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Promptober 2018 - Dissolutioned universe

Chapter Text

July 31, 2008

"Oh crap, where are my shoes?  Veronica, what did you do with the flashlight?"

A sleepy grumble sounded beside him. It's not like he could see her, in the pitch black of the tent, but she definitely sounded grouchy.  

He couldn't really blame her, it was probably three in the morning, but he needed to pee, and he did not find the idea of plunging off into the Shenandoah River in the moonless night to be a good way to end what had otherwise been a very nice day.  Rafting with Sam and Mady and the rest of the gang from last year's wilderness trip, a surprisingly tasty dinner over the fire, and then naked time with Veronica in their tent, which he'd deliberately set a ways off from the fire pit to ensure a little privacy.  Nope. With all that going for him, he was not gonna go out and take a wrong step.  Which meant...

"Baby, I'm sorry, but I need the flashlight." He finally put a hand on one of his shoes, slipping it on, and then felt around for the other.

"Why are you asking me?" The voice was still grumpy, but more alert.

"You had it last." He slid the second shoe on, and turned to face her, on his knees, feeling around in the bulky double sleeping bag. His hands found Veronica easily, they always did, but when he patted around her, he came up with nothing.

"I put it down right inside the door so it would be easy to find. Now stop mauling me unless you mean it."

He leaned down to kiss somewhere near where her voice was coming from.  "I'll be right back in and then I'll maul you in all your favorite ways."

"I hope your aim's better when you get outside. That was my eyeball." 

"I'll do my best."  He crawled over toward where he knew the door was, feeling as he went for a cold metal cylinder. His head had brushed into the nylon of the tent wall when he finally found what he was looking for and flipped it on.

"Ugh." The flash of light was bright in his eyes, but he flipped the illuminated end down and reached for the zipper that was now easy to find.  As he stood, he heard Veronica snort a laugh.

"What?"  He swiveled to shine the light toward her, taking care to not shine it directly in her eyes.  She was sitting up, snickering, her hand over her mouth.

"You're going out there like that?"

"What?" he repeated, frowning at her. "I didn't want to go out barefoot and step on something sharp."

"But you're fine going out there naked?"

He glanced down, with a half smile. "Yeah, why not? No one else should be out there and I don't need clothes for what I'm going out to do. I'll only be a minute. And once I'm back, I don't want to have to waste any time getting undressed again before I can get to the mauling."

She shook her head, still grinning. "Okay, if you say so. Flash who you want."

"Like you'd be saying that if you really thought that would happen." He struck a ridiculous pose for her, while shining the flashlight over himself like a roving spotlight. "I'm well aware this sight is for your eyes only."

She nodded, giving him a lascivious up and down, and he laughed, then turned back toward the door.  "Back in a flash."

"Like you said, you better hope not." 

Chapter Text

January 10, 2013

The baby closed her eyes and Veronica sighed in relief, as quietly as possible. She wasn't going to risk waking her. They'd been home from the hospital for two days, and Veronica was certain she hadn't slept for more than fifteen minutes at a time since then. And those fifteen minute stretches had been pretty few and far between.

She'd just barely started to doze again after the last feeding, when she'd heard Robin start to snuffle in her bassinet. It was all Veronica could do to not burst into tears when she heard her. And when the baby latched on, she really did start to cry.  How does a toothless creature bite so hard? 

It was maybe another minute after Robin's eyes closed before her mouth went slack.  She was pretty sure it had only been a few minutes of torture this time, but all that meant was that it wouldn't be long before the baby would be awake and ready to eat again.  Veronica took in a deep breath and stood, carrying her newborn daughter back to the bassinet, then grabbing a fresh nursing pad out of her dresser drawer. She tucked it into the cup of her bra and hooked it back up, then tried to rearrange the slits in her nursing nightgown so she wouldn't give everyone in the living room a show. She wasn't going to get any sleep anyway, and it was the middle of the afternoon.  She might as well get up and visit with her company.  Dad was going to stay the rest of the week, and Carol was probably going to be here until Veronica told her she could go, probably around the time of Robin's first birthday at the rate things were going, but Alicia had only been able to get away from Neptune for a couple of days, and she was heading back tomorrow. Veronica wanted to see her as much as she could before she had to leave.

She slipped her robe on and then moved back over to peek at her baby once more. Even with the complete lack of sleep, and the nipples that felt like they should be bleeding, and the unfortunate EVERYTHING that was going on from her waist down, the surge of love that she felt as she looked at their tiny daughter made her breathless. The head of dark hair had to have come from Logan, since Veronica's blonde hair had made her look bald until she was two. Behind the closed lids, Robin's eyes were blue, but whether that would last or not was anyone's guess. The tiny bow of a mouth, which, even in sleep, was pursing rhythmically, as if she was dreaming of the next time she would get to nurse.

"Why are you up?" 

Logan's voice at the door was only a whisper, but Veronica flinched regardless, fearing he would wake the baby.  Robin didn't stir though, and Veronica could breathe again. 

"Your daughter eats like a linebacker—"

"Or like her mother." He moved up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her temple, then tucking his chin over her shoulder to look down at the baby with her.

"—and she was just up again for another meal."

He reached around her, fingers stretching for the baby, but Veronica slapped at his hand. 

“For the love of all that is holy, please don’t wake her up.” She turned to face him, leaning her forehead against his chest. “I’m begging you.”

He pulled her closer, cradling her head. “Lay back down, Veronica. You’re about to drop.”

”It doesn’t matter,” she replied, tears threatening again. “As soon as I fall asleep, she wakes up. There’s no point.”

”Yes, there is. You need to rest. Come on.” He led her back to the bed and tucked her into it, kissing her gently on the forehead, then sitting beside her.

”Go to sleep, and when she wakes up, I’ll get her.”

”But she’ll be hungry.”

”Maybe, maybe not. When you get her, she knows she can eat. When I do, she doesn’t expect it.”

”So I’m just a cafeteria to her.” A small part of her brain knew she was being ridiculous, but the rest of her wasn’t buying it, and the tears started to leak out of the corners of her eyes.

”Oh baby.” Logan dropped another kiss on her forehead, then against the tear tracks on both sides, then on her frowning mouth. “Go to sleep, please. If she really is hungry, I’ll bring her to you, but first, she can spend some time getting to know her grandparents. Okay?”

”Okay,” she grumbled, as he kissed her again. “No sneaking in formula while I’m sleeping.”

”Nope. I know the rules.” He stroked her cheek. “Love you.”

Her eyes slipped closed. ”Love you too.”

 

Chapter Text

October 1, 2008

"Remind me again why we're going to this thing?"

Mac sighed and shook her head. "Support for Prop 2, Veronica. PHAT's trying to raise awareness about the plight of farm animals so they can get the proposition passed in November. This demonstration is to rally the support of the Hearst student body." She waved the flyer in her hand, then folded it in half and brandished it at Veronica. "This is the size of the cage of an egg-laying hen. And then they stack them on top of each other. They burn their beaks off so they don't peck each other, Bond."

"Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, stop right now." Veronica cringed and shrugged her shoulders up around her ears, like she could somehow un-hear Mac's explanation. "We're not gonna see anything about that, right? I can't watch videos like that. No. Just...no. I will leave." 

"I don't expect any videos tonight. I can't promise there'll be no signs though."

Veronica shuddered. "I see even a single beak-less chicken, I'm out."

"Duly noted." They were nearing a crowd outside the Student Union. "Thanks for coming, Veronica."

"No problem. Gotta support the chickens. Need 'em for my breakfast."

Mac burst into nervous laughter. "Probably want to keep that sentiment to yourself."

"Does that mean I can't talk about bacon either?"

"Oh, dear God."

"Hey." Veronica stopped, peering up at the Student Union steps where the PHAT leaders were gathering. After a moment, she glanced suspiciously at Mac. "I know that guy."

"Yeah," Mac replied evenly. "We both do. You worked a case two years ago and we met him."

"And you dated him." Veronica spun at Mac, pointing an accusatory finger. "That's why I'm here. You couldn't very well bring Dick with you to meet up with an ex-boyfriend."

"That's not why you're here," Mac protested. "Dick cares even less about the ethical treatment of animals than you do. Of the people I usually interact with, you were the least offensive option so I wouldn't have to come alone."

Veronica burst into laughter. "Least offensive option. Wow. That's something to aspire to. Way to make a girl feel wanted." She threw an arm around Mac's shoulders. "So, spill. Did ex-boyfriend—"

"Bronson."

"—yeah, that's right, Bronson, did he invite you here himself? Or are you really into the plight of the chickens?"

"It's a legit issue, Veronica. If you're going to insist on eating eggs, you should at least go cage-free."

"I think we already do. Logan does all the grocery shopping online and I'm pretty sure he's got a genetic pre-disposition that makes him buy the most expensive version of any given item." She gestured toward Bronson. "Come on, don't think you can divert attention from the topic at hand. Did you get a personal invitation to this thing?"

"It's not like that. We've both got classes in the same hall, that let out at the same time, so sometimes we bump into each other and talk. This demonstration is a big deal for PHAT, so he asked if I could come and bring a friend or two. There's supposed to be press here, and if they were only able to pull in a tiny crowd, they'd probably get ignored next time they tried to get any publicity."

"Uh huh." Veronica nodded thoughtfully. "So there's nothing going on here that's gonna end up with Dick whiny and hanging around my house all the time, right? Like when he was trying to get you to move in with him and you kept saying no? He was attached to my husband like a limpet until you finally agreed. You know how I feel about Dick who won't get out of my house."

Mac snorted. "You've made your feelings on that subject abundantly clear.  And that was almost a year ago, Veronica. Stop worrying, everything's fine."

"Okay, okay." Veronica shrugged, looking a little apologetic. "I just had to check.  Can't have you dumping Logan's BFF. Too much risk of him ending up crashed on my couch."

"You know, if I ever start to feel dissatisfied in my relationship, I'll try to remember to keep your needs in mind and just suffer through."

"Excellent, thanks." Veronica looked at Mac with a very serious face, then they both burst into laughter. "All right, come on. The chickens need us."

Chapter Text

January 19, 2012

Logan tugged his cashmere scarf closer around his neck as he looked out the car window. It was only like ten, maybe fifteen, feet from the car to the back door of their Rhode Island rental house. He wasn't going to freeze to death in that short of a distance. Right?

Veronica had made jokes about New England winters when he first made the choice of Roger Williams to pursue his Master's in Forensic Psychology. It hadn’t been as bad as all that through November and December, some snow, definitely colder than they were used to, but not unbearable. It was a pain to have to scrape ice off his windows before he could go to school some mornings, but he’d found a service that kept their steep driveway salted, sanded, and shoveled and everything had been fine. Plus, it was so pretty. Like a painting he could chase Veronica out into, then kiss her warm again. He’d had absolutely no beef with winter in Rhode Island. Then January came. 

He sucked in one more deep breath of heated air, then pulled the scarf up to cover the lower half of his face, turned the Rover off and grabbed his backpack before lurching out into the cold, resisting the urge to bolt for the house. He knew he could only move so quickly across the driveway without risk of falling and breaking his neck, but years of swimming and surfing got him inside the house before he had to breathe in any of the air that was cooled to a temperature in the teens. Only his cheeks above the cashmere got flash-frozen, not his lungs, which was definitely a win.

He slammed the door shut and drew in a new breath. The enclosed porch wasn't a lot warmer than outdoors, but it did hold off the wind chill.  He stomped his feet as he unlocked the back door, then stepped into the entryway, closing his eyes as the toasty, aromatic air started his thaw. He closed the door and leaned against it for a moment, smiling at the warmth that radiated all through him, not just from the temperature, but from the feeling that he still always got, even after nearly five years of marriage, stepping into their house.  Their home.

"Logan?" The source of his contented feelings shouted his name and he grinned.

"It is I, your beloved husband," he pronounced grandly. "I have survived the elements and come home to you again." He shrugged out of his winter coat and hung it on the hook on the wall. In a more casual voice, he called, "Smells good in here."

Veronica appeared in the doorway between the kitchen and the entry, apron covering her clothes and a spoon in hand. "You can thank Carol for that.  All these frozen crock pot meals she made are really coming in handy when it's too cold to make you take me out to dinner."

Logan sat on the little bench to pull off his heavy boots. "Thank you, Carol.  But I think I might smell cookies too."

She smiled and stepped toward him.  "I think you might." He dropped the boot under the bench and stretched up toward her. She closed the distance and gave him a kiss.  "Welcome home, husband."

"Mmm, thank you, wife. Hey, you know, good news about the cookies. My professors are starting to make noise about needing more incentive to keep giving me A's."  He settled back and pulled off the other boot, then reached for his indoor shoes.  One thing about real winter, it made footwear more complicated. Wandering around barefoot really wasn't an option these days, no matter how roasty toasty Veronica kept the house. 

"You know, if my cookies are what's driving your educational success, I think they’re going to need to put my name on that diploma too."

"I'll check into that." He stood and followed her into the kitchen.  As expected, her cooling racks were loaded with cookies, both snickerdoodle and chocolate chip. "Wow, you were busy today."

“I was all ready to go down to the creek to shoot photos of the weird way the little waterfall froze, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go out there. I really need the mercury to hit above the twenty mark before I go out.”

Logan laughed and reached for a cookie. “So you redirected your energy to culinary activity. I’m good with that.”

“Don’t ruin your dinner with cookies.” She peeked under the crockpot lid, frowned, then replaced the lid. “I think maybe another hour or so.”

“Okay.” He moved up behind her and rested his hands on her hips, stooping to kiss her neck.  “Think I can talk you upstairs with me? I’ve got a busy weekend of school work coming, but a free hour before dinner? Sounds like time to preemptively burn off some of these cookie calories."

"It won't be entirely preemptive for me," she said as she turned out of his arms, stepping back and smirking at him. 

"Preemptive, post-emptive..." He shrugged when her eyebrows made it clear she was questioning whether that was a word at all. "Whatever." He flipped his scarf off and tossed it around her, pulling her close again. "It's no fair to make cookies unless you're prepared to help me keep them from going straight to my hips."

She burst into laughter. "That is the lamest rationale for sex I have ever heard you give."

"And that's saying something."

"All right, come on then.  I refuse to be responsible for you getting hippy."

Chapter Text

June 3, 2020

"Daddeeee, look at my 'mato."

Logan turns from where he's watering his corn to see his four-year-old daughter's prize. "That is a good lookin' tomato, Reenie." He tosses the hose onto an open space, and moves to where she is cradling a tomato that is the size and shape of a miniature pumpkin, but is colored dark red, with brownish-green stripes. He watches her sniff it, then frown.

"This is not choc'late."  

He laughs and crouches next to her. "That's just its name, sweetie. Chocolate stripes tomato. See?" He traces his finger on the dark coloration, smiling at her encouragingly. The tomato is big enough that she's using both hands to hold it, but he watches her stroke her thumb against a stripe.

"Not choc'late," she repeats. 

"Nope. But tasty anyway." He leans forward and takes a bite, growling a little when he does it, which makes her squeal, then giggle.

"Daddy!"

"You try it."

She wrinkles her nose, but lifts the tomato to her mouth and takes a tiny bite. Then another, bigger, and this time with a growl to match his. "Yummy, Daddy."

"I know." He takes another bite. "You picked a good one, Reen."

"Thanks."  She bites again, a big one that makes juice run down her chin. Logan laughs and snatches the last bite as she turns her head to the side to wipe the mess against her shoulder. He pulls her into his arms and stands, gesturing back toward the corn. 

“You've got your tomatoes, and in another month, we'll have all the corn on the cob we want,” he says and she claps, then twists toward Veronica’s favorite trees.

”When are the ‘vacados?” she asks.

”It's probably a couple more months before we can harvest the avo-cados.” He says the word slowly and deliberately. “Probably when we come home from Virginia.”

“With my pony!” Reenie claps again and he shakes his head ruefully.

”We don’t bring our ponies home, Reen, remember?”

She scowls and shakes her head. “No! I need my pony!” 

“Our ponies always go back to live with their mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters. You don’t want someone taking you to live away from all of us, right?”

She huffs out a long breath, and for a moment, it looks like she’s trying to decide. Then she snuggles closer and shakes her head against his chest.

”No, guess not.” 

Logan chuckles and kisses her head. “That’s a relief.” He lifts his free hand to wave toward their tiny grove of apple trees. “You definitely want to be here when it’s apple harvest time, Reen. Do you remember? Mommy and Gramma Alicia make us tons of apple pies."

"With the crumblies?"

"Yep, some of them have crumblies." He tickles her belly and she giggles, then squirms to get down. As he watches, she skips back to the tomato plants.

"Come on, Daddy. More choc'late 'matoes."

He grins and follows. "Yes, ma'am. More choc'late 'matoes, coming up."

Chapter Text

July 5, 2025

Veronica slipped through the door and leaned against it, rubbing her temples to try to relieve the pounding. Logan’s pacing stopped short in front of her, but his hand wringing continued.

”How’s she doing?”

She nodded.  "She's doing okay. She threw up once, but she's sleeping, real sleep, now."

He spun away, hands in his hair, pacing again, before thumping up against the wall opposite Lilly's door.

"You're sure, though? Nothing happened to her?"

Veronica moved to stand in front of him, her eyebrows raised sharply.

"She got drugged, Logan. Isn't that enough for one Fourth of July party?"

He threw his hands up. "You know that's not what I mean. Are you sure...I mean...how do you know..."

"I am reasonably certain nothing else happened to her, Logan. You heard what Cat said. She could tell Lilly was not acting normal, and she got them both out of there. Lilly didn't vanish from the party, or get found unconscious down the beach somewhere. It sounds like her best friend was looking out for her and knew not to just put the weird behavior off to regular partying." She reached for both of his hands and held them still. 

"Once she was more with it, I did...ask her some things. Underwear where it belongs—" Logan moaned and tried to pull away, but she held him firmly in place. "—nothing sore, or bleeding. I really don't think this got a chance to get worse."

"Oh, thank God." She couldn't stop him as he slumped and slid down the wall. "Why didn't she want me in there with you guys then? When she woke up, and got so upset that I was in there with you...I was so afraid that meant...meant...maybe she was remembering something, and a man in the room...maybe it frightened her."

Veronica shook her head, huffing a sad chuckle, then sat down beside him on the floor. "I wonder sometimes if your psych degree isn't more trouble than it's worth. No. I don't think she wanted you out of the room because of transference. I think she's embarrassed that you know she let herself get drugged at a party."

"Let herself?!" His voice was loud and indignant and she held up a hand and shushed him. "Let herself?" he repeated in a lower tone. "This is not her fault. It's about whatever asshole did this. Did she have any ideas about who—"

"Logan, stop."

He fell silent, but when she didn't say anything more, he elbowed her gently. "Sorry, it's just upsetting. Tell me what you think."

"Okay, well, you know we've been talking to her about...party safety, I guess, for lack of a better term, since she was in junior high. Just like we're starting to talk to Robin about it now, right?"

"Yes, of course," he replied. "Don't accept drinks unless you see them poured, don't leave your drink unattended, be aware of your surroundings..."

"Right. And what happened tonight?" She leaned her head against his shoulder. "In spite of all those warnings, here we are."

Logan moved his arm to wrap around her. "That's not her fault."

"I know, but that's sometimes a hard fact to really FEEL, when you're the one something's happened to. Blame is about the easiest thing to accept in this kind of situation. You know that; I know you do." She leaned into him and rested her hand against his chest, wanting to soften the impact of her next words.  "It's the same reason you blamed yourself whenever Aaron hurt you."

He stiffened, but only a moment passed before he nodded. "Okay, I get what you're saying. So why—"

"She's not thinking theoretically right now about accepting blame that doesn't belong to her. She's only thinking about this moment, what just happened to her, regardless of everything we've talked about through the years. And it's natural that she's afraid you'll be mad that even after all of the talks, it happened anyway."

"Then why not you too?"

"She knows it happened to me, so it's easier for her to trust that I'll understand."

His response was more pronounced this time; he jerked away, turning to look down at her.

"You told her what happened to you?"

Veronica shook her head, very slightly.  "Not about...high school, but I have told her about when Moe dosed me...during the rape investigation at Hearst. I was trying to make her understand how easy it was for something to happen. That it pays to be alert and careful all the time, not just out at a club or a party, because he put something in my soda when I left it alone for like a minute, in a crowded Food Court, and somehow no one even noticed. I wanted her to get that it doesn't have to be in a particular environment, and it can take seconds."

He kissed her temple and slouched back against the wall again.  "Okay, that makes sense. That is a good lesson about how easy it is for something to happen. And I guess it's reasonable that she took that information and figured you wouldn't blame her, since it's happened to you. Did you tell her I wouldn't blame her either?"

"This isn't about you, Logan. Her main issue right now is not how you feel."

"Sorry, I get it. I just hate that she doesn't feel like she can trust me. If Cat had taken her to her house instead, or if, God forbid, something had actually happened to her, beyond the drugs, I mean, do you think we would ever have found out this even happened?"

"I don't know." Veronica pushed herself back to her feet.  "I'm gonna look in on her, and then I think I'm going back to bed for a while at least. I'm glad the other kids are all camped out at Dad and Alicia's after fireworks.  This was a lot easier without them here."

"Yeah. Can I come in too, do you think? I just want to see that she's okay."

"I think so probably. Come on." She extended her hand to pull him up, then turned to peek into Lilly's bedroom. 

"She's asleep still." Veronica moved to Lilly's bed and sat on the edge as gently as possible, taking Lilly's hand in her own and stretching to smooth the girl's hair off her face. "Her breathing seems normal. I don't think it's dangerous for her to just sleep it off here. She'll probably have a bit of a headache in the morning, but otherwise, it seems like she should be fine."

"Thank God." Logan leaned past Veronica to stroke Lilly's hair, then bent to kiss her forehead. "Not your fault," he said in a firm voice, then straightened, and kissed the top of Veronica's head.

"I'm going to bed," he said, now in a strangled whisper, and left the room.

Veronica watched him go as she thought about his last question. If things had ended differently tonight, would they have ever known this had happened?

She wondered.  She'd tried to report what had happened to her and been shut down immediately, and after that, she'd never considered telling her father. Part of it was not wanting him to be disappointed in the mess she'd gotten herself into, much like what she assumed Lilly was feeling when she'd cried harder as Logan tried to comfort her earlier. Part of it had been concern over what her dad might do if he knew.  It wasn't like he hadn't already blown up his life pursuing justice for the original Lilly; what might he have done for Veronica herself? She'd cut Logan off earlier when he started to speculate about who had done this, but she knew it would come up again. She'd deliberately kept her father from the knowledge of what had happened to avoid him doing anything crazy that might have been more damaging to them back then. 

In the end, the bottom line was that she had decided that Dad did not need to be exposed to the grim reality of her rape for his own good. But now, from a parent's perspective, was that what she would have wanted in the same situation? Would she want Lilly to have crept home, pretending things were fine, and never let them know what had happened to her, for their own good? Whether they could help her 'fix' anything or not, wouldn't they want to know so they could make sure she was okay, even if all they could do was comfort her as she cried?

Veronica stood abruptly and straightened Lilly's comforter before leaning down to kiss her cheek. 

"We love you, sweetie," she whispered, then turned for the door. She had some things to think about.

Chapter Text

May 22, 2031

Logan isn’t sure what sent Veronica on the re-decorating spree, but it doesn’t actually matter. Yeah, twenty-four years is a long time to take getting comfortable with frivolous spending, but if she’s finally embraced having money, he's got no arguments at all. Except for with the pool furniture.

Okay, not even the pool furniture itself; it's fine. The deck chairs rock, which is awesome, and a chaise lounge is pretty much a chaise lounge, especially at this price point where everything's solid and well made and adjusts in about a thousand ways. No, really, his issue is more with the cushions that Veronica chose.

”But they’re so soft and comfy,” his wife is currently arguing from her position stretched out along one of the lounges in question. She's wearing a bikini, and he knows that choice was made solely in the interest of winning this argument. “I checked out at least a dozen different ones, Logan. These are gorgeous, and comfortable, and they’re a smart design.” 

She bangs the back of her head repeatedly against the cushioned chaise, and he can't help but watch the corresponding jiggle of her breasts...which Godammit, she knows.

“Look at this, Logan. Head and neck support built right in, but not so much that you can't lay on your stomach. That means no more having to go find one of those stupid throw pillows when you want to nap. You know they’re always stashed somewhere obscure and usually on the other side of the pool whenever you need them. And even once you’ve got one, trying to squish or roll it into a good shape to put it under your head is a major pain because they’re so big.”

He manages to raise his eyes to her face, and the way she is looking at him, I own you, buddy, this isn't even a challenge, makes him laugh. She's right, of course, and he's man enough to admit it. But his actual argument rises in his mind again as his attention is caught by a couple of newcomers to poolside.

Colby Casablancas, Dick and Mac's daughter, two months shy of fifteen, comes through the gate, which is being held open by Logan and Veronica's just turned fifteen year old son, Danny. She is arguing something, Logan isn't even sure what, with Dick's vehemence, but Mac's rational intelligence. Danny isn't even arguing back, he's just watching her and nodding, smiling at her in an adoring way that is embarrassing to watch even at a distance, mostly because he's pretty sure Danny got that look from Logan himself. 

Logan sighs, and wonders, not for the first time, why he didn't take Dick up on his offer of a dowry on the day Colby was born. For most of their lives, he'd thought the idea was silly, since Danny and Colby, along with Wallace and Jeannie's twins, Hank and Steven, had been an inseparable quartet from the first time they all got put down on a beach blanket together. But in the last couple of years, he's watched the look in Danny's eyes whenever Colby was around and hoped like crazy that she wasn't going to end up breaking his little boy's heart. 

"I can't believe that I'm going to end up being related to Dick Casablancas." Veronica's quiet voice broke through his reverie.

"It's a little soon for that, don't you think?" Logan asks, although he's pleased that she seems to be thinking the same thing he is.

"Maybe, but they're both really googly-eyed. It's nauseating." She lifts a hand to him and he takes it, sitting beside her on the chaise. "He looks just like you."

"You're saying I'm nauseating?"

"A little." She shrieks a laugh as he starts to tickle her and they thrash around on the chaise for a moment before Colby's voice carries across the pool.

"Knock it off, you guys. Get a room."

Veronica laughs and settles down under Logan's arms. "She is her father's daughter." In a louder voice, she calls back, "It's our house. We do what we want," and laughs louder as the kids groan in disgust, but then Danny pokes Colby in the side and the shrieking starts on that side of the pool as he makes a run for it and she gives chase.

After a moment of watching Danny duck and weave as he evades capture, Veronica lays her palm against Logan's chest and gives him a pat.  

"Okay, so what are you even complaining about?" She lifts her hand and begins to write her name on his pecs. "I haven't heard an actual argument yet to explain your issues with my choices." 

"Keep that up and you're going to get one," he says and she squints at him in confusion, but when he tips his head south, and she sees the beginnings of a tent in his swim trunks, she gasps and starts to laugh.

"Oh my God, that's what all those throw pillows were for. I never understood why you and Duncan were constantly fondling pillows by the pool. It seemed so stupid."

"You have no idea how relieved I am that you never figured it out. There is almost nothing more embarrassing than—"

He was interrupted by a large splash and they looked over to find Colby running up to the pool, where Danny was now treading water. "What are you doing? You said we weren't swimming," she calls and Danny ducks under the water and swims away.

"And that's what you do when you don't have a throw pillow," Logan says knowingly, and Veronica blanches as she hides her face in his shoulder.

"Fine, get your pillows. Just make sure they match everything else." 

Chapter Text

April 8, 2019

"I'm looking for patient room E1," Logan said. The attendant at the counter looked up, his face sympathetic. Probably the permanent expression of everyone here, given the nature of this facility.

"Down that hall, first room on the right."

"Thanks." 

Logan followed the gestured instructions, taking his time; he was not looking forward to this visit. He stood in front of the door for a moment before rapping, and he waited until he heard an invitation to enter before stepping inside.

The room was stark, not loaded with flowers the way the hospital had been. The only exception was a drawing of flowers pinned to the wall opposite Duncan's bed that Logan recognized as having been done by Lilly shortly after the accident.

"Logan, thank you for coming." Celeste Kane's voice was as cool and detached as ever. She remained seated at a small desk, a laptop open on top of it, just beyond the hospital bed where Duncan lay, tubes and wires attached to his head and arms. 

"Umm, sure." He took a step closer to the bed, resting his hand on the mattress. "So, you asked to see me. Jake said—"

"Jake doesn't know what he's talking about," Celeste interrupted, her voice hard and angry. "There are still two doctors coming next week. I'm confident one of them will be able to repair the spinal cord damage. I am not letting Jake pull the plug on my son."

"I understand." Unable to stop himself, Logan reached out to touch Duncan's foot. He knew it was morbid, but the absolute stillness was agitating. The urge to shake the form under the blanket that was once his best friend, wake him up, make him speak, was nearly overwhelming. "I'd be doing the same thing if I were in your place."

Jake had, in fact, been very clear when Logan had spoken to him the day before that all the specialists were in agreement that there was no brain activity, and no way to fix that. He'd been angry that Celeste was continuing to 'torture' Duncan with pointless life support, but Logan understood perfectly why Celeste wasn't able to give up until she'd exhausted all of her options. "So what can I do for you, Celeste?"

"I think things are stable enough here for Lilly to come for a visit. I wanted to make arrangements with you."

You made me come here to make arrangements?  "Of course, all you had to do was call. She's been wanting to come see her dad. She understands that he's not going to be responsive to her, but—" 

"We'll see. I spoke to a specialist who think that Lilly being here might be the thing that triggers him to wake up." For the first time, there was a hint of life in Celeste's voice. "He's available tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 PM. Does that work for you?"

"Hang on. I'm all for an opportunity for her to see him if she wants. I think it will be helpful for her to spend time with him now in case things don't...improve, in the long run. But a specialist who thinks she'll be a trigger to wake him, like he's just sleeping? What is this going to entail?"

"Nothing unseemly." The edge was back to her voice. "The doctor will just have her speak to him, certain phrases, trying to reach his conscious mind."

Logan's mouth dropped open. He knew that not a single doctor who'd consulted so far had found that Duncan still had a 'conscious mind'. "Has this doctor evaluated him? Reviewed the brain scans?"

"He's not a traditional physician, Logan."

He shuffled further up toward the head of the bed, moving the hand on Duncan's blanket-covered foot to his hand. He traced a D and a K there, trying to decide what to say next.

"Have you gone through this process with your non-traditional physician? That seems like it might be traumatic for a thirteen year old girl, especially when it's not successful."

"IF it's not successful, if." She was angry now, and Logan almost preferred that. It made it easier to say what needed to be said. "And yes, I have tried it. Jake refused. Of course." She huffed in agitation, and Logan almost smiled at the memory of the elder Lilly purposely aggravating Celeste to produce just that response. 

"Celeste, I'm not really sure this would be good for Lilly. The odds of this actually producing results seem slim, given the diagnostics and all of the consultants who have seen him so far, and it could really be damaging to her if nothing happens and she decides she's to blame. I absolutely would support a visit, but this..."

"It's not your choice, Logan. My granddaughter is simply staying with your family in this crisis. You don't get to deny me this."

"Actually, it is my choice, Celeste, and I do get to deny you. Duncan's wishes were made very clear. Veronica and I are Lilly's legal guardians if he is incapacitated or deceased. That means we get to decide what is in her best interests. And this does not seem to be that." Logan stopped tracing letters on Duncan's skin and clasped his cold, still hand.

"Look, we'll do anything that would be helpful. I think Veronica even would be agreeable to coming and working with your 'doctor'." He took a deep breath. He didn't like the idea and he knew Veronica wouldn't either, but if this was something real, he didn't want them to lose a chance. He just wasn't willing to gamble with Lilly. "She was always important to Duncan, even after they were apart."

"My son does not need the help of Veronica Mars."

"You'd rather give up on him than let her try to help? If that's the case, it doesn't sound like this is important enough to experiment with Lilly." He squeezed Duncan's hand, willing his friend to respond, but there was nothing, and Logan stood. "I'm going to go, Celeste. If we can bring Lilly to see him, let us know. We're trying to keep her schedule normal, so after school is best."

"Logan, wait." For the first time, Celeste rose from her chair, crossing to the bed on the opposite side from where Logan stood. She reached for Duncan's other hand, and he could see now that she was shaking, a sign of weakness that unnerved him more than anything else they'd talked about so far. "You're right. You know I hate it, but Veronica still means a great deal to Duncan."

"Hey, I've never been all that keen on my best friend being in love with my wife, so you and I kinda have that in common." He tried to chuckle, but couldn't. "Look, how about this? Veronica and I will come in with Lilly, tomorrow at 4:00 PM, and work with your doctor. I'll tell you straight out, I'm not optimistic, at all, but if there is a way to reach him, I don't want to lose the chance. Between the three of us, four, if you'll participate too, maybe something could happen. But that way, if the long shot doesn't pay off, Lilly doesn't have the burden of having failed alone. I won't agree otherwise."

Celeste looked at him, considering. "You would both do that?"

"Like I said, if there's a chance it will help, then we will."

"Then we'll see you at 4:00 PM tomorrow." She turned, finding the nearest chair and pulling it closer to the bed. "If you don't mind, could you excuse us? I want to spend some time with my son."

"Absolutely." Logan squeezed Duncan's hand again, then turned for the door. "See you tomorrow."

Chapter Text

November 16, 2021

Alicia was barely sitting on the sofa again when a voice called to her from the hallway.

"Need a drink, Gramma."

Keith chuckled as he put his book open face down on the arm of his easy chair. "I got this one." He stood and turned toward the hall, fists on his hips, channeling his best Sheriff Grampa look. "Hank Fennel...didn't you have a drink right before you went to bed?"

"Thirsty again, Grampa," the little boy answered.

"Really?" Keith crossed the room and scooped up the refugee from bedtime. "So if you have more to drink now, how long do you think it will be before you're up to go to the bathroom?"

"Mmm..I dunno." 

"Me too, Grampa. Thirsty," another voice chimed in right next to Keith, and Alicia groaned.

"Danny, you just had a drink. No more tonight."

"You guys left Stevie in the bedroom by himself? Is he actually sleeping?" Keith turned to look down the hall and saw exactly what he'd expected to, his third three-year-old grandson standing in the door of the bedroom that they were all supposed to be sleeping in tonight.  

Keith had agreed to watch Hank and Steven while Wallace and Jeannie went to an FBI event, and separately, Alicia had agreed to watch Danny while Logan and Veronica took the girls to a movie. When they'd realized they'd double-booked baby-sitting duty, they hadn't worried; the boys were practically inseparable anyway and it sounded fun to have them all together.  And it was. Pizza, Candyland, Lion King: all huge hits. Then it was time for bed, and none of them would stay down. 

"Why are you up, Stevie?" Keith asked and the boy skittered toward him, latching his arms around Keith's leg.

"Lonely."

Keith coughed over the laugh that was trying to burst out of him. "Okay, well, pretty quick everyone's gonna be back in bed and that won't be a problem anymore. Now, you three miscreants get in the kitchen, you're all getting your last drink of the night." He set Hank down next to his twin brother and cousin and all three boys raced for the kitchen.

"Keith, you can't give them more to drink. We're gonna be up with them most of the night, and that's hoping no one has an accident."

"I've got an idea for that. Come on."

They followed the sound of giggling and found the boys clustered together beside the sink. "Nope guys, sit down at your table." They dashed to the kid-sized table that had been in place since Robin was about this age, and sat in their usual spots. One chair remained empty.

"Where Colby?" Stevie asked as he frowned at the empty chair. 

"She's sleeping at her own house," Alicia answered, her, "Thank God," uttered under her breath and heard only by Keith, who nodded in agreement as he pulled three small plastic glasses out of the cupboard. 

"Okay, here's the deal, boys," he began, putting the glasses on the table where, predictably, the race to get the color of their choice began immediately. "This is a contest."

"I win," announced Hank, and Alicia began to giggle.

"The winner," Keith corrected, moving back to the table with the water pitcher from the fridge, "is the one of you who can drink the very smallest drink."

"I win," said Stevie. "Not thirsty."

"Nope, to win you have to take a drink, but the very tiniest of tiny drinks." He began to fill the glasses, right to the very top. At the sight, Alicia cringed.

"We are going to have water everywhere."

"No, we're not, right, boys? Because we're going to be so super, super careful and we're not going to bump the table at all. Right?" A trio of voices eagerly agreed with him. "Can you get one more glass, babe? I need to show these boys how this is done."

"Okay," she responded, her skepticism obvious in her tone, "just know that you're cleaning this up."

"No problem." She handed him the extra glass and he took it, with a thank you kiss, then poured his glass full as well.

"All right, here we go, no hands, just mouth down to the top of the cup, and suck the water off the top. The one who still has the fullest glass after their drink wins." He lowered his mouth to the rim and made a loud slurping sound that made the boys laugh uproariously, and Alicia groan.

"Oh Keith, that is so gross." 

"We're men, Gramma," he teased, "sometimes we're gonna be gross."

"Terrific. Where are my granddaughters?"

"So, is everyone ready?" Three little heads nodded eagerly as a chorus of "Yes!" echoed through the room. "Okay, ready, set, slurp!"

If the slurping noise when it was just Keith had been bad, it was even worse now, increased by the efforts of three enthusiastic three year olds. They seemed to forget at first that they were competing to drink the least, in the excitement of getting to make rude noises at their table, but then Danny sat up straight and threw up his hands.

"I win!"

Slurps from his cousins abruptly halted, replaced with groans of protest.

"It's not about who stopped first, it's about least consumed.  Sit back, let's check those glasses."

After much deliberation, Stevie was declared the winner by a tiny margin, and the prize was announced.

"So now, for being the champion of drinking the least, Stevie gets to pick one more thing that we do tonight, and when that's done, everyone's going to bed and staying there.  Gramma and Grampa too. Got it?"

"Hang on," Alicia protested, almost sounding like she meant it, "Why do I have to go to bed? I wasn't even in this gross contest." 

"Don't be difficult, Gramma," Keith scolded. "You'll be out here all by yourself—"

"Sounds heavenly."

"—and I'll have no one to keep me company—"

"Sleep in our room, Grampa," Danny shouted.

"No, thanks anyway, but I think it's crowded enough in there already. Hopefully Gramma will change her mind and come keep me company in our room." He gave her a sly, sideways look, eyebrows raised, suggestive smile, and she laughed. 

"I guess I can't have you in there sad and lonely."

"So what are we doing, Stevie?" Keith asked, now determined that this last minute activity would not last a long time.

The little boy crinkled his nose and tapped his chin as he thought, then he grinned and raised his hands over his head. 

"Shadow puppets!"

The other two cheered and Keith rolled his eyes. He could only do a rabbit, a snail, and a bird (or a butterfly, depending on who was looking at it), but it didn't matter to this group. Inexplicably, they loved shadow puppets. 

"Okay, then, let's clean up these cups and get with it." They all stood, but Alicia interrupted.

"I'll clean up the drinking contest and you guys can go do puppets.  By the time you're done, I'll probably already be waiting for you in bed."

She crouched and held out her arms and the boys ran to her for what would hopefully be the last round of good night kisses. "Sweet dreams, sleep tight, see ya in the morning, love you, good night." When she was done with the five kiss routine for each grandson, she straightened and the boys ran for their room as Keith moved to put his arms around her. 

"What about me? Do I get good night kisses too?"

She smiled at him with a twinkle in her eye. "If you can get them to stay in bed, I think there might be more than kisses in it for you." 

Chapter Text

 

July 18, 2020

Veronica waited her turn in valet parking, in absolutely no hurry to exit her car.   I could say something came up. Or I forgot. That one’s practically true anyway…after Logan waking me up like he did, then breakfast in bed, he got me so relaxed, I almost forgot I had this scheduled.  Damn him, distracting me so I couldn’t spend the morning thinking of a decent excuse to cancel. 

“Good afternoon, ma’am.  Will you be checking in, or are you here for the day only?”

“Just here for lunch,” she replied, putting the car in Park and releasing her seat belt.

The valet opened her door for her.  “Very good. Do you need any instructions to find your way to whichever of our five fine dining establishments you will be visiting today?”

She laughed.  “No, I’m very familiar with the Neptune Grand, thank you though.” She traded her key fob for a valet ticket, and made her way inside.

The Grand had changed a lot through the years, but she still knew exactly where she was going.  She and Logan had spent the first four months of their marriage, after Virginia, living in the Penthouse, while they located a home they could agree on, and then had a few necessary renovations done.  Not to mention Senior year of high school, and the times that she and Logan had been ‘on’ during Freshman year at Hearst…she spent more time at the Grand in those periods than anywhere except maybe her own apartment.

Even after they moved into the house, and all through the years, the Grand was the primary site in town for large-scale dinners, fundraisers, or charity events, which meant that she was the de facto hostess for Port Sûr Centers' gatherings here at least once a year.  That made this location the nearest thing to home turf that she could think of, without offering up their actual personal spaces. She had no interest whatsoever in having this meeting in her home, or even at the Mars Investigation offices.

Veronica was still doubtful that anything was going to come of this anyway. She'd refused to even consider the idea for quite a while, and once she'd agreed, she’d cancelled on several occasions.  If it hadn’t been for Logan’s low-key, but constant, encouragement, she wouldn’t be here now. And his sneakiness. If he would have let me out of bed this morning and gave me a chance to remember this was happening, I’d’ve bailed.  

She reached the small bistro where she had reservations, and let the hostess lead her to a table on the patio. At least it was a pleasant environment, and a beautiful day. She really loved the Monte Cristo here too.   Gotta look for the positives, right? Even if nothing comes of this other than a damn fine sandwich. 

She saw her guest follow the hostess onto the patio and took a deep breath. Look for the positives.

“Hello, Lianne.”

 

Chapter Text

July 22, 2008

"Boo!" Logan and Veronica joined the rest of the crowd loudly mocking the couple on the platform, currently on trial for whatever nonsensical charges had been dreamed up for this year's Pony Penning tourist trial. 

"Put 'em away, Judge," Veronica yelled to Irv, and he laughed as he pointed his gavel at her and shook his head. 

"It's better being on this side, right?" Logan shouted in her ear to be heard over the ruckus of the crowd and she nodded, then rose on her toes, directing her voice to him.

"It was good up there too. They definitely showed us a good time."

"They sure did," Logan said, right before a whacking sound rang out and Irv's voice carried over the spectators from his elevated position, "Guilty! Of all charges!" The crowd went wild. 

After several moments of excited chaos, the viewers began to dissipate, and Logan tugged Veronica forward to where Irv was talking with the new convicts and Bob. At their approach, Irv pointed his gavel at them again, a huge smile on his face.

"Ahh, here we go. Proof that criminals can be rehabilitated. Josh and Heidi, meet last year's outlaws, Logan and Veronica."  There were greetings and handshakes all around before Irv reached out and pulled Veronica into a one-armed hug which she returned.

"Rehabilitated, Irv? Do you really think so?" She stuck her foot out and rotated it in front of her. "I do have boots on this year, but other than that, I'm still as much of a criminal as I was when you railroaded us last year."

He shrugged and nodded. "I don't disagree. Probably more so since you're not even a Fed anymore."

"You miss my point, old man. We were railroaded.  And come on, working for the government didn't make me less of a criminal, just less likely to be prosecuted." There was loud laughter throughout the group.

"Well I, for one, have never had the protection of employment at the FBI," Logan chimed in. "But I have gone a whole year without an arrest, so I think I'm definitely on the straight and narrow."

Veronica burst into mocking laughter and Irv scoffed.  "You know, most people would think that's a joke, but I've done a background check on you, kid, and I know how true that really is."

"Hey, I was deadly serious."

"See what marriage can do for a man," Bob said. "Made you upstanding."

"I don't think that's what marriage to this one would do." Irv raised one eyebrow, mouth twisted with a skeptical sneer, as he squeezed Veronica's shoulders. Her mouth dropped open in mock outrage. "Now, come on, don't get like that, missy. I spent a lot of time with your dad when we came out for your reception last year. I've got the straight scoop on you right from the horse's mouth."

"Now, come on, Irv," Logan said, his warning tone belied by his grin, "if you did that much research, you have to know I can't just stand here and listen to you bad mouth her like that."

Veronica snorted. "What? That's all he does. What have you ever done about it?" She looked at the tourists who were watching them all like they were the free entertainment. "He makes fun of my eating...all the time."

"Same as pretty much everyone else who knows you," Logan replied. "If I went around beating up everyone who ever suggested that you can eat your weight in manicotti, I'd never stop hitting people." She made a sound of mock outrage, but then shrugged and nodded.

"That's probably true."

"Hey, all of you." Mady appeared for the first time all evening, looking irritated. "What's the hold-up? We need to get Josh and Heidi over to the Hall for dinner." She re-directed herself to Logan and Veronica, a grin breaking across her face. "You guys are coming, right? I made sure the kitchen doubled the pasta order, since Veronica was going to be there. If you don't come, we're going to be swimming in leftovers."

Laughter burst from the group again, except for Veronica, who threw up her hands. 

"See what I mean?" Logan said to the newcomers, then wrapped his arm around Veronica and pulled her toward him. "Come on, Bobcat, better get to dinner. They're waiting for you."

Chapter Text

July 18, 2020

Veronica slipped in through the door from the garage, and leaned against it, closing her eyes and taking in a deep breath. Home.

She was still soaking in the comfort when she heard her name.

”Veronica, hey, how you doing?”

Her eyes popped open and she saw him drop a bowl on the island counter and then Logan was beside her, wrapping her in his arms. 

“How’d it go? Are you okay?” He kissed the top of her head and held her against his chest for a moment, the beating of his heart calming her like being back in their home had when she first arrived. When she straightened slightly and tipped her head back, he dropped a gentle kiss on her lips. “Veronica?”

”It was fine. You can stop feeling guilty for making me go.”

He pulled back to look down at her, frowning. “I didn’t make—“

”Relax, I’m mostly just teasing. It was fine. Not the most comfortable lunch I’ve ever had, but it was okay. And that was a good call on the location. I do love that sandwich.”

”Thank God. I didn’t make you go, but I know I was pushing you to do this, and I’ve been dying here, waiting for you to get back.”

She pulled him in again for another kiss. “You didn’t push, not really, and I know you had my best interests at heart.”

”That is always, always true. But this needed to be on your terms, not mine, and certainly not your mother's either."

"Uncle Logan!"  Lilly sailed into the kitchen, arms raised, her face exasperated. "You said you were...Aunt Veronica! You're back!"

She crossed the room and managed to snake her arms around Veronica, even though Logan was still doing the same. Veronica flashed on the times when Lilly had been little, and she'd wriggle in between them on the couch, or even climb in between them in bed on the nights that she would sleep over.  She was too big for that now, at fourteen, she was already a couple inches taller than Veronica, but she was still as comfortable horning in as she'd ever been.  

"How was your lunch?"

Logan kissed both of their heads and let Veronica go. "I was supposed to be getting more chips. It's little girls with weird pets movie day in there. Fly Away Home is just ending, and Andre is ready to go next."

"We've got the one with the talking racehorse for after that," Lilly added, still hugging Veronica. "Hey, Uncle Logan, can you get the kettle corn instead? I'm tired of salty, time to switch to sweet." He nodded as he opened the snack cupboard.

"I really think you need to dump the racehorse one," Veronica said.  "We're leaving for Virginia in a couple of days and you know how hard it is to convince Reenie that she does not get to bring home her Feather Fund horse every year. You show a girl who does have her own horse, especially a talking one, she's going into full meltdown when we don't bring one home with us."

"Valid," Logan agreed as he emerged with the kettle corn and turned back to the counter. "No Ready to Run." As he dumped the contents into the bowl he'd entered with, he looked over to her. "You wanna join us for Andre?"

"Yeah, I will. I'm gonna go up and get changed first, though." She squeezed Lilly, then stepped away. "Don't wait for me; I'll catch up."

Logan smiled and nodded. "Don't be long. We missed you today."

"Missed you guys too," she replied and he disappeared out of the kitchen. "You should go with them.  I'll probably be a little bit getting changed."

"How was your lunch?" Lilly asked, seemingly ignoring the suggestion. "You were out longer than I thought you would be. Were you at lunch the whole time, or did you have to go cry somewhere?"

Veronica looked at her suspiciously. "Why would I need to do something like that?"

"Well, lunch with your mom—"

"Hang on, what? What are you talking about?"

Lilly smiled, looking a little guilty. "I know you were having lunch with your mom. And I don't know how long it's been since you did that, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't happened as long as I've been alive."

"Logan told you?"

"Oh no, no." The girl shook her head. "I figured it out. You gotta remember, Aunt Veronica, your mom is my step-grandmother. Even though no one ever talks about it, I figured it out a while ago. And I heard you mention to Aunt Mac that you were 'having lunch with Lianne' earlier this week, so I kinda figured..."

Veronica sighed. "I guess you're a little too old for us to still try to hide everything. And since you actually stay in her house once in a while..."

"Yeah, there's that." Lilly leaned on the counter, her eyes glued to Veronica. "She asks about you."

"What?"

"Not directly. But she always asks about what we do." Lilly shrugged. "Before I figured out who she was, when she was just my Grandma Lianne, I just thought she was being nice, asking about our vacations, what we do, funny things that happen around here. But then I started to put it together, and I finally asked Grandpa straight out, and he told me, Grandma Lianne was your mom."

Veronica sat heavily at the breakfast nook. "When was this? You've never said anything."

Lilly sat beside Veronica, her face scrunched as she thought. "Maybe a year? Maybe longer? No, wait, I know, it was after your birthday last year, when we did the sleep-over at the Zoo. She wanted to know all about it."

"That was a good party," Veronica said thoughtfully. 

"Yeah, it was. And I told her about it, and she was really interested, and later, she was out by the pool crying."

"Oh." Veronica closed her eyes, not sure she wanted to know this. "Did she say why?"

"I didn't ask," Lilly said. "But there was enough stuff that made me wonder, and after that, I asked Grandpa."

"And Jake just told you? That Lianne was my mom?"

"He didn't want to; he tried changing the subject. But finally, he told me."

"But you never told us?" She reached for Lilly's hand. "Why didn't you tell us before that you knew?"

"If you wanted me to know, you would have told me. I kinda felt like I was sneaking around, finding out secrets. So I just kept it to myself."

Veronica chuckled ruefully and laced her fingers through Lilly's. "Sneaking around, finding out secrets, you fit right in with me, sweetie."  Lilly humphed a laugh. "I'm really sorry, hun, that we made you feel like that. We just decided a long time ago not to talk about her, I mean, not like we would have talked about her anyway, but we knew you were spending time with her because of your grandpa, and we didn't want you to feel weird about that."

"I get it. I guess that's why I didn't tell you too. So it wouldn't be weird." She leaned her head on Veronica's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"No, don't be. There is nothing for you to be sorry about."

"Then can I ask? How'd it go?"

"Lilly..."

"I just think it would be good, I know she misses you, and she's sorry, for whatever she did."

"You can't know that."

"I do! I do know it." Lilly sat up, turning pleading eyes on Veronica. "Was whatever she did that bad?"

"It wasn't good, but she didn't kill anyone, or anything like that. And it was a long time ago, but I..." She paused, not really wanting to get into this with a teenager who had her own relationship with Lianne. "Look, lunch went okay. I don't know if anything will come of it, and I do know she wishes it would, but I'm just not sure—"

"She's your mom, Aunt Veronica. If she's sorry, and she won't do whatever she did again, then don't you want your mom back?"

Veronica barely held in her groan as everything clicked together for her. "Honey, it's not like that."

Lilly shrugged her shoulders. "Seems like it. Even if I found out my mom did something I didn't like, I'd still wish I had her." Her eyes welled with tears. "You've got a mom, and she's sorry for whatever she did. If you could have her back, would it hurt to try again?"

"I don't know, Lilly." She put her arm around Lilly, tucking the girl's head into the crook of her neck. "She hurt me a lot in the past; I don't really want that to happen again."

"She won't. I'm sure she won't."

"Lilly, sweetie—" She stroked the trembling girl's hair. "—we had lunch and we'll probably do it again. I'm trying to find a way. But it's not the same, me and Lianne and you and Meg. I need you to let me work this out for myself. I'm not just saying no anymore, but I can't make you any promises right now. Okay?"

"'kay." Lilly sniffled, and Veronica smiled, hugging her closer. "I love you, Aunt Veronica."

"Love you too, sweetie." 

Chapter Text

August 27, 2020

"We went to school here. Why do we need a map?"

Veronica ignored him, other than the expected eye rolling, and studied the Back-to-School Night handout. Lilly had filled it out so they'd know what class she had each period, and where each was located, so they could follow her schedule and go to each class. Ten minutes per class with three minutes 'for passing', which was insane, given how far apart some of these classes were.  

"Things have changed around here, Logan. They've added two new classroom buildings since we were here, a second gym, and they've got a completely different identification scheme for all the buildings. Everything's a Wing now. Without the map, I'm not sure we'll know which area is which wing and we won't be able to get everywhere."

"Pathetic," Logan mumbled. "Well, we've got like two and a half minutes before the next bell rings, so figure it out."

"Okay, we're going into third period and she has Algebra I. That's in one of the new buildings. That hall back there were Journalism was—" she gestured behind them and to the right "—is now F wing, but there's an exit at the end, so we can get out of this building and cut over to H wing in the new building."

She turned and started down the hall as she'd outlined, presuming, as always, that Logan was following. With good reason, of course he was following, but as he caught up to her, he hooked a finger through her belt loop to keep her from getting too far ahead as he trailed along behind, looking around at the changes since he'd been incarcerated here. 

"That's where Journalism was, I'm sure of it, but that doesn't look like it used to."

Veronica slowed slightly at his voice, glancing toward the room he remembered fondly as the scene of some fun, antagonistic snark between them. It was set up with regular desks, rather than the work tables that had been there before. "You're right. I wonder if they even have Journalism anymore. As many problems as that class gave the school back in our day, I wouldn't be surprised if the School Board let it go." 

He took advantage of her slowed pace to kiss the back of her head before she was rushing forward again. “Somehow I suspect a lot of those problems ended when you graduated and it went back to being just a plain old school newspaper instead of a hotbed of  investigative journalism.”

”Oh, you sweet talker.” Veronica laughed and twisted back to punch him in the shoulder, before dragging him around the corner to the next corridor on the left, then he had to put on the brakes as she stopped short. 

“Where’s the door?”

There had been an exit there before, but now there was a row of lockers. ”Huh. Weird. It's a dead end now.”

”There used to be an exit right here.”

”I do recall...”

”I used it to get away from the Tritons that time.”

Logan chuckled. "I don’t believe I know that story. What are Tritons and why did you need to get away? Do I need to smack anyone around?” He took advantage of her momentary confusion (and irritation) to move up behind her and run his hands up and down her arms. “I know how hitting people on your behalf used to turn you on. I can come out of retirement, for old time’s sake.”

”That's really not necessary, and I'll have to tell you another time about the Tritons; we’re gonna be late for Algebra." She pulled out of his arms and swiveled to look down the hall behind him. "So, where the hell’s the door?”

”Dunno.  I guess we'll have to go back the way we came.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “Let's just figure out where fourth period is and head that direction? Missing Algebra's not gonna kill us; it’s not like we even need to be here at all. Lilly brought us every class syllabus in the first week and neither of the teachers we’ve seen so far have told us anything we didn’t already know.”

"Back for half an hour and advocating for cutting class already. Why am I not surprised, Mr. Echolls?"

They both turned toward the droll, and very familiar, voice, to find Van Clemmons gazing at them with that 'nothing-you-do-surprises-me' face that Logan had nearly forgotten, but recognized instantly. 

"I saw the two of you head this way, and figured you were going for a shortcut that's not there anymore." The slightest smirk played on his face. "I still come this way myself on occasion. Old habits, you know." He made a beckoning gesture. "Come on, I'll get you where you need to go. Although Mr. Echolls is correct. I doubt there's anything that these teachers will tell you that Lilly hasn't already."

"Thank you, Mr. Clemmons," Veronica said, pulling Logan along again as she hurried to pull alongside the principal. "I wasn't sure if we'd see you tonight or not. It's good to see you're still running this show."

"Another few years. I saw an Echolls-Mars birth announcement in the Neptune Gazette in, 2013, I think. The birthplace was listed somewhere on the East Coast, if I remember correctly, but just in case, I did the math and figured that I'd plan for retirement by the end of the 2024 school year. Imagine my surprise when I see your names in the parent/legal guardian space on Lilly Kane's registration paperwork." He shook his head. "All that planning, down the drain."

"Sorry to iceberg your clean getaway, Van."

The older man raised his eyebrows at Logan, but there was definitely amusement in the look he gave Logan. "Lilly's been a great student so far, in all areas. Strong academics coming in and doing well in all her courses thusfar, bright, inquisitive, already very involved—"

"We know, we've got to drive her everywhere."

"—and as pleasant as her mother was." 

Logan snorted. "Yeah, well, that's clearly nature, not nurture." Veronica elbowed him, but he heard her snickering. 

"And I haven't found her poking around anywhere she wasn't supposed to be...yet, so I'm not calling my retirement planner to make any changes...yet."

"Hey!" Now it was Logan snickering at the indignation in her voice. "My poking around worked to your advantage more than once."

"Once I figured out how to channel it, yes, it did."

"As long as you know that," she grumbled, then her voice lightened. "So you really don't think we're going to get anything out of chasing all over this place at a dead run?"

"With some students, yes, this is an important night for the parents to learn what is happening in their students' classrooms. I'm not sure it's a big issue for you, and if you have questions, I'm always available." Logan watched the amusement play over his face again. "I would much prefer a call to your other information-gathering techniques. Unless I've requested them, of course."

Logan was impressed that Veronica's expression of irritation and disdain didn't seem to impact Clemmons at all. It tended to make lesser men, like Dick, cower and whine. "Well, since you've moved everything around, I am probably going to have to play it your way."

"And that makes today the first day that I'm actually glad about all these changes." He smiled, a real smile, for probably the first time in Logan's memory, then gestured around him. "At the risk of making your last statement obsolete, let me tell you that each of the buildings is set up the same way, with a main hub like this one, and the wings radiating out. The outside of each building is marked with the wings, A-B-C, D-E-F, like that, so you know which building you want. Pro tip: I recommend against looking for the old exits at the ends of the wings. Many of them were removed."

"Okay, that works," Veronica replied. "We'll still make our way around, even if we probably won't learn anything. I like having a visual on the individual teachers."

"Again, with the lack of surprise. I'm sure I'll be seeing you both. Welcome back."

Chapter Text

March 14, 2008

"Holy shit, Veronica, get some clothes on!"

She's pretty sure she's never moved faster. From reclining on the couch, in a pleasant, tingly stupor, to crouched in a ball in the corner, in seconds. Logan had tossed the fleece throw on the back of the couch over her when he got up to get condoms from the bedroom, but it's warm in the house, so it had been covering her lower half only. Now, she's cowering in the corner, clutching the throw against her, covering everything she can. 

"Dick!" she shrieks and suddenly, Logan's in the room also, as naked as she is, only without a throw.

"What the hell, Dick?" he yells and Dick turns from staring at Veronica to face Logan, then covers his eyes.

"Geez, man, don't you people wear clothes?"

"Not when we're having sex, jackass!" Logan bellows at him and Veronica groans. 

"Really, Logan? Come on."

"I don't think it's a secret anymore, Veronica," Logan answers, crossing the room and grabbing his boxer briefs off the floor next to the couch. "I'm...like this—" he holds his arms out and glances down at himself "— and you're...like that." He gestures toward her. "I'm betting even Dick can put the pieces together."

"Hey, don't be insulting. This isn't my fault."

Veronica scrunches up tighter on the couch, making sure her throw-turned-coverup is really covering. "How is this not your fault? You all of a sudden turn up in our house? What are you even doing here?"

"No, it's not my fault. How was I supposed to know you were getting busy in here? You didn't have the sign up."

Veronica looks at Logan, still only in his underwear and looking surprisingly appealing considering Dick's still here. "Do you have a sign arranged with Dick that you've never mentioned to me?"

"No," he says firmly. "We have no sign." He glares at Dick. "What are you talking about?"

"If you've got a girl in the room, you leave the light on. The light bulb was off, so I came in."

"Wait...what?" Logan scrunches his face up. "When did we do that? What light?"

"We've never used it before because we didn't have a light at the hotel. But now you do, and the light was off, so I thought the coast was clear. I didn't know I'd be walking in on Ronnie's boobs." He looks at Veronica, leering just a little. "Nice rack, Rons. A little on the small side, but you'll appreciate that when you're old."

Veronica's mouth falls open, then snaps shut. "Dick, I swear to God, you need to forget what you saw, and if I ever see you look at me and remember, I will make you sorry you were ever born."

"And then I'll make you even sorrier," Logan adds.

"And a little tip," Veronica says, "you're getting the porch light concept about as wrong as you can get it. If the light is on, it could mean that we're out for the night, or it could mean we're expecting company.  Light ON, got it? If it's off, it means we've retired for the night, and there's a chance you're getting a show if you break in."

"Are you sure?" Dick asks. "I saw it in a movie once."

"I'm sure. No light, no Dick. Got it?"

"It sounds like there's dick, just not me." He holds up his hands, placating, when growling sounds come from both Veronica and Logan. "Sorry."

"You better be," Logan says.

"So, now that I'm here," he begins, but Logan moves for him, shoving him back toward the door.

"Get out."

Chapter Text

February 20, 2009

”Is it wrong that all I want to do today is sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate with little marshmallows?”

"Nope, Q, I have exactly the same goals." Veronica stretched her legs out in front of her, pointing her toes as far out as she could reach, before tucking them back underneath her on one of the their rental house's couches. "The guys can snowboard all day long, but as far as I'm concerned, the peak of my activities for today should be the trip upstairs to go to bed."

Mac laughed.  "And if last night's any indicator, you'll probably manage to get yourself carried up there rather than actually doing the stair climbing yourself."

"It's good for him. Builds up his stamina."

"You know, after he's spent the entire day snowboarding, you might actually want to re-think that. Do you really want him to waste whatever stamina he has left carrying you upstairs?"

"Oh." Veronica looked thoughtful. "You make an excellent point. Fine, no more carrying me upstairs."

"The sacrifices you make to make sure you get laid."

Chapter Text

March 15, 2008

"Dick, man...geez, what the hell?"

Logan crossed the living room of Dick's beachfront condo and plucked the bottle of tequila out of his hand. "What are you doing?"

"Tequila shots, what does it look like?"  He held out his hand in a loose fist, thumb-side up. "I'm covered in salt here; gimme back the bottle."

"No. It's 10:30 in the morning, Dick. Tequila shots are not a valid breakfast."

"That's what you say today, but I've seen you have shots for breakfast. You don't get to decide now that I can't do the same." He reached forward, grabbing for the bottle, but Logan took a step back. "Look, dude, I was perfectly willing to talk this through last night, but you were too busy sexing up your wife to have a conversation. Now I'm talking to Jose."

"Not any more, you're not." Logan turned and headed for the kitchen. "I'm here now...what's the problem?"

Dick sighed and stood, grabbing the salt shaker and the little bowl of lime off the coffee table as he followed Logan. "Mac won't move in with me."

"Yeah? So? You think the best way to convince her is to drink yourself into oblivion? I'm sure she'll change her mind once she sees that."

"Oh yeah, and you've always been the king of awesome decisions. Go to hell, Logan. I'll deal with this however I want." He reached for the bottle again, but Logan held it out of his reach.

"If I recall, when I was making shitty choices because I thought Veronica left me, you took away all my booze. Mac hasn't left you, you stupid jackass, she's just not ready to move in with you. But if she sees you doing shit like this, do you really think that going to help her change her mind?"

Dick rolled his eyes, then moved to slump in a chair in the breakfast nook. He leaned heavily on the table, his head propped in his hand. "She's not gonna change her mind."

"Why do you say that?" Logan put the bottle in the freezer, then came to sit beside him. "This is a big step. You need to give her some space to work this out. Without acting like someone she can't trust. You want her to really say no—and stick to it—keep acting like this."

"It helps me forget."

"Believe me, I know that." Logan clapped Dick on the shoulder, shaking him. "But you don't need to forget. You need to be proving you're the guy she wants to move in with. You guys have been together for what? Eight, nine months? It's not unreasonable for her to want a little more time. You've gotta be patient."

"Okay, I really do know you're right. It's just making me crazy."

"It's not a long trip, buddy." Logan cuffed him on the head and stood. "Come on. We're going surfing. We'll get your mind off the wait, so you stop being stupid."

Dick chuckled weakly, leaning on the table, hiding his face in his arms. "So, you're going to keep on distracting me? Until she says yes?"

"Mmm." Logan sounded skeptical and Dick looked up to see his friend's brow furrowed and nose scrunched up. "Look, I'll do what I can, but you've gotta promise me—" 

"I promise, okay. As long as you help me."

"No more wandering into our house without forewarning. We're still newlyweds, dude. If I can get her naked, I'm gonna, you have to know that."

"How is that any different than before?"

"It's not, except at the Grand, my room was our only private space. Now, our house is our space. Unless you keep letting yourself in. Which you gotta stop."

"How can you keep my mind off the wait if I can't come over."

"No one said you can't come over. Just call first, for God's sake. And knock!"

Chapter Text

July 17, 2017

Robin pushed through the turnstile and skipped toward the giant mouse head made of flowers. They'd been in California Adventure all morning and she was wet from the Grizzly River Rapids and Uncle Dick wanted to ride Splash Mountain next. This was their first trip back to Disneyland since Robin's birthday, at least it was with Uncle Dick included, and the rides they'd all refused to ride with him in January were his primary focus.

"Robin, come on." Uncle Dick caught her hand and tugged her toward the little tunnel to cross over into Disneyland. "Time to splash, baby." He glanced back at the rest of the group.  "Come on, Mackie, hurry up, you're with us." He winked at Robin and she giggled as Aunt Mac grabbed her other hand. 

"The rest of you losers can catch up to us when we're done. If we don't see you at the Splash, we'll be at the virgin daiquiri place."

Robin heard Mommy's exasperated voice calling from behind them as they hurried into the Park. "It's called the Enchanted Tiki Room, Dick."

 

Chapter Text


August 21, 2018

"Mama, Mama, where are you?"

Robin burst through the door from the garage into the kitchen and threw herself against Veronica's legs. She dropped the potato she was peeling and wiped her hands against her apron, pivoting as she sank to the floor to hug and be hugged.

"Hey, little school girl, how was the first day of kindergarten?" She raised her eyes over Robin's shoulder to smile at Logan, who was toting a tiny backpack and shaking his head.

"Well, she's not kicked out," he said in a dry voice.

Veronica's eyes widened and she leaned away from Robin, grasping her daughter's hands and looking at her questioningly. "Not kicked out? Was there a question?"

"And I met my B-F-F," Robin said in a serious tone, carefully enunciating each letter.

"Yeah, that's interesting news too," Logan said, and this time his eyes rolled.

"Okay, hold up." Veronica stood, picking up Robin, carrying her around the kitchen island to sit at the dining table, settling her little girl in her lap. 

"Let's start with 'not kicked out'. Daddy, why don't you join us?"

The smirk on Logan's face when he was behind Robin's back disappeared when he sat next to them at the table. "It was apparently not bad enough that they felt like they had to call us before the very first day of school was even done. But I did have to go in and speak with the principal, along with a couple other parents, including the new B-F-F's mom."

He mimicked Robin's clear emphasis on each initial as he reached forward and pushed a sweaty hank of hair behind her ear. "Why don't you tell Mommy the story, Robin. I can fill in any blanks."

"'kay. So, after you guys left this morning, we did shares in a circle on the big rug. I shared about the ponies on our trip last month. Then Ms. Lewis read a story about a class of kids like us who had a pet they all took care of. She said we might get a pet, but not right away. Not 'til we know if anyone is 'lergic. That'll be so cool."

"Yes, it would, but I'm not hearing anything so far that ends in kicked out."

Not kicked out," Robin corrected and Veronica looked at her sternly as Logan struggled not to laugh.

"Someone needs to think kicked-out before they can think not-kicked-out," she replied, raising an eyebrow at Logan. "So come on. I want to hear all about kindergarten, but we've gotta get through this first part first."

"After story, we had recess. Do you know recess?"  Robin's eyes were large and excited and Veronica had to chuckle.

"I do remember recess. It was sometimes the best part of the day. Did you get to play on the equipment?" The kindergarten equipment was separate from the rest of the playground, and sized to fit the littlest students.  

"Yes! There were slides and swings and money bars."

"MonKEY bars," Logan corrected, his eyes twinkling.

"Monkey," Robin repeated carefully. "So there are only six swings, and a bunch of us, so we were waiting in line for our turn. The girl beside me in line is my B-F-F now."

"Wow," Veronica said. "That was quick. In my day, BFF was much harder to achieve."  She glanced at Logan. "Just ask Uncle Wallace." To Robin, she said, "None of this sounds like almost getting kicked out. Can we get to that?"

"Well, we waited and waited, forever almost, and it was finally Val's turn. But before she could get to her swing, this rotten boy ran up and took it. He didn't even wait in line." Robin's tone was indignant, and Veronica bit her lip to keep from laughing, although she now had a feeling what was coming next.

"And so did you get a teacher to help you?" Logan actually snorted at that and she glared at him, although she knew he was right. With both their vindictive, justice-wielding blood in her veins, Robin really didn't stand a chance of going through the proper channels to right wrongs. None of their poor kids did.

"No," Robin said, her voice smaller now. They were clearly getting to the not-kicked-out part.

"So what happened next?"

"Val started to cry, and I told him to get out of the swing, it wasn't his turn." She scowled. "And he said 'make me', so I did."

Veronica sighed, not all that surprised. "Did you hit him?"

"No, Mama, we don't hit." Robin sounded scandalized.

"Then how did you make him?"

"I pushed him out of the seat and he fell down and I told Val to hurry up and take the swing back. He tried to get up, but I sat on him."

Veronica had a tiny coughing fit at that, since bursting into laughter at a time like this was inappropriate parental behavior. She knew that for sure; her own father had told her repeatedly.

"Robin, pushing and hitting are pretty close to each other," she said. "You know better."

"He made Val cry."

"We can't have that," Logan chimed in, and Veronica sent him a death glare behind Robin's back. 

"You can't push, and you can't sit on people."

"Unless they ask." This time her glare should have lit him on fire, but for some reason, he seemed impervious. "She's sitting on you right now," he pointed out, but she rightfully ignored him.

"Okay, so, Daddy, this was the potentially  kicked out part of the day, do you know how we managed to not get kicked out?"

"The involved parties were escorted to the principal for the pertinent lecture, then, they all went back to the classroom, until their parents came. And then we got our pertinent lecture." He scrunched down enough to get eye level with Robin. "No more pushing people, right? Or sitting on them without permission?"

"Right, Daddy," she answered, looking chastened.

"Okay then. We do want you sticking up for people who aren't being treated fairly, but let's not go straight to vigilantism please. Can we try that?"

"Yes, Daddy." She seemed to consider his request for a beat, then she clearly shook it off as she looked at Veronica with expectant eyes. "You said you were making cookies for after school. Can I have one?"

"I'm not sure that girls who almost get kicked out the first day get cookies for an after school snack." As Robin's hopeful face turned sad, she relented and kissed her head. "But, girls who stick up for people getting bullied get double cookies, so maybe, between the two, you can still have at least one."

"Thank you, Mama," she said, wriggling off Veronica's lap and heading for the cookie jar.

"Hang on, hun, you still haven't told her about the new BFF." Logan looked smug. "You're gonna love this."

Robin turned back and leaned into Veronica. "Her name's Val, and she doesn't have any brothers or sisters, so I told her she could borrow Reenie and Danny if she wants. She likes ponies too, and unicorns, and she can jump rope like crazy."

Veronica smiled and kissed her again. "That all sounds great, sweetie. Go ahead and get your cookie. Maybe bring a couple more back for Daddy and me."

"Her mom came to pick her up," Logan added. "She's the one who got the principal's lecture with me, since her dad was working at his garage." 

The pieces finally clicked together. "Oh, my gosh, Val...Valentina Navarro. I didn't realize they'd be in the same grade." 

"Apparently so."

Robin returned with cookies for each of them. "Can she spend the night here on the weekend?"

"We'll see," Veronica responded, but she grinned at Logan. "Why don't you run upstairs and get into some play clothes, Robin."

As Robin skipped to her room, Veronica turned to poke Logan.

"Just so you know, I'm picturing you and Weevil sitting across from each other, sipping pretend tea out of tiny cups."

"Oh really? And what are you doing in this imaginative scenario?"

"Laughing my ass off and encouraging the girls to make you guys wear tiaras."

Chapter Text

October 14, 2016

Logan squirms in the straight-backed chair, throwing one leg over the negligibly cushioned arm, trying unsuccessfully to find a position comfortable enough to maybe doze off. The hospital staff might have reluctantly agreed to be flexible and caring, letting insistent husbands stay beyond visiting hours, but Logan was very sure they picked these horrible chairs to discourage long term squatters.

He twists again, pulling the elevated leg down and resting the other one over the opposite chair arm. Honestly, he’d been more comfortable before Alicia took the girls home with her. She’d been watching Robin since she’d gotten to the hospital, and Logan was grateful for that. Robin didn’t need to see any of this and treks to the cafeteria and the peace garden kept her satisfied and largely oblivious.

Reenie though, at only four months, wasn’t alarmed by the situation around her, and having her tiny warm body to cradle in his arms had been somewhat stabilizing. Changing diapers, feeding her, just holding her. It held back the panic. But as the day bled into the evening, he had to accept that he couldn’t keep using his infant daughter as a security blanket. No matter how much he might need one.

Alicia and the girls left first, Wallace in tow. Keith hung in until visiting hours were over, but Logan flatly refused to leave, no matter how much Keith and the charge nurse tried to convince him.

”Your wife is fine, Mr. Echolls,” the nurse kept insisting. “Dr. Evans says she’ll wake up when she’s ready. Her MRI was clear; no swelling on the brain. Her body’s just trying to get over the trauma. We’ll take excellent care of her and by visiting hours tomorrow, she’ll probably be awake and ready for visitors.”

”Well that’s just great,” Logan had growled at her. “I’ll set up the party for tomorrow morning. But right now, until I see her baby blues without someone prying them open, I’m not leaving her.”

Keith had put a steadying hand on his shoulder, probably afraid he might say or do something that would end up with him spending the night in a place he couldn't leave, like jail, rather than this one that he simply wouldn't, and Logan had settled under his hand.  He knew the nurse was just doing her job, so it wasn't really fair to treat her poorly, but he wasn't going anywhere, and the sooner she got that, the easier it would be on everyone.  Keith made a few half-hearted attempts to get him to change his mind, but he didn't even seem all that serious in his arguments, and Logan was pretty sure that Keith knew it was all a wasted effort.

When they'd finally left him alone with Veronica, he'd tried perching on the edge of the bed, but that lasted only a couple of minutes. He couldn't sit still, and she looked so battered and broken on the one side that he was afraid he'd hurt her more, and so many tubes and wires were on her other side that he was afraid he'd accidentally dislodge something important. He'd paced, he'd leaned, he'd pulled a chair up to the bedside and rested his head on the mattress beside her. That lasted a while, he'd even managed to doze off, but then a nurse came in and he had to move and that was the point that he'd landed in this crappy chair.

He straightens, both feet on the floor again, and stares over at Veronica.  She's silent and still, in exactly the place they put her so many hours ago. From here, all he can really see are the things attached to her right side.  All the damage is on her left, and although he can't see it from here, he's well aware of what's going on. Lower arm bound in an ace bandage, waiting until she's awake to cast the break. Bruising from her shoulder down to her knee, already worse than any he'd ever had, even after the ass-kicking on the bridge. Swelling, cuts, and bruising along the side of her face. They'd told him the swelling at her temple was good; if you could see it pushing out, it wasn't pushing in, as much at least, against her brain, where it would be hidden.  Speaking of hidden, two broken ribs and two more popped out of place. 

He flops his head back against the top of the chair back with a groan, staring up at the ceiling. All these years of worrying about her work, about bad guys hurting her, about her getting into a spot she couldn't talk or trick her way out of, and what gets them here? A drive to the store, and an asshole blowing a red light. T-boning her, right in the driver's door. Hard enough that the door's so pushed in that it triggered the chime to warn that the door was open and the key was still in.  Only the door wasn't open; it was pushed into Veronica. Someone had to get in and yank the key to make it stop.  It was driving the first responders crazy while they were working on extricating her. He'd heard that lovely tidbit in the waiting room, before anyone had come out of the trauma room to tell them anything about her condition. The fire chief had been whispering the story to Keith, and it was probably a good thing to have friends in high places, but that was a detail he really hadn't needed, especially while they were waiting for the emergency room doctor to come tell him if he was a widower or not.

The door opens again, and he jumps up as the nurse enters. 

"You're fine, Mr. Echolls, I just need to switch out the IV bag. Relax."

She seems very efficient, and it calms him a little, but he doesn't sit again.  He leans against a wall out of her way and watches what she's doing.

"How does she seem?" he asks.

The nurse looks at him. "Her vitals are good, and they've been stable for several hours.  She's been quiet?"

"Almost too quiet. It's unnerving. The doctor said she was fine; I don't get why she's not waking up."

She smiles. "She's resting. I saw your family in here earlier. A new baby and what looked like a very active pre-schooler? If someone gave me the opportunity to take a nap like Mrs. Echolls is having, I'd probably take it too."

"She just started back to work again too. With her dad."

"All the more reason." She seems to finish with what she is doing and snaps her gloves off and into the trash before turning back to him. "The doctors here are very good. They've said they don't think your wife has any injuries that she won't recover from fully. I know it's hard right now, but I think you can hold onto that."

"Thanks." He tries to smile, grateful for what she's doing for Veronica, and for him, but he knows that the expression he's managing isn't exactly inspiring. "Hopefully we'll be out of your hair by your next shift."

"Maybe. There's nothing in any of her diagnoses that would keep her here, once she's awake." She rests a gentle hand against his arm. "You should try to sleep too. I know these chairs aren't really made for restful sleep—"

"They did that on purpose, didn't they?"

She laughs. "I was not consulted about chairs so I don't know that, but I've heard plenty of complaints about them through the years. Pull the desk chair up to the bed again. I know you dozed off then; I was all the way in the room before you woke up that time. You're not going to hurt her by resting your head on her mattress.  Unless you're a really wild sleeper."

"I should be able to keep any sleep flailing in check." He can feel a more genuine smile on his face this time. "Thanks."

"No problem." She nods at him and steps out of the room.

He does what she suggested and pulls the desk chair up beside the bed. "All right, Mars. I'm taking a nap, and when I wake up, you need to also. If the nurse is right, and this is just about needing a rest from the crazy life inside our house, I've totally got you covered. You can come home, and laze around in bed, and I'll feed you bonbons all day if you want. I'll change all the poopy diapers, and get Robin to every play date she ever has again, but you need to wake up so you can laugh at me while I do all the hard work."

He carefully lifted her hand, the IV tube extending from her wrist, then rested his head on the mattress and placed her hand back down, now against his head, with his hand over it. 

"I mean it, Veronica. One last nap, and then you need to wake up."  Flexing his fingers over hers almost makes it feel like it does when she's stroking his hair.  "I can do all those things, but I can't do this without you. This. Life. I need you here with me. So, one more nap. I'll give you that. And then, you need to wake up, and we can go home, and I'll do every terrible chore you don't want to. Just wake. The fuck. up."

He closes his eyes, continuing to flex his fingers to keep his illusion of Veronica's hand in his hair going, until he drifts off to sleep.

Chapter Text

October 20, 2018

"Veronica, you have to do something about this dog."

She scoops the puppy off the floor, snuggling her as she gently extracts a pillow case from her mouth. 

"She's just a baby, Dad."

"You've got a real baby, not to mention a toddler, and a kindergartner, and this dog is going to be a hundred pounds easy, by the time she's fully grown.  Look at those paws. You need to find a good dog trainer, now, before she outweighs you and all of your kids put together."

She drops onto the couch, the puppy resting against her chest. "She's just so sweet."

"I know." He sits beside them, leaning into Veronica to scrub his fingers behind the puppy's ears. "But you're not doing her any favors not disciplining her. She may always be cute, but eating all of your belongings won't be before too much longer."

"I know," she echoes. "Didn't you train Backup?"

"Some, but I'd suggest getting help from a professional. The guy who helped me with Backup is still in business; I'd recommend him." He settles back into the couch and the puppy scrambles off Veronica over to him. "And you guys are going to need to commit to it. A firm hand. That's what a dog this size is going to need."

"Veronica!" Logan's voice echoes from the door out onto the patio.

"We're in here." She reaches over to run her fingers through the fluffy fur.

"Veronica." Logan is standing in the doorway, with a black tube in one hand, Robin trailing behind him, and a look of frustration on his face. "Your dog ate all of my drip irrigation. And most of the sprinkler heads in the lawn."

Keith snorts beside her and she cringes. "My dog?"

"Today, yes." He waves what she now realizes is a piece of the drip irrigation tubing, with a very ragged end. "Do you see this?"

"Well, as it turns out, I was just asking Dad for the name of the guy who helped him train Backup." Her father makes a rude noise. "But we all need to totally commit to this training." She stands and lifts the puppy off her father's lap, then carries her to Logan, holding her up under her front legs, dancing her in front of him.  

"Tell Daddy you're sorry, Pony."

Chapter Text

April 25, 2037

The door barely opened and Lilly squeaked in, slamming it behind her and thumping her back against it. "Totally dodged a bullet there."

Veronica had taken a step back from Robin to look at the finished product once Val stood from fastening Robin's shoes, but she glanced toward her god-daughter. "What now?"

"Nick was outside this room. Probably getting ready to bust in."

"Lilly, chill.  Why in the world would he do that?" Robin's voice sounded exasperated, and Veronica understood. Lilly was taking her responsibilities as Maid of Honor to a whole new level. Now it seemed she'd moved to counter-espionage.

"I don't know. It doesn't make sense, and he knows it's bad luck." She gestured toward Robin's long ivory dress.  "He can't see you."

"That's just a silly superstition," Veronica said. "Logan and I were together all morning on the day we got married the first time. Nothing happened because of that."

"It's seeing the bride in the wedding dress, Mom," Reenie piped in from the dressing table where she was applying mascara. 

"And get real," Lilly added. "The two of you were filing for divorce within a month of your wedding...over my Dad. You don't think that was bad luck?"

Veronica laughed as she moved forward to smooth Robin's dress. "Hey, that wasn't me, that was Logan, but yeah, that was some pretty bad luck. I never thought to blame it on the fact that we were together ahead of the wedding though." She twirled one of the long ringlets of hair draping from Robin's up-do until it fell in a perfect spiral. "And it was temporary. Everything turned out in the end."

"Thanks to my Dad." Colby's look was smug. "My Mom too, but my Dad was the fix."

"It would have worked out eventually," Mac replied to her daughter. "It would have been miserable for the lot of us for longer, but eventually, it would have gotten sorted out. They couldn't have stayed away from each other in the long term."

"Even back then, when I'd only known them a couple of months, I thought that was pretty obvious," Jeannie said, "but I was on the East Coast, so other than the very beginning, I missed most of the misery." She stood, shaking any wrinkles out of her dress.  "It's getting pretty close to time here. I kinda think any of us who are not walking down an aisle pretty soon need to clear out.  Plus, I don't want to be here when the FOB arrives and the waterworks start. Tammy? Come on."

She went to Robin and gave her a careful hug. "You look beautiful, sweetie. You and Nick have all of our love."

As she moved toward the door, the rest of the non-bridal party followed her in wishing Robin the best and then heading out. She and Wallace's youngest, Tammy; Mady and her daughter, Lizzie; Mac and Colby; and all the grandmothers, Carol, Alicia, and Lianne. 

As the last of the group made their way out the door, Veronica heard a low voice in the hallway greeting them, and knew that Jeannie's timing had been impeccable.  She flicked Robin's veil once more, then turned to see Logan standing in the entrance to the room.

"Well, this is going to be the best looking bridal party ever," he said with a smirk, and all the girls...er, young women, laughed.

"Uncle Logan," Lilly said, "you are the handsomest father of the bride ever." She hugged him tightly and then gestured to Val and Reenie. "Come on, ladies, let's go make sure that Nick's gang is ready for us."  She stepped back to hug Veronica and Robin. "We'll be waiting for you guys at the back, with your flowers." 

"I'm still pissed that Nick doesn't have a good-looking brother," Val said as she hugged Robin.  "Isn't that supposed to be the upside of having to dress up like this? Like a bird's mating plumage? Something to make these shoes have value?"

Reenie gave Veronica a quick hug, then moved to her sister. "Well, he may not have a good-looking brother, but I don't limit my options like you do, Valentina, and his sister's pretty fine, so I'm good." The sisters shared a quick embrace.  "Love ya."

"Love you too." 

As the door closed behind them, Logan pivoted from watching them to facing Robin. He took her hands and held them out to her side for a moment. "You look beautiful." 

"Thanks, Dad."

"I'm still not sure how we got here." He turned to Veronica, reaching a hand out for her, and she smiled at his tear-filled eyes. "Do you remember her getting old enough to be getting married?"

She shrugged, smiling as she wrapped an arm around his waist and took Robin's free hand in her own. "Time flies when you're having fun, right?"

"I guess." He tugged them closer to him, then kissed Robin's forehead and the top of Veronica's head. "I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing right now." He looked down at Veronica. "Your father's been no help to me today. He just keeps repeating the same thing. 'I have no idea what the father of the bride does, someone left me out of my only child's wedding.' Geez, it's been nearly thirty years. That guy can hold a grudge."

Veronica laughed. "Now that you've footed the bill, I think your only remaining job is getting her down the aisle and saying 'Her mother and I do'. Think you can handle that?"

The tears flooded over then, and Robin slipped her arm around him also. "Dad, we talked about this. You doing this is going to make me cry too, and that's a much bigger catastrophe with the make-up and everything. So suck it up, buttercup. I'm not going anywhere, we still live in town, you and I still even work together when you bother to come in. Nothing is actually changing here."

Veronica nodded, smiling at her no-nonsense daughter, although it was true that Logan's emotions were contagious and she was feeling a touch on the weepy side herself. "She's right, you know. You're not actually giving her away. You're just inviting Nick in." She stretched up to kiss his cheek. "So come on. We've got someplace to be."

"That's right," Robin agreed, then she stretched up to kiss his forehead. "Come on, Dad. We'll do this wedding thing and then we're having a great party. I heard a rumor that Uncle Dick dug out the Party Pig, so you know a good time will be had by all."

Logan rubbed at his eyes, chuckling as he did so. "I have actually seen the Party Pig today, so yes, consider that rumor confirmed. I made him put it back in the car until after the ceremony. He was ready to bring it into the wedding."

"Does Mac know this?" Veronica asked, grabbing a box of tissue. "She swears she hid that thing."

"Alas, mere hiding cannot separate Dick and his Pig." They all laughed as they dabbed their eyes.

"It's cool. I've only been to one party where the Pig actually made an appearance, and it was a long time ago, but as I remember, it was wild, so consider the Pig invited. Although I think you made the right call limiting it to the reception. I don't need a pig at my wedding."

Robin put her arms around both Logan and Veronica, and they huddled together in a little circle. "One more thing, before we toss this tissue and no one cries again." She looked sternly at Logan. "I just want to tell you both how much I love you, and how lucky I feel that I got to watch such an amazing example of true love and a true partnership. It makes me feel confident that Nick's the real deal. If I can be in love with him after watching you guys, I think I've made a good choice. I've got very high standards to live up to."

"Crap," Logan said, extricating himself from the hug to get another tissue. "You want me to stop, you can't talk like that."

"He's right," Veronica added. "And I've got makeup to worry about, same as you. So we're gonna hug once more—" she caught Robin in a tight embrace, then stepped back "—and then we're getting this show on the road." She turned to Logan again, one hand outstretched to him, the other guiding Robin forward. "Come on, one more hug for you two."

Logan wrapped his arms around Robin. "I love you so much, Sweet Pea, and I am so happy that I got to be your Dad."

"I love you too, Dad."

Veronica watched them for a moment, but when the tears threatened again, she had to interrupt. "Okay, that's it." She headed out of the room, refusing to look at either of them. "Let's go." She flung the door open and stepped into the hallway. "You'd think with as often as we have weddings in this family, this wouldn't be such a big deal."

Chapter Text

August 28, 2011

"That was a good episode. Weird that Badger's got a kid." 

Veronica laughed into the phone. "Yeah, it's cool to have Sterling back. I do like that character, but he was a dick, trying to trick them like that. Oh...sorry...no pun intended about your intended."

Mac scoffed. "Like I believe that. And he's not my intended. I haven't said yes to any of his three thousand proposals."

"No, really, I didn't mean it that time." Veronica stood to turn the television off. She and Mac had been watching Leverage together since the show's premiere almost three years earlier, and moving out of the same town hadn't stopped it.  With the elaborate con planning and the major computer mojo, they often joked that the show was their training video for their best life small business model. Luckily TNT's airing schedule let them both watch at the same time, even if it was 9:00 PM where Veronica was and 6:00 PM where Mac was, and their means of communication involved their phones.

"Don't worry about Badger Sterling Canton Delaware the Third getting away with anything. Geez, that guy's in everything I like. Anyway, Eliot's gonna kick his ass next time he sees him."

"I have no doubt. So, I'm gonna hang up on you. I'm supposed to be shooting some charity luncheon thing tomorrow, and I want to get to bed before it gets too late."

"That's a pretty different kind of money shot, Bond."

"I know, but I also know we're not going to stay here long term, and I don't really want to go to all the trouble of getting my P.I. license in Rhode Island. So, contract work for the local newspaper is what I've got right now. It's that or sit around here waiting for Logan to come home from school. That's not really my thing, as I'm sure you're aware."

"Yeah, I'm aware."

"Okay, then, this was fun, thanks for humoring me, Q, and doing this. I miss seeing everyone, and getting to at least do this with you on the phone is nice." Veronica sighed. She didn't like to admit it, especially to Logan, but she was a little lonely since they'd moved back East. He was always busy with school, and she had to figure out what to do with herself. It was probably like what Logan had gone through while she was doing her FBI internship, but that was for three months, and Logan's masters' program was for a couple of years. 

"I'm glad we can. I miss you too. And we're not even gonna talk about Dick missing Logan."

"No, you're right, I don't want to hear about that. I'm just glad I've got him with me. Anytime you guys want to come out here; we do have a couple extra bedrooms, although the rooms are tiny and neither of them actually have beds at present. So it's probably the floor for you. Although maybe, with enough advance warning, we might be able to pick up a futon or something."

"Sounds good. Tell Logan we said hey, and I'll talk to you in a couple days." "

Veronica thumbed the phone off and began to walk around the house, turning off lights and checking locks before heading upstairs. She peeked into the office to find Logan frowning as he read a very large textbook.

"This is not the face of a boy studying for his dream job." She took the book out of his hands and laid it on the desk, then climbed into his lap. "Why so glum, chum?"

"I'm not; I've just got a ton of reading." He ran his hands up and down her arms. "Speaking of dream jobs, did you and Mac have a good time researching your business plan?"

"We did. She, and Dick too I suppose, say hi."

"Tell 'em I said hi back. Dick called me the other day and I could only talk to him for a couple of minutes. He's probably mad at me for blowing him off." He dropped his head against the top of the chair back, his lower lip pouting out.

"Get real, Dick doesn't get mad at you." She nestled in and kissed his neck. "He gets disappointed."

"Great, that's so much better."

"So, if I suggest that you come to bed and let me console you, am I just a bad influence, or am I a welcome and timely distraction?"

He laughed. "If I had a brain in my head, I'd be pushing you off me and getting back to it." 

"Translation: bad influence."

"Nah." He gathered her in his arms and stood. "Come on, Miss Distraction. Bedtime."

Chapter Text

July 25, 2024

"His name's Flicker."

Reenie nodded with certainty at the tiny piebald colt, currently lipping sugar from her outstretched hand. "You know, like the movie we watched. My Friend Flicker."

Lilly and Robin looked at each other and burst into laughter, causing little Flicker to shy back. 

"Reenie, that was My Friend Flicka, not Flicker."

Reenie glared at her older sisters and stomped her foot. "I said like the movie, not same as the movie. Flicka's a girl's name. My pony's a boy, so he's Flicker. And shut up. No one asked you."

Chapter Text

March 13, 2011

"Hey, whatcha up to?"

Logan bookmarked the web page he was looking at, then minimized the window. "Just a little research." He held out a hand, and when Veronica took it, he tugged her into his lap. "What's up with you?"

"Well, I've been thinking...about the future...and I know you've got choices to make too, so I wanted to share my thoughts."

Logan's eyes shifted slightly to the computer screen, now showing only the desktop, with photographs fading in and out. He could see part of the name of the page he'd minimized along the bottom tool bar, 'Forensic & Legal Psy', and hoped Veronica didn't notice. He rolled the chair back from the desk and rocked them back until she put her arms around his neck.

"You're going to throw us out of this thing. Can you try not to break our necks please?"

"I can try." He rocked slightly forward, so they weren't quite so wobbly, then kissed her neck. "So, thoughts. Sharing. Let's hear it. Where are we going? Stanford or Columbia?"

She pressed her lips together in a thin line, her forehead wrinkling. "That's what you think? I've chosen a law school?"

"Isn't that what you've been trying to decide? Which top ten law school will have the honor of sending you requests for alumni donations?"

"Well, my thoughts have been a little more involved than that." She tucked her head into the crook of his neck. "Dad's really pushing for law school, but what do you think?"

He shrugged. "I think you need to decide what you want to do, and then I'm going to support whatever choice you make."

"Why is this only about what I want? You've got goals too. Why aren't we talking about what you want to do?"

"Veronica." He kissed her forehead. "I committed to following you around a long time ago. Followed you to Virginia, and would have done that for as long as you wanted, if that's what you wanted. But it wasn't, and now it's time to figure out what's gonna be next for us."

She shook her head against his collarbone. "That's not fair. What about what you want?"

"You know what I want. Centers for people like my mother...and me, too. But I've found a few online Masters' programs in Forensic Psychology. So you pick a law school, and I do online programs from wherever we are." He kissed her forehead again. "I'm not planning to get into counseling myself, just understand the field and what we need to do, and make good decisions about the people I bring in to work with me. I can do that with an online degree."

"You can, those are good programs too, but what if you don't have to?"

"Did you find a law school that had a graduate program that meets my needs?"

She sat upright abruptly. "What kind of law do you think I'd practice?"

Surprised, Logan hummed in thought. "Well...my guess would be public defender." He grinned at her. "Saving the Weevils of the world."

"What about you, buddy? Seems that I recall you availing yourself of the public defender's office in the past." 

"Yeah, true." He chuckled. "But in the end, you know I was the best paying client Uncle Cliffy ever had."

"So how do you think it would have worked if I had to defend Aaron?"

He blinked at her, shocked by where the conversation had just gone. "Aaron would never have used a public defender."

"Someone like Aaron, without the financial wherewithal to hire a dream team. Not everyone being defended is innocent, but they're still due a defense. Do you think I'm going to be able to help someone get acquitted if I'm certain they're guilty? Pretty sure I'd be getting disbarred the first time around."

"Okay, that's a valid point. So, District Attorney then."

"So I can convict the Weevils of the world? That doesn't really sound right, either." She pushed out of his lap and began to pace. "Pretty sure there's not anywhere to work where I'd get to pick which side I'm on in any given case." He chuckled and nodded. "So what then? Corporate law? Helping people like Jake Kane get richer on the back of the little guy? No thanks."

"There's other kinds of law, Veronica. Civil, environmental, family...there's all kinds of things you can do...kinds of law that you can practice."

"But what if I don't want to?" Her pacing slowed, then she stopped and turned toward him. "I'm not sure how the lawyer thing got started. I grew up wanting the FBI, but that summer with the internship showed me that wasn't for me. And then, suddenly, we were talking about law school, but it's not like that was my dream. And really, even with all the kinds of law out there, I just don't feel like it's the thing for me."

"Okay, so, do you know what you want?"

She gave a short nod, but then shrugged. "I didn't like the FBI because it was so repetitive, what they were making us do, and God, so many rules. As a lawyer, I think it would mainly be about taking the facts that others give to me and figuring out what to do with them, rather than digging in to see if they were really right. I know lawyers have investigators out checking on things, but that probably means the lawyers aren't really supposed to do that digging themselves. But you know that's what I like. Getting down into the problem and figuring out the answers. The chase."

"Ah yes, the part that gives me heart palpitations." He smiled as he rose to put his arms around her. "But that's been working out okay. We've had a decent rhythm going for the last few years and I don't see why that would change."

"I'm glad you feel that way, because in the long run, I'm leaning toward trying to work with Dad, if he'll agree. Or maybe I can look into investigative journalism. I think the criminology degree would help me look qualified for that, even though my college journalism career was over before it began. But all of that is gonna be there when I'm ready. Right now, I feel like it's time to support you."

Logan frowned down at her. "What does that mean?"

"You're ready to follow me to Virginia, or Stanford, or Columbia, or wherever, for what I was thinking about doing. I'm ready to do the same."

He took a step back, shaking his head, then turned back toward the desk. "No, I don't think so. That's not how this works."

"Why not? It's okay for you to do what I want, but I can't go along with what you want? You say you can do your Masters' program online. Okay, but you can do it in person too. And no matter how good an online program might be, is it better than an in person program, where you can build actual face-to-face relationships with your professors and other students?"

Her hand smoothed against his back, feeling almost tentative. "If you can show me that an online program is superior, then by all means, let's just stay in Neptune. We've got our house, I can go to work full time with Dad, and we'll totally be set. But if you can't show me that, then I want you to figure out where you're interested in going, and start applying. You've got six months until it's time to start a program; it's time for you to get with it."

He pulled away again, turning to slump back into the desk chair. "Are you really sure about this?"

"Yes!" She climbed into his lap again. "Yes, I'm sure. I appreciate more than you know that you've always been ready and willing to do what I want to do, go where I want to go. But it's not a requirement of this relationship that I always get to be the one to choose what we do."

She smiled and tweaked his chin. "And let's say I'm wrong about that, and it is a requirement, then what I choose is for you to complete this program in a way that will make your next goals as wildly successful as they can be. This isn't me subordinating my choices to yours, even though I know that's you're afraid of. This is supposed to be a partnership. Sometimes my needs take priority, sometimes yours do. Hopefully, most of the time, our priorities line up. We just need to work together to figure all this stuff out."

Logan sighed. "You really think we should move wherever I want to go to school? And you'll just come with me and, what? Wait around at home baking cookies?"

"Maybe I can do some long distance office stuff for Dad's cases. Maybe I'll get a job with some local newspaper.  Maybe I'll become a professional photographer. Maybe I will bake cookies every day. Maybe I'll have a baby."

He jerked at that last, and she laughed. "I've got all kinds of options, wherever we end up. So figure out where we want to spend the next two years, and get going on the process, then I can figure out what I'll do while we're wherever we are."

He leaned down and kissed her, hoping he could make her feel even a fraction of what he was feeling. When they broke apart, both breathing a little heavily, he cupped her face in his hands and pressed his lips to her forehead.

"Thank you."

"There's really no need for that, but you're welcome. So, any ideas about where we're going?"

"Actually..." He used his feet to put their chair closer to the desk. "I was looking at a particular school's program when I was comparing and contrasting what the different online programs offer. It seems really good."

"If you were using it as your comparison basis, that sounds like the place you'd like to go. Where is it?"

He clicked the mouse, pulling the minimized screen back up. "How do you feel about snow?"

 

Chapter Text

April 16, 2025 

Veronica turned off the car and glanced into the rear view mirror, trying to make eye contact with Mac, but her friend's eyes would have to be open for that to actually work.

"We're here, Q," she said, "do you think you can pour yourself out of my backseat?"

"I don't know. I have never been this relaxed and comfortable in my life." Mac was reclined in one of the second row bucket seats, a blissed out smile on her face. Veronica turned to her friend and sister-in-law, Jeannie, sitting in the front seat beside her, and shook her head.

"Is it wrong that all I can think of is what a disappointment Dick must be in bed, that hot rock massages can get her like this?"

Jeannie snickered.  "Yeah, it's wrong.  If all you can think of is Dick in bed..." She shook her head. "I don't think you want to share that with Logan."

"Your insults and innuendo cannot touch me, Bond. I'm euphoric."

"I bet you're sorry you've been turning down our invitations for Spa Day for all of these years," Jeannie said in a snide voice.

"You'd win that bet," Mac sighed. "I blame you both, for not making it clear just what I was missing out on."

"What?" Veronica scoffed. "No way. We told you over and over. You're not blaming us. Now get out of my car."

"I'm trying." Mac didn't actually move. "Really, I am. The spirit is willing, but the body...the body has no bones."

"Oh for crying out loud," Veronica said, "I'm going to get Dick. He can haul you in."

"Perfect," Mac called as Veronica opened her door and headed for the house. "Thank you!"

Chapter Text

January 21, 2008

"Logan?" Veronica called as she stepped into the suite. "You here?"

"Yeah, I'm in the bedroom."

She crossed the living room and stood in the door to the bedroom. "So, are you ready to go?"

Logan looked up from where he sat on the floor outside the closet. "Yeah, pretty much. I was just going through a few boxes, see if there was anything that I could just toss. Why move it if it's junk?"

"You're not exactly a hoarder, and you've only got a couple years worth of stuff here, so I wouldn't think there you're going to have a lot to purge." Veronica moved behind him and bent to kiss the top of his head. 

"How about you?" he asked. "How goes your packing? You've got a lot more stuff at your Dad's than I do here. Were you weeding through what to move to the new house, or are you just moving everything? It's not like we don't have the room."

She dropped to the floor behind him, wrapping her arms around his and tucking her chin over his shoulder. "I packed up a few things, but I can do that anytime.  After tomorrow, we've gotta have everything out of here."

"Can you believe it? Two plus years in this hotel, and I'm finally moving out. I wasn't sure I ever would."

"Not even your trust funds could keep this up indefinitely, you know. Honestly, when I think of the money that you've hemorrhaged at this hotel over the years, it makes me a little bit nauseous."

"I had a roommate most of the time," he teased. 

"That's why I'm only a little bit nauseous, instead of full-on ill."  He laughed, then leaned forward to dig into the box again.

"For some reason, a lot of this one was senior year homework," Logan said. "I have no idea why I kept this stuff."

"You probably cleaned out your locker on the last day of school, and then dumped everything in the closet when you were getting ready for your graduation party," she suggested. "Meaning most of this box is garbage."

"Yeah, it kinda looks like you're right." He pulled out a pile of paper. "Physics lab." He crumpled the page and tossed it away. "English paper." Crumple. "Hey, a Neptune Navigator." This one winged away in a Frisbee toss. "Government test and a flyer for a beach party." Double crumple. "Flyer for...oh."

He held up a single sheet, this one on card stock. "Flyer for Alterna-Prom."

"Oh, wow." She reached over his shoulder and snatched it from his hand. "I've probably got one of those hiding in my closet too. Maybe in my yearbook."

"I'm surprised you would keep it," he said, trying to pull the paper back, but she held it away from him, pushing herself up and moving to sit on the bed.

"What are you doing?" he asked, turning to face her.

"I didn't want you crumpling it up like you did everything else."

"Why not?" His nose crinkled, upper lip lifting in a sneer. "Alterna-Prom is a horrible memory, what actually exists of it."

"It's definitely problematic," she agreed, "but it had some moments that I'd don't want to forget."

"How is that even possible? All I can remember is how you looked at me from that elevator, and I seriously wish I couldn't."

Veronica shook her head and patted the mattress, and he rose to sit beside her. "That was the day after, and yeah, I don't really like to think about that, like, ever. But the night itself...the way you looked at me, and the things you said. You definitely scared the shit out of me, I was not ready to hear all that, that's why I ran away. But now that I'm not frightened to death by your massive emotions anymore, plus, knowing how it's gonna turn out—" she bumped against him companionably "—I like to remember your heart-felt declarations. It gives me the warm fuzzies. Or gets me hot. Depends on the circumstances."

He chuckled and shook his head. "Wow. I was good, even if I didn't realize it at the time." He pulled her to straddle his lap and nuzzled into her neck.

She laughed and tipped her head back. "I don't know about good, but you were definitely extreme, and as it turns out, that works for me."

"I knew that back then," he mumbled against her throat.

"Yeah, but I didn't, or at least, I didn't want it to be true, and you know how hard I worked to prove that it wasn't."

"That is not a conversation I'm interested in right now. I'm currently interested in taking advantage of your freaky nostaglia." He stripped her shirt over her head and dumped her on her back on the bed before going to work on her jeans. She grinned up at him, lifting her hips obligingly when prompted.

"Speaking of nostaglia, it is our last night here..."

He laughed and stood, lifting her off the bed.

"What are we doing?"

"Each other. Everywhere we ever have before." Veronica grinned and wrapped her legs around his waist as he walked through the suite. "I'm thinking of starting this last night tour against the front door."

"Works for me." She tipped her head down to lick his neck.

"This is way better than going through boxes." 

Chapter Text

September 22, 2015

Logan pulled his phone from his pocket and glanced at the time.

"Veronica, come on! We have to go!"

He started to pace anxiously. Their first fundraising event since Port Sûr's doors had opened, and Veronica chose this night to take her time getting ready? "Come on!"

"I'm ready."

Logan pivoted toward Veronica's voice, stopping dead at the sight of her in the doorway.

"You like?" she asked in a teasing voice. Hands extended, she twirled in a circle. "What do you think?"

Her dress was long and black, plunging in the front with the scalloped neckline edged in crystals. She twirled again and he smiled as the gems caught the light.

"I do like." He took a step toward her and she whistled at him.  

"You look pretty sharp yourself." He grinned and did a twirl of his own, then closed the distance between them and took her hands.

"You look gorgeous. It's not often that you sparkle like this." He rested a hand gently against her cheek. "I mean, don’t get me wrong, you're always the most beautiful woman in the room, but tonight? Wow!" He stooped to drop kisses  along her exposed shoulder, then across her collar bones. She gave a breathy giggle as he locked his hands on her hips and kissed up to the crook of her neck.

”Don’t we have someplace to be?” she asked.

”Do we? I don’t remember.”

”Come on, Mr. Executive Director. We can make out anytime—“

”Promise?”

”—but this is your big night. Let’s get you out there, let you make your mother proud smoozing these moneyed types, and then we can come home and you can see what’s under my dress.”

”All right, fine.” He gave her one last smooching kiss, then straightened and took her hand, heading for the garage.

”So what is under that dress?” he asked as he helped her into the car.

She grinned up at him. “Very little.” She gestured at the V that plunged below her rib cage. “No place to hide anything.”

”Ugh, I shouldn’t have asked,” he grumbled. “Not sure I’ll be able to concentrate on fundraising now.”

He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. As he slid in, she turned to smile at him.

”How about this? You hit your goal, I’ll get Mac to pick up Robin from her mom in the morning and you and I can spend the day alone.”

”Ooh, okay. I can work with that. Better let her know as soon as they show up.”

”Double the goal and I’ll take a week off like you’ve been wanting and we can head up the Coast someplace. Deal?”

”You don’t think I can do it or you wouldn’t be offering,” he guessed. “I’ve been trying to talk you into a vacation with just the two of us for months.”

”I think it’s an ambitious goal, yes.”

”Well, you’ve got yourself a deal.” He turned to look over his shoulder as he backed down the driveway. “I’m just glad your dad’s gonna be there tonight, so you can let him know you won’t be in next week.”

Chapter Text

October 1, 2015

"I can't believe the injustice. I finally get you to take some time off and this happens."

Veronica sighed and pushed him into the passenger seat. "Stop whining. It's unbecoming." She dropped the pharmacy bag in his lap. "Hold that and be quiet. We'll be back at the hotel in ten minutes and you can go to bed. The doctor said the decongestant should clear this up and the antibiotic will keep you from getting an infection."

"This was supposed to be our vacation. We haven't gone anywhere since Virginia, and I finally got you to agree to go somewhere, and I end up in Urgent Care. It's just messed up."

"First, the last trip to Virginia was four months ago. I wouldn't exactly call us deprived in the vacation department." He nodded grudgingly. "And really, you're the one who wanted to scuba dive. I thought we were going on vacation without Robin so we really wouldn't have to get dressed, and instead you decide to go diving and end up with this..." She paused, trying to remember the diagnosis.

"Barotitis media," he finished and she nodded, then closed the car door in his pouty face and made her way around the car. Unfortunately, as soon as she opened her door, he was complaining again.

"This is the first chance I've had to really go diving since I got certified, and I figured you wouldn't mind a little time to yourself in a week that's otherwise been pretty debauchery-filled." He smiled wistfully, then huffed a sigh, his hand pressed delicately against his ear. "I just don't get why this happened. How much time do I spend in the ocean? I shouldn't have this kind of reaction. And then this guy gives me two different drugs? You know I don't like to take medication."

"You mostly spend time on top of the ocean, not that far underneath it. And shit, Logan, two different drugs for a few days. It's not a major thing. Be grateful your eardrum didn't burst. Just take your medicine and you'll probably be fine in a day or two. No big deal, no long term effects, a week of discomfort and then you're fine. Now I'm not kidding, stop whining, or I'm going to tase you."

She could see him looking at her with disbelief as she pulled out of the parking lot and headed for the hotel. 

"You didn't actually bring your stun gun on vacation, did you?"

"No, but trust me, I'm regretting that decision now." She arched an eyebrow at him, hoping to convey some humor, but that apparently failed because he frowned.

"Geez, Veronica, I'm sorry my discomfort has inconvenienced you. I could have driven myself and you would never have had to leave the fireside."

"That is not the point, you jackass. This is about you carrying on like no one's ever suffered as you have. It's a little agitating."

He huffed again, but didn't respond, and they passed the rest of the ride in silence. When they pulled into the parking spot near their cottage, he was out of the car before she even had it in park, heading for the door. She shook her head as she turned the car off, uncertain how things had escalated so quickly. She pulled her phone out of her bag, checking for the text she was waiting for, but when it wasn't there, she headed into the cottage.

Logan was nowhere to be seen in the front room or the kitchen, but she had expected him to take his meds and go to bed. She pulled her own pharmaceutical purchase out of her bag and wrestled past the plastic wrapping and cotton wadding to pull out an over-sized pill that she washed down with a large glass of water and a grimace.

She'd settled on the couch next to the gas fireplace with her phone and a book when she heard Logan shuffle into the room.

"Veronica?"

She looked up at him to find the angry look gone, and just his soft, sad eyes left. "I'm sorry I was whiny. I just wanted this vacation to be special, since we hardly have any time alone anymore, and I did not figure for a stupid ear ache messing things up."

"It's a little more than an ear ache, Logan, and once the decongestant relieves the pressure in your ear canal, you'll be back to your regular self."  She patted the cushion beside her and he sat down, then leaned to the side, resting his head on her curled up legs and stretching his legs down the couch and over the arm. 

"Comfy?" she teased and he squirmed.

"Getting there." Her phone vibrated then and he chuckled. "Except for the magic fingers effect in your pocket." He raised his head and plucked the phone out, glancing at it quickly. "Why is the Urgent Care texting you? They said that I would be fine without seeing a doctor again unless the pressure doesn't lessen in a week. Did they tell you something different and you're waiting for more information?"

"No, and yes." 

He sat up again, raising his eyebrows. "What does that mean?"

"No, they did not tell me anything different about you. And, yes, I'm waiting for more information. They had one result for me while we were there, but before the second one came in, you were done and I didn't want to wait. They agreed to message me."

Logan nodded at the phone in her hand. "Wait for what, Veronica? You just had some tests at this doc in the box while we're on vacation? What's wrong with you? And why aren't you checking the message?"

"I'm suddenly unexpectedly nervous to see it."

He narrowed his eyes. "And I'm suddenly unexpectedly anxious. Talk to me please."

"You being anxious doesn't seem unexpected to me. You check it if you want to know. You can read it to me."

"So you saw a doctor at the Urgent Care too?" he asked and she rolled her eyes and nodded.

"More like a technician, but yes, while they were checking you out, I did some...stuff."

"Very specific, thanks." He reached for the phone. "You really want me to look?"

"Sure," she replied, holding it out to him, but squeezing her eyes closed as she did so. He frowned and entered her code to open the phone.

"Okay, let's see.  Blood results match with urine. By history, estimate four weeks in. Congrats. Make appt with your regular ob/gyn when you return home."

A smile broke across his face as he read the message, then continued to stare at it for another moment. When he finally looked up, his eyes were shiny.

"Veronica, we're pregnant."

"That's how I interpreted it too," she said lightly. "They told me the urine screen came back positive, but we did the blood draw as well to be certain."

"You have blood drawn while they were looking at me?" She nodded. "No wonder you were so irritated about my whining. All the needles, and the pre-natal vitamins—"

"Got those at the pharmacy and took my first already. They're as wretched as they were last time."

"—and everything else that you have to endure, and I'm griping about having to take two pills and take it easy. I'm so sorry."

"No need. And endure is a pretty strong word. We've been working on making this happen, so it's not like it's an unwelcome thing. I knew about the needles, and the vitamins, and the labor, and everything else. I wanted this, so all of the rest is fine." 

She leaned into him, kissing him gently. "So congrats, Dad. It's soon going to be even less likely that we'll get to vacation alone for at least another eighteen years. Better start feeling better soon so we can take full advantage of what's left of this getaway." 

Chapter Text

October 14, 2018 (later)

The surface under Logan's face feels scratchy and as he slowly comes to consciousness, he realizes that his face isn't the only discomfort he feels. He's in a seated position, his joints stiff and his hands asleep. Then he feels fingers in his hair and the events of the prior day and the long night that followed flood back, jerking him upright.

"Veronica?"

Finally. Blue eyes study him carefully.  He tries to focus on them and not the bruising.

"Morning, sunshine." He lifts her hand carefully, grateful that her fingers are no longer limp in his grasp, but instead wrap around his. "How ya feeling?"

She frowns and a pained noise escapes her. "Kinda like I got hit by a truck."

"Well, as a matter of fact..." He leans down to kiss her hand. "You have no idea how glad I am to see you this morning."

"I got hit by a truck?" she asks, wrinkling her nose, but it seems that pulls at something in her face, because her other hand starts to rise to her face, until it freezes as she notices its secured state. "What the hell?"

"It's broken, you'll get a cast later. And don't try to move, you've got two broken ribs and two others that just popped out of place."

"I did get hit by a truck." 

"Nah, not really. Just a colorblind asshole in a Jeep. Hit you in your door, pretty damn hard. You've been sleeping for a while. It's been lonely here." He kisses her hand again. "You gave us quite a fright."

She chuckles, low in her throat. "Quite a fright, hmm? I was out a long time apparently, if you're speaking like British royalty now. Have the girls graduated high school?"

"Oh yeah, great, make fun of me." He snorts, shaking his head. "Actually, yeah, go ahead, make fun of me. It assures me that you're almost back to normal already."

"Who's making fun of who now?" she asks with a weak smile. "So really, how long was I out?"

"Only since yesterday. You've got a pretty big lump there—" He gestures toward her head, but pulls back to touch his own temple. "—but they did an MRI and didn't see any damage. You're going to be fine. They'll cast your arm today, and then I'll get to take you home."

Her hand suddenly turns claw, clutching at him. "Hang on, the girls weren't with me, right?"

"No, no, they're fine. They're with Grandma and Grandpa until you're home and settled. Nothing to worry about."

"But Reenie—"

"Is drinking from a bottle of formula. And she's going to be fine with that. I know that's not your ideal, but it is our reality right now. Also, nothing to worry about." He rests her hand back on the mattress, smoothing it flat again, then glances over to the clock on the table next to the bed. "So, as much as I wanted you to wake up, I think you should rest some more. I'm gonna let the nurse know you're awake so they can come poke at you a bit, and then you can go back to sleep." 

He pushes to his feet, smiling down at her for a moment before gently kissing on her forehead. "I can't tell you how scared I was of losing you."

"I've felt that way before."

Logan shakes his head. "No, not like this. Breaking up doesn't have to be forever. And even if it is, at least the other person's still out there, even if you can't be with them. I seriously thought I was losing you for good."

"I get the difference." Her eyes are sad and make his heart hurt. "Think about that summer before senior year. I was sure you were going to get yourself killed. I was scared of losing you all the time. Permanently."

He closes his eyes and sighs. "Okay, maybe we're even now." She laughs softly and he can look at her again.  She reaches for his hand and he lets her take it. 

"I'm sorry I scared you," she says quietly.

"Wasn't your fault." 

She nods slightly, then raises his hand to her lips. "Still, I can be sorry it happened."

"I'm sure you are." He delicately traces the edge of her discolored face. "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere, got it?"

"I guess." She smiles up at him. "Thanks for staying with me. And don't be too long please. I'm gonna miss you."

"Promise. You won't even know I'm gone." He leans in and brushes a tender kiss against her lips. "I love you, Veronica."

"I know."

He laughs, a full laugh, for the first time since the call from the emergency room. "Okay, Leia, I'll be right back."

Chapter Text

October 25, 2027

"And now! For my next amazing feat of magical derring-do, I shall saw my beautiful assistant in half."

The crowd goes wild and Logan shakes his head.  This trick worked...barely...in an empty room. He was fairly certain there was no way in hell this was going to work in a very full house Halloween party, but he'd counseled against it, and been shot down by the entertainer himself, so he was perfectly happy to let the chips fall wherever they would. Who knows? Maybe it would all work out.

Not everyone was as nonchalant as he about ill-advised magic tricks however.

"You are not sawing my dog in half," Reenie yells, pushing her way from the back of the room. The beautiful assistant, a tutu around her middle and bows over her ears, barks and jumps around when one of her people appears out of the crowd of mostly strangers.  The magician himself is less excited at the appearance of his heckler.

"Get out of here, Reenie; this is my party."

"You are not sawing Pony in half. Get someone else." She glances around the room, sees the sister she was fighting with earlier standing along the wall. "Use Robin."

"Robin's too tall; she won't fit in the box," Danny answers immediately, and Robin, already laughing, shouts back, "Use the short sister."

Their cousins, Hank and Stevie, begin to chant, "Ree-Nee, Ree-Nee," but Danny waves his black top hat back and forth in the air and shouts them all down. 

"Reenie, get lost. Pony knows this trick, nobody else does, she's doing it."

Giggles begin at Logan's side and he looks away from train wreck at the front of the room to find that Veronica has come up beside him.  She's covering her mouth and nose with her hand, but the sounds of hysteria are still escaping.

"This is going well," she manages to say.

"I told him this wasn't the best idea, but your son does know EVERYTHING, so..." The giggles burst out again and he leans closer. "He said that Pony was the only assistant who wouldn't tell his secrets."

"That's probably true," she agrees with a nod, just as the magician manages to regain control of his crowd. 

"All right, we're ready. Dad?"

Logan knows his cue and steps up front, giving Reenie what he hopes is a reassuring smile as he bows to the crowd, then picks up the beautiful assistant and lifts her into the box on the table. Danny grins and waves him away, so he finds his way back to Veronica.

"Prepare to be amazed...or not," he whispers in her ear and she giggles again. 

In the meantime, Danny has gotten Pony to lie down in the box and closed the lid. He reaches into the holes at the end, and pulls Pony's feet out so the crowd can see them. Her head is still raised out of the open end on the other side and she's looking eagerly out into the crowd, tongue lolling out as she pants and grins. 

"Is she really that long?" Veronica murmurs in Logan's ear and he snorts. 

"It's really better not to ask questions," he whispers back.

Danny raises his divider blade from his prop table and shakes it over his head. "Prepare to be amazed."

"You better hope he doesn't cut something off himself with that thing," Veronica hisses at Logan. "You signed off on this show."

"It's fine."

The magician flourishes the blade once more, then inserts it into the box where a line marks the middle.  He's not tall enough to easily have the leverage he needs, so he struggles for a moment, but then the blade slides home with a thump. Pony looks behind her, seeming to be checking her incision line, then Danny throws his hands in the air. "Ta da!" he cries.

"Whooaa."  The crowd responds in unison, and Danny pushes the now separated boxes apart.

"As you can see, my beautiful assistant is unharmed."

He holds a treat out to her that she wolfs down as the crowd cheers. "Where's that coming out?" Dick calls over the uproar and Veronica shakes her head. 

"Forty third-graders in this room and Dick's the one telling poop jokes."

Logan snickers, but his eyes are on Pony, who's starting to look very wriggly in the chaos of the room. "Come on, Dan, put her back together before this goes bad," he mumbles under his breath.

Danny, however, is also a little too excited by the response of the crowd, and decides to take a few extra bows instead of finishing the trick, and that's when everything falls apart.  Pony, having learned to take her bows when Danny does, squirms to an upright sitting position and ducks her head like she's supposed to.  Unfortunately, her 'back feet' continue to protrude from the other half of the box, presumably attached to the bottom half of her, that's now mostly visible in the near box. 

"Hey!" shouts one crowd member, then another, and Danny glances over to see that his illusion has been ruined by his over-excited assistant. 

"Pony, geez," he says, turning toward her, and she licks his face from chin to forehead. He sputters and wipes at his face as the room bursts into laughter. He shakes his head, but when she plants her front legs on his shoulders, he hugs her back, then turns to face his audience with a shrug.

"It's a miracle?" he says in a questioning tone, and the laughter increases.

"Guess she told his secrets after all," Veronica says, and Logan nods, laughing as his son and the dog continue to take their bows.

Chapter Text

October 13, 2012

“Dick, name me a day when it’s not ‘Treat Yo Self’ day in your universe?”

From the look on his face, Dick didn’t seem to find her as amusing as usual. One side of his upper lip lifted in a sneer, his eyebrows rose, and his eyes narrowed.

“Get off my case, Ronnie. I didn’t think this up. It’s from Parks & Rec, and it seemed like a good idea to have a little pampering, with us here visiting you guys, and you big as a house—“

The boot she'd been about to put on seemed to develop a life of its own as it hurled its way across the room and into Dick’s shoulder. At the same time that the boot attacked him, Mac smacked him in the chest with her palm.

“Dick! That’s not okay.” Veronica turned away in irritation, feeling like she wanted to pace the room, but with only one boot on and the other still off, the three inch height difference between legs made it difficult. She was already a little off balance, since she was, as Dick so delicately put it, as big as a house.  “Tell Veronica you’re sorry. She is not that big and she looks adorable—“

“It’s fine, he’s right.” She slumped down onto the couch, lacing her fingers across the basketball that had taken up residence under her skin. “I’m enormous.”

The basketball rolled under her hands, than began an intermittent jerking. “She’s got the hiccups.”

Dick cackled, and was immediately across the room, dropping beside her on the couch and flattening his hand across her belly. “That is so awesome.” All the irritation was gone from his face, replaced with wonder and another look that Veronica could only define as joy.

“Dick, don’t crowd her.” Mac sat down on her opposite side, perching on the edge as she looked at Veronica speculatively. “Are you actually okay with that?” She jerked her head at Dick.

Veronica smiled and shook her head as she watched Dick’s face reflect every time the baby hiccupped beneath his hand, but when she glanced at Mac she nodded.  “It’s fine.” She moved Dick’s hand from the top of the bump to the side. “Push just a little.”

“I don’t want to hurt you or the munchkin.”

“Just a little. It’s okay.”

He applied the slightest pressure where she’d directed and the baby kicked him.

“Oh holy shit!” he exclaimed, pushing a little harder and getting another kick in response. He grinned up at Veronica. “That is so awesome,” he repeated and she had to smile back. “Mackie, you gotta try this.”

“Mmmm, I dunno,” Mac hedged, and Dick sat up and grabbed her hand, pressing it into the bump. “Dick, don't—oh!”

Dick and Veronica both laughed, as Mac scooted closer, hand still flat against Veronica's belly. "Do you feel that?"

"Umm, yeah, Q, I feel it. She's whacking me first."

"That's nuts."

"Pretty cool, huh, Mackie?" Dick ducked his head. "Hey, baby," he shouted at the bump, "it's your Uncle Dick. Whassup?"

Veronica felt what seemed like a full somersault inside her and snickered. "She's either on the run or she wants to chat with loud Uncle Dick. It's really hard to tell."

"Of course she wants to chat with Uncle Dick," he said in a self-righteous tone. "I'm gonna be her favorite uncle."

"What if she likes Wallace best?" Mac asked, smirking at Veronica.

"Or Darrell?" Veronica chimed in.

"No way. Uncle Dick, for the win."

The jerking stopped and the rolling quieted. "She may have dozed off," Veronica suggested at Dick's frown when his light pressure didn't have any results. 

He harrumphed and leaned down again like he was going to yell again, but Mac thumped him on the head. "Let the baby sleep," she said sternly and he wrinkled his nose at her. 

"Spoilsport."

"Yeah, whatever. So, let's hear about Treat Yo Self. What do you have in mind?"

"Well, ice cream, of course. I think maybe mani/pedis after that, although you two are the ungirliest of all girls, so maybe you're not into that. What's there to do around here? And when's Logan getting home? He should come with us."

"I'm here."

Three heads swiveled to the doorway where Logan leaned, smiling at them.

"How long you been there, man? You missed out. The kid was all about Uncle Dick."

"Yeah, actually, I saw that." He stepped into the room and settled in the glider across from the couch. "Gonna be the favorite uncle, hmm?"

"Oh yeah, dude, no question."

"I'm guessing you're gonna spoil the kid rotten to get that title."

Dick snorted, incredulous. "Hell, yeah. Whatever it takes. No way is Wally beating me." He stood up and grabbed the boot from where it lay after hitting him. "But first, we're spoiling the kid's mom. Come on, Ronnie, get that boot on. We're going for ice cream."