of the hands of the Mannings.

If she didn’t take the deal, if she didn’t somehow incriminate herself in the next hour there was always the possibility that if Duncan were ever caught he would throw her under the bus with him. It would be the perfect revenge. As long as Duncan ran free she would have to live with the fear of the FBI coming after her, taking her away from the family she was building.

It wasn’t a hard choice; she was going to take the deal. She needed the protection and she needed to keep Duncan away from Lilly. He wasn’t a fit parent anymore and as long as Meg’s Aunt Chris checked out, Lilly deserved to be with family who would take care of her and not ditch her when times got hard.

“I’ll take the deal. I’ll testify against Duncan.”

“Wait a second. Why are we talking about Duncan running away? That was two years ago, who cares? I thought you were here to get Veronica’s statement about her being kidnapped?” Logan pointed his questions at Agent Morris.

“I am—“ Agent Morris tried to say, but was cut off.

Veronica opened her eyes and grabbed Logan’s hand, holding it in between both of hers, “the two cases are related. Duncan is the one who kidnapped me.”

Logan’s nostrils flared and his facial muscles flexed as he clenched his jaw tight. Anger was radiating off him in waves, but he ran his fingers around Veronica’s bruised cheek with a feather-light touch as he spoke in a hard whisper, “Duncan did this to you?”

“No, he wasn’t the one who hit me. I think maybe he ordered it, but he didn’t actually do it. He watched and Duke, his employee I guess you could call him, hit me. He’s the one who caused the accident.”

“Why did he take you?”

Agent Morris cut back in, “I think it would be better if we started this story at the beginning.”

Veronica began her story from the day she disappeared, listing out all the places she had been throughout the day that lead to the moment she was in the car on the way home after finishing invoices for Keith. She explained as much as she could in detail about the car accident and filling in the gaps from what Duke had told her. “He had been following me for weeks, keeping tabs on my habits, trying to get me alone. Duncan had given Duke some kind of deadline and the accident was staged when all his other plans failed.”

“Do you know where you were being kept? Geographically. Did you see any signs, businesses, landmarks?” Agent Morris proposed as she grabbed a chair and pulled it up to the side of the bed next to Keith, making herself more comfortable.

“No,” she shook her head, “when I woke up after the crash I was in a cabin in the woods. There were trees outside the windows, but that’s all I saw, just woods. I didn’t leave the cabin.”

“Tell me what you remember from those two weeks in as much detail as possible.”

Veronica looked quickly from Keith to Logan before focusing her gaze down on her hands twisting in her lap. “When I first woke up I was restrained to a bed, my wrists and ankles were tethered to a metal railing that ran around the frame, I couldn’t move.”

She paused for a moment and took a deep breath, “Duncan was there, he wasn’t happy that Logan was the baby’s father and that we were together again. He thought I just needed a reminder of how much I used to love him so he put his hands on my stomach and held me down further while he…he kissed me.”

Keith sat quietly watching as Veronica struggled with her emotions as she told her story. He tried to jump back into his sheriff persona to listen rather than react. He wanted to hold his daughter in his arms, but he knew if he tried there was a good chance she would shut down completely. She didn’t like to be seen as weak even though weak was never a word he would use to describe her.

Veronica lifted her head until she was looking at Logan, there were tears in her eyes threatening to spill over, “I’m so sorry, Logan. Please believe me, I didn’t kiss him back, I tried to push him away, but I—“

“Shh.” He scooted closer to her and took her into his arms, hugging her tightly and stroking her hair, “I do believe you and it’s okay. We’re okay.” He kissed her temple and sat back to look at her, wiping the tear tracks from her face.

She nodded her head acknowledging his statement and tried pulling herself back together. “Can you get me some water?”

“Sure.” He climbed off the bed to refill her water pitcher and poured her a fresh cold cup of water.

Agent Morris shifted in her seat, not entirely comfortable with seeing this side of Veronica Mars - a softer more emotional side. She didn’t know if it was a result from the kidnapping or the pregnancy, but it threw her off her game a little. “Did Mr. Kane make any more unwanted advances toward you?”

Veronica took the offered cup of water from Logan and took a sip; her hands shook slightly as she held the plastic cup in her lap. “Yes.”

“Can you please elaborate? I know this is hard, but if you want me to build a solid case against him I’m going to need more details.”

“He, uh…” she watched the water vibrate in her cup, unable to look at anyone in the room, “…at night I was handcuffed to the bed and he would climb in to lay behind me, arms wrapped around me with his hands on my chest…holding my breasts.” Veronica swiped at a tear rolling down her cheek, “I didn’t sleep at night. I was so tired, but I couldn’t close my eyes…”

Keith stood up and walked to the other side of the room to look out the window with his back to Veronica. He was trying to be strong for her, to hide the tears that had welled up in his own eyes. He couldn’t help but feel weak, she was the one who was violated and he was crying in the corner.

After Veronica finished telling Agent Morris the other ways Duncan had violated her body and privacy she began to tell them about Duke showing her more compassion by bringing her fresh clothes and allowing her to grab a few hours of sleep undisturbed before Duncan returned.

“If Duke was being somewhat decent to you in the cabin, why do you think he hit you in the end?”

“Money. He was getting paid a very large sum to initiate contact with me and offered even more money when the job was completed.”

“What was the end goal in all of this?” Logan asked.

“Duncan wanted me to go live with him and be Lilly’s mother. He was struggling to take care of her and dumped her with Meg’s Aunt Chris, who then wouldn’t give Lilly back to him without him showing some responsibility and growing up. I said no, he got mad and here we are.”

Veronica rushed through the end of the story, not wanting to get into the argument that made Duncan mad. Logan knew most of the details surrounding her rape, but Agent Morris and her dad didn’t. She intended to keep it that way. Her dad was already hurting, she couldn’t spring the story of her rape on him too.

Agent Morris pulled her phone out of her pocket and shot off a few texts, “the aunt lives in Seattle or she did two years ago. We had no reason to keep an eye on her then knowing the little girl was with Mr. Kane, but I’ll send a team up the coast to see if she’s still there.”

“What happens to Lilly if you find her? She can’t go back to the Mannings.”

“She won’t, I’ll make sure of that. But we do need to make sure she is safe where she is with the aunt.” Agent Morris stood up and tucked her phone back into her pocket.

“The paperwork for your immunity agreement was sent to that ambulance chaser lawyer of yours, please sign it and send it back. When we catch Duncan Kane I’ll be back to collect your testimony on Faith Manning’s case. In the meantime, if there is anything else you can think of that you want on record contact me. Take care Veronica and congratulations on the baby.”


 

A few hours later Logan was sitting alone beside a sleeping Veronica, alternating between watching TV and watching her. She looked so small and innocent curled up under the white hospital blanket. Ignoring her always-growing stomach she looked like she was twelve years old again. It broke his heart thinking about all the pain she had endured over the last few years.

If he could take away her pain he would do it in a heartbeat.

After a small knock on the door Dr. Swaldoe entered and quietly whispered a hello to Logan. “Do you want me to come back later?”

“No, I can wake her up. She had a rough morning and I know she’ll want to see the baby.”

Dr. Swaldoe smiled, “Okay. Let me grab a portable ultrasound machine and I’ll be back in a minute.”

Logan turned off the TV and leaned over Veronica to brush a piece of hair off her face, “you have to wake up, Bobcat.”

“No, too tired,” she mumbled and tried to snuggle further under her blanket.

“Okay, but then you won’t get to see the baby because Dr. Swaldoe is here.”

She opened her eyes with a smile and readjusted the head of the bed so she was sitting up.

Dr. Swaldoe returned with the equipment and a nurse who got started taking Veronica’s vitals along with a new blood and urine sample. “Your blood pressure has been high while you’ve been here and just to be on the safe side I’m going to keep you here for a few more days.”

Veronica looked disappointed and Logan was surprised when she didn’t argue with the doctor, but instead agreed to stay.

“When I send you home I want you on bed rest for a week. That means actually staying in bed. You can get up to walk around for two or three hours per day, but I really need you to take it easy. You’re running on fumes and stress and when left untreated can turn into a high risk pregnancy, which is something I don’t want to see.”

“I’ll take it easy, I promise. I don’t think it will be that hard considering all I want to do right now is sleep anyway.”

Logan rolled his eyes - she was delusional. She was going to be bored within the first day of being stuck in bed. The woman did not know how to go slow. This bed rest situation was going to be a test for him of how well he could keep her occupied. If he managed to keep her in bed for even three days it would be a miracle.

“Good. Are you ready to see your baby?”

They both nodded while Logan took a seat on the bed next to Veronica and held her hand.

The ultrasound probe moved around Veronica’s stomach until the baby was visible on the screen. “I’ve been monitoring the baby since you arrived and I’m not finding anything to be concerned about. Fetal heart rate is in range, there’s no damage to the placenta or uterus - your baby is healthy as far as I can tell. Do you want to know the sex?”

Veronica looked to Logan and saw him nod. She turned back to Dr. Swaldoe with a smile, “yes, we want to know.”

“Well then, congratulations, you’re having a girl!”

Logan let the tears fall. Despite the rough morning they had, this moment right here was going to be a long lasting happy memory for the both of them. He smiled and cupped Veronica’s cheek when she looked up at him, wiping away her mirroring tears with his thumb and kissed her slow. “We’re having a little girl.”

Chapter Text

“Verooonica!”

Her name echoed off the trees as she ran through the woods, making it impossible to determine which direction Duncan was hunting her from. The sun was beginning to dip below the horizon as the moon rose further into the sky, creating an eerie canvas of barren branches with scary shadows and snapping twigs from hidden creatures.

Veronica kept moving further into the depths of the woods away from the cabin, scanning in every direction, jumping at every noise.

"Verooonica!”

Duncan was getting closer, but she still couldn’t see him behind her. She picked up her pace, just a little, being careful to watch her steps so she didn’t trip and fall.

The further she ran the harder it was getting to breathe, her lungs burned as she gasped in air, the metallic taste of iron coated her mouth. Her back ached and her sides cramped from the baby pulling her spine out of alignment to accompany the added growth.

Veronica tucked herself behind a fallen tree, hidden completely in the shadows and tried to catch her breath. Her heart was pounding under her heaving chest as her eyes danced through the night. Every howl of wind, rustle of leaves and snapping of sticks made the hairs on her body rise to attention.

Heavy footsteps trampling over crunchy leaves grew louder. Veronica placed one hand on her stomach protectively and the other over her mouth to try and drown out the sound of her labored breathing.

And then everything went silent.

The crickets stopped chirping, the wind died, leaves were left paralyzed in the dirt, the air turned colder and the rotating earth swallowed up the last of the remaining sunlight. There was nothing left but darkness.

“It’s time to come home, baby,” Duncan’s voice whispered softly in her ear as he wrapped his hands around her arms lifting her off the ground from her hiding place.

Veronica squirmed and tried to kick her way free, “let me go!”

Duke gathered up her legs and held them together as he and Duncan carried her through the woods back to the cabin.

They set her down in a wooden seat, tying her wrists and ankles to the legs of the chair with thick rope and placed a piece of duck tape over her mouth.

Duncan grabbed a single syringe off the table and flicked the cap off as he moved closer to her. “I’ll be back for you soon.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek, “there’s a few people who want to see you, but first we have to get rid of her.” He glanced down at her stomach and stuck the syringe into her abdomen forcefully, pushing the plunger down and releasing the chemicals into her body.

Veronica’s eyes went wide as she screamed into the tape over her mouth, protesting with muffled cries for them to leave her daughter alone. The room grew dark and quiet like it had before out in the woods and Veronica closed her eyes.

The next time she opened them she was lying down on a hard cold surface, which felt familiar and made her heart pound faster in her chest. Her hands moved to her stomach only to find that it was flat, her baby bump was gone. “No! Bring her back! Please, bring her back!” As the tears flowed down her face, Veronica yelled out and began pounding her fists against the walls around her, “let me out! You son of a bitch let me out!”

“Verooonica,” a soft voice rang out above her before the lid of the freezer opened revealing Aaron Echolls. “My, my, my, would you look at that, the great Veronica Mars cries. I’m really going to enjoy hearing you scream. I’ll be seeing you Veronica.” He slammed the freezer door closed, his maniacal laugh reverberating through the air.

Veronica sucked in a gasping breath as the freezer began to heat up. She could smell smoke above her and coughed as the oxygen in the box fed the fire’s flames instead of her. “Let me out! Help! Please, let me out!” Her breathing slowed as the air grew thin until her head slumped to the side and she lost consciousness once more.

“Verooonica!”

“Ahh!” She screamed as her body twitched on the roof of the Grand, Beaver standing over her and jolting her back to life with her own taser.

He bent down and grabbed her arm, tugging her up on her feet and walking her over to the edge of the roof. “It never should have been me to end up splattered on the sidewalk. Without you and your constant digging no one would have figured out what I had done.”

“You murdered a dozen innocent people, Beaver! Was it worth it? Your secret came out in the end anyway, it was always going to come out.”

“My name is Cassidy!” He shoved her over the side of the building with one push.

As the ground quickly approached Veronica clenched her eyes shut and waited for the painful impact of the earth to break her.

It never did.

When she opened her eyes she was lying on a bed in a white dress. Bile rose in her throat immediately, she knew this room, knew what had happened to her here and she wasn’t going to let it happen again.

As she was crawling off the foot of the bed Duncan came through the door and reached her within a few steps, pushing her back down on the bed. “Hi, baby. I told you I would be back for you.”

“No! Duncan get off me!” Veronica squirmed under his grasp trying to get off the bed, but his body was now covering hers making it impossible for her push him off. He had close to a hundred pounds on her and she wasn’t in the best position to get the upper hand.

His hand slid up her inner thigh and slipped under her dress, “you look so beautiful in white. Perfect in every way.” He crashed his lips to hers, swallowing her screams and trying to pull her underwear off. “Don’t be scared, baby, I’ll make you feel good.”

“Veronica, wake up.”

“No!” Veronica thrashed in every direction, which in turn caused Duncan to tighten his grasp, she was sure he was leaving behind bruises, but she didn’t care. “Let go!”

“Honey, please wake up.”

Duncan lifted off her just a little to undo the buckle on his jeans. Veronica didn’t waste any time, she maneuvered her leg up in between their bodies and kicked Duncan in the crotch.

Instead of falling back off the bed he fell forward, one arm on the bed holding his body up while his other hand cupped his throbbing balls, essentially trapping Veronica once again. He looked down at her, face red and seething, “you bitch!” Duncan raised his hand and brought it down hard and fast, slapping Veronica across the face.

Veronica’s eyes snapped open as she shot up in bed, tears pouring down her cheeks. She looked down and sobbed harder when she saw her round pregnant belly that disappeared in her nightmare was back and stretching the cotton of her tank top.

“Veronica.” Keith sat on the edge of her bed and placed his hand on her shoulder tentatively trying not to startle her, but she jumped at his touch anyway. She looked so scared, eyes darting quickly around the room unable to focus on any one object, body pale, trembling and covered in a cold sweat.

“Dad,” she threw her arms around him and crumbled in his embrace. He was a beacon of safety, her first protector – always there to chase away her monsters. When she stopped shaking she pulled away from him and wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand, “I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“It’s okay.” He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, “what were you dreaming about? You were screaming out in your sleep.”

“It was just a bad dream. I’m okay now.”

He nodded his head, but didn’t believe her. He heard what she was screaming in her sleep and understood she didn’t want to talk about it. It worried him that she might have experienced more than what she admitted during her statement. Duncan had done something to her and she didn’t want him to know about it.

Veronica climbed off her bed slowly and moved around her room on shaky legs grabbing a fresh pair of pajamas.

Her room was covered in everything pink since they moved from her hospital room back home earlier that day. Pink balloons, pink stuffed animals, pink flowers – a combination of items with sayings of get well soon and it’s a girl. It was a little unsettling seeing so much pink, but it also made her happy. She had friends who cared about her and were excited to hear her and Logan were having a girl.

“I’m going to take a quick shower and then go back to bed.” She kissed the top of his head, “I’m fine. You should go back to bed too,” and then headed towards the bathroom leaving behind one very concerned father.


 

Keith didn’t go back to bed once Veronica left to take a shower. He went to the kitchen and made some tea, hoping the warm liquid would soothe his daughter enough for her to sleep peacefully the rest of the night.

After Veronica finished her tea and went back to bed Keith waited half an hour before checking on her. He frowned when he saw her struggling in her sleep again. She wasn’t screaming or calling out like before, she hadn’t entered a deep enough sleep for that yet, but she was still whimpering and tossing and turning.

Keith slowly backed out of the room and grabbed his phone off his nightstand. He dialed a number he had come to know well over the past few months to ask for a favor he never imaged he would have to ask.

On the fifth ring a half asleep greeting was mumbled into his ear, “hello?”

“Logan, it’s Keith.”

“Keith, it’s…it’s three in the morning.” Comprehension seemed to dawn on him as he started to wake up, “what’s wrong? Is Veronica okay? The baby?”

He ran his hand over his face, “it’s Veronica. She’s having nightmares – bad ones. I’m worried about her and the baby, with her blood pressure being high – she’s supposed to stay calm.”

“She wasn’t having nightmares at the hospital.”

“Because you were there with her.” Keith waited to see if Logan would say anything but the line remained silent. “Look, I know we agreed you would stay at your place tonight since you had to go back to class in the morning, but I don’t know how to help her like you do.”

“What are you saying?”

Keith took a deep breath and let it out before he responded. He was opening a can of worms here, but he didn’t know what else to do. “I can’t believe I’m saying this. Can you come over and sleep with my daughter? Actually sleep, Logan. Nothing more.”

“I want to make sure I understand this correctly. You want me to spend the night in your home, half naked, in the same bed with your only daughter and—“

“Don’t be a smartass,” Keith said trying to hide a smile. The boy really knew how to push his buttons. “The door will be open when you get here, just come on in. Drive safely and I’ll see you in twenty minutes. And Logan?”

“Yeah?”

“Make sure you bring a long sleeved shirt and pajama pants to sleep in.”


 

The next morning Veronica woke up to the feel of her mattress dipping. She opened her eyes to see a tanned and toned bare chest flexing under her head, a muscular bicep reaching back to shut off the chirping sound from the alarm clock.

“I’m sorry, I thought I could turn it off before you woke up.” Logan settled back into his position before they were rudely interrupted, her head on his chest as she snuggled into his side, his hands around her body holding her close.

“It’s okay.” She laid her left hand flat on his abs, watching as his torso rose and fell with each breath. “What are you doing here?”

“Your dad called me and asked me to come over.” He kissed her forehead, leaving his lips there for a few extra moments before he continued, “he said you were having nightmares.” Her body went stiff in his arms, “do you want to talk about it?”

Veronica really didn’t want to talk about the nightmares. They were dark and made her sick to her stomach, each one becoming more vivid, psychotic and sinister than the one before.

She couldn’t talk it out with him or anyone else right now for her well being alone, but for the sake of the baby she would make that sacrifice. She would let Logan in and let him help her.

She traced her index finger along the grooves of his abdominal muscles and watched his stomach dip from her touch. It was a nice distraction, a motion to focus on while she talked, “the nightmares are not new. I’ve been having them for months.”

“Months? So they’re not because of Duncan…what he did to you in that cabin?”

She shook her head no, “not just Duncan. He is in them a lot, especially after what just happened, but there are others too – Aaron and Beaver. All those who have hurt me.”

Logan pulled her close, curling his body around hers like a shield. “I am so sorry. I brought all that pain into your life. If I hadn’t moved to Neptune your life would be so different right now, happier—“

“Stop. You don’t know that, Logan. All of those people had choices to make and none of them were made because you moved to Neptune. Aaron chose to kill Lilly. Duncan and Beaver chose to rape me. We can’t control everything Logan.”

Veronica moved her head so she was looking into his eyes. “You are not the cause of my pain. A broken heart a time or two, yes, but that’s only because I loved you so much. I still do. You have always protected me, you’re part of the reason I am who I am today. You help make me stronger and my life is better with you in it, so don’t you dare tell me I would be happier if you hadn’t moved to Neptune because it will never be true.”

With tears in his eyes Logan placed his hand against Veronica’s forehead.

“What are you doing?”

“You just expressed your feelings voluntarily. I’m just seeing if you’re feeling all right – you don’t feel like you have a temperature.”

She swatted his hand away, “you’re an ass. We were having such a nice moment and you had to go and ruin it.”

He rolled her onto her back and hovered above her as he crashed his lips to hers, trying to pour how much her words truly meant to him into the kiss. “I love you, Veronica Mars.”

She responded by pulling him down for another kiss.

A few minutes later Logan helped her out of bed, waited for her to use the bathroom and then settled her onto the couch for her first full day of bed rest. He went into the kitchen to get started on breakfast as Veronica turned on the TV.

Keith came down the hall from his room dressed for work and frowned when he saw Logan standing at the stove wearing nothing but a pair of boxers. “Where are the rest of your clothes?”

“Would you believe they were dirty?” He turned and smirked at Keith, “yep, not one pair of pajamas was clean, which is astounding since I usually sleep nude. Right, Veronica?”

Her eyes widened as two pairs of eyes turned in her direction. She tried to show disinterest but her eyes twinkled a little bit, she was having fun, “Sorry, I wouldn’t know.”

“Huh…that little girl growing inside your belly kinda says you do,” Logan responded innocently.

Keith rolled his eyes and snatched the spatula out of Logan’s hand, “go get ready for class while I finish breakfast.”

Logan smiled to himself as he walked toward Veronica’s room to shower and change.

“How did you sleep the rest of the night? “Keith asked his daughter while he placed some bacon in the microwave.

“Much better after you pimped me out to my boyfriend,” she said teasingly before turning serious. “I really did sleep better. Thank you for calling him.”

“It was the right thing to do. And even though he will never let me forget it, I would do it again if it helps make things easier on you.”


By the third day of Veronica’s bed rest, Logan was struggling to come up with ways to entertain her while he, Wallace and Mac were in class and Keith was at work. He decided a change of scenery would help so he took her to his suite at the Grand for the day.

There she would have access to room service, a quiet place to nap, unlimited movies on pay per view and a lounger on the balcony if she wanted to lie down and get some fresh air. It seemed like the perfect idea until they actually got to his suite.

“Ronnie! Come to play with Dick today,” the blond surfer called as he walked out of his room wearing nothing but a white towel hanging dangerously low on his hips.

Veronica turned around and looked up at Logan with murderous eyes, “absolutely not!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think he’d be here,” Logan said apologetically.

“Really? You didn’t think your roommate would be in his home?”

“No, I thought he would be at the Pi Sig house like he usually is. I’m really sorry, but can you just stay here for now, I’m going to be late for class. There’s plenty of space here you don’t even have to be in the same room as Dick.”

“Fine.” She spat out with her arms crossed over her chest.

Logan bent down and kissed her, caressing her cheek slowly, “I’ll make this up to you later tonight. I promise.”

“You better.”

He smiled and kneeled down in front of her, placing a kiss on her stomach over her shirt, “take care of mommy, sweet pea.”

Veronica brushed a finger under each eye, clearing away the tears from her lashes as Logan stood back up and kissed her one more time. “That’s not fair. You’re toying with my hormones by doing something adorable and making me forget that I’m actually mad at you right now.”

“I love you, too.” Logan said softly before he left and headed off to class.

Veronica moved into the living room and sat down on the couch, kicking her feet up on the coffee table and flipped through the various movie channels.

Dick wandered back into the room, still in his towel, eating handfuls of cereal out of the box. He sat down on the couch beside Veronica and eyed her stomach every couple of minutes before turning his attention back to the screen.

“What is it, Dick?”

He looked over at her sheepishly, “can I touch your belly?”

“No.”

“Okay.” He tapped an annoying beat on the cardboard cereal box before turning back to Veronica, “do your boobs ever leak?”

“I’m going to kill Logan,” Veronica mumbled to herself as she got off the couch and stormed towards Logan’s room.

“I’ll take that as a yes. You know it’s cool, Ronnie, no need to be embarrassed.”

On that last remark she slammed the door closed, stripped off her pants and shirt, claiming one of Logan’s soft cotton tees and crawled into his bed. Dealing with Dick was exhausting and not how she wanted to spend her day. She pulled the covers up to her chin and tried to fall asleep hoping the day would go by faster if she took a nap.

About an hour later Veronica woke up with a start and searched the bed for Logan only to remember he was in class.

This nightmare had not been as bad as some of the others over the past few days. She assumed it was because her body felt somewhat safe being immersed in Logan’s shirt and bed, his scent grounding her, but not having the full power to chase them away completely like being swallowed in his arms did.

She crawled out of bed and tiptoed into the living room to see if Dick was still here, as much as she didn’t want to be around him today, being alone was far worse right now.

He was sitting on the couch; almost in the exact same place as when she left him except now he was fully dressed and playing video games on one of the many gaming consoles.

Veronica grabbed the throw blanket off the back of the couch and wrapped herself in it since she was only wearing Logan’s shirt and sat down, leaving one cushion open in between herself and Dick.

“I ordered you a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake from room service if you’re hungry. You can eat that, right? They dropped it off about ten minutes ago so it should still be hot.”

“Thank you, Dick.” Veronica moved to get off the couch to grab her food, but Dick held up his hand.

“I’ll get it, Ronnie. You’re not supposed to be up.” He paused the game and went over to grab her meal off the food service cart. After he put it within her reach he went back to playing his game. “You can play too after you’re done eating.”

When she was ready Dick challenged her to a Mario Kart 64 tournament. They ended up playing for two hours before Dick got tired of losing and suggested they play something else.

He ended up putting in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, for which Veronica quit after one game not finding the barely covered bikini clad girls bouncing up and down quite as exciting as Dick had.

She fell asleep again a few minutes later with her head on a pillow that was propped up against Dick’s thigh. He turned the volume on the TV down and continued to play as her soft snores filled the air.

That was how Logan found them an hour later when he got back from his classes and study session to help catch him up on the lectures he had missed while Veronica was gone.

He moved further into the room, whispering quietly so he didn’t wake Veronica up, “why is my girlfriend basically curled up with you?”

“Nightmares,” he shrugged as if it were no big deal. “She doesn’t know that I know, but she was napping in your room earlier and I could hear her screaming.”

Logan clapped his best friend on the back, “thanks, Dick. I’m going to take her home.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, dude.”

Logan nodded and carefully picked Veronica up off the couch. Noticing her state of undress he carried her into his room to slip some sweatpants on her before they left to head to her apartment.


 

On Friday morning Veronica found herself in the apartment alone once again. Her dad was working and Logan had to go into school early to take a makeup exam. They were both supposed to be home around lunchtime so she only had to wait another three hours.

Veronica was caught up on her assignments after having plenty of time to do them this week. It was probably the only good thing that came out of her mandatory bed rest sentence. She didn’t know how the women who were put on bed rest for weeks or even months at a time survived.

She got up to grab one of the books Mac dropped off for some leisurely reading when there was a knock on the door. Not expecting anyone she motioned for Backup to follow her into the living room.

When she opened the door and saw who was standing on her front porch her eyes narrowed suspiciously. A wave of anger and disappointment washed over her immediately, nothing good could come from this unwanted reunion.

“Hi, sweetheart.”

“Mom.”

Chapter Text

Veronica continued to stare at Lianne from across the table in the kitchen. Thirty minutes of silence had passed between them as Veronica sized up her mother.

Lianne sat with her legs together, ankles crossed – very polite. Her hands wouldn’t stop moving though; she was constantly fidgeting with a diamond ring on her left ring finger, spinning it around her digit.

As far as Veronica could tell the ring was new. It wasn’t the wedding ring given to her when she married Keith; she had pawned it off shortly after they separated to pay for booze. This one was new and slightly bigger – expensive.

It bothered Veronica more than she wanted to admit that her mother could so easily abandon her and her father and begin a new life with a new family.

Her mother’s eyes didn’t seem glassy or unfocused; she didn’t smell of alcohol when she walked in the door so the likelihood that she came here drunk was slim. Veronica didn’t believe her mother was completely sober, she had lost that bet one too many times to be convinced, but for now in this very moment Lianne was a glimpse of her old self.

That fact only flared her anger. In a very deep place within, Veronica was proud of her mom for being clean, even if it only lasted for today, but she was also deeply hurt that whatever her mother’s reasons were for cutting back on her alcohol intake had nothing to do with her.

She didn’t rank higher than alcohol on a scale of things Lianne loved most, but someone else did and god it hurt to have that result flaunted in her face.

Veronica placed a hand on the lower curve of her stomach like a pinky promise that she would never follow in Lianne’s footsteps. She wanted her daughter to always know that her and Logan loved her more than anything else in the world.

With a sharp glare and hard tone Veronica finally broke the silence, ready to get some answers, “what are you doing here, mom?”

Lianne visibly flinched at the anger present in her daughter’s words and body language. “What do you mean what am I doing here? You were on the news as a missing person and they said you were…” She looked down at Veronica’s pregnant stomach, which took on the shape of a small to medium sized Tupperware mixing bowl shoved under her shirt. “You need me, sweetheart.”

“No, I don’t. Do you know when I last needed you?” Veronica didn’t give her mother a chance to respond, “Seven years ago. That was when I needed you, but you were bottom deep in a bottle of vodka because we weren’t the family you wanted, the one you wished you had. That was when I lost you, you leaving three years later just made it official.”

Lianne looked as if she had been slapped, “that’s not fair, Veronica. You were too young to understand everything that was going on at the time. You didn’t know how hard it was.”

“I do know how hard it was because you left and all the secrets came out. The threatening photos, my questioned paternity, your affair – I had to pick up all the pieces on top of trying to survive Lilly’s death, losing all my friends, moving across town and becoming a social pariah.”

Veronica watched the tears fall down her mother’s face but all she felt was anger. “It was incredibly difficult to wake up and pull myself out of bed every morning, but I did it without a bottle in hand because I had dad. He stayed, he loved me and he needed me as much as I needed him.”

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t here for you before, but I’m here now. I really have been trying to do better, honey. We can start over and I can be the mother and…and grandmother you need me to be.”

“I don’t think you can be,” she watched as Lianne continued to spin the diamond ring around her finger, “and I’m not a fool to believe you’ve somehow changed. So why don’t you tell me the real reason you’re here?”

Lianne was taken back by her daughter’s harsh tone and words. The little girl she brought into this world twenty years ago was not the same girl sitting in front of her now. She was more closed off, jaded and questioning than the carefree, forgiving, sweet spirit Lianne used to know. “I’m here for you, to make sure you’re okay—“

“Right,” Veronica scoffed, “because you were so worried about your daughter being kidnapped that you waited nearly two weeks after she was found to show up and check on her. Would you like to claim your mother of the year award now or should I hold on to it to see if you even stick around first?”

“That’s enough, Veronica!”

“Then stop pretending you’re here for me!”

Veronica was breathing heavily and trying to get her emotions under control. She was sure her blood pressure was through the roof, which was what Dr. Swaldoe warned her to avoid. She took a few deep breaths in and out, slowing her heart rate as best as she could under the circumstances.

After a few minutes she felt more in control. Lianne was watching her closely, still twirling that damn ring and it was driving Veronica insane. “Did Jake give you that ring?”

Veronica cringed slightly at the anger still present in her tone. She wasn’t going to be able to calm down completely until her mother left so it was best to hurry the conversation along and send her mother on her way. Every second she was this keyed up she was putting herself and the baby in danger.

“Yes,” Lianne couldn’t meet Veronica’s eyes, knowing the disappointment that would be present on her daughter’s face. She was always a disappointment in Veronica’s eyes these days. “We’re engaged.”

“Of course you are.” Veronica looked toward the ceiling and ran her hands over her face trying to delay the explosion bubbling up inside her, but she was losing that battle rather quickly. “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

“Excuse me?”

“How can you get back together with him after what Duncan did to me? It’s not a secret that Duncan kidnapped me, it was on the goddamn news, mom – nationwide manhunt advisory to be on the lookout. Two counts of kidnapping, three if you include the baby. And let’s not forget the assault charges!”

“He was trying to do the right thing and protect his daughter, Veronica. Surely you can understand that,” she pointed to Veronica’s bump. “He went about it the wrong way, but his intentions were good.”

“I cannot believe you are defending him! Does Jake really mean that much to you that you can overlook the fact that your soon to be step-son sexually assaulted your daughter every night for two weeks?”

Veronica knew that last detail was not in the news report so Lianne’s shocked expression was not all that shocking to see. What was shocking was how quickly Lianne brushed the comment aside as if it was nothing.

Her mother shook her head back and forth, “I know you don’t approve of Jake and I, you take after your father in that regard and place blame on the Kane’s because you’re hurt and angry. But Duncan was your first boyfriend, sweetie, he loved you and was so sweet to you, he would never—“

“Just stop!” Veronica’s eyes filled with tears, gathering at the edge of her lower lids, waiting for the signal to jump ship. Her chest felt tight, like all the air in her body was being squeezed out slowly. Her own mother thought she was crying wolf, if she didn’t believe her, who would? It was the morning after Shelly’s all over again.

Lianne sat up and reached forward to place a comforting hand on Veronica’s arm but Veronica pulled away and quickly stood up, “don’t touch me.”

The tears threatening to spill over finally made their escape as Veronica moved further away from her mother and into the living room.

“Veronica—“

“No! I don’t want to hear your excuses anymore, mom!” Her words were coming out in hysterical sobs now, she wasn’t even sure it was coherent but it didn’t stop her from continuing. “You cannot marry Jake. I can’t and I won’t be a part of that family! Duncan ra—“ She caught herself before she revealed that truth.

She took a few steadying breaths and that’s when it hit her. Everything was clicking into place now; she just couldn’t see it before because she looked at her mother as a burden instead of a clue. “Jake sent you here, didn’t he? He wants you to try and talk me out of testifying against Duncan.”

Lianne nodded her head slowly with tears in her eyes, “we want our children to be at the wedding. Duncan and Lilly, you…and your baby.” She hesitated slightly as she stared at Veronica’s stomach, for whatever reason she was having a hard time adjusting to the idea of her daughter being pregnant. “Is there a father in the picture?”

Veronica ignored her mother’s inquiry. “You can tell Jake that I plan on testifying and nothing will change my mind. Duncan deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“Please, don’t do this sweetheart,” Lianne cried pleadingly. “I want us to be a family.”

“We were a family; you, dad and I, but you walked away!” Tears rolled down Veronica’s cheeks once again. “I already have a family and it doesn’t include you or the Kane’s. Just leave me alone, mom, that’s what you’re good at, right?”

“Baby, please—“

“You can show yourself out,” Veronica turned and started to walk down the hall to her room when she felt something odd within her stomach. She stopped and placed one hand on her belly and the other on the wall.

Her actions must have been fairly noticeable because Lianne was at her side a few seconds later, placing a hand on her shoulder for support. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“I’m fine.” Veronica shrugged out of her mother’s grasp and kept walking. “Just leave.”

Lianne’s voice sounded small, “I don’t have anywhere to go. I’ve been staying with a friend in Arizona while Jake and Celeste work on finalizing the divorce.”

“That’s not really my problem,” she walked into her bedroom and slid down the length of the door with her hands wrapped around her belly. Silent sobs wracked her body and there was nothing she could do to make them stop.


Logan climbed out of his car just as Keith pulled into the parking lot outside of their apartment building. It amazed him how this small two-bedroom apartment felt like home.

He had been living with Keith and Veronica for the past week, ever since he was called to help keep Veronica’s nightmares at bay and it was one of the best weeks of his life. He finally knew what it felt like to be part of a loving family.

“I think we should take her out to dinner tonight,” Keith said as he joined Logan. “She’s been cooped up all week, strangely enough following the conditions of her mandatory bed rest, a few hours out should be fine. What do you think?”

“I’m fine with it as long as you play bad cop when it’s time to come home. We’re giving her a taste of freedom and she’s technically still on bed rest until Monday. She’s going to tilt her head and the next thing you know we’ll be spending tomorrow at the zoo chasing her around the elephant exhibit.”

Keith rolled his eyes; “you only want me to be bad cop because you don’t want to end up sleeping on the couch tonight.”

“She would never kick me out of bed.” His lips turned up into a smile, “and besides good cop always gets a kiss.”

“You two kiss enough. My kitchen counter can vouch for that,” Keith responded with slightly narrowed eyes.

Logan shrugged his shoulders, not even sorry for kissing Veronica as often as he did. He’d kiss her all day long if he could.

Keith unlocked the front door and walked inside with Logan on his heels. Immediately they both felt that something was wrong. The lights were off in the apartment, the front blinds were drawn to block out the sun and Backup was sitting outside Veronica’s bedroom door whining.

They flicked the lights on and were stunned to see a blonde sitting alone in the dark on the couch, looking ten years older than she should and as if the whole world was falling down around her. Her eyes were red-rimmed and staring at an unknown point across the room, tear tracks dried on her cheeks. A near empty clear glass bottle with amber colored liquid was cradled tightly against her chest.

Logan watched as Keith moved closer to Lianne and started questioning why she was here. He didn’t wait to hear her answers as he moved further into the apartment to check on Veronica. She was always his first priority.

He rapped his knuckles on the door, not to seek permission – he’s pretty much an honorary inhabitant of this room – but as a warning to alert Veronica that he’s coming in. She’s easily startled these days and he doesn’t want to scare her.

The doorknob turns easily enough, but he meets resistance when he tries to push the door open. “Veronica?” No answer, “Veronica, please let me in.”

Several long seconds go by before the door swings open and Veronica stands in front of him looking small and completely heartbroken. He pulls her into his arms, for which she surprisingly goes willingly and lays his head on top of hers trying to give her every ounce of comfort he can.

“This is your doing! My daughter won’t let me into her life anymore because you told her I was the villain that walked away. I left to protect her, why does nobody understand that?”

Lianne’s voice carried through the apartment and Veronica pulled away from Logan with a new found heat burning in her eyes as she side stepped him and moved into the living room. “I thought I told you to leave.”

“Veronica,” Keith turned to her with an apologetic expression.

“She can’t stay here!”

“She’s your mother, I can’t kick her out on the street in her current condition.”

“She’s not our problem to look after anymore. Did she tell you she’s engaged to Jake Kane? Take her to the Camelot, I’m sure she’ll feel right at home there and Jake can deal with her.”

Keith ran a hand over his head, he understood why Veronica was upset, her requests were not unreasonable, but Keith just couldn’t be as removed as his daughter was.

Lianne was still the mother of his child and he couldn’t dump her at a hotel drunk. She was weak and she’d be at a bar within minutes either by foot or by car. He wasn’t going to feed her addiction or let her do something reckless that would put others in danger.

He turned back to his ex-wife who was staring daggers at Veronica and Logan across the room. “You can stay here for the night until you sober up—“

“Dad!” Veronica yelled in frustration, tears brimming against her eyes.

“It’s just one night,” Keith said with a soft tone.

“Fine, but if she’s staying, I sure as hell won’t be. Logan and I will stay at his place until she leaves.” Veronica turned and headed back into her room to pack while Logan followed.

So much for a nice family dinner.

Twenty minutes later they said goodbye to Keith, completely ignoring Lianne in the process. Logan sent Keith a worried glance as they headed out the door, both of them thinking the same thing – hasn’t Veronica suffered enough?

Or maybe a better question is, how much more can she handle?  


 

A minute after the kids left Lianne’s slurred voice broke through Keith’s thoughts. “How could you let her get pregnant and with Logan Echolls no less?”

“Logan is a good kid and he’s stepped up in ways no nineteen year old should ever have to. He loves Veronica, he protects her and takes care of her and he is going to be a phenomenal father. Not to mention he makes Veronica happy, which is all I could ever want for her.”

Lianne huffed out a breath in disbelief, “that happiness will fade. She’s going to regret becoming a mother this young. One day she’ll wake up and realize all the experiences she missed out on because she had a baby. Her and Logan will separate or divorce, if they ever get married, one of them will have an affair and then what? She’ll be at a bar down the street drinking away the pain and regret of a wasted life.”

Keith clenched his jaw and looked at the woman he once used to love as if she were a complete stranger. “Veronica is nothing like you, Lianne.” He walked into the kitchen and grabbed a glass cup, filling it up with water and then handing it to his drunken ex.

“That’s the problem.” She took the glass and sipped on the water slowly.

“Tomorrow when you’re all sobered up, I want you gone. Do not seek out Veronica, do not try and contact her or even think about coming back here. She’s under a lot of stress right now and if you make things harder for her I will not hesitate to get a restraining order against you, that goes for any member of the Kane family as well.”


Logan walked beside Veronica down the hall with his hand on her lower back, watching her out of the corner of his eye every few steps. She hadn’t spoken a word since they left the apartment; her eyebrows were furrowed together as she got lost in her mind. It was obvious she wasn’t ready to talk so Logan didn’t push her to open up.

Her legs and feet led the way on muscle memory and then came to a stop outside the suite door while he dug his keycard out of his wallet.

When the light on the card reader turned green Veronica pushed the door open and walked inside. She passed Dick on the couch making out with his special lady friend of the week and continued on into Logan’s room without comment and left the door open as a silent command for him to follow.

Dick pulled away from the nameless female he was swapping spit with when he noticed Veronica hadn’t made any kind of snarky comment towards him. He raised an eyebrow in question at Logan who was still standing off to the side of the room, “what’s wrong with her?”

He ran a hand up and around his neck, rubbing the spot just below his hair, “her mom is back.” Logan knew he didn’t have to say anything more for Dick to understand. They were all familiar with what it was like to have a dysfunctional parent or two.

“Sorry to cut the date short, but I just remembered I have other plans tonight,” Dick told the brunette on his lap as he helped her off the couch and walked her to the door, gently escorting her out.

Logan watched slightly amused and a little shocked as Dick kicked a gorgeous woman out of their suite, one who he was most definitely planning on sleeping with. “You didn’t have to get rid of her because of us.”

“Yeah, I did.” Dick moved back into the living room and sat down on the couch turning on the TV. “It’s not a big deal, I just want to be available to help or whatever…you know, with Ronnie.” He swung his head toward Logan with big alarming eyes, “but don’t tell her that! She’s all hormonal and shit and she’ll start crying and I don’t do crying chicks. Got it?”

“Got it,” Logan replied with a small smile on his face. It meant the world to him that his best friend was also worried and looking out for his girlfriend and daughter. Little Dick is growing up.

Dick continued to flip through the channels on the TV before finally stopping on a surfing competition, “oh, a package came for you in the mail this morning, I put it on your dresser.”

He nodded his head in thanks and walked back to his room.

Veronica was lying on her side already tucked under the covers resting with her eyes closed, running her hand over her belly in small soothing circles.

He deposited her overnight bag on a chair and then walked over to the dresser to see what package Dick was talking about. He hadn’t ordered anything lately nor was he expecting anything from anyone.

“What’s that?”

Logan turned around to face Veronica, carrying his package over to the bed. “I don’t know.” He tore open the plastic wrapping revealing a soft fabric and a printed gift receipt that read:

New pajamas, enjoy!
- Keith

He held the material up to his body, a heather grey onesie with black fitted cuffs around the wrists and ankles and a single stripe that ran down the front, neck to groin, with ten perfectly aligned white buttons.

“Does he think these buttons are going to stop us from having sex? He obviously doesn’t understand how pregnancy hormones work. I guess he’ll figure it out when half the buttons are missing because you’re impatient and just rip them open,” he said with a smirk.

Veronica bit her lip trying to hide a smile, “go try them on.”

Logan went into the bathroom to change into his new pajamas. When he returned a few minutes later Veronica was asleep. He went over to the window and pulled the blinds closed to block out the mid-afternoon sun before crawling in bed and wrapping his body around Veronica while she napped.

A couple hours later Veronica started to stir. She rolled to her other side and smiled at Logan sitting up against the headboard reading one of the pregnancy books they bought a while back. “Hi.”

“Hey,” he closed the book and put it on his bedside table before scooting down and allowing her to put her head on his chest.

She ran her fingers lightly over the new pajamas her father had given to Logan, he really did look amazing in them even if it was supposed to be a joke.

“Do you want to talk about your mom?”

“No,” she shook her head against his chest, “not today. I just want to lay here with you and relax.”

“Okay.” He kissed the top of her head and rubbed his hand slowly up and down her back. They stayed like that for a few minutes before Veronica suddenly placed both hands on her stomach. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.” She moved her hands around slightly, “I felt something weird earlier today too.”

“Weird how? Like you’re in pain?”

“No, like butterflies or something.” Veronica looked at Logan with a little smile to ease his obvious worrying. “I think she’s moving.”

“What?” He placed his hand on her stomach close to where she had hers. “I don’t feel anything.”

“I think it’s too early to feel her on the outside, it just feels like little tiny flutters below my belly button.”

“But she’s moving?”

“I think so, yeah.”

Logan’s smile stretched across his face as he kept his hand on her stomach. He couldn’t feel anything, but just the thought of his daughter finally being big enough to move around had him on cloud nine. It wouldn’t be long before he could feel her too. “I love you,” he said before he planted a kiss on her lips.

“I love you, too.” She smiled happily as she laid in Logan’s arms, his fingers interlocked with hers resting on top of her bump. She just wanted it to be like this all the time, “Logan?”

“Yeah?”

“I think we should move in together.”

“We already live together.”

“No, not here or at my apartment,” she ducked her head, feeling a little hesitant all of a sudden, “I think we should buy a house. Somewhere we can raise a baby.”

Logan put his hand under her chin to get her to look at him. He kissed her slow, conveying with actions what he could not express with words at the moment. He was speechless that buying a house and living together had been her idea without prodding.

As the kiss morphed into pure heat and passion, further discussion of houses was temporarily put on hold. It didn’t take long for Veronica to test how durable the buttons on Logan’s new pajamas actually were.

Chapter Text

The last two days of Veronica’s bed rest went by smoothly without any further emotional complications. Lianne was gone, again, hopefully for the last time, or at least until Duncan’s trial.

Veronica knew if she was called upon to testify in person she would most likely see her mother again, along with the entire Kane clan and she was okay with that because it wouldn’t be for a social gathering it would be professional, legal and hopefully final.

But first the FBI had to find Duncan. He could pop up any day now or it could take years. She wanted it all to be over – the trial, the Kane’s, her mother – for the sake of all the pain that came with the past, wrapped up in a nice little prison bow of twenty to life. But when did life or the law ever cut her a break?

She was trying to be optimistic that everything would turn out right for once. Agent Morris was working the case and Veronica had faith in her to do a good job, but the Kane name had power. They would hire the best defense money could buy and if Duncan ended up serving any prison time at all it would be a miracle.

Aaron Echolls was example number one of how money and celebrity worked in favor of claiming innocence in one who was truly guilty. She could only hope this time would be different.

The rest of the weekend was spent without any more talk about the trial or Lianne. Although, Keith did mention the idea of getting a restraining order if the situation started getting out of hand, for which Veronica had no issue voicing how much she was in favor of that option.

When Monday morning finally rolled around Veronica pulled Logan out of bed with her an hour early. She was excited to be off bed rest and to have her freedom back, which called for a celebration. One they had to be quiet and careful of with her dad asleep, but not for long, down the hall.

Logan griped at how early it was and Veronica had to place her hand over his mouth to shut him up as she pushed him into the bathroom. She turned on the water to the shower, shimmied out of her sleep shorts and was just about to pull her tee shirt, or rather Logan’s tee shirt, over her head when she noticed he wasn’t undressing with her.

She tilted her head to the side with a question, “something wrong?”

“No,” he smiled and waggled his eyebrows, “I’m just enjoying the show.”

Veronica bit her bottom lip bashfully. “You might want to enjoy the show a little less because we have maybe twenty minutes tops before the water turns to ice.”

“Right,” he nodded and quickly shucked off his clothing. Once Veronica joined him under the warm spray he grabbed the shampoo and began working his hands through her hair, massaging the base of her skull and her neck. “Any thoughts on houses yet?”

She leaned back against his chest and moaned as he worked the tension out of her muscles. “Nothing huge, something within reason – maybe three bedrooms and I think we should find something in a neighborhood.”

“I’ll compromise on the size of the house, but security is non-negotiable. If you want to live in a neighborhood, that’s fine, but it needs to be in a gated community.” He used his soapy hands to quickly shampoo his own hair before picking up the conditioner.

“We don’t live in a gated community now and we’re fine, can’t we just install a security system in the house?” Veronica grabbed the loofa off the wall and squirted some body wash on it before turning Logan around and scrubbing his back.

“We will most definitely be installing a security system, but I don’t think that’s enough. With the trial coming up and everything with Duncan and your mom, the gated community is not going to be impenetrable, but it will at least make it harder for people to get to us.”

She remembered her mother showing up a few days ago unannounced, standing on the front porch and knew she did not want a repeat of that experience. “Okay, sold. A gated community sounds perfect.”

Logan turned around and kissed her, “thank you.” He grabbed the loofa from her and spun her around to wash her back as well, “what else do you want?”

“Can we try and stay away from the 09? I’m not saying we can’t look at houses there, but I just don’t want to exclusively look at 09er properties. Let’s try and keep our options open, we might find what we’re looking for in the 05.”

He scrunched up his nose behind her back, not entirely on board with that idea. The 05 was a nice area, middle class by normal standards but in Neptune, where there was no middle class, it was considered the poorest of the rich.

Logan didn’t have a problem with the financial status of the 05 residents. His problem was with the location. The 90905 zip code sat right smack dab in the middle of Neptune and those poor unfortunate souls didn’t have a beach view in sight.

He needed to be at least within walking distance of the ocean. It was a must if they were buying a house to live in for many years to come. “I’ll contact the real estate agent this afternoon and have them start looking for homes.”

They spent the remainder of the shower taking advantage of the warm water they had left. Logan had her pushed up against the tiled wall, her legs locked around his waist as he kissed his way down her neck.

He had her right where he wanted her, panting and begging for more, the tip of his name on the edge of her lips. Before he could slide home the shower made a loud cranking noise and shot out ice-cold water.

Without dropping her, he used one hand to reach behind him and shut off the valve. He stepped out onto the rug and lowered her back to her feet, quickly wrapping her in a big white towel to stop her from shivering.

After she dried off she tossed her towel to Logan to use and grabbed her robe from behind the door to throw around herself. When Logan was ready she peeked her head out the bathroom door to see if the coast was clear.

Not seeing any signs that told them her dad was awake yet, they quietly tiptoed back to Veronica’s room and got dressed for class.


Being back on campus at Hearst felt like being an animal on display at the zoo. People pointed and gossiped to each other as Veronica passed by, whispering not so quietly the comments they were too afraid to say directly to her face.

Who do you think the father is? Guess that sex tape was real after all. I can’t believe she came back to school. Do you think she’s traumatized? Why isn’t she curled up in a ball? Isn’t she dating that radio guy? Slut. Look at her she’s huge! Nosy bitch got what she deserved. Is she single?

Veronica rolled her eyes at the wimpy comments meant to rattle her as she made her way across the quad.

Both of her classes that morning had gone well. She kept to herself as usual and moved to sit in the back row to not draw any extra attention to herself. Most people stared at her as they entered the room, but then soon forgot she was even there once the professor began lecturing.

Her second class had gotten out twenty-five minutes early so she fished her phone out of her messenger bag to text Logan that she would just wait for him outside of his class instead of waiting by the car.

With a plan to get in a little reading before Logan came out, she dropped her bag on the ground next to her feet and slowly started to bend over to sit on the ground when a pair of arms slid around her waist.

Large pale hands ran over her belly as a body pressed up against her from behind. Lips brushed up next to her ear and sent a cold shiver down her spine as the deep voice whispered softly, “hey baby.”

Veronica froze momentarily before the panic set in and sheer terror ran rampant through her body. The only thing she could process before fear took over was that the voice and those hands did not belong to Logan.

She turned around quickly and pushed the unknown and unwelcomed hands away from her body. “Get off me!” When she looked into the guy’s eyes all she saw was Duncan staring back at her. “No, no, no.”

The outdoor walkway she was waiting under had suddenly transformed before her eyes into dark brown wooden logs. She stepped back a few steps until her back hit the white concrete wall of the English building and she slid down to ground wrapping her arms around her legs.

A small group had begun to gather, the boy who sent her into this tailspin and his friends were laughing while others just watched on the sidelines as Veronica rocked back and forth, shaking, with tears flowing down her cheeks.

Images of that first day in the cabin with Duncan flashed through her mind. His body pushing hers further into the bed as his hands roamed over her chest and stomach. Demanding lips crashing down against hers and moving down her neck.

Veronica’s heart was beating so fast she thought it was going to beat right out of her chest. She tried to take several deep breaths, but all she could manage were a few short gasps that didn’t seem to hold enough oxygen.

A blonde head pushed through the crowd and started yelling but she couldn’t hear what they were saying, everything was just white noise as the images and scenes continued to play out in her head.

“Dude, what did you do to her?” Dick yelled at the tall sandy blond frat boy laughing at the pregnant girl freaking out on the ground.

“Nothing man, I just said hi and she flipped.” He said as him and his friends continued to laugh.

Dick swung at the guy and nailed him right in the jaw and then packed another punch into his ribs.

The frat boy fell to the ground, grabbing his jaw in pain. “You’re insane, man, it was just a joke. Rumors have been flying around about her all day, we were just having a little fun.”

“You thought it would be funny to taunt the girl who was kidnapped a month ago? What the hell is wrong with you, you piece of shit!?” Dick grabbed the guy by his shirt and lifted him off the ground enough to deck him in the face again.

He left the guy bleeding from his nose on the concrete and stepped slowly over to Veronica, crouching down in front of her and holding out his hand. “Come on, Ronnie, let’s get out of here.”

Her eyes went wide as Dick got closer and she tried to shrink back further into the wall. “Don’t touch me! Duncan, please, don’t. Get off me!”

Dick held out his hands in a gesture that meant he wasn’t trying to hurt her, but he knew she wasn’t even seeing him. He backed away a few steps and pulled his phone out of his pocket shooting off a fast text to Logan. Outside now - Ronnie 911.

A minute later Logan came crashing through the double doors leading to the outside walkway from the English building. He pushed through the crowd, his eyes immediately landing on Veronica cowering against the wall, eyes rapidly moving back and forth focusing on something no one else could see.

He moved past Dick and crouched down until he was eye level with Veronica. “Veronica, it’s Logan, can you hear me?” He got no response from her so he scooted a little closer, “look at me, bobcat. You’re safe, he’s not here.”

Hearing Logan’s voice was like an anchor. She locked eyes with him and no longer saw Duncan’s face in front of her. It was just Logan.

He didn’t want to spook her as she was starting to come back to the present so he held out his hand and waited for her to make the first move.

Veronica tentatively placed her hand in his. Once she realized he was truly and physically in front of her she flew into his lap, wrapping her arms around him and sobbing into his neck.

Logan held her as close to his body as he could, rubbing his hand up and down her back in long smooth strokes. “Shh. It’s okay, you’re safe. I’ve got you, shh.”

Once Logan had control of the situation Dick began thinning out the crowd, “move, go on. Back to class, nothing to see here, just keep on walking. Mind your own business.”

Veronica’s full body sobs were reduced to small whimpers after a few minutes, but Logan could still feel her body trembling against his. He pulled back slightly and turned to kiss the side of her head, “let’s go home, okay?”

She nodded her head and climbed off his lap. Her eyes were puffy and red; cheeks wet and stained with tears, face flushed and pale. When Logan stood up she tucked herself back into his side and hid her face from nosy onlookers passing by.

Dick picked her messenger bag off the ground and followed behind them as they walked across campus back to the car.

“Dick, do you mind—“ Logan plucked his car keys out of his pocket and unlocked the doors.

“Sure.” Dick took the key fob from Logan and climbed into the driver’s seat while Logan and Veronica climbed in the back. “Where to?”

“Her apartment.” Logan held Veronica tightly as they pulled out of the parking lot. Her nonverbal behavior told him how truly terrified she was. Not long into their car ride she fell asleep, all the adrenaline pumping through her system had faded and left her crashing into sleep like a toddler coming off a sugar high.

He and Dick shared concerned looks in the rearview mirror, “actually, let’s go to the office instead.” Dick nodded his head at the change in plans and turned the car around to head toward Mars Investigations.

When they arrived Logan carefully lifted Veronica out of the car and carried her up the stairs into the office with Dick trailing behind. Keith had his office door closed and they could hear him talking to a client so Logan took a seat on the couch, still holding a sleeping Veronica in his arms.

Keith came out of his office twenty minutes later, “thank you for coming in Mr. Franklin. I’ll give you an update on your case by the end of the week.”

After walking the client to the door Keith turned around to see his daughter curled up in a ball on Logan’s lap, asleep. The broken, near in tears look on Logan’s face accompanied by a concerned Dick Casablancas clued him in that this was more than a surprise lunch visit.

“Is she okay?” His head was spinning with all the things that could be wrong, but this was the one question he needed an answer for right away.

Logan shook his head no and motioned that they should talk in Keith’s office. Trying not to wake Veronica he carefully stood up and laid her back down on the couch. He tucked a small throw pillow under her head and unzipped his jacket to drape over her like a blanket.

The three men filed into Keith’s office and closed the door almost all the way, leaving it open just a crack to be able to keep and eye on Veronica and listen in case she slipped into a nightmare and started screaming out.

Dick sat in one of the two chairs in front of the desk, Keith sat in his own chair behind the desk and Logan stood by the window looking out at the alley below with his hand resting on the frame.

“What happened?” Keith asked in a reasonably calm tone of voice.

“I don’t know exactly. Dick texted me a 911 and when I got to Veronica she was on the ground, sobbing and shaking – absolutely petrified. I’ve never seen her that scared before.”

“She would only respond to Logan,” Dick said. “Before I texted Logan I tried getting her off the ground, she freaked when anyone got close, screaming don’t touch me, get off me. She called me Duncan too.”

“Duncan.” Logan snarled and smashed his fist against the wall at hearing his ex-best friend’s name, the name that happened to be the source of all the pain in Veronica’s life right now.

“Logan,” Keith said softly as he got up and placed a gentle hand on Logan’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry.” He wiped his eyes before turning around and taking a seat next to Dick.

Keith turned his questioning back to the other boy in the room, “were her eyes open or closed when she called you Duncan?”

“Open. It was really weird because she was looking right at me, but it was like she couldn’t see me. I look nothing like Duncan, she should have been able to tell us apart.”

“It wasn’t just auditory, she was actively seeing places and people who weren’t there,” Keith spoke out loud to no one in particular.

“She was hallucinating?” Dick asked.

“Not a hallucination, a flashback.”

“As in PTSD?” Logan questioned. He had assumed that too when he first saw her terror filled eyes on the ground, but was reluctant to actually believe it. “What was her trigger?”

Keith shrugged his shoulders, “Richard, did anyone else approach her before you and Logan tried to calm her down?”

“No,” he thought for a moment, “just the asshole she flipped out on.”

“What did he do to her?” Logan asked through clenched teeth.

“I didn’t see, but he was laughing and said he was messing with her as a joke. Testing to see what rumors were true, if she was really traumatized from the kidnapping or not.” Dick saw Logan balling his fist up again and rushed to ease his mind, “I laid into him a few times. He’ll definitely have some sore ribs and a busted jaw and nose tomorrow.”

Logan nodded his head in thanks and ran his hands through his hair to alleviate some of the pent up anger he was feeling. “She needs help. The fear and anxiety she’s walking around with every day is not good for her or the baby.”

“I know,” Keith turned toward Logan with a worried expression. “I get the feeling there’s something else she’s not telling us about what happened in that cabin and that’s what is causing all this.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Richard said she was screaming don’t touch me and get off me. That first night we brought her home from the hospital, before I called you, Logan, she was yelling those exact same words out in her sleep.”

“I heard them too,” Dick jumped back into the conversation. “When she stayed in our suite the other day I told Logan that I heard her calling out during her nightmare. I didn’t realize it until now but they were the same phrases she was yelling today.”

Logan stood up and walked over to the window again. Propping open one of the panels to let some fresh air in, he was starting to feel claustrophobic in the small office space.

Keith spun around in his chair and watched Logan taking deep breaths over by the window, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room. “You know something.”

“I made a promise to her years ago that I wouldn’t say anything.”

“Years?”

Logan mumbled a curse under his breath at his slip up. “The something she’s not telling you happened years ago not long after Lilly died. Looking back now that’s when I truly think her PTSD began, but none of us knew what looked out of the ordinary because traumatic things kept happening – grieving Lilly, Aaron, the bus crash,” he looked over at Dick briefly and decided to leave out naming Cassidy for the sake of his friend, “Mercer and Moe.”

“So nothing else happened in that cabin that she isn’t telling us about?”

“I don’t think so, she hasn’t mentioned anything more to me than what she told us at the hospital. I think what happened in the cabin was another trigger like the one that happened today.”

“Tell me what happened back when Lilly died then?”

“I can’t. I’ve already told you way more than I should have.”

Keith jumped out of his chair, “she’s my daughter, Logan, my little girl.” His voice cracked and caught in his throat, “I need to know.”

Logan turned around to face Keith and seeing the older man on the verge of losing it almost broke him. “I understand, now more than ever believe me I do, but I’m sorry, I can’t tell you. It has to be Veronica’s choice.”

Keith didn’t say anything; he just nodded his head in acceptance. If Veronica didn’t want to open up to him he would have to find some other way to get her to open up to someone. Holding it in obviously wasn’t working and she couldn’t live the rest of her life reliving horrible memories.

“I’m going to take her home and let her sleep some more.” Logan stood up and motioned for Dick to wait for him in the main room. Before he left the small office Logan looked back at a dejected Keith, “we’re going to get her through this, you and I. She's going to be fine."

“Yeah,” Keith choked out before subtly wiping away a falling tear and forcing a weak smile, “take care of her, I'll see you at home, Logan.”

Chapter Text

Logan glanced over at Veronica every few minutes as they sat side-by-side in the waiting room for their two-thirty prenatal appointment. He was mindlessly flipping through a magazine, not actively reading the articles, but rather just glancing at the pictures while Veronica sat quietly with her hands in her lap staring at the clock across the room.

She had been distant ever since her very public post-traumatic stress flashback on campus, spending a lot of time in her head and going through the motions of daily life without her usual spark, barely talking to anyone.

When she went back to school two days later he made sure she was never alone on campus. Either him, Dick, Wallace or Mac had walked with her between classes and anywhere else she needed to go to make sure no one else bothered her. The message was received quickly by the rest of the student body that Veronica was to be left alone indefinitely.

Pete Karlton, the fraternity harasser, who was surprisingly tracked down by Dick, was dealt with in a more personal matter. Courtesy of Mac, Pete was suddenly dropped from all of his classes and his student account was placed on hold prohibiting him from signing back up - not that he could since the registration end date had passed weeks ago. Since he was no longer considered a full time or active student he was evicted from campus housing, including the fraternity house, and was currently packing his bags to head home to Washington.

With Pete and everyone else out of the way, Logan could now focus all his attention on trying to put Veronica back together.

Logan closed his magazine and tossed it back onto the table next to him. “Veronica?”

“Yeah?”

She didn’t even bother to look over at him. Well this is a good start. “I think we should talk about what happened last Monday?”

Without breaking her stare with the wall she crossed her arms over her chest protectively, her body language screaming closed off and irritated. “There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine. Just drop it, okay?”

“You’re not fine. Five days ago I found you on the ground crying and utterly terrified and since then you’ve barely said a word to anyone. If you—“

She turned toward him with heat in her eyes. Her eyebrows were drawn together, nostrils flared and jaw clenched as she spoke low in a dangerous warning, “I said drop it, Logan. We are not going to do this right now.”

“I just want to help you, Veronica,” he replied softly.

“I don’t need help. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

He ran a hand through his hair in exasperation, trying not to show his frustrations with his tone, “I never said there was.”

“Your actions say otherwise. You and everyone else keep tiptoeing around me like I’m a delicate piece of glass that could fall and shatter at any moment.” She straightened in her chair, as if she was physically uncomfortable, and turned back to face the wall. “Monday was a fluke, he caught me off guard and I’m uncontrollably hormonal. End of story. Now drop it.”

Before Logan could respond one of the nurses popped her head into the waiting room and called Veronica’s name.

They followed the nurse into the hallway and after obtaining a new weight from Veronica they got settled into an examination room. The nurse handed Veronica a cup for a urine sample and Logan took a seat across from the exam table to wait for her to return.

He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. The talk between them in the waiting room had not gone as well as he would have liked. She wasn’t in denial, he knew that much, she remembered what happened she just wouldn’t talk about it.

He wasn’t going to give up on her. He promised Keith that they would get Veronica past this difficult time and he had no intention of breaking that promise. He just had to think of a better way to reach her.

Veronica came back into the room, followed by a nurse, and climbed up onto the table to have her blood drawn and vitals taken. When the nurse was finished she entered a few findings into Veronica’s chart and then told them Dr. Swaldoe would be in shortly before she left the two of them alone.

Veronica laid back on the table, effectively shutting down any further continuation of their conversation from before in the waiting room. The silence was deafening in the small room until Veronica made any sort of small movement.

The thin crisp white paper crinkled under her body as she tweaked her position ever so slightly every few seconds. After a few minutes she settled down and interlaced her hands together just below her round stomach.

The two-foot distance between them felt like miles right now. He wanted to reach out and hold her hand, to remind her that she wasn’t alone, but he didn’t think she would be very receptive to his touch at the moment. And seeing her pull away from him would be more painful than not attempting at all, so he remained in his seat and gave her the space she thought she needed.

Luckily the silence didn’t last too much longer. A quick knock on the door announced Dr. Swaldoe’s arrival, “sorry about the wait, there’s a full moon tonight and I’ve been running back and forth between here and the hospital all day.” She smiled as she said hi to Logan and shook his hand in greeting before addressing the mom-to-be in the room. “How are you, Veronica?”

“I’m good, glad to be off bed rest.”

Logan watched a flash of something cross Dr. Swaldoe’s face, but before he could figure out what the look meant it was gone and she was smiling again as she looked through Veronica’s chart.

“I imagine you are. Your blood pressure is looking better and as you move into the sixth month I hope to see it drop a little more. Just remember to get plenty of rest, continue drinking water and add some light exercise into your routine if you haven’t already. Any headaches or blurry vision?”

“No,” Veronica answered with a monotone voice.

That look Logan saw before on Dr. Swaldoe’s face popped up again and then quickly vanished.

Dr. Swaldoe pulled up the rolling stool and took a seat, crossing her legs and resting her hands where her knees overlapped. “And how have things been since the kidnapping? Any difficulty in adjusting to being back home?”

“Nope, things are good. I’m fine,” Veronica responded quickly.

Logan shot her a disappointed frown at her hasty lie. Things were far from fine.

Dr. Swaldoe must have seen his concerned look because she gave him a small smile. “Logan would it be okay if I talked to Veronica privately for a few minutes?”

“Uh,” he looked over at Veronica to see how she felt about him leaving her alone. She kept her eyes locked on the ceiling, expressionless façade firmly in place, so he figured he might as well step out, “sure. I’ll just be in the hallway when you’re done.”

“Thank you, Logan.” When the door shut Dr. Swaldoe turned back to Veronica, “how are you really doing, Veronica?”

“I’m fine,” she responded with a blasé attitude.

“You said that earlier, but I’m just not buying it.” Dr. Swaldoe’s voice was soft and gentle as she spoke, “if you were actually fine that boy out there, the one waiting in the hallway, would not be looking at you like he’s waiting for the ground to crumble out from under you. Like he needs to be ready to save you at any moment.”

Tears gathered in Veronica’s eyes and she bit her bottom lip to keep it from quivering. There was something about hearing the hard truths from someone removed from the situation that made her feel so much more vulnerable and guilty.

“Do you understand why he’s looking at you like that?”

She nodded her head and turned her face to the side so she could discreetly wipe away a fallen tear, “he’s concerned about me.”

“Does he have a reason to be?” Dr. Swaldoe probed carefully.

“Yeah,” Veronica whispered as if it were physically painful to admit out loud before the tears fell full force and her shoulders shook as she cried. “I’m falling apart little by little and nothing is within my control. Logan thinks I have PTSD, I heard him talking to my dad, and I think they’re right. I’m scared it’s going to destroy me and there’s not going to be anything left to save, I’ll be too broken to fix.”

Dr. Swaldoe handed Veronica a few tissues to wipe her cheeks and waited until the blonde’s tears began to slow. Life wasn’t suppose to be this hard for anyone, let alone a twenty year old with her entire future ahead of her.

Veronica sat up on the table and grabbed a few more tissues to dry her face, “I’m sorry about—“ she waved a hand around as if that was a sufficient answer.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to apologize.” Dr. Swaldoe said with a warm smile. “Do you feel better getting some of that off your chest?”

She nodded her head yes and continued to sniffle through the silence, still trying to calm herself down.

Dr. Swaldoe picked up her pen and scribbled some information on a prescription pad before handing the piece of paper to Veronica. “Here’s the name and office number of Dr. Malore, she’s a therapist within our network. I’m not mandating therapy, but I want you to consider the suggestion.”

Veronica opened her mouth to protest but Dr. Swaldoe cut her off, “if you don’t want to talk to a therapist, that’s fine, but I want you to try and talk to someone. Pick someone you trust and tell them everything, just let it all out. Do you have someone in mind who you can trust?”

“Yeah,” Veronica responded immediately. She did know one person she could always count on and it had been a while since they last spoke.

“I still think you should also talk to Logan and your dad, but again that is your choice. I do think it will help though.” Dr. Swaldoe stood up and pushed the rolling stool back under the counter, “can I let Logan back in or do you need a few minutes alone?”

Veronica wiped her face one more time and threw away the tissues before settling herself back on the exam table, “you can let him in, I’m ready.”

Dr. Swaldoe opened the door and motioned Logan back in, “thank you for waiting. Let’s take a look at your little girl shall we?” She pulled the portable ultrasound machine closer and slid her hands into a pair of gloves. “Okay, Veronica, slide those pants down for me and we’ll start with some measurements.”

She rolled the waist of her black leggings down and lifted her gray shirt-dress up to her breasts, exposing her stomach so the doctor could run all her routine assessments.

Logan was standing next to her so he could see the screen when it was time to see their daughter. He reached out and held Veronica’s hand, breathing a sigh of relief when she didn’t pull away but instead held his hand back.

She lightly squeezed his hand while Dr. Swaldoe squirted the cold gel on her stomach; it was an apology for snapping at him earlier in the waiting room. She knew he was worried, but it was just her natural reaction to be defensive.

He leaned down and pressed his lips to her temple as the sound of their daughter’s heartbeat filled the room.

A few seconds later they saw her on the small screen, she was growing so fast, already vastly different than the last time they saw her a few weeks before in the hospital. Her facial features were more prominent, still blurry on the black and white image, but she was in the perfect position to get a good profile view.

Dr. Swaldoe moved the probe around trying to look at other views of the little fetus, “since you’re twenty-two weeks along, she should, if not already, then very soon, be able to hear you. She’ll be able to hear your heart beat, the blood pumping through your body and both of your voices.”

Logan and Veronica stared at the frozen screen a little while longer while Dr. Swaldoe cleaned the gel off Veronica’s belly and printed them a few updated pictures.

Veronica pulled her pants back up and fixed her shirt before slipping a blue jean jacket on and climbing down off the table.

Before Dr. Swaldoe left the room she turned back to Veronica, “schedule your next appointment four weeks from now and think about what we talked about today. Enjoy the rest of your day, both of you.”

They stopped at the front desk on the way out to schedule another appointment and then made their way out to the car. Logan turned to Veronica once they were buckled, “do you mind if we make a stop before we go home?”

She shook her head no that she didn’t mind; “unless you’re taking me through a drive thru we are going to have to make two stops. I’m hungry.”

He laughed as he pulled out of the parking lot, “when are you not?”


 

After running through the drive thru to grab a midafternoon snack, Logan pulled into a parking spot in front of a large building.

Veronica looked out the window and turned back to face Logan with a smile, “baby shopping?”

“Yeah,” he said with a matching smile. “Is that okay? We don’t have to do it today if you’re too tired and would rather just go home.”

“No, this is good, we haven’t gotten anything yet.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and grabbed her bag before climbing out of the car.

Entering the store they both paused just inside the automatic doors looking at all the baby stuff at their disposal. It was overwhelming and daunting, they didn’t even know babies required so many material objects. Where were they going to put it all?

Logan grabbed a cart and waited for Veronica to tell him where they were going, but she seemed just as lost as he was. “Maybe we should just get the basics, you know, clothes and diapers to start. We can come back for furniture and equipment later once we find a house we like.”

She nodded her head in agreement and they made their way to the back of the store where the clothes were. On the way they stocked up on several bundles of diapers in various sizes for when the baby grew.

Once they made it to the clothing section they each took a rack and began perusing through the newborn and zero-to-three months options.

“What about this one?” Logan held up a three-piece set containing two onesies, one was white with long sleeves that said happy and loved across the front and one that was dark grey and had an elephant on the front. The matching pair of pants that came with the set was a lighter shade of grey than the onesie and had a matching elephant on the butt. “It will go well with the stuffed elephant she already has.”

Veronica looked up to see the outfit Logan was holding and her heart melted. Not only was the tiny outfit adorable, but he had also managed to find something that held meaning to them, reminding her of perfect dates, steps toward forgiveness, budding friendships and now family. “I love it.”

They spent the next half hour looking at all the clothes the store had to offer in the small sizes for a brand new baby. As Veronica looked through their cart at all the outfits they saved there seemed to be a theme. Most of the onesies had zoo animals on them - lions, polar bears, penguins, turtles, giraffes and even more elephants. It was going to make deciding on a nursery theme very easy.

Veronica took a seat in a nearby rocking chair that was on display and watched Logan as he continued to shop. After a few more minutes he joined back up with her, sitting in a chair next to her and showing her some hats, blankets and books he found.

She shifted in her chair for what must have been the twentieth time since she sat down and Logan must have noticed because his smile dropped when he looked up at her. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean?” She asked confused.

“I mean what’s wrong. You haven’t been able to sit still all day. You were constantly moving back at the doctor’s office too.”

She moved again, arching her posture and kneading the lower part of her back with her knuckles, “my back is killing me.”

He gave her a worried look to go along with his frown, “why didn’t you say anything to Dr. Swaldoe?”

“There’s nothing she can do about it, it’s just another wonderful side effect of pregnancy.” Veronica moved again trying to find a more comfortable position, but wasn’t having any luck. “This kid is pulling my spine all out of whack.”

“Okay, that’s enough shopping for today; I’m taking you home so you can rest.” Logan stood up and held out his hands for Veronica to grab onto so he could help her out of the rocking chair.

They pushed their full cart to the front of the store to pay for their purchases before loading up the Range Rover and heading home for a quiet night in. Keith was out of town tracking down a bail jumper for the weekend and Logan knew exactly how he wanted to spend the remainder of his evening alone with Veronica.


Later that night after dinner they were back in Veronica’s room relaxing. The full bags from the baby store were sitting in a pile over by her desk and one of the new ultrasound photos already sat, updated, in the frame on her bedside table. The second copy of the ultrasound photo they had was tacked to the front of the refrigerator with all the others so Keith could see it when he got home on Sunday.

Veronica sat in between Logan’s legs on her bed in just her bra and underwear while he just wore his boxers. His knees were bent at a forty-five degree angle so that the bottom of his feet laid flat against the mattress. Her legs were crisscrossed in front of her Indian style while her arms wrapped around his legs, his knees tucked into the crook of her elbows, to help keep her back straight.

His hands framed her waist as his thumbs moved in slow circles over her lower back. Adding a slight pressure to create enough friction to massage the sore muscles under her skin. Every few minutes he moved his hands a little higher making sure to relax her entire back and eventually her whole body.

As Veronica sat there enjoying the feel of Logan’s hands on her aching body her mind began to wander back to what her and Dr. Swaldoe had talked about earlier. Of course the one thing Dr. Swaldoe had suggested may help was the one thing that Veronica found most difficult to do – opening up to someone.

She wasn’t even an open book to those she loved and trusted, how was she going to open up and share every sordid detail of her past with a complete stranger? The fear she felt about opening up and the fear of the past destroying her kept her at an impasse, she didn’t know what to do. She just needed a little guidance from someone she trusted.

Veronica opened and closed her mouth a few times before she found the courage to let the words spill out in a barely there whisper. “Do you think I should see a therapist?”

Logan’s hands paused for a second, almost surprised at her question, before continuing the circular motion on her back from a moment ago. “Do you want to see a therapist?”

She sat silently for a moment thinking, “no, not really.”

“Then I think you shouldn’t.”

“What?” To say she was shocked would have been an understatement. She had expected to fight with him over this; she thought he wanted her to talk that was all he and her dad kept trying to get her to do all week. Talk about what happened on Monday, talk about the past, talk about the cabin, open up and just talk, talk, talk.

“For therapy to work you have to want to be there and make an effort. You’ve already ruled out wanting to talk to a therapist, so going would be a lost cause. It would just be a battle every week of you sitting there determined not to say a word. I think you should talk to someone though, even if it’s not a professional.”

“Someone like you?”

“You can always talk to me.” He moved his hands further up her back until they were slightly under her shoulder blades. “But I meant someone you can open up to without a filter.”

“I don’t—“ she tried to protest but Logan cut her off.

“You do filter. It’s the reason why you haven’t told your dad about Shelly’s. You want to protect us from the dark, cruel, sinister, sickening part of the world, but you don’t have to. We’re big boys who can handle it and we love you no matter what, that’s never going to change.”

Her shoulders shook slightly as several tears ran down her cheeks. “I can’t tell him about Shelly’s, it would break him. He would be so mad and never look at me the same way again and I just…I can’t tell him. It’s better if he doesn’t know.”

Logan placed both of his hands on her shoulders and pulled her back to lean against his chest. “But is it better for you? Keeping those secrets inside, look what it’s doing to you.”

“I know, but he’s my dad, Logan. What if the same thing happened to our daughter, would you want her to tell you?”

“Absolutely. It would hurt like hell to hear that someone violated my little girl and I’d be angry with myself that I wasn’t there to protect her, but I would want her to come to me when she needs me. I don’t want her to be afraid to tell us anything when we can help make it better. I think your dad will feel the same way, Veronica.”

“I just don’t think I can shatter his world like that.”

He pulled her closer to his body and kissed the top of her head, “just think about it, okay? You don’t have to tell him right now, let’s just start with baby steps and get you talking to someone first, okay?”

“Okay.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep shaky breath.

They stayed like that, wrapped up in each other, for quite some time until Veronica’s breathing had returned to a steady rhythm.

So much for making her relaxed, Logan thought. And just like that a new idea had struck him. “I know just what we need right now.”

“Huh?”

He carefully moved out from under her and went to the dresser to pull one of his tee shirts out and tossed it to her so she could get rid of her bra and get more comfortable for bed. He then went to the shopping bags and dug around until he found what he was looking for.

He walked back over to the bed and pulled back the sheets to get her settled before climbing on the bed next to her. He pulled the comforter up to her waist and then lifted her shirt up enough to expose her belly, but keeping her breasts covered.

“What are you doing?” Veronica questioned with a curious look on her face.

“Dr. Swaldoe said she could hear us talking now, so I thought—“ he lifted the object he pulled out from the shopping bags from behind his back and held it up, “—that I could read her a bedtime story.”

Veronica looked at the book in his hands, Horton Hears a Who, and smiled, her belly doing somersaults at the thought of Logan reading a book to her stomach, their daughter. She reached up her hand to cup his cheek, “you’re a really great dad, you know.”

His smile stretched all the way across his face as he leaned over to kiss her, “I love you.” He sat back up and flipped the book open to the first page and began to read:

On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool,
In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool,
He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…
When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.

 A few pages in as Veronica continued to watch Logan as he read the children’s book out loud, changing his voice for each character, she felt the baby move. It was more than a flutter; it felt stronger and more direct, like a kick.

She grabbed Logan’s hand and placed it on the right side of her belly and waited for the baby to move again. A few seconds later she felt the same movement and looked up at Logan who had stopped reading, “did you feel that?”

“Yeah,” his watery eyes told her how amazed he was.

The baby kicked again and they both smiled, “I think she likes hearing you read to her.”

Logan kept his left hand on Veronica’s stomach as he continued to read to the baby.

...some poor little person who’s shaking with fear
That he’ll blow in the pool! He has no way to steer!
I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all,
A person’s a person, no matter how small.  

So, gently, and using the greatest of care,
The elephant stretched his great trunk through the air,
And he lifted the dust speck and carried it over
And placed it down, safe, on a very soft clover.

A little over half way through the book Veronica had drifted off. Logan pressed his lips to her stomach lightly and whispered, “mommy fell asleep so we have to be quiet, but I’m still here, sweet pea. I’ll read to you until you fall asleep too.”

From sun in the summer. From rain when it’s fall-ish,
I’m going to protect them. No matter how small-ish!

When he finished reading the book he was fairly certain that his daughter was sleeping. He had kept his hand on Veronica’s stomach throughout the rest of the story and she had stopped kicking several minutes ago.

Logan placed the book on the nightstand and got up to turn off the light before sliding back into bed and fixing Veronica’s shirt. He tucked her into his side and then pulled the covers over them before slowly drifting off into a peaceful sleep. 


The following week Veronica found herself wandering around the aisles of the grocery store trying to remember what was on the list that she had left at home on the kitchen counter earlier that morning.

So far she had gathered the basics; bread, eggs, milk, cheese, ice cream - but she was having a hard time recalling the last minute items her dad had added to the list. Pregnancy brain was going to get old real quick.

She rounded the corner of aisle eight to pick up some boxed macaroni and cheese when she heard her name called quietly behind her. She turned around and saw her mother standing there pushing a cart of her own. “I told you to leave me alone,” she threw over her shoulder before continuing to shop and pretending her mother wasn’t there.

Lianne quickly pushed her cart down the same aisle until she caught back up with Veronica. “You’re acting like a child. I’m your mother and I have the right to see you.”

Veronica ignored her mom and picked a few boxes of Kraft off the shelf to place in her cart and moved further down the aisle.

“I want you to be my maid of honor, sweetie,” Lianne threw out desperately trying to get Veronica to stay and talk to her, to use the opportunity to mend some burned bridges. It wasn’t how she planned on asking her daughter to be apart of her wedding, but what other choice did she have anymore.

She stopped and slowly turned around, “I don’t think you get it. I don’t want to be a part of your life. You lost all rights to be my mother when you chose Jake and Duncan over me.” Veronica turned back to her cart and threw one last comment over her shoulder, “I’ll see you at the trial, until then stay away from me.”

Lianne abandoned her cart in the middle of the aisle and took several fast steps to catch up to her daughter, grabbing her arm to stop her from leaving and forcing her to listen. “You don’t have a choice Veronica. You’re going to be a part of this family or there will be consequences. I’ve had enough of your unforgiving and selfish attitude.”

Veronica ripped her arm out of her mother’s grasp, “no, we’re done. You’re nothing more than the woman who gave birth to me from now on.”

“It only takes a few anonymous phone calls to child protective services to revoke parental custody over a small child,” Lianne threatened as she stepped in front of Veronica and looked down at her stomach.

“Move. Now.” Veronica snarled with a barely controlled temper. Her hands were curled into fists by her side as she pushed past Lianne, leaving her cart in the aisle and headed toward the exit.

When she made it back to her car she screamed and banged her fists against the steering wheel a few times until her frustration had faded and left her with nothing but pure hatred and anger toward her mother.

She’d had enough. This all had to stop.

Veronica pulled out of the grocery store parking lot with a new resolve and drove away from the apartment toward the sheriff’s department. It was time to pay some old friends a visit.

She walked into the open bullpen that used to be a second home to her and saw Sacks behind the front desk. She nodded her head toward a closed wooden door, “Vinnie, here?”

Sacks nodded and waved his hand, “yeah, go on back.”

“Thanks.” She headed toward the office in the back and knocked once before opening the door and moving inside.

“Ms. Mars, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Vinnie said as he smiled at her as she took a seat in front of his desk.

“I want to file a restraining order against my mother, Lianne Mars and I need it done today.”

“No go, sorry, she’s your mom the judge will laugh and throw that request right into the trash.”

“This isn’t a case of helicopter parenting, she’s showing up unwanted and threatening me to back down from testifying against Duncan Kane. I want a restraining order to keep her away while you gather evidence to convict her of intimidating a witness.”

“Threatening you how?”

Veronica leaned back against the chair and placed a protective hand over her belly, “she threatened to make anonymous calls to CPS to make sure I lost custody of my kid if I don’t join the family and drop my testimony against Duncan.”

Vinnie squinted his eyes as he thought it over, “okay. I’ll use this position of limited power to do your bidding, V Mars. The judge and I go way back to dollar night at the Seventh Veil, he owes me a few favors for introducing him to his first two wives, but getting the order still might take a few days. ”

“That’s fine, just get it done, maximum distance if possible and no contact. I don’t want her anywhere near me.”

Vinnie nodded that he would try and do what he could. Veronica didn’t get up to leave so he sat back in his chair and narrowed his eyes, “was there something else?”

“I just wanted to say thank you for not investigating while I was missing. Turning evidence over to my dad and Logan was smart, you probably kept us both out of prison.”

The following days after Veronica was found her dad and Logan had expressed how unhelpful the sheriff’s department had been at locating her. They didn’t even try and had given up within a matter of days, but Veronica knew the real reason why Vinnie had slowly removed himself from the case, instead passing it over to Keith.

They were both accomplices in Duncan and Lilly’s escape out of the country and if Vinnie had told anyone that Duncan had probably taken her, their involvement would have been revealed and they both would have been arrested. Vinnie hadn’t given up like her dad and Logan thought, he was protecting both of them and for that she was immensely thankful.

“The FBI granted me full immunity if I testify. Once they find Duncan I’ll have to tell Agent Morris everything though so his lawyers can’t get the case thrown out for omitting evidence.” She looked up at Vinnie with a small smile, “I’ll make sure they don’t charge you, just don’t talk to anyone you shouldn’t in the mean time.”

“I think I know the drill. I’ve kept you out of jail so far haven’t I?” He teased her with a playful smirk.

She stood up and headed for the door, “I think this makes us even on favors now.” Before she stepped over the threshold she turned back with an appreciative smile, “thanks again, Vinnie.”

“See you around, V Mars.”

Chapter Text

Logan was sitting at the kitchen counter in the Mars apartment working on his homework when Keith walked through the door. He was trying to get into the habit of doing his assignments right away so that he had more free time later.

So far that method had been working well for him this semester. Besides the two and a half weeks he skipped while Veronica was missing he hadn’t missed any other classes. He was studying regularly and acing his tests. He liked that he was excelling and he liked that Veronica was proud of him too.

It was a new feeling for him and he didn’t want to mess it up.

Keith set down several grocery bags on the counter and began putting the contents away, most of which were cartons of ice cream. “Where’s that daughter of mine?”

“Napping,” Logan threw out easily as he continued to type away on Veronica’s laptop. He was working on an English essay and only had a few more sentences left. “There, done,” he smiled as he saved his paper and shut down the computer, shoving his things back into his book bag.

Keith poured two glasses of milk and set down a package of cookies for them to snack on. “How long has she been sleeping?”

“A couple hours,” Logan said as he picked up a cookie to dunk in his milk. “I’m supposed to wake her up at six.”

“She’s been taking a lot of naps lately, which is very unlike her. Was everything okay when you went to her prenatal appointment last week?”

“Yeah, she’s fine. The doctor suggested she see a therapist, but we’ve already determined that’s a waste of time. I think she’s using sleep as an emotional coping mechanism for now. It’s not a long term solution, of course, but for now it’s what she needs.”

Keith nodded his head in acceptance and picked up another cookie. It was killing him not knowing the secrets Veronica was keeping, but he knew he had to be patient. If he pushed her she would never open up to him. “And how are you holding up?”

“I’m good.” Logan ran his finger through the condensation gathering on the outside of his glass. “I just need her to be okay.”

“You and me both.” Keith downed the rest of the milk in his cup, “we just have to give her time.”

“Yeah,” Logan said as he finished off his milk as well before collecting the glasses and rinsing them out in the sink. “I guess I’ll go wake her up before everyone gets here. We’ll have to order the pizza soon too.”

Keith nodded his head and clapped Logan on the back before heading down the hall to change out of his business suit and into something more comfortable for a family night in.

Logan slowly pushed Veronica’s door open enough to slip inside and tiptoed over to her bed. She was lying on her left side facing the wall, her chest rising and falling in slow equal intervals. One hand was tucked under her pillow supporting her head while the other was clutching the blanket covering her body to her chest.

She looked so peaceful Logan didn’t want to wake her up. He sat down on the edge of the bed behind her and tucked a stray piece of her hair behind her ear. “Hey, sleepyhead it’s time to get up, it’s after six.”

Veronica turned her head further into the pillow muffling her words, “no, too comfy.” The hand that was clutching the blanket reached back and grabbed Logan’s hand to pull him down, spooning her as she laced their fingers together over her belly. “Ten more minutes?”

He kissed her shoulder and then snuggled against her warm body, pulling her closer, “ten more minutes.”


 

“What up, Mr. Mars!” Dick greeted as he stepped through the apartment door.

“Richard,” Keith replied as he smiled at Logan’s best friend, “come on in.”

Wallace and Mac came through the door behind him carrying a bag of rented videos and snacks.

“Mac, Wallace, it’s good to see you.” Keith said as he took the bags from the kids and placed them on the kitchen counter.

“Where’s V and Logan?” Wallace asked as he looked around the small living room not seeing his best friend.

“Logan was supposed to be waking her up,” Keith responded as he looked back at Veronica’s closed door. “I’ll go check on them. If the delivery guy comes with the pizza the money is on top of the tv.”

Three heads nodded and moved into the living room to make themselves at home on the couch.

Keith walked back to Veronica’s room and quietly tapped on the closed door. He listened for voices, shuffling or movements, but didn’t hear any. Taking a deep breath, he turned the knob and slowly entered the room with his head down hoping he didn’t see anything that was going to scar him for life.

When he finally looked up he fortunately didn’t see much, the lights were off and the room was silent. He carefully stepped over to her nightstand and flipped on the lamp that he knew sat there and gave the room a soft yellow glow.

Logan was wrapped around his daughter tightly as they both slept soundly, comfortable in each other’s arms.

The intimate sight would have made most fathers see red. In fact, had it been a year ago, Keith would have been one of those fathers. Finding one’s teenage daughter in bed with her boyfriend was a recipe for disaster and every protective parent’s nightmare.

However, things had changed. Keith had gotten to really know Logan over the past few months and as much as he joked and threatened he really didn’t have a problem with Logan dating Veronica or him sharing a bed with her.

She was pregnant; the innocent image he desperately tried to hold onto was kind of already shattered anyway.

Looking at his daughter now as she slept in Logan’s embrace did not make him angry, no, it made him feel warm. He knew with certainty as long as Veronica was with Logan she was loved and cared for. Logan would protect her and make her happy. It was all he ever wanted for her.

Keith gently shook Logan’s shoulder as he tried to wake him up without startling him. “Hey, I thought you were going to wake her up not take a forty-five minute nap of your own.”

Logan buried his face into Veronica’s neck trying to escape Keith’s unwanted wake up call, “her fault…too comfy…ten more minutes.”

“Sorry kiddo, but you two have guests waiting. It’s family movie night and we can’t get started without you. Get your butts up and moving,” Keith said as he ripped the blanket off them and walked across the room to turn on the main overhead light.

“Dad!” Veronica protested in a sleep filled grumble.

“You both have five minutes to get out here or else you can watch the rest of us eat all your ice cream.” Keith left the room and rejoined the others in the living room.

“Ugh, why is he being so mean?” Veronica rolled over to face Logan who still had his eyes closed and his arm wrapped around her waist. She moved closer and placed a small kiss on his forehead and his lips turned up at her touch, “I knew you were awake. We have to get up and stop being so anti-social.”

“It’s the ice cream who you are really getting up for, isn’t it?” He said with a smile.

“Damn straight.”

Logan rolled off the bed and held out his hand to help Veronica up. He was still wearing his jeans from earlier so he quickly changed into a pair of sweatpants.

Veronica had on a green tank top that made her look more pregnant than she was and black pajama pants with white polka dots. She looked down at her outfit and shrugged, not at all planning on changing into something more suitable for entertaining. Family night was all about comfort anyway.

“It’s so nice of you to join us,” Dick called from the kitchen as they left the bedroom.

Everyone was standing around the kitchen island with plates in their hands loading up on pizza. Keith had ordered three meat lovers for the boys, a veggie for Mac and a craving acceptable hamburger, bacon and onion for Veronica.

“Pizza just got here and the movie is keyed up and ready to go. We are just waiting on you two so hurry it up,” her father explained as he made his way over to his favorite chair in the living room with his food and a soda, ready to finally kick off family movie night.

“What do you want to drink?” Logan asked as he got down two cups from the cabinet.

“Water, please.” She put two pieces of pizza on each of their plates before going over to the fridge to grab a little something extra. She scooped out a few pickles from a jar and added them to the top of her pizza followed by a healthy drizzle of hot sauce and mustard.

They carried their things over to the living room and sat down. Mac was already seated on the couch closest to the tv, so Veronica took the other end and propped her feet up on Logan’s lap who sat in the middle. Keith was in his chair and Dick and Wallace had claimed the floor.

Veronica picked up her pizza and was about to take a bite, but paused when she noticed everyone was watching her with repulsive expressions. “What?”

“Supafly, please tell me you are not going to eat that.”

“Yeah, I can’t watch you eat that, Bond.”

Dick gagged, “that’s disgusting, you ruined a perfectly good pizza, Ronnie.”

Keith and Logan wisely kept their mouths shut; even if the odd pizza concoction did gross them out they knew better than to make a comment.

“I can’t help it, it’s what the kid wants.” Veronica took a bite of her pizza while everyone was still staring. She held up a hand self consciously trying to block their view, “stop watching me eat, it’s weird, just play the movie.”

There was a mumble of various sorrys thrown out as they all turned their attention to the tv as the South Park movie began to play.

Veronica smiled as she looked around the room. She loved these people – well, four out of the five of them – for always being there for her and remembering her favorite things.

Tonight was supposed to be for all of them since they hadn’t seen each other as often as they’d like, but they made it special for her and she didn’t know what she did to have all of them in her life.

Before she could start blubbering like a baby Logan had distracted her by asking if she wanted more pizza. She nodded her head yes and he got up to fix her another plate.

The rest of the night went by quickly. After the South Park movie had ended they all got up to make ice cream sundaes before sitting back down to watch another movie. Logan had taken the floor next to Dick this time and let Wallace take the couch next to Veronica and Mac.

When the second movie ended it was well after midnight and they all were ready to call it a night.

Wallace pulled Veronica into a hug, “lunch next week?”

“Absolutely, I miss you.” She pulled away from Wallace and moved to hug Mac. “Both of you.”

After everyone left and Keith had gone to bed, Logan and Veronica were left standing alone in the living room after locking up. Veronica turned to Logan with a gleam in her eyes as she smiled at him, “are you tired?”

He returned her smile with one of his own and shook his head as he stepped closer to her and wrapped his arms around her waist, “no. You?”

“Nope.” She snaked her hands up around his neck and played with the short hair that sat at the base of his skull. “Wanna do something fun?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he said in a seductive tone as he bent down and started trailing kisses up her neck. His hands slid under her tank top, pushing the fabric up further as his hands started to head north.

“Whoa,” she pulled back out of his grasp quickly and fixed her shirt, “what are you doing?”

“You said you wanted to do something fun and in order to do that I have to get you out of those clothes. Why? What were you talking about?”

“Background checks,” she said as if that was the most obvious answer. “We have to find a pediatrician.” Veronica grabbed his hand and pulled him down the hall.

Logan groaned internally as he followed her back to her room. He was trying to get into the mind set for a long night of research instead of naked fun, but it just wasn’t happening. “You and I have two very different definitions of the word fun and we’re gonna have to work on fixing yours, bobcat.”


A few days later Logan and Veronica were up and out of the apartment first thing in the morning to meet with a real estate agent who had picked out a handful of houses for them to view.

The first home on the list resided in the 90909, which wasn’t where Veronica pictured them living, but she did agree to give the tour a chance and to keep a semi-open mind.

Stepping out of the car Veronica took a look around. The house was massive and sat right in the middle of the neighborhood. The street was quiet, either because it was a weekday and people were at work or no one talked to each other, it was hard to tell since the houses didn’t sit right on top of each other.

She hoped the inside had some charm because the outside, while nice and modern, was cold and uninviting. The house was off-white stone with dark roofing, concrete walkways and driveway space for a front yard that sat right on the main street.

They made their way inside and greeted the agent waiting for them. “Cory Grisham, nice to meet you.”

“Logan,” he shook Cory’s hand, “and this is Veronica.”

“Are you both familiar with the area?” Cory asked as he led them into the main living space.

“Yeah, we both grew up here,” Veronica responded as she looked around. The house was open and bright. Everything was white and silver, modern to the fullest effect and bare, a minimalist’s dream.

It reminded her a bit of the Kane house after Lilly died, huge open spaces that you’d never know a family lived in, cold.

“Great, well this home currently sits just shy of ten thousand square feet. Six bedrooms, two on the main floor including the master and four on the second floor, ten bathrooms total. Floor to ceiling windows take up eighty-five percent of the back of the house, ensuring that every room has an excellent source of natural light and beautiful California scenery.”

They wandered through the home taking in the entire picture before heading downstairs to the basement.

“This is the second living space and there’s a full kitchen and bar as well as a theatre room. This level is also the access point to the backyard, pool and spa. I’ll leave you both to take a look around and if you have any questions I’ll be upstairs.”

“Thanks, Cory.” Logan waited until the real estate agent was out of the room before he turned to Veronica to see what she thought. “So, what did you like about this house? I think that will be a shorter list.”

“It’s a beautiful house, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just that, it’s a house not a home and it’s not us.”

Logan wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, “I agree. Let’s go tell Cory we’re ready to see the next one.”

They went up to the main level and broke the news to Cory that they were uninterested in the house. They spent a few minutes telling him exactly what they were looking for and he picked the next house on the list accordingly.

Logan and Veronica jumped back into the car and followed Cory a short distance across town to the 90907 area.

Cory keyed them through the gate that surrounded the entrance into the private community, which was something Logan loved and had requested.

Driving down the street, the energy and atmosphere of this neighborhood compared to the last was vastly different. Even with no one home during the day the air was warm and more family oriented.

Pulling into the driveway of the house they were scheduled to look at Veronica was in awe. The large ranch styled home was bright white with black roofing and black trimmed window frames and doors. It wasn’t huge, just a regular sized home with a large green front yard, the perfect place for a kid to run around.

“Wow,” she said as she climbed out of the car. She couldn’t wait to go inside.

Cory met them on the front porch, “As you saw when you came in this is a gated community. Each residential home is given a code and you can choose whom you give it to.” He turned around and unlocked the door so they could begin the tour.

“This property is three bedrooms, four bathrooms and is roughly three thousand square feet. Open concept floor plan and since this is a new home on the market in a new subdivision everything has been updated by the builders.”

They moved into the kitchen and Veronica’s jaw dropped.

“State of the art stainless steel appliances, white cabinets, dark countertops and of course high visibility of the living room and ocean views out the back.”

Cory took them through each bedroom, explaining the unique features and random tidbits along the way until they ended up in the master suite.

Veronica was practically bouncing on her toes; she was in love with this home and based on Logan’s own wide-eyed and smiling expression he was too.

“Now if you’ve liked everything so far, you have to see the best feature of this home,” he waved for them to follow as he walked back down the hallway to the living room.

The floor to ceiling windows along the living room wall had two balcony styled doors that they hadn’t seen during their initial walkthrough. Cory pushed them open and led them outside to the outdoor patio and kitchen.

A decent sized rectangle in ground pool sat several feet away surrounded by beautiful landscaping, but the most amazing part of the outside entertainment space was the ocean front view.

Logan squeezed Veronica’s hand in excitement. He was worried about being too far inland and here this home had everything they wanted and sat right on the water.

“You’re about a hundred yards from the beach and you have your own private access,” Cory pointed past the pool to the end of the yard where a wooden walkway led them straight down to the water. “The beach itself is private as well, so you won’t see any tourists invading your property. It’s pretty quiet up here and the surfing is excellent if that is something you’re interested in.”

“How much is this home going for?” Logan asked with barely controlled professionalism.

“It’s listed at 3.2 million.”

Logan saw Veronica’s eyes go wide and he smiled at Cory before asking him to give them a minute to discuss. “I know what you’re thinking and don’t, okay? Can’t you see us living here, raising our daughter here? This home is perfect.”

“I know, I absolutely love it, but the price is too much. I can’t ask you to spend that much.”

“You’re not asking, I want to buy this home for you. For us. And it’s not too much, I can more than afford this place. Please, Veronica, let me buy us this home for our family.”

She looked into his eyes and saw how much this meant to him. They were taking a big step together and she wasn’t scared. “Okay. Let’s buy a house.”

“Thank you!” He picked her up and kissed her while he spun her in a circle before placing her back on the ground, “thank you.”

Veronica stayed on the back patio and watched the ocean waves while Logan went back inside to track down Cory and settle the payment and paperwork. If everything went according to plan then this view would soon enough belong to them. She finally felt at peace for the first time in a very long time.


 

Later that evening after dinner Veronica grabbed her coat and told Logan she was going out for a little while to clear her head.

With one look he had known what she was hinting at, she was about to make good on her promise and start talking to someone. He didn’t know who she was meeting with and that was okay as long as it helped her heal.

When Veronica got to her destination she pulled into a parking spot and sat in the Range Rover for a few minutes until the last customer had left before getting out and going in.

The bell over the door had announced her entrance and within seconds a light blonde head snapped up from behind the cash register, “oh my, Veronica, sweetheart, is that you?” Ellie moved around the counter and went to envelope Veronica in her arms but hesitated, “is it okay if I give you a hug?”

She nodded her head yes and found herself immediately pulled into the older woman’s embrace. “Thank you so much for the flowers you sent to the hospital, they were beautiful.”

“I’m just so glad you are okay, dear. I was so worried when I heard what happened on the news.” Ellie pulled out of the hug and used her apron to wipe away a few tears from under her eyes. “I wanted to come up and visit you, but I didn’t know if you would want visitors after everything, you know.”

“I wouldn’t have minded if you stopped by, but it was probably good that you didn’t. I wasn’t all that fun to be around – I was a mess and mostly slept until it was time to eat or the doctor came in to check on the baby.”

“And the baby is good?”

Veronica smiled and placed a hand on her round stomach, “yeah, she’s great.”

“She?” Ellie asked excitedly.

“Yeah, we’re having a girl.”

Ellie threw her arms around Veronica again, “oh, congratulations! I’m sure Logan is just over the moon thrilled.”

“He’s very happy. We both are,” Veronica said with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Good, good.” Ellie took off her apron and laid it over the counter, watching Veronica a little more closely. “You look like you have something on your mind. Is everything okay?”

“No, not really, that’s sort of why I’m here,” she said quietly staring down at the floor. “I’ve been told that I need to open up to someone because my emotional stability is hanging on by a thread. I’m not very good at opening up, but I feel comfortable talking to you, I trust you.”

Ellie knew how hard it was for Veronica to share intimate details of her life, they had had a handful of conversations before the kidnapping for her to see Veronica’s barriers firsthand. She felt truly honored that Veronica chose her to open up to and she was going to do everything she could to help.

Logan and Veronica had nestled their way into her heart and she was going to be there for them as if they were her own children.

“Of course you can talk to me.” Ellie grabbed one of Veronica’s hands causing her to look up from the ground, “I’m always here for you.”

“Thank you.”

Ellie went around the shop and locked up, flipping the sign on the door to closed and shutting the blinds to give them some privacy. She went ahead and heated up some tea and cut each of them a piece of cake before making her way over to the table Veronica was sitting at, waiting for her to begin her story wherever she felt was necessary.

Veronica poured herself a cup of tea and took a slow sip to buy her some more time before realizing she would never really be ready and that she just had to start talking. “Do you remember hearing about the murder of Lilly Kane?”

“Yes, that was a few years back, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Veronica said in a soft whisper, “four years exactly from the day I was found in the park, October 3rd.” She looked up at Ellie and wiped away a tear that had fallen down her cheek. “Lilly was my best friend before she was killed. Lilly, her brother Duncan, Logan and I used to be so close, we were all friends and spent most of our waking hours together.”

“The four of you were a family.”

Veronica smiled, “more than you know, but the dynamic changed a little as we got older. We coupled up right before high school, Logan and Lilly and me and Duncan. At the time it made sense, but looking back now it was the catalyst that broke us.”

Ellie pushed her empty plate to the side and picked up her tea blowing on it to cool it down, “what do you mean?”

“Lilly and Logan’s relationship was a mess. They were off and on for nearly two years; there was no real connection outside of a physical one as much as they tried to pretend there was. Lilly was wild and liked to have fun, regardless of her relationship status. Logan is faithful to a fault and will give you his whole heart. Two different romantic styles, but they were both sexually compatible when it came to experience.”

“And what about you and Duncan?” Ellie knew from the news that Duncan Kane was the one responsible for Veronica’s kidnapping, but she didn’t know they had such an extensive history. The Kane’s publicist was working hard to keep most of the information out of the public’s awareness.

Veronica took a small bite of the cake she had barely touched. “We were like characters out of a fairytale. I was very different back then, naïve to the darkness in the world. I wore a lot of pink, I was on pep squad and Duncan was sweet and captain of the soccer team. He was my first kiss and he said he loved me, but a year in he broke up with me without even telling me why. One day he just stopped talking to me.”

Ellie saw the tears gathering in Veronica’s eyes so she didn’t say anything; she just let her go at her own pace.

“A few weeks later Lilly was killed. Duncan became a zombie and Logan and I were all we had left. But then the investigation into Lilly’s death got messy, my dad went after Lilly’s father and I chose to support his decision, which meant the kids at school hated me – Logan included – he was actually the one who gave the order for anyone to torment me.”

Veronica saw Ellie’s hand cover her mouth in shock, “please, don’t let any of this cloud your judgment of Logan. I’ve forgiven him for everything a long time ago and I’m not angry anymore. I promise, he’s not the same revengeful, grief-filled boy.”

“I know, sweetheart, I can see how much he loves you. My reaction was to what you must have gone through all alone, not Logan, dear. I’m sorry.”

“I just don’t want you to see him differently or compare to him to Aaron, because the two of them could not be more different.”

Veronica took a drink to clear to give her a moment to get her thoughts back on track. “After being an outcast for a few months, I wanted to prove to everyone that the teasing and tormenting didn’t bother me so I crashed a party that I would have been invited to if things hadn’t changed. I was trying to get back to the normal from before and I knew better, but I was so miserable, that I took a drink that someone handed me to relax.”

Ellie sat up a little straighter as she remembered something. “The first day you came in here I made you some ginger tea because you were experiencing morning sickness but you hadn’t realized you were pregnant yet, do you remember that? I handed you the cup and you told me you no longer accepted drinks unless you watched them being made. This is why, there was more than just alcohol in that drink you took at the party, wasn’t there?”

“Yeah, it was mixed with GHB,” Veronica said with her head down, feeling ashamed that she had even taken the drink to begin with. “It didn’t take long before I knew something was wrong. Everyone just thought I was drunk, so they kept feeding me shots until I passed out on a lounger by the pool. I woke up the next morning in a guest bedroom, sore, dress torn and my underwear on the ground.”

Ellie reached across the table and grabbed Veronica’s hand as tears fell down both of their cheeks. “It wasn’t your fault, you know?”

“I shouldn’t have taken that drink. I knew better.”

“It doesn’t matter if you knew better or not. It doesn’t make it okay for someone to take advantage of you. No matter what happened that night or in the past leading up to that point, what happened to you is not your fault.”

Veronica nodded her head in understanding and then told Ellie the rest of the details from that night, the pieces she had gathered from her classmates during her investigation into her own rape because Sheriff Lamb had refused to believe or help her.

“I hid in my room for months afterwards, afraid my dad would be able to tell what had happened just by looking at me, but he never noticed, I think he just thought I was still grieving Lilly and needed space. It took me three weeks to work up the courage to hug him because being around anyone, even my dad, made my skin crawl,” she explained with barely controlled sobs. She hated reliving this part of her past, it made her feel weak that after all this time it could still affect her as if it had happened yesterday.

Ellie got up to grab some tissues. Veronica wiped her eyes and excused herself to the bathroom to clean up a bit. She was exhausted and done talking about her past for the night; the rest would have to wait until another time.

She splashed some water on her face trying to get rid of the splotchy red skin covering her cheeks and nose from too much crying. Talking about her rape had made her feel different and able to breathe a little easier, knowing there was someone who knew everything, even more than Logan and Wallace. It was one less secret she had bottled up inside waiting to explode.

By the time she was finished Ellie had already put away their dirty dishes and cleaned the table. She moved over to the older woman and gave her a hug, “thank you for listening.”

“Anytime, sweetheart, you just come on by whenever you need to talk.” Ellie waited until Veronica pulled out of the hug, allowing her to take whatever comfort she needed. “I don’t know what you and Logan have planned for Thanksgiving, but you both are welcome to come by the house. Bring your dad too.”

“I’m sure they would love that.” Veronica slipped on her coat and grabbed her bag, “thanks again, Ellie. Be safe going home.”

“You too, dear.”

Chapter Text

On Sunday afternoon, Veronica was in the kitchen working on dinner while Logan was hanging out with Dick and her dad was at the office. Backup was sitting near her feet as she chopped and sliced vegetables, hoping to get a fallen treat.

The apartment was quiet for the first time in what felt like weeks, the only sounds that could be heard throughout were the various bits and pieces of carrots, corn, green beans, potatoes and beef tips hitting the bottom of a large pot as they slid off the cutting board.

The peace and quiet was soon broken when her phone buzzed on top of the counter and when she picked it up the display showed a restricted number. She only considered letting it go to voicemail for a second before her curiosity got the better of her and she answered it, “hello?”

“Veronica, it’s Agent Morris.”

She let go of the wooden spoon she was using to mix the vegetables together in the pot, letting it clank loudly against the side of the metal. “Did you find Duncan?”

“No, not yet, but we’re getting closer.”

“So this is just an update call then?” Veronica asked slightly irritated. She didn’t understand what was taking the FBI so long to track him down. If she were running this investigation she would have found him weeks ago, but her methods weren’t exactly legal so she had to sit and wait for him to make a mistake.

She just wanted Duncan found so they could charge him and lock him away. She wasn’t going to be able to move past this anxious feeling she carried around constantly if he was walking around free. She needed closure and he needed to be punished.

“Yes, this is an update, but not on Duncan.” There was a pause and Veronica thought the line had dropped until Agent Morris spoke again. “Your mother was arrested yesterday on witness intimidation charges. We’ve got her at our LA facility right now; she made bail and will be released tomorrow. I just have one question – why didn’t you come to me when she first came around?”

“You have more important things to be doing than dealing with my mother.” Veronica stirred the contents of the pot mindlessly, “what evidence did you get on her anyway?”

“Audio recording, courtesy of that slightly more competent than Lamb sheriff of yours. The package was on my desk Friday along with your accompanying police report. I already notified CPS on your behalf and explained the situation, if they get any calls regarding you or Logan they are going to report it to me and I’ll take care of it.”

Veronica breathed a sigh of relief knowing no one could take their baby away from them anymore. “Thank you.”

“You should also know the restraining order you filed was accepted. They were going to give her 100 yards, but I pushed for 300 and the judge agreed. We’ll just have to figure something out when we go to trial, but I’m going to try and keep her away on the days you’re at the courthouse.”

“I don’t want to testify in person in the courtroom,” Veronica replied softly.

“If you’re worried about being in the same room as Duncan—“

“No, I’m just…” She bit down on her bottom lip nervously, “I’m worried about what questions they are going to ask me under oath. There are things about my past with Duncan that I don’t want getting out.”

“You don’t have to answer all their questions, Veronica. If there’s a question you don’t like you can plead the fifth.”

“That just makes it seem like I have something to hide and only hurts the case against Duncan,” she said as she stirred the stew slowly. “This piece of my past doesn’t directly affect either case, Lilly’s or mine, but I could see his team of lawyers spinning it to discredit my character.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but I won’t have a lot of pull in this situation. This case against Duncan is huge, Mars and I don’t want to squash your hopes but there is a chance he could walk. Your testimony carries the most weight and the judge is going to want you to be present. It wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to subpoena you.”

Veronica gripped the counter hard as her breathing ticked up a notch. Her heart was pounding quickly against the walls of her chest. “You think he’ll walk? That he’ll just get slapped with a fine and that’s it, he won’t serve time,” she said nearly shouting with anger.

“There’s always a chance with every case, but luckily for us our evidence is strong. We are doing everything by the book to ensure nothing gets thrown out, but things happen. We’ll go over it with you right before the trial but your biggest job is just to tell the truth, nothing will weaken his arguments more than that. Okay?”

“Okay,” Veronica said as she blew out a deep breath trying to regulate her breathing again. She couldn’t let Duncan get into her head and start freaking her out, that wasn’t who she was. She was tougher than this and needed to focus on the facts instead of the emotions. “Can I ask you one more question?”

“Go ahead.”

“Did you find Lilly yet?”

“Yes, but we aren’t releasing any information until we have Duncan in custody. All I’ll tell you is that she’s safe.” There were a few voices in the background, but Veronica couldn’t make out what they were saying. “I’ve got to head into a meeting, but I’ll keep you updated as soon as we know more. Call me if there are any further problems with your mother. Take care, Mars, I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Bye and thank you again.” Veronica hung up the phone and went back to stirring the pot of food on the stove. She had roughly an hour to decide how much of Agent Morris’ phone call she wanted to share with her dad and Logan. It wasn’t going to be a fun conversation regardless of how much or how little she spilled.


 

Veronica had been relatively quiet that night at dinner, leaving Keith and Logan to carry the majority of the conversation. Both men kept shooting each other worried glances back and forth throughout the meal as they watched Veronica drag her spoon through the stew while staring down at the table, lost in the thoughts running through her head.

“Are you feeling okay, honey?” Keith finally asked, about fifteen minutes into the meal. “Veronica?”

“Huh?” She lifted her head up when she heard her name and saw two pairs of eyes watching her closely with concern.

“I asked you if you were feeling okay. You’ve barely touched your dinner.”

“I’m just not that hungry.” Veronica turned her spoon over above the bowl, letting the contents gathered on top slide off and plop back into the mix of gravy and vegetables. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Keith put his spoon down and pushed his bowl away from him, giving his daughter his undivided attention. His heart rate sped up a little as he tried to prepare himself for whatever secret Veronica was finally going to confide in him about.

He had been waiting for this moment for weeks now and now that he was faced with the opportunity he didn’t know if he was really ready. All he could try and do was remain calm no matter what and offer her whatever support and comfort she needed.

He looked over at Logan as he waited for Veronica to start talking and shared a look with him as if trying to draw from Logan’s strength, but the young man looked as if he had no idea what Veronica was about to say either. That in itself was a little worrisome.

“Agent Morris called earlier today.” Veronica looked up to meet the two men’s faces and locked eyes with her father, “the FBI arrested mom yesterday.”

“Why would the feds arrest your mom?” Logan jumped in quickly before Keith could respond.

Veronica’s eyes shifted back and forth between Logan’s and her father’s, hoping they wouldn’t be mad at her, “because she threatened me,” she looked at Logan, “us, and so I went to Vinnie and filed a report. He took care of the evidence and sent it to the FBI so they could formally charge and arrest her.”

A big tear rolled down Veronica’s cheek as she looked at her father, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t have another choice. I couldn’t let her back me into a corner.”

Keith reached across the table and laid his hand on top of Veronica’s. “I’m not mad at you, kiddo, but I am a little confused on some of the details. You’ve talked to your mom since she showed up on our front porch?”

“Yes,” she nodded her head and wiped away her tears, “I ran into her at the store about two weeks ago and she wasn’t happy that I was pushing her away. She threatened to make anonymous calls to CPS if I didn’t start acting like I was part of the family. Dropping my testimony against Duncan is what she really wants, she asked me to let it go that first night she showed up. She can’t have Jake if he doesn’t have Duncan.”

Logan’s head was spinning and his hands tightened into fists by his side at the thought of losing custody of his daughter before she was even born. He would never let her go without a fight. He looked at Veronica with tears in his eyes that threatened to fall, clearing his throat to get past the lump that had formed, “The baby…”

“Is not going anywhere,” Veronica responded knowing exactly what he was referring to. “Agent Morris took care of it and no one is going to take her away from us, ever.”

A single tear slid down Logan’s face quickly as he nodded his head and took in a few deep breaths to release the tension rising within him.

“She’ll probably only get slapped with a fine for her intimidation charges, which no doubt Jake will pay.” Veronica turned back to her dad, “so I also went ahead and requested that restraining order we talked about. She has to stay at least three hundred yards away at all times.”

“And Vinnie helped you with all this?” Keith asked in shock. “Even after he put in a total of five minutes into the investigation when you were missing?” He threw up his hands before crossing them over his chest while shaking his head, “I don’t believe it, Veronica. He can’t be trusted.”

“He’s actually very trustworthy for the right cause,” she mumbled as her father and Logan both rolled their eyes. “Okay, he has his moments, but he owed me a favor,” she looked at both men before quickly rushing through her next statement, “for keeping him out of prison.”

Veronica stood up and gathered the empty plates around the table taking them to the sink, needing to escape the open mouthed stares pointed in her direction.

“What do you mean you kept him out of prison?” Logan asked as he got up from the table and followed her into the kitchen, standing behind the kitchen island.

“Vinnie is an accomplice, just like I am, in getting Duncan and Lilly out of the country. Why do you think he turned a blind eye to my kidnapping?”

“You’re saying that whole time he knew that Duncan had you and didn’t say a word? He sat on that information for two weeks while Logan and I thought we might never see you again.” Keith shouted in anger, not at Veronica, but more as an emotional release.

“Yes,” Veronica nodded. Her heart broke at seeing the look on both her father and Logan’s face that they truly didn’t think she was coming home. “He couldn’t have said anything or you and everyone else would have wondered where he got that information, how he knew. So he handed you the evidence so you could figure it out and bring me home.”

She let the tears fall down her cheeks as she thought back to those two weeks she spent chained to the metal bed in the wooden cabin in the woods. She never lost hope that they would find her, it was the one thing she could count on, the one thing that got her through all the horrible nights she was forced to endure.

“But I didn’t figure it out,” Keith choked out, finally admitting the truth that had been swirling around in his mind at every dead end they ran into during the investigation. He failed her when she needed him the most. “I didn’t bring you home.”

Veronica walked around the counter and hugged her dad, both arms wrapped around him tight, proving to him that she was okay. “You would have. With more time you would have found me because you never would have stopped looking, dad.”

They stayed like that, holding one another, for a minute before Logan broke through their father-daughter moment. “The feds.”

“What?” Veronica broke free of her father’s embrace and turned to see Logan with a question on his face.

“You said Vinnie knew it was Duncan and when Agent Morris came to hospital she knew it was Duncan too. How did they both figure it out and your dad and I couldn’t?”

“Emotions,” Veronica guessed, “you both were too close to the case and couldn’t make those leaps. With distance you would have seen it too. It’s like Lilly’s case; we were all too close to see the signs that it was Aaron. Only once we distanced ourselves did we put the pieces together.”

Keith nodded his head in agreement and picked up Veronica’s half eaten bowl of stew off the table, which was still warm and placed it in front of her on the counter. “You need to eat, kiddo.”

She looked down at the bowl and scrunched her nose, the meal she worked so hard on earlier that day no longer looked appealing. She pushed it away with little interest, “there’s one more thing I have to tell you.”

“Do I need to take a seat for this revelation?” Keith asked a little wary.

“No,” she shook her head, “it’s good news.” Veronica looked at Logan who had caught on and smiled at her giving her his vote to continue. “Logan and I bought a house last week,” she blurted out.

Keith’s eyes widened, not expecting that particular piece of news. He was gearing up for another emotional secret to be revealed and was caught off guard, making him a little slow to respond. “Congratulations, when’s the big move?”

“Wait, you’re not upset about this?”

“I never expected the two of you to stay here while you raised a baby together.” He smiled at her shocked expression; “Logan’s been sleeping in your bed for the past six weeks, it’s okay for you to move in with him. If you’re looking for my permission, you have it.” Keith looked over at Logan as he continued to speak to Veronica, “I know he’ll take care of you.”

Logan nodded that he intended to keep that promise while Veronica got up and gave her dad another hug as a thank you for being so supportive.

“Now, how about I make some waffles with ice-cream and the two of you can tell me all about this house you bought and when I have to lug all of your belongings across town?”


 

Later that week after giving Keith a tour of their new house, Logan pulled up outside Java the Hut to drop Veronica off for her lunch with Wallace and Mac.

“I need to buy a new car,” Veronica said randomly as she unbuckled her seatbelt. Since her car was totaled when Duke plowed into it, having to borrow from and rely on Logan for rides was becoming an inconvenience.

“I told you that I don’t mind being your chauffeur.” He leaned over and gave her a kiss, “at least that way I know where you are and that you’re safe.”

“But it’s not practical, you won’t always be available to lend me your wheels. I know it’s hard to believe but there will be times when we will need to be in two separate places at the same time and having two cars will allow us to do just that.”

Logan looked into Veronica’s eyes and saw right through her. Her wanting to buy a new car to replace her previous one, while practical, was about more than being an inconvenience. It was about independence. She didn’t like having to lean on people, it was weakness, and for the past few weeks she had stuck to him like glue in her rather fragile state of mind.

However, now she was in the process of healing. Every day she grew stronger in overcoming her inner demons that haunted her. Her nightmares were fewer, father in between and less intense to the point where she probably didn’t even realize she was having them, but he knew because he could feel her next to him each night, tossing uneasily even when she was wrapped in his arms.

He was constantly amazed at how strong she was. She was opening up more to not only him but to her dad, sharing things with them that in the past she would never have confessed. She had told him the night before that she was talking to Ellie about her rape and Duncan and that it was helping.

With all her progress he was still worried. Eventually all this pain and suffering would surface again during Duncan’s trial and he was scared that she would relapse back into the actively traumatized version of herself. It broke his heart to see her like that because he would always feel helpless to protect her against her own mind.

So while he was terrified to let go, just a little, he knew he had to in order to help her get back to the unstoppable force of nature she was before life pushed her down about twenty times too many. “Fine, we will go look at cars this weekend.”

“Thank you.” She leaned in and gave him one more kiss before climbing out of the car.

He rolled down the window and called back to her, “what time do you want me to come pick you up?”

“I’ll just have either Wallace or Mac drop me off.” She smiled and waved to him as she turned to head into the coffee shop.

Mac and Wallace were already seated at a booth in the corner when she walked in so she headed in that direction and plopped down on the bench next to Mac.

Mac smiled and held her hand out on top of the table, palm side up as Wallace slapped a five-dollar bill on it with a sad shake of his head.

Veronica looked between her two friends with one eyebrow raised, “what was that all about?”

“Wallace bet me five bucks that Logan would end up joining us for lunch.”

At Veronica’s confused expression Wallace clarified. “You two have been attached at the hip lately.”

“What? We have not.”

Wallace shot her a look that said he didn’t believe her. “It took you twelve minutes and thirty seven seconds to get out of the car, V.”

Veronica’s mouth dropped open, “you timed me? That is just sad, Wallace.”

“We just haven’t seen much of you these last few weeks.”

“What are you talking about? You saw me a few days ago and you spent six hours with me last week for family movie night.”

“But it’s never just the three of us anymore.”

“I know, I’m sorry.” Veronica said with a sad smile.

“It’s okay, Supafly, we just miss you is all.”

A waitress came by just then breaking the love filled moment by taking their orders. When she had left Veronica turned her attention back to her friends, “what are you doing for Thanksgiving next week? You both can come by for dinner if you want or we could hang out afterward.”

“I can’t. I’m going to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my dad so I can stay here for Christmas.” Wallace responded.

“Mac?”

“Sorry Bond, I won’t be here either. I’m going camping in Yellowstone with my family.”

“Well damn. I guess I‘m spending Thanksgiving with Dick.” Veronica scrunched up her nose as a shiver ran through her.

The waitress returned with their food, coffee and water for Veronica.

“We should sign up for a class together in the spring, that way we will get to spend time together at least two days a week,” Wallace said around a big bite of sandwich. “You know how me and Logan had sociology together last year, like that, but we can just pick an encore class, something fun, like film appreciation or rock climbing.”

“Really, rock climbing?” Veronica asked as she laid a hand on top of her large stomach.

“Oops, sorry V. Maybe aquatic yoga?” Wallace amended.

“I think I’ll pass,” she said as she finished off her food. “I won’t be on campus after spring break anyway. I got permission to make all my spring semester classes hybrid so I’ll be done by the time the baby’s born.”

Mac took a drink of her coffee, “wow. I can’t believe you and Logan are going to be parents to a tiny human in a little over three months.”

“I know,” Veronica smiled.

“It seems like only yesterday Wallace and I caught the two of you half naked in the living room of your apartment trying to hide your pregnancy,” Mac smirked.

“We were fully clothed,” Veronica defended herself.

Wallace rolled his shoulders in disgust at having to relive that memory, “I still can’t get that image out of my head.”

“I don’t know why it bothers you so much. You didn’t seem to have an issue with my lack of clothing when I flashed you on your couch in your living room junior year.” Mac spit her drink across the table and Wallace choked on his, “I seem to remember a small smile on your face.”

“I barely knew you then, but now you’re like my sister and picturing you in those situations is just gross.”

“Well unless you both want a repeat visual you better get used to knocking. Especially now, I have a feeling Logan and I will be wearing even less clothing since we just bought a house together,” Veronica warned them innocently.

“You what!?” Two voices shouted loudly. 

Chapter Text

“You are being ridiculous, I can walk. Put me down,” Veronica said trying to reason with Logan as he carried her bridal style from her room to the couch.

He set her down gently on the couch, propping a pillow up behind her back along the armrest and gathering two more to stack under her legs. “Your feet are swollen.”

“They’re swollen because I’m pregnant, Logan. It’s normal,” she argued as she tried to climb off the couch, but Logan stood in her way.

“They’re swollen because you over did it this week,” he repositioned her to how he had her before she tried to escape and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, “and now you’re going to keep your feet elevated and rest.”

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest and gave Logan a hard look of discontentment. She was extremely stubborn and hated to admit defeat, but in all honesty she did agree with him, she had overdone it this week and her feet were now killing her.

With the week off of school due to the Thanksgiving holiday, they spent the last three days running around like crazy. Going store to store picking out furniture, for both them and the baby, to be delivered to the new house next week.

However, furniture wasn’t the only thing they shopped for, they also looked at paint and decided on more soothing colors like white, light gray and light blue for the living room and kitchen to keep the space open and bright and to draw in from the ocean out back. The bedrooms were a bit bolder, three white walls with one accented navy blue wall for the master and heather gray – like the color of an elephant – for the nursery.

In addition to all the new home accessories they also devoted some of their time for personal necessities like shopping for more maternity clothing, surfing gear, baby items and finally buying Veronica a new car - a black 2007 Ford Edge that was reliable, safe, great for sleuthing and most importantly family friendly.

So yes, after three days of being on her feet all day long her feet were aching and swollen. Logan was right but those words were not going to come out of her mouth any time soon. She wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to say I told you so.

“I can’t sit on the couch all day I have to start working on dinner if you want to eat at a reasonable time tonight.”

“Your dad and I can handle the cooking,” he smiled smugly while getting up to grab her the remote from on top of the TV so she could watch the Macy’s Day Parade. “What would you like for breakfast?”

The thought of food was enough to distract her momentarily from being banished to the couch for the day as her mouth began to water and her stomach growled loudly. “Chocolate chip pancakes,” she decided with a smile on her face, already imagining how amazing they were going to taste.

Logan nodded and walked into the kitchen pulling the pancake mix out of the cabinet along with a mixing bowl and mini chocolate chips. “Bacon?” He called from over his shoulder while casually checking out the contents of the fridge.

“It’s like you don’t know me at all,” she answered never taking her eyes off of the parade that just started on TV. “Oh, can you cut up some strawberries for the pancakes too, please?”

“Sure,” Logan smiled and reached back into the fridge for the berries, “anything else?”

“Whipped cream.”

He stood by the refrigerator for another moment to see if she added anything else to her order.

“Don’t forget the chocolate sauce and maple syrup.”

Logan turned back to the stove and continued mixing up the pancake batter. His stomach was in knots just thinking about the amount of sugar she requested. He reached down into a lower cabinet and pulled out the blender too before pouring the first pancake into the now hot and ready frying pan.

With half of the pancakes cooked Logan took a minute to throw some yogurt, milk, ice and the remaining strawberries into the blender.

“What are you doing?” Veronica yelled over the loud grinding sound coming from the kitchen.

“Making you a smoothie.”

“Why?”

He poured the contents of the blender into two glass cups. “Because you need something to balance out all this chocolate,” he motioned to the stack of pancakes waiting to be served.

Logan finished the pancakes, setting four chocolate chip ones on a plate followed by a serving of whipped cream topped with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a side of bacon smothered in maple syrup. The next two plates just contained two regular pancakes each with a few slices of bacon for him and Keith.

Veronica stood up and moved to sit at the table before Logan could protest. He set down the plate in front of her and she felt like crying at how delicious the meal looked. Instead she said thank you and quickly dug into the fluffy pancakes.

A few minutes later Keith walked through the door with Backup after their walk along the beach and fixed the dog a bowl of food before sitting down at the table next to his daughter.

When Veronica was done with her pancakes she pushed her plate away and sat back letting the food settle in her stomach. “Remember Ellie invited us all over for dessert tonight after dinner so that’s one less thing the two of you have to make today.”

“What time did you tell Richard to come over?” Keith asked as he began to pick up the dirty plates and take them to the sink.

“I told him to be here around five,” Logan said as he motioned for Veronica to go plant her butt back on the couch.

She rolled her eyes but did as he asked after she made a detour to the bathroom to pee.

Once she was done with business in the bathroom she grabbed an extra pillow from her room to support her back and a warm blanket. If she was going to be forced to stay on the couch for most of the day she was at least going to be as comfortable as possible.

Her dad and Logan were already going over the game plan for how they intended to divide and conquer the cooking when she walked back into the living room. Leaving them to their own devices she resettled herself on the couch, making sure her feet were elevated on the throw pillows, since it seemed to help alleviate the soreness.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the apartment door and before her dad could get there to answer it Dick walked in on his own.

“You’re six hours early Dick,” Logan said as he continued to peel potatoes at the kitchen counter.

“I know, but I was bored so I figured I would come kick it with you guys until dinner was ready.”

“You can help us with the turkey. Go wash your hands.”

“Sorry, dude, I don’t cook, but I’d still love to help.” Dick looked around the apartment for something simple he could lend a hand with and smiled when he spotted Veronica. “I’ll just be over here,” he pointed to the couch, “helping Ronnie. It looks like she needs supervision.”

Dick moved over to the couch and stood in front of the TV blocking Veronica’s view, “Geez, Ronnie, you’re taking up the whole couch.” He lifted her feet and removed one of the pillows before squishing himself under her legs and placing them in his lap.

“What the hell are you doing?” Veronica asked him with a look of confusion, irritation and discomfort as she tried to pull her feet off his lap.

“Helping you in your time of need.” He held on to her feet with his left arm anchored over her ankles so she couldn’t remove them. “Relax, I’m not going to tickle your feet or anything.” He turned back to the TV for a few minutes before the giant balloons and floats on screen had lost their excitement. “The game is on, why aren’t we watching that?”

“Because I don’t like football and there’s a South Park movie marathon beginning at noon.”

Dick groaned and threw his head back, “ugh, like you haven’t seen that movie a thousand times you don’t need to watch it a dozen more today. Whatever happened to letting the guest decide what they want to watch?”

Veronica smirked at him; “you’re not a guest until five o’clock. Right now you’re an intruder and intruders don’t get to change the channel, so suck it up, Casablancas,” she said as she poked her big toe into his side.

“Hey, watch it fat feet or I’m going to—“ Dick responded as he removed her toes from where they were digging into his flesh.

“You’re going to what? Huh?” Veronica goaded him with her chin jutted out and her eyes lit with glee. It had been such a long time since she got to dish out some payback on someone.

“Children, please remember this is a family holiday. Let’s try and keep the violence and threats to a minimum,” Keith called out from the kitchen fixing a stare on both Veronica and Dick to behave before turning back to the green bean casserole he was working on.

Logan smirked at both of them over Keith’s shoulder trying not to laugh. Warmth spread throughout his body at how comfortable being in this apartment surrounded by these people felt even when they were playfully bickering. This was the type of family he always pictured having one day.

Veronica and Dick resumed their positions and turned back to the TV quietly, where the South Park movie had just started.

Dick looked down at Veronica’s feet and noticed the blanket no longer covered her toes after their friendly battle knocked it off a moment ago. He moved to cover her back up and paused, “Logan is one lucky dude.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your toes. They’re totally normal. Do you know how hard it is to find a hot girl without freaky toes?” He told her with complete seriousness.

“Can’t say that I do, Dick,” Veronica responded with an uninterested tone. When he didn’t say anything else she looked over at him and saw him focused on her feet still and she softened her voice so she didn’t come across as uncaring. “Maybe you should adjust your viewpoint. Judge a girl based on her personality instead of her anatomy that she has no control over.”

Dick gave what she said a real thought, “so what you’re saying is that I should give my ex-wife another chance?”

“You’re married! When? How? To who?” Veronica fired off rapidly as her mouth hung open in surprise.

“Ex, Ronnie. I said she was my ex-wife, meaning no longer.” He used his finger to push her jaw up to close her mouth, “and like you’re one to talk, all I did was get married. You got knocked up by a guy you weren’t even dating.”

“It doesn’t matter, Logan and I have known each other for eight years and we’ve dated in the past. You married this girl after, what, a few days?”

“A few weeks actually,” Dick said defending his case. “So, do you think I should ask her out and try again?”

Veronica scoffed, “God, no.”

“But you just told me to give her personality another chance.”

“The fact that she married you so quickly and without hesitation tells me her personality is clearly lacking common sense and good judgment.”

“What if she’s the love of my life?”

Veronica placed a hand on Dick’s arm, “I think if she were you wouldn’t have divorced her over the way her toes looked,” she said trying to hold back a laugh at how ridiculous the whole situation was.

He rolled his eyes in an exaggerated manner, “oh come on, I don’t believe that. You love Logan, right? He’s the one or whatever?”

She looked over at Logan in the kitchen mashing potatoes, pretending he was completely focused on his task, but she could tell he was listening to her conversation with Dick. “Yes.”

“And you’re telling me you find every physical part of him attractive. There’s not one thing on his body that turns you off?”

Veronica bit her bottom lip as she looked at Logan again. He was looking her straight in the eye now with a fire blazing level of intensity waiting for her answer. Her cheeks felt warm and a blush covered her face, “no, I like all of him head to toe.”

Logan put down the potato masher and made his way over to the couch, resting a knee on the edge as he hovered over her with a smirk and hungry eyes, “even my ears, Sugarpuss?”

She smiled as a memory from when they were twelve washed over her, “there’s nothing wrong with your ears.” Her fingers lightly traced the outer shell of his ears as her voice grew softer, “I still think they’re cute.”

He gently placed his lips on hers and kissed her slowly. A few moments later he moved down over her stomach and placed his hands on the outside of her bump, dropping a little kiss over her shirt. “Did you hear that sweet pea, your mommy thinks I’m cute.”

Dick gagged from his spot still under Veronica’s feet, “you two are gross. I’m out.” He slid out from the couch and moved into the kitchen to take Logan’s spot as sous chef.


 

It was a little after six o’clock when Dick and Keith had finished bringing all of the food to the table. The plates and silverware were set, beverages were poured, Backup had been let out and fed – there were only two things still missing and they were Logan and Veronica.

Dick and Keith looked over at the couch where the couple was sleeping while the South Park movie played in the background on its third loop now.

Logan was crammed into the back of the couch on his side with his head on Veronica’s chest and his arm draped around her, palm and fingers splayed open on her flank. Veronica’s head was leaning against the top of Logan’s and her arm closest to the backside of the couch rested on his back while her other hand laid on top of her belly.

“You’re pretty cool, Mr. Mars. Not many dads would be okay with that,” Dick motioned to his best friend and Veronica wrapped around each other.

“I wasn’t always this easy going about their sleeping situation. It took time to adjust, but I’d rather see them like this than the alternative.”

Dick didn’t understand what Keith had meant and it must have showed on his face because he went on to explain.

“If Logan’s not there she wakes up screaming and terrified, like the day you saw her have the PTSD flashback on campus. Seeing her that scared is ten times worse than seeing her sharing a bed with her boyfriend.” Keith walked into the living room and nudged Veronica’s shoulder, “hey kiddo, dinner’s ready, it’s time to get up.”

“Okay,” she said with a groggy voice as she stretched and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She turned her head to the side and kissed Logan’s forehead before she climbed off the couch and headed to the bathroom to wash up and pee again.

Logan slowly made his way to the table and sat down across from Dick. He was feeling more tired now after taking a nap than he had been before.

“How was your nap, princess? I had to finish all the cooking you abandoned.” Dick teased him with a pathetic shake of his head.

“And now you’ve learned a new skill to impress the ladies with. You’re welcome.”

Keith took a seat next to Dick and joined in on the conversation as they waited for Veronica.

The rather small table for four was covered in food. A medium sized turkey sat in the middle surround by mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, green bean casserole, salad, stuffing, cranberry jelly and rolls.

As soon as Veronica sat down they dug in and started loading up their plates.

“Thank you for cooking, all of you, everything looks delicious,” Veronica addressed the three men at the table.

“Are we going to do that thing where we go around the table and say something each of us is thankful for?” Dick asked.

“No,” came a collective response from the other three.

Conversation moved swiftly throughout dinner from surfing to how they planned on decorating the new house to the baby and somehow they ended up on the Padres season that had finished a few weeks earlier.

Having had enough sports talk Veronica stood up and started collecting the dishes she could carry to the sink.

Before she could pick up too many Logan put a hand on her arm to stop her, “I’ll get them, just leave them here.”

“You three cooked all day, at least let me do the dishes. I haven’t helped at all.”

“You’ve helped plenty by growing that little girl of ours.” Logan stood up and took the dishes from her hands.

“We’ll get the plates and box up the leftovers, why don’t you go sit down, honey,” Keith said as he stood up to help with clearing the table as well.

Veronica stood with her hands on her hips and her eyes narrowed, “I am so tired of you two telling me to rest. I took it easy earlier today because you asked me to and now I want to help. I am capable of doing more than carrying this baby and I’ll let you know if I need a break, got it?”

“And that’s my cue to leave,” Dick announced as he headed toward the door. “Thanks for dinner, dudes.”

Logan and Keith shared a look behind Veronica’s back as she moved to the sink and flipped on the water. They were both guilty of babying her over these last few weeks and this sudden outburst or mood swing, whatever they wanted to call it, was a sort of wake up call that they needed to give her more space again.

She didn’t need them hovering over her to make sure she was okay, it was a good thing, another step in the healing process that had started to show more frequently now, but it was still hard to let her stand on her own again when they had gotten so used to holding her together.

They tag teamed the clean up work, putting the leftovers into different Tupperware containers and then passing Veronica the dirty dishes to rinse off. Giving her something to work on seemed to do trick and by the time the dishes were washed and put away she was in a much better mood as if her rant earlier had never happened.

Logan followed Veronica into her room and sat on the edge of the bed while she changed her shirt into one that wasn’t covered in wet water spots.

When she was done he pulled her in between his legs and brushed her hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you earlier I am just trying to make things easier for you.”

“I know.” Her gaze softened as she looked into his eyes, “I’m sorry too, for snapping at you. I know you and my dad are worried about me and I appreciate everything you both have done, but it scares me to be so dependent on you like I have lately because that’s not who I am. I’m not this weak and helpless girl I’ve turned into.”

He used his thumb to casually wipe a few tears that slipped down her cheeks. “You are far from weak or helpless, Veronica. What you went through, what you’re going through is a lot to deal with and there will be easy days, where nothing will bother you and then there will be hard days, where you’ll need a little help just making it through the day. Having and accepting help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re strong because even when you’re not feeling your best you’re not giving up.”

He pulled her closer to his body and wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace. “How about from now on you just let me know whether you’re having an easy or a hard day and I promise to work on letting you be your badass independent self again.”

“Okay,” she nodded her head where it was tucked into the crook of his neck and tightened her grip around him. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he smiled as he held her tight and kissed the side of her head. “Let’s finish getting ready so we can go to Ellie’s and eat our weight in pie.”

Chapter Text

The following week on an evening after school, Ellie and Veronica were walking slowly along the beach, for a change of scenery, as they talked.

The late November air was crisp and considerably chilly after the sun’s rays had disappeared taking the heat along with it as it dipped below the horizon.

After their last few talks Ellie felt comfortable enough with the history Veronica had provided her about Duncan and her past to ask more thought provoking questions. Questions that would indubitably push Veronica past her comfort zone and make her come out from behind the wall she constructed around these painful memories.

Ellie watched the young blonde gazing at the rhythmic waves lapping against the shore and spoke softly, “after you found out that Duncan was one of the boys who raped you at Shelly’s party, you confronted him and accused him of rape, but he denied it, he claimed it was consensual because you were both there. If you thought so strongly that it was rape at first, why did you believe him when he explained that night from his point of view? What were you feeling in that moment?”

“This sounds a lot like therapy, Ellie.”

Veronica’s stalling and diversion attempts did not amuse the older woman and it showed. Ellie knew she could get Veronica to open up once she got her talking; it just took a small, albeit forceful, push to get the blonde started.

“Fine.” Veronica pulled Logan’s jacket that she had borrowed from him tighter around her body, over her heavy sweater, as the breeze from the ocean blew lightly and sent a shiver up her spine. “I felt…relief, just a little, but enough to override the feeling in my gut.”

Veronica took a few steps closer to the ocean and let the icy cold water graze the tips of her bare toes, “what he said made it so easy for me to convince myself that I just irresponsibly slept with my ex instead of walking around thinking I was raped. I told myself that lie every day and desperately clung to it for another year until Cassidy confessed and shattered the carefully constructed state of denial I was living in.”

Ellie stood back a few paces on the dry sand, bundled up in a warm coat watching Veronica carefully, “I know how this is going to sound and trust me I’m not judging you, dear, I’m just trying to understand, but how were you able to stomach getting back together with Duncan during your senior year knowing in your gut what he had done to you?”

Veronica turned her head over her shoulder and gave the older woman a small smile to let her know her inquiry did not offend her at all. “The lie I told myself helped, but truthfully…us getting back together really had nothing to do with Duncan other than the fact that he was convenient and familiar.”

“Then why did you get back together?” Ellie asked surprised by Veronica’s answer.

“Because I was mad at Logan, hurt even.” She replied softly as she turned around to face Ellie and motioned that they should keep walking. “He was being reckless going up against the PCHers and I had had enough, so I ended it.”

“You were scared.”

“Yeah,” she paused her train of thought for a second as the baby started to kick, placing a hand over her stomach on the right side and rubbing small circles to try and calm the movements. “Logan brings every emotion out of me. When I’m scared for him I cut him out of my life because letting him go is less painful than watching someone else rip him away from me.”

“And so you dated Duncan because he was the easier option, the safer pick?” Ellie asked slightly confused. After everything she had learned she couldn’t see how Duncan would be a better partner, but she was also heavily biased after getting to know Logan.

“At the time, yes,” Veronica nodded. “I wasn’t emotionally invested in my relationship with Duncan the second time around. Things were different, I was different and we didn’t fit together anymore. We stayed together because we both thought we could fix the past.”

Veronica followed Ellie to a wooden bench facing the water and they both took a seat to rest their feet. “Duncan wanted a second chance with the Veronica I was before Lilly died except that Veronica doesn’t exist anymore and he didn’t get why, he never understood the Veronica I am now.”

“And what did you want to fix about the past?” Ellie asked quietly, already having a feeling what Veronica most wanted to change but also wanting the young blonde to admit it for herself.

Veronica fiddled with her fingers for a moment before she responded, “control. I wanted to replace what was taken from me the night of Shelly’s party. I initiated our physical relationship the second time around from our first kiss to the first time we slept together.” Her face scrunched up and she shook her head slightly, “sex with Duncan was…not good, at all…but I had a say – I was in control of my body, I was willing.”

Ellie pulled her coat tighter and shoved her hands into her pockets as the wind picked up a little, no longer having the movement of walking to keep her body warm. “Are you still having nightmares?”

“Yeah,” she nodded her head as she turned to stare back at the ocean again. Talking about her nightmares always made her feel weak because she had no control over them. “Not every night though and I don’t wake up screaming anymore. If Logan’s there with me I will usually just fall asleep again without waking him up. If I’m alone, like during a nap, I can’t go back to sleep.”

“What are your nightmares about?”

Veronica let out a shaky breath, “Duncan mostly. Occasionally Aaron and Cassidy will make a brief appearance, but it’s mostly Duncan from when he had me at the cabin.”

Ellie watched as Veronica’s chest rose and fell with increasing frequency, trying hard to rein her emotions in, but slowly losing the battle.

The dark memories racing through Veronica’s head right now were the ones that had been causing her the most inner turmoil. They were the ones she tried to lock in a box deep within her mind, but were too massive, too wild and too uncontrollable to tame. They didn’t like being ignored and they sought attention by constantly reminding the host they were still around.

Nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and negative thoughts and feelings were just some of their favorite attention seeking behaviors. They were also fed by fear, which was one of Veronica’s biggest problems; she was constantly scared but wouldn’t talk about it.

So Ellie decided to push Veronica to open up one more time, to try and break through that final wall. “What haunts you the most, sweetheart? What are you afraid of?”

“Remembering,” Veronica responded barely above a whisper. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her body, holding herself and shaking slightly as the tears she tried so hard to hold back fell down her cheeks.

She didn’t speak for several minutes, but when she did her voice was soft and broken. “I have no memory of being raped. I’ve pieced together what happened before and I know what it was like waking up the morning after, but the actual rape itself is not a memory I have.” Veronica wiped the palm of her hand across her cheeks, but the tears didn’t let up. “I used to want all the details of what happened that night at Shelly’s, but now I’m glad some of those holes in my memory are still missing.”

Ellie sat quietly, a few tears of her own falling as she let Veronica talk at her own pace.

Veronica placed a hand over the top of her stomach and let the baby’s kicks ground her and prevent her from completely slipping into the dark spaces of her head. “I spent twelve nights in that cabin chained to the bed with handcuffs, forced to sleep beside Duncan.”

Her bottom lip and chin quivered as she tried to speak causing her voice to come out unsteady. “I remember every single minute of those twelve nights. The weight of Duncan’s arm draped over me, the smell of his cologne surrounding me, the heat of his body pressed against mine, the feel of his hands and fingers on my breasts, his shallow breaths and lips caressing the side of my neck, his erection pressed into my backside and the taste of bile in the back of my throat as I tried not to throw up everything in my stomach. I remember it all.”

Ellie didn’t even try to hide her tears that were falling fast alongside Veronica’s. She put her arm behind the young mom-to-be on top of the bench backing and placed a gentle hand on her back, rubbing softly, trying to provide comfort without being overbearing in case Veronica didn’t want to be touched at the moment.

Veronica turned and leaned into Ellie, letting the older woman hold her and soothe her like a mother was supposed to. “I don’t want to remember anymore,” she cried into Ellie’s shoulder until her tear ducts ran dry.

Both of them sat on the bench and watched the waves crash into the earth for several minutes letting the heavy air from their talk drift away with the wind.

“It’s getting late, I should let you get home to your husband,” Veronica said as she wiped her cheeks one last time.

Ellie stood up and held out her hand to help Veronica off the bench before they started making their way back to the parking lot. “Do you want me to follow you home?”

“No, I’ll be okay.”

“Are you sure?” Ellie asked unconvinced.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Veronica nodded her head and pulled Ellie into a hug, “thank you. For everything.”

Ellie smiled as she held Veronica a little tighter, trying not to cry again. “You are so strong, sweetheart, never forget that. And I’m so proud of you too. You’ve come a long way since I first met you and I know you are going to be just fine, but I’m always here if you need me.” She pulled away from Veronica and gave her arm a light squeeze, “be careful going home and tell Logan I said hello.”


 

Veronica pulled into the garage of their new house and parked before going inside. The house was basically empty since the furniture wasn’t set to be delivered until tomorrow, all they had was a California king sized mattress on the floor of the master bedroom and a few packed boxes they brought over from the apartment.

She wandered down the hall that led to the master and found Logan sitting on the mattress with his back against the wall reading a book for his English class. She leaned against the doorframe with her hand rubbing her stomach and watched him until he noticed her.

“Hey,” he said with a smile once he saw her. He noticed her eyes were slightly red and puffy, a sure indication that she had been crying during her talk with Ellie tonight. He put his book down on the floor and moved across the room to her, “are you okay?”

“I’m having a hard night,” she said quietly.

He nodded his head in understanding at their agreed upon code and led her over to the mattress, setting her messenger bag on the floor and pulling off her shoes. He slowly stripped her out of her clothes and helped her change into one of his tee shirts before getting her settled into a comfortable position.

Logan climbed onto the bed next to her and she grabbed his hand and placed it on her belly over the tiny movements, “she’s been kicking me for hours, all evening.”

He smirked and scooted down until his head was level with her abdomen and inched her shirt up exposing her skin and placing a kiss above her belly button. “Are you being rambunctious, sweet pea?”

Veronica ran her hand through his hair as he continued to tease their daughter. “She gets that from her daddy, the inability to sit still.”

Logan looked up at her and winked before turning his attention back to the baby, “I love that you are happy and having fun, but I think mommy could use a break. What do you think little fish? Should I read you a bedtime story and then we can all go to sleep?”

The baby continued to kick against his hands and Veronica shifted a little trying to dislodge the baby’s tiny feet from her ribs.

“I’m glad you think so because I bought you a new book today that I think you’re really going to like,” he said as he kissed Veronica’s belly one more time before getting up to grab the book from a shopping bag. “It’s called ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day.”

Logan resettled himself on the bed and Veronica snuggled into his side as he began to read.

 ‘Twas the day before Zoo Day, when all ‘round the park,
the creatures felt restless and wished it were dark.
Zookeepers all scurried to get things prepared.
Flamingos stood antsy on one leg and stared.

While out in the dirt, naughty elephants rolled,
not listening at all to what they’d been told.
They frolicked in the mud to cool down from the sun.
Their trunks became sprinklers and soaked everyone.

With a flick of a hose and a soft, sturdy broom,
the elephants were bathed and looked shiny and groomed.
They knew they were ready for tomorrow’s zoo day,
when the children would come to point, watch and play.

When he was finished reading Veronica looked up at him with a smile, “she is definitely a daddy’s girl.”

“What can I say, it’s a gift, I have a way with the ladies,” Logan teased her as he placed his palm on her belly to feel for the baby, “hopefully she will sleep for a while so you can get some rest too.”

“Do you think I should be worried that she listens to you better than she does me already?” Veronica asked him playfully.

“Very,” he said quietly and kissed the side of her head, “she’s going to be a handful.”

“You know we are going to be those parents who have a standing weekly appointment in the principal’s office.”

“Then I guess you’ll just have to teach her how not to get caught.”

Veronica extended her neck and kissed Logan, pulling his arm around her as she rolled onto her left side. He pulled her closer until there was no space in between them and within minutes they were both asleep.


The next day Logan was directing the furniture movers around the house about where to place each item while Veronica unpacked the kitchen.  

The guest bedroom was easy to setup. The room faced the front of the house overlooking the front yard and was furnished with a queen-sized bed, a four-drawer dresser and a desk. It wasn’t going to see much use for the time being since everyone they knew already lived in Neptune, so they kept it simple.

On the opposite side of the Jack and Jill bathroom, connected to the guest bedroom, was the nursery. The room sat on the front corner of the house which brought in twice as much light from two large windows, one facing the front of the home and the other on the side with a view of the ocean from the window seat.

Logan paid extra for the crib to be put together and on the wall furthest from the front window, on the same wall as the door, sat a white baby crib with white and gray striped sheets that stood out in contrast to the grey walls. A white dresser with a changing table on top was adjacent to the crib. A rocking chair sat in the corner between the two windows. A small child sized bookshelf was embedded into the bottom of the window seat and baby zoo animal printed pictures decorated the walls.

The stuffed animal elephant Logan bought for the baby all those months ago sat in the corner of the crib waiting for their little girl to be born and brought home.

Down that same hallway resided the laundry room, a hall bathroom for guests and the master bedroom, which sat directly across from the nursery.

Coming into their bedroom the mattress they had slept on the night before now sat on a white bedframe, topped with navy blue sheets and a bright white comforter, roughly eight feet inside the room and faced the back of the house giving them a beautiful ocean view right from bed twenty-four hours a day.

On the left side of the room housed a large six-drawer dresser and a comfortable reclining chair for reading, relaxing or napping. On the right was the entrance to the large master bathroom and walk in closet big enough for two.

Back out in the main part of the house, the living room, which was the last to be furnished and almost complete, was one of Logan’s favorite rooms. The large floor to ceiling windows taking up nearly the entire back wall flooded the room with light, making the already open space seem so much bigger.

While he and Veronica wanted to rip the blended gray carpet up and put hardwood throughout the house, they decided to wait since they had a baby on the way and thought it would be safer and more comfortable to keep the carpet. So the carpet stayed and the idea to upgrade would be put on the back burner for now.

In the center of the living room a plush L shaped cream-colored couch, covered in pillows in various shades of blue, faced the wall parallel to the ocean in front of a large seventy-five inch flat screen television.

A matching ottoman was placed in front of the couch and light colored wooden end tables were added to each end of the couch. Plenty of space was left in front of and around the living room furniture for their daughter to run, play and clutter with toys one day.

It was a room meant for family, a space for them to grow, to start their own traditions in and to love one another. It was the true heart of their home.

After the movers were finished unloading all the furniture Logan tipped them a hefty amount and walked them out, thanking them for all their help.

He then went in search of Veronica and found her in the nursery putting away all the baby clothes and onesies they had bought several weeks ago. He watched her for a minute before entering the room and standing behind her at the dresser as she folded tiny pairs of pants and wrapped his arms around her, “wanna take a break and eat some dinner?”

“We’re either going to have to order take out or go somewhere because we haven’t done any grocery shopping yet.”

He spun her around when she finished putting away the last outfit and pulled her close with his hands on her hips, “let’s order in, I’m exhausted,” he said as he kissed her forehead. “We can eat, watch a movie and call it an early night.”

“Add in a foot massage and you’ve got yourself a date, mister,” Veronica responded with a smile and stood on her toes to kiss him before walking out of the room to call in their food, “Chinese, okay?”

“It’s perfect,” he whispered with a smile on his face as he flicked off the light to the nursery and followed her down the hall.


 

On Thursday afternoon Logan and Veronica made their way across town after class for another prenatal appointment. They were running late due to one of Logan’s classes that got held up by the professor not keeping an eye on the clock.

When they arrived Veronica checked in and before they could take a seat in the waiting room they were called back to begin their appointment.

After the routine tests of weight, vitals, blood and urine were taken; a nurse led them to an exam room to wait for Dr. Swaldoe. Veronica climbed up on the exam table and leaned back to get comfortable while closing her eyes hoping to catch a quick power nap.

Five minutes into her nap there was a quick knock on the door before Dr. Swaldoe entered, greeted them both and took a seat on a rolling chair next to the exam table. “How are you feeling, Veronica?”

“Good. A little tired from time to time, but that’s nothing new,” she said with a smile.

“You’re getting plenty of rest and drinking enough water?”

“Yes,” Veronica nodded.

“That’s great.” Dr. Swaldoe noticed Veronica’s mood was much improved compared to their last visit and noted it in her chart. “And how are you doing with what we discussed during your last visit?” She kept it vague since Logan was still in the room, not knowing whether Veronica told him her suggestion about therapy or not.

“We decided that seeing a therapist wasn’t the right move for me, but I did still take your advice and I am talking to someone,” Veronica looked up at Dr. Swaldoe and smiled, “it’s helping.”

“I think it shows, you seem better, more in control,” Dr. Swaldoe commented and again charted Veronica’s progress in her chart, happy with the results so far. “Are there any other questions or concerns you have before we check on the baby?”

“I have one,” Logan jumped in at the same time that Veronica said no. “Her feet were swollen last week. We were doing a lot of shopping before we moved and I think she over did it so I had her stay off her feet on Thanksgiving, but I just wanted to be sure it was nothing serious.”

“Let’s take a look.”

Veronica glared at Logan while he helped her get her socks and boots off, but all he did was smile innocently back at her, which only made her glare harder.

“There’s just some trace edema, nothing I’m overly concerned about at the moment. You will see some swelling throughout your pregnancy, it’s natural, but if you start experiencing pain that doesn’t go away with rest or the swelling comes on suddenly then I would call the office. Right now though, I’m not worried.”

Logan slid Veronica’s socks and shoes back on while she lifted her shirt and rolled down the top of her pants so Dr. Swaldoe could get to her belly for measurements and the ultrasound.

With nothing but good news and a few updated pictures in hand, Veronica and Logan made their way to the front of the office to make another appointment for three weeks out so they could get in before the holidays.

As they were walking back to the car Veronica’s cell phone started to ring and she dug it out of her bag before it went to voicemail, “hello?”

She listened to the other person on the end of the line continue to speak as she climbed into the front passenger seat of Logan’s Range Rover.

He couldn’t hear the other person talking through the phone and Veronica was just listening so he didn’t know what was going on, but her face got paler and paler by the minute and he was beginning to get worried.

“Thank you. Bye,” she responded quietly, feeling a little numb after she ended the call.

“Are you okay?” Logan asked her gently.

“I don’t know.”

He touched her arm to bring her attention back to him, pulling her gaze away from staring out the windshield. “Who was on the phone?”

“Agent Morris,” her heart was pounding so hard in her chest she could barely hear her own voice, “they found Duncan.”

Chapter Text

“Veronica!” Logan yelled as he turned on the bedside lamp, “come on, bobcat, wake up.” Her body thrashing next to him as she screamed out for help in her sleep had woken him up.

He wanted to hold her arms down to keep her from moving around, but he feared it would make her feel restrained, so he set one hand gently on top of her stomach, trying to ground her to this reality and pull her out of the nightmare she was stuck in.

“Wake up, Veronica!”

Her eyes opened quickly, but she was still trapped inside her mind. A moment later he saw the shift in her focus, like a switched had been flipped and she was back, the haunting images faded and she locked onto his gaze, shaking and uneasy.

Her composure crumbled within seconds and her hands came up to cover her face as full body sobs shook her tiny frame.

Logan laid down beside her and drew her into his chest, surrounding her in his arms as he ran his hands up and down her back. He could feel her tears landing on his bare skin and pulled her closer, her small hands gripping his biceps tightly.

They didn’t have to talk about it; he knew her nightmare was about Duncan and that it was triggered by Agent Morris’ phone call. This is what he had been worried about, the stress of the upcoming trial, now that Duncan had been found, undoing all the progress she had made since the kidnapping.

She needed more time to heal, but sadly they were out of time until the judge’s final verdict was read. In the meantime all he could do was be her glue and hold her together.

He held her for fifteen minutes not saying a word until her breathing had slowed and her tears had dried. An occasional sniffle here and there was the only remaining evidence that their night had taken a turn for the worst.

She finally loosened her grip on his arms and used her free hand to trace her tear tracks that had dried and stained his chest. “I’m sorry I woke you up,” she spoke softly.

“Don’t be,” he said as he ducked his chin down to place a slow kiss to her forehead, “it’s not your fault.”

“I don’t think I can go back to sleep,” Veronica confessed quietly. “Every time I close my eyes I’m right back there with…” she trailed off not wanting to bring him into their bed.

“It’s okay, we can stay up for a little bit longer.”

Veronica rolled off his chest and back on to her own pillow. She scrunched up her nose as she pulled her tee shirt away from her sweat-drenched skin, repulsed by the sensation of the fabric clinging to her body. “I’m gonna take a quick shower.”

“Want some company?” he asked with a salacious smirk.

“Rain check?” She climbed out of bed, “I just want to get in and get out.”

“Who knew you were such a romantic?” he said sarcastically as he raised his hands behind his head, flexing his arms and chest in the process. “Fine, in and out. I’ll be here waiting for you when you’re done.”

She winked at him and walked into the bathroom, closing and locking the door behind her as she went.

When she returned five minutes later, keeping her promise of a quick shower, Logan was in fact not waiting for her. She stood in the bathroom doorway in a white towel looking at an empty bed.

After changing into a fresh tee shirt and a pair of underwear she slipped back in bed and pulled the soft comforter up around her waist as she rested her back against the headboard waiting for Logan to return from wherever he had disappeared to.

A few minutes later he came walking slowly back into their room carrying a small tray with a plate of cookies and two steaming mugs balanced on top.

He carefully climbed up on the bed doing his best not to spill and set the wooden tray in the space between them before handing her one of the mugs – sweet, milk hot chocolate with a handful of mini marshmallows, a spoonful of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

“Thank you,” she said with a smile as she brought the mug up to her nose, inhaling the chocolaty goodness within as the mug encased in her hands warmed her all the way down to her core.

“You’re welcome.” He took one of the cookies off the plate and popped it into his mouth.

They stayed up for the next two hours talking and reminiscing about their twelve year old selves, the adventures they went on together, the pranks they pulled, the overall simplicity of life that comes from being a kid, where the toughest decision was deciding whose house they were going to play at that day.

With the hot chocolate and cookies long finished the sugar rush was starting to wear off. Midway into a very thorough explanation of the new surfboard Logan was interested in - which was actually for their daughter, but he didn’t tell her that - he noticed Veronica’s eyelids beginning to grow heavy and close, her head slowly drooped and then sprang back up as she tried to fight the pull of sleep.

Taking pity on her he moved the tray containing the empty plate and mugs off the bed and slid her away from the headboard so that she was lying comfortably and covered her with the warm blankets.

“I’m not tired, I’m just resting my eyes. I promise I’m listening,” Veronica mumbled as her eyes opened briefly for half a second before slowly fluttering closed making her protest unconvincing.

“Shh,” Logan smiled, tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear and pressed his lips to the tip of her nose, giving her a tiny kiss, “get some sleep, bobcat. I’ll tell you all about the new board again tomorrow.”

“M’kay,” she replied softly and snuggled closer to him, holding onto his arm and lacing her fingers with his. Her lips reached out and kissed his biceps, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” He reached over with his free arm and turned off the bedside lamp, surrounding them in darkness and drifted off to sleep to the sound of her soft snores filling the room.


On the drive up to LA the next morning to meet with Agent Morris, Keith and Logan were making plans to go see one of Wallace’s basketball games while Veronica sat quietly in the backseat staring out the window.

She was a ball of anxiety worrying about the trial. If things didn’t work in their favor she had a lot to lose; her sense of safety and security, which also extended to those she loved whom Duncan could use as leverage over her, the inability to move on from this nightmare and the fear of not being taken seriously when it came time to lay out the details of her sexual assault.

They didn’t have a lot of physical evidence; it was mostly going to be her word against Duncan’s and that made her incredibly nervous.

When they arrived at the FBI building Agent Morris was waiting for them in the lobby and led them to an interrogation room as a formality. “My partner and I are going to start by taking your official statement, Veronica. First, about how you helped Duncan and Lilly out of Neptune—“ she saw a hesitant look cross Veronica’s face, “just relax, it’s okay, you have immunity, remember? You won’t be in trouble as long as you tell the truth.“

Veronica nodded that she understood but the tension didn’t leave her body.

Agent Morris knew from countless interviews, even with skilled professionals as she categorized Veronica, that retelling memories was straining, both physically and emotionally. “Then we will have to go over what happened with your kidnapping again for the record. I’m sorry, I know I’m asking a lot from you today.”

“It’s okay, I just want to get this over with.” She wrapped her arms across her chest appearing small before they even got started. “Can they stay?” she motioned with her eyes to her dad and Logan who were standing right next to her.

“I’m afraid not, but I can put them behind the two-way mirror if you’re comfortable with that or else they will have to wait in the conference room until we’re finished.”

“They can watch.”

Agent Morris nodded and motioned for Veronica to take a seat and get comfortable. “Gentlemen, if you’ll follow me.” She led them out of the interrogation room, closing the door behind her to give Veronica a few minutes alone, and turned the corner to a small hallway that put them in a small room on the other side of the two-way mirror.

Once Keith and Logan were inside she closed the door and stood in front of them in an authoritative stance with both her hands resting on her belt buckle demanding their attention. “Technically, neither of you should be in here, but given the circumstances and Ms. Mars’ condition, I’m willing to make an exception. I’d rather have you both nearby in case we need you. That being said - do not yell, pound on the glass or press the intercom button – if I can hear you from the next room I’ll have you both removed from the building and you’ll wait in the car. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” both men responded easily, knowing how important Veronica’s testimony was to the case.

“Good. We’ll get started in a few minutes. There’s a coffee machine at the end of the hall, help yourselves to whatever you need.” With that she left the two men alone in the small room and headed back to grab her partner so they could begin.

Logan and Keith stood close to the glass, each with their arms crossed in front of them, as they watched Veronica sit alone, nervously fidgeting with her hands, in the interrogation room.

She turned her head toward the mirror, as if she could actually see them, and gave them a small smile before Agent Morris and her partner, Agent Wills, entered the room.

“Do you think she’ll be okay?” Keith asked Logan without taking his eyes off his daughter.

That’s a loaded question. He didn’t know if Keith was talking about today or into the future, either way his answer was the same. “I don’t know,” Logan looked at Keith sadly, “I honestly don’t know.”


 

About two and a half hours later, after Veronica had finished giving her testimony, Agent Morris led the small blonde to a conference room where Logan and Keith were waiting with a few sandwiches and a couple bags of chips, provided kindly by the FBI, for lunch.

Keith pulled her into a hug as soon as she entered the room, “you did great, kiddo.”

She hadn’t shed one tear during the, loosely implied, interrogation. Her body remained somewhat stiff and clinical, emotionally removed from the story as she told it once more with a blank expression. She stuck with the facts as they happened, providing thorough and graphic detail without feeling so she could make it through their questioning in one piece.

After lunch Agent Morris sat down with them to give them the run down of what to expect at the trial while Agent Wills got to work typing up the notes from Veronica’s testimony to hand over to the defense.

“As I told you over the phone, we arrested Duncan Kane two days ago. He was charged with battery and assault, child abandonment, two counts of kidnapping and sexual assault – all of which he entered a plea of not guilty,” Agent Morris rolled her eyes with that final remark. “He’s a flight risk so he will remain in custody until the trial without bail.”

“How strong are these charges?” Logan asked as he squeezed Veronica’s hand in support under the table.

“The battery and assault charge has a higher likelihood of being dropped. Since Duncan wasn’t the one to punch Veronica and with her being unconscious there’s no way to prove whether it was Duncan or Duke who injected her with a sedative.” Agent Morris responded honestly, “we feel confident with the remaining charges, but it is still ultimately up to a judge or jury.”

Veronica turned her gaze down to her lap and chewed on her bottom lip, “when does the trial start?”

“A week from Monday, nine days.”

Veronica wasn’t shocked by the near trial date, Duncan had been wanted for nearly two years; the FBI was ready to officially close this case. “What about Duke, did you arrest him too or did he disappear?”

“Mr. Green pled guilty to assault and battery for the staged car accident and the hit that knocked you out. I haven’t heard if he was charged for anything else at this time. It’s possible he could be holding on to information to throw Mr. Kane under the bus to lessen his sentencing.”

“And Lilly?” Veronica asked quietly.

“She’s safe and her Great Aunt Chris has been taking care of her. She’s been awarded temporary custody for the time being and I expect she will be granted full custody following the trial. I can’t disclose their location at this time.”

Veronica nodded with a small smile. As long as Lilly was safe and cared for that was all that mattered.

“There is one more item we need to discuss before you all leave here today.” Agent Morris paused unsure of how to proceed and clasped her hands together before laying them flat on the tabletop. “Duncan has requested a meeting with you Veronica. He was highly advised against—“

“No,” Veronica interrupted shaking her head back and forth quickly as she gripped the table with all her strength turning her knuckles white. “Tell him no. I don’t want to hear anything he has to say let alone be in the same room as him.”

“That’s fine, it’s entirely your choice. I’ll pass along the message to his lawyers.”

“Is that all?” Logan asked with controlled anger. Upset that Duncan even had the audacity to request time alone with Veronica after what he had done to her. Most likely wanting to try and convince her that it was all a misunderstanding and to drop the charges.

“Yes, that’s all.” Agent Morris stood up and pushed in her chair and walked the three of them down to the lobby. “If you have any questions,” her gaze was directed at Veronica, “please, don’t hesitate to call me. If not I will see you all on Monday, December 10th, 9am at the courthouse.”

They thanked Agent Morris for her time and climbed into Logan’s Range Rover to begin their trip back home to Neptune. The car ride seemed to go by rather quickly since they were all lost in thought, processing all the information they had received today.


 

A few days later on Wednesday, Veronica was sitting on the couch in the living room studying for finals, coming up the following week, with her textbooks and notes taking over her lap and the ottoman.

Logan was staying late on campus to work on a group project that counted as one of his final exams, leaving her alone with some much needed peace and quiet to actually get some work done.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the door that interrupted her focus. She threw her head back with a frustrated groan and moved her textbook off her lap so she could get up and get the door.

Veronica threw open the door with a hard glare, “Dick.”

“Hey, Ronnie,” he smiled and walked past her into the house without waiting for an invitation.

“Logan’s not here.” She closed the door and stood in the entryway with her arms crossed over her chest.

“I know. I ran into him on campus.”

“Then what are you doing here?” She lowered herself back onto the couch.

He cleared her stuff off the couch and took a seat next to her invading her personal space. “I’m bored,” he huffed out like a little kid on summer break with nothing to do.

Veronica rolled her eyes at his pathetic tone, “maybe you should be studying.”

“It’s not called cramming for finals if you start the week before.” He stayed quiet for a few minutes until his boredom won out again. “Let’s do something. You need a break and I need to go to the store.”

“What store?”

“It’s a surprise, Ronnie, now get your ass up. We leave in five.” He pulled her off the couch and pushed her toward the hallway where the bedrooms were located so she could change out of her pajamas.

Twenty minutes later Dick pulled into a large parking lot and shut off the car.

“The mall, Dick? I hate the mall.”

“Come on grumpy-pants, if you make it thirty minutes without complaining I’ll buy you a pretzel from the food court.” He didn’t wait for her before he climbed out of the car and started walking across the parking lot.

“It better be a big pretzel,” Veronica mumbled as she slammed the door to the car and followed Dick inside.

They walked around for a little bit looking at all the festive holiday displays in the windows until Dick led her into a Spencer’s and walked to the back of the store where they kept their naughty items.

Veronica’s eyes widened in horror when he stopped in front of a section housing various forms of sex toys and sexy getups for both men and women. “Dick!” she yelled quietly, but with force through clenched teeth.

“Yeah I see, get whatever one you want Ronnie,” he threw over his shoulder casually without turning to look at her as he continued to search for what he came for.

She looked down at her watch and debated whether it was worth it to give up the free pretzel he was going to buy for her in twelve minutes in order to make some smart mouthed comment about where they were currently standing or not.

Her stomach won out, “I’ll wait for you out front, Dick.”

Veronica was waiting on a bench in front of the store when Dick came out with a bag in his hand ten minutes later. “Wanna see what I bought?”

“Absolutely not. That is not a mental image I need.” She stood up and rubbed her belly, “let’s go. I’m starving and you owe me a pretzel.”

True to his word and because she was a good sport Dick bought her two pretzels.

They walked slowly through the mall, as Veronica ate, no longer in a hurry to leave now that her stomach was satisfied and her mood was lifted. Stopping in front of another display window Dick noticed a sad expression cross Veronica’s face and nudged her with his elbow, “what is it?”

“What is what?”

“This is the fourth Christmas tree display you’ve stopped at, obviously something is bothering you about it.”

“It’s nothing.” Dick raised an eyebrow communicating that he didn’t believe her. “I love Christmas time, my dad and I always put up tons of decorations, but with everything going on lately and the move…Logan and I don’t even have a tree. It will be our first Christmas together in our first house and we don’t even have a Christmas tree.”

“Then let’s get one.”

“What?”

“You heard me. I’ve got the truck, whatever size tree you pick will fit and we’ll have plenty of room for any other decorations you might want.” Before she could refuse Dick grabbed her hand and pulled her into one of the larger department stores so she could get everything she needed to turn the house into her own personal winter wonderland.


 

Later that evening, Logan, Dick and Veronica were hanging ornaments on the new eight-foot artificial pre-lit Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the living room.

Christmas music played softly in the background as they moved around the room.

Veronica had gone all out with the Christmas decorations wanting the house to feel warm and festive, special. There was green garland with white lights hanging over the mantle of the fireplace under the large flat screen television and around the tops of larger pieces of furniture. Decorative signs that read let it snow, ho ho ho, and Merry Christmas were placed around the house accordingly.

Three customized red stockings hung above the fireplace. One for Logan, one for Veronica and one that Dick snuck in with his own name, which Veronica let him keep up.

When the beads were strung and the ornaments were hung Logan placed the tree topper, a simple star, on top of the tree. He couldn’t lift Veronica up safely nor did he want her climbing a ladder, so without a fight she let him do the honors.

They turned off the main lights, just letting the ones on the tree along with the ones wrapped around the various pieces of garland spread throughout be their only source of light.

Dick popped a bowl of popcorn and the three of them settled themselves on the couch to watch The Santa Clause like a family.

Veronica cuddled up next to Logan on one end of the couch with a blanket and Dick took the other side.

By the end of the movie all three of them were sound asleep. Veronica was stretched out in between the two boys, her head in Logan’s lap and her feet resting in Dick’s.

Chapter Text

Part III

The sun was high in the sky, not a cloud in sight. The universe clearly didn’t get the memo that today was meant to match the ominous feeling in the air with dark clouds and torrential rain.

Veronica closed the door on the Range Rover, sunglasses fixed firmly in the center of her face to ward off the annoyingly bright rays from the sun and also to hide the dark circles under her eyes she couldn’t completely hide with makeup.

She smoothed down her loose-fitted black maternity dress that stopped at the knees and paired it with a dark blazer and low two-inch heels to spruce up her look while still being comfortable. She walked painstakingly slow across the Neptune courthouse parking lot next to Logan, who she appreciated whole-heartedly for not once checking his watch or ushering her along to move faster.

The elderly couple with matching walkers who made it across the parking lot and into the stone government building before them was a testament to how much neither of them wanted to be here today, the first day of Duncan’s trial.

After getting through the security checks to get inside the courthouse Veronica and Logan stood outside of the assigned courtroom for the trial and watched several people they didn’t know trickle in.

“I’m going to use the bathroom,” Veronica announced suddenly, using any excuse she could find to delay their entrance inside.

“Okay,” Logan squeezed her hand gently before releasing her; “I’ll be right outside the door if you need me.”

She nodded her head and made her way into the restroom. The baby had been pushing on her bladder more and more each week and although she intended to use the bathroom strictly as a delaying technique she decided to try and pee while she was here too.

Walking up to the counter afterward to wash her hands in the sink she took a long look in the mirror and cringed. She looked tired and her skin was pale and slightly flushed – the outward signs of how she felt on the inside as well – a little queasy and jittery.

Before exiting the restroom she took one deep calming breath to regain her strength and rein her emotions back in, plastering an - everything is fine - look of steel on her face.

Logan was waiting right outside the door, just like he promised, with a bottle of water and a few granola bars, from the vending machine down the hall, in hand for her. “I’m not sure when we’ll get a break so I figured it would be best to stock up on snacks now.”

“Good idea.” She accepted the food from him, stuffing the items into her purse and followed him into a small alcove off the main hallway, going willingly into his open arms, allowing him to provide her with the smallest amount of comfort.

He wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips to her forehead for a few seconds under the disguise of giving her a tender kiss, but his ulterior motive was checking to see if she felt warm since she was looking a little green earlier.

“It’s just nerves and lack of sleep,” Veronica spoke quietly with her eyes still closed as she leaned against Logan’s chest, catching on to what he was doing, “I’m not sick.”

“But you’ll let me know if you start to feel worse?” He leaned back so he could see her face and look into her eyes. “Because I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you don’t look like you feel very good.”

She didn’t take any offense to his words, only reading the concern in his tone. “I’m fine.” Looking into his eyes she could tell he didn’t believe her, but they didn’t have time to argue about how terrible she actually felt. “We should probably go inside and take our seats.”

Entering the nearly full courtroom, Veronica spotted Jake and Celeste immediately off to the left, sitting two rows back from where Duncan would be brought in, on the defense side of the gallery.

Celeste turned her stone cold, disapproving mask of a face in Veronica’s direction and zeroed in on her large rounded stomach. Her gaze then drifted over to Logan, standing slightly to the side of Veronica with a hand on her lower back and smirked distastefully before turning back to the front of the room.

Celeste’s body language exuded elegance, privilege and a great deal of confidence that got to Veronica more than she’d like to admit and angered her even more.

A few rows behind the Kane’s sat Lianne, not surprising since the divorce between Jake and Celeste hadn’t happened yet. Based on her mother’s actions that led to the restraining order, Veronica wasn’t expecting her mother to be on her side, but to see the evidence of Lianne residing on Duncan’s side of the gallery, supporting him, still hurt.

On the prosecution side of the gallery, on the right, Keith was sitting in the second row. As Logan and Veronica approached their seats, Keith stood up to greet them and exchanged hugs.

Veronica maneuvered Logan into the middle sitting next to her dad, leaving her the aisle side since she had to get up to approach the stand later. It was easier not to try and slide past people and she didn’t want to feel surrounded or blocked in – she needed air and the stuffy room was making that hard.

Feeling hot she slipped the blazer off and folded it, laying it on top of her purse on the bench next to her, running her palms around the back of her neck and flapping the neckline of her dress back and forth trying to move some air around.

Logan placed his arm along the top of the bench behind her and leaned in closer so only she could hear him, “you need to relax.”

“I’m trying,” she said with a pout, her voice wavering between anger and on the verge of tears.

“Hey, look at me.” Logan placed his finger under her chin to turn her head towards him. “Focus on me. Close your eyes. Now take a deep breath and let it out slowly.” He watched as she followed his commands. “Good, again.”

After a few more cycles of deep breathing she opened her eyes and seemed more relaxed. Before Logan could give her a pep talk the room fell quiet as the proceedings started.

A bailiff entered with Duncan, who was wearing a gray prison jumpsuit with white canvas shoes and a pair of handcuffs attached at his wrists in front of his body.

Celeste made an audible choking sob noise at seeing her golden child in such demoralizing clothing.

Duncan paid no attention to his crying mother; instead his eyes were locked tight on Veronica across the room, unwavering as he was led to the defense table in front of the gallery.

Veronica’s skin crawled as she looked at Duncan for the first time since the kidnapping. Slowly, she snaked her left hand over her stomach and clenched a handful of Logan’s dress shirt in her fist, very subtly pulling her body closer to his, seeking safety and protection.

Duncan’s gaze didn’t leave Veronica until several minutes later when the sound of the judge saying his name during the opening introduction brought his attention back to the present.

After both sides gave brief opening statements, Veronica was called to the stand to make her testimony. She stood up slowly, keeping her eyes focused straight ahead of her and felt Logan reach out and squeeze her hand in support before she left the gallery and made her way to the front of the courtroom.

Once she was sworn to tell the truth she took a seat, clasping her hands together under the curve of her stomach and found Logan and her dad in the first few rows giving them a small smile, more for their benefit than hers.

The prosecuting lawyer, who was sitting next to Agent Morris, stood up and approached the stand to ask Veronica the first set of questions. “Can you tell all of us, in as much detail as possible, the series of events from the time of the accident to what you remember from your last day in the cabin?”

It took Veronica roughly forty-five minutes to an hour to go through all the details. She had to stop several times to collect her emotions – it was much harder telling her intimate story to a room full of strangers, half of which already thought she was a liar before she even took the stand.

Noah Appleton, the lawyer for the prosecution, was very patient and understanding of how difficult it was for people who experienced trauma to open up freely and allowed Veronica the time she needed to speak. He tried to ask his questions as gently as possible, hoping the ease and comfortable nature of his presence would help her to relax, “Veronica, can you describe the conditions inside the cabin? What freedoms and restrictions were you given?”

Veronica cleared her throat before speaking, “I didn’t have much as far as freedom. I was handcuffed to the bed at all times unless I was using the bathroom or on occasion making dinner. If Duncan was there my trips to the bathroom were supervised. Duke let me go on my own.”

“Can you elaborate on what a supervised bathroom trip entailed?”

“Duncan would follow me into the bathroom and lean against the door, locking us both in.” She took a deep breath and focused on a spot on the floor, “he would watch as I showered and changed my clothes.”

“Did Mr. Kane ever touch you in an unwanted or inappropriate way while the two of you were alone in the bathroom?”

“No,” Veronica shook her head as she looked back up, a few tears sliding down her cheeks, “only at night when I was in bed.”

Appleton gave Veronica a moment to collect herself and turned his questioning to a less traumatic topic. “Were you ever given the opportunity to leave the cabin to go outside for fresh air and sunlight?”

“No,” Veronica responded easily, “I was never allowed outside.”

“Following the car accident that led to your kidnapping, were you provided with medical attention for any possible injuries or to check the status of your baby?”

Veronica shook her head once again, “no, Duncan said he cleaned up some of my cuts and scrapes, but I never saw a trained medical professional or received any kind of medical attention.”

“But you did ask to go to a hospital, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

Appleton nodded and gave Veronica a closed mouth smile, a simple and subtle way of relaying that she did great. “Thank you, Ms. Mars. I don’t have any further questions for you at this time.”

Veronica sat back in her chair on the stand as the prosecuting lawyer switched out with Duncan’s defense lawyer. Answering Appleton’s questions was hard emotionally, but overall easy because he was on her side. The defense lawyer wouldn’t ask emotionally difficult questions, but he would try and minimize her experience to try and catch her in an over-exaggeration or lie.

Her stomach clenched tightly and she ran her hand over her bump trying to restrain herself from pulling at her dress collar again or fanning her hand in front of her face. She was hot and feeling worse, but she wasn’t done being questioned and didn’t want to show any signs of weakness that the defense could exploit to their advantage.

She looked over at Logan who was watching her every move closely and looked about ready to pop out of his seat and pull her off the stand. She slowly shook her head and he reluctantly sat back on the bench next to her father.

Sean Burne, Duncan’s defense lawyer, approached the stand and wasted no time jumping straight to his questions in a ploy to throw her off her game from the leisurely pace Appleton had set earlier. “How would you describe your relationship with the young Mr. Kane?”

“There isn’t one,” Veronica responded quickly, jaw set.

“But there used to be, is that correct? You and Duncan were involved in a romantic relationship not once, but twice in the past.”

“Yes.”

Burne smirked slightly, but Veronica caught it. He was already celebrating a victory and his cockiness was bound to bite him in the ass before the end of the day.

“Let’s go back to the car accident. It has already been stated that my client was not the one driving the vehicle that struck you, but you are also claiming that you did not receive any medical attention – did you sustain any injuries from the crash?”

“Cuts on my arms from broken glass, a bump and laceration on my forehead from hitting my head on the window and various bruises all over my body from the impact and tightening of the seatbelt.”

Burne walked closer to the stand, asserting his presumed power over her, “mostly superficial injuries, nothing a band-aid and some ice couldn’t fix?”

Veronica clenched her teeth together, “and your medical degree came from where exactly?”

Keith and Logan knocked fists in the gallery, smiling inappropriately, quite proud that Veronica was putting Burne in his place.

Burne’s cocky smirk was knocked off his face and he took a few steps away from the stand. “Did any harm come to your fetus as a result from the events you described earlier?”

“We won’t know officially until the baby is born.”

“That’s not what I asked you, Ms. Mars. A board certified obstetrician at Neptune Memorial evaluated you once you resurfaced from your missing persons status. I’m asking if your obstetrician identified any problems or harm to your fetus that were contributed by your disappearance?”

“No,” a fire burned in Veronica’s eyes, “she said the baby was fine.”

Burne’s smiled and thanked Veronica for her time, announcing to the room at large that he did not have any further questions for the current witness.

Veronica climbed down from the stand as the judge called a thirty-minute recess for lunch. She avoided Duncan’s hurt look as she made her way over to her father and Logan.

Keith wrapped his arm around her in a comforting side hug as the trio walked out to the lobby, “don’t worry about Burne, his arrogance is a front because he knows they have a weak case.”

“It still doesn’t make me feel any better,” Veronica sighed.

“The hard part is over and you did great. Don’t overthink it, you will just drive yourself crazy.” Logan kissed the side of her head and then stepped outside for a minute to collect a few sub sandwiches from a delivery kid.

During the lunch break they sat on the courthouse steps and Logan watched Veronica with concerned eyes. She didn’t look any better than she had this morning, if anything; she looked worse, although she said she was fine.

She picked and nibbled on her sandwich, barely making a dent before she pushed the food aside and claimed she just wasn’t hungry even though she hadn’t had much of anything all day.

He offered to run out and get her something else to eat or pick her up some ginger tea from Ellie’s shop if she was feeling nauseous, but she declined. Instead she leaned her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes, resting most of her weight against his side.

Keith and Logan exchanged looks but didn’t say a word so as not to disrupt the semi-sleep state Veronica was resting in.

When their thirty-minutes were up they headed back into the courtroom and took the same seats in the second row.

Logan put his arm on the back of the bench again, keeping Veronica close and in his possession as Duncan was called to the stand.

Duncan sat down and focused his eyes on Veronica.

Burne approached his client with a relaxed stance that he hadn’t displayed when questioning Veronica. “Mr. Kane, can you explain to the judge and jury why you brought Ms. Mars to that adorable vacation home in the woods?”

Veronica scoffed at Burne’s use of the word brought instead of kidnapped and vacation home instead of Lucifer’s hell house. It was funny how semantics painted a very different picture.

Duncan smiled lovingly for the crowd in the gallery, “I wanted to surprise her. I thought a nice romantic getaway was exactly what we needed to reconnect – a honeymoon, of sorts, before she moved in with Lilly and me. Lilly, my daughter, needs a mother and Veronica is the only one I want to share a future and raise my daughter with. I love her.”

“So you don’t agree with the accusations Ms. Mars has made against you – sexual assault, kidnapping, along with a few others?”

“No,” Duncan laughed with a smile, his eyes light. “Veronica has accused me of rape in the past and she’s accused both me and Logan, her current boyfriend, of murdering my sister Lilly, but we know that ended up being false. The people who know Veronica know not to take her accusations seriously. It’s always a big misunderstanding.”

Veronica felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision so she was unable to see the mix of disgust and pitying looks from the unknown faces in the room. She couldn’t believe that Duncan had brought up her rape in a room full of strangers and then dismissed it with a laugh.

She looked down at her lap as the tears finally fell, unable to hold them back any longer and realized Logan was holding her hand, she hadn’t even noticed.

Logan pulled her against his body and Keith reached over Logan’s lap and placed his hand on her knee.

That small act from her father - the thought that he might know the one secret she never wanted him to find out about - made her stomach turn. She had to focus all her attention on keeping the bile down as her shoulders shook harder with each silent sob.

Logan tucked her head into his side, granting her a small sliver of privacy from the nosy onlookers nearby and rubbed her back hoping to calm her down. He saw the surprised and completely heart-shattering look on Keith’s face when Duncan threw out the word rape and looked at his former best friend on the stand with pure hatred.

Veronica’s distress and his future role of being a dad kept him in his seat instead of walking up to the stand and pummeling Duncan into the ground repeatedly for hurting the people he loved most, who he considered his only family.

Burne finished asking Duncan his set of questions and handed the floor over to Appleton. “Mr. Kane, did you orchestrate the car accident that Ms. Mars and her unborn child were involved in?”

Duncan shook his head. “No, I did not know Duke was going to bring Veronica to me using such a dangerous method. If I had known I would not have allowed it. I never wanted to hurt her.”

“Did you know Ms. Mars was pregnant when you and Duke kidnapped her?”

“We didn’t kidnap her and no, her pregnancy was a complete surprise to me.”

Appleton started throwing out his questions faster and with a harsher tone. “You say you didn’t want to hurt Ms. Mars, yet you injected her with a sedative before dumping her unconscious body in the park potentially endangering her and her baby.”

“Yes,” Duncan’s sweet and innocent demeanor faded and he shook his head more than a little flustered, “wait, no.”

“Did you or did you not inject Ms. Mars with a sedative?” Appleton pushed.

“I did, but—“

“And did you or did you not understand the possible teratogenic effects that a sedative or any other kind of medication can have on a developing fetus during pregnancy?”

Duncan’s jaw tightened, the muscle in his cheek flexing every few seconds, his eyes turning dark and cold. “Yes, but as you can see it didn’t matter,” he looked at Veronica cuddled in Logan’s arms, face red and tears staining her face, “she’s still pregnant and she shouldn’t be.”

Appleton turned toward the judge, “I have no further questions, your honor.”

The judge raised his gavel and pounded it on his desk a few times to silence the rising noise level in the room. “Bailiff, please escort Mr. Kane back to holding. We will reconvene tomorrow at nine in the morning.”

People filed out of the courtroom quickly. Logan and Keith surrounded Veronica to keep people from harassing her and waited until all the people were gone before making their own exit.

Veronica shoved her purse into Logan’s chest and darted into the nearest bathroom, barely making it to an open stall before she emptied the minimal contents in her stomach.

Logan handed Veronica’s bag off to Keith and carefully checked to see if the bathroom was empty before following her in. Seeing her knelt down on the tile floor bent over the toilet had him moving a little faster to get to her side.

He held her hair up and rubbed her back until there was nothing else left in her system to vomit.

She wiped her mouth on a piece of toilet paper and flushed away the bile before sitting on the floor, her back against the wall of the stall. A few minutes later she spoke, her voice hoarse from throwing up, “he brought up my rape.”

“I know,” Logan responded sadly.

“He tried to kill our daughter,” her voice broke mid sentence, stunned and unable to produce anymore tears today.

“I know.” Logan carefully pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms around her body, pressing his forehead against hers, but immediately pulling back as soon as his skin touched hers. “You’re burning up.”

“I’m fine.”

“Stop saying that, you’re not fine.” He held his hand against her forehead to double check his assessment of her from a minute ago. “You have a fever, Veronica. We’re going home and you are going to bed.”

He helped her off the bathroom floor and over to the sink to wash her hands.

Leaving the bathroom he kept one arm around her waist.

Keith came over to them quickly seeing the worried look on Logan’s face and Veronica’s pale and worn out expression. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Veronica mumbled, “I’m fine.”

Logan rolled his eyes, “she feels warm.”

Keith felt Veronica’s head just like Logan had and nodded that he agreed. “Let’s get you home, kiddo.”

They walked down the hall toward the main entrance.

“You both are overreacting, I’m fi—“ Veronica didn’t get to finish expressing her thought. Her body sagged and fell into Logan, going limp in his arms as he caught her before she hit the ground.

“Veronica!” Logan shouted as he lowered her unresponsive form to the floor, yelling down the hall for someone to call 911 while he and Keith tried to keep their cool.

Chapter Text

“Come on, Veronica.” Keith knelt down on the hard tile next to his unconscious daughter and pressed two fingers against her warm skin along her neck to check her pulse. “Wake up, honey.”

Logan came running down the hall from the bathroom with a handful of cold soaked paper towels leaving a trail of water drops in his wake. He placed a few towels on top of her forehead and wrung the others out over her arms and legs hoping the cool liquid would temporarily lower her body temperature until help arrived.

“Her pulse is fast, but she’s still breathing,” Keith said out loud to remind them to think positively.

“Where are the damn paramedics?” Logan’s eyes were locked on Veronica’s chest watching each breath rise and fall. “The station is a mile down the road, they should be here already.”

“They will be. It’s only been about four minutes since they were notified. They’ll be here soon.”

Another unbearable minute passed in silence before Veronica’s eyes fluttered open slowly and Logan and Keith let out a relieved sigh.

Two paramedics pushing a stretcher stopped at the trio on the ground and quickly unloaded their equipment. A tall blond haired, late twenties looking male bent down next to Veronica and made the introductions. “I’m Sam and this is Mike,” he pointed to his partner, a dark haired male in his thirties, “can you tell us your name?”

“Veronica.”

“Good. Veronica,” Sam smiled sweetly, “Mike is going to take your vitals. In the meantime, can you tell me what happened?”

Her eyes shifted to Logan and he filled the paramedic in. “We were walking out to head home because she felt warm, she was burning up actually and then she passed out. She woke up right before you guys got here.”

The paramedic took some notes on his clipboard, “Veronica, how far along are you?”

“Twenty-eight weeks,” she responded weakly.

“Have you been having any pain in your stomach or noticed any bleeding or spotting?” Sam asked.

Veronica shook her head lightly, “no, nothing.”

Sam finished his note and tucked the clipboard on the rack under the stretcher, lowering it to the ground and parked it next to Veronica. The two paramedics carefully moved her onto the stretcher and strapped her down for safety.

When they got to the ambulance out front, Sam and Mike got Veronica settled first before inviting Logan and Keith to ride along. Sam stayed in the back of the rig while Mike drove.

“Your heart is racing pretty fast so I’m going to hook you up to our heart monitor. It’s just a precaution so we can keep an eye on any changes.” He got to work attaching the five leads to Veronica’s chest and slipped an oxygen mask over her head too.

Veronica immediately tried to take the mask off, “I don’t need this.”

Sam put a comforting hand over hers, blocking her efforts to take off the mask. “That may be true, but the baby does, okay?”

Her focus zeroed in on Sam’s words when he mentioned the baby and she stopped fighting to get the oxygen mask off. The reality of the situation hit her and she turned her head to the side away from Logan and her dad as a few tears slid down her face.

Logan held her hand and used his other free hand to smooth her hair back as he leaned forward and kissed her temple, whispering quietly in her ear. “Stop blaming yourself. None of this is your fault, sometimes these things just happen.”

She nodded her head, but he knew she was doing it to appease him and didn’t actually believe the words he was telling her. He held her hand the rest of the way to the hospital even though she didn’t turn to look at him or her dad over the next fifteen minutes.

When they arrived at the emergency department of Neptune Memorial Sam and Mike carefully pulled the stretcher out of the ambulance and pushed Veronica into a pre-assigned room.

Logan and Keith stood against the wall as they transferred her from the stretcher to a hospital bed and handed the care over to a few nurses and a doctor.

The nurses moved around the room getting another set of vitals from Veronica while hooking her up to a less invasive nasal oxygen cannula, a small finger probe to monitor her heart rate over the clunky paramedic heart box and a fetal heart monitor as well.

Once they were finished the emergency room doctor, Dr. Carter, took over. “Based on your symptoms and the status of your vitals I’d say you are severely dehydrated and exhausted, Veronica. We’ll get a blood and urine sample to confirm, of course, and make sure nothing else is going on, but ultimately what we’re going to do is give you fluids, let you rest and make sure your fever comes down. I saw in your file that you are seeing Dr. Swaldoe for your prenatal care so we will page her and let her know you’re here. She’ll likely want to come see you too.”

“So, they’re both going to be okay? Veronica and the baby,” Logan asked stepping closer to Veronica and away from the wall.

Dr. Carter smiled softly, “we’re going to take good care of your family.”

The doctor’s vague answer that didn’t really answer the question he asked still left Logan on edge. He needed a vocal reassurance that Veronica was going to be okay and he didn’t get one.

The doctor left the room to put in Veronica’s orders and promised to come back in a little while to check in on her after he saw a few more patients.

While they were waiting a nurse came in and dropped off a urine specimen cup along with a hospital gown and some warm blankets. “I’ll give you some privacy to change and fill up that cup as best as you can. I’ll be back in a few minutes to take some blood and place an IV so we can get you hooked up to some fluids. Let me know if there’s anything you need.”

Once the door closed behind the nurse as she left Logan and Keith looked over at Veronica sitting up in the big hospital bed. She looked beyond tired, like she could fall asleep any second with dark circles under her eyes and completely miserable with pale skin and zero energy.

Logan sat on the edge of Veronica’s bed, “let’s get you to the bathroom and then you can crawl back in bed and hopefully get some sleep until Dr. Swaldoe comes to check on you.”

Veronica nodded her head slowly and pushed the thin sheet that covered her legs away so she could reach under her dress to unhook some of the cords she was attached to.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Keith stood up and left the room so Veronica could change without him there. Logan was there to help her so he decided to head to the cafeteria and grab a few things to bring back to the room for dinner before it closed.

With her dad out of the room she pulled the oxygen tube and finger probe off and had Logan unzip her dress and pull it over her head leaving her in just her undergarments and the fetal heart bands across her stomach, although they weren’t reading anything since she unplugged them.

She left her underwear on so she wouldn’t flash anyone, like her father, accidently when the doctors and nurses came to monitor the baby later, but ultimately decided to remove her bra for comfort.

Logan brought over the hospital gown and after she slipped her arms inside he tied the sides together in the back.

“I don’t want to be here,” Veronica said sadly as she sat on the edge of the bed.

“I know,” Logan bent down on one knee to put him at her eye level, “but you scared the hell out of us earlier. We just want to make sure you’re okay and then once you’re feeling a little better we can go home.”

Logan stood next to Veronica with a hand on her arm, in case she passed out again, as they made their way to the bathroom.

Veronica put a hand on his chest and looked up at him, “I can do this part on my own.”

He nodded slightly and handed her the specimen cup reluctantly, ”keep the door cracked. I’ll be right out here.”

Roughly ten minutes later Logan heard the sink turn on and Veronica came out of the bathroom shortly after. She climbed back in bed and he helped her attach the wires to the fetal heart monitor and replace her finger probe and oxygen tube before covering her with just a sheet.

The same nurse from before entered, drew Veronica’s blood and placed an IV in her arm.

Keith snuck back in the room quietly while the nurse was setting up the IV fluids and saw his daughter fighting to stay awake. Her eyelids would close for a few seconds and snap back open only to repeat the process all over again. “Veronica, go to sleep, sweetie.”

She rolled onto her left side, bringing her knees up closer to her belly as she curled into as much of a ball as she could and easily fell asleep.

The nurse left once again and Logan and Keith took the two padded chairs next to Veronica’s bed, keeping quiet and watching her sleep until they knew the smallest noises weren’t going to wake her up.

Logan leaned back in his chair, ran his hands over his tired face and wiped his eyes on his sleeve as he sniffled. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this, you know? These nine months are supposed to be happy and exciting – and they are at times – but they’re also tainted in two weeks of missing time, crippling nightmares and terrifying hospital visits. It just shouldn’t be like this, Keith.”

Keith heard the exhaustion in Logan’s voice. It wasn’t just from today it went back months. Months of being Veronica’s rock, taking care of her every need, holding her up when she couldn’t stand on her own and protecting her from the dark. Months where no one was taking care of him.

This had to change. He had to remember that Logan was only nineteen years old and soon to be father or not, he was in many ways still a child himself, just like Veronica. He needed to step up and do better, even if it was just in little ways.

“I know.” Keith leaned back and placed a hand on Logan’s shoulder, squeezing gently to let him know he wasn’t alone in all this, he had him to carry some of the weight. “Why don’t you call Richard to come pick you up and take you home so you can get some rest. I’ll stay here with Veronica and let you know what the doctor says.”

“No,” Logan turned toward Keith with large pleading eyes, “I can’t leave her. If I’m at home and she’s here I won’t be able to sleep anyway.”

Keith knew it was a long shot that Logan would actually go home, but he had to try. “I understand, I do, but you’re exhausted Logan. This case has gotten to you too and you’re going to end up in the hospital too if you don’t get some rest.”

“Then I’ll sleep here, but I’m not leaving, Keith.”

“I never thought you would.” Keith smiled softly and tilted his head toward Veronica asleep in the bed. “Go on and get some sleep.”

“You’re going to get me in trouble with the staff.” Logan said as he carefully sat on the edge of the bed and got himself comfortable lying on his back next to Veronica.

He didn’t want to curl around her with Keith in the room even though the former sheriff had seen them sleep that way many times before. He also didn’t want to wake Veronica up after it took so long to get her to succumb to sleep to begin with.

“I think they’ll understand,” Keith said quietly as Logan started to drift off.

While Logan slept soundly, Veronica did not. What felt like every five minutes, but was really more like once an hour, someone, either a doctor, nurse or lab technician, came and woke her up to collect another sample, reassess or take a set of vitals.

It seems one did not go to the hospital expecting to rest.

Dr. Swaldoe made it down to the emergency room to see Veronica later in the night after she finished delivering a baby upstairs. She introduced herself to Keith and profusely apologized to Veronica for waking her up yet again. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Veronica responded while she yawned.

“I can imagine, I’m sorry.” Dr. Swaldoe sat on the end of the bed facing Veronica and smiled when she saw Logan sleeping next to the small blonde. “Your lab results are looking better than when you first came in. The fluids are helping and your heart rate and temperature have gone down, back to a level I’m happy with.”

“So you’re sending me home?” Veronica asked slightly hopeful.

Dr. Swaldoe gave her a sad smile. “Not yet. I want them to give you another bag of fluids, so it will probably be morning before you get to go home.”

Veronica’s face fell, but she didn’t have the energy to protest. “Can we see the baby?”

“Of course, but you and I need to have a talk first.”

“This day just keeps getting better and better,” Veronica let out an irritated breath. “Okay, lay it on me, doc.”

“I want you on bed rest for the rest of the week.”

“No,” Veronica shook her head, “I’ll miss the rest of the trial.”

“Veronica—“ Keith tried to reason with her.

“Dad.”

The raised voices woke Logan up and he wiped the sleep from his eyes as he listened trying to figure out what they were all talking about.

Dr. Swaldoe cut in, “Veronica, I know why you want to be at the trial, but it’s too stressful for you right now. You ended up in the hospital because your body couldn’t keep up and I don’t want to see anything happen to you or your baby. I’m just asking you to take a few days off.”

Looking at the other three faces in the room Veronica felt outnumbered. A few tears made their way down her cheeks and she wiped them away angrily. “Fine,” she crossed her arms over her chest, “but I’m going when they read the final verdict whether I’m on bed rest or not.”

“I’m willing to compromise to that,” Dr. Swaldoe spoke calmly, not taking any of Veronica’s anger personally. “And one last thing before I go grab an ultrasound machine, I want you eating, drinking and sleeping more. We have to keep you hydrated and get your energy level up.”

“Okay.” Veronica nodded.

“I’m make sure she does just that,” Logan said with a smile.

“Those three things go for you too, Logan, not just Veronica.” Dr. Swaldoe said with pointed eyes, “I’m holding you both to that promise. Now let me go find a machine, I’ll be right back.”

Dr. Swaldoe returned a few minutes later and assessed Veronica and the baby. She eased all three on-lookers minds in the room by confirming that the baby was doing well. She reiterated again that if Veronica slowed down some and focused on herself she didn’t see a reason why they couldn’t have a completely healthy baby.


The following morning Veronica was released from the hospital. Logan had called Dick to come pick them up since both his and Keith’s cars were still at the courthouse and he didn’t want to disturb Wallace or Mac during finals week.

Logan and Keith were standing next to Veronica, who was sitting in one of the hospital wheelchairs, along the curb outside the emergency department in the pick up and drop off lane when Dick pulled up.

Dick hopped out of the car in a pair of black army boots, red velvet boxer briefs with a fluffy white waistband, bare chested, a red bowtie and a Santa hat to top it all off.

Veronica’s eyes widened at the site, “what the hell are you wearing, Dick?”

“I offered to show you what I bought when we went to the mall the other week, but you said you didn’t want to see.”

“This is what you bought? I thought you were buying sex toys.”

Dick smirked and struck a suggestive pose with his hands on his hips showing off his half naked figure. “Ronnie, does it look like I need sex toys to spice things up?”

She ignored his question and moved on to more important topics. “Why are you wearing this at seven in the morning?”

“I haven’t been home yet to change. The Pi Sigs had a party last night to kick off finals week. Each night there’s a different theme, last night there was a sexy Santa contest. I came in third!” He did a few pelvic thrusts in celebration.

“That’s great, Dick,” she said with zero amusement. The impromptu strip tease was enough to make Veronica consider walking back into the hospital for another stay just so she didn’t have to watch Dick thrust his body parts at an imaginary pole. “Take us home, now.”

After Dick dropped the group off at the courthouse to pick up their vehicles, Logan took Veronica home and tucked her into bed. She was out before her head hit the pillow after a night with almost no sleep. Logan on the other hand had gotten quite a bit of sleep and felt pretty rested so he went to the kitchen to make something to eat and look over his class notes.

Keith stopped by Weevil’s on the way home to pick up Backup and then drove over to Logan and Veronica’s house to keep an eye on the two kids and help out in any way he could.


 

Later that afternoon, Keith walked out of the guest bedroom Logan let him crash in and quietly peaked his head in on Veronica. She was starting to wake up so he pushed his way into the master bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed facing her. “Sleep well?”

“Better than at the hospital.” She yawned and rubbed her eyes before sitting up against the headboard and looked next to her to find the bed missing a tall brunette. “Where’s Logan?”

“He went to campus to take a few of his finals. Said he’d be back around dinner time.”

Veronica nodded and an awkward silence sat between her and her dad. He looked like he had something to say and she could guess what that something was, but she didn’t want to bring it up in case she misread him.

Instead she closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see the pain etched on his features and waited for him to break the silence.

“Veronica,” he started but paused. Years of service as a deputy and then even more as a sheriff and he was at a loss for words. “What Duncan said yesterday on the stand…is that the secret you’ve been keeping?” His eyes started to become glassy as the tears built up in his eyes, “were you…were you raped?”

“Yes,” she said as her bottom lip quivered. Veronica opened her eyes and saw her father’s tears falling freely now, which only made her feel worse. The dam broke and she began crying too, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Dad. I shouldn’t…I knew better—“

“No, honey.” Keith gathered her in his arms and held on to her tightly, rocking her slightly and rubbing her back to calm her down like he did when she was five and she fell off her bike. “It’s not your fault, Veronica. You did nothing wrong.” He kept repeating it over and over again until her sobs had quieted down, “it’s not your fault, you did nothing wrong.”

“I made a mistake, Dad.” She told him the whole story start to finish that started with her showing up at Shelly Pomroy’s party and taking the offered drink to the night on top of the Grand when Beaver confessed to raping her and jumping to his death. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, “are you mad at me?”

“No,” he shook his head, “I could never be mad at you over this. I’m furious at those responsible, Duncan, Cassidy and Lamb, but not with you. Never with you.” Keith pulled her in for a hug, wondering how he had ended up with such a strong daughter when he had failed to protect her. “I love you so much, Veronica.”

“I love you too, Dad.” She smiled a teary smile into his neck. Having this secret out between them and confirmation that her dad wasn’t mad and still loved her took a load off her mind.

When they broke apart Keith went to the kitchen to make them a late lunch of grilled cheese and soup, something light on Veronica’s stomach since she hadn’t had much to eat over the past few days.

After lunch Veronica was ready to go back to sleep. Telling her dad about her rape had left her physically and emotionally drained on top of already feeling fatigued this past week she was beyond exhausted.

She slept through the rest of the afternoon and woke up when Logan got home to ask him how his finals went and to spend a little more time with her dad before he went back to the apartment. 


 

Agent Morris called at the end of the week on Friday to tell Veronica that the case had come to a close and the final verdict was going to be announced the upcoming Monday.

Veronica and Logan entered the courtroom and sat behind Agent Morris and Agent Wills waiting for the bailiff to bring Duncan in so they could get on with the verdict and figure out what their future would look like.

Duncan was brought in a few minutes later and just like the first day of the trial his gaze immediately found Veronica in the gallery and smiled at her as he took his seat next to his lawyer.

Veronica ignored Duncan, not wanting to give him power over her. She felt Logan pull her closer, acting as a shield, and kiss her temple.

The judge called the elected jury member to the front of the room to begin the verdict reading.

A woman with auburn shoulder length hair, standing around five foot six in her forties wearing a professional looking navy skirt and white blouse walked to the center of the room. She moved her glasses from the top of her head to the bridge of her nose and read off her sheet of paper after clearing her throat so everyone in the room could hear:

 “On the count of aggravated battery, we find the defendant guilty.

 On the count of sexual assault, we find the defendant guilty.

 On the count of child abandonment, we find the defendant guilty.

 For the count of kidnapping Lilly Kane, under the birth name - Faith Manning, we find the defendant not guilty.

 For the count of kidnapping Veronica Mars, we find the defendant guilty.

And finally, on the count of the attempted murder of a fetus in the first degree, we find the defendant guilty.”

The courtroom erupted in a mix of angered yelling and cheerful happiness. The judge quickly called the room to order and announced that Duncan’s length of sentencing would be declared at a later time before dismissing the trial. 

Veronica could hear obscenities being called from Duncan across the room as the bailiff escorted him out, but her eyes were solely focused on Logan. A large smile plastered across both their faces.

Agent Morris turned around in her seat and thanked Veronica for all her help. “You did good, Mars. Take it easy from now on, I’ve enjoyed working with you, but let’s not do it again.”

“Likewise,” Veronica responded to the older agent before turning back toward Logan. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer so she could press her lips against his. “It’s over.”

“Yeah, it’s over,” he said with an overjoyed smile.

Chapter Text

Veronica woke up on the twenty-third of December, two days before Christmas, with a smile on her face. Logan was still sleeping, she could feel his warm even breaths hitting the side of her neck as he spooned her from behind with his arms laid still wrapped around her and one of his large hands cupped her belly protectively.

With the trial over and their finals completed there were no more stressors in their lives, at least none they couldn’t handle. It was as if time had slowed and finally allowed them to rest and they took full advantage of the down time. They were rested, relaxed, happy and back in good health – things were good.

She rolled over carefully hoping her movements wouldn’t wake him. It was still somewhat early, a little after eight, and she wanted him to sleep as long as he could. They were being lazy for the first time ever and it was long overdue at this point.

Her eyes drank in every centimeter of his face, every freckle from years spent in the sun to every crease telling the story of every emotion he’s ever felt.

The crinkles around the outside corners of his eyes shine when he’s most happy. The long lines along his forehead deepen when he’s worried or brooding. The half moons at the corners of his mouth take shape when he’s bantering with her or strategizing the most efficient way to get her naked.

Unable to resist any longer she lightly ran her index finger down his nose and over his lips. When he scrunched his nose under her tickling touch she pulled her hand away and bit her bottom lip to stop her laughter.

He adorably batted at his nose trying to brush away the phantom tickling sensation left behind by her fingers tracing his features.

Still smiling she ducked down under his chin and placed a gentle kiss to his bare chest before settling more firmly into his embrace, soaking up the warmth his body gave off and listened to the steady beat of his heart under her ear as he continued to sleep.

She would give almost anything to wake up with him like this every morning.


 

Sometime later Logan started to get more restless, a sign he was beginning to wake up.

He stretched, extending his arms above his head and straightening his legs out as far as they would go before wrapping his body back around Veronica’s and pulling her against him. He moved his lips over hers, taking it slow and making it last until they were both out of breath. “Good morning, bobcat,” he said with a smile.

“Good morning,” she responded with a matching expression. “Did you sleep well? You slept in pretty late this morning.”

“That’s because someone kept me up late last night.”

“Are you complaining, Echolls?” She raised an eyebrow in a teasing challenge.

“About finding my beautiful girlfriend naked and waiting for me in our bed when I came home?” He rolled onto his back bringing her with him so that she was straddling his waist. A position they found to be most comfortable for her during her pregnancy. “Never.”

“Good, because last night was…” she trailed off biting her lip as a blush crept up onto her cheeks.

Logan smiled his thousand-watt smile at her sudden shyness and lifted up on his elbows, decreasing the distance between them by half. “Amazing? Earth shattering? Woof-worthy?”

“All of the above,” she smiled and lowered herself to give him kiss.

Her stomach growled and Logan broke the kiss with a laugh as he placed his hands on her belly. “You haven’t had breakfast yet?”

Veronica shook her head no, “we wanted to wait for you.”

“What do you want?”

She put a hand on his chest to stop him from getting out of bed. “I didn’t mean I wanted you to cook for me, I just wanted to eat with you.” She slid off of him and off the bed, “stay, you do enough for me, let me take care of you for a change. I’ll be right back.”

She gave him one more quick peck on the lips before finding some clothes to throw on and headed toward the kitchen to make breakfast.

It was roughly twenty minutes later when Veronica walked back down the hallway toward their bedroom carrying a wooden tray with two veggie stuffed omelets, fresh cut fruit, several slices of toast fixed with grape jelly, an entire package of bacon and two glasses of juice.

Logan was sitting against the headboard when she came in the room. She assumed he had gotten up to use the bathroom while she was busy cooking because his hair was less chaotic and he now had on a pair of boxers.

His eyes widened when he saw the amount of food on the tray that she slid over his lap while she climbed back on the bed beside him. “Are we feeding an army?”

“An army of three,” she said as she picked up a piece of bacon and bit off half, “and two of us are very, very, very, hungry.”

They ate for a few more minutes casually chatting over nothing important, just daily life. When Logan had had enough to eat he pushed his leftovers, which was just a piece of toast and a few pieces of bacon over to Veronica to finish off. “All yours.”

She happily chomped on the extras with a smile and when she was finished she started cleaning up their dirty dishes.

“I got them, you cooked.” He took the dishes and the tray from her, “go shower, I’ll get in after you.”

“Why don’t you join me instead? The dishes can wait,” she said innocently as she got off the bed and walked to the bathroom shedding her clothes along the way.

Logan groaned happily, his body already responding to her proposition and to the explicit fantasies running rampant through his mind.

He set the tray back down on the bed and started moving toward the bathroom. He dropped his boxers at the door and the last thought that entered his mind before he crossed the threshold was: god, I love the third trimester.


Later that evening Logan and Veronica pulled into the driveway of a home halfway across town. They got out of the car and walked up to the door ringing the bell.

A few seconds later the door swung open and Ellie engulfed each of them in joyful embraces before ushering them inside. “You two have a seat, dinner will be ready shortly,” she said before walking back into the kitchen.

Ellie’s home was cozy and fully decorated in Christmas holiday paraphernalia. A large Christmas tree with multicolored lights and handmade ornaments sat in the corner of the living room with mountains of presents stacked underneath. Red stockings personalized and dedicated to each of their five grandchildren lined the top of the fireplace and miniature bustling town figures with little figurines were spread around the room on cabinet tops.

Homer, Ellie’s husband, came down the hallway from the back bedrooms with a large smile dressed in tan corduroy pants, a red flannel button up long sleeve shirt and brown house slippers. He gave Veronica a hug and kissed her cheek and then turned to Logan and shook his hand.

“Veronica, dear, please have a seat and put your feet up, you too Logan, make yourselves comfortable. Can I get either of you something to drink?” Homer offered. “We have water, soda, tea, hot cocoa…and we should have some sparkling grape juice downstairs, the grandkids really like that stuff. Makes them feel fancy,” he said with a wink.

“I’ll take some tea if it’s not too much trouble,” Veronica said.

“No trouble at all,” Homer smiled, “Logan?”

“I’ll just take a soda, whatever you have is fine.” Logan responded taking a seat on the couch next to Veronica.

“Good choice, I’ll be back in a minute.”

When Homer returned with their drinks they spent a few minutes catching up. Homer was a retired financial manager, but he spent some of his time working as a part time employee down at the marina performing maintenance on some of the yachts and boats that were docked there. He loved sailing in his younger years and working at the marina was how he felt connected to the ocean again.

Ellie called the group into the dining room when dinner was ready and they spent the next hour eating and chatting, trading stories about the baby’s progress and Ellie and Homer’s grandchildren.

After dinner and dessert the group moved back into the living room. Ellie and Veronica sat on the couch with fresh cups of tea and talked quietly while smiling at Homer and Logan across the room in a deep conversation about boats.

Homer was showing Logan his model collection that he would sometimes take down to the park and let the grandkids race them around the pond, inviting Logan to tag along the next time they went.

Ellie tipped her head toward the two men, “Homer really likes talking to Logan. Our kids are all grown up now and don’t show him the same enthusiasm about his boats that they did when they were younger. It’s nice to see him so excited again.”

The boys talked for a little while longer before they eventually made their way back to the girls. Ellie stood up and let Logan take her seat next to Veronica. She went over to the Christmas tree and plucked a big square present from underneath handing it to the young couple as she took her seat next to Homer. “Merry Christmas.”

Veronica’s mouth opened in surprise. “You did not have to get us anything.”

“We know, but what are grandparents for if they can’t spoil their grandchildren. It’s our job.” Ellie laughed.

Homer smiled at the two kids, “go ahead and open it.”

Together Logan and Veronica ripped the festive red wrapping paper with little green trees off and discovered a plain white box. They lifted the lid off and pulled out the gift, a quilted baby blanket with zoo animals bordering the edges and the name Echolls embroidered in the center, leaving space to add a first name on the blanket later when they decided on one.

“Did you make this?” Veronica looked to Ellie.

“Yeah, it’s a little hobby I do in my spare time. It’s sort of a tradition for us too; all our grandchildren get one when they’re born and we consider your little one one of ours too.”

With tears in her eyes Veronica got up and gave Ellie and Homer a hug, thanking them for the thoughtful gift.

Their daughter didn’t have a lot of grandparents in her corner with Aaron and Lynn deceased and Lianne removed from their lives, not that she wanted either Aaron or Lianne around her child to begin with. It was just going to be Keith, and although that was more than enough, Veronica was happy that Ellie and Homer were willing to play grandparents too.

Logan pulled a thin envelope out of his jacket and handed it to Homer and Ellie and then pulled Veronica into his lap as they watched the older couple open their present.

Homer pulled out two tickets and looked up at Logan slightly confused.

“When we were over here at Thanksgiving you both said that you wanted to take a trip for your anniversary in the spring. Those tickets are airline vouchers for first class that will allow you to fly anywhere you want, free of charge.”

“After everything you both have done for us, we just wanted to make sure you got the anniversary trip you deserve,” Veronica added after Logan.

“Thank you,” Homer and Ellie replied simultaneously with big smiles across both of their faces.

Logan and Veronica stayed and enjoyed their time with Ellie and Homer for a little while longer until it started getting late and they decided to head home.


The following evening on Christmas Eve, Dick, Mac and Wallace came over for their own version of celebrating Christmas.

Everyone was spread out on the large sectional couch in the living room eating Chinese food out of the carton while watching Christmas movies on TV. Logan and Veronica were in the middle sharing a warm blanket with Dick on the right next to Logan and Mac and Wallace to Veronica’s left.

The tree lights were on as well as the lights twisted around the garland strands throughout the room making the dimmed area shine in a warm and cozy soft white glow. The fireplace was burning and crackling softly under three stockings hanging against the white stone packed with goodies.

When Dick had arrived earlier he immediately bounded up to his stocking, sneaking a peak at what was inside, a few handfuls of candy, a small container of snickerdoodles and a pair of candy cane striped suspenders to go with his sexy Santa costume for next year.

Seeing his gaggle of gifts Dick threw his head back and laughed. He ran up to Veronica and picked her up gently in a bear hug, dropping a kiss to her cheek before putting her back down on her feet, “thanks, Ronnie.”

With her nose scrunched in disgust she wiped his kiss off her cheek with the palm of her hand, which only made Dick’s smile grow. “Merry Christmas, Dick.”

“Isn’t this nice?” Logan was leaning against the wall with an amused expression, “my two favorite people getting along and spreading that good old holiday cheer.”

Veronica rolled her eyes and moved into the kitchen to wait for the others to show up.

Wallace and Mac had arrived a few minutes after Dick and were each given a large container of cookies and for which Wallace wasted no time digging into his present.

Now that all of them were finished with dinner, Wallace and Logan cleaned up the Chinese cartons and threw them away. Wallace headed back into the living room and reclaimed his spot on the couch while Logan popped some popcorn for everyone to munch on while they watched movies.

Logan passed out a few bowls of popcorn and then sat next to Veronica, pulling her close to his body so he could wrap his arm around her as she snuggled into his side. She hit play on the remote and How the Grinch Stole Christmas began.

A few minutes into the movie Veronica’s phone buzzed on the ottoman indicating she had a new text message. She leaned forward and picked it up, looking to see who it was from and what they wanted.

7:54pm Agent Morris: Meg’s Aunt Chris was granted full custody of Lilly. DK sentenced to 75yrs w/o parole or early release for good behavior. Merry Christmas, Mars.

She smiled and held her phone up so Logan could read the message. Seventy-five years, that was basically a life sentence. She wouldn’t ever have to worry about Duncan getting out and coming after her or anyone else she loved ever again.

Logan leaned over and kissed her. He pulled back a minute later and rested his forehead against hers, whispering quietly, “we’re gonna be okay.”

“Yeah, we are,” she smiled as she tossed her phone back on the ottoman and snuggled back into Logan’s side, interlocking their fingers together as they watched the movie with their friends.

At the end of the movie Wallace heard some sniffling coming from a few feet away and turned toward Veronica with a teasing smile, “are you crying Supafly?”

“No,” she replied quickly with a quivering lip as the tears continued to fall.

“Ronnie, the Who’s are fine, the Grinch saved Christmas. He gave them all their weird ass crap back,” Dick tried to explain thinking she just didn’t understand the ending.

“I know,” Veronica responded as she sobbed a little harder.

“That’s why she’s crying,” Mac cut in trying to hold back her laughter and failing miserably, “it’s a sappy ending and she’s hormonal.”

Wallace joined Mac and started laughing at Veronica’s blubbering. “She’s a marshmallow, man,” he said trying to provide Dick with another explanation, “superhero badass on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.”

“Oh,” Dick finally understood and smiled as he leaned over Logan to tease Veronica. “Hey, remember when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes because he learned about the true meaning of Christmas and saved Cindy Lou Who and then sang all those super cheesy songs?” He waited a moment while she wiped some of her tears away, “did that hit you hard in your mommy core?”

“Key the mood swing,” Logan mumbled flicking his finger in the air like he had in high school when predicting when the bell would ring.

“Shut up, Dick.” Her tears were gone and she slugged him in the arm.

Wallace and Mac erupted in a new round of laughter attributed to Dick’s pain.

“That’s my girl,” Logan pulled Veronica close and kissed her temple hiding the smile on his face, “but do try and limit the violence, it is Christmas Eve, bobcat.”

“Fine,” Veronica mumbled. She held the remote out to Dick in apology, “you can pick the next Christmas movie.”

“Apology accepted, Ronnie.” He grabbed the remote from her hands and pumped his arms in the air in celebration, “Die Hard it is.”


 

After a late Christmas Eve night, Christmas morning came quick. Logan rolled over and watched Veronica sleep soundly next to him for a few minutes before he started waking her up. It was a little after six and Keith was coming over at eight to open presents and have breakfast with them.

He pulled the comforter back and inched up her tank top so he could get to her bare stomach, where he dropped a few kisses. “Merry Christmas, little fish.” When he finished giving his attention to the baby he looked up to see Veronica watching him with a smile. He moved up her body and greeted her much the same way with a kiss on her lips. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, Logan,” she pulled him in for another kiss.

When they broke apart the loving look in her eyes sent all his blood south as he flipped them around to put her in a more comfortable position. “We have time for a Christmas quickie,” he smirked at her as his hands went to her hips and slipped under the edge of her shirt.

“Is that one of my gifts?”

“It can be.”

“Well you know how much I love presents,” she said with a salacious smile.

He pushed her tank top over her head and threw it across the room, “that I do, bobcat.”


Once they were showered after their active morning in bed they put on a pair of matching Christmas pajamas Veronica insisted they wear. They both had on red plaid bottoms with a gray and black baseball tee style top. Logan’s had a daddy polar bear on the front of his shirt and Veronica’s had two polar bears, one bigger than the other to represent mama and baby.

Veronica went into the kitchen to start up the coffee for her dad and Logan and fixed herself a small breakfast to hold her over until they ate a real breakfast after presents.

Keith arrived a few minutes after eight and Logan helped him carry in the presents he brought along. While he had a minute alone with Logan outside he took the opportunity to ask him a question, “did you get it?”

Logan nodded his head. “Yeah. I couldn’t leave yesterday to pick it up without her being suspicious of where I was going so I had Dick pick it up before he came over. I wrapped it and put it under the tree after she fell asleep last night.” He smiled, “I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it.”

Keith smiled and clapped Logan on the back and then they finished carrying everything inside.

Veronica ran up and threw her arms around Keith, “Merry Christmas Dad.”

“Merry Christmas, kiddo.” He hugged her back and kissed her forehead.

They sat on the floor by the tree and opened presents as some light Christmas music played in the background. Clothes, surf gear, Padres memorabilia, DVD’s, video games, camera accessories and torn wrapping paper littered the floor as gifts were opened.

Logan held out his arms to help Veronica off the floor when they were done. He went over to the tree and pulled the last gift out that was purposefully hidden in the back and handed it her, “you missed one.”

Veronica stared down at the little wrapped square shaped box with a tiny bow on top in her hands. Her heart was beating fast in her chest and her hands trembled a little as she slowly undid the wrapping paper.

Under the paper was a black ring box, still closed within her hands. She couldn’t bring herself to open it. “What is it?” She said in a whisper. She could see Logan shifting nervously in front of her, but at least he wasn’t down on one knee, that was a good sign at least.

“You’ll have to open it to find out,” he replied.

Don’t be a ring. Don’t be a ring. She lifted the lid on the box and peered inside, letting out a slow breath when she saw some kind of silver colored coin instead of a ring. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to marry Logan, she did, maybe. Someday. Now just wasn’t the right time, there was too much changing in their lives right now that she needed some things to stay the same for a little while longer.

She plucked the coin out of the box and held it up a little confused. It wasn’t a real coin. Well it was real, it was some kind of metal, but it wasn’t a true form of currency, at least not for this country.

“Flip it over,” Logan said with a giddy tone.

Veronica turned the coin around and on the back in capital letters it read: ONE RIDE. There was a little horse engraved below the words and her face immediately lit up like a Christmas tree, the largest smile she could muster reached all the way up to her eyes as she looked up at Logan with barely controlled excitement. “You got me a pony?!”

“Yes,” he smiled and chuckled at seeing how happy she was, “well, technically I got you a pony for one hour.”

She was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet like a little kid and clapping her hands in glee, “can we go tomorrow?”

Logan looked down at his imaginary watch, “actually your pony will be here in about twenty minutes.”

She threw herself into his arms and kissed him, “I love you.” She pulled back a minute later and looked down at her bare feet. “I need shoes.” She skipped down the hall toward their room making excited squeals as she went.

Logan and Keith went to work cleaning up the scraps of wrapping paper and threw them into a large trash bag.

Keith knew about the pony, but he couldn’t believe Logan put the coin in a ring box. It was an incredibly ballsy move and slightly heartbreaking to watch. “She thought you were proposing.”

“I know, but did you see her face when she opened the box,” Logan stuffed some more crumbled paper into the bag, “she was relieved that there wasn’t a ring inside.”

“I’m sorry, Logan.”

“Don’t be, I’m not.” He paused his trash clean up and looked over at Keith with a small smile. “We already live together in this beautiful home, we’re having a baby together in ten weeks and she’s in my life and by my side every day. I’m already the luckiest guy in the world. She’s not ready yet and that’s okay. I’ll wait forever if I have to because she’s worth it. I love her.”

“I know you do.” Keith stood there with tears in his eyes. “I’m proud of the man you’ve become. As a father, I just want my daughter to be happy and loved and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way soon, but in case I haven’t told you yet I’m so grateful she has you. So thank you for loving her. You’re a good man, Logan.”

Logan nodded his head in thanks knowing he wouldn’t be able to speak past the lump in his throat, Keith’s words had meant the world to him. He turned back to the trash and finished picking everything up when Veronica came bounding back into the living room.

“I can’t believe you guys really got me a pony!” The large smile from before was still shining across her face. “I’m so excited I might go into labor early.” The caught off guard and completely terrified look on her dad and Logan’s face was priceless. “I’m kidding.” I think.

“That’s not funny, Veronica,” Logan and Keith said at the same time with matching seriousness in both their tones.

Chapter Text

“Ugh!”

“Everything okay in there?” Logan called toward the walk in closet in their bedroom as he laid on the bed in a pair of dark wash jeans and a light blue button up dress shirt where he has been listening to Veronica’s frustrated exclamations for the past ten minutes.

“Just fine,” she responded back not at all convincing.

Logan closed his eyes as he continued to lie on the bed, his arms folded behind his head and an amused smile played on his lips as he waited and listened to her grunts.

“Ugh!” Veronica marched out of the closet in a mid thigh length black dress, the top half scrunched around her waist below the middle of her bump, and a black bra. “Nothing fits! What am I supposed to wear tonight?”

Logan sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed so that he was sitting on the edge, “we don’t have to go tonight, we could just stay in and do our own thing.”

Dick had gotten them all an exclusive invite to a New Year’s Eve party at one of the more youthful and party popping clubs in the city. It was typically an 09er event, you either had to have the wealth or know someone who knew someone to get on the guest list.

It wasn’t Logan’s scene anymore – being around 09ers and partying just didn’t excite him like it used to. Maybe it was because at nineteen he felt thirty-five with a baby on the way or because he was with Veronica again that he didn’t need to go out and seek the rush partying gave him, he got that feeling just by being around her.

So he didn’t quite understand why she wanted to go out tonight, especially to a nightclub in 09er territory.

“I know, but I thought it would be fun to go out. Sort of like a date night.” She shrugged her shoulders as if it wasn’t a big deal but he could see a hint of disappointment cross her face at the thought of staying in. “After March we won’t be leaving the house together for the next fifteen years so I thought we could take advantage of what little time we had left, but if you don’t want to go…”

The mention of spending fifteen years together warmed his heart. It was little things she said like that about the future, their future, that made him smile. It settled the ever-present fear in the back of his mind that she might leave him romantically. Her words let him know that she was in this with him for the long haul and he would give her whatever she wanted, so he agreed to go.

“I do want to go and have a date night with you,” he stood up and walked over to her, placed his hands on her hips and looked into her eyes, “but I think fifteen years confined to the house is a bit of an exaggeration. We will make time to get away, just you and me, trust me. We have plenty of babysitters on hand when the time comes.”

“I hope you are not including Dick in that list of possible babysitters. I know he’s your best friend and all…”

“Yeah, no.” He cut her off. He loved Dick like family, but the thought of leaving their daughter alone with Dick in charge sent waves of unease through his body. It would be like leaving two five year olds home alone and expecting them to behave, it was a recipe for disaster. “I was thinking more like your dad or Ellie and Homer, maybe even Wallace and Mac if we’re in a jam.”

“Good. I’m glad we’re on the same page.” She looked down at her too small scrunched up dress with a frown, “I wanted to look nice tonight and it completely slipped my mind that I don’t have any maternity dresses that would be suitable for a New Year’s Eve party.”

He gently grabbed her face and placed a kiss on her pouting lips, “you look amazing in everything.” He pulled back and walked her backwards until her legs hit the bed and she sat down. “Trust me.”

Logan disappeared into their walk in closet and grabbed several items off the hangers on her side of the wall. He came back out into the room with his arms full and presented each item to her one by one including a light gray v-neck long sleeve sweater, which showed off her cleavage and baby belly beautifully, black leggings, her black Dr. Martens, a fitted black leather jacket and the white gold heart shaped necklace he gave her at the zoo on her birthday all those months ago.

He smiled, quite proud of the outfit he conjured up for her, “it’s basically skin tight,” he waggled his eyebrows suggestively, “but also stretchy enough to where you will be comfortable all night. Plus, it’s just the right mix of butch and badass to encompass your personality, which pushes you past just looking nice to insanely hot.”

Veronica bit her bottom lip while she was considering the outfit, “you really want me to wear this tonight?” she said as she looked at him.

“Yes,” he nodded his head excitedly; knowing if she did wear it there was no way he was going to be able to keep his hands off her, which was absolutely how he wanted to spend his evening.

“Okay.” She climbed off the bed and shoved the scrunched up dress down her legs stepping out of it. “Give me twenty minutes to finish getting ready and then we can go,” she moved across the room to the bathroom to quickly curl her hair into loose waves before she changed.

Logan smiled as she walked away in just her bra and underwear, giving him a nice view of her backside as she put a little extra swing in her step just for him. He was suddenly in a much better mood about going to this party tonight.


 

When they arrived at the club they bypassed the line outside the building of those waiting to get in and headed straight up to the bouncer at the door. After their names were checked off the reserved guest list Logan kept his hand on Veronica’s lower back in an effort to keep her close as they made their way through the crowded room.

The massive two-story nightclub was alive as the music controlled by a DJ blasted into the air. Twelve screens stacked in two rows of six took up a majority of the back wall and displayed different patterns and designs as the songs changed from one to another. Purple, blue and red lights lit up the dance floor where hundreds of people were grinding away on each other to the beat.

Tables and chairs along with private booths separated the entrance from the dance floor and off to the right was a sixty-foot bar that not only served alcohol of every kind but was also connected to the kitchen to provide full meals for guests as well.

The second floor was half the size of the main floor. It looked over the dance floor from a balcony area and was meant for dining and seating purposes only, made up of a small bar and plenty of table seating.

Passing by the dance floor they saw Dick grooving away and motioned that they were going to find a seat somewhere by the bar and to come find them when he needed a break.

They snagged a table in the back, but it only had one bar stool so Logan pulled it out for Veronica to sit on while he leaned his forearms against the tabletop.

Shortly after they placed an order for drinks, one bottle of beer and one unopened bottle of water, they went ahead and placed an order for food since Veronica was starving.

Dick found them a few minutes later and introduced them to the leech-like girl hanging off his neck by her mouth. “Logan, Ronnie, meet Briana,” he motioned to the unnatural blonde parasite with dancing eyebrows as his hand traveled down her scantly dressed body over her voluptuous curves and settling just above her ass.

Veronica watched parasite girl, Briana, ravish the side of Dick’s neck with half concern and half uncomfortable disgust.

“Bri’s a freshman Zeta Theta Beta at Hearst,” Dick continued unaware or at least not caring how awkward the situation was for all other parties.

Of course she is. Veronica rolled her eyes and instead turned her focus to picking at the label on her bottle of water.

Parasite girl made an audible popping sound as she finished sucking Dick’s skin, leaving a sizable hickey behind and turned toward her new acquaintances. “Oh my god, it’s so nice to meet you,” she moved to the other side of Dick so she was standing between the two boys and ran her hand slowly up Logan’s arm, “we’re gonna have, like, so much fun tonight!”

Veronica’s eyes snapped back to the parasite and glared, jaw clenched. Is she serious? I’m sitting right here. Veronica grabbed Logan by his belt loop and pulled him to her side, sliding her arm around his waist, mumbling under her breath, “yeah, we’re gonna have so much fun once my taser finds your—“

“Play nice, bobcat,” Logan whispered against her temple cutting her off before placing a chaste kiss there as well, a smirk on his face. “I’m only interested in having fun with you tonight.”

Briana turned to Dick with a wide smile, “baby, can you get me a drink?” He did what was asked of him dragging Logan along too leaving Briana alone with Veronica at the table.

Glancing over Veronica and quickly sizing her up, Briana leaned over the table with a large excited smile and practically falling out of her two sizes too small dress. “Oh my god, Ronnie, I love your breasts, who did them?”

Veronica’s mouth dropped open and she looked down at her more than usual exposed cleavage trying to pull her leather jacket closed, but since it was from her pre-pregnancy days it didn’t reach across her much larger chest. “I didn’t have them done, they’re mine,” she snapped back at Briana more than a little insulted.

“But you’re so…small,” Briana asked confused.

“And pregnant,” Veronica responded while looking at the bar, wondering what was taking Dick and Logan so long. “It’s sort of nature’s boob job, a two for one deal.”

Briana looked around the table, apparently not noticing Veronica’s protruding stomach upon meeting her, which was hidden under the table. “Oh wow, congratulations! I don’t know how I missed that; you totally look like you’re going to pop. When are you due?”

Veronica clenched her jaw as another insult came flying her way. She already felt huge every minute of every day; she didn’t need a parasitic stranger telling her the same thing to her face. “In the spring.”

“You’ve still got a ways to go, don’t you?” Briana continued to smile and Veronica was beginning to think something was wrong with the girl, besides her inability to filter her thoughts.

“This girl I used to know back in high school, she was like similar to your size, but like, maybe a little smaller, when she got pregnant,” Briana rambled. “And because she was so tiny, when she went into labor the baby, like, completely destroyed her va-jay-jay. You know what I mean? I don’t think she can have sex, like, ever again. It’s so totally tragic,” Briana let out a little sigh as if that was the worst thing that could happen to a person. “But I hope that doesn’t happen to you because you seem really nice.”

Veronica saw Logan and Dick making their way back over to the table and she sighed a breath of relief knowing this tortuous encounter was about to end.

“Here you go, babe,” Dick passed Briana her drink and stood behind her with his hands on her hips.

One of the floor waitresses brought over their food that Logan and Veronica had ordered for dinner; two burgers, two orders of fries and an order of fried pickle chips.

Briana reached across the table and plucked a few french fries off Veronica’s plate, helping herself to what she thought was food for the whole table.

“Dick,” Veronica spoke in an low, hard voice, one that sent chills down his spine every time he heard it, “take her and remove her. Right now.”

“Come on, Bri, let’s go dance for a little bit,” Dick tried to get his date moving quickly, hoping to avoid any bloodshed. That was not how he wanted to end the year.

Before he could get too far, Veronica caught Dick’s arm and pulled him back for a minute. “Do not let her come anywhere near me for the rest of the night.” Her hard tone disappeared as she looked at his apologetic face, “I get that she’s fun and that she will probably follow you home tonight willingly, but you deserve better than her, Dick.”

He shrugged his shoulders, “I’m too young to waste all this,” he made a show of his body with his hands, “on a serious relationship.” Dick gently tapped her chin with his fist, “but thanks for looking out for me Ronnie. It means a lot.”

“You’re Logan’s family,” she said with a blasé attitude.

“It’s okay, your secret’s safe with me,” Dick smirked, “and for the record, I consider you family too.” He patted the top of her head and walked off to find Briana.


After they finished dinner Logan pulled Veronica out onto the dance floor. He took advantage of the crowded area by holding her close so no one would accidently bump into her and ran his hands over her waist, belly and ass every chance he got.

They danced in short spurts, maybe only for a song or two before taking a break and then repeating the cycle. The third trimester was making it incredibly difficult for Veronica to breathe. Since the baby’s growing size was pushing her organs out of the way, any kind of intense activity like dancing or even climbing a flight of stairs made her short of breath quickly.

When the second song finished Veronica pointed to the bar and pulled Logan’s head closer to hers so she didn’t have to yell over the next song, “I need water.”

He nodded, “I’m going to use the bathroom, I’ll meet you upstairs.”

They went their separate ways and Veronica headed to the bar on the second floor so she would be easier to find when Logan came back. She had only been standing in line for a minute when a familiar voice came up behind her.

“Veronica Mars. I thought that was your wide load I saw downstairs earlier, but I thought I had to be imagining things because there is no way you of all people could score an invite to this party.”

“Madison.” Veronica turned around with a tight-lipped smile; “what do you want?”

“I see you’re still pregnant. I mean I heard it on the news when you were kidnapped or whatever, but I thought that was just for sympathy. I’m surprised you kept it, I thought for sure daddy Mars would disown you when he saw that his precious daughter got knocked up during a homemade porno.”

Veronica cocked her head to the side as Madison kept talking, several pieces connecting together. It was Madison. She sent the envelope to dad. Veronica cut off her rambling; “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thank you, Madison.”

“For what?” Madison looked at her like she had grown three heads.

“For meddling in my life, which you had no right to do, but for once actually worked out for the best.”

“What are you talking about Veronica?”

“The envelope you sent to my father. You know the one that had a photo of me buying pregnancy tests at the store? If it weren’t for that envelope I don’t think I would have reconnected with the baby’s father and for that push alone I am thankful.”

“Why would you need to reconnect with the baby’s father? You were already dating him. It’s that floppy haired geek in the sex tape with you, right?” Madison was clearly confused.

Veronica smiled; this was going to be fun. “Not that it is any of your business, but that tape was misleading. I never had sex with Piz, he’s not the baby’s father.”

Madison’s face didn’t look terribly surprised. She heard all the comments about Veronica in high school; the fact that she was sleeping with more than one guy was not news. Everyone knew Veronica Mars was a slut and Madison loved gossip, “then who is?”

“I am,” a deep voice came up from behind Madison.

Madison turned around in shock, mouth gaping open like a fish and eyes wide, “Logan.” Her mouth continued to make shapes but she couldn’t seem to form a proper sentence, “you…and…her…and, that…but…”

Logan stood behind Veronica and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, kissing the top of her head, ignoring Madison, “we should get your water, it’s almost midnight.” Veronica nodded her agreement and he kissed her again. “We’ll send you a birth announcement, Madison,” Logan threw over his shoulder before walking off with Veronica.

“Arggh!” Madison screeched as she stomped her foot before storming off.

Veronica smiled at Madison’s angered outburst.

They quickly got a couple of waters from the bar and found a table nearby to hang out at until the countdown started in a few minutes.

The music turned off and the large screens from the main floor covering the back wall displayed the recording of the ball dropping in New York City just a few hours before.

Logan pulled Veronica close, wrapping his arms around her waist as hers wrapped around his neck. Their foreheads were touching as the crowd chanted out loud.

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

They crashed their lips into each other and celebrated the new year to come.

When they were both breathless Logan pulled away from Veronica, crouched down to half her height and placed a kiss on her belly, “happy new year, sweet pea.”

Chapter Text

Logan planted his board in the sand and ran his hand through his hair shaking out the excess salt water that hugged his locks.

He hadn’t had a chance to go surfing in weeks and all though the waves weren’t as good during the late morning as they were at dawn, getting out on the water today felt great regardless.

He stripped out of his wetsuit and used a towel to dry the rest of his body before he carried everything up the wooden walkway that led back to the house. Before entering through the back door he discarded all his surfing gear into the outdoor closet.

Veronica’s asleep on the couch when he comes in through the back door with a paperback mystery novel falling out of her grasp. He carefully lifted the book from her fingers and placed her bookmark safely inside.

She was only about a third of the way through the text, but he would bet she had already figured out the ending. Her choice of novel, for a bit of light reading, does not slip his mind either – she misses investigating.

He shook the fear from his mind that the thought of her investigating always gave him. She’s kept up her end of the deal to leave all cases to Keith so far and he is more than grateful for that promise she’s made. He doesn’t want her to sit on the sidelines forever. Her passion for getting justice and helping those in need is one of his favorite things about her – he just wanted to keep her safe.

He never wanted to see her hurt or missing again. But how do you stop lightning from striking a lightning rod in a storm?

You don’t, he thought. It’s inevitable that she’ll attract trouble once she get’s back into investigator mode after the baby is born. All he can do is be there to try and save her and hope she comes home every night because he can’t do this, raise a daughter or live, without her.

Needing a distraction from his downward spiraling thoughts and wanting to let Veronica sleep some more, he walked down the hallway to their bathroom to wash the ocean off his body in the shower.

The steam and warm water from the shower did its job and reversed his dark mood. Now dressed in jeans and a tee shirt, Logan made his way back to the living room only to hear Veronica’s phone ringing and her groggy sleep-filled voice answering the call.

“Hello?” Her face was pinched, one eye closed against the bright light coming in from the back windows as she rubbed her free hand over her face trying to wake up.

Logan couldn’t hear who was on the other end of the line, all he could do was listen to Veronica’s responses and watch her face morph from annoyance because her nap was rudely interrupted to pure curiosity.

“Where are you?” She asked back into the phone and waited for an answer. “How did you end up there?” Another minute of silence went by with her listening to the caller before she cut in sharply, “stop. I don’t want any specific details. Just, just give me like forty-five minutes, okay?” She met Logan’s eyes, “yes, I’ll bring Logan. Bye.”

Logan sat down on the edge of the coffee table facing her, “who was that?”

“Dick,” she sat up and leaned back into the couch rubbing her belly. “He’s at the Grand in your old suite and needs me to bring my lock pick set, a blindfold, two bags of ice and you. I didn’t ask why those items and I’m not sure I want to know, but he asked for my help, so…”

“So, you want to help him out of whatever mess he’s gotten himself into because you have a soft spot for Dick,” Logan smirked at the double entendre.

“What, no,” she scoffed and protested. “I just like the idea of Dick owing me a favor, or several.”

“Uh huh,” he nodded not really buying her cover up lie. “And what do you think he needs those items for? Do they raise your PI senses enough that you think I need to have a lawyer on speed dial?”

“I don’t know. I’m honestly a little scared to find out what we’re going to walk in on when we get there.”

Logan held out his hand and helped her off the couch, following her back to the bedroom while she changed so he could look for a blindfold.


 

After stopping by a gas station to pick up two bags of ice, as requested, they made their way to the penthouse suite at the Grand.

Veronica knocked and after a minute of waiting no one came to the door. She put her ear up to the door and listened for sounds before turning to Logan with a shrug when she heard nothing.

“Maybe he’s handcuffed to the bed,” Logan said jokingly. “If you sleep around with as many women as Dick has it’s bound to happen at least once. Experimenting with some light bondage, he says the wrong thing and she takes off – I can see it.”

“Then why wouldn’t he just tell me that over the phone?”

“He was embarrassed?”

“Dick doesn’t get embarrassed. He wore a Santa stripper outfit to pick us up from the hospital for god’s sakes.” Veronica said. “And it doesn’t explain his need for a blindfold and ice.”

“Then I have no idea,” Logan leaned against the door jam holding a bag of ice in each hand. “But we still need to get inside. Do you still have your key card?”

She snorted in disbelief, “of course.” Digging around in her messenger bag she located the room key and slid it into the door. “Don’t be naked. Don’t be naked. Don’t be naked,” she whispered as she pushed the door open after the light on the card reader turned green granting them access.

The lights were off in the room and the drapes over the windows were pulled closed leaving them in pitch-black darkness after the suite door closed behind them.

“Dick?” No answer. Logan put down the bags of ice at his feet. “Don’t move, I don’t want you to trip over anything,” he told Veronica. “I’m going to get the lights.”

Before he could move the overhead lights flicked on and several voices shouted, “SURPRISE!”

“What the fu—“ Veronica screamed and jumped out of her skin clutching Logan’s arm before she recognized the faces in the room smiling back at her.

Wallace, Mac, Dick, Alicia and her father were standing in the middle of the suite’s living room surrounded by pink, purple and yellow balloons, streamers and baby decorations. A pile of wrapped presents sat on the floor in front of the television and a small buffet of food and drinks covered the in-suite kitchen counter.

A few tears gathered in Veronica’s eyes. They threw us a baby shower. She blinked back the moisture and turned to Logan, “did you know about this?”

“No,” he shook his head, still looking a little shocked.

Wallace and Mac came over and flanked Veronica in a three-person hug.

“You guys didn’t have to do this,” she mumbled into their shoulders.

“Yeah, we did, but we can’t take all the credit. The baby shower was actually Dick’s idea.” Mac said as she pulled out of the hug first. “We made sure it was intimate and bought some snacks, but the rest was all Dick.”

She looked over at Dick across the room who was talking to Logan and made a mental note to thank him later. She eyed her dad and Alicia smiling and talking on the couch and raised her eyebrow slyly at Wallace, “what’s that all about? Are they dating again?”

“I don’t know,” Wallace shrugged his shoulders; “they’ve gotten coffee a few times and went to dinner last week.”

Veronica’s mouth dropped open, “they what? And you didn’t tell me?”

“I figured your dad would have told you.” He leaned in and lowered his voice; “I think they’re trying to keep it quiet to see if it will work this time before they say anything. I only found out because I had to babysit Darrell when they went to dinner.”

She decided to let her dad and Alicia keep their secret until they were ready to say anything. She liked Alicia and after the trouble she caused in regards to his last relationship, even if it was justified, he was probably a little nervous about sharing his love life with her.

It was understandable, his behavior. She did the same thing when he showed a disinterest in her choice of boyfriend. If they were going to fix that pitfall in their relationship she had to make up some good daughter points by making Alicia feel welcome in order to show her dad that she was okay with him dating again.

She saw Logan head towards the kitchen with the two bags of ice they brought and laid them in the sink, leaving Dick alone for the moment, giving her the perfect opportunity to properly thank him. Her father and Alicia could wait for now since they were caught up in conversation.

Dick smiled shyly when he saw her approach, “I take it they told you?” He motioned with his eyes over to Mac and Wallace.

“Yeah, they did.” She leaned in and gave him a quick hug, “thank you, Dick.” Veronica tucked a piece of hair behind her ears, “it means a lot to me that you would throw me a baby shower.”

“That’s what families do, right? You’re like the little sister I didn’t want but eventually grew to appreciate and maybe even somewhat like. It was no big deal.” He bumped her shoulder trying to change the sappy mood, “c’mon let’s eat. It took you guys forever to get here and we’re all starving.”

“That’s because we had to stop and get all the random items you requested. We didn’t know we were holding up a baby shower.”

“They’re not random, I really needed all those things I asked you for,” Dick said with a completely serious tone.

“Really? What for?” Veronica asked, her curiosity still not satisfied.

“Have you never thrown a party before?” Dick ticked each item off on his fingers, “the ice is for the beverages—“

“You live in a hotel where they have free ice in a machine down the hall,” Veronica cut him off.

“Yeah, and that little ice bucket only holds like fifteen pieces. I would be running to refill it every five minutes. You had to come over here anyway since this party was for you and it was easier for you to just bring bags of ice instead of me running out and missing the surprise.”

Veronica rolled her eyes, “and the blindfold?”

Dick smirked, “that’s for later, you’ll see.”

“Joy,” she responded with a hint of irritation at not getting a real answer. “Does it have anything to do with my lock picks?”

“No, those were how you were supposed to get in.”

“You have a key card entryway, Dick. What exactly was I suppose to pick?”

“I don’t know, I just thought that was how you got your nosy self in everywhere.”

Veronica turned and started walking toward the kitchen to grab a plate of food with Dick on her heels asking about all the other ways she has had to use her lock pick set to break and enter over the years.


After everyone had finished eating they all settled themselves back into the suite’s living room with Dick standing up in the middle like a ringleader announcing what they were going to do next. “Okay, Ronnie, come here, we’re going to play a game.”

“What kind of game?” Veronica asked from the couch, not bothering to move yet until she knew what she would be doing.

“A fun one. Now get your ass up and grab that blindfold you brought.” He went over to one of the walls and measured out ten steps and then stood there marking his place waiting for Veronica to join him.

She handed him the blindfold reluctantly, “what are we doing?”

“Hold these,” he handed her a plastic baggie of cardboard cutout sperm and walked back to the wall where he taped up another anatomical piece of cardboard. He threw his hands out to his sides in a surprise gesture, “pin the sperm on the egg in the uterus!”

“Dick.” She said with a flat tone of voice, pleading with just his name that she didn’t want to play this game. The little puppy dog pout he sent her way filled her with guilt though, “fine, one round.”

His face lit up with a big smile, “find the little swimmer with your name on it.” When she found the Veronica sperm he tied the blindfold over her eyes and slowly spun her around twice before releasing her to place her pin.

They all took turns playing the ridiculous game Dick found online and declared Mac as the winner when her pin landed closest to the egg inside the uterus. Dick handed her her prize, a plush uterus pillow for which she quickly donated to Veronica.

Veronica and Logan sat next to each other on the couch for presents so they could open them together.

Wallace got them a bouncy seat, Mac got them a digital baby monitor that had an optional camera feature if they wanted both video and sound and Alicia bought them a diaper bag and filled it with goodies such as a thermometer, a suction bulb, bottles, baby shampoo, bottle nipples, baby lotion, washcloths, a bottle warmer and a couple of handmade coupons for free babysitting.

Dick excitedly handed over his gifts next, a larger rectangular one for Logan, which turned out to be a pack and play and another smaller box for his best friend that contained a toddler sized wet suit.

Veronica got a handful of gifts to open from Dick too – a top of the line breast pump, nipple cream and a nursing pillow. “There seems to be a theme with your gifts, Dick.”

“Ever since you used my laptop to look up why your boobs were leaking all I get are breastfeeding ads. I figured it was the perfect thing to get you.”

Veronica looked mortified. “Thank you, Dick, for announcing to everyone here the status of my breasts.”

“You should have cleared the history.”

Before Veronica could maul him, Keith pushed his two gifts across the floor closer to the couch effectively changing the topic of conversation, “here you go, honey.”

Logan and Veronica each took one and opened them up revealing a stroller and a car seat. They said their thank you’s to everyone and went around the room giving out hugs with a more personalized thank you.


 

About an hour later the group was still sitting around the living room talking and laughing after finishing up some dessert cake and ice cream.

Wallace was in the middle of telling them about the latest prank the senior basketball players had played on the freshmen basketball players. “…it took the student health center nurses over an hour to figure out how to unglue the basketball from Louis’ junk. I thought they were gonna have to send him to the hospital in all his naked glory.”

The room erupted in laughter at the poor freshman’s tragedy with bored seniors and a dare he couldn’t refuse. Veronica’s laughter cut off suddenly and turned into what sounded like a painful gasp as she clutched at her stomach.

“You okay, V?” Wallace asked concerned, the rest of the group falling silent.

“Yeah,” she nodded, avoiding eye contact with a hand still pressed firmly to her bump.

Logan leaned over and tilted her chin up so he could see her face. His eyes were laced with worry. “Are you sure?”

“Mhmm,” she nodded again, “I think I had too much to eat. I’m just going to use the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

He helped her off the couch, “want me to go with you?”

“No, I’m fine.” She gave him a small smile hoping it would be enough to convince him she was okay. “Really, Logan, I’m fine.”

He watched her walk to his old room and disappear behind the door before he turned back to his family and friends and saw five pairs of eyes mirroring his own fear.

Alicia smiled her warm and motherly smile as she crossed the room to him, squeezing his shoulder in comfort, “I’ll check on her. I’m sure it’s nothing.” She moved across the room following the path where Veronica disappeared to and quietly knocked on the bathroom door. “Veronica?”

“I’m fine, I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

“Can I come in?” She didn’t hear a response so she tried the knob on the door and found it unlocked. Moving into the bathroom she saw Veronica sitting on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub holding her stomach with a bit of a panicked expression. She closed the bathroom door behind her and squatted down in front of her son’s best friend. “Where does it hurt?”

“It doesn’t hurt, it just feels really tight,” Veronica responded quietly.

“Just in the front? Not in your back, right?”

“Yeah,” Veronica nodded.

“May I?” Alicia asked pointing to Veronica’s stomach and when the young blonde tilted her head up and down, giving her permission to touch, she placed her hands on Veronica’s protruding belly and slowly moved her hands around the now contorted shape. “I think you’re having Braxton Hicks contractions. You’ve probably been having them for weeks, but they weren’t intense enough for you to notice.”

She removed her hands from Veronica’s stomach and sat next to her on the side of the tub. “When I was pregnant with Wallace I didn’t feel them until I was almost due, with Darrell I felt them at the beginning of the second trimester. They’re a little unsettling the first few times you feel them until you get used to it.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes until Veronica was confident the pseudo contractions were gone. She turned to the older woman with soft eyes and a smile, “thank you Alicia. I’m glad you came today, for me and for my dad.”

“Me too.” Alicia leaned in to give Veronica a hug, “you know if you ever have any questions or if you just need someone to talk to about being pregnant or motherhood or anything else you can always call me. Day or night, if you need anything, I’m here.”

Veronica held Alicia a little tighter hoping the hug conveyed everything she couldn’t say out loud. She wasn’t used to having a motherly figure in her life and now she had two incredible women willing to step up and play the part when she needed a mom the most. Their kindness warmed her heart and the gesture made her miss her mom more than she would ever like to admit.

Chapter Text

Veronica was sitting on the couch in the living room alternating between watching tv and doing some early reading for her spring classes. The semester didn’t start until next week, but with her classes being hybrid this year and the baby coming anytime between February and March she wanted to get ahead as much as she could.

She closed her textbook after finishing the first three chapters and set it aside while she slipped off her zip up jacket leaving her in just a tank top. Why is it so hot in here? Going over to the back windows she cracked a few of them open and then went over to the thermostat and turned the temperature down from 72 to 68.

She yelled down the hallway to Logan, “still doing okay?”

He was in the baby’s room hanging some pictures on the walls that Veronica had taken recently. Or at least trying to – handiwork clearly wasn’t his specialty – no surprise there though.

When he first started, every few minutes she would hear him loudly curse while he was hammering. She’d call down the hall and ask if he was okay with a small smile on her face and he would respond that he was. Now, almost thirty minutes later, he was still trying to hang the frames up and when he would hit his finger he would automatically respond with I’m fine before she could check in on him.

“Yeah, I’m almost done.” He yelled back.

She bit her bottom lip trying to hold in her laughter. He had said the same thing about fifteen minutes ago too. “Need any help?”

“No, you should rest. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

She rolled her eyes from his comment. “You’re just hanging pictures on the wall, Logan. As far as activities go that one is relatively safe.”

“Not according to my fingers.”

“You know, I have swung a hammer before. I could hammer while you hold?”

“I’m almost done, Veronica, really. Why don’t you order us something for lunch.”

Fine.She turned on her heel to go to the kitchen to pull out their saved take out menus, but the doorbell ringing had her changing courses. “I got it,” she called out so Logan wouldn’t have to stop working.

When she opened the door she saw a young girl with shoulder length brown hair in a pair of jeans and a pink hoodie standing on the front porch. “Hi,” Veronica said with a kind smile. “Is it Girl Scout season already?”

The young girl’s eyes widened as she looked at the house number on the pillar next to the door and back to Veronica and then down to her very large stomach. A goofy grin took over the girl’s face.

Veronica noticed where the girl’s eyes had focused and smiled as she rubbed her belly. “I know what you’re thinking, you just hit the jackpot coming to a pregnant woman’s house.”

“Actually, Miss—“

“We’ll take six boxes of Thin Mints. Wait, no, better make that eight. Eight boxes of Thin Mints, four boxes of Samoas and…hang on let me ask my boyfriend what he wants.” She turned back and yelled through the house again, “Logan, what kind of Girl Scout cookies do you want?”

The young girl gasped upon hearing Logan’s name, but Veronica mistook the meaning for the girl being cold. She stepped aside and waved her hand, “do you want to come inside for a minute while we figure out our order? It’s a little chilly outside.”

The brown haired girl walked inside the house holding the straps of her book bag that were hooked around her shoulders. She turned in slow circles as she surveyed the large living room. “Wow. This is so much better than the Grand!” she squealed.

Veronica eyed the girl suspiciously after her comment, finally taking note of the rather large book bag on her back and no sign of any Girl Scout memorabilia. She realized the girl never actually said she was a Girl Scout, she had just assumed she was. Why else would a kid show up at their door? Stupid pregnancy brain. “I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again?”

“Heather,” Logan said before the girl could respond, more than a little surprised to see her.

“Heather?” Veronica questioned as she turned to look at Logan then back to the girl. “You know her?”

“She’s my friend.” He stepped up beside Heather and ruffled the hair on top of her head. “I babysat her last year when Dick ran off and married her sister in Vegas.”

“More like I babysat you, old man,” Heather snorted. “You were smelly and hadn’t showered in days because you were so miserable after Miss Veronica broke up with you.” She pointed between the couple, “I see the song dedication worked. I told you girls love that stuff,” Heather finished staring pointedly at Logan. “You can thank me when you’re ready.”

“You’re the girl from the elevator.” Veronica finally pieced together. “And you can just call me Veronica, Miss isn’t necessary.”

“Not that I’m not happy to see you, but what are you doing here? And how did you even know where we lived?” Logan asked Heather.

“Melinda wanted to come down to Neptune for some party, but my mom made her bring me too. I asked if I could stay with you like last time so she dropped me off at the Grand. Dick said you didn’t live there anymore so he put me in a cab and sent me here.” Heather explained.

“He put you in a cab!” Logan exclaimed incredulously.

“I’m twelve, Logan. I can ride in a cab by myself,” she put her hands on her waist in a challenge. “It wasn’t a big deal. I made it here safely, didn’t I?”

Logan ran his hand through his hair. “Did you at least tell your sister where you were going?”

Heather nodded her head, “I called her before I left the Grand and gave her your new address. She’s said that’s fine and she would be by to pick me up at the end of the week.” She looked at both Veronica and Logan sheepishly. “So, can I stay here?”

“Of course you can. We have a guest room you can stay in,” Veronica spoke up. “Logan can help get you settled. I’m going to order some lunch from Luigi’s, do you like Italian, Heather?”

“I like spaghetti,” Heather smiled.

“Spaghetti it is,” Veronica nodded back with a smile before she turned to go place their order.

Logan gave Heather a quick tour of the house ending in the nursery.

Heather walked around the room, running her fingers over all the trinkets she found lying around. “It’s weird that you’re going to be a dad to a little baby.”

He ran his hand around the back of his neck. “A bad weird or a good weird?”

She put down a picture frame that was resting on top of the dresser, the ultrasound photo they got when they found out the sex of the baby. “You’re going to be a good dad, Logan. You took care of me and you didn’t even know me. You’re good with kids and this baby will be yours so it will be different. I said weird because its proof you really are an old man now.”

“I’m not old.” Logan crossed his arms over his chest and laughed. “Come on, let me show you your room.”

He walked her through the connecting Jack and Jill bathroom and into the guest bedroom. Logan sat on the bed while Heather took her clothes out of her bag and put them away in the dresser under the tv.

When she was finished she turned back to him with a sad expression. “You stopped playing.”

He didn’t need to ask what she was talking about, he knew, their once a week Mario Kart online tournament. They played for a few months, every week on the same day at the same time. Then the beat down with Gory happened, he left town, Veronica found out she was pregnant, they started dating, she was kidnapped and then the trial took place. He didn’t mean to forget, life just got way too busy and his priorities shifted and were focused on Veronica and the baby.

“I’m sorry. I should have called you and told you I couldn’t play for a while,” he apologized sincerely. After her dad left her last year he never wanted to be another person to leave her without notice. He knew firsthand how abandonment felt. “We could go play right now until lunch arrives.”

“Okay,” her smile was back on her face shining at a thousands watts. “Prepare to lose, I’ve been practicing.”

“We’ll see about that.” He climbed off the bed and stopped her before she left the room. “Hey, Heather?”

“Yeah?” She turned around with her hand on the door handle.

“Thank you.” It wasn’t necessarily for the song dedication since that wasn’t what brought Veronica back to him, but she didn’t need to know that. She was still optimistic when it came to love and he didn’t want to take that away from her. His thanks was more about being his friend, forgiving him and giving him a second chance when he didn’t deserve one.

She walked back over to him and gave him a hug. She pulled away a moment later and smiled up at him. “Do you think Veronica will want to play too?”

“I don’t know, you can ask. She’s terrible at Mario Kart so playing her might be the only way you’re going to win this week,” he teased.

“You better watch it old man, I’m going to take you down,” she replied jumping on his back so he could give her a piggy back ride out to the living room.


After a few days of endless Mario Kart tournaments and staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching movies, eating junk food and playing tourist in their own city Logan and Veronica had to get back to being the adults they kind of were.

They had several errands to run and appointments to get to, first of which was Veronica’s prenatal appointment with Dr. Swaldoe.

Veronica went up to the front desk to check in while Logan and Heather took a seat along the back wall. A few minutes later she joined them to find them with their heads together behind a magazine. Logan’s face was pulled tight in concentration and Heather kept looking up at him every few seconds trying hard to hold back her laughter.

“What are you reading?” Veronica asked, curious about the origin of the serious expression on Logan’s face.

He didn’t look away from the magazine as he responded, “a quiz to see how much I know about newborns and partnership from a father’s perspective.”

“And?” Veronica questioned, “how did you do?”

“Twelve out of fifteen,” he replied slightly disappointed.

“That’s not bad.”

“I had to help him,” Heather cut in with a small laugh.

“And for being a snitch you can sit there empty handed and watch Veronica and I as we eat ice cream from Amy’s later,” he teased Heather with no real threat behind his words.

“And to be fair, the answers to these questions are kind of ridiculous. Listen to this one – what kind of postpartum present would your partner-turned-mom appreciate most? A spa package, a bouquet of flowers or a new outfit for the baby? I said a new outfit for the baby, but that was incorrect, it was spa package. My partner, however, despises the spa, so had they had an option for a get out of jail free card or a girl’s night out for an all inclusive stakeout and guaranteed money shot I probably would have gotten that question right.”

Veronica smiled and laughed at his justification for getting the answer wrong. She sobered up and looked at him seriously, “you don’t need to take a quiz to prove to me or anyone else what kind of dad you will be.”

She saw the uncertainty in his eyes. It was a look and an energy about him that started to show over the last week. The baby shower combined with her Braxton Hicks was another wake up call that this was all real. They were having a baby and even though her due date was still a few weeks away, the baby could choose to make her way into this world at any time, whether they were prepared or not.

He was getting nervous and it was understandable because she was nervous too. And scared, but that had more to do with the actual labor process than anything else at the moment.

They were the only group in the waiting room currently so she placed her hand on his cheek to hold his attention. “You’re going to be the best dad, Logan. You already are the best dad.”

“Yeah?” He questioned softly.

“Yeah.”

“How do you know?”

She grabbed his hand and placed it, palm side down, on the side of her belly where the baby was kicking wildly. “Because she only gets this rambunctious when you’re around – when she can hear your voice. She loves you, Logan. You’re her dad. The one who protects her and reads her bedtime stories. Who bought her a toddler sized surfboard, which absolutely terrifies me by the way, but I know you’ll keep her safe. You’ve loved her since day one and it shows in everything you do. She loves you and so do I.”

With his free hand he brushed the tears off her face knowing she wouldn’t want anyone to see her getting emotional. “Hormones?”

She let out a chuckle and lifted her thumbs up to wipe the tears off his cheeks as well. “Yeah, but what’s your excuse?”

“I’m just an emotional sap,” he smiled.

Veronica fisted a handful of his shirt and brought him down into a kiss.

When half a minute went by and the kiss still continued Heather gagged. “Get a room.”

They both broke the kiss with a laugh.

Logan looked over at Heather and shook his head, “way to ruin the moment, Button.”

“Like you two don’t suck face enough,” the twelve year old countered back smiling.

The waiting room door opened and a nurse stepped out calling Veronica’s name. The three of them followed the nurse down the hall into exam room two to wait for Dr. Swaldoe.

After the routine checks, weight, blood pressure, and a sample of urine, the nurse left and Veronica climbed back up onto the exam table to wait.

Dr. Swaldoe came in a few minutes later and smiled upon seeing her favorite couple. They definitely kept things interesting for her. “You brought a guest with you today.”

“Dr. Swaldoe, this is my friend Heather. She’s staying with us for the week,” Logan supplied. “Heather, this is Dr. Swaldoe, the amazing woman who keeps my two favorite blondes healthy and safe.”

“There’s a strong chance your daughter will have brown hair like you Logan.” Dr. Swaldoe explained, amused by his predictions, “dark hair is dominant.”

“That may be true, but this little one is going to be blonde, I know it. A perfect replica of her mother, you’ll see.”

“I guess we will in about seven weeks, won’t we?” Dr. Swaldoe laughed and turned her attention to the mother-to-be. “Speaking of which, how are you feeling, Veronica?”

She took a deep breath and blew it out holding her stomach, “huge, hot and always in the bathroom.”

“Well, that sounds about right,” Dr. Swaldoe smiled. “How much sleep are you getting?”

“About eight hours at night and a few afternoon naps a week,” Veronica responded, “but classes start back up next week so I think my days of sleeping in are just about done.”

“Good,” Dr. Swaldoe jotted a few notes in Veronica’s chart. “I know its hard being pregnant while still going to school, but don’t over do it. I want you to strive for at least eight hours a night, maybe moving that bedtime up earlier to ensure you’re fully rested. If you begin to feel excessively fatigued or feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed I want you to call the office and we’ll get you in that same day. Can you promise me you’ll do that?”

“Yeah, I’ll sleep, I promise.”

“I’m going to take any symptoms you may have going into the final weeks a little more seriously than I would with other moms because you’ve had a recent hospital admission due to exhaustion and dehydration. And I don’t want another one because you won’t like the restrictions I put you on.”

“You’re threatening me with bed rest,” Veronica said with a raised eyebrow as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“That depends, is it working?” Dr. Swaldoe responded with a smirk.

“A little,” Veronica mumbled softly.

“Then, yes, I’m threatening you with bed rest,” Dr. Swaldoe smiled. “Want to see your little girl now?”

Dr. Swaldoe took some measurements and felt around Veronica’s stomach before she told her to unbutton her jeans and pull them down a few inches.

Logan stood up and moved to Veronica’s side taking his usual position and motioned for Heather to come closer so she could see the screen too.

Dr. Swaldoe moved the ultrasound wand around the lower part of Veronica’s belly checking the baby’s positioning. “She’s still sitting around your hips. In the next couple of visits before you deliver we’ll continue to check her positioning. You’ll feel her drop lower into your pelvis, in the next few weeks, a sign that your body is gearing up for labor. Our goal is that by the time you’re ready to push she will be head down, facing backwards. But for right now she’s fine where she is, sitting happy and healthy.”

Dr. Swaldoe had Heather come around to her side of the exam table and brought the baby up on screen in full view by moving the wand into a better position. She pointed out all the baby’s features to the twelve year old and explained the changes that will take place over the remaining seven weeks of development.

“Wow, this is so cool!” Heather said excitedly with a huge smile on her face looking between Veronica’s belly and the baby on the screen.

“It is pretty cool, isn’t it?” Dr. Swaldoe printed out the new ultrasound pictures and an extra one for Heather with Veronica and Logan’s permission before turning off the machine. “How’s her movement been Veronica?”

“She kicks like a champ. I’m surprised I don’t have bruises to show for it.” Veronica rubbed her side in a dramatic flare. “She’s wiggly, that’s for sure. Takes after Logan with her inability to sit still for long periods of time.”

“For right now, movement is good. It’s when they don’t move that we worry.” Dr. Swaldoe handed a few tissues to Logan to clean the jelly off Veronica’s belly. “Unless you have any questions, I’ll see you back in two weeks. Everything looks great.”

“Thank you, Dr. Swaldoe.” Logan responded.

“You’re welcome. Remember that promise Veronica.”

“More sleep, got it.” She said as she finished straightening her clothes.

“It was nice to meet you Heather and I’ll see you two soon,” Dr. Swaldoe finished before leaving the room.

The group headed up to the front and scheduled Veronica’s next appointment. They had a few more errands to run, but the next stop on the list was Amy’s for ice cream.


At the end of the week Melinda showed to pick up Heather so they could head back home. Veronica followed the young girl to the guest bedroom to help her pack up her things while Logan kept Melinda occupied in the foyer.

“Thanks for letting me stay here with you guys. I had a really fun time.”

“You’re welcome to stay here any time you want. We like having you here,” Veronica said as she folded some of Heather’s tee shirts and stuffed them into her book bag. “And I’m sorry that Logan got so busy taking care of me that he didn’t have time to keep up your Mario Kart tournament. I’ll make sure he has time from now on.”

“It’s okay, Veronica. It’s not your fault.” Heather zipped up her now full book bag and moved it to the side so she could sit next to Veronica on the bed. “I’m glad you and Logan worked things out. He’s happier with you in his life.”

Veronica smiled; she didn’t know what to say to that. “You ready to go?”

“I guess,” Heather replied sadly as she picked up her book bag and slipped it onto her shoulders.

“You know, you’ll have to come back soon so the baby can meet you.”

“Really?” Heather’s smile brightened.

“Of course. Maybe over spring break your mom will let you come down.”

Heather threw her arms around Veronica’s waist. “Thank you.”

They walked to the foyer where Logan and Melinda were waiting.

“Bye kiddo,” Logan ruffled Heather’s hair like he had on the day she showed up.

“Bye old man.” She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a hug. “Don’t forget, Thursdays 5-6pm are reserved for Mario Kart. Call me if you have to cancel.”

Logan smiled, “I won’t forget this time. I promise.”