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The Cynic Inside

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Veronica pulls into the beach parking lot and parks before turning to Pony in the passenger seat. She attaches the leash and her puppy wags her tail and reminds her of how she is definitely no longer a puppy. At five years old, she is fully grown, but still has the energy she did when she was younger, especially when she senses that Logan is nearby.

She pulls Pony onto the sand, regretting that she is dressed for her job in her heeled boots and leather jacket. She wishes she could be one of the ones who are lounging in bikinis on beach towels. Sunning in the afternoon light rather than working all day before going undercover at a party in San Diego. She would take Pony with her, but it wouldn’t be fair to keep her stuck in the car. At least this should be quick.

Her boots sink into the sand and she almost stumbles as Pony pulls her along and she stops paying as much attention to the steps. She is looking at the surfers riding the waves and spots Logan immediately. Rather than his wetsuit, he is wearing a suit that is almost indecently short and tight. It is eye catching and shows off his body to the best of its ability. He finishes his ride as she pulls on Pony’s leash to make her sit, but it takes a couple of commands to make her comply.

Veronica waves, half-heartedly, and he seems to notice her as he picks up his board under his arm and walks up the beach, rather than heading back out. She realizes immediately that he isn’t walking toward her, but rather down the beach and he is smiling at a girl that is laying out next to what she recognizes as his bag and towel. She heads in that direction, even more anxious to get this over with. The girl stands as Logan sticks his board in the sand. Of course she has wavy blond hair in white cutoff shorts and a bright red, button up crop top that is probably only connected over a couple of buttons in front. Exactly Logan’s type.

Logan approaches the blonde and rubs his short hair before flicking water at her with a grin on his face. She has a perfect view of their profile as the woman leans forward to push her hands against his bare chest as he stands firm. She runs her hand down Logan’s body and Veronica's heart clenches and her breath catches at the sight. She starts to lose her grip on the leash and as Pony notices Logan, she takes off at a break. Reflexively, Veronica calls after her and catches the attention of Logan. Part of her is thrilled as Pony jumps up on her daddy’s chest, breaking up the scene before their flirting went further. Logan kneels down to greet his baby, but then the other woman kneels down as well.

Veronica walks up to greet them, and Logan stands up awkwardly in response. He doesn’t move towards her, not even instinctively, and she misses it. She says hi briefly before launching into a discussion to make plans to get Pony when she comes back, not even allowing for an introduction. She is expecting that he hasn’t set up his place to keep the dog overnight yet. It’s taken him so long she would think he didn’t want her if not for the fact that she knows he loves that dog. She is surprised when he tells her that it can wait until the morning, and she feels like maybe he is finally settling in. She lets him know that she will be by first thing in the morning, not wanting Pony to get used to being over there. She knows it’s selfish, but it’s been hard enough with him gone. She was just relieved that she caught him at the beach and didn’t have to take her to his house.

She walks away as quickly as she can, recognizing that her boots don’t allow a fast escape, but glad she left before she could watch Pony with a new mother. She isn’t sure when she started thinking of herself as a mother, she certainly didn’t intend for her life to be this way, but it is. Thankfully they avoided having a human child in their messed up lives.

 

 

Veronica approaches the door while taking a calming breath. She hates this, doesn’t really want this, but she needs Pony. She knows that Pony could spend the day with Logan, she doesn’t even know if he has a job, other than dating women that are hopefully not going to answer the door. Pony is going to be in the office with her and then at the apartment by herself later, but she still can’t bring herself to leave her here.

She knocks, before she loses her nerve and she hears Pony’s bark and nails clicking on the floor as she races to the door. She hears the thud of heavier steps moving much more slowly, thankfully it must be Logan and not another person coming to the door. Logan answers in a pair of pajama pants that are somewhat twisted and hanging low on his hips. His hair is in disarray and he is rubbing his eyes as he manages to ask her why the hell she is here before it’s even 6am. He thinks she just got back from work but she tells him that she got up and was ready to pick Pony up. She doesn’t tell him that she only slept for 2 hours before she had to come and get Pony, but he knows.

She looks at the floor when he asks her to let Pony to stay for the day, at least. He talks about missing her and how he has everything set up for her now. She declines forcefully and he is upset. She knows that he is making good points, that he never gets to see her anymore. He lost so much time already with his deployments and now he still barely gets to see her. She is angry that he feels so much loss over their dog, willing to ask for more time, but not her. She lets it out, finally, and yells that Pony is all she has left of him. That he took everything else, but she still has Pony, so in some small way she still has him.

She is shocked at herself, that she let out the secret that she kept locked away since he first left four months ago. He looks at her stunned for a moment before he reminds her that she kicked him out, she ended it. She knows this and hates to admit that maybe she was wrong. She’s not entirely sure why she did it either, something about him always being around, not renewing his lease on a condo he hadn’t stayed in for six months. She knows she freaked out, but she didn’t expect for it to end that way, but she thinks that at some level she still expected it to end. She can’t say any of this to him, has already let herself be too vulnerable and attacks him instead. She reminds him of how quickly he moved on, the blond at the beach with her hands all over his body. She doesn’t expect him to ask her how Leo is, how their case went last night.

It’s not the same, not really. She isn’t dating Leo or romantically involved at all, but he’s expressed interest. They have always helped each other out on some cases, done favors, but she never wanted to admit that he called her more frequently when Logan was away. She realizes that Logan is talking again, saying things about how he must have been stepping on her toes, getting in the way of her having the freedom she wanted. She should probably say something, but when she does, it’s a comment about how he obviously has everything set up here without her and is doing just fine.

He lets her know clearly, that he isn’t going to fall apart without her. He’s not begging for scraps, but he’ll fight for Pony, she’s his girl now. She isn’t sure how she was replaced by a dog, but it probably has to do with that unwavering trust and love that she apparently couldn’t follow through on. She really did though, she did love him and trust him unconditionally, but her fear was stronger and she knows that she has a limited chance here and now to try to fix it.

“What if I begged, what if I feel like I’m going to fall apart without you?” She looks at him, pleading with him to give her some sign of hope.

“And what changes Veronica, we go another five years, or ten this time and you freak out. I get kicked out and we don’t have Pony to force us to talk. I don’t even know what happened Veronica. We’re great and then suddenly you’re busy with Leo on a case and then I’m gone, you want me out. I don’t hear from you for more than a week and you avoid me every time I come over until I find my things boxed up for me. Why would you want to go through this again? Do you hate me that much?”

This is the first time she listened to his perspective and realized how he saw it. She was scared and needed a clean break and was too scared to say goodbye and thought it would be easier when his things were gone. Then they were gone and she had nothing. She was scared that he was becoming too ingrained in her life and missed that it had happened long ago, their lives already interconnected in a way she couldn’t and didn’t want to break. “I love you and I was scared. I didn’t realize how much I depended on you and needed you. Leo is nothing, hasn’t been since the first time I kissed you. And I need you to not move on, even when I freak out. I need you to not just take your things without a fight.”

“It’s hard to fight with someone who isn’t there.” Logan is staring at the ground before he looks over at Pony who has moved back to a new dog bed that is covered with one of his shirts.

Veronica follows his gaze over to her dog that has made a new home. “I want you to love me as much as you do her, I don’t want to lose my family.” She makes the first move toward him, and takes his hand in hers. “Please let me try to fix this, don’t tell me it’s to late or that you moved on. I know you are dating, but can we please try to see if we can work through this.”

He meets her gaze and raises the hand she is holding to cup her cheek and she holds it to her face as she closes her eyes, waiting to hear his verdict. “I always loved you, still do. And I haven’t moved on. I want to say we can fix this, and I’m willing to try, but I just don’t really know what to do.”

She feels his lips press against her forehead and she takes it as a sign to reach around him. She hasn’t been held since she made him leave, he’s the only one she would ever let hold her. She thought at a time that it restrained her, but really it gives her a sense of security she was missing without him. She forgot that he was a reason she felt so secure, so able to be herself because she had his support and that he loved her. She has to find a way to remind herself that his support doesn’t have to threaten her independence. Maybe this feeling of losing her family will remind her next time, if they have a next time.