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Are You There God? It's Me, Veronica

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The first time Veronica Mars met Logan Echolls, he was sitting in the corner of the kindergarten room crying because Richard Casablancas Jr. – Dicky for short -- took away his train. This grave injustice against the new boy forced Veronica into action and – as the Sheriff’s daughter and self-appointed law enforcement for the class – decided to apprehend the thief by whacking Dicky over the head with a plastic banana. She couldn’t understand why the teacher was so mad at her when it was clearly Dicky who was in the wrong, and felt her time-out was a gross miscarriage of justice.


However, Logan seemed genuinely grateful for her intervention, and gave her a wide smile when she returned the engine to him. Logan’s parents – Oscar winning actors Aaron and Lynn Echolls – decided to move to Neptune part-way through the school year. By this time, most of the kids in the class had made friends. Everyone except Veronica. Veronica was uninterested in dolls or playing house, and didn’t hang out much with the other girls. Plus, the boys teased her and told her she couldn’t play trucks and trains, so she stayed away from them too. So more often than not, the petite girl found herself doing puzzles or reading alone; until Logan showed up in her class.


At snack time that day, he sat down next to her and offered her half of his chocolate granola bar. Always in the mood for more food, Veronica happily accepted it, and later, during recess, the two of them chased each other around the playground, playing cops and robbers. When her mother picked her up from school, Veronica’s pretty pink flowered dress was covered in mud, and her long blonde braids were disheveled, but she didn’t care. She had made a new friend, and it was all she talked about for the rest of the day.

 

Veronica Mars was a tiny blond ball of pure energy. She was small for her age, so her parents – Keith and Lianne Mars – decided to hold her back a year, so she could catch up to the size of the other kids, before entering Kindergarten. This meant that while she was still the shortest one in the class, she was also one of the oldest kids in the room. As for Logan, his mother feared the ever-present paparazzi, and thus, kept him home a little longer, to protect her boy from the media as long as she could. Logan was tall and gangly for his age, with a mouth full of crooked teeth, and a head of shaggy blond hair that covered his soft brown eyes.

 

Although they were the same age, Logan was a good four-inches taller than his new friend, and he found himself looking down on the top of her head when they stood together.

 

Through the rest of the school year, their friendship grew, and over that first summer, play dates at the Echolls’ mansion became the norm.

 

By the beginning of 1st Grade, Veronica’s mother, Lianne began driving the kids to school together, and Lynn sent her driver to pick them up. The two of them became inseparable and as they moved through the grades, they ended up being partnered up for everything from class projects to field trips. Along the way, they allowed Dicky to join their crew – along with his little brother ‘Beaver’ when he sometimes cried about being left out. And when Keith and Lianne went away for a romantic weekend getaway, leaving Veronica in Lynn Echolls’ care, the new tradition of the kids’ sleeping over at each other’s place was started.


Logan and Veronica also shared a love of the ocean, which led to them enrolling in surf classes in 5th Grade. Dicky joined them, and the three of them spent many hours on warm California days perfecting their surfing skills.


Over the summer, they met Lilly and Duncan Kane one morning while surfing. Lilly was a year older than her brother and rest of the group, but still fit in with the surf crowd, showing off that she could surf just as well, if not better, than the boys. The Kane siblings had been attending a prestigious boarding school just outside of L.A., but had convinced their parents to transfer Lilly to Neptune High, when she started grade 7 in the Fall, and Duncan would join her at when he graduated to junior high. According to them, their parents – Jake and Celeste Kane -- went to Neptune for junior and senior high, and their dad easily agreed to let them follow in his footsteps in his home-town.


By 6th grade, Veronica was beginning to notice some weird things happening to the people around her. Logan and Dicky (who now insisted on being called ‘Dick’) voices began to crack, causing them to sound like a Smurf one minute, and Darth Vader the next – a phenomenon she thought was hysterically funny. Even Lilly, who was usually happy and funny to hang around with on the weekends, began to get moody and cranky, missing out on group activities with no explanation.


Slowly, Veronica began to realize that puberty was looming over all of them, but insulated from the rest of the world, over the summer, the group of friends continued in their bubble, ignorant of what was happening with the rest of their classmates.


Then 7th Grade happened.


The first day of school, Logan and Veronica emerged from the back seat of Keith Mars’ police cruiser, in the parking lot of Neptune High . Veronica stood on the curb near the parking lot, taking in the sight of their classmates as they gathered in the quad. It looked like everyone they knew had just stepped out of the pages of a teen fashion magazine. The girls were in high heels and short skirts, wearing makeup, while the guys wore jeans and Polo shirts, some with frosted-tipped hair, others with gel-styled locks.


Veronica looked down at her outfit and cringed. She was dressed in her favourite blue and grey Mexican Baja hoodie, ripped jean shorts, and black Converse sneakers. Her long blonde hair was pulled into its usual ponytail. In the California summer sun, it had become almost bleached-blonde and her deep golden tan skin only accentuated it. She nervously reached her fingers up to play with the puka-shell necklace around her neck, glancing over at her best friend to see if he was as taken aback by their classmates as she was.


Logan had become even lankier over the summer, having had a crazy growth spurt. His shaggy brown hair covered his eyes, and his braces still hadn’t come off, despite the fact that he begged his mom every day to take him to L.A. to get them removed.
For the first day, he was wearing green khaki shorts and a vintage grey rolling Stones t-shirt, which apparently had made his parents wince. A puka shell necklace which matched Veronica’s hung around his neck, but he was wearing Birkenstocks instead of sneakers. He wore a puka-shell necklace, that matched Veronica’s, but elected to wear Birkenstocks instead of runners. He glanced back at Veronica, shoving his hands into his pockets and frowning at the scene.


“It’s like Night of the Living Dead,” remarked Veronica.


“But instead of turning into zombies, everyone went for makeovers,” snarked Logan.


Keith chuckled. “Welcome to teenagerdom. Beware of killer acne.”


“Dad.” Veronica groaned.


It was true. Veronica had turned thirteen in August and several days later, she received her first pimple on her nose as a present. Even though Logan wouldn’t be thirteen years old until the end of October, his mother had already stocked him with a variety of expensive “pimple products” to keep the tiny face monsters at bay.


Keith came up behind her and kissed the back of her head discreetly, and she was glad he didn’t try to embarrass her further.


“Have a great first day of school, guys. Stick together, stay out of trouble, and say ‘no’ to any drugs offered.”


“Will do, sir,” replied Logan and gave him a small salute.


Veronica turned and hugged Keith. “Thanks, Daddy. I’ll see you later.”


Releasing Veronica, Keith gave a final nod of recognition to Logan before climbing back into his police cruiser.


The two waved goodbye as Keith pulled away from the curb. Then, with a sigh and a nod to each other, they made their way into the quad full of people.


Just as they entered the melee, she heard a squeal and someone call out “Ver-roni-ca!” from behind them.


Lilly Kane jumped out of the limo at the curb, waving her arms with excitement. They hadn’t seen the Kanes all summer, as Duncan and Lilly had been on a whirlwind trip of Europe with their parents. The Lilly Kane that was bounding across the quad was different than the one who left Neptune in June. This Lilly, long blonde hair flying behind her, dressed in a tight-fitting, pep-squad shorts and t-shirt uniform....bounced. Since Veronica had last seen her, Lilly had blossomed, developing curves that had never been there before. Veronica’s mouth dropped open as her friend pressed her soft body against hers in a great big hug before turning to Logan and giving him a giant hug too.

 

Logan turned beet red, avoiding Veronica’s eyes. When Lilly pulled back from him, he started moving back and forth nervously, and shuffled his backpack from his shoulder into his arms, covering the front of his body. Veronica figured he was thrown by this ‘new’ Lilly too.


“Oh my God! I missed surfing with you guys so much this summer! All I saw were museums and art galleries and old buildings and I wanted to run away to the ocean,” Lilly rambled, as Duncan joined the group, giving them a sullen nod.


“But Veronica, now that we are in the same school, you have to try out for Pep Squad! I mean, I started in Grade 7 and now that I’m in Grade 8 I get to do so much more, and then, if you join, we can keep going all the way through high school together! Wouldn’t that be great?”


Veronica glanced over to Logan for help but he was busy looking down at his shoes.
“Um...no thanks, Lilly. I mean, you’re totally awesome, but I don’t think I’m all that ‘peppy’,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.


Lilly’s face fell for a second before quickly recovering.


“Well. Okay then,” Lilly said, her voice full of forced enthusiasm. “See everyone at lunch.”
And with that, Lilly was off, leaving Veronica, Logan, and Duncan watching her bounce across the quad. Veronica glanced over at Logan, who’s mouth had dropped open slightly as he watched Lilly leave. She caught Duncan’s glance and she jerked her head at Logan, rolling her eyes at his reaction. Duncan shook his head slightly and let out a sigh.


“Now you know what my summer was like,” Duncan said, jerking his thumb in Logan’s direction. “Hurricane Lilly ripping through Europe, leaving guys slack-jawed and drooling in her wake.”


Veronica let out a small giggle. “Good to know it’s not just Logan.”


“What?” Logan said, finally snapping out of his trance and turning to his friends. This time, both Duncan and Veronica rolled their eyes at Logan’s reaction.

Dick sidled up to the group just as Lilly left, letting out a low whistle as he approached.


“Damn! Looks like Lilly picked up some ‘friends’ in Europe.” Dick laughed, cupping his hands in front of his chest.


“That’s my sister, dude!” exclaimed Duncan and punched Dick in the shoulder.


“And Veronica’s here. Don’t be a pig,” chastised Logan.


Veronica’s presence had never stopped the boys from being boys before. The thing about being a tomboy was that she was privy to all sorts of disgusting boy behaviour – farting, burping, dirty jokes – that was rarely censored. Until today.


Dick scoffed. “Dude, it’s just Ronnie!"


Veronica suddenly felt very self-conscious about the fact that she wasn’t exactly a girly-girl. Surfing gave her toned body a layer of visible muscle and she had no curves, her chest as flat as her favourite surfboard. And today she was very aware of it.

“Look, Dicky, we can either waste the entire morning talking about boobs, or we can find our class. I prefer brains over bod, myself,” she snapped, throwing him a harsh glare over her shoulder.


Dick rolled his eyes, letting out a huff of annoyance. “Fine. But don’t call me Dicky again.”


Catching Logan’s eye as she turned, he flashed her a silly little smile. The boys began following her into the school and she couldn’t help but grin. It was nice to feel like the leader.


Veronica walked up to the sheets of paper plastered to the side of the dull, grey, cinderblock wall, her small frame cutting through the people milling about in front of them, and quickly scanned the grade eight lists of names.


“Logan. You and Duncan are in Room 438,” she called out. “Dick. You and I are in room 327.”


Turning back to the group, she caught Logan’s expression falling as he realized they wouldn’t be together, in the same homeroom, for the first time in their lives.


“We still have lunch,” she said reassuringly, stepping up to her best friend. “And surfing after school. And Saturday night sleepovers. And, like, every other moment of our lives.”


Logan nodded in that sad way which meant she couldn’t really convince him. "And at least Dick has someone to take care of him.”


“Yeah. With all the boobs, Dick’s liable to get distracted and walk into a wall...or an open locker...or the open sea,” Veronica teased.

But when she glanced around to see Dick’s reaction, Veronica realized he was standing there, gawking at pack of girls standing across the hall from them. Veronica let out a big sigh before grabbing Dick by the arm, dragging him out of his stupor.


“Come on, doofus. Let’s get to class,” she said as she led Dick down the hall.
“See you at lunch!” Logan called out and Veronica raised her hand, waving at them as they walked away.


---------------------


The first half of the day flew by in a blur of information. At the “Welcome to Neptune High” assembly, Veronica caught Logan’s eye where he sat with his homeroom class, and the two waved to each other, enthusiastically. She listened obediently to a myriad of speeches, lectures, and snarky comments from Dick, before they were finally treated to a performance by the junior pep-squad.


The girls and boys in the squad, dressed in green shorts and white t-shirts, jogged onto the field, led by Lilly. They stood in triangle formation and waited for the music to start. Hoots and hollers from the bleachers filled the silence before the first strains of music began to fill the air. As they began their routine, the crowd settled momentarily as Eve and Gwen Stefani growled through their song, asking everyone to “Let me Blow your Mind.”


Veronica scanned the crowd as the squad jumped, bounced, and cheered. Most of the boys were staring, mouths agape at the spectacle, including Logan. Many of the girls were either pointing and whispering or looking at their laps.


Was it like this last year? Veronica thought as she glanced around. It wasn’t just that they were at a new school – everyone just seemed so “different”. The jump from elementary school to Junior High seemed like a leap from earth to the moon.


Looking around at the other girls in her grade, she saw Madison—Maddie—Sinclair, Susan Knight, and Carrie Bishop, all clustered together just one aisle down from her, giggling and whispering. They were all wearing makeup this year, and their clothes were definitely tighter than last year.


Veronica’s eyes dropped for a second to her own chest before looking up again. I wonder if they got their periods yet? Veronica scrunched up her nose at the thought. She knew that a lot of girls got their periods last year, from the way they talked in the gym locker room, but puberty still had not stuck Veronica. ‘Late bloomer’ was the phrase her mom kept using; but she didn’t feel like a flower.


Glancing over at Dick, she rolled her eyes at the crooked, giddy smile on his face – the same one that appeared when he was staring at the girls in the hall. Each year of school, Dick had seemed to notice the girls around them more and more, and more often than not, was the one making comments about cute girls on the beach. Logan and Duncan would talk about them, but not to the extent that Dick did. Dick also had no qualms about showing off his three measly chest hairs, often going shirtless by the pool. Logan and Duncan still preferred to keep their swim shirts or tank tops on around her.

And then there was Lilly. Sometime, Veronica felt like there were two Lilly Kanes – the public one and the private version. At school, she was a smart, gregarious leader, with charisma that attracted many followers, and poise that made her seem much older than her actual age. But in private, Lilly liked hanging out with their small group, goofing around good-naturedly with Veronica and the guys, watching movies while making silly comments at the screen, and gossiping about the stars in her favorite celebrity magazines.


She turned her attention back to the performance as Lilly executed the grand finale – perching herself at the top of the human pyramid, arms spread in a wide V, chest arched proudly and smiling gleefully at the crowd. The school erupted in cheers as the music came to an end.


“Mind blown,” Veronica muttered sarcastically under her breath as she stood and applauded with her friends.


--------------


The social pandemonium of the cafeteria on the first day of school was of little consequence to Veronica and Dick. The students had already started breaking off into small groups at the long tables, leaving stray people wandering around, looking for places to accept them. Logan had scored a table towards the back of the hall near the big windows overlooking the grounds -- and was waiving his long arms in the air, trying to get their attention. As they approached, Veronica saw Duncan was with him but Lilly was not, which after rejecting Lilly’s offer to try out for pep-squad, this morning, Veronica was kind of okay with.


Dropping into the seat across from Logan she couldn’t help but smile a little. Seeing her best friend made her feel instantly better about the rest of her day.


“How were your classes?” he asked eagerly.
Veronica shrugged and pulled her lunch out of her backpack, giving a little cheer when she discovered vegetarian sushi inside.


“Fine. The teachers mostly lectured us on expectations. They also kept mentioning where the bathrooms were located in proximity to the classroom, which makes me think that previous 7th Grade students have not been toilet trained, or that someone, at some point, got very sick in their class. How about you?”


“The usual ‘Are you related to Aaron Echolls?’ question from a couple of new teachers, who hadn’t heard through the grapevine that I go here.” Logan shrugged as he pulled his lunch from his backpack. “I think Miss Elliott might fail me just so she can meet Aaron.”


Even though he could well afford lunch, his mother worried that it could be contaminated with shellfish, and rather than risk losing her son to an allergic reaction, she had their chef prepare his lunch, even though Veronica knew he would much rather eat greasy pizza and drink pop from the cafeteria. Today, he had a large gourmet sandwich along with some unidentifiable grainy salad, which Veronica guessed was probably one of Lynn Echolls’ new favorite “super foods.”


“Dudes, you are both neglecting to mention the best part of the day...boobs set to music!” Dick proclaimed and tried to steal some of Logan’s large lunch. Logan smacked Dick’s hand and threw him a stern look.


Veronica turned towards Dick, feeling a rage rise inside of her at his sexist remarks.


“Seriously, Dick. You need to shut up about the boobs or so help me, next time we are out on the water, I will drown you,” she hissed, pointing a chopstick at him, menacingly.


The table went silent. Veronica felt her cheeks go hotwith embarrassment. She wasn’t sure why she was so mad, but the fact that the boys seemed so preoccupied by the girls around them seemed to push a button inside of her. And she didn’t know why. In the past, she’d always rolled her eyes when they pointed out cute girls on the beach and bugged her when her eyes lingered a bit too long on the muscular arms of their hunky surf instructor. But this was different. She wasn’t sure how it was different...but today, it just felt...different.


Dick looked shaken, but tried to play it cool.
“Jeeze, Ronnie. Take it easy. It’s not like I’m talking about your boobs or anything. I’m talking about an actual girl, you know, not you,” he explained.


Duncan hid his eyes in his hands and shook his head. Logan let out a deep sigh, rolling his eyes at the comment.


“If I’m not a girl, then what exactly am I?” growled Veronica, about to take off her friend’s head.


“You’re like my sister...our sister...mine and Logan’s. We’ve all been friends, like, forever, that it just feels that way, you know. And the one of the thing you don’t do is look at your sister’s boobs, or ass, or anything...you know?” Then he smirked and turned to Duncan. “But it’s okay to look at his sister’s boobs.”


Duncan uncovered his eyes to find everyone guffawing and promptly turned beet red.
“I hate you so much, Dick,” Duncan muttered and pushed his chair back, stomping off to get in line for food.


Veronica turned back to Dick. “That was actually kind of sweet, dude. What you said about me, that is, not Duncan.”


Dick shrugged and stole a piece of her sushi. “Just be careful of these bo-hunks. Anyone who wants to date my sister has to go through me and Logan first.”


Veronica caught a glimpse of Logan who was meticulously inspecting his food, his eyes lowered.


“Yeah....I don’t see that happening for a few years. I’m pretty sure the guys at school think I’m just a surfer boy with long hair,” she replied with a sigh.


Dick scoffed. “Yeah. Right. Then why did I see that new, preppy kid...Casey...the one that went to elementary school with Duncan, checking you out in homeroom?”


“Really?” Logan and Veronica said in unison. They froze and looked at the other for moment then looked away.


“Totally. Want me to beat him up for you?” asked Dick, enthusiastically.


Veronica frowned. She didn’t have time for boys. They just created drama and problems. Junior high was the stepping stone to high school. And high school was the stepping stone to a scholarship and college. And college was the stepping stone to a career in law enforcement. This would not do.


“Maybe later,” she muttered, pushing her remaining lunch over to Dick to finish.
“Umm...remember...Mom is sending the car for us at 3:30,” said Logan.


Veronica noticed his voice was high and nervous, although she didn’t know why it would be.


Veronica sighed. “It can’t get here soon enough.”

 

Chapter Text

On top of her surfboard, Veronica was in complete control. The wave under her was a barrelling force of nature, but perched high on top, Veronica felt like, for a few seconds, she could take on the world.

An hour of surfing after school with Logan was exactly what she needed to clear her head. His driver, Ben, picked them up in the Range Rover with both their surf boards and gear in the back, and took them straight to the beach. During the summer, they were strictly Dawn Patrol, but being back at school meant grabbing time after school, before dinner.

When his parents were out of town, Logan enjoyed having dinner with the Mars family, rather than eat alone or with his older sister, Trina. On those nights, he would either sleep over on their pull-out couch or Keith would drive him home.

But tonight, Logan’s presence was demanded at home so his parents could get a full report on his first day. Veronica waved goodbye to Logan from her front door before entering.

Keith was already sitting at the dinner table when Veronica arrived.  He was still in his brown Sherriff’s uniform, the evening newspaper spread on the table in front of him.  His warm brown eyes glistened when he looked at her and he gave his slightly-balding head an involuntary scratch as he shifted his body on the chair to face her.  She glanced at the clock on the mantle and frowned.

“No, you’re not late,” chuckled her dad as he held open his arms for a hug. “I just left early so I could hear about your first day.”

Veronica dropped her bag of surf gear near the door and hurried over to him for her hug.

“I’m glad you did. It was...interesting,” she said, stepping back from his embrace and sliding into the chair next to him.

Lianne appeared through the dining room door carrying a big serving dish of homemade manicotti, her long, blond hair pinned up in a messy bun on the top of her head.

“Oh good! You’re home! How was your day?!” her mom said happily and put the piping hot dish down on a trivet on the table.

Veronica let out a long sigh. Her dad had a very open “let’s talk” policy that allowed Veronica to ask many questions as a child. It was this policy which led her to know all the ‘right’ names for body parts by age 5, list all the felonies by age 6, and how to pick the lock on their front door by age 7.

“I don’t even know where to begin.” Veronica said to her dad as her mom started serving the food onto plates.   She took a deep breath before letting everything she had been thinking about out in one, long thought.

“Lilly...developed...over the summer and all the boys were ogling her like she was a piece of meat and they were starving vultures. And a lot of other girls did too....developed, I mean. And the boys have all lost their minds and they smell like cheap cologne. And Dick said that I wasn’t a ‘girl’ to him, that Logan and him thought of me like a ‘sister’ and you don’t look at your ‘sister’s’ boobs. And then this afternoon in math, I caught this guy....Casey Gant....staring at me and Dick offered to beat him up again and I said no. Oh, and the worst part is that Logan and I aren’t even in the same class together. But Dick and I are.”

When she finally finished, Veronica looked up to find her parents standing still, their mouths open slightly, taking in the barrage of information that was just handed to them.

“Maybe we can talk about this later –” began Lianne as she moved to her seat at the table.

Keith shook his head. “No. This is too important. We should talk about this over dinner,” he said pushing his plate away from himself.

“Veronica, when we talked about sex and puberty years ago, it seemed very abstract,” he said. “But now, here’s the reality; it’s very different than just hormonal and physical changes. It’s also social changes that come with this ‘development’, so to speak. People begin to change how they act and how they want others to perceive themselves. This is going to bring a lot of upheaval, socially. Especially between the opposite sexes.”

Veronica nodded her understanding, her eyes still avoiding her father’s as she listened quietly.

 “That being said, I am happy to hear that Dick and Logan are looking out for you. I hope they continue to look out for you and you for them, as everyone begins to change.”

Change.

Veronica did not like the sound of that. “Change how?” she demanded, looking between her parents for answers.

Keith shrugged. “Change from kids to teenagers.  You’re 13 now, and soon, Logan and Dick will officially be teenagers too.  You’re not kids anymore.  One day, Logan and Dick and Duncan may have girlfriends. Or you’ll have a boyfriend. Or whatever ‘partner’ you choose....I’m not going to judge. However, as you grow and develop, at your own rate, the boys may or may not be on the same page as you. And you may want to prepare yourself for that.”

Veronica was still stunned by her father’s words when Lianne began to speak. “Maybe this is an opportunity to start fresh. The chance to become the girl you want to be. Maybe we can go clothes shopping this weekend and get you some new dresses or outfits for school, or get your hair done. Maybe even get you some makeup.”

Veronica crossed her arms in front of herself again and looked down at her plate. There it was -- even her mom didn’t think she was a ‘girl’.

Keith stepped in. “Lianne, there’s nothing wrong with what Veronica wears or how she looks. She is beautiful, whether she is in a dress or shorts or big pink bunny pyjamas. She doesn’t need to buy anything new unless she wants to.”

Veronica looked at her dad with pure love in her eyes. How did any guy have a chance when they had Keith Mars as his daughter’s model for the perfect man.

“Thanks Daddy,” she whispered.

Lianne let out a small huff of frustration. “I didn’t mean she wasn’t beautiful. I’m just saying that maybe it’s time she started doing more...girl...things. Find some more girlfriends to hang out with...other than just Lilly Kane.”

Veronica scowled at her mom. “I like my friends.  And I thought you did too.”

Her mom took a long sip of her red wine. “I do like Logan and Dick. But they’re boys. And soon, they’ll just be thinking about one thing and one thing only from you...”

“Lianne!” Keith slapped the table, causing Veronica to jump. “I think you’ve made our daughter feel terrible enough for one evening.”

Her mom opened her mouth to speak again, but instead, she looked over at her wine glass, picked it up, and finished her merlot in one gulp. She then stood, pushing her chair back noisily.

“I need more wine. Excuse me,” she said and disappeared into the kitchen.

Veronica was well aware of her shortcomings in her mother’s eyes. When she was a child, every dress her mother ever put her in was ruined – either by mud or paint or by Veronica cutting the lace off with a pair of play scissors. While her mother bought her dolls and tea sets, Veronica was begging for LEGO and action figures. Her dad said that she could play with everything -- the things her mother insisted she had and the things she really wanted. And so, Veronica ended up having a lot of tea parties with Logan, GI Joe, and Barbie; still falling short of what she knew her mother had in mind.

Veronica became so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice her mother return.

“If you aren’t going to eat, you can be excused, Veronica,” Lianne muttered.

Veronica looked down at her plate. She really wasn’t that hungry anymore. Quietly, she retreated upstairs to the bathroom, in the hopes she wouldn’t hear the argument that she knew was about to happen between her parents.

She flipped on the lights and loud ventilation fan and hid in the bathroom. Turning on the shower, she stripped out of her sandy clothes and stood, naked, in front of the mirror.

Soon they’ll be thinking of one thing...

“What could they possibly want with me?” she said to her reflection.

Veronica put her hands over her flat chest, covering herself for a moment. She did have the smallest dip in her waist that gave her slight willowy hips and she was beginning to get hair ‘down there’ but it was still nothing like she had seen in the books. Her long, long hair fell down her back; the only thing that made her look and feel like a girl at that moment.

She wondered if Logan was as worried about this stuff, as she was. Boys had it so much easier than her, she thought. While boys were the oglers, she was the ogle...ie? Way more pressure, she surmised. But what if she didn’t want to be the object of the boy’s attention? What it she thought the whole thing was dumb and really just created unnecessary drama for everyone. She needed to talk to Logan and clear up some things.

Jumping into the scalding hot shower, she quickly washed the sea out of her hair. Then, wrapping herself in a big towel, she zipped across the hall to her bedroom, ignoring the yelling that was happening downstairs.

Veronica turned on her CD player and let the sounds of Fiona Apple fill the room. Throwing herself on her bed, she reached for her phone and dialled Logan’s number. It took one ring before he answered.

“Did you survive dinner?” he asked, obviously seeing her number on his call-display.

“Yes.  Just barely. They’re downstairs fighting again. How about you?” she asked, rolling onto her back and putting her legs up on the wall.

“Yeah.  I warned them about the teacher who wanted to meet Aaron. He asked if she was cute and I swear Mom almost stabbed him with her fork.” Logan sighed deeply and Veronica heard him shifting around on the other end. “But the good news is that I get my braces off the weekend before my birthday. The bad news, however, is that Mom is planning a huge Halloween birthday party for me this year and she wants to invite the all the 7th grade kids in school.  She said we’re too old to go out trick-or-treating.”

“But our 3 Stooges costumes last year were so good!” She said.

“Dick did make a good Moe,” he replied with a laugh.

“Your fault you were born on Halloween,” Veronica teased.  “You should have planned your escape earlier.”

“But when you’re the spawn of Satan, it’s an honour to be born on the sacred holiday,” Logan shot back, his voice heavy with sarcasm.

Veronica rolled her eyes.  Logan hated his mother’s large, festive parties – including the twenty-four Christmas trees during the holidays, Easter egg hunts with one-hundred real bunnies running around the grounds, and the Fourth of July with a marching band parading the grounds – and was glad to just go trick-or-treating for his birthday every year.  Except this one.

“If we have to be all ‘grown up’ about this, maybe we can be Myrna Loy and William Powell,” Veronica responded, trying to put a positive spin on things.

Logan laughed. “From the movie The Thin Man?  Mom would love that.”

Veronica thought about sophisticated and sexy Nora Charles from the movies. Her mom would probably love it too; it would be the most 'girlie' thing Veronica had ever done.

“What are they fighting about?” Logan asked, his voice deepening with concern.

Veronica closed her eyes. “Me. I told them about how hormones have eaten the brains of some of Neptune’s finest and Mom said I needed to get new clothes and start wearing makeup. Basically, be more of a ‘girl’.”

Logan laughed. “You are a girl. I’ve seen your girl parts. I can swear in a court of law that you, Veronica Mars, are, in fact, a girl.”

Veronica giggled. It was true. For all their sleep overs and surfing lessons and swimming parties, they had only ever seen each other naked once. Back in Kindergarten, Lynn had put the entire family on a vegetarian diet and Logan was not allowed to have any processed sugars. So when Veronica pulled out a tiny package of animal-shaped ‘fruit snacks’ from her lunch kit every day, Logan would beg and plead with her for even just one, tiny treat. Sensing an opportunity, and strong with the newfound knowledge that somewhere on his body was this mysterious thing called a ‘penis’, Veronica offered him the entire package if she could see his, to clear up her curiosity. Logan agreed and behind the corner of the school at recess, he showed it to her and claimed his prize. Veronica was sure it was the strangest thing she had ever seen and couldn’t understand why people made such a fuss about these things. The next day, when he asked to see her ‘girl parts’ she agreed without bribe, just because she had seen his the day before and it seemed the proper thing to do, under the circumstances. Logan questioned her on why she had a "pee-bum" for her front and a "bum-bum" for her back, and her only response was because she was a girl and that was how it worked. Logan seemed unimpressed, but did point out how lucky he was to be able to pee anywhere, anytime, standing up. Veronica conceded that was probably the one and only advantage of a penis and they quickly moved on to other things.

“It’s changed a bit since then,” she snorted with laughter.

“Ditto,” he snarked back and they laughed together. “Look, Ronnie, I don’t know what kind of ‘girl’ your mom wants you to be but you are a pretty awesome girl for who you are. I mean, really, do you want to be Maddie Sinclair?”

Veronica stuck out her tongue. “Blah. Fake ‘Sun In’ blond hair and stuffed training bra? No thanks.”

“See. So why don’t you just keep being the crazy-cool girl you are now and let everyone else figure stuff out, you know?”

Veronica was quiet for a moment as she thought about what Logan said.

“Yeah. I know.”

“What are you worried about really? Not having a boyfriend for the Spring Fling?” Logan goaded her, his voice taking a weird tone again that Veronica couldn’t place.

“No, you’re right. I guess it was just surprising to see how much everyone had changed and we....didn’t,” she huffed, sliding off the bed and walking to the mirror on the back of her door. She was still in her towel and she dropped it to the ground, grabbing for her pink robe – a birthday gift from her mom – and tossing it on.

“We’ll never really change, Veronica. We are who we are on the inside. It’s just the face we show everyone else that sometimes shifts,” he murmured.

Veronica paced her room, kicking things on her carpet out of her path. “Quit being so smart,” she said quietly.

“That’s why I’m your best friend. Brains before bod,” he teased.

Veronica stopped in her tracks. She had something else to say, but she didn’t know how to say it, so in true Veronica fashion, she just spit it out.

“My mom thinks that one day, you and Dick will want me for something....more...than just being friends. Because of, you know, hormones and boy things and crap.”

Logan went silent. He paused for so long, she thought he had dropped the phone. When he finally began talking, she was relieved.

“Veronica, I will never ask you to be more than you ever want to be with me. You are my best friend in the world. Nothing is worth jeopardizing that,” he said in a husky voice. “And I think Dick explained his feelings on the matter today...you are like his sister and I’m pretty sure he meant that. He was pretty mad that Casey was checking you out.”

Veronica bit her lip. She barely heard anything past Logan’s first words. For some reason, her stomach got butterflies at the thought that they would be best friends, forever.

Butterflies?  Why do I suddenly have butterflies?  She had never felt like that before. Regrouping her thoughts, she decided to push her feeling down into the back of her mind for the moment.

“Well, with Dick’s parents divorced, his mom gone, and his dad dating bimbos, I’m not surprised he feels that way. You and I and Beaver are the only family he has. So I’ll take ‘sister’ as a classification,” she replied. “But you will always have the title of Best Friend Forever.”

She heard shuffling on Logan’s side of the phone. “I should go,” he said quietly. “Gotta read ‘Of Mice and Men’ for English by the end of the week.”

She smiled to herself. “Didn’t you read that already a few years ago? Just because?”

It was true. Logan’s parents rarely explained anything to him, so the precocious boy took to reading every book within his grasp, or asking Veronica about things, in an effort to learn more about the world outside of just his parent’s Hollywood bubble.

“Yeah, but now I’m doing it for a grade.”

Veronica rolled off the bed again, her stomach still dancing about. Strange. Maybe I need to eat?

“Okay. Dad and I will pick you up again tomorrow at 8 a.m.”

“See you then. Sleep tight.” Yawned Logan.

“You too,” replied Veronica and put down the phone.

She moved her hands over her stomach, the butterflies had returned. What would make her suddenly giddy?  Was it nerves?

I will never ask you to be more than you ever want to be with me.

The thought of Logan’s words made her butterflies swoop and swirl again.

This is not good, she thought. This is not good at all.

Chapter Text

On the morning of the second day of school, Veronica found herself spending a little more time in front of her closet than she had the previous day.  

Maybe Mom is right, she thought.  Maybe looking more like a ‘girl’ wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  

After much consideration, she selected a pink tank top, layered with a brown one underneath, jean shorts and her brown Teva sandals. Instead of her usual ponytail, she wore her hair in long, soft, natural waves. When she came downstairs for breakfast, her mother seemed pleased with the slight change, and Veronica was glad that Lianne had let the idea of taking her to buy new clothes drop. When they picked Logan up for school, he did a bit of a double take but didn't say a word about her modified look, instead choosing to talk about their new teachers for the entire ride.

As Veronica exited the car, Keith bent to kiss her and whispered softly.  “You look lovely today, Veronica.  But you look lovely every day.”

“Thanks Daddy,” she said and gave her dad a quick hug and a peck on the cheek in return before joining Logan on the sidewalk.

A few minutes later, they were joined on the quad by Dick, Duncan, and Lilly – who was dressed in more modest shorts and a frilly white blouse. Everyone fell back into their easy chatter, discussing plans for surfing that weekend, and hanging out at Logan's after. When the first bell rang, they all disbursed and went to their home rooms.

Veronica's first period class was Phys. Ed. – a class that, even though she was athletic, she never really enjoyed thanks to one too many mean-spirited games of dodge-ball throughout her elementary school years. Letting out a deep sigh, she pushed the door to the girl’s locker room open, a tiny hope that junior high athletics would be better. Veronica turned the corner into the tile echo chamber -- the sounds of squealing and giggling girls bouncing around -- to find Maddie Sinclair holding court in the middle of the room. Rich and popular, Maddie and her friends were the baine of Veronica’s existence.  While she attempted to ignore them, their antics during elementary school – picking on new girls, bragging about their parent’s wealth, showing off their latest purchases from Bloomingdales – gave Veronica a perminant case of the eye-rolls.  Today was no excpetion.  For today, every girl in class was gathered around Maddie, all standing in their white cotton training bras, inspecting the pink lace contraption she had strapped to her chest.

"It's a 'push up' bra,” she explained with a voice of authority. "My mom and I got it at Victoria's Secret and it was super expensive. But it pushes everything up so I have even bigger breasts!"

A murmur of appreciation and awe went through the crowd at this new found information.

Veronica scoffed, rolling her eyes once more, and walked towards a locker as far away from Maddie as possible. As she rounded the corner, she found there was only one other person in this hidden section of lockers.  Sitting on the bench, already in her t-shirt and doing up her runners, was a girl with short, dark brown hair. She looked up when she saw Veronica and gave a wry smile.

"Welcome to the I-don't-need-a-bra section. Feel free to change anywhere because there's nothing to see."

Veronica let out a hearty laugh at the girl’s comment.  Glancing down at her chest and back to the girl, she smiled warmly.  Veronica hadn’t even bothered to put on a bra under her layered tank tops today, because she didn’t need one.  In fact, the training bras that her mother had bought her in grade 6 were still in their packages, stuffed at the bottom of one of her drawers.

“Are you accepting new members? Is there a fee?" Veronica asked the girl as she put down her bag and began to pull out her gym shorts and runners.

"No bras. No fees.” The girl laughed. "I'm Cindy, but everyone calls me 'Mac'."

Veronica gave a little wave as she shoved her stuff in her locker. "I'm Veronica. People call me Veronica.  Or Ronnie.  Or Vee.  But mostly Veronica.”

While she spoke, Veronica threw her t-shirt over her tank tops and wriggled out of her shirts, pulling them out of one sleeve of her gym tee.

"Impressive," commented Mac, nodding her head.

Veronica smiled and quickly changed into her shorts. "Thanks. I surf with a lot of guys. My best friend is a guy. I have perfected the art of changing without people seeing anything."

"What? You weren't going to show a stranger your flat chest?" Mac teased.

"No. Unless you want me to...and then it will cost you at least a lollypop." Veronica teased back. Mac laughed again and Veronica knew she had a new friend. "Who do you hang with?" She asked with a smile.

Mac shrugged. "My buddy Wallace. We’re kind of computer geeks. He's into building robots and stuff. I do computer coding for his robots."

Veronica nodded. "Cool. You guys want to hang with me and my surfer dudes at lunch? They’re a fun bunch."

Mac stood up, a wide grin stretching across her lips. "Awesome! I'll look for you in the cafeteria after!"

She closed her locker and spun the combination lock shut. Veronica did the same and the two went into the gym together, chatting about their experiences so far, in their new school.

----------------------

Veronica and Dick managed to make it to the lunch room before anyone else in their group and they got a big table by the window for the gang. While Dick went to get food from the counter, Veronica opened her school daytimer to one of the back pages.  In the ‘notes’ section, she began to jot down random thoughts about what was happening around her.

  • New friend! Mac (girl)
  • Everyone has a bra but me and Mac – even if they don't need one
  • **push-up bra** Victoria's Secret (?)
  • Wear pink = mom happy
  • Hair down = mom happy
  • Look more like girl = Logan happy?

Veronica sat and contemplated that last line.  As she thought, she doodled little suns and stars around her words, aimlessly.  She wasn't sure why she felt the need to make note of these things, and was deciding whether she should scratch it out when a voice stopped her.

"Whatcha doing?"

Her heart nearly stopped and she slammed the daytimer closed. "Nothing! Just notes. Stuff."

Logan slid into the chair across from her and gave her a full metallic-braces grin. "Anything about me?" he teased.

Veronica hesitated a moment which caused Logan to raise an eyebrow at her. She shook her head, trying not to make eye contact.

"Just observations on what's going on with the hormonal zombies, in case this is a sign of the apocalypse. Maddie was showing off her new push-up bra in the locker room at gym. Expect everyone's boobs to miraculously 'grow' in the next few days."

Logan looked around the cafeteria. "I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled." His gaze focused back on Veronica. "But I'm starting to think it's not Dick that's obsessed with everyone having breasts...it's you."

And there it was. The reason she both loved and despised her best friend sometimes: he called her out on her bullshit. Veronica's eyes narrowed.

“I'm not obsessed."

Logan began pulling his lunch out of his bag. "You’ve mentioned breasts to me more times than Dick has in the past 24 hours. As your best friend, I feel the need to tell you...you must chill!"

She hated when Logan was right. Her first instinct was to fight and yell and throw something at him, but she quickly decided that was not the best course of action. He felt like her only real ally right now.

"Okay." She conceded. "No more talk of boobs. Mine, yours, or anyone else's."

"Good. I wouldn't want you to be jealous of my spectacular specimens anyway. You're libel to start treating me like an object." He tossed his hair off his eyes dramatically.

Veronica burst out laughing just as Dick flopped down in the seat next to Logan. As he did, Mac approached the table with, Veronica assumed, her friend Wallace. The new girl gave Veronica a small wave.

"Oh! Good! Our new friends are here!" Veronica jumped up from her chair to greet the new members of their group.

Mac pointed her thumb at the boy next to her. "This is Wallace." She introduced. The dark skinned boy offered his hand and Veronica smiled and shook it. Wallace had a brilliant smile that reached up to the eyes that were hidden behind thick rimmed glasses. His hair was dark and curly and cut short to his head. Veronica turned to the small group at the table.

"Mac...Wallace...this is Logan and Dick." Veronica introduced. The boys both nodded 'hello'.

"Grab a seat," Veronica offered. Mac took a seat next to Veronica and Wallace took a seat next to Dick.

“Where did you guys go for elementary school?” inquired Logan congenially. 

Wallace finally spoke. "We went to Jefferson Elementary out in the suburbs, but we decided to transfer out of our district to Neptune High for their I.T. program.  How about you guys?”

"We all went to Lincoln Elementary in the '09er district," answered Dick.

"My dad is the county Sherriff and even though we didn't live in the '09er section, he drove me every morning so I went to school with them. We've all been friends since Kindergarten," explained Veronica.

"But they really didn't become a cool group until I showed up!" Interrupted Lilly as she and Duncan walked up to the table. "Lilly Kane. And this is my brother Duncan." Duncan, who was standing behind his sister, didn't make eye contact but nodded anyway. "You newbies are in our seats."

Mac and Wallace looked at each other with sadness and Veronica quickly intervened. "Those aren't your spots, Lilly. You didn't even sit with us yesterday. And Duncan took off and never came back."

Lilly looked down on Veronica. "Be that as it may, this is the surfer table. And if you don't surf, you don't sit."

Veronica stood up and went nose to nose with Lilly. "No, Lilly. It's not just for surfers. It's for friends. And these are our new friends. And if you don't like our new friends, then maybe you should go back to your pep-squad friends and leave us alone."

The theme song from "The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly" ran through Veronica's head. It was a stand-off.  A show-down.  One she never imagined happening with Lilly, but considering all the other strange things happening since she started school, she figured she shouldn’t be surprised.

Lilly’s eyes narrowed at Veronica. "Fine. I don't need to sit with you kids anyway. Let's go, Duncan!" Lilly stated and marched off.

All eyes fell to the Kane boy. Quietly, he slid past them, choosing a chair next to Mac and across from Wallace.

“You're in my French class, aren't you?" Duncan said, nodding at Wallace.

Wallace smiled. "Yeah, man. I want to take a year and go to Europe after graduation, someday. Figured French would help me get around."

“Cool,” Duncan replied and smiled at Mac before diving into his food. There was a collective sigh as Veronica returned to her seat and began retrieving her lunch from her backpack.

"Is it just me, or did anyone else hear 'Clint Eastwood' music in their heads when Lilly and Veronica went at it?" proclaimed Dick.

The entire table erupted into laughter. Logan, the son of two actors, lapsed into his best Clint Eastwood impression. This set off a flurry of very out of context quotes, some actually by Clint Eastwood, some not.

Through the laughter, Veronica looked over at Lilly, a few tables down. She was waiving her arms wildly at her pep-squad friends and glaring in Veronica’s direction. Veronica's stomach turned as she realized that Lilly may not let this arguement go lightly.

--------------------------

The rest of the week passed without much incident and Veronica began to settle into a new routine: morning drive with her Dad and Logan, lunch with the surfer-geek-gang, surfing after school with Logan (and sometimes Dick), dinner at home, then homework and bed. Her mother saw that she was making an "effort" in the mornings and didn't bring up her wardrobe or outfits again. And her dad seemed happy that the things she talked about at dinner weren't so...heavy.

Saturday surf lessons for Veronica, Logan, and Dick took place early in the morning. The normal routine usually revolved around Logan and his driver picking Veronica up and meeting Dick down at the beach. Duncan and Lilly would often join them after class for some surfing and hang time on the beach. After they were done, they would all go to Logan's for lunch and hang out by the pool, then watch movies or play video games until everyone had to go home, and Veronica would sleep over.

This Saturday morning, as Veronica was packing her overnight bag, there was a knock at her door and her mom peeked in.

"Got a minute?" Lianne asked.

Veronica cringed, turning her back to the door.  "I guess. Just getting my bag together. What's up?"

Lianne came in and closed the door behind her. "I wanted to talk to you about sleeping over at Logan's tonight,” she said slowly.

Veronica's eyes narrowed and she turned slowly. "What about sleeping over at Logan's?"

Lianne crossed her arms over her robe. "I know that you and Logan usually end up...sleeping in the same bed. But I think the time for those things are over. You are getting too old to share a room with a boy, even if it is platonic."

Veronica's mouth dropped open. It was true, the two friends had slept over in the same room together since they were in 2nd grade.  At first, Veronica slept on the bottom of Logan's bunk-beds. In 4th grade, when he graduated to a king size bed in his new room, there was so much space that they both slept on totally separate sides of the same mattress miles between them.  Usually, they passed out after either talking until 2 a.m. or spread across the bed playing marathon rounds of Crazy 8's. They didn't cuddle. They didn't touch. They slept soundly.

Mom has clearly lost her mind, Veronica thought.

"What exactly do you think will happen when we are sleeping in bed at night?" Veronica hissed.

Lianne came closer and sat on the edge of her bed. "Veronica. I think I need to tell you something about puberty...and boys."

Veronica arched one eyebrow. She was both mad and curious. "Go on,” she said and crossed her arms over her chest.

Lianne took a breath, as if summoning up the courage to continue her speech.

"Sometimes...when a boy is going through puberty...he will have...dreams.” Her mom took a moment and composed her thought. "He can't really control these dreams and often they will...make him...come...ejaculate...in his sleep."

Veronica hid her face in her hands. "Please stop right there before you traumatize me any more," she groaned.

If she had a pipe cleaner, she would have stuck it up her nose and cleaned the words her mom just said, right out of her brain.

She removed her hands and reached back down to the bed, zipping up her duffle bag. "While this has been...educational...I have to go to my surf class. Logan..." Just saying his name made her cringe again. "...he's picking me up soon. I gotta go. See you tomorrow, Mom.”

 

Veronica avoided all eye contact as she swept past Lianne and bolted from her room.

Her dad was sitting on the couch and she leaned over and kissed the top of his head, so she wouldn't have to look directly at him.

"See you, Daddy-o!" she said and kissed his balding head quickly.

"See you Sunday morning!" Keith Mars called out as his only daughter high tailed it out the door.

Logan and his driver were already at the curb in the Range Rover. Veronica jumped haphazardly into the back seat with Logan, dropping her bag on the ground and struggling with her seatbelt.

"Drive!" she called out to Ben, the Echolls’ chauffeur, as if this was her getaway car.  The middle-aged man gave a small chuckle, glancing at Veronica in the rear view mirror as he pulled out of his spot.

"Everything okay?" Logan asked as Veronica finally managed to put on her seatbelt.

Veronica looked over at her best friend and her mom's description floated into her head. She blushed deeply and looked away, focusing intensely on her window.

“Nothing. Crazy mother. I'm fine," she muttered as they sped towards the beach.

-------------------------

After surf class on Saturday morning, Veronica, Logan, and Dick were full of energy. Veronica had been anxious for most of the week at the prospect of seeing Lilly on the weekend; however the Kane siblings never showed up at the beach after class, which made Veronica quite relieved.

When the three friends came barrelling through the deck doors and into the Echolls’ kitchen, Lynn greeted them, planting a kiss on Logan's forehead, giving Veronica a warm hug, and ruffling Dick's shaggy hair.

Veronica loved Lynn. As a child, she was sure there could be no greater actress than Lynn. They once attended a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" with Lynn in the lead, in L.A., and Veronica was swept away. For her part, Lynn doted on Veronica – asking their housekeeper, Mrs. Navarro, to make Veronica’s favorite meals when she was over, stocking a large supply of Veronica’s favorite ice cream, and sitting with her, listening as Veronica talked about school and friends and life. Lynn also was the one who introduced Logan and Veronica to old movies, and she would happily sit and watch them with the kids for hours.

"How was your lesson?" Lynn asked as they scrambled up to the stools by the counter.

"Great! You should have seen the wave we caught!" Logan began talking enthusiastically with one hand while loading up his plate with food with the other hand. "It was the largest thing I've ever seen!"

"Our coach couldn't believe we rode it. It was so gnarly! And after, he said we may want to start thinking about competing!" added Dick as he piled his plate high with sandwiches.

"I was so scared when I saw it, but then we caught it just right and I felt like I was flying!" chimed Veronica, then she dove into her food.

Lynn sat and smiled as they talked. When they were done, she slid off her stool and came over to Veronica.

"Sweetheart, I have something to show you upstairs,” Lynn said and put her arm around Veronica. Logan looked at them questioningly but didn't say anything. “Why don’t you bring your bag and come with me."

"Uhhh...okay,” Veronica responded, frowning in concern.  Hopping off her stool, she grabbed her overnight bag off the ground and followed Lynn upstairs.

At the top of the stairs, they went past Logan's room, and Lynn opened the door next to his. The afternoon sun caught the pink and floral patterns around the room, casting a warm glow. Lynn encouraged Veronica to enter and she shut the door behind them.

"Veronica," Lynn began. "I spoke to your mother this week and she was...concerned...about the sleeping arrangements when you are over here."

Veronica felt like she was going to sink through the floor. Of course her mom called Lynn. "She kind of mentioned that today," Veronica admitted quietly, averting her eyes in embarrassment.

Lynn dipped her head to look into Veronica's downcast eyes.

"Well, this room will be yours to stay in from now on,” Lynn said. “Let me show you around."

Veronica looked up and her eyes followed Lynn around the room. Lynn wandered back over to the door they came through.

"This is the door to the hallway. It locks from the inside so you have privacy. No one will ever enter without your permission when you stay here." She smiled and wandered over to another door. Opening it, Veronica saw it was the door to Logan's bathroom.

“This is the door that connects to the bathroom that you and Logan will share. The door to his bedroom on the other side..." Lynn let her words drop and she smiled knowingly at the girl. Veronica caught her gaze and smiled back warmly. "Now remember, your mother doesn't want you sleeping in Logan’s room.” She enunciated her words and gave Veronica a knowing wink.

Veronica turned back to the king-size bed. The room was a lot smaller than Logan's but there was still plenty of space in the bed for both of them. "Thank you, Mrs. Echolls. This room is beautiful. I'm sure I will sleep very well here."

Lynn came over and hugged the girl. "I know you will. I'm so happy," she said. "I'll leave you so you can get dressed for the pool." And with a big grim, Lynn swept out of the room.

Veronica watched Lynn leave, then turning around, she launched herself on the middle of the giant bed. The duvet was white with embroidered pink flowers on it. Leaning against the pink tufted headboard, there were a mountain of pillows, each one embroidered with a different flower on the front. Veronica swam her body into the pillows and buried herself. She could get used to this life.

She wasn't sure how long she had been hiding in her pillow fort before there was a knock at her bathroom door.

"Ronnie? You decent?" Dick's voice boomed.

Extracting herself from the pillows, she sat cross-legged on the bed. "Yeah. Come on in."

Logan opened the door and Dick burst through like an excited puppy. Seeing Veronica on the gigantic bed, he jumped on top, causing Veronica and her pillows, to bounce and lurch. He was already in his swim trunks and a t-shirt.

Logan walked up to the edge of the bed and sat on it, hesitating for a moment as he did. Veronica watched as he looked around with concern. "Guess this is your room now."

Veronica nodded. "That's what your mom said." She leaned back into the pillows and put her hands behind her head. "I can see why rich people in old movies would lay in bed and eat bonbons. I really don't want to leave."

She gazed at Logan, who was still looking around the room, frowning. It seemed like he didn't like this new arrangement. She opened her mouth to explain to him about the lock and the 'passageway' between their rooms when something bubbled up in her. She wasn't sure what it was, but for some reason she felt weird about telling him that he could come and sleep in her bed, even though she had slept in his for years.

Dick hopped off the mattress near Logan.

"Come on! Let's go practice our canon balls while the new 'lady' of the house gets changed,” he said and punched Logan in the shoulder.

Logan rose from the edge and gave Veronica a look that she couldn't quite read. Sadness? Thoughtfulness? She wasn't sure.

"We'll be downstairs,” he murmured and followed Dick, closing the bathroom door behind him.

Veronica looked at the back of the door for a time, hoping Logan would come back. When he didn't, she let out a sigh and slid off the end of the bed to retrieve her bag and get dressed for a swim.

By the time Veronica made her way down to the pool, Mac and Wallace had arrived. Logan invited the two new friends on Friday after Wallace took him to the science lab to show him the robot he had built over the summer. Logan had always enjoyed learning new things, he just hated being told how and when to learn; which meant his A+ brain often only produced a B in school.

Veronica had changed into her sport bikini – a recent purchase over the summer. The racer-back blue tank top and matching bottoms was the perfect surfing outfit for scorching hot days, and no matter how hard she hit the water, the fabric always stayed in place. It was also great for hanging out by the pool, since inevitably one of the boys would throw her in the water.

Mac was happy to see her and the two girls sat on the steps leading down into the pool, partially submerged in the cool water, and chatted about their week. Wallace had brought one of his remote control planes and Logan and Dick were learning how to fly it on a grassy part of the back yard.

"Has the party started without me?" A girl’s voice called out across the back yard.

Everyone looked up to see Lilly and Duncan standing by a cluster of patio tables. Duncan was already in his swimsuit and t-shirt; Lilly was in a long, jersey knit dress. When all eyes were on her, Lilly smirked and peeled her dress off over her head, revealing a red string bikini underneath. She confidently tossed her dress onto a lounge chair and gave an exaggerated swing her hips as she walked to the pool edge. Kicking off her flip-flops, she looked Veronica directly in the eye, stretched her arms up high, shoved out her chest, and dove into the water. Mac looked at Veronica and rolled her eyes, causing Veronica to giggle. When Lilly surfaced, she popped up and swung her head like something one would see in an old 80's teen movie. She swam over to the two girls and walked up the stairs past them, not saying a word. Zeroing in on Dick, Logan, and Wallace, she matched over the tile patio and onto the grass. Veronica and Mac turned to see the three boys fidget and move, not knowing where to look at Lilly in her now soaking wet and clinging bikini.

Duncan came and sat next to Veronica and Mac in the water. "She bought that thing in Paris this summer. Every time we went to a beach, she and my mom would have a screaming match about her wearing it."

Mac looked down at her plain black one-piece swimsuit and laughed. "Geez...and I got all uptight about wearing this to a pool where there would be boys. I can't imagine having the courage to wear that!"

Veronica stole a glance over at Logan. He looked like he was at a complete loss as he awkwardly moved from side to side, his arms crossed, covering his body. Logan had never really garnered any attention by girls, other than Veronica. Even from some ways away, Veronica could tell by the way he moved, that he was completely nervous.

And then, it happened. Veronica watched as Logan said something to Lilly and she laughed with her whole body as if it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Logan's face lit up, so he said something else. This time, Lilly laughed and touched his arm. Logan's face got red and he ran his fingers through his hair. Lilly stepped closer and reached up to brush a stray piece from his face, causing him to look into Lilly's eyes, deeply for a moment.

Piano wire. The words came to Veronica as the rage in her built swiftly. I need piano wire and some large garbage bags and possibly an axe...

"Lilly Kane!  What on earth are you wearing?" Lynn Echolls' voice projected over the patio.

All eyes turned to Lynn, standing at the back door, in the long purple caftan, holding a platter with lemonade and cups. Silence dropped in the backyard as everyone watched Lynn put down the tray on a table and march across the yard, in her 4-inch heels, towards Lilly.

"You are 14 years old! Far to young to be parading around in front of boys in that...thing!" She waved her hands at the girl. "You go home and change into something decent right now, or I’m calling your father."

Lilly turned red to match her outfit. "But Mrs. Echolls...this is what they wear in Paris!" she stammered.

Lynn crossed her arms and looked down at the Lilly. "Well, you’re back in Neptune now. If you want the attention of boys and perverted men, you can go back to Europe and wear that there. But you will not be welcome in my home, dressed like this, again."

Lilly let out a little huff and stomped past everyone, stopping to grab her shoes by the pool and her dress on the chair, before marching out of the backyard.

Turning to Logan, Wallace, and Dick, Lynn arched an eyebrow at them and spoke. "I think you boys need to jump in a cold pool, then come and have some lemonade."

She had a wicked smile on her painted red lips, like she knew something that no one else did. The three looked at each other and blushed. Dick was the first one to take off in a run towards the pool, followed closely by the others.

Lynn approached the rest of the group and crouched down, her hand on Veronica's shoulder.

"I'm sorry I had to admonish your sister, Duncan. But I’m sure that if your father had seen her in that outfit, he would have done the same.  Your mother...”  Lynn clucked her tongue against her teeth and rolled her eyes.  “Anyway, you are more than welcome to stay if you like."

Duncan smiled in a way that told Veronica he was thankfully not to be judged by his sister's actions. "Thank you Mrs. Echolls. I would love to stay."

Lynn smiled warmly and caught Veronica's eye. For the second time that day, she gave her a wink, and then stood and walked back to her tray to pour lemonade for everyone.

Later in the evening - after dinner, after a movie, after their friends went home - Logan and Veronica lay on their stomachs in her new bed and began their hundreth hand of Gin Rummy. Logan was in an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt; Veronica was wearing a pair of purple sleep shorts and a tank top. It was almost 1 a.m. and Logan was beginning to yawn, causing Veronica to yawn as well.

"So are you staying?" Veronica asked, not taking her eyes off her cards.

"Do you want me to?" Logan replied, looking over his hand at her.

She didn't look up. "You can if you want,” she said, trying to be breezy about things, but falling a bit short in her tone.

Logan snickered. "Then I will."

Veronica dropped her cards on the bed with a grin. "Okay, good. Because I'm exhausted."

Veronica jumped off the edge of the bed, crossing the room to the light switch she paused while Logan cleaned up the cards and dropped them in the top drawer of the table on ‘his’ side of the bed. He began throwing a bunch of the decorative pillows, haphazardly onto the floor before sliding under the duvet. Veronica turned off the lights, and came back to 'her' side. She gently removed each pretty pillow and stacked them neatly on the ground, and then slid under the covers as well.

They were both laying on their backs, staring at the ceiling, the sound of their breathing filling the room. Veronica began running the events of the day through her head; her brain coming back to her conversation with her mom that morning and she let out a deep, loud sigh of frustration.

"What?" Came Logan's voice from the dark.

"Do you know why I now have this room?"  She answered.

"Umm...because your mom told my mom that she didn't want you in my room anymore?"

Veronica snickered. "So your mom found a loophole?"

"Exactly." Logan let out a sigh. "This is the one night of the week that I actually sleep. My mom didn't want to see that end."

"You don't sleep?"

"No."

"Why?"

There was a pause in the dark. "Nightmares. Had them since I was a kid. So I don't sleep. I stay up and read when you aren't here."

"You never told me that. What kind of nightmares?"

Another pause. "Just...bad ones."

The safety of the darkness gave Veronica courage. "My mom said that she didn't want me sleeping in bed with you because -- " She gathered her nerve. " -- she said you may have a dream that would make you...come...in your sleep. And she was worried about me being in your bed, if you did."

Logan let out a groan. "Your mom said that?"

"Is it true?"

The pause this time nearly killed Veronica. "Yeah," Logan admitted. "It's true. But never when you're here!" He added quickly, and rather loudly.

Veronica rolled so she could face him, his fuzzy outline across the bed coming into focus as her eyes adjusted. "You need to tell me!"

"No! Are you going to tell me when you get your period?"

Veronica thought a second. "Probably. Be forewarned. Please tell me!"

There was another groan from Logan and he rolled over to look at her.

"Fine. Only because I know you will never let this drop until I do," he said and took a deep breath. "You know that weekend, in May, when you went with your family to see your Grandma?"

"Yeah. I remember. Continue."

"Well, Dick was alone all weekend with Beaver and the Nanny, and after they went to sleep, Dick told me he had something for us to watch." There was a beat and Logan exhaled loudly. "He had porn. Lots of porn. He found his dad's stash a couple weeks before and had been waiting for me so we could watch it."

Veronica's mouth dropped open. She knew that porn was something she was definitely never ever allowed to know about or watch. But that just made her more curious.

"What was it like?"

"Crazy. Like nothing you could ever imagine,” Logan stated.  “You know how some of the movies we've seen have sex as some guy on top of some girl in some bed? Well this was nothing like the movies.  This was guys and girls, and then lots of guys and girls, and then girls and girls, and then guys and guys, and then some chick by herself. And it was rarely in a bed. And it was...crazy."

Veronica let her imagination run wild and she still couldn't bring to mind any of the things that Logan was describing. It boggled her mind that not only was there 'sex' but there was a subcategory of 'ways to have sex' as well.

“So what happened with your dreams?"

Logan laughed. "What do you think happened? I went to bed after watching two hours of people have sex and I woke up drenched in sweat and my own cum. It was horrifying and amazing."

"How was it amazing?"

Logan's throaty laugh filled the room. "Because it felt so good!"

"How good?"

"Take the feeling of the best wave you have ever caught and times that by ten thousand and you will begin to come close to how good it feels."

"Wow. Can you control it?"

"No. Not yet. But maybe one day." he replied enthusiastically.

"Does it happen often?"

"At least once a week."

"Do you think girls can do this?" she asked hopefully.

"I don't know. You may have to ask someone."

There was a full, long minute of silence as they both thought about had been revealed.

"Logan."

"Yeah."

"Why did you agree to watch the porn?"

She saw his eyes close in the darkness, then open and look straight at her. "I don't know. I guess...I wanted answers. Your dad and mom talk about this stuff with you. My mom talks about it a little, but my dad never does. And Dick is so clueless, thanks to his parents, that I finally told him about sex when we were in fifth grade."

Then he did that thing, where he looked at Veronica so deeply that she felt transparent. "I also thought that one day, some girl may actually like me enough to let me touch her, so maybe I should know what I'm doing,” he said quietly.

It was then that Veronica realized that he felt as anxious about puberty as she did.

"I'm sure you’ll know how to, well, do stuff.  I mean, Porn...it isn't even real...or so I've heard. It's not love. And I think, when you're in love, you'll both just know what to do, like instinct will take over,” she said.

There was silence for a moment again before Logan answered.

"I guess. But answer me honestly; if you were dating a guy, wouldn't you want them to know what they were doing?"

Veronica thought about it for a second. "It wouldn't matter. If I loved them, and they loved me, we'd figure it out, together."

She watched Logan's eyes close again. "Maybe."

He paused again, letting out a huge sigh.

"Good night Veronica,” Logan said and turned over so his back was to her.

She blinked in the darkness, shocked that their conversation ended so abruptly, then rolled onto her back.

"Good night Logan,” she whispered.

Veronica wanted to stay awake and process everything, but she was so tired that she fell asleep immediately.

A few hours later, Veronica woke up with a feeling of dread in her heart. Rolling towards the middle of the bed, she opened her eyes. Logan was gone. She sat up, noticing that the light was off in the bathroom. Carefully, she climbed out of bed and knocked quietly. When no one answered, she opened it, turning on the light from her side of the room and crossed the cold tiles to his bedroom door.  Placing her ear to Logan's door, she listened a moment for sounds of movement, before opening it a crack.  In the darkness, she saw his figure, sleeping on his side, in the middle of his bed, the blankets covering him rising and falling with his breathing. Quietly, she closed the door and tiptoed back to her room, turning off the light in the bathroom as she left. Hopping into bed, she moved her pillow to the middle of the mattress and climbed back under the covers as tears pricked her eyes.  The change her father talked about had begun.  Sniffling back her tears, Veronica fell into a restless sleep.

 

Chapter Text

By the time Veronica made it downstairs for breakfast, at the Echolls' house, Logan and Trina had finished eating and disappeared, leaving Lynn and Aaron sitting at the table. Sunday was usually the only day that Veronica ever saw Logan's dad, if he was in town; Aaron mainly spent his time either on his yacht or in his office, memorizing scripts. Veronica knew that spending time with his kids was not high on his list of priorities.

"Good morning, sweetheart! How did you sleep?" asked Lynn happily.

There was a little slur to her 's' which made Veronica realize she must have had a few too many Sunday mimosas by this time of the morning.

Veronica sat down next to Lynn, giving her a small smile. "Good. Much nicer than my single bed at home. And more pillows."

"You could get lost in the pillows on our bed. Every time I come back from a shoot, I swear, Lynn has added another one." Aaron laughed and took a sip of his mimosa.

Veronica gave him a smile, thinking of what all the beautiful pillows on Lynn's bed would be like. A cloud. Definitely a cloud.

"I have an addiction to pillows. I'm sorry. But they’re just so cozy and pretty." Giggled Lynn.

Veronica began helping herself to some scrambled eggs and toast from the trays spread out across the table. Lifting the warming lid to one of the silver trays, she realized there was still some bacon left, and her smile widened.

"Logan was down early so he ate and went to hang out in the media room. He told me about your idea to go as Nick and Nora for his birthday party,” said Lynn as Veronica began eating. “I was going to call Lianne and see if the four of us could go to L.A. to meet with one of my old costume designers. I think she would love to make you both outfits."

Veronica's eyes got wide. "That would be so amazing! Thank you! I know my mom would love it too!"

Aaron clapped his hands loudly. "Lynn, you should do a Hollywood theme. Then everyone can come as their favourite character from the movies." He flashed his best movie star grin at them. "And I can come as myself!"

Veronica giggled and Lynn narrowed her eyes. "Because Aaron's biggest fan will always be...Aaron," she snarked.

Aaron's just laughed and struck an even bigger movie star pose, placing his hands on his hips and his nose in the air. This time, Lynn laughed too.

"Bet you a million dollars that Lilly comes as Marilyn Monroe,” muttered Veronica between mouthfuls of food.

"What's that now?" asked Aaron as he dropped his pose.

Lynn sighed. "Lilly Kane showed up here in a string bikini yesterday, and I ran her off. She's 14 years old! If Trina tried that, at her age, you would have locked her in the pool house until she turned 18. I just don't know what Celeste was thinking, letting her get that outfit."

"Lilly's only 14?" said Aaron, raising an eyebrow. "When I saw her last week at Jake's place she looked...older..."

"She grew boobs. It adds several years, I'm told." Veronica proclaimed, causing Aaron to start laughing again.

"That would be the difference. Ahhhhh...puberty comes to the Echolls house." He raised his glass to Lynn. "We survived Trina's; I'm sure we'll survive Logan's."

"Speak for yourself. You were always on location! I was home with Trina and Logan, and trust me, Trina going through hormonal mood swings was no fun. It still isn't.” Lynn refilled her mimosa from the pitcher. “And soon, all sorts of strange girls will be after my baby boy. I may need to buy a fly swatter or a water gun to keep them off him."

Veronica snorted at the mention of Logan as Lynn's 'baby'. Then she realized, Lynn was right. Soon, there would be girls buzzing around Logan; and not just Lilly.  Maybe, there would be lots of girls.  And all of them would probably have boobs.  And wear makeup. And pretty dresses.  She paused; suddenly didn't feel like eating anymore. Pushing her chair back, she began to rise.

“Thank you for breakfast, Mrs. Echolls. May I be excused? I'm going to find Logan."

Lynn smiled at her. "Of course. I'll come and get you when your dad gets here."

Veronica smiled at the Echolls’ and Aaron raised his glass to her. "See you next weekend, Veronica!" he said, a slightly drunk lilt to his voice.

Veronica waved and made her way down the winding stairs, into the basement to the Media Room. She opened the door to find Logan sprawled on the front-row couch, his feet up on the coffee table.

The mini theatre was filled with leather chairs facing a big screen. The first row was made up of couches so couples could cuddle up together. The room was always cold, and Logan was under a big, fluffy blanket. "The Princess Bride" was on the screen.

Veronica came and sat next to Logan and he looked over at her, a touch of sadness in his eyes.

“Hey.”

"Hey.”

"Can I come in?" she asked, her head dipping to one side.

Logan nodded and lifted an edge to the blanket. She slid in next to him and he put his arm up on the back of the couch. Veronica wiggled so she could feel the warmth of his body and he dropped his arm over her shoulders before turning back to the movie.

While they never cuddled in bed, they always cuddled on the couch together while watching movies. It started when they were little, mainly because Veronica was always freezing in the media room. By the time they were older, it was just a habit and no one ever questioned it.

"You put on my favourite movie,” she stated.

"It's mine too,” he remarked.

"Why did you leave last night?"

Logan paused and looked down at her. "I had a nightmare."

Veronica frowned. "I thought you don't get nightmares when I'm around."

He shrugged. "Last night I did."

Veronica was quiet. "Does this have to do with the...other dreams...we talked about last night?"

Logan shifted a bit beside her. It was hard to lie to someone who was so close, she could hear his heartbeat speed up. "Maybe."

Veronica moved so she could see his face better. "Did you have one of those other dreams?"

"No! But I was worried I would so I left,” he admitted. "I didn't want to freak you out more than I already did.

Veronica laughed. "You didn't freak me out. In fact, I’ve devised a plan to get my dad to take me to the library, after he picks me up, so I can research if this happens with girls. Because, frankly, I really need to know."

Logan laughed. "Keep me in the loop?"

"Pffft, of course! But be warned, if I find out that I can do this, and it feels as good as you say, you may not hear from me for a few days. I may just stay in bed for the rest of grade 7,” she replied, her eyes wide and full of mischief.

Logan shook his head. "I don't doubt it."

The two locked eyes, both giddy with the knowledge that they shared another great big secret in a long history of secrets.

Veronica forgot all about her sadness from that night. She put her head back on Logan's shoulder and her hand on his heart. She felt him exhale and he put the side of his face on the top of her head Veronica was sure that this was, in fact, the best feeling in the world.

--------------------------

Veronica loved when her dad picked her up from the Echolls' on Sundays. It was their time to play hooky together and usually ended up on the boardwalk or the ice cream parlour or the surf shop. Today, it was the ice cream shop and father and daughter happily shared a banana split, with all the toppings. Keith told her about some of his more interesting cases, without breaking any confidentiality, and Veronica told him about her classes and how her surf coach thought she could start competing. Keith was impressed and they talked about upgrading her board to a better one at Christmas. She kept expecting him to mention feelings or boys or hormones, but he was merciful and stayed away from all those topics.

As they walked back to their car, she asked if they could stop at the library, and he agreed, happy to have the opportunity to get lost in the "True Crime" section for a while.

The Neptune Public Library was a massive limestone and glass building near city hall. Three stories high with swooping angles, it was constructed a decade earlier by several 09er families who deemed the old library an eyesore, took over the board of directors for the organization, and promptly had something they liked built in the old library's place. Veronica remembered her mother telling her Celeste Kane was one of the board members, and after seeing the Kane house, she saw a correlation in Celeste's taste – cold and grey.

While Keith headed through the stacks to the 300 section for his "Crime" reading, Veronica ducked down the long aisles to the 600 section for "Human Growth and Development", praying that her father didn't come looking for her.

Once she found the 612.0 books, she quickly began skimming the book spines for something that may answer her burning questions. After breezing over a few, she grabbed a thick volume titled "Puberty for Dummies." Flipping quickly to the index, she looked up "dreams” and lo and behold, she found the words "wet dreams" in the list. This was exactly what she was looking for and she slammed the book closed and clutched it tightly to her chest. Her eyes darting left and right, she began walking down the rows of books, arbitrarily grabbing ones to stack on top of the volume she selected. By the time she met her dad, she had a decoy stack about six books high.

Walking together to the check-out counter, Keith talked excitedly about the book he found on a long unsolved case in Sacramento. Stopping at the desk, Keith pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and produced his library card for the librarian. Veronica groaned.

Keith looked at her, confused. "What's wrong?"

"I forgot my card at home," she muttered.

"Well, if this is for school then I'll just take them out. You know, if they’re late, I know where you live," he said with a chuckle.

Veronica looked panicked and clutched the stack to her chest. "No. It's okay. I'll just..." But it was too late.

Keith slid the books from her arms and handed them across the desk. Veronica watched in horror as her father saw two cookbooks, a "Careers in Sanitation" book, a proper care of hamsters manual, the history of the Mustang car, and finally, the book about puberty, go past him.  Heat rose in Veronica’s cheeks and she avoided Keith’s side glance.

Ignoring the looks from the old librarian, Keith calmly put his library card in his back pocket, piled the books back up, and handed the stack to Veronica. He started walking quickly towards the exit, causing Veronica to run to catch up to him.

"So...thinking about getting a hamster?" he asked as they got to the car.

Veronica was sure that puberty, would in fact, be the death of her.

Veronica's father never mentioned the book she took out from the library. When they got home, she ran to her room, claiming a burning need to do homework, and shut her door until dinner. Immediately, she turned on her CD player and made herself comfortable on her bed; “Puberty for Dummies” in hand.  The more she read, the more she needed answered; the more answers she got, the more powerful she felt. Each time her curiosity was satisfied, Veronica felt like she was the smartest girl in the world and she loved thinking she was in possession of a mysterious knowledge that others had yet to discover.

She was giddy as she sat down to eat, that evening. During dinner, her father didn’t mention the book, instead listening with interest as Veronica and Lianne discussed Lynn's plan to take them to L.A. for Veronica's Halloween costume.

Veronica practically skipped to her bedroom from the table, closing and locking the door behind her. She turned on some Alanis Morissette and began tossing off her clothes to get dressed for bed.

This time, when she looked in the mirror, she felt in control of her body. The book had assured her, she would get her period soon, her breasts would grow, her body hair would fill in, and she would get hips and curves. She was not doomed to look like this forever. As she tossed on her sleep shorts and a baggy t-shirt, her phone rang.

Seeing Logan’s number on the call display, she began the conversation as soon as she answered.

"I have sooo much to tell you!"

"What if I was Dick?" Came Logan's voice from the other end.

"Oh, you’ll have to share this all with Dick. Porn cannot be his only teacher. It's up to us to keep our brother informed or he'll do something stupid," Veronica said and rolled onto her relatively small bed.

This bed really needs more pillows, she thought to herself.

"This is true. I think Dick thought, before we watched porn, that he stuck it in a girl's bellybutton,” Logan laughed. "Which would account for the horrified look on his face throughout."

"See. This is why real information is good. I find out, I tell you, you tell Dick. We all feel smarter. And then there is no need to use porn as a 'leaning tool'."

"Okay then, Doctor Ronnie. What did you find out?" he said with a final chuckle. "Full report."

Veronica took a deep breath and dropped her voice, just in case her mom was listening in through the door.

"So, those dreams you’re having are called 'Wet Dreams' or the technical term 'nocturnal emissions'. It's basically a sex dream so intense that you have an orgasm."

"Sounds about right," he muttered.

"And, I found out, girls can have them too,” she said with glee in her voice.

Logan laughed. "So, you’re calling in sick tomorrow?"

"Yeah, well, I'm still not too sure how to make them happen. I'm not watching porn, like, ever. And I don't have a boyfriend or anything," she explained.

"Just think about someone else. Like that guy from that show you like. The one with the big arms and great hair..." Logan teased. "Or you can think about Ca-seeeee."

Veronica's eyes narrowed. "I hate you."

"Pffffffff...you love me. What about Clint Eastwood? Tony Hawk? Leonardo DiCaprio?" He continued.

"Ewwwww! You're an idiot and you need to shut up or I won't tell you the best news ever,” she drawled.

"Okay. I'm sorry. What is the 'best news ever'?"

Veronica scrunched up her face as she chose her word carefully. "You can make yourself have an orgasm. You can masturbate. Basically, you just play with your junk until you make yourself come. You know how everyone used to call each other 'jerk-off' in elementary school. Well, that's what it actually means."

Silence. Logan was dead silent. If his head had actually exploded, she was sure she would have heard a 'boom' through the receiver.

"Are you kidding me?" he finally hissed.

"No! I'm not!" Veronica laughed.

He was silent for a moment more. "That explains what the girl that was alone in the porn video was doing," Logan said absently.

Veronica started laughing until she couldn't breathe. Logan was quiet at first, and then he slowly joined in.

"So, you're staying in bed all day tomorrow too?" She giggled.

"Are you going to try it?" he asked.

Veronica thought for a second. "No. I think I'm going to go with the dream thing and see if that works." There was silence on Logan's side. "You're going to try masturbating aren't you."

"Ummm...yeah!" he exclaimed.

"Full report?" she asked.

"Ummm...no!" Logan said firmly.

"Why not?" Veronica giggled at him.

"Because I said no," he stated.

"But why?" she begged, knowing she was driving him insane.

He groaned. "Because you don't need to know about every...single...thing...I...do."

"Yes I do.”

"Veronica..."

"Fine. But then you don't get to find out what happens with me," she snarked.

"I am really okay with not knowing who you fantasize about,” he muttered.

"Well then, I guess I will see you tomorrow. Enjoy your new knowledge."

"Thanks! I will.  Good night best friend."

Veronica smiled in spite of herself. "Good night, best friend," she said and hung up the phone.

An hour later, Veronica was in bed, under the covers. The house was quiet. Her parents were in bed as well so she knew there was a long hallway and two doors between them.

Staring up at her stucco ceiling, she tried to conjure up a sexy thought to fall asleep to, but nothing came to mind.

How do you think about sexy things, when you've never experienced sexy things, she thought.

Veronica started flipping through her list romantic movies in her head: The Princess Bride, Pretty In Pink, Say Anything, Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood, An Affair to Remember, Casablanca...

Veronica sighed deeply. Who needed sex when there was romance. True love, first love, unrequited love, forbidden love; it was all so wonderful; it made her feel happy all over. So in place of anything “sexy”, she fell asleep listing all the movie romances she loved so much.

------------------------

Veronica stood near the open window, looking over the rolling hills of Florin. Her white and gold gown, draped from her tight bodice to the floor, her long hair cascading down her back. The evening chill was in the air and the castle walls were beginning to feel cold to the touch.

From behind her she heard the gentle rustle of fabric. She knew he was there, but did not turn to meet him. Veronica felt the heat from his body standing inches from her and her own body went ridged with anticipation. She let out a small gasp as she felt his hand fall gently on her right hip. His other hand followed on the other side and he finally pressed his long frame against her. She leaned into him and he reached down and caught her neck.

Moving her head, she made room for his exploration of her exposed flesh. His hair was still covered by the black bandana, his eyes still hidden by his mask. The Dread Pirate Roberts began moving his hands to circle her waist and she turned in his embrace to face him.

Looking up, through his mask, she saw his deep brown eyes gazing back at her with love. Standing on tiptoes, she pressed her lips to his. They were as soft as she always imagined they would be.

Pulling back from the kiss, she took another look into those familiar eyes. "Make love to me,” she whispered.

A smile crossed his lips. "As you wish,” he murmured back.

In a swift motion, he gathered her up in his arms and kissed her again, deeply. He carried her across the room to the giant bed, and lay her down in a mountain of embroidered pillows.

Connecting with his eyes again, she reached up to his scarf. Running her fingers to the back, she undid the knot at the base of his skull, releasing the fabric. A mass of brown shaggy hair fell down over his face. She gently moved the locks from his forehead and reached for his mask. Taking a deep breath, she pulled off the mask to reveal Logan's full face.

"Do you still want me, now that you know who's is behind the mask?" He questioned her.

Veronica smiled. "Yes. I will always want you. Make love to me, Logan,” she replied.

He caught her lips again in a passionate kiss. She felt the happiness well up inside of her. Removing his lips from hers, he began kissing her face, trailing lower to her neck, then even lower until...

Oh.

Veronica's eyes shot open, stars dancing in front of them. Her body was pulsing to a rhythm from deep inside of her. She felt a rush of warmth and then a wetness...

Oh.

She closed her eyes, realizing what had happened. She did it. She conjured up a dream and made herself come. And it felt as good as Logan said it would.

Oh. But. Logan.

She closed her eyes tightly, but there he was again; Logan in black, hovering above her. Veronica opened her eyes and whispered to the empty room.

“Shit. Shit...shit...shit...shit."

----------------------

The next morning, Veronica was quiet at the breakfast table. So quiet that her mom checked her forehead to see if she had a fever. She had gone inside her head and refused to come out. She kept rolling her dream around in her thoughts. In a fog, she floated through her morning routine, losing herself in thought again as she sat in the back of the police cruiser, on the way to pick-up Logan.

What did that dream mean? Am I in love with Logan? Of course I ‘love’ him but am I ‘in-love’ with him? Or was he in my dream because he’s the only boy she really knows?  But Dick wasn’t...ewww...stop thinking about that...  Maybe it would be different if I hung out with other guys? Maybe Logan is just too accessible...

The car door opened, shocking Veronica from her thoughts. Logan slid in, but didn't make eye contact.

“Hey," he muttered, looking at his shoes.

Veronica’s cheeks went hot with embarrassment. 

“Hey," she replied and turned to look out her window. From the reflection, she saw him look at her briefly and then turn to look out his window.

The silence was deafening and Keith tried to get the kids to talk, but both of them only responded with "Yes" and "No" answers so he gave up.

Logan was let out of the car first. As Keith let Veronica out, Logan began walking towards the quad, leaving her behind.  After saying a quick goodbye to her dad, Veronica had to run to catch up with Logan.

Veronica managed to get in front of him and he stopped in his tracks, but still didn't look at her.

"Hey...” She started and reached out to grab his hand. As Veronica made physical contact with Logan, she felt a shock of warmth run through her from his skin. She looked up at him and his eyes shifted to hers. His hand curled around her fingers momentarily and the warmth swept through the rest of her body. She realized that he felt it too, because his eyes got darker and more intense.

Veronica's mouth went dry and she croaked out her words. "What's wrong?"

He didn't respond right away, holding her gaze, letting the feeling they were sharing linger. Then just like that, he dropped her hand, his eyes returning to normal.

“Are you going to rake me over the coals about last night?"

Veronica's mouth dropped open slightly. If she asked him what happened, she would have to divulge what happened to her last night.

"No. You said you weren't going to tell me and I won't pry," she answered quietly.

Logan gave her a shy smile and tan his fingers through his hair. "Okay. Thank you. I know how hard it must be for curious Veronica to not have all the answers."

Veronica smiled back. "Maybe curious Veronica sometimes needs to chill."

Logan arched an eyebrow. "Well, don't be too hard on her...she's one of my favorite people."

Veronica's heart began to pound. She looked down at the white tips of her Converse sneakers.

"Thanks. I'd better go. See you at lunch,” she said quietly.

Not waiting for a response, she turned and scurried towards her locker. She was hoping the silly grin that pulled on her lips, and the dancing butterflies in her stomach, would be gone by homeroom. 

Chapter Text

The drama of the first week of school gave way to routine in the second week, and Veronica was so busy, it felt like she blinked and the week was over.  On Thursday, Veronica came home to find Lianne excitedly flitting around the house, giddy over the plans Lynn had made for them all to go to L.A. that weekend.  According to Lianne, Lynn’s plan was simple: after surfing on Saturday, Veronica and Logan would come “home” to shower and change. Then, they would pick up Lianne and the group would drive, in Aaron’s limo, to L.A. to meet with the costume designer. After, the group would have a nice dinner, stay in a fancy hotel, do some shopping, then come home the next day. Everyone would be happy and have a fun weekend – at least that was what Veronica was told.

Logan, Veronica, and Dick were just finishing their surf lesson that Saturday when they saw Duncan waving to them from the parking lot. Since he missed surfing with them the previous weekend, he was excited to come out, even if it was only for a short time. It was unusually hot for a fall day, and everyone was glad to catch some sun, as well as waves. As the three friends did a debrief of their class, Veronica’s eye caught that someone else was walking with Duncan towards the edge of the water. She elbowed Logan and he turned.

“Hey Casey!” called out Dick. “I didn’t know you surfed.”

Casey was about as tall as Logan, but with the square shoulders of a line-backer. He had a dark brown floppy mop of hair and thick eyebrows that highlighted his piercing eyes. When he saw

Veronica, he gave her a wide smile.

“My parents have a place in Santa Barbara, so I usually surf there,” Casey responded as he walked up to the small group.

“You know Dick...and Veronica is in homeroom with you, but this is my buddy Logan,” Duncan said.

Veronica watched as Logan gave the new guy a stiff nod of recognition. His face didn’t even crack a smile.

“I’ve seen you in class, but we’ve never talked,” said Veronica happily.

Casey looked at the sand for a moment, a bashful smile tugging on his lips, before he looked at Veronica again.

“Yeah, well, it’s sometimes hard for us guys to talk to girls. Especially one who, I’ve been told, is a better surfer than me.”

Veronica blushed deeply and looked over at Duncan.

“What can I say...I was bragging about our crew,” Duncan said with a shrug and a small smile.

Veronica suddenly became painfully aware that she was in her sport bikini that day. She smiled up at Casey.

“I guess we’ll see how good you are,” she teased before turning with her board in hand, and fleeing for the water.

Paddling out, she was quickly joined by the boys, who’s long arms gave them a slight advantage over her. They all bobbed in the water, sitting astride their surfboards silently as they waited for the next wave. Veronica snuck a peek at Logan; his eyes were fixed on the ocean, his jaw firm in concentration.

A wave came rolling in and Veronica paddled first to take it, followed by the others. She caught

the crest and easily rode it to shore. At the end of the ride, she came off her board and hauled it to the water line. Casey jumped the queue and reached Veronica first.

“Wow. You have great form out there! A lot better than some of the girls in Santa Barbara,” Casey gushed.

Veronica smiled and arched an eyebrow. “You were watching my form, huh?”

Realizing what she said, she quickly bit her lip and her eyes went wide. I just flirted with someone.  She decided to own it and put her hand on her hip, smiling up at Casey.

“Thanks!” she said, giving him a wide grin.

Casey’s eyes lit up. He opened his mouth to respond when...

“Are we talking or surfing?” Logan bellowed from the foam.

Veronica looked past Casey to see Logan scowling at them.

“Guess we’re surfing,” she said to Casey as she picked up her board and ran towards the water.

As she passed Logan, he didn’t make eye contact, but still followed her into the ocean. They surfed for almost another 30 minutes, until Logan’s driver waved to them to signal it was almost time to go.

Veronica walked out of the water to her duffle bag, this time with Logan close behind. Planting

her board in the sand, she reached into the bag and pulled out her shorts, throwing them on over her bikini bottoms. She caught Logan out of the corner of her eye, as he pulled his hoodie out of his bag and threw it over his head.

“It was great surfing with you,” came a voice from behind. She turned and there was Casey again.

She smiled up at him, squinting in the bright sun. “Yeah. It was awesome! Always nice to have more friends to surf with.”

Casey looked down at the sand. “I know you hang with a lot of the guys, but maybe sometime we can get together and surf. Together. Alone.”

Veronica froze. Is he asking me out on a date? For real? Or is this just a surfer meet-up thing?

“Uh, okay. That would be...fun?” she replied, not sure of what to say.

Casey looked up at her and grinned so wide she thought his face would fall off. She smiled back.

Wow. A date, she thought. Who knew it would be that easy?

“That’s great! I mean, awesome! Um, I’ll see you in class on Monday. Maybe we can pick a day. Or choose a time. Or whatever,” he stammered and began backing away to join Duncan and Dick.

“Yeah. I guess. See you on Monday,” Veronica replied, letting out a small giggle. When he finally turned around, she reached into her bag and pulled out her hoodie.

Logan had disappeared while she was talking. She threw her hood over her head, then scooped up her bag and board and headed towards the parking lot.

By the time she got to the Range Rover, Ben had already attached Logan’s board to the rack on top, and Logan was leaning against the passenger side door, his arms crossed, kicking the rocks on the pavement.

Ben came and got Veronica’s board and she thanked him before she made her way over to Logan.

Logan didn’t look up, didn’t move until she reached for the back door handle right beside his hip. He lifted his head and raised his hand, snapping his fingers loudly.

“And just like that, Veronica Mars has a boyfriend,” he snarked.

She turned and saw him give her a wicked smile. This was a side of him Veronica didn’t normally see; she knew he only brought this particular brand of jackassery out for special occasions.

“He’s not my boyfriend,” she replied, stepping closer to him. “What do you care anyhow? My love life is none of your concern.”

Logan gave her a twisted smile. “You know, you’re right. My mistake. Sorry best friend.”

He turned swiftly and, unlocking the back door, opened it just enough for him to slip through.

Veronica caught the edge of the door, holding it open for herself, and counted to three before joining him in the back. This is going to be a long drive. 

---------------------

By the time they got into the limo for the drive to L.A., Veronica and Logan were officially not talking. The car ride from the beach was tense and when they got to the Echolls mansion, Logan ran upstairs before her and jumped into the shower first. He took an inordinate amount of time in there, leaving Veronica pacing in her room. When she was done in the bathroom, he had the nerve to bug her about how much time she was taking to get ready, by yelling through her bedroom door. As she hurried down the long staircase towards the front door, Logan was at the bottom, holding the door open for her.  He gave her a small bow as she passed by him and she felt like thwacking him in the head with her duffle bag. Veronica had never had a sibling, but if she did, she was pretty sure this is what it would be like.

In the limo, Veronica sat on one side, her arms crossed. Logan sat on the other, directly across from her, and pulled out his school copy of “Romeo and Juliet” to hide behind. Lynn sat on the back bench, smiling like she knew a big secret, and looking between the two kids.  They all rode in silence to pick up Veronica’s mom.

Lianne was waiting on the porch for them, along with Keith. Veronica watched as her father kissed the side of her mother’s head adoringly before Lianne skipped to the vehicle. Ben opened the door and took her overnight bag before Lianne slipped onto the bench beside Lynn. The two women giggled like school kids.

Even though they were from different zip codes, Lynn and Lianne got along famously. Both had similar middle-class upbringings and on play dates with Logan, Veronica would listen in as they talked about their lives, and the lives of those around them.

When the car was a block away, Lynn reached over to the mini fridge near Veronica and pulled out a bottle of expensive champagne.

“For the adults,” she proclaimed and opened the console between her and Lianne to retrieve two glasses.

Logan looked up from his book and rolled his eyes. He flipped across the limo to sit next to Veronica, squeezing his body into the space between her and the edge. His leg pressed against hers and she took a small breath at the contact. Leaning over to the fridge, he grabbed two cans of Skist, handing one to her.

“For the not-yet adults.” Logan said with a smile.

Veronica momentarily forgot that she was mad at him and gave him a tiny smile back. With a wink, he propelled himself back to his original seat.  Veronica jumped a bit at the sound of the cork popping and Lynn and Lianne let out squeals of delight.

“This should be just enough to get us to L.A.” said Lynn as she poured the foam into Lianne’s glass. She then filled her flute and the women clinked glasses.

Veronica batted her lashes at Logan and reached her Skist across the limo. He gracefully grasped his drink with two fingers and they knocked their aluminium cans together with a dull ‘thunk’. 

“Cheers!” they said with a laugh.

The mothers giggled again and they both relaxed into the backs of their seats.

“So how was surfing today?” asked Lianne, glancing between the two teenagers.

“Fine.” They said in unison. The friends looked at each other for a moment, then back to their moms.

Lynn nodded. “Fine? That sounds intriguing. What made it ‘fine’?”

“Veronica got a boyfriend!” Logan blurted out, his eyes zeroed in on Veronica.

Veronica let out a loud gasp, as did Lynn and Lianne. She fixed a laser-like glare at Logan, hoping he would spontaneously combust. And then it appeared again, his jackass grin. She was defiantly going to kill him when they got to the hotel.

“A boyfriend? That’s so sudden! Who is he, Veronica?” Lianne asked with glee in her voice.

Veronica took a deep breath to calm herself. “Okay. First, he’s not my boyfriend. He just asked if we could go surfing. Together. Alone. Like a date, thing. Maybe.”

She threw an evil eye at Logan, who was still smirking, before she continued.

“Second, his name is Casey Gant and he’s in my homeroom class and I don’t know anything about him other than he went to private school with Duncan Kane.”

Lynn smiled at Veronica and leaned towards her, as if talking to a girlfriend.

“Well, I can tell you one more thing about him: he’s part of the Gant Publishing family. Old money, very high up in Neptune society.”

She winked knowingly and Veronica felt her cheeks go hot.

“Oh,” she said, suddenly feeling very self conscious.

For their trip to L.A., she indulged her mother and was wearing a cute black and white polka dot dress with a little black sweater and sandals. When she put it on after her shower, she had felt very special in it, admitting for a moment that dressing up was kind of nice, now and again. Now she felt like a middle-class surfer girl in a new dress wasn’t good enough; not for someone of Casey’s pedigree.

“Hey.” Logan’s voice broke through her thoughts.

“You know, if you want to come with him to my party, we don’t have to do the matching costumes,” he said reassuringly, as if he could hear her self-conscious thoughts.

Veronica turned to see his sad eyes on her. “No!” she replied emphatically. “I want to do this. With you. It’s our tradition.  And it’s your birthday.  So let me reiterate...he...is...not...my...boyfriend. Everyone just settle down.” She sat all the way back in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest, a scowl on her face.

There was silence for a moment, broken only by the tiny note made from the bottle of Bollinger hitting the edge of Lynn’s glass. “So, how was your morning, Logan,” said Lynn, a wisp of a smile on her face.

Logan raised his can of Skist at his mother. “Just peachy, mom.” And took a giant swig of his drink.

Veronica stared across at him, a smug look of satisfaction on his face. For some reason, her heart started to pound so hard she was sure everyone in the vehicle could hear. Lynn and Lianne began chattering on about something, but her heartbeat drowned it out. Looking up, Logan caught her stare, but instead of turning away, his eyes locked on her, intensely. She watched as an expression she had never seen passed across his face. It was only for a moment, but then it vanished as his eyes darted away, giving Veronica the opportunity to shift her gaze as well. She watched in her peripheral vision as he picked up his book, and hid once more.

-------------------

The meeting with the costume designer was exciting and Veronica left feeling very glamorous. Lynn had printed dozens of photo stills front “The Thin Man” series and after much discussion they decided to recreate a striped spaghetti-strap gown, with winding ruffles and a small cape, for Veronica. For Logan, he was getting a custom high-collar three-piece suit. Veronica would wear a dark brown wig, done up in waves, with Lynn doing her makeup that night. Logan would wear his hair slicked back and fake pencil-moustache, since it was painfully pointed out that he couldn’t even grow that tiny amount of facial hair.

After an amazing dinner at a small French bistro, the group took refuge for the night in a penthouse suite at the Four Seasons. The sprawling space featured two large bedrooms for each of the moms, and two smaller rooms for the friends, as well as a large sitting area with a big screen television, full bar, and a grand piano.

By this time, Lynn and Lianne had consumed not only the champagne in the car, but a bottle of wine at the restaurant, and a cocktail on the way to the hotel. Away from their husbands, the two proclaimed to their children that this was the perfect escape from Neptune, and that Logan and Veronica would be more than fine on their own, watching movies, while they went down to the bar on the main floor.

The teenagers had both seen their mothers drink -- having them just on the side of “happy” was a fairly normal occurrence -- but this new giddy girlfriends act had Logan and Veronica both shocked and amused. Veronica herself was very relieved to see their mothers leave so she and Logan could spend the evening watching movies and ordering desserts from room service.

Alone in her bedroom, she changed into her plaid pyjama bottoms and tank top.  Glancing at herself in the mirror, Veronica paused, realizing this was the first time she was alone with Logan since her dream the prior weekend. They went surfing during the week, but Dick managed to show up every day to join them. And they talked on the phone every night, but it was mostly about homework, and parents, and their Halloween costumes. Before leaving her room, Veronica decided to throw a light zip-up hoodie over her tank top, the thought of being alone with the ‘star’ of her dream making her feel slightly awkward.

Logan was at the front entrance, signing for the mountain of pastries and cakes they had ordered – a serving cart full of desserts was pushed close to the couch. She took a seat on the long leather sofa as Logan locked the door behind the bell-hop.  He had changed into a pair of sweats and wore his Led Zeppelin t-shirt; the one she kept trying to steal from him because she liked it so much.

Walking towards her, Logan leapt over the arm of the couch and came crashing down beside Veronica, his gangly legs flying in the air. She laughed a little at his prat fall, but tried to remember that overall, she was still mad at him.

His head came down near her lap and he glanced up at her with his puppy dog eyes. “So, whadaya want to watch while our moms tie one on together?”

She looked down at him and glared. “I’m still pissed off at you,” Veronica insisted.

Logan sighed. “But I’ve brought you a peace offering.” He gestured towards the food cart. “How can you still be mad?”

Veronica angled her head so she was above his face. “You broke the first rule of being a best friend: you ratted me out to a parent!”

He let out a deep breath and she could feel it on her face. “How is mentioning Casey ‘ratting you out’?”

Veronica scoffed and pulled away from his face, folding her arms in front of her. “Now my mom thinks I have a boyfriend and she’s going to tell my dad and I’ll never be able to do anything without him following me around or questioning my every move.”

Logan sat up and swiveled to sit cross-legged beside Veronica. “Good,” he said tersely.

“Good?”

“Yes. Good.”

Veronica’s eyes narrowed. “How exactly is this ‘good’? Please enlighten me, Logan.”

 “Look, what do you know about this guy? Nothing. You know nothing about him.”  Logan began to fidget, his fingers running through his hair.  “We didn’t grow up with him. What if he killed cats for fun, as a kid? Or shot people with pellet guns from moving cars? Or....or...” Logan struggled for his words.

Veronica’s mouth drooped open in shock. “You’re insane.”

“No,” he gasped, exasperated. “What I’m trying to say is what if he hurts you?”

Veronica rolled her eyes. “What do you mean? Like ‘breaks my poor virgin heart’?” She clutched her chest dramatically.

Logan fixed his eyes on his best friend. “No. Like what if he wants...more. And what if he just...takes it?” He stammered in earnest.

It took Veronica a second to comprehend what Logan was saying. “You mean...rape me?” She questioned incredulously.

Logan looked down at his hands on his lap. “Yes.”

Veronica’s head started clicking. This had never come up in any of their previous discussions about sex.

“Where is this coming from?” she asked softly.

Logan glanced at her and then down at his lap again. It took him a few moments to gather his words. When he did, it came out in a ramble.

“Okay. Here's what happened. A few weeks after Dick and I watched all that porn, I went over during the week and no one was there, so Dick decided to put on more porn from his dad’s collection.” He took a breath and began fidgeting again. “Except this one was Hard Core. It started out fine, but then we realized, what was happening to the girl in the video wasn’t...consensual. And in that moment where our brains were processing what exactly was happening and I got up to turn it off, Dick says....” Logan swallowed hard. “...he says ‘geez, that girl looked like Ronnie.’ And I lost it.” He admitted, not looking her in the eye, his voice shaking.

“And I never, ever thought that, when we got older, that something that horrible could happen to you. But then, I realized -- and Dick realized -- it could happen to you, and we needed to make sure that it didn’t; even if it meant threatening every guy who came near you, just in case.”

Veronica took in his words. Rape. He was worried someone was going to rape her. Her parents had talked to her about consensual intercourse when they first discussed sex, but she just never thought that it could happen to her. The fact that her best friend was worried about it happening shook her deeply, and she wasn’t sure what to say. Tentatively, she reached out and took Logan’s hand in hers.

“Logan, you and Dick can’t scare off every guy that wants to date me.” Veronica began, not sure where she was going with her thoughts. “And I don’t want you to. I hope that it doesn’t happen to me, but I can’t not date because I’m afraid. That’s not how it works. I just need to have faith that the guys that I like aren’t ‘those’ types of guys.”

“And what if they are? Then what?” Logan muttered.

Veronica sighed. “Then I go to the hospital and report it to the police. And watch as my father sends every deputy in the county to haul the guy’s ass to the city square, strip him naked, and beat him, on dad’s orders. Or at least that’s how I would assume it would work if someone raped the Sherriff’s daughter.”

Logan squeezed her hand. “This doesn’t reassure me. Can’t I just beat people up to serve as a warning to others? I really feel like this is the way to go.”

“Sorry best friend. As much as you may want to, you cannot protect me from the world. Just like I can’t protect you.” Veronica inched closer to Logan. “But at least we can be there for each other, when life becomes difficult.”

Logan was quiet again, and then, out of nowhere, he did something he had never done before; he reached up and moved a stray piece of hair from her forehead, tucking it behind her ear. Heat rushed through Veronica’s body, but this time, it radiated out from a place just below her bellybutton.

Her breathing hitched and she realized Logan’s face had flushed red, and his eyes were getting dark. Breaking their contact, she dropped his hand and looked away, tucking the other side of her hair behind her ear, nervously.

 “And I think you and Dick really, truly, need to lay off the porn. It’s starting to twist your view of the world,” Veronica stammered, trying to deflect the tension between them.

Logan let out a low chuckle and shifted so he was a little further away from Veronica. “Don’t worry, that Hard Core video was enough to keep us away for quite a while, if not forever. But now you know another reason why Dick keeps offering to beat people up for you.”

Veronica shrugged. “I thought it was part of his brotherly-love-meathead-surfer persona that he was cultivating this year.”

Logan stood up and wandered over to the cart filled with desserts.

“Well, that too,” he said with a smile.

Frowning at the food, he selected a plate of French pastries and brought it over to the coffee table, setting it down in front of Veronica. She clapped her hands with excitement and he walked around to his spot, grabbing the remote before flopping back down.

“I should warn you, there will be at least three or four channels playing ‘Titanic’ at any given moment on hotel satellite television.”

Veronica selected a decadent pastry filled with cream and eyed it lovingly.

“So what are you waiting for? All Leo, all the time!  Find one of them and let’s get movie night started.”

Sure enough, Logan found “Titanic” on one of the movie channels and the two settled in to watch while they shared the desserts spread out in front of them.  About an hour into the movie, Veronica began to yawn.  The last thing she remembered was laying her head on the arm of the couch before falling asleep.

------------------------

He followed her into the back seat of the old car, shutting the door for some privacy. Veronica leaned back against the leather, his lean body snaked across the bench and over to her.  Catching her lips in his, he kissed her, hungrily. This time, there was no soft caresses, or declarations of love. Just need. Just want.

“Logan!” Veronica gasped, escaping his kiss momentarily.

“What do you want me to do, Veronica?” he drawled, pulling back so he could see her body clearly. The blue dress she was wearing pushed up her cleavage and it rose and fell in time with his panting breath.

“Make love to me. Please. I need you. I need you so much,” she begged.

He arched an eyebrow and licked his lips. His brown shirt had fallen open slightly and she placed her hand on his skin over his heart. Logan leaned in and kissed her deeply and then....

Again. Veronica woke to stars again. But this time, she realized, someone was with her. The wonderful pulsing flowed through her and she prayed Logan couldn’t feel what was happening as they lay spooned together on the couch. When the delicious feeling subsided, she did a mental inventory of where she was and how she got into this position. Somehow, in the night, Logan and Veronica must have fallen asleep and slipped down the couch, because now she was lying on her side, his body pressed against her back, his arm draped over her waist.

Veronica wiggled back a bit, pressing softly into the contour of Logan’s body. He gave a small moan and pulled her closer. It was like sleeping next to a giant, warm teddy bear, she thought, and sunk into the feeling of total peace.

And that’s when she felt it. There was something pressing against her. Something firm, like his arm, was caught between them, but it was just by her butt, moving up her spine, so that wouldn’t be –

Oh!

Realizing what part of his body was against her, panic started to rise in Veronica. She knew what was happening to him was involuntary, but she was worried if he woke up and found out, he would never come near her again. No cuddling on the couch. No crashing together in bed. No moving of hair from her face. Nothing.

Carefully, she slid out of his arms and onto the floor, landing on the ground with a tiny thud as she hit the coffee table on the way down. Wincing in pain, she crawled away from the couch and stood. Logan was still sleeping peacefully and she let out a small sigh of relief. As quickly and quietly as she could, Veronica made her way back to her room, closing the door and locking it, just to be sure she wasn’t tempted to leave and join him again. Sinking into her big bed, she pulled the covers over her head and, letting out a large groan of frustration, tried to go back to sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Veronica unlocked her bedroom door slowly and poked her head out into the suite. Logan was standing by the large windows, his arms folded over his chest, staring out over Los Angeles. Veronica took a small breath before padding in her bare feet over to him.  He must have been lost in thought because he didn't move until Veronica was right beside him.  Glancing down at her from his height, he gave her a tight smile.

"Whatcha thinking about?" she asked.  Shivering a bit as the air conditioning kicked in, she wrapped her hoodie around her a little tighter.

Logan continued to look out the window. She caught his eye in the reflection in the glass. "I was thinking how shitty it feels to wake up alone," he said quietly.

Tentatively, Veronica reached out and wrapped her arms around his waist. Logan put an arm around her and kept his gaze at her reflection.

"Sorry. It wasn't like payback or anything. I got up to pee and there wasn't a lot of room on the couch. You're a giant, and..."

"Bygones. I guess the couch isn't really made for sleeping on," Logan chuckled. "You fell asleep first last night. I made it to just after the car scene. The moms must have thrown a blanket over us and left us there," he said, rubbing her back to warm her up.

It worked. Veronica's cheeks heated up as she remembered her dream. "I feel asleep just before  the car scene," she murmured.

Logan nodded and looked down at her. "Should we order breakfast for our mothers -- the lushes -- or just for us?"

She continued to watch him in the window without looking directly at his face. "We should order for them or we'll never get out of here. I may not be able to afford anything in the stores we are going to today, but I still want to go in and ogle the outfits."

Logan nodded. She watched in the window as he began to lean his head down for a moment and then suddenly, he pulled back. Glancing up, he realized she was watching his reflection and he dropped his arm from around her, twisting his torso out of her grasp.

"Belgian waffles for you and your mom?" Logan called out as he walked toward the room service menu sitting on the coffee table.

Veronica turned to him, but didn't move from her spot. "Please. But lots of bacon on the side. And a lot of coffee, for them."

Logan looked up from behind his shaggy morning hair, his eyes catching hers. He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes.

“Not the first time we've nursed their hangovers," he murmured.

"Won't be the last," Veronica replied quietly and turned to look out the window again.

Part of their intense friendship revolved around the fact that both of their moms drank. They realized when they were in the 4th grade that both Lynn and Lianne got 'happy' drunk on a regular basis.  Since neither of them had ever witnessed their moms acting 'staggering' drunk, they had agreed, since their moms still seemed ‘happy’, it somehow made it okay. Their moms didn't get angry and yell and throw things; they didn't go driving the streets looking for alcohol; they didn't stop doing what needed to be done, most of the time. So Veronica and Logan put their mothers' drinking in a nice little emotional box and placed it on a shelf in the back of their minds before moving on with their lives.

Logan picked up the phone to order the food with the confidence of an adult and Veronica smiled to herself, closing her eyes for a moment. The feeling of easy domesticity between them made her mind wander, imagining her and Logan, older...a lot older...in the hotel. Logan in shorts and no shirt, gentle scruff on his face; hair shorter and tamed. Her in a robe, a little taller and fuller; her hair cut shorter but still in soft waves. In their hotel room. Together. Boyfriend and girlfriend? Husband and wife? She felt tears start to crest. She was so confused.

"Food is ordered. I'm going for a shower." Logan's voice broke her thoughts.

"Okay!" Veronica called back, trying to sound perky.

She caught a glimpse of him across the room, in the reflection. He hesitated for a moment, as if he wanted to approach her, but then changed his mind and walked to his bedroom. When his door closed, she let her tears of frustration flow.

She was still crying when Lynn swept into the room, a little rumpled but still looking amazing. She glided over to Veronica as she was wiping her eyes and petted the back of her hair.

"Tears in the morning. That can only mean one thing...a boy." Lynn continued to pet her head as she spoke in a soft voice. "Now tell me, sweetheart; are these tears for Casey Gant or my son?"

Veronica turned quickly to look at Lynn, her mouth dropped open in horror.

"Ah. Logan." Lynn smiled down at her.

"Please don't tell him." Squeaked Veronica. "He told me he wouldn't do anything to hurt our friendship. He just wants to be friends. This is just me and my crazy teenage hormone feelings. If he knew, it would scare him off and then I'd never see him again!"

Lynn put her arms around the girl and gave her a big hug. "Oh, sweetheart. Logan is an old soul who thinks too much. Just be patient and one day, he'll figure it out. But you have to give him time. You're both young and these feelings are new.” She pulled back and looked Veronica in the eye. "One day, something magical will happen. And until that time, your secret is safe with me."

Lynn gave her a wink and a kiss on the head, then let go and walked over to the open menu on the coffee table.

"Logan ordered breakfast for us before he went for his shower," Veronica said and began moving towards her bedroom door. "I think I may go for a shower too."

"Why don't you have a nice bubble bath in that big tub; it’ll relax you,” called Lynn happily.

Veronica nodded and disappeared into her room to get ready, and maybe have another cry.

When she had the courage to come out of hiding -- having bathed and changed for the day -- Veronica found everyone sitting at a small cafe table near the window. Lynn and Lianne were laughing and regaling Logan with tales from their evening. Logan looked like he was in pain.

Veronica scooted into her chair, catching the relived look in Logan's eye as she did. "Oh, honey...you look lovely this morning,” gushed Lianne from across the table.

Veronica looked down at her selection for the day; jeans and slouchy brown boots, with a gauzy blue blouse and tank top. She had reached way back in her closet and found the blouse pushed behind her regular outfits; purchased on a whim by her mother for her and never worn.

"Thanks Mom." Veronica smiled across the table.

Her mother looked radiantly happy this morning and Veronica thought how it had been a while since she had seemed so relaxed. Lifting the lid to her breakfast, she let out a little moan of happiness as she revealed a large Belgian waffle, piled high with whipping cream and fruit, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

The group laughed at Veronica's reaction and Logan jumped into action.

"Don't forget the bacon," he proclaimed and grabbed another plate from the table. Lifting the lid with a flourish, he revealed a mountain of crisp bacon.

Veronica groaned again and pulled a piece from the top. Her eyes rolled back in her head as she ripped into the bacon and began chewing. She caught Logan's eye; he seemed enthralled by her consumption and a small smirk played on his lips. She pointed the other half of the bacon at him.

“Have you tried this? It is like no other bacon I have ever eaten.  The pigs must have been angels or something."

Logan dipped his head and grabbed the piece of bacon right out of her hand with his teeth, deftly flipping the entire thing into his mouth. Veronica let out a gasp of despair at the loss of her breakfast. She frowned at him and grabbed a handful of bacon of the platter and dropped it on the edge of her plate near her waffle. Logan laughed and closed the lid to the bacon.

Lynn and Lianne were both laughing hysterically at the antics of the kids and Veronica’s cheeks went red with embarrassment, since she almost forgot they were there.

“Well, now that you’re dressed, I'm going to get ready for our day." Lianne said and stood from the table. "Excuse me." She said and sauntered off to her room.

Lynn looked between the two and smiled. "I'm going to get ready too. You both seem to be entertaining each other, anyway," she said as she rose from her seat.

As Lynn passed by Logan, she rumpled his hair lovingly. He dodged out from under her hand and blushed wildly.

Veronica picked up her cutlery and began cutting into her breakfast, glancing out of the corner of her eye to make sure Lynn was in her bedroom before speaking.

"So, did the moms have anything interesting to report about their antics last night?"

Logan shrugged. "Young men hit on them. They seemed very excited to turn them down."

Veronica wrinkled her nose. "Ew,” she muttered, her mouth filled with food.

"My feelings exactly. I really don't get it. I mean...they're married,” Logan said as he reached for more bacon off her plate.

She poked his hand with the tine of her fork and he retreated with a laugh. "I guess, sometimes, they need to be reminded they are more than just our moms. Or wives to our dads."

Logan shrugged. "It's all just weird."

Veronica nodded silently. Her entire life was weird right now. This was just an added layer of strange.

Logan leaned back in his chair. He was wearing a green Henley and beige khakis and he had made an attempt to brush his shaggy hair.

“So, are you going to let them 'girly' you up?" he asked with a grin.

Veronica let out an exasperated sigh. "Oh God, is that their plan?"

He chuckled. "Yep! I tried to tell them that you were already a girl but no one believed me."

Veronica threw her napkin at him and he laughed harder. "You didn't tell them – ?”

"About the fruit snack incident? Of course not," he replied. "However, if you want to see it again, it will cost you more than a tiny package of gummies."

Logan leaned in and wagged his eyebrows at her. Veronica nearly choked on her breakfast as she broke into giggles.

"How much is a peek going for nowadays? You know, so I can write it on the bathroom wall at school."

Logan shook his head. "Minimum payment would be the Colossus Sundae at Amy's Ice Cream."

Veronica began sputtering. "A Colossus to see your colossal..." she stammered, tears erupting as she laughed.

"Exactly," said Logan as he dissolved into laughter.

When Lynn and Lianne appeared again a little while later, no one could explain exactly why Veronica and Logan were still laughing so hard, or why they were randomly listing types of candy to each other and laughing even more.

------------------------

Veronica was sure that Bloomingdale's was the most amazing store she had ever seen. As a girl who either shopped at Target or the surf shop, the gigantic department store was a sight to behold. Riding the escalator to the Woman's department, Veronica paused at the sight of all the clothes – aisles and aisles of mannequins and racks of fashions she had only seen in her mom’s women’s magazines . It was all so overwhelmingly girly.

Logan put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. "Good luck, best friend!"

Veronica looked up at him. "What do you mean 'good luck'? Where are you going?"

Lynn walked up to Logan and handed him a credit card. He kissed it and put it in his pocket. "I’m going to get myself some stuff while you spend some time shopping.”

"Traitor,” Veronica muttered.

"Well, ladies, I'm off! Enjoy your 'girl time'!" Logan waved his fingers at them and disappeared down the other escalator.

Lianne came and stood next to Veronica. "Honey, I'm not trying to make you look like someone you are not. I just think that maybe this could be the time for you to begin to find your own style, that matches your wonderful personality." She brushed Veronica's hair with her fingers. "Just look around and see if there’s anything you like."

Veronica let out a deep sigh. She looked at the vast expanse of clothes set out in front of her. Slowly, she began walking through the aisles. Frills and ruffles and flowers for miles. And then, she saw a mannequin wearing a denim skirt, a black tank top with a funky silkscreen design, a green military jacket, and chunky boots.

Lynn walked up to her. "Now that looks like something Veronica Mars would wear."

Veronica smiled. It was exactly something she would wear.

"I'll go find a sales person to help us," Lynn said and disappeared.

An hour later, after happily letting Lianne and Lynn play dress-up with her, Veronica watched intently as the sales lady loaded all her purchases into large Bloomingdale’s bags.

Lianne put her arm around Veronica and guided her away from the desk. "We have one more department to visit," she said quietly.

Veronica down the aisles with her mom until they ended up in the lingerie section.

"It's time we invested in a couple of good bras for you, sweetheart,"  Lianne said.

Veronica laughed and tossed a glance down at her chest. "For what?"

Lianne smiled at her daughter. "For that day, in the very near future, when you wake up in the morning to discover you do, in fact, have breasts."

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. "It happens that quickly?" she hissed.

Lianne laughed. "Well, not all at once, but they will start soon, and then over time they’ll just keep growing until they don’t anymore."

Veronica looked at the bras on the rack. They were slightly padded with delicate lace patterns in beige and white and pink. Below each one was a matching pair of underwear. Veronica picked up the white bra and held it up to her chest.

"If you like them, we can get one of each.  A good rule of thumb is to have one flesh coloured, one black, and one white," Lianne said encouragingly.  “That way you have something to go under any colour top.”

Veronica looked up at her mother and smiled. "Sure mom. That would be great. Thanks."

The Mars women set about finding the correct size and style for Veronica and then, she chose one in each colour she liked.

While her mother paid for their new purchases, Veronica walked back to the women's department. Lynn was standing next to Logan, who was holding several bags of clothes of his own. She smiled and waved at Veronica as she approached.

"Your bags are at the desk," Lynn said happily.

Veronica grinned and walked over to the desk to take the large bags. She was sure that her dad would freak out over the money, but her mom didn't seem to worry. Walking back to Lynn and Logan, she saw Lianne approach with a small pink bag overflowing with pink tissue paper.  It was quite obviously something 'girly' and Veronica blushed deeply when Logan’s eyes followed the bag as Lianne handed it to Veronica.  Logan caught her eye and smiled reassuringly.

"Well, looks like we have everything. Back to Neptune we go!" said Lynn and they all filed onto the escalator.

As they rode, single file, Logan leaned over to Veronica's ear. "Funny. I was looking for boxers in the underwear department, but they don't make them in 'colossal' size."

Veronica's new case of the giggles lasted all the way to the limo.

 

Chapter Text

Veronica sat nervously in the back of her dad's cruiser. Logan was running late for school and she was getting antsy.  It took her a full 45 minutes to get dressed this morning – 30 minutes more than normal – trying to decide what outfit to wear from the multitude of options that now hung before her in her close.  After several wardrobe changes, she finally decided on wearing a short jean skirt, brown v-neck t-shirt, green military jacket, and her new Doc Martin boots. Underneath it all, she wore her beige bra, which gave the illusion that she may have some breasts. When she was done getting dressed, her mom helped her apply a thin black eyeliner and some mascara, with just a a simple strawberry lip-gloss instead of lipstick. A bit of gel in her hair after her shower made her long locks wild and wavy. She had to admit that the new clothes made her feel more like a teenager as she caught a glance of herself in the reflection of the police cruiser window.

Logan’s body, speeding out of his front door, caught her attention. He whipped around the car and opened the back door, flinging his backpack inside before he launched himself into his seat.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Mars! I overslept and then I couldn't find my copy of 'Romeo and Juliet'," he rambled as he fumbled about for his seatbelt. "And then Trina – oh my God you’re wearing makeup!" he exclaimed as he finally looked over at Veronica.

Veronica heard her dad start to chuckle in the front seat. "Yeah. My mom helped. Just eyeliner and mascara."

Logan frowned. Then he sniffed the air, wrinkling his nose. "What smells like strawberries?"

Veronica sighed. "I do. That's my lip-gloss."

Keith started the car and continued to snicker in the front seat. Veronica threw him the evil eye in the reflection of his rear view mirror.

Veronica watched as Logan’s gaze swept from her face, over her torso, down her legs, to her feet, back up her legs (lingering a bit on her exposed thighs) and to her face again. Leaning across the seat, he motioned for her to join him.

"You shaved your legs,” he whispered.

"Girls do that!"

Veronica rolled her eyes at him. Even though she knew that she really didn't have to shave the white blond hair on her legs, her mother suggested it last night.

"You're skirt's too short,” Logan muttered, his eyes dropping down to her exposed thigh again.

"That's what I said!" Keith bellowed from the front seat.

Veronica sighed in frustration. "Okay, firstly, when I am standing up, it is not too short! Second, is there anything about my new clothes that either of you like?"

Keith looked in the mirror at her. "Veronica, you look beautiful. It's just..."

"...different,” Logan interjected.

"Exactly! Different," repeated Keith.

Veronica's eyes narrowed. Logan was still running his eyes up and down her, trying to comprehend what was going on.

“Are you wearing a bra?" Logan blurted out.

Veronica pulled her hand back into a fist and punched him, hard, in the arm. He let out a yelp of pain and Keith began laughing hysterically in the front seat.

“I think that's your answer, son.”

"Okay. You both need to stop talking or I'm jumping out of this moving vehicle and walking to school.” Veronica growled.

"Can't sweetie; it's a cruiser. Back doors only open from the outside." Keith smiled at her.

Veronica sunk into her seat and crossed her arms. I hate boys.

After a minute of icy silence, Logan leaned back across the seat.

"I'm sorry. It's just going to take me some time to get used to...this,” he said, dropping his voice a bit. "You look really great. Honest. I'm sorry I made you feel bad."

Veronica gave him a tight smile. "Thanks. I'm kind of nervous about what people will say."

Logan leaned back in his seat. "Please. When have we ever cared what people think?"

Veronica relaxed into the seat. He was right. She didn't care before, she shouldn't care now.  But she would be damned if she let him know that he was right.

The cruiser pulled into the school parking lot and Keith parked to let them out, starting with Logan’s side of the car, then walking around to Veronica.   When he opened the door for her, she closed her knees together and swung her feet out in as lady-like a manoeuvre as she could manage.   Taking a moment to readjust her skirt, she stood close to Keith for a moment and took a deep breath.

"You really do look beautiful Veronica," Keith whispered. "And you’re right -- when you stand up that skirt is just the right length."

Veronica winked. "Thanks Daddy-o,” she said before glancing towards Logan who was twitching nervously beside her.

"Care to walk the gauntlet with me?" she asked.

Logan flashed his braces at her. "Any time," he said and raised his arm. She threaded her hand through it and together, they walked onto the quad.

Veronica's butterflies were having a party in her stomach. Many heads turned as she and Logan walked past. Seeing Dick and Duncan sitting on the edge of the flower garden wall, Logan steered them towards their friends. As they approached, Dick saw Veronica and his jaw dropped open. Veronica smiled and waved as Dick walked a couple of steps towards them.

"Damn! You clean up nicely, Ronnie!" Dick laughed.

She dropped her arm from Logan's and adjusted her book bag on her back. "Thanks Dick."

Dick shoved Logan's shoulder with his hand. "It's going to be a full time job, keeping guys away from her now!  I mean, Casey was just one of a hundred to come! So to speak.”

Veronica groaned. "Oh, please don't tell me you threatened Casey?"

Dick beamed. "I only told him that if he tries to hurt you, that Logan and I would make sure he was hurt more. Not a threat...a warning!"

"Same thing,” muttered Duncan. "You look nice, by the way."

Veronica smiled. "Thanks Duncan. That's sweet of you to say."

"Are you hitting on her, man?" Dick turned to Duncan.

"No! I'm just paying her a compliment!" Duncan replied, exasperated.  “Chill out, dude!”

Veronica put her hands over her eyes. "Logan, please explain to Brother Dick what we talked about this weekend."

She took her hands off her eyes to see Dick frowning back at her.

Logan set his jaw tight and shoved their friend away from Veronica. "Come on, Bro. We gotta have a little talk," he said and dragged Dick off.

"See you at lunch!" Logan called over his shoulder.

Duncan cleared his throat, his hand reaching up to rub the back of his neck. "Umm...sorry I brought Casey surfing, Veronica. I didn't know it would cause so much trouble. I just really thought he wanted to surf, not hit on you."

Veronica smiled weakly at Duncan. "It's fine. I think I may have to find him though, and apologize for Dick playing guard dog."

As the words came out of her mouth, the first bell rang.

"Well, here's you chance," said Duncan. "See you at lunch!"

Veronica waved to him as they separated to go to their homeroom classes. By the time Veronica made it to class Mac was already in her seat and Veronica slid into the desk next to her with a smile.

"Wow! You look awesome!" Mac exclaimed.

Veronica giggled. "Thanks! Not gonna lie...I feel kind of awesome."

Mac let out a sigh. "I wish my mom would let me get the clothes I actually want and not what she thinks is appropriate." She said and looked down at her simple jeans and black t-shirt. "Or let me dye my hair. I really always wanted to have fire-engine-red hair."

Veronica gave her girlfriend a sympathetic look. "It will come. I was kind of dragged out to go shopping this weekend, but once I found something I liked, it was better. Maybe pretend not to care? That worked for me."

Mac was about to respond when Dick flopped down in the desk in front of her and let out a long sigh.

"Sorry I scared off your dude," he muttered, turning around to face Veronica.

"Just fix it, okay? And don't do it again," she replied, putting her hand gently on his arm.

Dick hung his head. "Fine. Logan showed me the error of my ways, even if I was acting out of love and caring for one of my best friends.”

"And I appreciate the feelings behind it but really Dick –"

"I know. No beating people up for wanting to date you. I understand." Dick rolled his eyes and turned himself towards the front of the room.

Veronica frowned at the back of Dick's head. Looking around the room, the back of her neck bristled as she realized that someone was watching her. She caught Casey's gaze and gave him a big smile. He hesitated at first, but then returned her smile and waved.

Veronica was about to put up her hand to wave when she saw Dick reach out his hand and wave his fingers instead.  Instead, she flicked Dick in the back of the head with her raised fingers. Dick turned and stuck out his tongue at her as she glared at him.

Boys.

-----------------------

All alone at the lunch table, Veronica doodled her thoughts in the back of her agenda, drawing intricate little flowers around her words.

  • Wearing new outfit! Feel great!
  • Logan noticed bra! Different one tomorrow?
  • Told Dick to apologize to Casey.
  • Make date with Casey? Or did he get scared.
  • Other guys looking at me. Girls too.
  • Talk to Lynn re: hair dye for Mac.
  • Doc Martins make me taller!

 

Veronica closed the book as Dick sat down, leaving room for Logan across from her. Mac and Wallace soon followed, but Duncan and Logan were no where in sight. The friends began chatting about their morning classes, all the while Veronica's leg twitched under the table.  Where the hell is Logan?  She nearly jumped out of her skin when she finally saw Duncan appear through the cafeterias door. The fact that Logan wasn't with him made her heart stop. As he approached the table, she noticed he looked drained – his eyes downcast, his hair dishevelled.

"Hey," Duncan muttered as he flopped down into Logan's chair.

"Where's Logan?" asked Veronica, frowning at Duncan.

Duncan let out a deep breath. "Waiting outside principal's office for his mom to pick him up."

The whole table turned to Duncan. "Why?" Mac exclaimed.

Duncan pulled his elbows up on the table and leaned his chin in his hands.  He glanced up and down the table before he spoke as if to check to see if he had everyone’s attention.

"We were going into gym class, so we were in the locker room, and we went around the corner to change in the stalls. Well, while we were in there, two Grade 9 guys came out of the gym to their lockers. So, one of them starts talking about how the 'Sherriff's daughter' looked this morning. And then the other one says something about..." Duncan cast his eyes down to the table and continued. "...how having sex with the daughter of the Sherriff would be like a porn movie, but in real life. And then the other one said something about whether you were a screamer and then..."

Veronica put her head in her hands. She knew what he was going to say but didn't want to hear it.

"...I heard Logan bust out of his stall like the Incredible Hulk and start whaling on these two guys." Duncan continued. "And they're jocks, so they're big guys, but Logan is freakishly strong and fast, and tall, and these guys were on him and it was like he didn't even feel their punches and then he laid them out just as the coach came and was about to break it up!"

Silence spread over the table. Veronica still had her head down in her hands, contemplating what to do next.

"I thought we weren't allowed to beat people up for you!" bellowed Dick, throwing up his arms in exasperation.

"Dick!" Mac put her arm around Veronica's shoulders. Silence fell again, this time with all eyes on Veronica.

“What are you going to do?" Mac asked her quietly.

"I don't know." Veronica murmured, sliding her chair back and standing up. Grabbing her backpack, she marched through the cafeteria and out into the halls to find Logan.

She didn't have to look for long. Sitting outside of the Office, in one of three chairs set against the wall, was Logan. His head leaned back against the glossy white brick wall, eyes closed. His arms were wrapped around his stomach and Veronica wondered if most of the hits he sustained were hidden under his shirt. She stood a little ways away, frozen to her spot. A rush of emotions came to her, and all she wanted to do was walk up and start kissing him, right there in the halls. She felt her body give off a flush of warmth from her toes up to her head.

Logan raised his head and opened his eyes, fixing his gaze on her. There was a big cut on his forehead that was closed with small bandages. At the sight of her, he cast his eyes down to they linoleum floor.

She approached him quietly and sat down in the chair next to him. "Are you okay?" she asked in a hushed voice.

Logan leaned back again and looked to the ceiling tiles. "I guess. I may have some bruised ribs. But nothing worse than I've had from surfing." He lolled his head towards her. "Duncan tell you what happened?"

Veronica nodded and reached up to brush his bangs away from his cut. She raised her eyebrow at him and wagged a finger at him.

"You know, you're setting a bad example for Dick."

"I had to,” he whispered.

Veronica felt her heart leap in her chest. "I know," she replied.

It was taking every ounce of her self control not to lean over and smother him in kisses. Instead, she raised herself from the chair slightly, moving her body close to him. Reaching over to his forehead again, she brushed his hair away from his forehead and, ever so gently, she pressed her lips near his wound. She held the kiss for a moment and she heard him exhale deeply. Wanting to move her kiss lower to his lips, but knowing she shouldn't, she sat back down and looked into his eyes again. And that's when she saw, his sad tired face, break into the widest, shiniest grin she had ever seen on him.

She was about to speak when she heard the distinct clicking of very high heels coming towards them. They both turned forward to see Lynn striding quickly down the short hallway. When Logan came into her sight, she scrunched up her face and shook her head.

"What is it with you Echolls men and fighting?" she announced, throwing her hands up in the air and coming to a stop a few inches away from Logan.

"Hey! I was being a gentleman. I was protecting Veronica's honour," Logan said, smiling up at his mom.

Lynn rolled her eyes. "How chivalrous, Errol Flynn. What exactly did Veronica need you to defend her honour about?" She put her hands on her hips, looking between the two.

Logan opened his mouth to speak but Veronica beat him to it. "Some Grade 9 boys in the locker room were talking about how they wanted to have sex with me, because I am the Sherriff's daughter, and Logan jumped in to defend me."

Lynn's face softened. She looked from Veronica back to Logan. "Is this true?"

Logan arched an eyebrow at his mom. "Yes. But I may have led with my fists and not my gentleman-like wit and words." He smirked.

Lynn rolled her eyes. "Well, let me talk to the Principal, then I'll take you home; Dr. Strauss said he would meet us there to check your ribs and cut."

Logan's face turned dark again at the mention of the doctor and Lynn quickly disappeared through office doors. The hallway was starting to get busier as it got closer to their lunch break ending.

"I should go get ready for class,” she said quietly and stood. As she did, Veronica caught his gaze again and gave him a small smile. "Now please, in no way should you consider this as me condoning this behaviour...but...thank you.”

Logan smiled at her. "I'll try not to let it happen again."

Veronica nodded. Pivoting on the heels of her boots, she rushed down the hall, trying to fight the stupid grin she felt spreading across her lips.

The rest of the afternoon was no less than a gong show. Word spread of the 7th Grade student who took on the two 9th Grade jocks and by the end of the day, the legend of Logan Echolls grew to epic proportions. One story Veronica overheard was that he interrupted the boys actually raping her and went crazy. Another had Logan taking on four guys who wanted to kidnap the Sherriff's daughter and hold her for ransom. The most disturbing one was that she was actually having sex with both guys when Logan, being told he couldn't join in, beat the guys so he could have her all to himself. Lilly reappeared momentarily that afternoon, and she passed by Veronica's locker to hiss something about her loving two guys on her, but disappeared before Veronica could react and hit her with her math textbook.

At the end of the day, Veronica stood on the curb to the school parking lot, staring off in the distance as she waited for a ride.  She had realized too late that no Logan meant no ride home; so she had to call her mom for a lift, telling her that Logan had an allergic reaction and had to go home early.

When her mom finally pulled through the front gates to the school, Veronica let out a tremendous sigh of relief to finally leave today behind her. She ambled to the car and opened the passenger-side door, tossed her bag on the ground and climbed in.

Glancing at her mom quickly, Veronica gave her a small smile. "Thanks Mom."

Lianne beamed back at her. "Oh honey, I'm glad you called. I'm so excited to hear how everyone liked you new look!" She said and pulled out of the spot.

Veronica stared out the window and shrugged. "Okay, I guess. I think the boys noticed more than the girls."

Lianne let out a high pitch giggle as she turned on to the street. "But sweetie, that's the point! Did Casey mention anything?"

Veronica groaned. In the craziness of the day she never did talk to him about their possible date.

"No. I didn't really get a chance to see him today," she said, turning to her mom. "And me dressing this way isn't for any boys; it's for me. I like how I look and it doesn't matter what the boys may think."

Lianne rolled her eyes. "Calm down, Veronica. Lighten up!" She said and swerved into the next lane.

Veronica turned back to her mom. She was happy. Too happy.

"Mom?" she said, lowering her voice. "How much have you had to drink this afternoon?"

Lianne waved one of her hands at her. "A few. But I'm fine!"

Veronica turned her eyes back to the road and gripped the seat. I’m going to die. I’m going to die in a fiery crash and Dad is going to arrive on the scene and witness it.

I should have kissed Logan on the lips when I had the chance. The thought popped into her head as a sudden deep regret.

"Mom," she said quietly. "Please be careful."

Lianne giggled again. "Oh honey, I'm always careful. That's me! Play-it-safe-Lianne!" She said in a way that made Veronica think she was not talking about driving.

The next few minutes were excruciating and Veronica had never been so happy to hear the sound of the bumper lightly hit the wall of the garage. She grabbed her bag and scrambled out of the car. Without looking back, she ran through the garage door, into the house, up the stairs, and into her room, slamming the door behind her. She headed straight for her CD player and pressed the "CD 5" button, hard. Lauryn Hill's voice filled the room and she turned it up loud enough to drown out everything.

Kicking off her shoes and dropping her book bag, she flung herself onto the bed. Mom just drove me home while drunk, I’m the centre of the hottest gossip of the year, and Logan took a beating to defend me. She pulled her pillow out from under her head and put it next to her body, hugging it tightly. Closing her eyes, she tried to forget about everything for a while.

She wasn't sure how long she slept but her dad knocking at the door cut through the music.

"Veronica! Time for dinner!"

Veronica rolled to the edge of the bed and rubbed her eyes. For a moment, everything seemed fresh and new. Then she remembered about her day and the black cloud returned. She dragged herself off the bed, through the hall, down the stairs, and to the table. She melted into her chair next to her dad.

"How was your day, Sweetheart?" he asked hesitantly.

She shrugged, thinking it best to keep silent.

But Keith was anything but quiet that night. "I had a very interesting day. Two boys that got into a fight with Logan came down to the station with their parents to press charges."

Veronica and Lianne gasped. "What?"

Keith nodded and clasped his hands on the table. "Seems they were hoping to get some money from Aaron over this." He sighed and looked at his daughter. "So, I called Lynn and explained what was happening. She put Logan on the phone and I had him explain exactly what provoked this fight."

Veronica closed her eyes, trying to fight back tears of embarrassment.

"Well, once the families found out that they were fighting because the boys..." Keith choked on the words. "...we're joking about raping the 'Sherriff's daughter' they decided the better of pressing charges."

Veronica couldn't look at her dad. Tears started to spring to her eyes.

"I'm sorry Dad,” she whispered.

Keith leaned over and enveloped his daughter in a big hug. "Why are you apologizing? You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Those boys are animals, and if Logan hadn't have beaten them soundly, then I would have!"

"Maybe my skirt was too short..." she said between sobs.

Keith pulled back to look in her eyes. "You listen to me...what you wear does not give a man permission to rape you.  No amount of alcohol or drugs gives a man permission to rape you.  The only thing that gives a man permission to touch you is you." He was shaking slightly, and Veronica didn't know if it was from anger or fear. "Tomorrow, I'm going to find a self defence course for you. And I'm buying you a taser for your bag."

"Self defence?" she asked quietly.

"Yes. I'll find an instructor who can teach you to defend yourself...so Logan doesn't have to follow you on dates to protect you." Keith chuckled softly at the idea. "Maybe you can practice with him. From the look of the boys he jumped, he knows how to take a hit."

Logan. Logan. Logan. Logan.

"How is he? Did you talk to his mom?" Veronica asked, trying not to show her emotions.

Keith smiled. "I talked to them both. Lynn said Aaron was pretty mad about the fight, but she calmed him down. Logan has bruised ribs and he needed a few stitches in his forehead, so no surfing this week, but he wants to come to school tomorrow. He said he would call you tonight."

Veronica exhaled and put her hand to her heart. "Thanks Daddy,” she said and gave her dad a big smile.

"Being a teenage girl is hard, Veronica. But you know what's harder?"

"What?"

Keith exhaled loudly. "Being the father of a teenage girl."

Veronica giggled. Looking down at her lasagne, she picked up her fork and happily dove into her favourite meal.

--------------------------------------------------

Later that night, as she was packing up her homework, the phone rang. She jumped across her bed, reaching for the receiver and landed on her mattress with it in hand.

"You're alive!"

"Barely. Dad came home from the yacht to 'deal' with this. I was supposed to be suspended, but our school is miraculously getting new uniforms for the marching band instead.” Logan groaned into the phone.  “Overall, Dad was pretty freaking mad, but the fact that I was fighting to defend a woman seemed to make it okay in his head."

Veronica wrinkled her nose. "So that's better...how?"

Logan sighed. "My dad's mom used to get beaten by my dad's dad, in front of him. Until dad got old enough to hit him back for her."

Veronica was silent for a moment. Suddenly, Aaron Echolls, Oscar winner and overall swell guy, became a confusing image in her head.

"Wow."

"Yep. 'Wow' indeed. How was the rest of your day?" He asked, obviously trying to change the topic.

Veronica moaned and rolled over on her stomach. "Well, the gossip at school has raised you to the status of Action Hero but somehow, I'm a slut who liked having two guys go at it with her. Oh, and my mom picked me up and drove me home completely drunk. Then, my dad said he was getting me self-defence lessons and a Taser."

Logan was quiet for a second. "That's a lot of information to take in while I'm on painkillers," he murmured.

Veronica let out a little snort when she laughed. "Try living through it. I could have used a painkiller around dinner time."

"I'm sorry I caused so many problems,” he whispered. "Well, except for your mom drunk driving. That's just messed up."

Veronica let out a soft sigh. "You didn't cause problems. You probably solved a lot of them. No boyfriends, no worries. Junior High will be so much easier now."

"No woman, no cry," Logan said. "Bob Marley."

Veronica's heart beat faster again. "Do you mean that?"

Logan let out a moan. "I don't know what I mean. I'm so stoned and tired right now I can barely make out words."

Veronica rolled onto her back again. "You should go before you fall asleep on the phone," she whispered.

"Hmmmmmmm..." he responded, already fading.

"Good night, Logan," Veronica said quietly.

"I love you. Good night Veronica," Logan murmured and then hung up.

Veronica was left on the line with nothing but a dial tone.

“Love?" she said to the empty room.

Just when she thought the day couldn't get any stranger, it did.

Chapter Text

The rain was falling hard on the outside of the old Impala. Inside, the humidity from their body heat made everything warm and sticky. Veronica stretched out, naked, under the blanket as Logan shifted himself to join her. He shivered, the dew glistening on his face and she pulled the grey wool car blanket up to their necks, burrowing down into it to keep them warm.

The low strains of "In Your Eyes" came on the mixed tape in the car stereo. Veronica cuddled next to Logan, pressing against his naked, sinewy frame. She moved her head close, kissing him once more, and his body responded, rising against her. Logan’s hands moved under her arms and in a quick motion, he lifted her while he rolled his body so she landed on top of him.

"Listen to the music –” she whispered as he trailed kisses across her cheek.

"I love you so much, Veronica," he murmured in between kisses. "I have always loved you. And I always will love you."

He continued as his hands began to wander over her body, touching her lower and lower...

Veronica smiled at her ceiling. This was the best way to wake up in the morning. She sighed as her orgasm pulsed and flowed, warming her body.

Maybe today would be better, she thought, putting aside her feelings about her craptastic day prior.

Logan said he loves me.

Her heart was warm and fuzzy, replaying Logan’s words over and over again in her head as she drifted through her morning routine. Feeling extra girly today, she chose a short black-and-white floral print dress from her closet she paired them with dark black tights and her Doc's creating a look that Veronica felt was pretty, but still kick-ass. She hummed happily as she did her makeup before heading downstairs for breakfast.

Lost in her thoughts of Logan, as her parents droned on at the table about something or other, Veronica had a horrible realization: what if Logan doesn't remember what he said? Or what if he regrets saying it? Or what if the drugs made him say it? Her heart began to beat quickly and she accidentally dropped her fork with a crash onto her plate.

"What's wrong sweetheart?" asked Lianne, her eyes wide from the shock of the sudden noise.

Veronica shook her head and looked down at her unfinished breakfast.

"Just nerves about today."

It wasn't a lie; she was suddenly very worried about seeing Logan.

Her dad put his hand on her shoulder. "It’ll be fine. These things usually blow over quickly,” Keith said reassuringly.

Veronica nodded and stood up. "I guess we'll find out soon enough. I'm going to go get my bag," she said quietly and skulked up the steps back to her room.  By the time she got to the cruiser, her dad was already in the front seat waiting for her.

The car ride to Logan's was quiet. Veronica stared out the window chewing on her nails, wild scenarios playing over in her head as her anxiety grew. 

What if he’s embarrassed and never speaks to me again?  Or he tells me he didn’t mean it?  What if he doesn’t love me in ‘that’ way?  What if he is so mortified that he moves away and I never see him again?  

When they pulled up to the front door of the Echolls’ estate, Aaron was sitting on the steps with Logan. Veronica took a sharp intake of breath as her eyes fixed on Logan, hunched slightly as he sat, his arm wrapped around his torso.  They both stood when they saw the car – Logan clutching his side and wincing as he moved.

“Wait here, Veronica.”

Keith placed the car in park and got out, meeting Logan and Aaron on the bottom step. Veronica watched as the two men shook hands and talked for a moment. Keith put his hand on Logan's shoulder, squeezing it affectionately, and Logan responded with a small smile. Aaron patted Logan on the back and turned to wave at Veronica, flashing her his biggest Hollywood grin. She gave a little wave in return as Logan and her dad walked back to the car. Keith opened the car door and Logan slipped in with a small groan.

Veronica winced with empathy.  "How are you?"

He smiled shyly, his eyes darting towards her quickly before refocusing elsewhere. "Okay. Nothing some Extra Strength Advil and a shot of steroids can't cure."

Veronica pursed her lips with concern. "Should you even be in class today?"

Logan shrugged. "Probably not. But I don't want to give those jerks the satisfaction of thinking they got the best of me."

Veronica sighed. "Logan..."

Logan took a deep breath and his face contorted with pain.  The air escaping his body hissed as it travelled across his clenched teeth. Leaning back against the headrest, his eyes focused on the ugly brown roof of the car.

"Look. I was thinking this morning; I'm going to be out of commission for a week, so why don't you invite Casey to surf with you after school?"

"Casey?"Veronica's mouth dropped open

"Yeah. Maybe it would be a good chance to get to know him. He said he wanted to make a date with you, but you're always with me and Dick, so maybe..." Logan lost the rest of his words as he continued to stare at the ceiling.

Veronica felt numb. "You want me to go on a date with Casey?"

Logan furrowed his brow, his eyes finally focussing on Veronica. "I thought that you wanted to go on a date with Casey?"

Veronica felt her butterflies do one last loop before they died, hitting the bottom of her stomach like tiny rocks.

“I guess," she said quietly.

Veronica momentarily caught her dad's eye in the mirror -- she knew he was listening, but he had opted to stay mum.

"Well, if you want your board and gear, let me know and I'll send Ben to the beach with them." Logan said.

"Okay. Thanks,” she replied, trying to force a smile.

Turning to look out the window as they pulled into school, Veronica was sure she was going to cry. Steadying herself, she closed her eyes for a moment.

Keith opened Logan's door first, offering his hand to Logan in assistance.  With another small groan, Logan shifted, taking Keith’s hand as he manoeuvred himself out of the car without doing himself any further pain.  Wandering around to Veronica’s side, Keith opened the door and Veronica stood up next to him outside.

"Are you okay?" Keith whispered, leaning into her ear. "You look...stricken."

Veronica licked her lips and attempted to smile, trying to push her emotions as far down into her body as they would go.

"I'm fine, Daddy. Thanks for the ride,” she said, forcing herself to sound perky.

He frowned and nodded. "Good luck today. I love you."

Well, at least someone does.

“I love you too,” she said with a small smile and kissed him on the cheek.

Veronica looked over and Logan was standing a few feet away, waiting for her.  With a small sigh, she walked over to him.

"Are you ready to take on the day?" he asked, smiling down at her.

"Yes,” Veronica said in a monotone and began walking.

The gauntlet today was full of whispers and pointing from small groups of girls aiming their narrowing eyes towards Veronica in judgement; whoops of admiration and a couple of high-fives from other boys greeted Logan.  She was sure she heard the word ‘tramp’ as she walked and a couple of cat-call whistles from some older boys.  By the time they reached Dick and Duncan near the entrance to the building, Veronica felt like she had been stripped naked and paraded though the courtyard

"Are you okay, Ronnie?" Dick asked. "That morning welcome was kind of brutal."

"Can we just go to class, please," she replied, her eyes darting around at the groups of people near them.

Dick looked at her with sad eyes. "Okay. Don't worry. I'll keep the assholes away."

"Thank you,” she whispered before starting towards their lockers. 

As they approached, she noticed a little crowd in the vicinity of their row of lockers. Dick marched a bit ahead and parted the people, causing them to scatter.

"What. The. Hell?" he bellowed.

Veronica walked up just in time to see a black and white printer photo of some naked girl on her knees surrounded by naked guys, taped to her locker. The word "SLUT" was written in what looked like lipstick across the metal door. Dick grabbed the picture and crumpled it, scanning the crowd as if looking for some clue as to who did this.

Veronica's heart was now pounding in her throat. She put her shaky hand on his arm.

"Please, Dick," she murmured. "Let's just get our books and go to class."

Dick placed a protective hand on her shoulder, looking down at her with concern. 

"Okay. Get your books. I'm not leaving your side until lunch," he said, looking at the words on the locker again.

Veronica nodded and opened her locker. Grabbing the couple of books she needed, she slammed her locker shut and they quickly made their way to class.

---------------------------------------------------------

Veronica was sure that the female locker room was some sort of ancient torture device that prepared women for things like fighting in wars or childbirth. Surviving the first encounter with all the girls from her homeroom class – the silence, the side-glances, the whispers -was one thing. But then, to have to do it again, while everyone was hopped-up on estrogen and endorphins before gym class, was another.

During class, Veronica and Mac stuck close together as they ran laps around the field.  Every once in a while, Madison and her friends would catch up to their pace – hissing the word “slut” at Veronica as they passed and cackling with laughter as Mac tossed them a middle finger each time. 

After class, as Veronica and Mac were changing, Madison came around the corner with her little minions, Carrie and Susan, looking to finish what she started on the field. 

"So, tell me, Veronica...girl to girl...what’s it like to have two guys in you at once?" Madison laughed and her minions giggled beside her.

Veronica puffed up her chest and placed her hands on her hips.  She had had enough.  She knew that if she let Madison and her friends continue this, they would become relentless.  It was going to end.  And it was going to end now.

Veronica rolled her eyes before fixing her icy blue glare at the bullies. "I don't know, Maddie. You would know better than me. I mean, you did spend the summer at sleep-away camp. Isn't that something that happens there?"

Madison's eyes narrowed. "FYI...it was a very prestigious horse camp. That kind of group sex thing with boy doesn't happen there."

An evil grin crossed Veronica's face. "So, no group sex with boys...just horses, huh?  Hey, whatever kink floats your boat. You know what they say, save a cowboy...ride a horse."

Mac began laughing hysterically next to her. As Madison stammered and stuttered in shock, her face turning red with embarrassment.  Veronica folded her arms in triumph; she had out-disgusted Madison Sinclair.   Score one for hanging out all the time with boys.

"You’re horrible, Veronica Mars!" Madison shrieked and turned on her heels to leave, Carrie and Susan scurrying behind.

Veronica waited for her to go and turned back to Mac. "Did you notice how she didn't deny it?"  she giggled, causing Mac to erupt with a fresh round of laughter.

--------------------------

In an effort to avoid Logan, Veronica decided that after gym, she would get a cloth with water and scrub the "slut" off her locker. Once she convinced Dick she would be fine on her own, she was happy to be alone for a while.

The lipstick words smeared fairly easily, but the sparkly pink residue was a pain to get off. It’s obviously a high-end lipstick, she thought. Not the kind that you would get at the drug store for two-dollars.  This was definitely done by an 09er.  Looking at the colour on the paper towels, Veronica ripped off a piece and put it in her jacket pocket as evidence. If this continued, she would have to begin to find out who did it...and make them pay.

"And they say these are the best years of our lives."

Veronica jumped out of her thoughts of revenge and whirled around to see Casey Gant standing behind her, smiling.

"Whoever 'they' were must have been on some major mind altering drugs," she replied with a grin.

Casey laughed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Kind of a rough day, huh."

Veronica shrugged. "For the record, I did not have sex with anyone."

Casey shrugged. "I don't care. The gossip is pretty horrible. And I know that's not you."

Veronica leaned against her locker and crossed her arms. "Oh you do, huh. So what is me?”

Casey laughed and stepped closer. "You? You're bad-ass surfer girl. You have no time for this frivolity. There is a wave to be caught." He threw her an exagerated 'hang loose' sign with his hand and Veronica laughed.

"That sounds kind of like me,” she drawled and scrunched her nose at him. “Hey, I'm sorry about Dick threatening you

Casey shrugged again. "I get it. You're like Dick and Logan's little sister. If I had a sister, I'd probably do what they've do too."

The words stabbed her in the heart; she was like Logan's sister. That's probably why he said he loved me.

“Thanks,” she said quietly, resisting the urge to run away.

Then, all at once, her courage came flooding back to her. "Look, I'm kind of free after school this week. Want to go surfing together? Alone?"

Casey's eyes lit up. "Yeah! I'd love to. That would be great! How about tomorrow?"

Veronica bit her lip and smiled. "Yeah. Tomorrow would be awesome. I have to get my board and gear dropped off from Logan's place, but maybe we can go down to the beach together."

Casey was bobbing his head excitedly. "Sure.  My driver can pick us up with my gear and then we can get yours.”

Veronica smiled. "Then it's a date!"

Casey ran his fingers through his hair. "Yeah! A date." There was a moment of awkward silence as they didn't know what else to say, so Casey spoke again. "Well, I should go eat lunch before class. See you later," he said and started backing away.

Veronica decided to let him off the hook. "See you later!" She waved and turned around to finish cleaning her locker.

When she felt the coast was clear, Veronica muttered to herself as she continued to scrub. "You want me to date Casey...fine...I'll date Casey."

"You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity."

She knew it was Logan speaking, but she didn't have the energy to turn around to look at him.

"My mental health is on a tenuous thread today," she said.

"I came to see why you weren't at lunch,” he replied softly.

Veronica shrugged. "The idea of being the only slut in the room didn't appeal to me. We usually like to travel in packs."

"I...we...saw what happened with your locker this morning,” Logan stammered.

Veronica closed her eyes. The pornographic image was still burned into her brain and it appeared in blazing black and white behind her eyelids.

"Pretty sure the whole school saw that. Shouldn't have a problem getting a date to the Spring Fling now.  But do I take one guy or two?" she snarked, opening her eyes to make the naked image disappear.

There was a sigh and she could feel his breath on her. He needed to go away before she kissed him or burst into tears. "Mac told us about your run-in with Madison."

Veronica realized there was nothing left to clean on her locker, so she began pretending to scrub between the cracks.

"Yeah. That was fun,” she murmured, trying not to let it show that it hurt more than she should have let it.

"Are you okay?" he said.

Veronica took a sharp breath. "No. But I will be," she replied, through gritted teeth.

Hard. She needed a hard shell. She imagined a thick coat of cold, hard lacquer coating her, protecting her from everything that happened over the past 24 hours. Logan touched her shoulders with his warm hands, momentarily halting the hardening process.  Tears being to fall from her eyes and her body shook a bit as she fought to keep control of her emotions.

Logan moved his body an inch away from hers so he was almost completely blocking her body from people milling about the hallway.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I'm sorry for everything I did, and everything I said, that could have made you feel this terrible."

Is he talking about last night? Or the fight? Was he sorry he said that he loved me? It was all too much for her to process right now.

"I have to go. I'll see you after school," she choked. Wiping her eyes quickly, she slipped out from under his arms and fled for the bathroom, not bothering to look back.  Mercifully, the washroom was empty and she locked herself in a stall to have a good cry.

By the time Veronica got herself together for her first class of the afternoon, she was late. Which required a late-slip. Which meant she had to walk in front of the class looking like she spent the better part of lunch in the bathroom, crying. Which was true but she didn’t want everyone to know about it.

She was surprised but grateful when as Mac and Dick formed a protective circle around her, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with her as they moved from class to class that afternoon.  They stuck to her like glue, until they finally released her to the safety of Logan's car at the end of the day.

Veronica gave Ben a little smile as he held the door open for her. Logan was already sitting inside. He looked exhausted.

"How are you?" she asked.

“All the drugs are wearing off. It's time to go home for more." His breathing was tight and he closed his eyes, in obvious pain.

Veronica scooted closer to him on the bench, buckling herself into the middle seatbelt. Reaching for his hand, she took it in hers and gave it a tight squeeze.

“It's okay. Maybe Ben can take you home first. Is your mom there?"

"Tuesday,” he whispered. "Hospital committee until dinner. But we're usually surfing until then so..."

Veronica nodded. "Well, then I'll come in and stay until she's home. Okay?"

Logan squeezed her hand. "Okay." He responded and put his head back on the head rest, closing his eyes.

Veronica met Ben’s eyes in the rear view mirror.  “Ben, can you take Logan home first, please?  He’s really not feeling well.”

A look of concern crossed Ben’s tanned leathery face and he nodded.  “I’ll get home as fast as I can.”

“Thank you,” Veronica replied with a small smile and relaxed back into her seat.

Veronica’s arm pressed against Logan’s and he squeezed her hand for comfort.  Carefully, she leaned her head on his shoulder and he let out a little sigh.  She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, enjoying the small moment of being able to be near him.  He shifted slightly as the car turned a corner and his warm body pressed closer to hers.  Neither of them made a move to shift away from each other, and in this way they travelled the rest of the way home.

When they pulled up to the Echolls mansion, Veronica grabbed Logan's backpack and her own and exited the car while Ben held the door open for Logan. Walking slowly up the front steps, Veronica opened the large front door, watching as Logan gingerly climbed the front steps.  It seemed like forever before Logan finally shuffled through the door.

The teens were greeted by an echoing giggle through the foyer. Veronica frowned at Logan and he rolled his eyes. Reaching out, he slammed the door causing the laughter to stop abruptly. 

"It's me!" Logan yelled into the house.

"Don't come in to the living room!" Called Trina's voice.

Logan's face contorted. "Are you having sex in there?" he yelled back. "I saw Ryan's shit-box car out front!"

There was murmuring and fussing, then a couple of seconds later, Trina appeared in the archway connecting the living room to the hall. She was wearing nothing but a large plaid shirt that matched her long fire-engine red hair.

"Not anymore." Trina laughed.

Logan scrunched his face up in obvious disgust. "Ewww...Trina! What if I were Mom?  Or Dad!"

Trina rolled her eyes. "Oh, baby brother...that's part of the fun!"

Logan covered his face with his hands. "Ugh.  We did not need to know that. I’m going upstairs to take some pain killers and lay down. When Mom gets home, can you tell her?"

Trina crossed her arms and looked between Veronica and Logan. "Okay. Will you be in your room, or Veronica's?" She winked at Veronica. "I'm so glad you finally got your own room. You really are like the daughter my Mother never had."

Veronica was about to say something witty and snarky when Logan jumped in.

"Enough Trina. I'm tired. I'm sore. And I just don't care. See you at dinner," he grumbled and started for the staircase.

Veronica followed beside him, watching him carefully climb each step using the banister for support.

As they got near the top, Trina called out to them both. "Remember...it's way more exciting if you think you'll get caught!"

Not looking down, Logan flipped his middle finger at her over his shoulder as he walked, causing Veronica to giggle.

When they reached his room, he opened the door and shuffled straight to his bed. Crawling on all fours he collapsed on his pillows, face first, with a groan.

Veronica dropped the backpacks on the floor and closed the door.  Surveying the scene, she made her way to the side of the bed and sat on the edge before deciding to swing her legs up onto the mattress and lay down next to Logan on the pillows. He opened his eyes and gave her a small smile.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Can I get you anything?" she asked his deep brown eyes.

"Drugs," Logan murmured. "In our bathroom on the counter. And the cream next to it. Please."

Veronica nodded and went to their bathroom to retrieve everything. She took one painkiller out of the container and filled a glass with water. She grabbed the tube of...whatever...and walked back to Logan.

By the time she got back, he managed to sit up, cross-legged in bed. She handed the pill and water to him and put the tube down on the bed.

"I should call my Mom," she said and turned for the phone. Grabbing it off his bedside table, she dialled her number.

Lianne answered quickly. "Hello!"

She sounds ‘happy’, Veronica thought.  Now I’m really glad I’m here.

"Hey mom! I'm over at Logan's, since he's not surfing today. I'll be home for dinner," she said quickly, leaving no room for her mom to say 'no'.

"Oh! Okay. Do you need me to pick you up?" Lianne asked cheerfully.

"Ummm...no. Ben can drive me home. I'll see you in a while, okay?"

Logan was rolling himself out of bed with a groan. Veronica didn't even hear her mom say goodbye as she hung up and followed him, tossing the phone onto the empty bed.

“Do you need help?" she asked at his side.

He nodded. "I need help with this cream. Some crazy anti-inflammatory herb my mom got. I would have made fun of it but it feels so good."

Logan walked to his dresser with the large mirror and gripped the edge for a second. Veronica grabbed the cream off the bed and turned, just as Logan pulled his long-sleeve shirt off over his head, followed by a loud moan and some swearing.

Veronica's mouth dropped open. Across one side of his body was a giant bruise that stretched along his stomach, up under his arm, and around his back. It was red and blue and purple and angry. He caught her eye in the mirror as he gripped the edge again.

"Yesterday it was just red and swollen -- today it's like a rainbow! Can't wait until it turns yellow and green."

Veronica nodded, not thinking his words were very funny. It looked so painful; she actually ached at the sight. Then she realized, there was more of him to look at. Veronica rarely saw him without a shirt, only on really hot days at the beach, and she took a moment to gaze over the rippling muscles along his back. Looking back at him, she realized he was watching her look at him, a small grin on his face. She turned red and ducked her head down to screw the cap off the tube. Approaching him quietly, without making eye contact, she squeezed some of the cream into her hand – it was cool and made her palm tingle, and smelled surprisingly like a root beer float. When she was at his side, he raised his arm over his head and she began to rub the ointment gently over the bruise, starting on his back. As she moved her hand in small circles, every once in a while, a small groan would escape his lips.

"Am I hurting you?" Veronica said quietly, keeping her eyes on her work.

"No. It feels really good,” he admitted. "Like you're some crazy faith healer and you're miraculously sucking the pain out through your fingers."

Veronica dropped her voice dramatically. "Be gone, evil bruise! I banish you to hell!"

Logan began to chuckle but it quickly turned into him wincing in pain. "Ow. Ow. Ow!"

Veronica cringed. "Sorry. I won't make you laugh anymore."

"But I want to laugh,” he groaned.

Veronica smiled to herself as she finished her task by rubbing the last of the cream on her hands around on his abs. She stepped back to admire her handy work and caught him smiling at her again in the reflection.

"I'm going to wash up,” she murmured and bolted for the bathroom.

By the time she got back, Logan had put on a t-shirt and was lying on the bed. Veronica climbed up on the mattress and sat cross-legged next to him.

He turned to her and looked up. "Rough day, huh."

Veronica looked in his eyes and shrugged. "Kind of."

Logan cleared his voice and spoke quietly. "Before I came to talk to you at lunch, I saw Casey at your locker."

Veronica sighed. "Yeah. I took your advice. We made a date for surfing tomorrow after school. So if Ben could drop off my board and gear, that would be great." She maintained her eye contact with him to see what he would do.

"Oh." Logan responded. "Sure."

Nothing.  Not a flinch, not a blink.  His face gave away nothing and she frowned slightly at her inability to get a read on his emotions.

"I thought you'd be happy. This is what you wanted." She pointed out to him.

Logan broke her gaze, closing his eyes. "I want whatever makes you happy, Veronica. You're my best friend in the world." He sighed and winced in pain. "And I think my fight brought a great deal of unhappiness to you today, which is killing me inside."

Veronica took a deep breath and lay down next to him, just close enough to feel his warmth, but not actually touching.

"It's not your fault," she whispered. "People are jerks."

Logan turned his head to her and chuckled. "They are. Good thing we have each other."

Veronica smiled widely at him. "Good thing."

Reaching out, she gently brushed his hair from his face. He closed his eyes and let out a soft breath. She stroked his head again, her fingers lightly dragging through his hair.

"Don't stop," he murmured.

"I won't. Not until you fall asleep," she replied.

"Okay," he whispered, his body relaxing into the sensation.

As she ran her fingers over him she realized, even if he never said the words again, she knew he loved her. Veronica saw the bruises. She saw the lengths he would go to protect her. She also saw the words written in his eyes, those times when he didn't think she was looking.

Logan's mouth dropped open, a small snore escaping his lips. She smiled and continued to pet his hair.

"I love you too," she whispered, hoping her words somehow made it to his heart.

 

 

Chapter Text

Veronica slid into the back of her dad's cruiser full of hope that today would, in fact, be a better day. She chose the most bad-ass outfit she owned – black tank top with a silver image of a skull, jeans, military jacket, and Doc's – to take on the haters, but still look good for her date after school. She packed her swimsuit, and a towel, but her wetsuit and the rest of her gear was in Logan's hands to bring this afternoon.

She hadn't seen her dad until now, since a gang incident kept him at work until midnight  last night. Keith indulgently slept in an extra hour this morning, and as such, was eating his waffles out of a Tupperware container in the car.

"Rough night, Daddy-o?"  Veronica asked as they pulled away.

"Nothing I can't handle." Keith responded with a smile. "So, how was school yesterday?"

Terrible.

“Okay." Veronica said out loud.

"So, making a first date with a boy constitutes only an 'Okay' day?" Keith replied, quirking one eyebrow at her and tossing her that look that let her know he knew more than she suspected he did.

Shit.

“Mom told you about my surfing date with Casey?" Veronica stammered.

Keith nodded. "Yep.  Stayed up late running a few background checks on the boy and his family.  Record seems clean from that expensive boarding school he went to.  No reports of mischief or the like.  And his parents seem to be pretty typically rich...which young Casey will be one day too.”

Veronica swallowed hard.  Keith hadn’t even met Casey and already Veronica got the distinct impression that her dad did not like him.

“So which part of the beach will you be at when I pick you up for dinner?"

Damn.

“You don't have to do that...Casey has a driver and..." Veronica said quickly.

"Veronica. Where. Will. You. Be?" Keith replied slowly and firmly.

Crap.

"Dog Beach. By lifeguard Tower 5,” she muttered, defeated.

Keith smiled brightly at her in the mirror. "See? Was that hard?"

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest and looked out the window. "It's just surfing. With a beach full of people around. When I told mom at dinner you'd think I was proposed to."

Keith chuckled. "Your mom has grand romantic notions. I do not share those notions; at least when they come to your love life, that is."

Veronica smiled in spite of herself. "From her stories, it sounds like mom had a very good time in junior and senior high."

Keith's cleared his throat and Veronica looked up to catch a frown cross her dad's face. "Yes, well, your Mom may also have some rose coloured glasses on when she looks back."

Veronica was about to ask another question when she caught a glimpse of Logan on his steps. As they pulled up, he walked to the car, without the drag that he had the day before. Opening the door, he tossed his bag on the ground and slid in with only a minor groan of discomfort.

"How you doing today, son?" Keith asked, turning to look at the boy.

Logan smiled. "Better. Thanks for asking Mr. Mars."

Keith nodded. "Good to hear. If Veronica's date goes poorly today, I may need to call you into action again."

"Dad!”

"I'm up to the task, sir,” Logan replied with a salute.

"Logan," Veronica wined and resisting the urge to swat him with the back of her hand.

Keith laughed as he pulled out of the Echolls driveway. "I'm sorry honey. It was just too funny to resist."

Logan shrugged. "It was kind of funny."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Is Ben coming with my gear later?"

"Yep. I'll be with him when he drops it off, but then I'll head home. The usual spot?" Logan said, avoiding eye contact.

Veronica noticed his slight change in demeanour and decided to push the matter. "Yeah. I'll catch a ride with Casey so we can have some time to talk in the car."

"No. I think you should go with Logan and Ben to meet Casey,” interjected Keith.

Veronica looked at her dad in horror. "Ummm...because why?"

Keith frowned in the mirror. "Why? Because Ben has shuttled you and Logan around since fourth grade. Because I don't want you getting into strange cars with drivers I don't know. Because I don't want you in the back seat of some limo with a boy I don't know. Because a lot can happen to a girl alone in a car with a boy, and 99% of it is not good.”

Veronica flushed hot with embarrassment and she hid her face in her hands. This. Is. Not. Happening.

"It's cool, Ronnie. I'll drop you and your gear off." Logan said, trying to sound comforting.

Veronica sighed. "Fine. Whatever. You can both protect me from big bad Casey. I'm pretty sure he's a nice guy, but whatever."

"Just remember, Veronica...Ted Bundy was a handsome young man too," her father warned from the front seat.

Veronica's mouth dropped open. "Now you’re comparing my date to a serial killer?"

"No. What I'm saying is trust no man." Keith parked the car and turned around, glancing between Veronica and Logan. "Except Logan. And Dick too."

Logan's grin stretched across his entire face. "See. Just stick with your platonic best friends for the rest of your life and everyone is happy."

Keith chuckled and got out of the car to open the back doors.

Veronica's eyes narrowed. "I'm trying not to die an unwed virgin surrounded by cats, but thanks for the offer." She hissed at Logan so her dad couldn't hear.

Logan opened his mouth to retort but his door swung open. He must have thought the better of it and instead, pressed his lips together and grabbed his backpack before exiting the vehicle.

Keith walked around the car and opened the door, holding out his hand for Veronica. She took it and he pulled her close to him.

“You know I'm harping on this because I love you, and I know what kind of stuff happens in this town."

Veronica looked into his soft eyes. "Yeah. I know. Thanks for looking out for me, Daddy-o," she said and kissed him on the cheek. “See you later.”

Turning towards Logan, she bit her lip hesitantly.

“You ready to walk the walk?" she asked, trying to be playful.

Logan nodded but didn't say a word. Together they walked through the quad. And there was...nothing. No calls, no jeers, no whistles. Nothing. Veronica breathed a sigh of relief as they approached Dick and Duncan, both of whom were smiling.

"That was much better today,” remarked Duncan.

"I checked your locker, Ronnie, and there's nothing on it,” added Dick.

"Oh thank you. I really didn't want to go through another day of that. The image from yesterday is still burned into my retina."

Logan moved closer to her and muttered. "Incoming."

She frowned and looked around to find Casey a few steps away. He smiled and waved. She felt her smile widen across her face as he approached.

"Hey Veronica...and gang!" Casey said to the group.

"Hey Casey." Veronica blushed.

Dick put his arm around Casey. "Now you remember to treat our Gidget nicely today, alright?" Dick then winked at her.

Casey got a goofy grin and looked right into her eyes.

"Nothing but a gentleman and his lady, doing a little surfing," he responded. "And speaking of which, I know it sounds old fashioned, but can I carry your books to homeroom? We're both going that way anyhow."

Veronica was sure she heard a sound not unlike that of a tire deflating, coming from the direction of Logan, but she chose to ignore it. Handing Casey her book bag, she shrugged.

“Sure. Why not."

Crossing through her friends, she stepped next to Casey. To her surprise, he held out his hand to her. At first, she wasn't too sure what he meant, but then she realized he wanted to hold her hand while they walked. Tentatively, she put her hand in his. His palm was so much bigger than hers that it felt like his fingers swallowed her hand whole. They dropped their hands by their side together, still joined.

Looking back slightly, but not making eye contact with anyone, she spoke quickly.

"See you later," she said and the couple headed off in the direction of their lockers.

As they walked together, Veronica noticed a few whispers from the other students and some heads turned in their direction.

Another day of school, another day of gossip, Veronica thought and she let out a sigh.  Glancing up at Casey, she pressed her lips together in a tight smile.  He responded with a soft smile, showing off the dimples in his cheeks, and squeezed her hand. 

“Everything okay?”

Veronica nodded and dropped his hand as they came to her locker.  “Just peachy,” she replied.

-----------------------------------------------------

The cafeteria chair screeched as Veronica pulled it from the table.  Dropping herself into the plastic seat, her stomach let out a loud gurgle, demanding lunch immediately.  

“I hear you,” she muttered and dipped into her backpack to grab her lunch.

"Mind if I sit here?"

Veronica looked up to find Casey smiling at her from the end of the table. She grinned up at him for a moment before finding her lunch and dropping the Tupperware container on the table.

“Sure. The more the merrier!" Veronica said.

Before she had time to point out a location, Casey sat down in Logan's spot across from her. She opened her mouth to stop him, but then something inside of her made her think twice.

What will Logan do if Casey is in his spot?  Veronica wondered. Maybe he’ll get jealous and ask him to leave.  Or maybe he’ll admit his feelings for me, right here and now?  This had the makings of an interesting little experiment, and her brain kicked into overtime, thinking about how her best friend would react to another boy in ‘his’ spot.

Dick approached the table from behind Casey and gave the middle finger to the back of Casey’s head. Veronica threw Dick her best "mom" look and he came and sat down beside Casey as if nothing had just happened.

"Ronnie, you gotta help me this weekend...I did not understand those math problems Mr. Simons gave us today."

Veronica nodded at her friend. "Sure. Bring it with you to surfing on Saturday and we can work on it after lunch." She turned her attention to Casey who was pulling out a fancy metal container from his backpack.  “I figured you for someone who bought their lunch.”

He caught her glance and smiled. "My mom is trying to turn us vegan. This is a lovely yet tasteless meal of nuts, grains, and vegetables." Casey explained, rolling his eyes, as he produced a matching water bottle from his bag. "All washed down with a soy protein and fruit smoothie. Yuck."

Veronica giggled at Casey’s predicament.  "Logan's mom has made him a guinea pig for her fad food too. Thankfully, I was raised on tomato soup and grilled cheese."

"Which is why I enjoy eating over at your house more than my own."

Veronica looked up to find Logan standing at the end of the table, glancing between the couple, a twisted smile on his face. Veronica knew this look.  It wasn’t just any smile – his eyes narrowed, one eyebrow arched, deep creases in his cheeks -- it was his jackass smile.

"Mind if I join the happy couple?"

Dick gestured at the empty seat across from him, next to Veronica. "Dude, you can be my date for lunch."

"Don't mind if I do!" Logan said a little too gleefully.

Shit, Veronica thought. This experiment could go very wrong, very quickly. She turned her attention back to Casey, trying to ignore Logan as he slid into the seat next to her.

"So, I wanted to ask you...what's the surfing like in Santa Barbara, Casey? I've never been." Veronica asked in her perkiest voice.

"Oh! It's really great..." Casey started.

And that's when she felt it; Logan touched his leg to hers under the table. The sudden contact with him made her heart beat faster. Stealing a side glance over at Logan, she caught his eye for a brief moment before he turned back to Casey, looking as if he was truly intrigued by what Casey was saying. Veronica refocused on Casey, nodding and smiling as he spoke, while slowly moving her leg away from Logan’s under the table. For a second she was free, until he shifted and moved his leg next to hers again.  And again, her heart rate increased at his touch, pounding in her ears like a marching band drum.

Realizing there was a gap in the conversation; she coughed and asked Casey another question, moving her leg under the table again. “That sounds great! What is your place in Santa Barbara like?"

Her question elicited more droning on by the boy she was supposed to go on a date with, while the boy she was madly in love with chased her leg under the table with his once more.

Every time Veronica moved, Logan matched her. Every time she shifted, he shifted too.  Finally, completely frustrated, in every way possible, she stomped on his foot as hard as she could. He let out a yelp of pain and everyone at the table turned to him.

"Are you okay, Logan? Are your ribs bugging you today?" Veronica cooed.

Logan pursed his lips at her and frowned. "Why yes. They are. I'm so glad you're concerned."

Veronica opened her eyes wide at him, projecting unbound innocence. "I’m always concerned about your well being, best friend. Just like I know you are concerned about me."

And there was that jackass grin of his once more. He knew she was playing along, and now she knew too. They were flirting in front of everyone. Something savage began to bubble up in Veronica and she wanted nothing more than to drag him to the bathroom and make-out with him in a stall. But instead, she decided to torment him some more. She turned back to Casey and spoke.

"Casey, I love your board. Is that a custom paint job or did you find it in Santa Barbara?" she asked and leaned on her hands so she could listen intently to him.

Logan's leg shuffled over to her but instead of pulling away, she wound her leg around his, trapping him. Veronica heard Dick ask him a question, and she heard his voice crack a bit as he did.

Then she felt it. He found a new way to torture her. Ever so subtly, he began moving his trapped leg up and down, creating friction with her leg.

Heat. A heat rose from between her thighs and she was sure she was going to either drop dead or turn to Logan and begin kissing him right there at the table.

"Veronica? Are you okay?" Casey's voice pierced her thoughts.

Veronica released Logan's leg and shifted uncomfortably in her chair. "No! I mean...yes! I just remembered that I forgot my English homework at home!" She rose from the table, grabbing her backpack from the ground and tossing her remaining lunch into her bag.

“I need to go redo it." She looked at Casey. "I'm sorry. We'll get more time to talk later, okay?" And  gently touched his arm.

Casey gave her a puppy dog smile. "Yeah. For sure! See you in class."

Veronica turned to the table to see that all her friends had shown up and she hadn't noticed. She caught Logan's eyes, twinkling with mischief.

Fight or flight.

"See you guys!" Veronica called, tossing a wave over her shoulder as she bolted from the scene.

---------------------------------------------------------------

After her final class of the day, Veronica quickly slipped into the girl’s locker room, and threw her bathing suit on under her clothes.

As she walked down the quad, she saw two tall figures near the entrance to the parking lot. Logan and Casey were talking to each other animatedly. Probably sharing surfing stories, Veronica thought. Coming to a halt between the two, she smiled.

“Sorry. Had to get changed. You guys cool?"

Casey smiled. "Yeah. Just talking about surf gear. Logan told me about your dad wanting you to go with him to the beach and that's totally fine.  I get it."

Veronica let out a breath. Logan saved her the embarrassment of having to explain how her dad didn't trust him. But she was still itching to confront him about what happened at lunch.

"Great! Then we'll meet you at Dog Beach," she said.

Casey grinned. "See you soon!" He waved and headed into the parking lot to his driver.

Once Casey's back was turned, Logan bowed deeply. "To your chariot, m'lady?" He said in a snooty accent.

Veronica brushed past him into the parking lot. Seeing where Ben had parked, she walked quickly to the car.  Ben removed his cap, flashing his full head of grey hair as he opened the door for her. "Good afternoon, Miss Veronica. Mr. Logan says we are going to Dog Beach today."

Veronica smiled back. "Good afternoon. Yes Ben, we are. Please. And thank you for bringing my stuff." She said and then slipped into the vehicle.

Logan slid in on the other side of the back seat, and the minute his door was closed, she turned on him.

“What the hell was that at lunch?" she hissed, leaning into the space between them.

"What?" Logan shrugged, feigning innocence.

"Don't you 'what?' me! That thing with the leg. What the hell was that supposed to be?" Veronica felt herself flush hot at the memory.

The jackass returned as he dropped his chin slightly, looking up at her with narrowed eyes. "Oh. That. Well, that was me tormenting you for giving my spot to your boyfriend.”

"So touching me under the table at lunch is something we do now?" Veronica spat.

"Hey! I wasn't 'touching' you! I was just kidding around...trying to throw you off your game," Logan stammered back.

"Game? What game? Talking to someone I like? Is that me playing a game to you?" she said, waving her hands wildly in frustration as she talked.

"No! It’s not a game. That's not what I meant," Logan gasped and covered his eyes with the palms of his hand. "I'm sorry. Look, I'm sorry I teased you that way. I'm sorry I touched you. I just...I just don't...I just want..."

"What? Just tell me what you want! Just tell me!" Veronica challenged him loudly.

"I don’t want to be replaced!" He yelled back and then sunk into his seat.

Logan's words deflated all the anger in Veronica instantaneously.  He was jealous; just not in the way she thought he was. She paused a moment to let it all sink in.

"I'm not replacing you,” she said quietly.

Logan crossed his arms and turned to look out the window. She reached out and touched his arm.

"No one could replace you. You're my best friend, Logan. Any guy I date is going to have to deal with that." She took a deep breath, hoping she could get the next set of words out. "Just like any girl you date will have to deal with me."

There were a few moments of silence before Logan spoke.

“You're right. I'm sorry for being an ass,” he muttered.

Veronica smiled a little. He turned his head to look at her again. Reaching out a tentative hand, he hovered for a moment before placing his palm it over the top of her hand, a small smile on his lips.

"Are we cool?" she asked.

"We're cool. Just don't let him sit in my spot." Logan grumbled.

Ben pulled into the parking lot and Veronica sighed. "Tell you what...you can pee on the chair so everyone knows it's yours, okay?"

Logan's grinned a terrible grin. "You know..that was in one of the porn movies..."

"Eww!  Please don't finish that sentence!" She cringed and plugged her ears with her fingers as Logan let out a loud laugh.

Ben got out and opened the door for her. Unbuckling her seatbelt, she gave Logan one last look.

"Call me tonight?" she asked, hesitantly.

Logan nodded. "Of course. Good luck."

Veronica closed the door and waited outside for Ben to grab her board from the top of the car and her gear from the trunk.  She always guessed that Ben was around the same age as her dad, and always wanted to ask if Ben and Keith knew each other, growing up in Neptune.  Decades of driving limousines gave Ben’s white skin a leathery look from the constant exposure to sun, and sometimes, when the angle was right, Veronica imagined he was related in some way to Robert Redford.  She smiled at him warmly as he handed her the board and her duffle bag filled with gear, and he responded with a small nod before turning to get in the vehicle once more.

Standing quietly, staring down the beach, a dark cloud settled on Veronica and her heart felt hard. Just teasing the 'little sister.' That’s all Logan’s antics were about.  Jealousy: not because he loved her, but because he didn’t want to lose his status. But then again, she wasn't too sure what she expected him to say about the table incident. Then there was the thought that one day, he would be dating a girl and she would have to watch them.

Ugh.  Veronica shook her head slightly to remove the image of Logan with some pretty girl from her mind.

Snapping out of her thoughts, she glanced towards the lifeguard tower and saw Casey waving.  She smiled, wiggling her surfboard a bit to ‘wave’ at him before adjusting her load in her arms and starting off across the beach to meet him.

------------------------------------------------------

By the end of their surfing adventure, Veronica had to admit she was having a really good time with Casey. He was easy going and fun – keeping her laughing throughout – and his surfing skills were on par with hers so their runs were without incident. Once they had enough of the water, Veronica slipped out of her wetsuit and sat in a pair of sweats and her hoodie to keep her warm, while she dried off. Casey threw on his sweats and a hoodie and ran to get them hot chocolates from one of the stands on the boardwalk. Together, they sat happily on a piece of driftwood, telling stories from their lives.

Finally, when the hot chocolates were consumed and the stores were told, an easy silence fell between the two. Casey stretched out and took Veronica's hand and she gave a small shiver.

"Thanks for coming out with me. Maybe we can do this again? Or something else?" he said quietly.

Veronica smiled shyly. "Yeah. I'd like that."

"Cool." Casey smiled down at her. There was a beat before he began to lower his head towards hers.

Veronica's heart was pounding so hard she thought she would pass out.

This is happening!  My first kiss!  Oh.  My.  God!

She stretched her neck a bit and put her head back slightly. Her brain was screaming as Casey leaned closer and closer to her face until...

"You must be Casey!" Keith Mars' voice boomed from behind them.

Veronica almost fell backwards off the log, in shock. Thankfully, she was still holding Casey's hand and he pulled her back, the two scrambling awkwardly to their feet together. 

"Ummm...yeah...I'm Casey. You must be Sherriff Mars,” he stammered, not really making eye contact with Veronica’s father.

Veronica looked her dad up and down. He was in his full Sherriff uniform, one hand sitting relaxed on his side arm, his face hard and intimidating.

"Did you kids have fun?"

"Yeah. Good waves today," Veronica said in a small voice. Something in her suddenly wished one of those waves would come and carry her out into the ocean.

Keith nodded. "Well, time to wrap it up and go home for dinner," he said, unmoving.

Veronica looked at Casey. Casey looked at Veronica. Veronica reached up her hand in a small wave. "See you in school tomorrow. Thanks for the hot chocolate."

Casey’s eye were wide, the muscles in his jaw twitched, still recovering from the shock. "Yeah. It was fun. See you tomorrow."

Quietly, Veronica picked up her bag in one hand and grabbed her board with the other.

"Let's go, Dad," she said and began walking towards the parking lot.

Keith walked behind her the entire way. He opened the trunk of the cruiser; the back seats already down to accommodate the gear, and took her board from her. When she lightened her load, she skulked to the front door, opened it, and dropped herself into the passenger seat. Her dad joined her a moment later. Without saying a word, he started the car and they headed home in silence.

Dinner was a different matter. Not since the Salem Witch trials were so many questions asked of a person; or at least that was what Veronica felt like. Her mom went into over-perky mode and asked every question she could, about every minute detail of her date, while her dad remained silent.  Veronica tried her best to answer in three words or less, giving up only scant details.

She was grateful for the solitude of her shower, where she could collect her thoughts. What would have happened if Casey kissed me? Would I like it? Should she let him kiss me? Would Logan care if he kissed me? The last question gave her a pain in her heart so she decided to ignore it.

As she came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a big cozy towel, her dad yelled up the stairs. "Logan's on the phone!"

"Thanks!" she yelled back and walked into her room. Picking up the line, she thought she heard Logan say something to her dad about Shakespeare.

"Now what quote have you found for your collection?" She interrupted him.

Logan chuckled. "‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’ William Shakespeare."

"Logan was telling me he was enjoying English this year. Maybe enough to one day make a career out of it," Keith explained.

Veronica knew her best friend liked to write – stories, poems, and journals – but this admission was news to her. "Cool. Thanks for grabbing the phone Dad."

"Okay. Good bye you two," Keith said and hung up his phone.

"He didn't have to leave the conversation." Logan teased.

Veronica crawled on to her bed and turned on her CD player to drown out the sound of them talking. Adjusting the big towel around her, she sat cross-legged on her mattress and sighed.

"Yeah, he did."

"Oooohhh! What happened with Casey?" Logan said conspiratorially. "Was it everything you dreamed it would be, and more?"

Veronica closed her eyes. That's not who I dream of.

"My dad interrupted us just as Casey tried to kiss me,” she admitted.

Silence followed before a snort and a muffled laugh came through the receiver.

“Shut up," Veronica replied through his snickering.

"I'm sorry," gasped Logan between the laughing fits. "The image of your dad walking in on you two is just way too funny.  Is Casey still alive?"

Veronica rubbed her eyes. "Yes, but I wanted to die. We had a really great time and then dad showed up just as he was leaning over to kiss me." She flopped back onto her pillow. "Alone. Virgin. Cats."

She heard Logan shuffle around before speaking. "You are not going to die a virgin, Miss Drama Queen. We are in Grade 7.  I think you have time."

Veronica put her arm over her forehand in dramatic fashion. "That's Ms. Drama Queen. And you're right; I have time. But would a first kiss be too much to ask for?"

"From Casey or in general?" Logan muttered.

"In general," Veronica said.

Logan sighed into her ear. "I'm sure that if you were to hang a sign around your neck saying 'Kiss Me' there would be any number of guys lining up, but then it wouldn't be special."

Veronica closed her eyes. "I hate when you go all 'girlfriend' on me."

Logan laughed. "You know me...hopeless romantic. Thank my mom for raising me on old movies."

Veronica put her hand on her heart, feeling it pound through the towel. "Okay. Maybe I want 'blissfully romantic'; waves crashing in the background, long dress in the breeze. Or maybe I'll just grab him by the collar and kiss him until he can't breathe. Would that work too?"

Logan let out a small laugh. "Going with 'passionate embrace' then?"

Veronica shrugged to herself. "I'm thinking that's the one." She rolled over onto her stomach and leaned on her elbows. "So, which are you? Are you going to go with 'blissfully romantic' or 'passionate embrace' when that special someone comes around?" She teased.

There was a pause in their banter and she could tell Logan was thinking.

"Neither," he said, his voice dropping lower. "I'm going with 'soft sensual'."

Veronica couldn't move. She forced her lips to part and speak. "What's that?"

Logan voice now dropped to just above a whisper. "You know...when the characters gaze at each other for a long time and then one finally decides to kiss the other person ever so gently, and their lips connect in a bunch of soft kisses, but neither of them moves to make it more than that."

For the second time today, heat rose through Veronica thanks to Logan.

“Yes," she choked. "I know."

The two dropped into silence; the only sound was their breathing through the phone.

"Veronica?" murmured Logan.

"Yeah?" she replied.

"Good night," he said quietly.

"Good night," Veronica whispered back.

 

Chapter Text

Veronica woke up feeling like crap. The previous day's events kept her up last night and, when she finally did fall asleep, she was restless. No orgasmic happy dreams; just a lot of teenage confusion.

Unable to make a real decision on what to wear, Veronica chose a pair of faded blue jeans from the floor of her bedroom, a pink t-shirt from the top of her drawer, and green hoodie that was haphazardly thrown over her desk chair. At least I can pull the hood over my head and hide at lunch, she thought. She pulled her hair up into a messy bun, did her makeup, and continued into her day.

Breakfast was quiet, her mom seemingly out of questions to ask her about her date with Casey. In the car, Veronica pulled her hoodie over her head and sunk into the seat. Her dad looked like he wanted to talk but chose not to poke the bear.

When Logan slid into the back seat, he was all smiles, until he saw Veronica.

"What's with you?" he frowned.

"Didn't sleep. Feel like garbage. And you?" she snarked.

Logan shrugged. "Actually slept great last night. Been sleeping better than I have in my entire life."

Veronica peeked out from her hoodie. "What's your secret?"

Logan looked at the back of her dad's head and then back to her.

"I don't know. It just started happening. Maybe my brain is too tired from all the homework to think about anything else at night. Well, that and the pain medication for my ribs," he said, and gave her a quick wink that made her suspect there was more to it. She made a mental note to ask him later.

"Drugs. Got it,” Veronica muttered and pulled her hood off her head.

"It lives," Keith proclaimed from the front seat, smiling at her in the mirror. Veronica stuck her tongue out at him. "I would hanker a guess that is just good old fashioned teenage angst that is keeping you up at night."

Veronica groaned. How her dad could be so right about so many things just amazed her.

"Maybe the image of my dad scaring the bejeepers out of my date has sucked my will to live."

Keith grinned. "Get used to it. This is the first of many times I’ll terrify boys who try and date you. Or we can send you to a lovely convent school near Sacramento, if you choose?"

"Hey! The convent sounds fun...and then I can visit on the weekend," chimed in Logan. "What's the platonic best friend version of the conjugal visit?"

"Popcorn and a movie," replied Keith with a laugh.

Veronica groaned. "Do you guys rehearse this stuff when I'm around?"

"Nah." Chuckled Logan. "It just kind of writes itself."

Veronica had never been so happy to arrive at school. She tapped her foot anxiously as her dad came around to open her door. She didn't linger, instead giving him a quick kiss on the cheek and started walking down the quad, her hands shoved in her hoodie pockets.

Logan caught up to her easily, and she stopped and gave him a sceptical look. He came to a halt and smiled. "What?"

Veronica closed the gap and dropped her voice. "Okay, Echolls. Out with it. What is really your secret to a good night's sleep."

Logan got a silly look on his face. "Why Mars...you know should know...you were the one who told me." Veronica was confused. He waited a beat before he answered her invisible question. Leaning close to her ear, he whispered. "Masturbating."

Veronica pulled her head back and looked directly at him. "Really?" She hissed. Logan's answer was to grin even wider and wiggle his eyebrows at her. She bit her lip. "I may need another trip to the library."

Logan laughed and began walking again. This time she had to keep up. "So...like...what...you do it and pass out?" she asked.

"Okay...A...keep your voice down...and B...pretty much, yeah," Logan answered, looking down at her quickly as he moved.

New information always made Veronica obsess, especially when she only knew part of the story. She could kind of imagine how it would work with boys...but with girls? She needed to investigate.

"Earth to Mars!" Dick laughed at his favourite joke.

Veronica snapped out if her head to realize they had a river at the rest of the group, today including Mac and Wallace.

"Sorry. Didn't sleep much last night. Hey guys," she stammered.

Mac giggled. "Okay. Out with it Vee. How was your date?"

Veronica looked around at the smiling faces of her friends.

“Good. My dad came along and scared the crap out of him, but that's kind of to be expected." Then she realized, she had another girl to talk to! "Mac! Come with me!" She grabbed Mac by the arm and the two took off. "By guys!" She yelled as she dragged her friend to the bathroom.

Once safely hidden away from the boys, Veronica quickly checked under all the stalls and then kicked the door wedge under the frame so no one could open the door.

Mac sat on the counter, swinging her legs. "Okay. What girl problem do you want to talk about? Casey?"

Veronica frowned. "No. Not a boy thing. This is an informal survey." She walked closer to Mac. "What do you know about masturbating?"

Mac laughed. "Other than, according to our family priest, I will burn in hell if I try it."

Veronica frowned. "Do you believe that?"

"Pfftttttt. No." Mac scoffed. "But I assume if I'm being warned about it, it must be pretty good."

Veronica paced. "I read a book about puberty and they mentioned it. Logan tried it and he said it cured his sleep problems."

Mac arched an eyebrow. "So it works miracles?"

"Apparently.  Maybe that’s why your priest is so against it.” Veronica laughed. "It seems fairly obvious how to do it if you’re a guy, but I haven't the foggiest idea what to do if you're a girl."

The first bell rang and Mac hopped off the sink. She grasped Veronica by the shoulders, staring deeply into her eyes, and smiled. "It’s up to you, Agent Mars, to find out and then share this information with me."

Veronica gave her a salute. "I’ll do my best!" She laughed.

Mac released Veronica and the two kicked the door open, leaving their secret headquarters with a new mission.

---------------------------------------------------

Lunch was practically joyous for Veronica and her friends. Casey was over the moon when Veronica suggested he sit next to her, and not in Logan's spot. Logan was in full "cheer Veronica up" mode and entertained the group with funny stories from their friendship. Veronica was sure she was going to pee herself, she was laughing so hard, along with everyone else.

After lunch, Veronica and Mac got up first to get to gym class early enough to avoid everyone else. As they rounded the corner to their lockers, Logan came running up behind Veronica and grabbed her shoulders, stopping her dead in her tracks.

"Logan! What the hell?" she shrieked.

"Don't turn around," he said, not letting her go. "You have a big red mark on your pants."

Veronica and Mac both gasped in unison. They both knew immediately what that 'red' was – Veronica had got her Period.

“I'm going to die,” Veronica said out loud. "Who saw?"

There was a terrible pause that seemed to last forever. "Everyone."

Veronica groaned, the feeling of tears coming to her eyes.

"Logan, just kill me and get my humiliation over with. You're my best friend, just do this for me please."

Mac put her hand on Veronica's arm. "Hey. It's bound to happen to all of us eventually.  Or at least us girls."

Veronica shrugged off Logan's hands and took off her hoodie, tying it around her waist. Logan stepped back but she couldn't turn around.

“I'm going to the nurse and then call my mom to pick me up. Mac, can you tell Ms. Murphy why I'm not in gym...if the other girls don't tell her first, that is."

Slowly, she turned to face Logan, even though she still couldn't bring herself to look at him. "Thanks for rescuing me. Again."

"Anytime,” Logan said quietly. Veronica brushed past him, with Mac behind her, head down, feeling like she was going to barf.

Near the gym, Mac patted her on the back. "Good luck friend. I anxiously await the day I join you and the sisterhood."

Veronica smirked. "Thanks girlfriend."

Just down the hall was the nurse's station. Taking a deep breath, Veronica knocked on the door. A woman with bright red hair, about the age of her mom, opened it.

"Hello, dear. Come in and tell me what's wrong."

Veronica walked into the office and heaved a heavy sigh. Glancing around the room as she entered, she noted there was a desk with a phone, two gurney beds, and a little bathroom off to one side. Veronica decided just to stand in the middle of the room, afraid to sit on anything. When the door closed, Veronica turned to the woman.

“I got my period for the first time,” she said quietly.

The nurse winced with empathy and gave her a soft smile. "Ah, the joys of junior high. Well, let's get you set up."

Veronica couldn't help but smile. This was obviously a woman who had helped many girls over the years. The nurse walked to a tall cabinet and opened it. She pulled out a big gauzy thing and a sanitary napkin. Turning back to Veronica she held them out.

“These are disposable underpants. This is a pad. Throw out your underwear and put on the disposable ones. Pull off the tape on the back of the pad and stick it to the underwear like a big sticker. Then come back and we'll figure out everything else."

Veronica was sure this woman was some sort of angel. She smiled and took everything, disappearing into the bathroom. By the time she came out, the nurse had two pairs of what looked like hospital scrubs on one of the beds.

"Turn around and let's see the damage,” she ordered.

Veronica sighed and turned to show off the big stain on the back of her jeans. When she saw it in the bathroom, she felt like flushing herself down the toilet to escape.

"It's bad,” Veronica said.

The nurse sighed. "Not the worst I've seen. Here, pick a pair of pants you think will fit you. I just ask that when you come back to school that you bring them with you, cleanly laundered. You can change behind that curtain."

She indicated a fabric divider towards the back of the room. Veronica nodded and grabbed one of the scrubs, then went to hide.

"What's your name, honey?" She heard the nurse call out.

"Veronica Mars," she replied.

There was some noise and then the nurse spoke. "Hi Sally, it's Julia. I've got a girl in my office that's sick and needs to go home. Veronica Mars." There was silence then she started up. "Grade 7. Yep. Yep. Yep. Thanks."

Veronica imagined the secretary knowing exactly what had happened when she told her what grade she was in. All of them, in their turn, would eventually get struck down by "the curse."

She emerged from behind the screen to find Julia sitting at the desk, smiling at her. "There! Good as new. Now let's get you home. Is there someone to call?"

Veronica nodded. "My mom." And then a thought jumped into Veronica’s head; she hoped her mom wasn't drinking. Julia handed her the cordless phone and Veronica dialled. The answering machine picked up and Veronica started talking.

"Hey, mom. It's me. I'm in the nurse's office at school. Can you come pick me up?”  She paused for a minute in case her mom picked up the call.

Veronica hung up and dialled her house again. And then again. And again.  Still no response so she decided to dial a new number.

This time a friendly voice picked up. "Balboa County Sherriff's Office."

"Hi Olga. It's Veronica. Is my dad there?" she asked.

"Oh! Veronica! Let me put your through to his office!" The friendly receptionist said and there was a pause as she transferred.

"Sherriff Mars here." Came her dad's stern voice.

"It's me, Dad. Can you pick me up at school? I'm sick and I tried to get a hold of Mom and she's not home," Veronica explained.

"I'll be right there.  Do I need the sirens?" He asked only half kidding.

Veronica laughed. "No. I think I'll live until then."

"What happened?" Keith asked.

Veronica groaned. "I've been cursed."

Keith sighed. "Well, that explains the moodiness this morning. I'll be right there."

Veronica chuckled. Her poor Dad; two women and only him. Maybe they needed a male dog.

"Thanks Dad. I'll meet you outside," she said then hung up the phone.

Nurse Julia looked up at her with kind eyes. "Have your folks talked to you about getting your period?"

"Yes. Well covered territory. And I have a book at home,” Veronica explained. "Just wish I had thought to bring something with me so I was prepared."

Julia smiled. "Well, it's a good idea to stash some supplies in your locker, along with an extra pair of sweats and underwear, for when you have an 'accident' and misjudge when your period will come. Write this date down in your agenda and in 21 days, start watching for it to happen again, around the 24 to 30 day mark, just to be sure. But that way, you are prepared."

Veronica rolled up her soiled jeans and smiled. "You've done this a lot, haven't you."

The nurse laughed. "Number one reason why I still have a job here. It's either me or the secretaries’ deal with the girls. And they don't want to."

Veronica picked her bag up off the floor and shoved in her jeans. "Well, thank you. I should get to my locker and then go meet my dad."

Julia rose and went to open the door. "My pleasure. Welcome to womanhood!" she said and opened the door.

Veronica walked into the empty hallway. This was not the welcome she had hoped for.

By the time Keith picked Veronica up, she was feeling terrible. Her cramps had ramped up, she had a headache, and she had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to sleep for a thousand days. She quietly curled up in the front seat and looked out the window, not saying a word.

When they got home, Keith opened the door and called out. "Lianne! Are you home?" The response was silence. Keith turned to Veronica. "You head upstairs. I'll wait until she's home before I go."

Veronica nodded and started up the stairs. Dropping her bag onto her bedroom floor, she grabbed a fresh pair of underwear from her drawer and headed to her bathroom. As she crossed the hall, a voice rang out: "Oh my god! Veronica! What are you doing home?"

Lianne was standing at the doorway to her room, in her jeans and blouse, looking dishevelled. She held a small bottle of...something...in her hand. Veronica looked into her glassy blue eyes; she was drunk.

"I...I..." Veronica stammered.

Keith came running up the stairs. He froze at the sight of his wife. "Lianne,” he said softly, trying to keep control. "Where were you?"

Lianne looked around frantically, as if cornered. "Oh, well, I was so tired I just decided to take a little nap." She giggled nervously. "But what are you doing home, Veronica?"

Veronica felt a sadness fall over her. "I got my period at school. I called but you didn't answer, so Dad had to pick me up."

Lianne began to defer. "Oh sweetie! That's wonderful! Well, not wonderful that you got it at school, but you're a woman now!" She squealed and hugged her daughter. Lianne smelled like alcohol and it made Veronica's stomach turn.

When she pulled away from her mother’s arms, Veronica caught a glimpse of Keith, his eyes brimming with anger.

"Lianne, let's leave Veronica to do what she needs to while you and I talk downstairs,” he said with a forced calm in his voice.

A look of terror crossed Lianne’s face before she recovered to a forced smile.  "Of course. Veronica, I've shown you where all of my supplies are. Use what you need and then I'll come back up and we'll talk."

Veronica nodded and jumped into the bathroom to hide. The arguing started before her parents even hit the main floor. She looked in the mirror and tried to block everything out. This is not happening. Instead of helping her when she most needed it, her mom was passed out, drunk. And now her dad and her mom were downstairs fighting. Tears sprang from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. She needed her mom so much in that moment, and now, she was terrified of being left alone with her.

Through her tears, she changed and scampered back to her room, throwing off her clothes and pulling on her sweats and a tank top. Everything hurt; her body, her head, her heart. She lay down in her bed, pulled the covers up to her chin, and gave in to her sobs.

A few minutes later, she heard a small knock at the door before her mom stuck her head into the room.

"I brought you something to make you feel better,” Lianne said quietly and entered carrying a big glass of water. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she extended her hand. "Take these Midol and water. They will help with the cramps."

Veronica took the pills and swallowed them, keeping her eyes on her mom.  She smelled of Listerine and hairspray, the alcohol now masked, but her hair was still slightly askew.  Lianne took out a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Veronica.

“You can use the pads for now, but here are the instructions for Tampons. You’ll probably want to use them when you go surfing." Lianne giggled a bit, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. "You know, in my day, they used to say that if you used Tampons, you weren't a virgin anymore. It was kind of silly how much we didn't know."

Veronica gave a small chuckle and wiped the tears from her eyes, taking the folded up paper with a smile. "Thanks Mom."

Her mother dropped her head, running her hands through her hair, and continued. "You know, now that you have your period, you can get pregnant, so if you think you are going to...want to...have sex, please come to me first so we can talk about birth control."

Veronica’s tears began to subside. She needed this. She desperately needed her mom to tell her what was happening and what to do.  The books were okay, but right now, she needed her mom to show her the way.

“And if...if you do happen to get pregnant, please tell us. Your father and I love you and we will do what we can to help."

Veronica felt herself laugh. "Don't worry. Dad will scare them off before we ever get to that."

Lianne reached out and brushed the hair off of Veronica's face. Her hands still smelled of alcohol, but Veronica didn't care. She needed her mom so much, she didn't care that she was recovering from a hangover in the middle of the afternoon. In her eyes, she came through, even it was at the last minute.

“Veronica, the right boy won't be scared of your dad. In fact, they may even like each other."

Veronica looked into her mother's glassy eyes. "Thanks Mom,” she whispered.

"You're welcome. I think you should stay home from school tomorrow and rest. And I think we should order pizza for dinner. I need to teach you how to satisfy a PMS craving." Lianne laughed.

Veronica slid down into her covers without a word. Only sleep would help her forget this disastrous day.

Later, when she woke up, Veronica ate dinner in bed, both to avoid the awkward silence between her still arguing parents and because every time she stood up, she felt woozy. The phone rang while she was in the middle of reading 'Romeo and Juliet', nibbling on the remains of her pizza crust.

"Hello," she answered quietly.

"Are you okay?" Logan asked.

Veronica lay down again with a groan. "Officially the worst day of my life.  And considering how things have been going lately, that says a lot."

"Because you got your period?"

Veronica paused for a moment, tears coming to her eyes. Damn hormones.

“That...and when I called my mom to come and get me, she didn't answer the phone so my dad had to come and get me, because she was at home, passed out drunk, in the middle of the day." Veronica sobbed quietly. "And then, she and Dad had a huge fight."

"I'm sorry, Veronica. That really, really, sucks about your mom. I know how much you hate it when they fight," Logan said quietly.

Veronica sniffled. "I think she has a problem."

"She probably does. What are you going to do?" he asked.

Veronica shrugged to herself and buried herself back under the covers. "Right now? I just want to hide. I don't have any clue what to do other than throw out all the alcohol in the house and beg her not to drink again."

"Maybe your dad has some ideas."

Veronica sighed. It felt like her heart was breaking. Fresh tears came up again.

“I can't talk about this anymore," she whispered.

"It's okay. You don't have to,” Logan whispered back. The two sat in silence for a moment or two. "However, if you want to change the subject, I have some information that will cheer you up."

"You can try,” she muttered.

His voice dropped. "I stole Trina's copy of 'The Joy of Sex' so you could read about masturbating."

Veronica's laugh sputtered through her tears. "Oh my God! What did you...how did you...?"

“Well, I was thinking about it and the only person I know that is actually having sex is Trina. So when I got home from school, I ransacked her room and found it. May I also add that I found naked Polaroids of her boyfriend, some things that I can only assume are sex toys, and several other sex books in her secret stash. This seemed like the best choice from the bunch."

"She's going to kill you,” Veronica muttered.

"What’s she going to do? Go to Mom or Dad and say 'Logan stole my sex book'?" He laughed. "Besides, I know she has a bunch of naked photos of her boyfriend that would make Aaron very, very angry at the guy.  I grabbed one of them, so I officially have blackmail material."

"You are a criminal mastermind. When I'm a cop, I will make sure to put you at the top of my list for 'most wanted'." She giggled. "So what's in this sex book?"

"Everything!" Logan hissed. "Positions. Masturbating. Types of sex."

"There are types of sex? I thought there were just ways to have sex?" She gasped, now almost fully under the covers so no one would hear her voice.

"Oh, there's both. There are ways to have good old fashioned penis and vagina sex. But then there are types of sex which is a whole other thing." Logan exclaimed. "There's oral sex, where you basically suck on each other. There's anal sex, where the guy puts it up your butt. There's also masturbating together, where you get the other person off with your hands, but you do it together."

Veronica felt her brain kick into overdrive. "I need to read this book."

"I know!" Logan hissed. "And there are pictures."

"So you're dropping it off for me tonight?" She teased.

"Ummm...no...maybe tomorrow. But I’m going to memorize it before I do. Remember how you said I shouldn't use porn for research purposes?" Logan pointed out. "Well, here is my clinical analysis of how to become a genius in the bedroom. For when the time comes, that is."

"That reminds me...I'm staying home from school tomorrow so Dad won't be picking you up tomorrow morning," Veronica said.

"That's cool. If I stay up all night reading this, I may not be at school either,” Logan retorted.

Veronica scoffed. "Well, I’ll leave you to your 'research'. I'm pulling the covers way over my head and going to sleep. Good night, Mr. Sex Genius."

Logan laughed. "Thanks. Good night, Ms. Virgin-with-one-too-many-cats."

Just as Veronica opened her mouth to reply, Logan hung up. Replacing the phone on the charger, she poked her head out from the covers.

Tomorrow. She thought. Tomorrow I’ll have all the answers.

---------------------

The next morning, Veronica was indulgently lazy. She slept in, so she could avoid the post-argument silence between her parents. She lay on the couch watching talk shows and soap operas, so she could monitor if her mother was drinking while doing chores. She took an extra long shower, so she could scrub her humiliation from the previous day from her brain.

Before dinner, she decided to head upstairs and try and work on her homework. While she was working, laying on her bed with the tunes blaring, there was a knock on her door.

"Come in, Mom!"

"Not Mom," replied Logan as he stuck his head in the room.

Veronica smiled warmly and quickly flipped up to a sitting position on the bed. She turned down the music slightly and quickly piled her papers up to make room for Logan.

"Hey! I wasn't expecting you! Come and have a seat."

Logan closed the door and plopped himself down on the edge of her bed.

“I come with gifts," he said happily and began opening his bag. Veronica clapped her hands together and squealed, taking a place cross-legged near him on the mattress.

The first thing he pulled out was a small stack of papers. "Your homework from Mac for the classes you missed yesterday and today."

Taking the papers and tossing them in the pile of other homework, she muttered. "Gee. Thanks."

Logan smiled and pulled out a small box with a pink ribbon. He handed it to her and she frowned at it. "Chocolate truffles. My mom told me...and this is a direct quote...'always give a woman chocolate when she has PMS and flowers when you screw up'."

Veronica laughed and opened the box. Sure enough, there were six decadent looking chocolate truffles in the box.

“I love your mom. She's so smart,” she said and popped one of the truffles in her mouth. Her eyes rolled around in her head as she consumed the little balls of orgasmic sweetness.

"And then finally – ” Logan said and pulled a thick book from his bag and dropped it in her lap.

Veronica gasped. The words 'The Joy of Sex' were staring up at her.

"Oh my God!”

Veronica indiscriminately flipped open a page and took a sudden, sharp breath. The picture she opened on was of a woman laying on her back, hanging partially off the bed, while the guy had his face down between...

"Oh. My. God." she muttered. She could feel her entire face go red hot.

"Yeah. My feelings exactly," Logan whispered.

Remembering that her best friend was there, she closed the book and brought it up to her chest to hug it. Her chest was pounding against the papers.

“Did you read it all?"

Logan laughed. "Hell yeah! Didn't sleep at all, but I am now completely filled with new and interesting knowledge."

Veronica twisted toward the head of her bed and shoved the book under her pillow, then turned back to her friend. "Better than porn?"

Logan's eyes got wide. "Far better." He dropped his voice and leaned closer. "The porn was all about just sex. This is about pleasure, both separately and together with your partner. Totally different with the – pardon the expression – fuck-fest that the porn was."

Pleasure.

The word itself was seductive. It wasn't just "feeling good"; it was "pleasure".

“Did it make you want to have sex?" she asked.

"God yes," he exclaimed. "Although that doesn't mean I'm going out looking for it. But when I find a girl that is actually willing to date me and she will let me touch her, then hell yeah!"

Veronica rolled her eyes. Reaching over, she flicked Logan's shaggy bangs from over his eyes.

"You talk like you're Quasimodo under there. In a few weeks you’ll be 13 and you'll get your braces off...maybe you’ll even make your mom's day by letting her cut your hair. Then the girls will be crawling all over you.”

After she said the words, she felt her heart sink. She was right; girls would be all over him soon enough.  And then what?  Where did that leave her?

Logan looked up at her, with sad eyes. "Yeah. But I'm not interested in lots of girls. Just one -- one special girl that will make it all worth the wait."

Please say it's me.

“Who is it? Does she have a name?" Veronica asked, trying to be coy, but sounding desperate to her own ears.

Logan smiled at her, catching her eye and she felt like time came to a crashing halt. She watched his lips as he licked them and opened his mouth to speak.

"I don't know if I should tell you?" he said hesitantly. "If you know, then thing will change –"

"Tell me," she begged, her voice coming out as a small breath.

He parted his lips to speak again and...

The sound of her mother knocking interrupted them. "It's almost time for dinner Veronica! Is Logan staying?"

Broken. It was all broken. The intensity she saw in Logan's eyes had died and he jumped off the bed nervously.

"No thanks, Mrs. Mars!" He called and picked up his backpack quickly, not looking at Veronica.

Before she knew what was happening, Logan had opened the door and was standing near Lianne.

"Dad is home tonight so I have to get going." He turned to Veronica and gave her a wave, but didn't make eye contact. "See ya tomorrow morning, Ronnie." He said and then moved past her mom to leave. Her mom shrugged and followed him downstairs.

Veronica felt elated. It’s me. I’m sure it was me he was talking about. The way he was looking at her. The way he was worried things would change. It had to be her.

Change.

Veronica halted her celebration. He was right. Things would change if he admitted his feelings. Or if she admitted her feelings for him. And so, right then and there, she decided to tuck her feelings away again, until she knew the time was right to let them out.

Chapter Text

Saturday afternoon with friends at Logan’s place gave Veronica the escape she needed from her stressful week. 

Wallace and Mac brought over one of his robots and they proceeded to manoeuvre it around the sprawling mansion, much to the delight of everyone. Veronica snuck away with Mac to her room to explain what she learned about masturbating, at which point Mac hugged her and said she needed to make a career out of investigating things. Veronica helped Dick with his homework and, in return, he tipped her off that Logan had spoken to him twice about some mysterious girl he was crushing on. Duncan took her aside and tattled that it was his sister that defaced her locker, and offered his help in getting back at her, if she wanted. Veronica took the information under advisement and mentally filed it for later. The movie for the night was "Singles" and they all talked and laughed through the showing.

After the last friend was gone, Veronica and Logan dragged themselves up to their rooms. When she was done changing, Veronica snuggled under the covers, propping herself up on the pillows, and pulled out the copy of 'The Joy of Sex' she had stashed under her mattress after showing it to Mac. She had barely opened the boom when Logan knocked on the bathroom door.

"Come in,” she called and Logan came sauntering through the door wearing his sweats and an old t-shirt. He flopped down on the edge of the bed, looking up at her.

"I'm going to start calling you 'Princess' if you keep luxuriating on those pillows anymore." He teased.

"This bed was made for cramps and bloating. I don't feel like a troll in here; just some goddess relaxing among the flowers,” Veronica replied, peeking out from behind her book.

"So was Mac happy with the information you provided?" Logan grinned.

Veronica fanned out the book and put it on her chest, placing her hands over it protectively. "Ecstatic. I'm sure I’ll receive a full report tomorrow on how things went."

"You mean you haven't...”

"No! I mean, I still have my period, so kind of not conducive to that...from what I've read,” she said, blushing deeply.

Logan chuckled. "Another bonus to being a guy. First the peeing standing up thing, now the no-PMS."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Yeah, but from what I understand, when you do it it's...messy."

Logan looked at the ceiling again. "True. But that's why doing it in the shower is good."

Veronica smiled. "You have all the answers, don't you."

"I read the whole book and you’re only part way through. I would say I do,” Logan said and sat up cross-legged on the bed in front of her.

"Okay. Then answer me this question: if you have one of the 'other' types of sex, are you still a virgin?" Veronica asked, leaning forward towards him.

Logan scrunched his face in thought. "I know that 'technically' you would be considered a virgin by traditional standards, but personally, I would say no, you would not be a virgin."

Veronica frowned. "Why?"

Logan shrugged. "Because there is still arousal, sexual contact, intimacy, pleasure...all those things that make up regular sex, just without the whole penis-in-vagina thing."

Veronica nodded, giggling a little at Logan’s description. "That was kind of my feeling. To me, oral sex sounds way more intimate than regular sex. I mean, you are actually consuming the other person. I think if that happened, I wouldn't feel like I was a virgin."

Logan laughed. "I kind of never thought of it that way. But you're right...the way you describe it sounds much more intimate."

Veronica sat back into her pillows. "My mom gently reminded me, now that I have my period, I can get pregnant."

"Oh yeah? Did she also say that whomever knocks you up would be shot on sight by one of your dad's Deputies?" Logan said, his voice turning serious.

"No. She said they would help me and that I shouldn't hide it, and she would help me with birth control, when the time comes,” she answered.

Logan gave a husky laugh. "You know what my dad told me? 'Knock someone up and I'll kill you.’"

Veronica froze. She knew that Logan's dad was notoriously hard on him, but threatening to kill him was over the top. "Really?"

Logan lowered his head. "Yeah. Really. Bad publicity is one of the things my dad cannot stand."

Veronica was silent for a moment, processing everything. "You may want to stick with oral sex or masturbating; just to be on the safe side."

Logan let out a high laugh. "Thanks! You may be right." Veronica let out a small giggle that she made him laugh. A comfortable silence fell between them.

"So, tell me..." he said quietly. "What was your favourite picture, from the book?"

Veronica felt the heat rise in her again. Just thinking about the images of people making love in the book made her limbs go to wobbly. Biting her lip, she lifted the book off her chest and began flipping through the pages. Logan climbed up beside her, sitting next to her on top of the covers. She found the page and pointed to the picture.

“That one,” she said quietly.

The hand-drawn picture was of a woman and a man, both in a state of half undress. The woman was pushed up against a door while the man, his pants around his ankles, was pressing himself into her.

"There is just something so...urgent...about it. Like they just got so wrapped up in their passion, they couldn't make it to a bed." She glanced over at Logan, avoiding his eyes. "What about you?"

Logan reached over and flipped the pages of the book while she held it across her lap. She watched his long fingers press the page corner so it folded, curving before slowly flipping and moving to the other side. Even though he was touching the book, Veronica suddenly felt like he was touching her that way.

"This one," he responded, pointing at the picture on the page. The woman sat on top of the man, straddling him, her hands on his chest, his hands on her hips.  "There's just something so appealing about watching the person you are in love with, while you’re having sex with them."

The two were quiet for a time, contemplating their choices. Slowly, Veronica closed the book and put her hand on the cover, reverently.

"When the time comes,” she said quietly.

"Are you going to wait?" Logan asked.

"Wait for what?" Veronica said, her eyes narrowing in confusion.

"For Casey? Until you're both ready?" He said, his voice slightly hoarse.

Veronica let out a giggle. "No. Not Casey. I just don't think I like him in that way. Plus, my dad made very sure to point out to me that 18 is the legal age of consent in California. So I think any guy who would want to be with me would have to wait." She rolled her eyes and flopped back into her pillows with a small huff of discontent. "I don't know many guys who would wait around five years to have sex with a girl, so I think this knowledge will have to be filed away for a while."

Logan looked down and smiled. “I'm sure they’re out there, somewhere."

Veronica scoffed. "Yeah, well, I'm not even too sure about trying this whole masturbating thing either. I mean, sure it feels good, but I like my sexy dreams just fine. Or what if I can't do it? What if I just can't find the parts to make it work? I mean, yours are out in the open. There is an element of rooting around that I have to do to be successful."

Logan sighed and put his hands behind his head. "I've told you before, you over think things, right?"

"I thought you were the over-thinker in our friendship?" She teased and shoved her body sideways to make contact with him.

Logan returned the shove with his body, squishing Veronica into the pillows slightly. She giggled and sunk herself deeper into the little clouds. Letting out a sigh, she closed her eyes.

"Does this mean you're ready for bed?" Laughed Logan.

She opened her eyes to see him smiling at her from above the pillows. "Are you staying?" Veronica asked quietly.

Logan nodded. "But I may leave in the middle of the night. Is that cool?"

Veronica nodded and smiled. "Sure. It's just nice to fall asleep talking to you."

Logan brushed the hair off his eyes and smiled.

"You look too cozy to disturb. I'll turn off the lights." And he hopped out of bed.

Veronica tossed all the decorative pillows onto the ground and slid to her side under the blankets. She then deposited the book in her side table for the night. Logan turned off the lights and ambled to his side before sliding under the covers, facing her.

"Hello again,” he muttered in a husky voice.

Veronica giggled. "Hello to you, too."

"This week felt like it went on forever,” he murmured.

Veronica frowned into the darkness. "I know. I can't believe that it was only last weekend that we were in L.A."

There was silence from the other end of the bed for a moment. "Veronica?"

"Yeah."

"It was kind of nice being curled up with you all night, on the couch, last weekend." Logan's voice was a whisper. "And then, when you waited until I fell asleep after school..."

"Logan?"

"Yeah?"

"Meet me in the middle?"

"Okay."

The teenagers slowly wiggled to the middle of the bed, still facing each other.

"How should we...?" Logan asked.

"Lay on your back," Veronica said gently.

Logan did as he was told and Veronica took his arm, moving it slightly to let herself in, placing her head on his shoulder and her hand on his chest. She stretched her tiny body along the side of his and he curved his arm to rest across her waist. They both let out small sighs of relief and relaxed into their new position.

“Is this okay?" she asked.

"Yeah. You're like a big water bottle on my bruise,” Logan muttered.

She laughed. "I'm glad I could be helpful. Good night Logan."

Veronica listened to the sound of his breathing and felt his heartbeat under her hand; it was pounding like he was running a marathon.

"Good night Veronica"

That night, Logan didn't leave until light was coming through the window. Veronica lay awake, playing possum as he slipped away from her. When she heard the bathroom door close, she stretched herself out on her stomach in the warmth he left behind on the mattress, and fell back to sleep.

----------------------

The days and weeks finally became routine again, and the Fall passed quickly. Casey assimilated quietly into their group and everyone was accepting of his presence, including Logan. Veronica and Casey had a few more innocent dates to the boardwalk where thy held hands and walked, going for hot dogs and ice cream after school. Much to her consternation, he never tried to kiss her again. On the weekends, Casey went to Santa Barbara with his family and the rest of the gang gathered at Logan's for group homework sessions, pool time, and movies. Lynn sent out invitations for Logan’s Birthday/Halloween party and RSVPs trickled in, with Logan not-so-secretly hoping it would just be the small group of friends and no one else. Veronica and Mac began hanging out together more, and Veronica had to admit that her mom was right, having a girlfriend to talk to was great. The girls would often sneak away to Veronica's room to talk on Saturdays, or Mac would come over after school on days when Veronica wasn't surfing. And every Saturday night, Veronica would crawl into bed, with her best friend, and sleep contentedly curled up next to Logan until he slipped away in the morning.

The weekend before the big party, Logan was whisked away to L.A. by his mom to get his braces removed, and pick up their costumes. Saturday, it was only her and Dick surfing together in class. Duncan joined them after class and the three friends decided to hang out on the Boardwalk together. Veronica and the boys had a great time exploring surf shops, gorging on fried foods, and people watching.  Throughout the day, her mind still drifted to Logan often. Even a ride on the Ferris Wheel, jostled and crammed between two sweaty boys while laughing hysterically, couldn't keep Logan out of her thoughts. By the time Dick's driver dropped her off at home, she was exhausted.

Since Veronica usually stayed at Logan's on Saturday nights, she found herself alone at home after dinner, as her dad pulled the late shift and her mom had a standing 'date' with girlfriends.

It now felt strange to be in bed alone on a weekend and as she crawled under the covers, she found herself with a dull ache in her stomach. She missed being close to Logan, feeling the warmth of him against the warmth of her. Even if nothing else ever happened between them, she knew in her heart that he cared deeply for her, and she could spend years just savouring the feeling of being near him at night.

And that's when she let her hand drift slowly down her stomach, under her waist bands, and touch herself gently between her legs. Veronica closed her eyes and thought about Logan's hands instead of her hands, stroking and probing, sending little jolts of pleasure through her until...

"Logan." She gasped into the empty room as she came.

She released herself and opened her eyes to the magnificent fireworks dancing in her gaze. This was a million times better than the dreams. This shook every inch of her with delirious pleasure. Smiling to herself, she rolled over and fell blissfully asleep.

-------------------

Sunday morning Veronica realized another reason why she and her dad usually hung out together after he picked her up from the Echolls’ -- because her mother was hungover and her father didn’t want to be around to see it. So the father and daughter, went out together that afternoon to a matinee showing of 'The Magnificent Seven' and dinner at Mama Leone's.

That evening when the phone rang, Veronica lunged for it.

“Hello!”

"Hey," Logan said in a sad voice.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't recognize myself,” he said.

"What do you mean?"

"My braces are gone, my hair is cut short, and my mom had me shop with a 'consultant' who bought me a whole new wardrobe,” Logan explained.

Veronica tried to conjure this new image of Logan in her head. Shaggy hair – gone.  Braces – gone.  Surfer clothes – gone.  The boy in her head now seemed...normal.

"Wow." Was all she could think to respond.

"Yes. Wow. My dad's new movie is some 'family drama' that opens on Christmas Day. Which means mom, Trina, and I will be walking the red carpet with him leading up to it, so people believe that he is, in fact, a father,” ranted Logan. “Which means I need to look my son-of-two-movie-stars best. But it also means I’m gone for Christmas break this year.”

"Oh,” said Veronica quietly.

Logan had spent the last few Christmas Day dinners with her family, since his family had a very large party for Chrisman Eve. It was one of their traditions.  One she really did not like the thought of giving up.

"But there’s also even weirder news that I have to share," Logan muttered.

"Okay. Shoot," Veronica replied, not sure how much more she could process.

"The waitress at the fancy restaurant we had brunch at, followed me to the bathroom, told me she wanted to have sex with me, then gave me her number,” Logan said, his voice full of disbelief.

Veronica felt her heart drop to her toes. "What did you say?"

"Ummm...I said no, I'm only 13, but thanks for the offer!" Logan sputtered. "I mean...what the hell?"

“Technically, you’re 13 next week...”  Veronica replied.

“Missing.  The.  Point,” he snarked.

Veronica balked. "Logan...exactly how hot are you?"

"I'm not! I mean, when I look in the mirror it's like there’s this whole other good looking weird guy staring back at me, but it doesn't feel like me!" His voice had turned exasperated. "And that wasn't the only girl who hit on me. It’s been going on all day."

"So, to summarize, you are now insanely hot and complaining about women wanting to have sex with you?" Veronica groaned.  “I mean, kind of ewww, because, you know, you’re 12.”

Logan sighed. "Yes, all of that, in a nutshell."

Veronica smiled to herself. "Do I need to defend your honour?"

"If you could, that would be great," Logan muttered. "Something I learned today, women can be very aggressive.  My mom and I had a long, very embarrassing talk about that on the way home."

"What pearls of wisdom did your mom impart today?" She teased.

"It all pretty much came down to: say no, wait for the right girl, always wear a condom." Logan retorted.

I love Lynn, Veronica thought. "All very sound advice."

There was a pause as they thought about what Lynn said. "So..." Logan began quietly. "How did you sleep last night?”

Veronica licked her lips. Should I tell him?

"I slept very well,” she bragged.

"Very well, huh? Well, I slept terribly. Seems I forgot my giant teddy bear at home,” he drawled. "Do tell, Ms. Mars...what made you sleep so well?"

"Oh well, who knows? Maybe it was the awesome surf class, or walking and hanging out on the boardwalk with Dick and Duncan all afternoon." She took a breath and dropped her voice. "Or maybe it was the bone shattering orgasm I gave myself. Who's to say, really?"

"No!"

"Yes!"

"Bone shattering?"

"Yes!"

There was silence on the other line. "Out with it, Mars, who did you think about? Casey?" Logan's voice was tinged with the wicked giddiness of a best friend in search of secrets.

“I decided to go with Brad Pitt,” she answered coolly. "More 'Meet Joe Black' Pitt than 'Fight Club' Pitt."

"Really? Not 'Fight Club' Pitt?" He played along but he could tell by his voice that he knew she was lying.  Some things could not be hidden from a best friend.

"Oh who are we kidding, any Brad Pitt is good Brad Pitt,” she responded playfully. "Especially when I'm imagining him touching me just..."

"And our conversation is officially over.” Logan interrupted.

Veronica was positively gleeful. She loved making him antsy about this stuff.

"Good night, Logan,” she hummed sweetly into the phone.

"Good night," he said. "Sweet dreams."

Veronica giggled and hung up the phone, excited about what tomorrow might bring.

---------------------------

"So Logan got a makeover?" Keith asked as they approached the Echolls’ mansion.

"Yep. And he's having trouble accepting that this is what he looks like now,” Veronica explained.

Keith slowed to a stop. Someone in the house triggered the gates to open and he continued up the driveway.

"How radical could it be? I mean, really. He's still tall. He still has brown hair. He didn't get a nose job. What's the big deal?" Keith frowned.

They were about to find out. As Veronica opened her mouth to speak, she caught a glimpse of Logan through the window. Her mouth dropped open even wider.

He was gorgeous. No longer hiding behind his shaggy brown hair, and with his height, Logan looked at least three years older. His hair was now short on the sides and had slight spikes on top. His scraggly eyebrows had been groomed, and when he smiled, his bright white teeth shone. Instead of looking like a surfer, he was in green tapered khakis, a brown Henley, and a soft brown leather bomber jacket.  He looked like someone out of the pages of Teen magazine.

As he walked to the car, her dad muttered. "Okay. I was wrong. He is different."

Logan opened the door, tossed his bag on the floor and slid into his seat. He flashed Veronica his new movie star smile.

"Hi!"

She couldn't move. She knew this was Logan, but he was just so...just so...

"Pretty," Veronica murmured.

Logan frowned. "Did you just call me 'pretty'?"

Veronica blushed, realizing an inside thought became outside words. "I mean...you have product in your hair...and your eyebrow are done...and..." She sniffed the air. "...is that cologne? You barely even shave yet!"

Keith laughed from the front if the car. "Oh, you kids are the best form of entertainment. I think what Veronica is trying to say, Logan, is she needs a minute to adjust to your new look."

Logan chuckled and caught Keith's eye in the rear view mirror.

"Join the club." He turned back to Veronica. "Are you okay?"

The boy she was thinking about when she was touching herself flashed in front of her brain. A new image came to mind. This new Logan came to mind. She blushed deeply.

“I'm just recalibrating how I see you in my head," Veronica said, unable to look him directly in the eye.

"Ditto." Logan joked and ran his fingers nervously through his short hair. "On a different topic, we got the costumes from the designer and mom wanted to know if you could come over for dinner tonight and try them on, that way, if they need alterations, she can get them done for next weekend. Ben can give you a lift home later."

Veronica caught her dad's eye in the mirror. "Can I Dad?"

Keith nodded. "Shouldn't be a problem. I'll let your mom know when I get back to the office. Maybe I'll take her out for dinner."

"That sounds nice. Thanks Dad." Veronica grinned and looked back at Logan, his appearance startling her again.

"Are you going to be freaked out by me all day?" Logan rolled his eyes and sighed.

Veronica frowned. "Nope. Getting used to it. See?"

She met his eyes and leaned across the bench seats towards him. He arched his eyebrow as she got closer and gave her a wicked glance. She inhaled sharply and retreated, scared of her own emotions.

“Getting used to it already,” she squeaked.

Logan chuckled again. "Good. Because I may need your protection. If yesterday in L.A. was any indication, I may get mauled today."

"By what? Wolves?" Keith asked.

"No. Girls." Responded Logan.

Keith laughed. "Whooooo boy! He's right, Veronica. He may need your protection. Nothing like a girl who knows what she wants, or who she wants, and goes after him." Her dad let out a melancholy sigh. "I remember those days fondly. Enjoy it while you can, son."

"Wait! I get 'be careful, boys are evil' and Logan gets 'enjoy it while you can'?" cried Veronica indignantly. "Completely sexist, Dad!"

"It may be sexist but it's true. You know the terrible things that can happen to a girl when a boy puts his mind to it," replied Keith, his voice turning stern.

"Ummm...'Fatal Attraction' anyone? Someone could boil his bunny, so to speak.” Countered Veronica.

"When did you watch 'Fatal Attraction'?" Asked Keith as he stopped at the school.

"Not the point, Dad!" Snarked Veronica, and she watched him leave the car. She turned to Logan as if looking for help with her arguement.

He shrugged. "I don't even own a rabbit."

"It's an analogy for obsessive behaviour!" she growled.

Logan smiled at her and exited the car, leaving her alone momentarily.

"Obsessive: something I may know a thing or two about," Veronica muttered to herself.

When she stepped out of the car, she heard the first cat-call from a group of Grade 9 girls walking past.

“Hey Hollywood! Looking good!" One called and the group began giggling a they moved towards the school.

Logan turned red, and dropped his head momentarily, but then, when he looked up, he flashed the girls a great big smile that made them giggle more.

"To actually get to school, you must move your feet,” her dad whispered in her ear.

"Thanks Dad." She sighed and gave him a quick kiss before moving towards Logan. "Come on, 'Hollywood'. You can't stand here and flirt all day,” she said and punched him in the arm, connecting a little harder than she meant to.

"Ow! I'm not flirting!" he said and started walk with her.

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Puh-leeeeeze! That was flirting! That smile! That look you gave them!"

"What? Why can't I smile at a girl?" He laughed as he flashed a smile at a group of girls looking at him as they passed.

"Just be careful. Smiling leads to talking. Talking leads to dating. Dating leads to kissing. Kissing leads to sex. Remember what your mom said." Veronica shook her finger at him.

"Always wear a condom? Done! Wearing one right now...24-7, just in case." Logan teased and knocked her with his elbow.

"And...we have officially hit too much information. Oh! Look! Our friends!" Veronica said as they walked into the group.

"Dude! You look so...dude," exclaimed Dick.

"Nice look," added Duncan.

"That is some style!" Whistled Wallace.

Everyone paused as the conversation came to Mac. "You're...so...pretty," she stammered, her mouth agape. "I almost can't look directly at you."

Veronica laughed. "That's what I said!"

Another group of girls passed by them. "Hey Logan!" One called and there was more giggling. Logan flashed his giant smile and tossed them a wave of his hand.

God, just strike me down so I don’t have to watch this anymore, Veronica prayed silently as she watched the girls giggle around Logan.

Casey walked up to the group and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of Logan. "Woah! Logan! Nice look!"

Logan smiled. "Thanks dude. Your girlfriend thinks I look 'pretty'."

Veronica blushed high on her face. Thankfully, Casey saved her. "I would have to agree. If I swung that way, I would definitely call you pretty," he responded with a laugh.

Logan frowned but Veronica beamed. "Glad you agree. Walk me to class?" she said and sauntered over to take his arm.

Casey smiled down at her. "That's why I'm here. See you later, all!" He called and the two walked away to their lockers amid the whispers and giggles.

Later that day, their lunch was interrupted by a steady stream of girls coming over to RSVP to Logan's party. Not used to the attention, Logan flirted mercilessly to the point that Veronica made up an excuse to go to the library and left lunch early, having lost her appetite.

After school, Veronica came around the corner to Logan's locker to find Lilly Kane and her pep-squad crew, surrounding him. Lilly was standing in front of him, in her tight t-shirt and shorts, her hand on his chest. He was smiling down at the curvy blond with a wicked curl on his lips, his eyes darting between Lilly’s eyes and her chest.

"...and I know it's supposed to be for Grade 7 kids, but I'm Duncan's sister and you and I used to be friends, so I thought that maybe you could get us on the guest list?  I mean, it is your birthday and all." Lilly cooed at him.

"I'm sure I can pull some strings." Chuckled Logan. "Give me a list of a few names tomorrow and I'll give them to my party planner."

The group began giggling. "Oh, Logan, thank you!" Lilly gushed and reached up to hug him. “I’ll be sure to give you an extra special present that night.”

The blinding rage that came up from Veronica blocked out any other thoughts. She marched over to the group, her hands shaking slightly as she clutched her books for dear life.

“Sorry to interrupt the pep rally but we have to get home, Logan,” she said firmly.

Lilly released Logan and threw Veronica a look of pure evil.

“We were just thanking Logan for the invitation to his party." Lilly’s sweet voice at odds with her narrowed gaze and twisted grin. Turning back to Logan, she arched her eyebrow at him. "See you later, Lo-gan," she drawled and blew him a kiss before turning and skipping off with her friends.

Veronica was so angry she was breathing hard. Looking over at Logan, he didn't seem to notice; he was busy watching the girls in the short shorts prance away.

When he finally turned to Veronica, he still wore a lopsided grin. "What?"

"I'm just trying to pinpoint the moment you stopped thinking with your big head and started thinking with your little head, today." Veronica snarked.

Logan arched an eyebrow. "It's not all that little anymore. I may have mentioned that before."

"Ugh. Well your ego seems to have grown considerably today, too," she retorted and crossed her arms.

Logan chuckled and opened his locker. Pulling out his books, he shoved them in his bag.

"I'm just taking your dad's advice. I'm enjoying this until I find the girl of my dreams, settle down with her, become a world famous writer, and raise a family."

"In exactly that order?" Veronica said as they walked to the parking lot.

Logan smiled his shy smile and looked up at the clouds. "Pretty much. So I figure a little flirting with some girls is no big deal, in the greater scheme of things."

Veronica sighed. He may have been right. There she was, flirting and holding hands with Casey, going on dates with him, when she knew he wasn't "the one"; all the while she was secretly in love with her best friend.

They reached the car and they each slid into the backseat on opposite sides. Ben greeted them warmly and then drove off.

"So, what does your future look like?" asked Logan once the car was moving.

Veronica laughed. "Oh, I don't know...go to university, become a cop, find the love of my life, have a little family. Not necessarily I'm that order, but that's the general gist."

"What if you find the love of your life sooner?" Logan replied, sitting back in his seat and smiling.

"Then he’ll have to have the patience of a saint, because I have some stuff to accomplish before settling down." She pointed out.

"All the best things in life are worth waiting for." Logan said quietly, turning his head away to look out the window.

Veronica smiled to herself and looked out her own window. Yes, they are, she thought.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 “Don’t come in!” the four women yelled at the bathroom door.

 

“Fine!” yelled Logan through the other side. “But Dad said people are starting to arrive so get your butts in gear!”

 

“Men just don’t understand how to make an entrance,” muttered Lynn as she put the final touches on Veronica’s makeup.

 

Lynn laughed, clapping her hands joyfully. “Oh Veronica. You look beautiful!”

 

Lynn’s friend, Sarah, pushed the final Bobby pin into Veronica’s wig. “It’s a complete transformation! Not that you weren’t gorgeous before, sweetheart.”

 

Veronica smiled and turned her head to the vanity mirror on her right. She almost didn’t recognize herself. The long haired blonde surfer now looked like a brunette bombshell from an old movie. The brown wig parted down the middle and made a ring of curls around the base of her head. Her spaghetti-strap gown was white and pink stripes that dropped to her hips where it began to swoop and swirl around her in big dramatic ruffles. Her makeup was pale with bold red lips and big fake eyelashes. Veronica felt like she had just stepped out of an old movie.

 

The knock on the door startled her out of her reflection. “Okay! Dad has officially begun the ‘Aaron Echolls’ celebrity tour for our friends!! We need to save them!” Logan yelled through the door again.

 

The women laughed and Lynn called out, “Come in!”

 

“Finally! I thought...” Logan stopped dead when he saw Veronica. She bit her lip and gave him a smile. “Wow.”.

 

“Wow to you too,” she said and gave him Nora Charles’ trademark cute nose scrunch.

 

Logan responded in a very Nick Charles fashion... by sticking his tongue out at her.

 

Veronica laughed loudly. It was perfect. Logan was dressed in a beautiful old three-piece suit with high collar and tie. His hair was slicked back and he had pale makeup on to give him the illusion of stepping out of a black and white film. He had a thin fake pencil moustache drawn above his upper lip.

 

He reached out his hand and as she took it, he gave it a yank, spinning her towards him. When she landed against him, she felt his big hands grab her securely and dip her backwards slightly. “Darling! You look ravishing tonight!” Logan exclaimed in an exaggerated voice.

 

Veronica reached her hand up and placed it on his chest. “My darling, so do you!”

 

She looked into his eyes; there was a happiness to his face that she had never seen before. He broke their gaze by popping her back upright quickly so she stood in front of him, her back to the women in the room. She was grateful for the moment to compose her breathing, and let the pink drain from her face.

 

“You are both perfect!” exclaimed Lynn. “It’s like William Powell and Myrna Loy are in my home tonight!”

 

Logan flashed his mom a great big grin.

 

“Thanks mom. I’m glad that playing dress-up with us has made you so happy.” He looked down and offered his hand to Veronica. “Shall we greet our guests, darling?”

 

If he calls me ‘darling’ one more time, I’ll be forced to kiss him, Veronica thought.

 

“We shall!” She said out loud and took his hand. Ever the gentleman, he led her away from the gushing adults, through the bathroom, through his bedroom, and out the door.

 

“Figured this was the best escape route,” Logan murmured to her and she laughed.

 

As they came down the stairs to the foyer, they saw their friends, surrounding Aaron as he waved his hands animatedly, filling the room with stories from the sets of his movies. When Aaron saw them he stopped and smiled.

 

“Well! Now that’s a movie star look, if I’ve ever seen one.” He exclaimed.

 

“That’s his version of a compliment.” Logan whispered to Veronica, then raised his voice loud enough for his father to hear. “Thanks Dad!”

 

“Thanks Mr. Echolls,” Veronica said as they approached the group.

 

Since the rest of their crew weren’t part of Logan and Veronica’s “Thin Man" theme, the friends decided to form their own “group costume” and all came together as Star Wars characters. It started when Wallace wanted to be Lando Calrissian, partially for the Cape, partially because Billy Dee Williams was so “badass”. Then Mac chose Princess Leia, dressed in white with a big plastic blaster, so they could go together. Duncan jumped on board as Luke, complete with lightsaber and Casey lived out his inner-geek dream of being Han Solo. Dick was more than happy to be Chewbacca -- claiming the girls would want to hug the furry giant all night -- and rented a very expensive costume to round out the group.

Aaron, as Logan predicted, dressed as himself, circa 1980-something in the leather jacket, jeans, boots, and bloody shirt he wore in his famous action movie “Hair Trigger”. It was both weird and wonderful at the same time, Veronica decided.

 

“I gave to say, you have a very nice group of friends, Logan. I’m glad to see you associating with such good people. They are welcome here anytime!” Aaron proclaimed, doing his best impression of a concerned dad.

 

“Thanks dad. I’ll take them off your hands now.” Logan gestured for them to follow him, dropping Veronica’s hand. He led them into the living room. “Let’s get some food before the masses arrive!”

 

Lynn’s party planner had outdone herself. The place looked like Halloween had barfed on the Echolls mansion. Every inch was covered in spider webs, spiders, ghosts, and zombies. There was spooky music and fog machines at the door. All the security was dressed as Frankenstein monsters and all the wait staff were vampires. Most of the furniture had been removed and there was a DJ set up in the foyer, food in the sitting room, and old scary movies playing in the media room. There was even a giant birthday cake, shaped like a bloody, oozing brain.  It was the birthday party to end all birthday parties.

 

The friends stood around, talking and eating. They were finally shooed into the foyer by Lynn and Lianne to greet their classmates and get to know other people.

 

It became pretty evident very quickly that the girls had shown up to gush over Logan, the new hottie in school, and the guys had come to meet Aaron, the man who starred in all of their favourite action movies. After the first few minutes of watching girls throw themselves at Logan, and watching Logan flirt back, Veronica quietly moved away with Casey to mingle, dance, and gorge herself on candy.

 

Several hours into the party, Lilly and her crew showed up. The older girls made a loud, giggly entrance, creating a bit of a scene. Lilly headed up the group, barefoot, dressed like Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction. She carried a real, unlit, cigarette.

 

Veronica and Mac had been chatting by the stairs when they saw Lilly enter and make a beeline for Logan. Veronica’s end of the conversation dropped as she watched Lilly stand on her red tiptoes and pull herself up on Logan to whisper something to him. He in turn, smiled and whispered something back. She licked her lips and grinned, pressing her lips together and blowing a kiss in the air before retreating. Logan wore that same stupid smile he had the last time he encountered her.

 

“Who do you think will win the bet tonight?” asked Mac.

 

Veronica looked at her, confused. “What bet?”

 

“The bet that I overheard in the girl’s bathroom. There’s a rumour Lilly bet her pep squad team that she could get Logan to make out with her tonight.” Veronica’s mouth dropped open. Mac smiled, continuing, “So the rest of her team said $100 to any girl other than Lilly who made-out with Logan tonight. So now Lilly is doing it just to prove she can and make sure no one gets any money..”

 

Veronica felt sick. “Oh my god.”

 

“They’re all stupid. Clearly the easy money is on the girl he loves. That’s who I’m putting my money on,” Mac said with a wink.

 

Veronica scoffed. “And who is that?”

 

“Why you, Ms. Mars.” Mac said quietly with a sly smile. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you. I one day wish to find someone who looks at me with half as much adoration as he looks at you with.”

 

Veronica gave a soft gasp, her heart pounding hard in her chest.

 

“Why won’t he act on it?” she said. “If he loves me so much then why won’t he say anything?”

 

Mac shrugged. “Maybe because you’re ‘dating’ Casey? Maybe because he’s scared you don’t feel the same way? Maybe because he is waiting for you to make the first move?”

 

She was right. Veronica knew she was right.

 

“I need some air,” she said quietly and walked away from Mac in a daze.

 

Finding her way outside, Veronica stopped and looked up to the sky. Why was this so overwhelming?

 

“Who finds the person they love in Kindergarten?” she asked herself.

 

“Only the very lucky,” came Lynn’s smooth voice from one of the loungers by the pool. She sat up, moving into the light so Veronica could see her.

 

Veronica walked towards her with purpose. “What if I’m wrong? What if he just wants to stay friends? What if I lose him completely?”

 

Lynn laughed and raised her glass to her lips. “Oh sweetheart...but what if you don’t. Think of how wonderful it would be to be in love with your best friend. Believe it or not, not many people can say that about the people they love.”

 

Veronica sucked in the cold night air. “This is so messed up."

 

Lynn laughed. “It doesn’t have to be messed up. Go and find my ridiculously clueless son and tell him how you feel.”

 

Action. Now was a time for action. “Fine. You’re right. I just have to rip this bandage off! If he loves me, then fine! If not...” No, Veronica didn’t want to think about that. “If not, then I move on with my life.”

 

Lynn made a fist and shook it in the air. “That’s the spirit! Be bold, Veronica.”

 

Veronica straightened her shoulders, pulled her head high, turned on her heels and marched back into the party. Scanning the crowd, she saw everyone but Logan. Moving through the people, she searched everywhere; in every room, in every hiding spot. Finally, she decided to head upstairs, taking the back steps from the other end of the house.

Wandering down the upstairs hallway, she heard giggling. Unmistakable giggling. Slowing her step, she snuck to the corner and peeked around. There, near the end of the hallway, was Logan coming towards his room, followed closely by Lilly, who was skipping. They stopped in front of the door, his back turned to Veronica. She watched as he opened it and held the door open for Lilly.

 

“This better be good.” Veronica heard him say.

 

She gripped her heart and leaned against the wall. That’s when she saw Lilly glance her way and respond.

 

“You won’t be disappointed.” Lilly’s lip curled as she grinned at Veronica, and then skipped into the room. Logan followed her and closed the door.

 

Dying. Veronica was sure this was what dying felt like. She was light-headed. She closed her eyes and her breathing went ragged. He went to his room with Lilly. They were going to kiss. Or make out. Or....

 

“Fuck.” She gasped.

 

“Veronica? Are you okay?” Aaron’s voice jolted her out of her panic.

 

“Mr. Echolls! I....” she whispered.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just looking for Logan.” Aaron said, concern in his voice.

 

“He’s in his room.” Veronica choked. “With Lilly.”

 

Aaron arched his eyebrow. “Really?”

 

Regret washed over Veronica. The anger that crossed Aaron’s face made her realize she should have thought before she spoke. But her own anger began to bubble up, combining with the pain in her heart to create a lethal cocktail.

 

“I have to go,” she murmured, running past Aaron, down the stairs and through the party.

Lianne was standing next to Lynn at the bar; both were laughing. Veronica grabbed her mother’s arm, startling her. When the women looked at Veronica, she looked stricken.

 

“Veronica! What....” Lianne began.

 

Veronica wrapped herself around her mother’s arm.

 

“Please,” she whispered. “Please, take me home.”

 

“But Veronica, Logan hasn’t even cut his cake.” Lynn put her hand on Veronica’s arm. “What’s wrong?”

 

Veronica shrugged her off, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. “Please. I don’t want to talk about it. Just take me home, please.”

 

“I’ll call on Ben to take you both home.” Lynn nodded, then asked gently, “Where's Logan?”

 

The anger boiled in her again. “In his room. With...someone.”

 

A pained look crossed Lynn’s face. She nodded quietly and then retreated.

 

“Let’s go home,” Lianne said quietly and led Veronica quickly through the foyer and out the front door.

 

Her mother took off her wrap and slid it around Veronica’s shoulders as they waited for the car. When Ben pulled up a few minutes later, he held open the passenger door for Lianne, while Veronica slid in the back, struggling to fit her large gown in behind her. It took some effort, but she managed to get the door closed just as Ben slid behind the wheel.

At the last moment, as the car rolled away, Veronica glanced out her window. There was Logan, standing at the top of the stairs outside, his jacket and vest were open, his hair dishevelled. He had fixed his intense gaze at her. Locking eyes for a split second, she saw him mouth a word, that looked like “please.” She turned away, unable to look at him anymore, shrinking into her seat, fighting the urge to cry.

 

When they got home, Veronica dragged herself into the house, thankful her dad was on the night shift and wouldn’t be around to ask questions. Slowly, she slunk towards the stairs, beginning to pull the Bobby pins from her wig.

 

“There’s a message,” Lianne said and walked towards the blinking light. Veronica continued to walk up the steps until she heard Logan’s voice.

 

“Veronica.” Logan’s soft tone filled the house. “Please. Please call me. Give me a chance to...explain. We just...we need to talk. Please call me when you get home.” Then silence.

 

She closed her eyes and wrapped herself in his voice. Maybe they managed to screw up their friendship, without even letting each other know their feelings. She would have laughed if it wasn’t so tragic.

 

“I’m going for a shower,” Veronica whispered, breaking the silence. With some effort, she lugged herself, and her gown, upstairs.

 

--------------------------

 

Veronica couldn’t sleep. It felt like her brain was trying to eat her alive all night and she flipped between crying, rage, and obsession. Her usual sleep remedy was not an option, as every time she closed her eyes, she conjured an image of Logan and Lilly pulled straight out of “The Joy of Sex”. At around 5:00 am, she finally passed out from exhaustion.

 

Claiming illness from too many trips to the candy bowl, Veronica turned down her dad’s offer of a movie and dinner on Sunday, choosing instead to listen to Sinead O’Connor on repeat while locked in her room. She didn’t call Logan, and he didn’t call her. Mac, Dick, and Casey left messages, but she didn’t call them back. Around dinner time, her mom appeared at the door, with a small knock.

 

“I’ve brought dinner,” she said and held up a bag of McDonald’s. “Comfort food!”

 

Veronica smiled. Sometimes, her mom could be the best in the world. “Thanks, Mom. Come on in.”

 

Veronica sat cross-legged on the bed and her mom dropped the bag in her lap. Veronica extracted a Big Mac, large fries, and two apple pies. Her mom put the cup of Sprite on her bedside table and sat on the edge of the bed.

 

“So, are you ready to tell me what happened last night?” Lianne asked.

 

Veronica shrugged and took a big bite of her sandwich.

 

“Can I guess?” Veronica nodded and Lianne took a deep breath. “Casey tried something with you and Logan dragged him upstairs to threaten him?”

 

Veronica nearly choked on her burger. Not even close, but still plausible, she thought.

 

She nodded and Lianne continued, “Oh Veronica. Did Casey hurt you?”

 

“No mom, he didn’t,” Veronica mumbled through her food.

 

“Oh good. You are so lucky to have Logan looking out for you,” she said in sing-song voice.

 

Veronica groaned. “Yeah. I am, Mom.”

 

She continued to eat, stuffing as much food in her mouth as she could, to hide her bubbling emotions. Glancing down at the bag in front of her, she sighed. It was going to be another long night.

 

-------------------------

 

Lianne was just getting off the phone when Veronica appeared Monday morning. No longer able to wallow, she decided to kick ass instead. To psych herself up for the day, she was dressed in her favourite jean-skirt, black sweater, military jacket, and Docs. Veronica sat down at the table next to her dad, giving him a smile.

 

“That was Lynn.” Lianne began as she sat down. “You don’t have to pick up Logan today. He’s sick.”

 

Veronica frowned. “Is he okay?”

 

Lianne shrugged. “Apparently he’s fine now, but Sunday was rough. They went out for brunch, and Logan ate something that must have been contaminated with shellfish.”

 

Veronica felt all the blood drain from her face. “Oh my God.”

 

“He was really sick yesterday, so the doctor said he should stay home for a few days. They have him on heavy duty antihistamines which have knocked him out.” Lianne explained.

 

Veronica’s heart felt heavy. She didn’t call him. He could have died. He pleaded with her to call him. And she didn’t.

 

Her dad put his hand on her shoulder. “Are you okay?”

 

Veronica shook her head. “No. I was mad at him for something that happened at the party and I didn’t want to talk to him and now he could have died and I wouldn’t have talked to my best friend before he died and he wouldn’t have known how much....” She trailed off from her ranting at the end, remembering she was with her parents. “...him being my friend means to me.”

 

Keith kissed her on the head. “He’s fine, honey. Maybe he’ll feel up to talking with you tonight?”

 

Veronica nodded and looked down at her breakfast, which now looked completely unappetizing. She had that feeling in the pit of her stomach that today was going to suck.

 

----------------------------

 

Dick was standing by the school parking lot when Keith pulled up. The boy reached out and opened the back door of the cruiser, just as Keith stopped.

 

“Ronnie! What the hell?” he demanded, leaning into the car.

 

“Language, Dick,” Keith muttered from the front seat as Veronica got out.

 

“Thanks, Dad. Love you,” she called over her shoulder and slammed the car door. Walking quickly away from the car, she gestured for Dick to follow her.

 

“What’s wrong?” she asked when they were a fair distance away.

 

Dick grabbed her arm, stopping her abruptly. “What’s wrong? Just everything! First the party, then Logan nearly dying from eating a crab, now today. It’s all just messed up.”

 

Veronica frowned. “What about the party? Start from scratch.”

 

Dick snorted. “Well, you tell me. After you left, Logan got all gnarly. He insisted we all stay until the bitter end and then he practically begged me to stay over that night. And the whole time he was all agitated, talking about you, and having no clue why you were mad or left. He couldn’t stop talking about it. It was like he was obsessed.”

 

Veronica arched her eyebrow. “Did you stay?”

 

Dick nodded. “Yeah, but I left when Aaron said they were going out for brunch. It’s so crazy that he had a reaction. His mom is usually so careful. And so is he.”

 

She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something wasn’t right. “So what’s with today?”

 

Dick held up his hands. “Okay. I’ll tell you, but don’t shoot the messenger.”

 

Veronica held her breath. This couldn’t be good. “Fine. What is it?”

 

Dick dropped his voice and stepped closer to Veronica. “Lilly is telling everyone that not only did she make out with Logan, in his bedroom at the party, but that she...” Dick leaned over to her ear, “...she gave him a blow job.”

 

Yep. Lilly Kane was going to die. Her father would have to cart her off from school in handcuffs. “She’s bragging about that?”

 

Dick stepped back. “Yep. I mean I know it’s probably not true, but Duncan figures she’s doing it so other girls stay away from him.”

 

The first bell rang and Dick started walking again.

 

“Come on, Ronnie!” he called behind him.

 

Veronica couldn’t move. She felt like a ten thousand-pound weight had dropped on her. Dick was wrong. She was wrong. Today didn’t just suck and it wasn’t messed up. Today was royally fucked.

 

By lunch, the legend of Lilly and Logan had grown to such proportions that Veronica wished she had earmuffs to block everything out. She sat at the table, her agenda open to the notes she had jotted down during classes that morning.

 

THE MYSTERY OF L & L

 

  • Went into room together

 

  • ****Better be good****

 

  • Told Aaron --- BIG mistake!!!

 

  • Lilly lies – kissing? Make out? Oral sex?

 

  • Logan wouldn’t do that (?) -- too intimate

 

  • Allergy attack? So careful.

 

  • Not adding up...something more...

 

Dick sat down in Logan’s chair before anyone else arrived.

 

“Can you give me a hand with something after school?” she asked.

 

“Sure,” Dick agreed easily. “What is it?”

 

Veronica leaned in and lowered her voice. “I want to talk to Logan about what happened, but I don’t want his mom to know I’m there. Can you provide a distraction so I can sneak up and talk to him in his room? I think something’s up.”

 

“Something’s up? Like what?” questioned Dick, slightly sceptical.

 

“I don’t exactly know. Maybe he’s hiding from me. Or Lilly. I saw them go into his room that night. And then after I left, he called and begged me to call him back.” She lowered her eyes. “But I didn’t.”

 

“Is that what happened? Pffft. No wonder the guy is hiding. Too many blondes after him.” Dick chuckled and began eating his lunch. Veronica raised her finger to reply to his “blonds” comment but stopped when Casey approached the table. For the moment, this blond would have to wait.

 

Before afternoon classes started, Veronica called her mom to let her know she was hanging out with Dick after school. Lianne didn’t even question why, just told her she’d see her at home later.

 

At the end of the school day, Dick’s driver picked the two of them up and drove them over to Logan’s. On the way, Veronica shared her plan with Dick. He would drop her off near the side gate. Veronica had a code, so she could get in by walking. Dick would come around to the front door and ring the doorbell. He would ask Lynn to help him find some of the missing bullets from the blaster belt on his costume, which were probably in the theatre. Veronica would slip in the pool doors and go up the back stairs to the second floor. Dick would then leave and she would sneak out and walk the few blocks to his house when she was done.

 

Everything went as planned, and soon enough, Veronica was sprinting up the back stairs towards Logan’s room. Panting, she pressed herself against his door and tried to open it.

 

Locked.

 

She silently cursed and quickly slipped down the hall to her room. She entered quietly and locked it behind her.

 

The room had been cleaned since the party, and the clothes she left behind had been washed, folded and left on her bed. Veronica passed her hand over her duvet. Their bed. Her heart caught in her throat. After they talked, would it be their bed anymore?

Giving her head a shake, she kept moving. Listening at the bathroom door, she heard nothing, so she opened it. Crossing quickly in the darkness of the room, she paused and took a deep breath at Logan’s door. She turned the knob quietly and peeked inside.

Logan was asleep in the middle of his bed, the afternoon sun casting long shadows. He slept on his stomach, his arms up on either side of his pillow, his head turned away from her. The deep blue sheet from his bedroom set covered his naked back, and his long legs stuck out from the bottom.

 

She walked silently over to him analysing the scene. Next to his bed was a prescription bottle. Next to that was a large tube of topical antibiotic cream. She picked up the bottle; it was a new prescription for pain killers. Her confusion resurfaced. Until she saw it.

Letting her gaze fall on his half-naked body, Veronica saw the big red welt begin near his right shoulder on his back. Her hand shook as she reached out, hovering over his body, and gripped the edge of the sheet with two fingers. Slowly, she pulled back the cover to reveal the deep lashes across his back. She let out an involuntary gasp at the sight. Some were thick and raised, others had scabs where they bled. She dropped the sheet, her entire body vibrating with fear.

 

Logan let out a groan and shifted.

 

“I told you to leave me alone, Mom!” he growled, not opening his eyes.

 

Trying to keep from screaming, Veronica found her voice, though it came out as a squeak.

 

“It’s me.”

 

“Veronica!” Logan gasped and opened his eyes. He quickly pushed himself up on his elbows to turn towards her, realizing too late that this was a bad idea. With a gasp, he collapsed back on his pillow. Veronica slid into the bed next to him and grabbed his hand as he fought the blinding pain.

 

“It’s okay,” she whispered, “I’m here. I can help.”

 

Logan opened his sad eyes at her, as he whispered, “No one can help.”

 

“Who did this?” she asked quietly, although she was sure she knew the answer.

 

“Aaron,” He hissed. “with his favourite belt.”

 

“Why?” she asked and gave his hand a squeeze.

 

“Why? Because I had all the attention of the girls at the party. Because he caught me with Lilly in my room and wanted to remind me what would happen if I got a girl pregnant,” Logan choked out the words bitterly. “Because he wanted me to know that I would never be as good as him. Because if I ever got too vain, I could look at the scars on my back and remember how ugly I once was. Because it was my birthday and it was time I started acting like a ‘man.’”

Tears ran down Veronica’s face. She never knew a father could be that hurtful to his child. Never in a million years did she ever think that Aaron was capable of beating Logan so viciously. And then she remembered; she’d told Aaron where to find him. She told him about Lilly. She participated in this. Veronica was wrong before; this was what dying felt like.

 

“We need to tell my dad.” she whispered through her tears.

 

Horror crossed Logan’s face. “No! We can’t. That’s why we moved to Neptune in the first place. If your dad finds out, then he’ll move us again. And then we’ll never each other again!” Logan whispered urgently. “Besides, Aaron’s lawyers would destroy any case. And maybe your dad.”

 

Veronica bit her lip. “But I need to protect you.”

 

Logan chuckled softly. He reached out and wiped a tear from her face with his thumb. “You don’t get it. You have been. Ever since we were little.” He smiled warmly. “First you hit Dick with the banana for me. Then you were my friend. Being friends with the Sheriff’s daughter saved me so many times. And then the nights you slept over saved me as well. He couldn’t touch me if you were here.”

 

Veronica reached up and put her hand on his cheek. He closed his eyes and relished her touch.

 

“I told him you were in here with Lilly. I saw you guys in the hallway,” she confessed quietly. “Please don’t hate me.”

 

Logan took a deep breath. “I knew he was going to beat me this weekend long before he found Lilly and I together. I saw it in his eyes when all the guys were talking to him and all the girls were flirting with me. He looked at me across the room and I just knew it was coming.” He exhaled deeply. “And for the record, I could never hate you."

 

Veronica felt lighter but still mentally chastised herself once more for not seeing any signs.

“Lilly’s been telling everyone about you and her,” she muttered.

 

“Oh? And what has sweet Lilly been saying?” Logan raised an eyebrow and gave her hand a little squeeze.

 

Veronica grimaced. “That you two made out and that she gave you...that you guys...” She struggled to get the words out. “that she gave you a blow job.”

 

Logan chuckled again. “Do you believe that?”

 

She thought for a moment. “No?”

 

He rolled his eyes. “Your faith in me is overwhelming. No. I did not let Lilly give me a blow job. I didn’t let her kiss me. I did, however, get mauled by her.”

 

“Mauled?”

 

“Yes, mauled,” Logan stated firmly. “She told me she had something to tell me, about what some guys were planning to do to you as a prank. So I took her up to my room to talk and as soon as I closed the door, she was all over me. I told her I didn’t like her in that way, and she backed me up to my bed and knocked me over onto it, then jumped on top of me. That’s how Aaron found us...with her straddled on top of me while I was lying, dishevelled, on my bed.”

 

Veronica let out the breath she had been holding in all day. “Oh.”

 

 

They both lay in silence, thinking of each other’s words. Veronica scooted closer to him, placing her hand on his head, she began to stroke his hair gently. He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.

 

“What are you going to do about Aaron?” she whispered.

 

“Keep avoiding him. Keep on his good side. Keep my head down until I’m 18 and can move away to college and never see him again," Logan murmured, his eyes closed.

Veronica sighed. “Then I’ll be here. Every weekend. Weekdays too, if you need. If me being around will protect you, then get ready to be sick of the sight of me.”

 

Logan opened his eyes and smiled. “I’ll never be sick of the sight of you, Teddy Bear.”

He let go of her hand and reached out his arm to put it around her waist.

 

“Turn around,” he whispered. She released his hair and she turned so she was away from him. With a groan he pulled her closer to him, his arm around his waist, his breath on her hair.

 

“Better?”

 

“Better.”

 

Veronica put her hand on his and listened to his breathing change from hard to ragged to soft. When she was sure he was asleep, she slipped out of bed and quickly made her way out of the room, out of the house, and back on the road to Dick’s place. She wasn’t sure how she managed it but she was both deliriously happy and tragically sad at the same time.

 

 

Chapter Text

Veronica was a vault for secrets. Looking in the bathroom mirror after her shower, she began listing them one by one. Her mother's problem with alcohol. Her feelings for Logan. Aaron beating his son.

Reaching out, she drew a big heart in the condensation on the mirror. Her feelings for Logan. That was the one secret she had some control over. Now that she knew he didn't like Lilly, what was stopping her?

Was it the timing? Logan was back at school tomorrow, after three days off. They had spoken briefly on the phone the past two nights, but he was still taking pain killers and he had become drowsy after a few minutes of talking with her, falling asleep while she talked. Maybe the timing isn't right, she thought.

Was it her kind-of-boyfriend? Veronica let out a groan. She knew she had to end it with Casey. Even though it was only been on the occasional date, with lots of hanging out at school, she still owed it to him to be honest about her feelings for him.

Was it fear? Veronica scrunched up her nose at her reflection. What was she really afraid of? She knew Logan cared about her. If she was going to be honest with herself, she needed to admit, it wasn't the beginning she worried about, it was the end. The thought of being with Logan, only to maybe lose him one day, was what she really feared.

Veronica heard the phone ringing outside the door. She grabbed her robe and hustled across to her room, in case Logan had woken up and wanted to talk.

"Hello?" she answered.

"This grammar homework is killing me," moaned Mac.

Veronica laughed. "But Mac need learn to spell and write good."

"Blah. Give me math and science. I can write a program code to correct my grammar," Mac answered. "I take it you had no problem with it."

"Nope!" She smiled and stretched out on her bed. "Are you calling for my help?"

"No. I finished it. I just wanted to bitch about it." Her friend laughed.

Veronica giggled. "So, can I ask you for a favour instead?"

"Shoot." Mac replied.

"Can I ask you to not come over to Logan's this weekend?" Veronica took a deep breath. "And maybe convince everyone else not to either?"

"Maybe. But first, you have to tell me why," Mac replied.

Veronica closed her eyes. "Because I want to talk to Logan about our feelings. Alone. When we can't be interrupted. And Lilly can't get in the way again."

"Well, if it's to help the course of true love, then I'm all in," Mac responded enthusiastically. "You know, I'm also on board should you ever want to make Lilly Kane disappear too."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Lilly is the least of my worries at the moment. She's like this little, pesky wasp, flying around my head while everything else is going on."

"Wallace and I could make you a bug-zapper hat." Mac offered, with glee in her voice. "Would that help?"

Veronica let out a loud laugh. "Sure. And one for Logan too."

The girls spent the rest of the conversation coming up with other inventions to make their lives easier, including the Grammar-O-Rama machine for Mac, so she could pass English, and Love-Matic Glasses for Veronica, so she peek inside Logan's head and see his thoughts about her. When she got off the phone, Veronica stretched out contentedly on her bed.

She needed a plan to tell Logan how she felt. If there was a plan in place to follow, then everything would be perfect. Smiling, she ran through a number of ideas in her head, until she hit on the best one.

"Delicious," Veronica said aloud, a mischievous grin tugging at her lips as she pictured his reaction.

"I have a huge favour to ask, Dad," Veronica stated, as Keith drove away from their house the next morning.

Keith caught her eye in the rear view mirror. "Okay. What is it, Veronica?"

Veronica cringed. "Can you pick me up after school today? I'm going to tell Casey that I think we should just be friends and not date anymore. I might need a ride if he takes it badly."

Keith smiled warmly. "I can do that. Are you okay?"

Veronica shrugged. "Yeah. He's a nice guy. I just don't like him 'that way', you know?"

Keith chuckled. "Yeah. I know."

Logan was waiting on the steps when Keith pulled the car up outside the Echolls mansion. He was smiling, which was a far cry from the last time she saw him standing in that very spot, looking miserable as he watched her leave the party. He walked down the steps and pulled open the car door, giving her an even wider smile as he launched his bag onto the floor and slid inside.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Hello, Logan. Good to see you are feeling better," said Keith.

"Thank you, sir. I'm glad I'm feeling better too. Kind of lonely being trapped in bed all day." He looked at Veronica out of the corner of his eye.

Veronica flushed at the memory of being wrapped in his arms. "I would have visited, if you let me."

Logan shrugged. "It's okay. I had my Teddy Bear to keep me company."

Heat swept through Veronica's body. The bastard is flirting with me in front of my father! She bit her lip to keep her smile at bay.

"Aren't you too old for a teddy bear?" she scoffed.

Logan shook his finger at her playfully. "Don't you mock Teddy. She's been with me a long time. She's warm. She's cozy. And she smells like marshmallows."

Veronica looked away quickly, her face now completely hot. Logan's lips curled into a smug smile at her reaction.

Game, Set and Match to you, Logan.

"Sounds like I need one of those. Or a large pit bull to snuggle with. Keep me safe at night." Veronica commented while looking out the window.

"Yes! A pitbull! Now there's an idea!" exclaimed her dad from the front seat. "That would keep the boys in check."

Logan laughed. "I thought that was my job?"

Keith laughed. "Yours and mine. But now that Casey is getting the boot, I foresee a line-up of gentlemen suitors. We may need backup."

"You're breaking up with Casey?" Logan sounded shocked.

Veronica turned back towards him. "Yeah. I decided last night. I told you I don't really feel 'that way' about him and I don't want to string him along. We'd be better as friends."

This time Logan turned away from Veronica. She caught his smile in the reflection from the glass. "Yeah. Better to let him down easy now." He murmured.

"So, Dad's going to pick me up after school today. Is that cool?" she asked.

"Yeah. Just Mom at home tonight. Trina is going to L.A. with Dad today to do some shopping and stay the weekend." He turned back to Veronica and gave her a weak smile.

Veronica read his meaning: Logan gets beaten, Trina gets rewards. Thankfully, this also meant she wouldn't have to see Aaron on Sunday morning.

The car came to a stop and her dad got out to open their doors. As Logan bent to reach for his bag, a small gasp escaped his lips. Veronica cringed. His back must still be killing him. How the hell was he going to manage today?

Logan eased out of the car as Keith went around to Veronica's side, opening the door for her. Getting out, she kissed her dad goodbye and joined Logan. He was staring down the quad. Gently, she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Are you going to be okay?"

He shrugged. "Sure. I guess. I have a note from the quack doctor to get me out of gym this week, so as long as I'm careful..."

Dick bounded up to the two, interrupting their conversation, and enveloped Logan in a hug. "Dude! I missed you!"

Logan's face contorted in pain for a moment, before he got a grip, and Veronica thought he might faint. "Thanks, dude. Missed you too."

Dick pulled back and slapped him on the shoulder, causing Logan's face to go white.

"Dick!" Veronica yelped. "Leave him alone!"

"Still not feeling 100%, bro," Logan muttered through clenched teeth.

"Sorry. Didn't know," Dick said, his eyes full of remorse.

"It's okay. Just be cool. And keep your mitts off me," replied Logan.

Dick nodded and the three walked to the centre of the quad. Duncan and Casey were there with Mac and Wallace. Mac looked at Veronica like she was the cat who had swallowed a very large canary. Veronica arched her eyebrow at her but said nothing.

"Welcome back, Logan," stated Duncan. The others chimed in their welcome from the group.

"Thanks everyone." Logan smiled and kicked the ground, not looking at anyone in particular.

The first bell rang and the group began to disperse quickly. Logan got ahead of Veronica and threw a smile over his shoulder. "See you at lunch?"

Veronica looked to Casey, who was walking next to her, then back to Logan.

"Ummm...maybe..." she replied. Logan looked at Casey and then away, quickening his steps to his class.

Veronica hoped Casey didn't notice the exchange as she walked faster to their class.

Veronica was dreading lunchtime, therefore it seemed to come quicker than normal. Catching Casey at his locker after morning classes, she suggested that they sit outside together, just the two of them. Casey nodded eagerly and immediately held his arm out to Veronica in invitation. With a spring in his step and a wide smile on his face, he walked her over to a picnic bench in a sunny spot. Looking at his expression, Veronica's heart sank at the thought of what she had to tell him.

Veronica felt ill. This was going to be her first break-up, and sure, the first break-up was one of those rites of passage all that teenage girls went through eventually, but that didn't mean it was going to be easy.

"I'm glad you wanted to be alone for lunch," Casey began.

"Oh?" said Veronica.

"Yeah. There's something I've been meaning to talk to you about," he continued.

Veronica frowned slightly. "What is it?"

Casey ran his fingers through his hair and looked down at the table, avoiding eye contact. "I don't think we should see each other any more."

Veronica nearly fell off her seat, shocked at his words. "Why?"

Casey shrugged. "I think you're real great, but I'm into someone else." He took a deep breath and dropped his voice. "Someone who is not a girl."

Casey was gay. There you have it, thought Veronica. She reached out and put her hand on his. "I'm so happy for you," she whispered back. "Who's the lucky guy?"

Casey smiled shyly at her. "I don't want to say. I don't think he's ready for anyone to know. And neither am I, really. We kind of found out about each other at the Halloween party. After you left. We haven't told anyone, but I needed to get it off my chest, and I trust you to keep a secret "

"In the vault." Veronica pantomimed locking her lips. "Are you still going to hang out with us? Because you are totally welcome to."

Casey's small smile turned wider. "I'd like to. You guys are awesome."

Veronica smiled back. Then she frowned again. "Wait. You told Logan you thought he was 'pretty...if you swung that way'."

Casey smiled mischievously. "I lied. Your boyfriend is pretty, and I do swing that way."

Veronica gasped.

"Please." Casey rolled his eyes. "The only two people who can't see how much you two care about each other are the two of you."

"I'm talking to him this weekend," she confided. "I just wanted to break up with you first."

Casey snorted as he laughed. "Mission accomplished."

Veronica joined in with his laughter, shaking her head at the irony of the situation. Got rid of a boyfriend, added a great new friend.

The two talked a bit longer before deciding to head back into the cafeteria to join everyone else. As they entered the lunch room, there was an eerie silence as the entire student body watched the drama playing out in one of the aisles.

Lilly was standing in front of Logan, hands on her hips. Her pep-squad crew nearby.

"I told you, Lilly, I want nothing to do with you." Logan voice was so loud, you could hear it to back of the room.

"That's not what you were saying that night, lover," Lilly's voice lilted playfully as she tried to wrap her arms around him.

Logan stepped back out of her way so she couldn't touch him. Then Veronica saw it: his trademark jackass grin.

"You know, Lilly, if you want to keep a guy, you gotta practice. That blow-job was terrible! I mean, when you can't even make a guy cum..."

Lilly's gasp was loud in the silence. And then it started. Snickering. Then giggling. Then waves of laughter. All aimed at Lilly Kane.

Veronica watched Lilly turn, seeing the red in her face, both with anger and humiliation. She stormed down the aisle and out the side exit door, her crew following close behind.

Veronica couldn't hold in her laughter. He'd beaten Lilly at her own game. Lies versus lies.

Casey leaned down and spoke in Veronica's ear. "Well, Logan effectively killed Lilly's dating life until high school."

Veronica caught Logan's eye from across the room. He still had a smug grin, the corner of his lip curled with satisfaction, his eyes had a glint of evil in them. But when they saw her, they softened. He started walking towards her as quickly as he could, while dodging people in the aisle.

"Hey."

"Hey."

Logan looked down at her, his face turning serious. "You know I was lying, right?"

Veronica smiled up at him. "Yeah. I know. Nice work."

Logan grinned again. "Figured only thing worse than a fake blow-job was a badly-executed fake blow-job."

"Is there such a thing as a bad blow-job, or is it like pizza? Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good?" wondered Casey, off the cuff.

Veronica snickered. She kind of loved her new ex-boyfriend. She looked between the two and grinned widely, snapping her pearly whites at them. "Teeth. I'm pretty sure that would kill it."

Both boys cringed. "Veronica officially gets last word," Logan muttered.

"Come on, you two. This has been enough excitement for me today." Veronica laughed and walked away from the guys, headed towards their table to join their other friends.

Saturday morning, Veronica felt like she could take on the world. During their surf class, rode a crazy high wave, floating gracefully back to the beach on it. Immediately after class, Dick beat a hasty exit, explaining he and Beaver had a mandatory meeting with his mother to attend. This left Logan and Veronica alone on the beach. After catching a few more waves, the best friends decided to head home for lunch.

Instead of Lynn greeting them, Mrs. Navarro was in the kitchen, laying out a spread of soup and grilled sandwiches to warm them up. The kindly housekeeper explained that Lynn was out at appointments all day and that the kids could order pizza for dinner.

Once they were alone with their food, Logan spoke softly. "She knows that you know."

Veronica frowned. "Knows what?"

"My mom saw you leaving my room on Monday. She knows that you saw what Aaron did to me," he explained. "And now she's hiding from you."

"Oh," Veronica replied quietly. "Did she try and stop him?"

Logan nodded. "Yes. No. Once upon a time she did. But not anymore. I don't know what he has on her or what he's done to her, but she hasn't tried to stop him in years."

Veronica's heart ached. "Has it ever been this bad before?"

Logan sighed and dropped his spoon with a clatter. Pulling up the sleeve of his right arm, he put his forearm up on the counter. On his skin was a long, raised scar that she had seen many times. "When I was 10, I knocked over a vase on his desk and soaked a script. He dragged his cigar over my arm. I told you I spilled boiling water on myself."

Veronica went white. She remembered the incident. Knowing now what happened made her feel sick. "What else?" She whispered.

Logan pushed back his stool and stood. "Until a few days ago, his favourite form of punishment was his cigar."

Turning his back to her, he stretched out his leg behind him and pulled his long shorts up slightly. On the back of his knee was another scar.

"Embarrassing him when his agent was over. I was eight." He showed her the matching scar behind his other knee. "Accidentally spilling my water on the dinner table when some director was here. I was nine, I think. Old enough to know better, I was told. The rest you can't see without me flashing my ass at you. I have a scar on one hip and another on my lower back. He's usually careful not to scar me where people can see."

Tears brimmed in Veronica's eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't know."

Logan sat down again. "Don't be sorry. You didn't know because I didn't let you know. I hid it well. Too well."

Veronica pushed the rest of her lunch away, unable to eat anymore. She reached over and placed her hand on his. "You don't have to hide anything from me. You're my best friend. You can tell me anything."

Logan locked eyes with her. She wanted so much to tell him how she felt. But not now. This wasn't the time. He would think she was pitying him and it would all go bad.

"You know all my secrets now," he told her.

More silence. Veronica didn't know what more she could say. Breaking the eye contact, Veronica looked down at herself. "I still smell like the ocean. Can I use our shower first?"

Logan looked like he was going to say something. Instead, he bit his lip and smiled. "Sure. Take as long as you need."

Veronica licked her lips. "You know, I just shower when I'm in there. I know what you do that takes so long!"

Logan shrugged, his expression turning mischievous. "What can I say? I'm fastidious about my hygiene."

Veronica laughed and hopped off her stool. "Well, I'm going for my just-a-shower now. I'll let you know when it's your turn."

"Can't wait!" He called playfully after her.

Once she was done with her shower, Veronica came downstairs and set up her plan in the kitchen. She had slipped into her version of something "sexy" – her tight black jeans and black tank top. Her hair was knotted in a messy bun on the top of her head.

Logan padded into the room in his khaki shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

"We have activities?" he asked, looking around the kitchen counter, now filled with baking ingredients.

Veronica swished her hand over the counter, before cracking an egg into the bowl in front of her. "Yes! We're making snickerdoodles. Grandma Reynolds always said that cookies cure everything."

Grandma also said that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach, but Veronica didn't share that one out loud.

Logan stood next to her and surveyed the ingredients. "I usually hire people to make my cookies."

Veronica let out a fake gasp. "You pay to eat someone's cookie? How shocking. They must be a professional."

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Logan open his mouth, then close it again, choosing to stay silent for the moment. Veronica smiled down at the eggs she was now mixing in the bowl.

To her surprise, Logan stayed mute the entire time they made the cookies. She asked for ingredients and he handed them to her with a smile, but didn't say a word. For the boy with the sarcastic mouth, she was mildly shocked, and she wondered if her plan was about to fail in a spectacular way.

The first batch of cookies came out of the oven, and the second batch went in. Logan set the timer, and picked up one of the hot cookies, blowing on it to cool it off. He broke it in two pieces and popped one half in his mouth. Veronica leaned against the counter and he smiled. Stepping closer to her, he held up the other half of the cookie for Veronica to eat.

Veronica smiled and opened her mouth as Logan gently placed the cookie between her lips. With a flick of her tongue, she pushed it into her mouth and chewed happily.

The corner of Logan's mouth twitched and his eyes sparkled with mischief. "If I could eat only one person's cookie for the rest of my life, it would be yours."

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest, rolling her eyes at Logan. "Did it really take you that long to think of a comeback?"

Logan responded by moving so close to her, she could smell the cinnamon on his breath. Tilting her head up, she looked up at him.

"No. It took me that long to decide to do this..."

And there it was, soft lips on hers. A gentle sweep across at first, and then a longer kiss as Logan pressed himself closer to her. Veronica's body went rigid in shock. Her heartbeat was echoing in her ears. This was it. This was what she had been waiting for. And then, suddenly, it was over. Eyes still open, she watched him retreat, a shy smile playing on his lips. He reached up and ran his fingers through his hair. Veronica's body was tingling, endorphins racing down every nerve ending, making her feel euphoric.

"Wow," she whispered.

Veronica watched as Logan backed away from her slowly, his eyes cast to the ground.

"Ummm...maybe we should clean up," he murmured.

"Okay," she agreed quietly.

Logan glanced up quickly, caught her eye, then looked away again. Veronica saw a small smile tugging at his lips, pushing at his cheeks. He busied himself turning off the oven and transferring the cookies to a cool plate.

Veronica turned and began cleaning the counter behind her. Her smile started small on her face, and she bit her lip to contain it. By the time she was done, it had grown into a full blown grin that made her cheeks hurt.

Get a grip, Veronica, she thought.

The final spoon was transferred to the sink and the counters had been washed. Veronica had nothing more to keep herself busy, to stop herself from turning around to face Logan again. But somehow, her feet wouldn't let her.

"Movie?" asked Logan from behind.

"Sure," Veronica responded, a little too enthusiastically. She still couldn't will herself to turn around.

"Cool. I'll go set something up," he replied. Veronica heard the sound of his bare feet on the tile as he left the room.

She exhaled, holding on to the edge of the counter. Veronica took a moment alone to gather herself. This was what she wanted, but it still felt... strange. He was still her best friend; the best friend she suddenly wanted to kiss until her lips went numb. The butterflies in her stomach were now setting off fireworks. She couldn't hide in the kitchen forever. Eventually, he would come looking for her. Veronica opened her eyes, set her shoulders straight and turned. They needed to talk about this, today. No more procrastination.

Marching across the kitchen, she grabbed the plate of cookies. She was going to go downstairs, talk to Logan about their feelings...and...well, she wasn't too sure what would happen next. But whatever it was, she was going to face it.

When she got down to the media room, Logan had already queued up "Starship Troopers".

He turned from his seat in the front row and smiled. "I went with 'cheesy fun' for the movie. Hope you don't mind."

Veronica arched her eyebrows. He was sitting on the far left side of the couch, next to the arm. The middle of the couch, where they normally sat together, was vacant space.

"Sounds good," Veronica replied and walked down to the couch. She placed the cookies on the coffee table in front of him and paused.

Sit beside him, on the couch? Sit in the middle? Or sit on the other end?

Keeping her eyes on the screen, she dropped her body on the other side of the couch.

Chicken, she mentally chastised herself.

Veronica thought she heard him sigh, but didn't look directly at him. Instead, she held her focus on the screen as Logan started the movie.

Fifteen minutes into the film, Veronica was shivering. She had curled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, but the cold air conditioning was getting to her.

"This is ridiculous," Logan proclaimed.

He stood, walked to the back of the room quickly, and grabbed their blanket off a chair. Marching back, he flopped down in the middle of the couch. Unfurling the blanket over himself, he raised the edge closest to Veronica.

"Come in and get warm."

Too cold to hesitate, Veronica quickly slid over to him. He dropped the blanket over her as she pressed up against his warm body.

"Better?"

"Better."

Logan wrapped his arm around her back and grasped her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. She shifted so her freezing cold feet were against his warm legs. He let out a gasp of shock as her icy toes touched his skin.

"Sorry." Veronica giggled.

"No you're not." He laughed.

She relaxed her body into his, her head naturally falling to his shoulder. Breathing in deeply, the scent of his sandalwood cologne filled her with comfort.

Logan placed his cheek on her head and murmured, "I didn't mean to make things weird."

Veronica put her hand on his chest. "You didn't. I mean...it was...a little...but it's not..."

Then she stopped. This is stupid, she thought. Taking a breath, she got her head together. "I wanted you to kiss me. I wanted to kiss you."

"Really?" Logan lifted his head from hers.

"Yes." She grinned up at his shocked face.

"I wanted to kiss you because, I realized," she took a deep breath, "that I have feelings for you. Deep feelings. Feelings that are over and above being your best friend."

The corner of Logan's mouth twitched. She watched as a small smirk unfolded. Then a grin. Then a full blown, toothy, goofy smile.

"Good."

"Good?"

Logan squeezed her shoulder affectionately. "Yes. Good. I didn't want to be the only one with feelings."

Veronica bit her lip. With a tentative breath, she shifted closer, eyes locked with his. Gently, she kissed him again.

All thoughts in her head ceased as she closed her eyes, just relishing the contact. She felt him move his hand from her shoulder and weave through her hair. Goosebumps covered her body and her stomach began doing flip-flops. She brought her hand up from his chest and rested it against his cheek.

Veronica pulled back slowly, breaking the kiss. Logan let out a soft groan, which made her giggle. He slid his fingers from her hair and she allowed her head to settle against his chest, snuggling close, savouring the feel of his warm body beside hers.

"How was that?" he whispered, his voice sounding husky.

"Wonderful," Veronica replied.

Logan bit his lip, his eyes looking down at her mouth. "Good. Because I'm hoping you'll want to kiss me again sometime. And again. And maybe again."

Veronica shook her head at him, smiling. "What are we doing here?"

Logan shrugged. "I'm not sure. I was hoping you'd know."

Veronica pursed her lips. "I don't know either." She looked away from him momentarily. "But I want to find out."

"So... does this mean you're my girlfriend?" he asked hesitantly.

Her heart stopped. And then it started up again with a flutter. "If you want me to be."

Logan reached under the cover and took her hand off his chest. Raising it to his lips, he kissed her knuckle. "Yeah. I think that'd be okay."

Veronica frowned in thought. "So, if I'm your girlfriend...how is it going to be different from what we do now?"

Logan began running his thumb over her knuckles. "We still do pretty much what we do now, just with kissing. And maybe some touching. All within reason, of course."

Veronica hid a smile at his obvious attempt to bring some level-headed maturity to the situation.

"So, like, holding hands on the way to class...good. Groping me against the lockers...bad?" Veronica teased.

Logan kissed her knuckles again. "Exactly. But I think we should keep this quiet at school, for now. I'm worried if Lilly catches wind that we're together, she'll make life miserable for us."

Veronica sighed. "You're probably right about Lilly. However, all our friends already know. Apparently, the only people who didn't catch on to our feelings for each other, were us."

"And I thought I was being so sneaky." Logan smirked.

Veronica raised an eyebrow. "Our flirting was a little more conspicuous than we thought. It was pretty easy to convince everyone to stay at home today."

Logan looked over one shoulder, then the next. "Oh! That's what's missing! I was wondering why it was so quiet."

"Ha ha. Funny boy." Veronica rolled her eyes. She rested on his shoulder and he pulled her closer.

A comfortable silence fell between them as the movie played on the screen. Logan moved her hand down to his chest again and he let out a sigh. Veronica was sure she could stay like this forever. Of course, her rumbling stomach had to ruin the peaceful moment just as she was getting comfortable.

Logan ordered two large pizzas and when they arrived, they settled back in front of the TV again, eating while they watched "The Big Lebowski". The pre-kiss easy banter quickly returned as Logan expressed his deep hope that the upcoming red carpet events he would be attending over Christmas would finally garner him an introduction to Jeff Bridges and Veronica promised to watch Entertainment Tonight every night to see if she could spot Logan.

During "Die Hard", Veronica began to yawn and by the end, she could barely keep her eyes open. Logan turned off the movie, then stood and offered his hand to her. She took it with a smile and he pulled her to her feet. Reaching down, he grasped her other hand, returning her smile.

"Can I walk you to your room?" he asked shyly. His lips pressed together and large smile lines appeared in his cheeks.

He's so freaking adorable, thought Veronica. "I'd like that."

A full tooth grin appeared on Logan's face. He dropped her hands and offered her the crook of his arm. Veronica looped her arm through, placing herself close to him.

Quietly, they made their way upstairs to Veronica's room. As they passed through the house, there was still no sign of Lynn or any of the staff. They were alone.

At her bedroom door, Veronica let go of Logan's arm. A shiver of anticipation ran through her. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. Logan put his hands on her shoulder and gripped them tightly. Then, he planted a very chaste kiss on her forehead.

Veronica opened her eyes and frowned up at him. Logan laughed. "Were you expecting something else?"

"Maybe," she muttered.

"How 's this?" he replied and gave her a quick peck on the lips, before pulling back, his expression mischievous.

"Much better." Veronica smiled.

"Well, then I bid you good night, Miss Mars." Logan stepped back and bowed deeply in front of her. When he stood up straight, he was smirking again.

Veronica was confused. "Where are you going?"

Logan pointed to his room with a flourish of his hand. "Why, I am retiring to my humble abode! But should you need anything – a cube of sugar, a cup of tea – I'll be just a knock away."

Veronica deflated a bit. He wasn't sleeping in her bed tonight. Logan must have seen the disappointment cross her face. He reached out for her, cradling her cheek with his hand. She met his gaze.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah?"

He stroked her skin with his thumb, giving her goosebumps again.

"Would you normally invite a guy into your bedroom after a first date?"

"No."

Logan ran his hand through his hair and gave her a sweet smile. "Then maybe I should sleep in my room tonight. Okay?"

Veronica's heart hurt, but she knew he was right. "Okay."

Opening her door, she paused and looked down the hall at him as he entered his room.

"Logan?" she called before he disappeared for the night.

"Yeah?"

"Good night."

"Good night." He leaned on the trim of the door frame and smiled wickedly. "I'll be dreaming about you."

Veronica laughed.

"Ditto," she said, licking her lips.

Logan grasped his chest dramatically in response and spun around, into his room, closing the door behind him. Veronica shook her head at his antics, before walking into her room. Closing the door, she leaned against it with a deep sigh, closing her eyes, her fingers drifting to her lips. He'd kissed her. The memory of it made her flush from head to toe. She wasn't just Logan's best friend, she was now his girlfriend.

A giddy feeling spread through her and she covered her mouth with her hands as she began to giggle. Taking a few big strides, she launched herself onto her bed and hid her head in the mountain of pillows, letting them smother the sound of her happiness.

 

Chapter Text

Veronica opened the glass shower door, releasing the steam in a giant puff of white. Dipping her toe in the puddle of water on the tile, she delicately crossed the barrier into the hot water. Closing the door behind her, she inhaled deeply. Sandalwood and musk. Did Logan just naturally smell that way?

"Are you coming over here, or are you just going to stand and watch me wash my hair?" Logan teased from under the large shower head.

Veronica ran her eyes across his skin. She knew he was naked, but the steam covered most of him, obscuring her view.

She scrunched up her face, crossing her arms over her chest. "Which movie is this from?"

He laughed. "No movie today. This is all your own imagination."

Veronica's lip curled with mischief. "So no storyline rules?"

She watched as he ran his fingers through his wet hair one last time. He grinned at her seductively. "This is whatever you want it to be. I could bake cookies in here, if you wanted to imagine it."

Whatever she wanted it to be. Oh the possibilities...

"How about we start with a kiss and see where it goes," Veronica sighed as she stepped closer to him.

Stretching her index finger out, she followed the wonderful little crevasse between his pecs all the way down to his navel. Everything below that was still obscured by the stream.

Logan chuckled as she bit back a smile. Lifting his hands in invitation, Veronica smiled and walked into his waiting arms.

This was why she was here. To be held by him. To hear his heartbeat in her ear as she pressed it to his chest. To feel so close to him it was if they were inhabiting one skin.

"Will you make love to me?" she asked quietly.

He bent his knees until he was at eye level. "I will. Eventually."

Veronica blinked the water from her eyes. "But until then?"

Logan let out a deep breath. His hands began to wander across her body, exploring her curves.

"Until then..." he whispered in her ear.

Veronica woke slowly, her body pulsing with desire, orgasm flowing through her. She moaned, burying her face in the pillow she was clutching in an attempt to muffle the sound.

Her eyes still closed, she tried to keep her imagination in the wonderful dream she was having. Letting out a deep sigh, she realized the moment had passed, and now she was fully awake.

Stretching under the covers, Veronica rolled on her back, letting go of Logan's pillow. In Last night, it had felt silly, resorting to cuddling with the one object that smelled like Logan, but this morning, she was glad to have something to snuggle all night.

The sun was already dancing through the window sheers, casting little lines of light in the room. Veronica heard the sound of the shower running in the bathroom. She felt herself blush, the dream fresh in her mind.

Boyfriend and girlfriend. Veronica rolled the words around in her mind. If she wanted to, she could just reach out and hold his hand. Or hug him. Or maybe they could kiss again. They could go on dates! Although they already did things together. And they talked every day. And night.

They were right last night; the only thing that had really changed was that they kissed.

The shower shut off and the sound of Logan opening and closing drawers in the bathroom filtered through; familiar noises from staying together so often. Suddenly, there was a new noise. The soft hum of an electric razor. She knew the sound from her dad's morning routine.

"What the hell is he shaving?" Veronica frowned, her eyes on the bathroom door. She knew for a fact that he didn't have much – or any – facial hair. This was a peculiar new behavior.

Deciding whatever he was doing meant he was close to being finished, Veronica got out of bed and began collecting her outfit for the day: blue jeans, pink t-shirt, and green hoodie. When she no longer heard any noises, she knocked on the connecting bathroom door. He didn't answer, so she let herself in.

Walking over to the counter, Veronica noticed Logan's electric razor charging near his toothbrush holder. She opened his cabinet. His cologne was sitting next to some aftershave. She reached for the bottle and brought it to her nose

God, she loved the scent. A tickling sensation ran from her stomach to her heart and back down again. Veronica smiled, putting the bottle back where she found it, content to savour the lingering scent.

She finished her morning routine quickly and headed back to her room. As she was packing her things, a small knock came from the bathroom door.

"Come in," Veronica called as she zipped up her bag.

Logan opened the door slightly and peeked inside. "Good morning," he said, a smile playing on his face.

Veronica grinned back and began walking towards him. "Good morning! How did you sleep?"

Logan let himself into the room, stopping a little ways in. "Terrible. How did you sleep?"

Veronica stopped in front of him and reached for his hand. "Terrible. But I had your pillow to keep me company."

Logan stepped forward and pulled her into a big embrace. They both exhaled. "Then I'm stealing one of yours. You have a thousand of them on your bed, anyhow. You won't miss just one."

Veronica closed her eyes and pressed her head to his chest. "So, like, is this sleeping separately a permanent thing, now that we are dating? Will you ever come back?"

Logan kissed the top of her head. "Have patience. I will return, when the time is right."

Veronica smiled. "Patience is not really part of my vocabulary. In case you haven't noticed."

Logan chucked and stepped away from her. "Here. I'll get you a gift to help you through this trying time."

Veronica frowned as he jogged back to his room momentarily. When he returned, he had his beloved Led Zeppelin shirt in his hand.

"For you."

Veronica bit her lip with excitement as she took it. She loved this shirt and had coveted it for years.

"Thanks." Grasping it by the shoulders, she gave the shirt a shake and held it up to herself. "Too bad it's too big on me."

Logan shrugged. Looking down at the carpet, his smile became mischievous. "I thought that maybe, instead of wearing it to school, you could wear it to sleep in. Like a night shirt."

Veronica felt her heart leap in her chest. She hugged the shirt, breathing in his lingering scent.

"That might work," she said, then a thought crossed her mind, "but if I wear it at home, my parents will probably get suspicious about us."

Logan frowned. "What's wrong with our parents knowing?"

Veronica cooked her head to one side. "If my Dad finds out, do you think he'll let me sleep over anymore? Or let me just hang out with you without a guard dog present?"

Logan blanched slightly. "Definitely don't want to get on your Dad's bad side."

Veronica nodded emphatically. "You see my point?"

Logan frowned. "So what you're saying is that not only are we hiding it at school, but we're hiding it at home too?"

Veronica bit her lip, anxiety bubbling in her stomach. Maybe this would be too much for him; too many hoops to jump through to be with her.

"Yes. Just our little secret. I mean, we can tell our friends, but they need to be sworn to secrecy."

The corner of Logan's lip twitched up in a devilish smile. "Secrets can be fun."

Veronica felt the blush appear on her cheeks again. She ducked her head down, hiding her face with her hair. "Secrets can be fun."

He stepped closer to her. "Notes passed at the lunch table."

Veronica looked up from behind her hair and gave him a sly smile. "Secret rendezvous in mysterious places."

"Stolen glances on the way to class." Logan stepped up to her. Taking her hand in his, he brought it to his chest.

"Kissing under the football stands, when no one is looking." The words escaped her lips in a little rush of air.

Logan nodded, his smile spreading to his eyes. "Oh, I think this could work."

Veronica giggled. "If it worked in hundreds of cheesy movies, then it's bound to work for us."

Logan brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed it. "I have bad acting in my blood. Do you think you can act casually about this?"

Veronica scoffed. She pointed to her face, "See this? Nothing but poker face. I could swindle a dozen little old ladies at the table with this mug."

Logan leaned down and kissed her forehead. "Okay. I believe you. But only because I have lost many, many hands of Gin Rummy to you over the years."

Veronica smiled smugly at him. "And you will continue to do so, I might add."

Releasing her hand, Logan stepped back and offered her the crook of his arm again. "Well then, shall we go to brunch and gaze longingly across the table at each other?"

"We shall," she replied, quickly stepping over to her dresser.

Opening the top drawer, she shoved the t-shirt under a pile of clothes she had left there over time. She closed it and turned back to Logan with a smile, walking over to him and taking his arm.

Together, they made their way out of the room, releasing their grip on each other at the bottom of the stairs. Lynn was already at the table, sipping a cup of coffee instead of her usual Sunday mimosa.

"Good morning, you two," she said quietly.

For the first time, Veronica noticed the sadness in Lynn's face. Had it always been there, and I just didn't see it?

"Good morning." Veronica forced a smile onto her face. She took her usual spot on Lynn's left, her attention turning back to Logan.

"Mother."

Logan sat down next to his mother, avoiding her eyes. Veronica's heart swelled and then shrunk in her chest. Over the week, she had thought a lot about Logan's relationship with his parents. She always believed that Lynn was a wonderful mother to him. Now she knew the truth. All she wanted to do was sit next to Logan and hold his hand. His lips formed a thin line, his eyes dropped to look at the food on the table.

"So! Did you both have a pleasant evening?" Lynn began, her voice dripping with false enthusiasm.

"It was good," Logan mumbled, still not looking up as he filled his plate with food.

"Mrs. Navarro mentioned you made cookies. I'm sorry I missed that."

Veronica felt a smile start to break across her face. Shit. She bit her bottom lip and joined Logan in focusing on filling her plate.

"It was fine," Logan offered.

Veronica glanced up to see a small smile twitching at the corner of his lip. His eyes met hers for a split second and she almost lost her cool.

"Maybe it's good I wasn't here; I would have probably stolen them all," Lynn commented. "I could eat cookies all night."

Veronica's eyes shot up, locking on Logan's. She was going to lose it. He was right. Five minutes into their big secret and she was going to give it away by laughing.

She watched as Logan put a piece of bacon to his lips and smiled widely. His dark eyes sparked with mischief.

"Ditto, Mom," he retorted, and shoved the bacon in his mouth.

Sputtering laughter erupted from Veronica. She closed her eyes and covered her mouth. It didn't help matters that Logan joined in too, and soon, they were both clutching their stomachs, trying to get a hold of themselves. When Veronica finally got herself under controls Lynn was looking at them with a confused expression.

Tensions now eased somewhat, Logan began a conversation about their surf class, which brought a true smile back to Lynn's face. Towards the end of breakfast, Veronica watched as Lynn reached for Logan's hand on the table. He dodged her touch without missing a beat in the discussion. Glancing from the corner of her eye, Veronica saw Lynn sink slightly into her chair, the sadness returning to her face.

Once they were done eating, Logan stood quickly, suggesting they retreat to the rec room to play video games until her Dad arrived. Veronica agreed with a nod, and they disappeared, leaving Lynn on her own.

The rec room took up most of the basement. Five pinball machines – each one featuring a different Aaron Echolls action movie – were the showcase of the space. But most of their friends ignored the old fashioned contraptions, choosing instead to flop themselves in front of the big screen television and play video games. Veronica and Logan usually chose to play Final Fantasy, when they gamed together.

While Logan set up the game, back turned to her, Veronica quietly watched from the couch, her mind wandering to Lynn and Logan and Aaron. She remembered the whip marks that were hidden under his green waffle-weave shirt. Her eyes travelled down his spine to the belt rungs of his jeans, the smallest flash of skin showing. He confided there were more scars, hidden from view. Would he let her see them one day?

Veronica knew the biggest scar was one she could never see fully. They had remained silent since leaving Lynn. Veronica was still trying to wrap her head around the fact that this woman, who she looked up to, confided in, could stand by while her husband beat her child to a bloody mess.

"Eyes up here, Mars," Logan teased.

Veronica snapped out of her thoughts, bringing her gaze up from Logan's pants to his face. He had turned around, still kneeling on the floor near the console. She gave him a tight smile and he frowned.

"What's up?" he asked quietly.

"I wish your mom knew how to stop him from hurting you," Veronica confided in a whisper.

Logan gave a sarcastic chuckle. "That makes two of us."

Veronica noticed a slight blush to his cheek as he lowered his head, avoiding her stare. Realizing she had hit a nerve, Veronica slid off the couch, onto the carpet. Shuffling on her knees, she moved in front of him. Logan shifted slightly, so they were face to face.

Hesitantly, Veronica reached out and wrapped her arms around him. Her hands moved over the fabric covering his scars, and she imagined wiping them off his skin. At first, his arms stayed at his side, but then slowly, he wrapped them around her, grabbing her shirt tightly.

"I don't want your pity anymore," he murmured. "If we are going to do this, I can't bear to see the sadness in your eyes when you look at me."

Veronica placed her head on his shoulder. "It's not pity. It's me trying to understand how this could be happening to you. And how to stop it for good."

Logan reached up and stroked her hair. "We've been over this...you can't completely stop him. No one can."

Veronica closed her eyes. How was it he was comforting her now? Raising her head, she kissed his cheek, then moved her lips to his ear.

"I'll protect you," she whispered.

Logan hugged her tighter, holding on for dear life. He exhaled into her body.

"My own mother can't protect me. I don't want him to hurt you too. Like I said before, the best protection you can offer is just being here." Logan moved his head, his cheek brushing hers, so he could look into her eyes again. "Promise me though, if he ever gets violent when you're around, you'll leave. You don't try and stop him… just get out."

Veronica wanted to say no. She wanted to say that she would find a way to stop Aaron. She wanted to tell him she would have the entire Balboa County Sheriffs Department on him in a flash.

"Okay," she whispered.

Rising up, Logan planted a delicate kiss on her forehead.

"I can't talk about this anymore," he murmured, "I just need to move on."

Veronica nodded and placed her head on his chest. "I won't bring it up again. Unless you want to talk about it. And then you can. Talk about it, I mean. With me."

"Thank you," he murmured, resting his cheek on the top of her head.

They stayed wrapped in each other for another minute. Veronica exhaled, her body relaxing against his. She listened to his heartbeat, as she had done all those nights they slept curled together. It wasn't his body she wanted, it was him; all of him. She slid her hand from his back, bringing it up to cup his cheek, running her thumb across the soft skin.

"Did you shave? I thought I heard an electric razor this morning."

Logan's chuckle shook her body. "Yeah. I mean, I don't have to do it every morning, but yeah, that was me."

"I hadn't noticed before." Veronica playfully tweaked his cheek with her thumb and index finger.

"You haven't really had the opportunity to be this close to my face before," he laughed as he extracted himself from her grasp.

Veronica sat back, releasing Logan. Resting on her haunches, her gaze lingered on his face.

A grin began to form on his lips. A small smile formed on Veronica, realizing he was watching her watch him.

"Can I ask you something?" he murmured.

"Sure. You can ask me anything."

Logan lowered his head slightly, his eyes heavy.

"Can I give you a goodbye kiss now? Before your Dad shows up?" he asked shyly. "This may be my last chance to kiss you for a week."

Yes! Yes. Yes.

"I guess that would be okay," Veronica responded coolly, even though she felt anything but.

When his fingertips brushed her cheek, Veronica was sure she was going to faint. She sucked in a breath, her heart stuttering in her chest, anticipation building.

His head bent towards her and she couldn't help but meet him half way. Veronica's eyes closed as his lips touched hers, that now familiar tingle returning, flowing through her whole body. Logan moved closer, pressing himself against her and she wrapped her arms around him, not for comfort this time, but to be as close to him as possible. Veronica wished she could stay like this forever.

"Oh!"

The teenagers lurched apart, stumbling backwards. Turning towards the gasp, they found Lynn standing at the entrance to the basement, biting back a smile.

"Mom!" Logan exclaimed as he looked between Veronica and Lynn.

Veronica was red hot. They were officially the worst secret keepers, ever.

Lynn let out a small laugh, then covered her mouth. "I'm sorry. I didn't think I would interrupt more than a video game."

The teenagers looked at each other, then back to Lynn.

"Please don't tell anyone!" Veronica begged.

"If anyone finds out…" began Logan.

"…if my dad finds out…or my Mom…" explained Veronica.

"…then they won't let her stay over…or let us go out…or do anything with me." He paused and frowned at his choice of words.

"What Logan means is…" Veronica started.

Lynn sighed and raised her hands to get the flustered couple to stop talking. Walking closer, she stopped behind the couch and leaned on the back cushions.

"Settle down, you two. I know what Logan meant." she shook her head, smiling at them both. "Is this why, when I came to check on Logan last night, he was sleeping in his own bed?"

They cast their gazes down and nodded.

"Of course. This is why I trusted you together. You're both smart enough to know what is appropriate. I knew when the time came, you would make the right choice." Lynn crossed her arms. "Although I did have my doubts when Trina told me she thought you stole her copy of 'The Joy of Sex'."

Busted! Veronica was sure she had never seen Logan turn that particular shade of red before. She was so glad the book was still safely hidden at her house. If Trina found it in Logan's room, she probably would have gone to Aaron with the information.

Lynn shook her head, a small laugh escaping. "I still trust that you are both smart enough not to use any of your new knowledge inappropriately."

Veronica and Logan nodded but continued their silence.

"Good. Now, I will keep your secret."

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment before opening them and looking at Veronica.

"Mainly because Veronica's presence means your safety, Logan." She cast sad eyes at her son. "I can't protect you, honey. I tried and I can't. But Veronica can. And one day, you will both be old enough to get far away from this ugliness."

Veronica saw the tears forming in Lynn's eyes as she spoke. Her gaze shifted back to Logan. He was looking away from his mother again, unable to face her truth.

Lynn bit her lip and nodded her acceptance of the situation. "Now, I'm going to go upstairs. Veronica, I was coming down to tell you that your father called to say that he will be a little late. He had to stop at the station on the way here."

"Thank you," Veronica murmured.

Once Lynn was gone, Veronica collapsed completely onto her side on the floor. She heard Logan let out a loud sigh from a few feet away.

"Well, that was a secret for a whopping 24 hours." He groaned.

Veronica rolled onto her back and covered her eyes with her palms. "Oh. My. God."

Veronica heard a shuffling sound, when she opened her eyes just as he was lying on his back next to her. He let out a chuckle and stretched his arms above his head. Veronica saw an opportunity and rolled to cuddle up next to him, putting her head on his shoulder. He brought his arms down, settling his hands on her hip.

"Let's hope we're better at hiding this at school," he grumbled.

Veronica sighed. "I can see myself not kissing you at school, but I suddenly find myself really, really having to fight the urge not to reach out and touch you."

Logan wrinkled his nose. "I really want to hold your hand in the halls."

Tiny, happy flutters moved through Veronica's stomach again. She shifted her body against his so she could look at him.

"That was possibly the most romantic thing I've ever heard."

Lifting his head to find her gaze, his lip curled into a grin. "Geez…and I wasn't even trying. Who'd have thought you were such a marshmallow, Mars."

It all began to unravel with a playful swat to his chest, which led to him tickling her sides as she screamed with laughter. She managed to shove her hand into his armpit to tickle him back, allowing her the upper hand as his laughing fit took over. Veronica saw her opportunity and jumped across him, scampering to the couch while he tried to grab her.

"Uncle!" she squealed as she curled up in the corner of the couch, breathing heavily.

Logan was on all fours on the floor, about to pounce, when he heeded her words and stayed put. He was still trying to catch his breath from laughing.

"I am safe on my island," she proclaimed, mockingly. "And just remember, the last time we had a tickle fight you peed yourself, so you may not want to mess with me again."

Logan began laughing again. "Okay…we were in Grade 3…and you got Dick to sit on me while you tickled my feet mercilessly. And I only peed a little!"

Veronica snorted the memory. "Okay. Truce. You can come and hang out on my island, but only if you promise not to tickle me again."

"Ever?"

"Just today."

"Deal," Logan replied and jumped on the other side of the couch.

He reached over to the side table and grabbed his controller for the game, turning his attention back to the reason they were downstairs in the first place. "Now, let's build up some experience points. All Dick ever wants to do when we play Final Fantasy is fight evil."

Veronica rolled her eyes. Just like that, they slipped back into best friends. She reached for her controller, happy to wander through a fantasy world with Logan for a while.

"This is stupid," Veronica declared to the pile of clothes on her bed. It was Monday morning and Veronica had changed outfits twice. "It's just school. It's just Logan."

It seemed that having a boyfriend had affected her capability for rational thought. This was not like her. When her Dad had picked her up yesterday, she couldn't even look at Logan as she left. While she and her Dad were at Amy's, Veronica found herself giggling for no reason, causing her father to question her sanity.

Her conversation with Logan that night had revolved around weather conditions for the week, discussing if they could catch any good waves after school.

Veronica frowned and turned back to her closet. Extracting one last outfit, she decided on blue jeans, a black camisole, and a gauzy black sweater. She changed quickly, grabbed her backpack, and headed downstairs.

Arriving late to breakfast had the advantage of not having a lot of time to answer questions from her Mom about the weekend. By the time she was in the back of the cruiser, she was feeling nauseous with anticipation.

Her Dad drove in silence, happily listening to his favorite classic rock station.

As they approached Logan's front door, where he was waiting for her, Veronica's heart began to flutter. He was standing on the steps, arms crossed in the morning chill. She watched his lip curl into a smirk and he looked down at his feet before setting off towards the car.

As usual, Logan's backpack arrived in the car first, followed by him. Veronica bit her lip to keep from smiling too wide.

"Good morning." Logan proclaimed happily.

"Morning Logan. How are things?" Keith asked as he pulled down the driveway.

"Just peachy, sir. And you?"

"Oh, can't complain." Keith smiled in the rear view mirror.

Logan turned his attention to Veronica. "And how is Ms. Mars this morning?"

Twitterpated. "Oh, I'm okay," she said breezily.

"Looking forward to surfing later?"

She shrugged. "Sure. It'll be fun."

Logan frowned at her. "You make it sound as exciting as a root canal."

She rolled her eyes. "You know, it's just same old, same old."

She sighed dramatically and Logan chuckled, apparently amused by her performance.

"Just going to be us. Dick has to get home. Command performance at dinner for his dad's latest girlfriend."

Veronica nodded nonchalantly, all the while doing an internal happy dance. He must have seen something in her expression because he gave her a quick wink. The heat rose in her cheeks again and she turned to look out the window. Be cool, Veronica, she reminded herself.

The chatter ceased in the car. Veronica looked out the corner of her eye to see Logan gazing out the window. She looked up at her Dad, who was happily humming along to Blue Oyster Cult on the radio. Leaning her head back in the seat, she decided the less talk, the less possibility of her giving something away. Closing her eyes, she enjoyed the gentle rocking of the car.

She must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew, her Dad was opening her car door. A cool breeze shocked her from her slumber and she fueled with her seat belt, scrambling to gather herself together. Veronica stumbled and fell out of the car, grabbing her Dad's hand for support. Looking up, she saw Logan's eyes twinkling with glee, a wide grin on his face.

"Thanks, Dad," she grumbled and kissed him on the cheek.

"Don't worry, sir. I'll make sure she sleepwalks to class." Logan offered, holding out his arm for her to take.

Veronica furrowed her brow. "I wasn't asleep. I was just resting my eyes."

Logan's lip curled in a smirk. "Sure you weren't, Sleeping Beauty. You always snore while awake."

Veronica heard Keith chuckle as he made his way back to the car. Walking over to Logan, she threaded her arm through his.

"I hate you," she muttered under her breath.

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. She glanced up at Logan's face, opening her mouth to apologize. But instead of hurt, she saw him grinning like an idiot. His eyes looked past her to the cruiser as it drove away before he cast his gaze into her eyes.

"No you don't," he whispered conspiratorially.

Veronica felt happy-tingly again.

"How are we going to do this today?" She sighed, fighting the urge to hug him.

Logan began walking, leaving his arm out ever so slightly to keep a modest distance between them.

"It will be fine. We only see each other at lunch. I'm sure you can resist me enough to get through 45 minutes in the cafeteria together."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Making it really easy to resist you, when you talk like that, Mr. Ego."

He laughed. "See. That's the spirit."

As they approached their circle of friends, Veronica released her arm from Logan's. They watched as the group noticed them approach, and all together, gave them five goofy grins.

"I think they were waiting for us," Veronica muttered.

"You know, real friends return your calls." Mac chastised Veronica as they joined the group.

Veronica frowned in mock confusion. "Whatever do you mean?"

"Out with it, you two. Are you or aren't you?" Wallace laughed.

Logan shrugged. "Are we what? Ready for the English test today?"

"Dude, don't even. I had to spend the entire weekend with my family because you guys 'wanted space'." Dick grumbled. "So are you two together or not?"

The couple looked at each other and sighed.

"Yes," began Veronica. "but we don't want anyone else to know."

"Yeah. So we trust you guys to keep it quiet, alright?" Logan added. "We thought that if people at school knew, they would make our lives miserable. Ditto with our families."

"Does that mean that you guys won't be acting all cute and kissy in front of us?" teased Wallace.

Veronica shook her head. "No. None of that."

There was a collective sigh from the group.

"Good. Because we're happy for you guys, but no one wants to watch you suck face," added Mac.

Veronica cringed. "You will all be happy to know, we have made a no-making-out-in-public rule already."

"Yes… but should we happen to disappear every once in a while, please, don't come looking for us." Logan grinned.

The first bell rang, ending the conversation abruptly.. Logan winked at Veronica as they parted to race to their lockers.

The rest of the morning passed quietly. Veronica resisted the urge to doodle hearts in the margin of her notebook as she let her mind wander over and over to the three times they had kissed on the weekend.

When lunchtime rolled around, her butterflies threw a party in her stomach again. Sliding into her chair, she bounced her leg anxiously, her eyes set on the entrance to the cafeteria. When Logan appeared, she felt her smile take over her entire face. His smile beamed back at her and she watched him dodge people through the aisles until he was at their table.

"Can we switch things up a bit today?" he asked.

Veronica furrowed her brow but kept her smile. "I really don't like change. What kind of switching are we talking about here?"

Logan laughed and pulled out his chair. "Sit in my spot?"

Veronica pursed her lips and thought a moment before pushing her lunch across the table. She quickly scooted to the other chair and sat with her back to the cafeteria. Logan pulled the seat out next to her and sat down.

"Put your hand on your knee," Logan whispered.

Veronica glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and did as requested. Seconds later, her whole body responded with warmth as he gently ran his palm over the back of her hand, weaving his fingers in between hers. They curled their knuckles, locking themselves together.

"Is this okay?" he asked quietly.

"Yes," she exhaled the words in a sharp breath, still not making eye contact. Her heart rate increased tenfold.

She heard him sigh as they sat together quietly, while the noise and chaos of the school cafeteria swirled around them. Casey was the first to approach the table, clearing his throat as he did. The couple jumped a little in their chairs, but still held on to each other.

"I take it we are coupling up today?" Casey laughed and sat across from Veronica.

She bit her lip. "Yes. Do you mind?"

"No. You two stay right where you are." Casey laughed. "It just looks like you and I are still together and sitting across from one another."

"Um…about that…" Logan ran his fingers through his hair with his free hand. "No hard feelings?"

Casey looked to Veronica with a questioning glance. She hadn't told Logan the reason they broke up, letting him assume it was because she liked him. Casey smiled.

"None whatsoever. We make better friends anyway."

"Good," replied Logan and he squeezed Veronica's hand under the table.

Duncan and Dick joined them at the table, followed by Mac and Wallace. Everyone was content to chat about what they did over the weekend. Veronica and Logan talked happily, never letting go of each other's hands. Plans were made for the next weekend at Logan's, with Casey promising to skip Santa Barbara and hang out with them instead.

Five minutes before the bell rang, the group decided to disburse. Sadly, Veronica let go of Logan's hand and began packing away her things in her backpack. Logan stood and waited beside her. When she caught his eye, he winked at her again.

"See you later." He smiled.

Dropping her eyes down to hide her giddiness, Veronica responded, "See you later."

She breathed a heavy sigh as the bell rang and everyone hurried to classes again.

Veronica was practically skipping as she hurried across the quad towards Logan's car after school. She had quickly changed put on her bathing suit under her clothes in the bathroom and then rushed out to meet him in the parking lot.

Ben had pulled the car up to the curb and had it running. Veronica pulled open the door and tossed her backpack and swim bag into the back before propelling herself in.

She grinned at Logan across the back seat.

"Hi," she gasped, a little out of breath.

"Hi to you," he smiled.

Veronica reached her hand out and placed it, palm down, on the seat between them. Logan read her gesture and placed his hand over hers.

"Ben knows about us," Logan informed her. "My mom told him."

"Think of me less as a driver," Ben's thick voice came from the front seat, "and more as a chaperone."

Veronica looked at Logan who shrugged. "I've been told that gentlemen keep their hands where people can see them, when in the car with a young lady."

She let out a laugh. "Well, my Dad did warn me about getting into the backseat of vehicles with rich boys."

Logan rolled his eyes. He lifted his hands and wiggled his fingers at her. "My fingers will always be gentlemen-like around you."

Veronica smirked. "Should we make them little bow ties?"

Logan let out a chuckle. "Whatever floats your boat."

Veronica slouched into the seat, smiling broadly at Logan. She was so glad the initial awkwardness had passed. This was what she had hoped for, what she had imagined when she realized her feelings for him. They could joke around together. They could relax. They could flirt. They could touch. This was it.

They fell back into their easy routine at the beach. The waves were unimpressive, and they called it quits after only a few runs, choosing instead to sit on a blanket together and just talk. When he was sure no one was around, Logan reached his arms around her and quickly pulled her in to a small kiss. She wished for more but both knew that if anyone saw them, their secret would be over.

And so their week progressed in a series of stolen glances and covert hand-holding episodes. They managed to steal at least one kiss a day, in some way, in some hidden location. Behind the school. In the girl's bathroom that was closed for repairs. In Dick's bathroom, while they were helping him with homework. In the brief moment when Ben walked around the car to open her door.

And they were happy, in their secret, together.

 

Chapter Text

The weeks passed in a blissful haze for Veronica. As her relationship with Logan became normal, they found themselves more and more comfortable with their new roles as boyfriend and girlfriend.

On weekends, they gave themselves permission to hold each other's hand while surrounded by their friends. At night, they lingered a little longer in their good night kiss at her door. During school, they sat next to each other, their knees or hands touching under the table. And Logan managed to convince Ben to pull over a block away from Veronica's house, just to let him give Veronica a quick peck on the lips before they dropped her off every day.

The Christmas break soon loomed, which meant spending three weeks apart from each other while Logan was in L.A.. It was something that rarely happened, even before they became more than friends It also meant three weeks of Logan spending time with his father. Since the beating, Veronica hadn't seen Aaron. Lynn had mentioned that he was in L.A. preparing for the press tour, but Veronica secretly hoped it was because she'd banished him from the house.

The one thing that distracted her from Logan's inevitable departure was Mac's idea to perform in the Christmas talent show. Veronica had a lovely singing voice, which she only ever used in the elementary school choir and in the shower. Mac played guitar with the choir at her family's church, and when Logan had spilled the beans about Veronica's singing talents, Mac convinced her to perform.

The Saturday before school ended for the holidays, Logan and Veronica managed to persuade their friends to give them some alone time. They only agreed because Veronica threatened to make out with Logan under the mistletoe right in front of them if they didn't.

After surfing on Saturday, they returned to the Echolls' mansion. Lynn stayed and ate lunch with them, then excused herself to her office to continue making arrangements for the trip to L.A. She gave them a promise and a not-so-subtle wink that they wouldn't see her until dinner.

Veronica had brought Grandma Reynolds' Christmas Cookies recipe with her, so they could begin their Christmas festivities. As she lay out the ingredients, a sly grin spread across her face.

"What are you smiling about?" Logan teased from the other side of the counter.

Veronica bit her lip, averting her eyes. "Just thinking about the last time we made cookies together."

Logan walked around the counter, stopping right behind her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he kissed the back of her head. "Maybe we should give up on these silly career dreams of ours and open a bakery. Then we can make cookies together every day."

Veronica's knees went weak at the mention of them being together as adults. As she opened her mouth to respond, the sound of the front door slamming made them jump apart.

Seconds later, Trina traipsed into the room, carrying an arm load of bags.

"Oh look! The Bobbsey Twins!" she cackled, as she crossed into the sitting room. Throwing the bags onto the couch, she walked up to the counter.

"Go away, Trina," Logan ordered from behind Veronica. She looked back to see him leaning against the stove.

"What are you two doing today?" Trina asked, ignoring her brother.

"Christmas cookies," Veronica replied as she began to mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Trina clapped her hands with mock happiness. "Oh! Goodie! Are we going to sing carols too?"

"Go! Away! Trina!" Logan reiterated loudly.

Trina shook her finger at Logan. "Now, is that any way to speak to your sister. Your sister who loves you. Your sister who didn't tell Dad that you are hiding a sex book in your room, so you can learn how to bang Lilly Kane properly."

Veronica turned towards Logan. His eyes narrowed and his top lip twitched. "Shut up, Trina."

"She should be sending me a thank you card for letting you have that book! Just wait until you get to test your skills on some real girls in L.A." Trina laughed.

"If you don't shut up, Trina, I swear to god that I will give Dad the naked photos I found of your boyfriend, along with his address! Won't be much fun fooling around with him when Dad puts him in a full body cast for having crazy bondage sex with his daughter." Logan lashed out.

Veronica watched the blood drain from Trina's face.

"You wouldn't," she spat.

Logan's grin turned up at the edges and he arched an eyebrow in that evil genius sort of way. "Wouldn't I? That is clearly your bed he is tied up on in the picture."

Trina pursed her lips together. Turning on her heels, she quickly strode to her packages, grabbing them in her arms, and stomped towards the stairs. As she passed Logan, she glared at him. "I hope you catch something that makes your dick fall off."

Logan laughed. "Same to your boyfriend."

Trina fled in a huff, leaving the couple alone together again.

Veronica frowned at Logan. "The picture you stole was of him tied up?"

Logan chuckled. "Yeah. I figured it would be the most embarrassing one from the stack I found."

She wrinkled her nose. "Ew."

"Exactly," he replied.

She turned back to the baking, her heart feeling heavy at the thought of other girls. Of course there would be other girls that wanted him. Lilly may have been scared off, but what about others? Sophisticated girls in L.A. Older girls in L.A. Ones who wore make-up and fancy clothes.

Veronica began cracking eggs roughly into another bowl. She heard Logan set the oven to preheat and walk back to stand beside her, watching as she whisked the eggs rapidly. She didn't make eye contact.

"Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

"Yep. Fine. Great. Pass me the milk?" she said through gritted teeth.

Logan reached out and placed his hand on hers, forcing her to stop whipping her eggs. She still didn't look up at him. "What's wrong?"

Veronica set down the bowl. She turned towards him and looked into his eyes.

"What if you want to be with one of the girls you meet in L.A.? What if you don't want to wait to be with me? What if, there is someone older and prettier and she says 'hey Logan, let's fool around' and then the next thing you know she's having your baby!" Veronica rambled.

Logan frowned. "Ok-ay…" He paused to gather his thoughts. "First, I will wait for you until the end of time, if I have to. Second, I am not going to run off and have sex with anyone because I am committed to you. You are my girlfriend. End of story."

When she still wouldn't look at him, he stepped closer and wrapped his arms around her tightly. "You are the only one I want to be with. Ever," he whispered.

Veronica exhaled, pressing her cheek to his chest. Pulling her arms free from his embrace, she wrapped them around his waist.

"I'm sorry," she whispered back. "I don't know where that came from."

"I think you need another reminder of how I feel about you," he murmured, catching her lips in his.

They had kissed so many times now that Veronica had lost count. But this kiss was different. This one had pressure, urgency. She raised her arms and wrapped them around Logan's head, making sure he didn't move from his position. She opened her mouth slightly to draw in some air. He opened his, too and she could feel him suck in her breath. He closed his mouth and caught her bottom lip, ever so gently, releasing it quickly. Their lips connected again, open and inviting, but this time, she caught his upper lip with hers.

This new way of kissing made Veronica's spine tickle and her legs go wobbly. They gently experimented with their mouths, changing the pressure, drawing their lips together and apart, gently sucking and caressing. Logan eventually slid his lips away from hers, kissing her forehead as he retreated.

"Wow," he murmured.

A wide smile stretched across her face. "Wow is right."

"Screw going to L.A. I want to stay here and kiss you for three weeks instead." He chuckled.

"You'll be gone for 17 days. I suggest we create a storage bank for kisses today…since we're going to miss our daily kiss for a while," Veronica suggested playfully.

"One," Logan replied, starting the count already.

"See! That's the spirit," Veronica laughed.

Logan sighed and gave her a squeeze, "We'd better get back to the cookies, before I decide to just collect the remaining 16 kisses one after the other."

Veronica hugged him one last time before he released her. They smiled at each other before turning back to their original task.

They spent the rest of the afternoon baking and decorating the cookies with icing. Mrs. Navarro came along towards the end of their project to help the couple clean up so she could begin making dinner, so they trudged upstairs to clean up and hang out before supper.

Veronica had just finished changing into fresh non-flour-coated clothes, when Logan knocked on her door.

"Come in," she called as she brushed her hair in the mirror.

Logan came in and caught her smile in the reflection. "Did you get all the flour and icing sugar out?"

Veronica continued to brush her long, long hair. "Almost. I am seriously contemplating cutting my hair through. This whole brushing thing is getting tedious."

"You'd look cute with short hair. Not that you don't look cute already," he said, flopping onto the end of her bed. "So whatcha wanna do?"

Veronica frowned at her reflection in the mirror. Reaching back, she began to braid her hair.

"How about cards? We haven't played in forever. I think they are still in the side table on your side of the bed," she replied.

"Sounds good," he responded and she watched in the mirror as he rolled across her bed to the table.

Logan opened the drawer and let out a gasp, slamming it shut quickly. His face went red.

Veronica stopped her braiding and turned towards him. "What's wrong?"

Logan frowned. "Have you looked in this drawer lately?"

"Noooooo. Why? Is it infested with ants or something?" she replied and walked over to him.

"See for yourself."

Veronica frowned at him and opened the drawer. Her mouth dropped open with a gasp. Inside was an open box of condoms, the illustrated instructions for use unfolded and placed beside it.

An embarrassed giggle escaped her mouth and she covered it quickly.

"I'm glad you find my mother's parenting style amusing," Logan muttered.

Veronica closed the drawer but couldn't quite look at Logan yet. "Guess she only kind-of trusts us."

Logan sighed. "She just couldn't give them to me, could she?"

Veronica laughed. "But where's the fun in that?"

She opened the drawer and fished out the pamphlet. Turning towards Logan finally, she held out the paper.

"I believe this is for you to study," she teased.

Logan took it and stuffed it in the back pocket of his jeans, with a grumbled, "Thanks."

Veronica gave him a small smile, leaning in to give him a peck on the lips. When she pulled her head back, he returned her smile. "Think of it this way, when the time comes, we'll be super prepared."

"Well then, you should also give me the box, so I can figure it all out together," Logan added.

Veronica reached into the drawer again and produced the box of condoms, handing them over to Logan.

"It won't all be on you," Veronica confided quietly. "Someday, when we are ready, I'll ask my mom to take me to get birth control too."

The corners of Logan's mouth twitched as he tried to hold back a smile. "Someday," he repeated, reaching out to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

Warmth spread through Veronica's body. She wished she had the courage to tell him how much she thought about that 'someday'.

"I'll go hide these in my room. Be right back," Logan whispered and rolled himself off the other end of the bed.

When he was gone, Veronica sighed, reaching back into the drawer to fish out the cards and their tally sheet. She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, shuffling the deck when Logan returned. He crawled back on the bed and sat across from her. She looked up at him and smiled.

"Ready to be demolished?" she snarked, dealing the first hand of Rummy.

Logan winked as he picked up his cards. "Bring it on, Mars."

They played cards until they were called for dinner. It was an awkward affair, at least for Veronica, who spent the whole meal obsessing over the fact that Lynn had put condoms in her drawer. Did she think they were having sex already, after only dating for a month? Did she think they should have sex? Did she think they wouldn't know to use condoms?

From across the table, Logan arched his eyebrow, giving her a questioning glance. She realized she must be making faces as she thought, and she blushed slightly. Lynn was talking about their L.A. trip and Veronica tried to concentrate on that instead.

After dinner, the two of them retreated to the media room. While Logan queued up the first holiday movie – A Christmas Story – Veronica arranged herself under their blanket in the middle of the couch. Logan joined her and they snuggled deep underneath together.

Veronica relished this quiet time together, where they could just hold each other, undisturbed. She sighed, placing her head on his shoulder and felt his chest relax under her hand. He gently slid her over so she was pressed up against the side of his body.

"So, why were you making faces during dinner?" he asked out of nowhere.

Veronica bit her lip. "Just wondering what your mom was thinking when she put those condoms in my drawer. She knows we aren't sleeping in the same bed anymore."

Logan kissed the top of her head. "You know, sex can happen anywhere, right? The floor….the car….the couch…up against a wall…"

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Yes. I know that."

Logan chuckled. "She was probably just thinking she was being helpful, in her own, very unique, way. Saving us the humiliation of having to buy them, or something messed up like that."

Veronica was quiet as she processed what he said. "So you didn't buy any condoms before that?"

Logan scoffed. "No. We just started dating. I didn't want to jinx things."

Veronica pulled away from him a bit. "What do you mean? Like, you thought we may not have sex, ever?"

Logan looked down at her, his eyes dark and serious. "Veronica, in case I haven't made this perfectly clear before, I would love it if we had sex one day. But what if I screw up and you dump me before then? Or you meet someone else? Or you just decide we should only be friends again? A lot can happen between now and then."

Veronica's heart jumped into her throat. "I wouldn't do that! I love you! No matter what, I know we could work things out…."

Oh.

Shit.

What did I just say?

She watched Logan's face slowly change from a look of shock to comprehension to happiness.

"Say it again," he whispered.

Veronica gathered her courage.

"I love you," she replied quietly.

"I love you too," he responded.

It felt like fireworks had started going off in her chest. She put her hand over her heart; her pulse was racing. Logan leaned down and kissed her softly. Veronica's mind went blank as she gave in to her feelings.

"Oh, wow." Veronica gasped when they finally parted.

Pulling back from him, she looked around at their surroundings. The blanket was on the floor, having been kicked off the couch as they got caught up in each other, and the movie was almost over.

Logan's eyes twinkled at her and he was sure this was the happiest she had ever seen him.

"This is crazy." He laughed.

"How could this have happened? How could I suddenly love you so much?" she spoke in earnest.

Logan shrugged. "Speak for yourself. I'm pretty sure I've been in love with you since you hit Dick over the head with a banana."

Veronica laughed. "Really?"

A wicked grin overtook his face. "Yes. But it may have been solidified when you showed me…your…well…"

"Pee-bum?" she sputtered with laughter.

Logan laughed with her. "Yes. After that, you could have told me to walk across a room full of Legos in bare feet and I would have done it for you. I was yours."

Veronica's cheeks flushed. She looked down at Logan's shirt and began picking nervously at the lint balls near his armpit.

"When did you realize you had feelings for me?" he asked gently.

Veronica avoided eye contact, biting the side of her bottom lip. "When I started dreaming about you in September."

"Dreaming about me?"

"Dreaming about you."

She peeked up at his face as it changed from confused to elated.

"Oh!" he replied. "Dreaming about me."

He caught her eye and she ducked her head again. "I guess my subconscious knew more about my feelings for you than my brain actually grasped."

Logan ran his hand down her hair. "Hey, you don't have to be embarrassed. I think it's great."

"Great that you have been in love with me for years and I just figured out my feelings a few months ago." Veronica sighed, looking up at him again.

He looked down and kissed her on the nose. "No. Great that you had feelings for me when I was a shaggy beach bum with braces. Not this new incarnation from the mind of my mother's stylist."

Veronica giggled and gave him a peck on the lips. "So it's okay that I still think of shaggy beach bum Logan in my head sometimes."

Logan scoffed. "Please. Knock yourself out. Just continue to fantasize about me in any way, shape or form."

Veronica raised an eyebrow. "And you'll do the same for me?"

"Veronica, the amount I think about you frightens me," he replied with a lascivious grin. "The first week we were dating, I was sure I would need to seek professional help for it."

Veronica giggled. "You think about having sex with me that much?"

"No! It's so much worse." He sighed. "I think about holding your hand, when I can kiss you again, what you are doing in class, if we could actually both manage to eat an entire Colossal Sundae at Amy's together. Really, I truly believe that I may need help."

Veronica's giggle turned into a full laugh.

"Oh my god," she sputtered. "I thought I was the only one who felt like they were going insane."

She watched the smile return to Logan's face and continued, "I think about you constantly. When my dad talked about getting a dog, I thought about us going for long walks on the beach with a puppy. When I went to the drug store to pick up something for my mom, I thought you might get sick of always smelling like strawberries after we kiss, so I bought a new cherry lip gloss. When the guidance counsellor spoke to the class about academic tracks, I thought about what it would be like to live with you in our own apartment in college."

"No one warned me about how stupid you get when you fall in love," Logan teased. "You should have come with a warning label."

Veronica covered her eyes with her hands and shook her head. "This is terrible. We'll never get into college at this rate."

"I'd say it's okay because I'm rich, but when I walk away when I'm 18, I leave with nothing," Logan said, suddenly turning somber. "Mom has hidden away enough for me to go to college, but when I leave Aaron behind, I leave everything."

"Except me," Veronica said quietly. "You will always have me. And we can live on love and homemade cookies."

Logan pursed his lips together and fought a sudden grin. "So in college, I can have your cookie whenever I want?"

Veronica rolled her eyes. "You just had to start that up again, didn't you?"

He batted his eyes at her innocently. "I am talking about food. What on earth could you be thinking about?"

Veronica shook her head and gave him a small kiss on the lips. "You are such a boy sometimes."

"I thought it was my boy parts that you liked?" he replied with a big grin.

Veronica reached over to the coffee table and grabbed a Santa cookie off the plate. Bringing it up to him, he opened his mouth, and she shoved the entire cookie in. Logan spit crumbs as he laughed and tried to chew at the same time.

"There. You wanted my cookie, you got it," she teased.

"Duhl-icious," he sputtered through the food in his mouth.

Veronica giggled at him, then curled up beside him and turning back to the TV. When A Christmas Story was finished, they chose to watch White Christmas next. This time, they managed to get through the whole film without stopping to talk or kiss, instead content just to snuggle together and enjoy each other's company.

After the second movie, they headed upstairs to get ready for bed and exchange their Christmas presents, since Logan wouldn't be around on Christmas Day. After changing into Logan's Led Zeppelin T-shirt and her sleep shorts, Veronica grabbed the small, wrapped present and headed into the bathroom, knocking on Logan's door.

"Come in," he hollered.

She opened the door and stepped inside, realizing that she hadn't been in his room since the week after he was beaten. She wrinkled her nose. There was a distinct…aroma now, one she hadn't noticed before.: Cologne, sweat and dirty socks.

"Your room smells like a teenage boy lives in here."

Logan finished kicking a pile of dirty laundry into his closet and shut the panel door. "Maybe that's because a teenage boy does live in here."

"It used to smell like roses and baby powder." She ignored his sarcasm. "When's the last time you let Mrs. Navarro clean?"

Logan shrugged. "I think last week? Maybe it was the week before? She has a rule that she has to be able to see my floor or she won't clean. Something about not being paid enough to pick up my dirty underwear."

Veronica crossed her arms. "A totally legitimate rule. FYI…if we live together in college, the same rules will apply. Oh, and you will have to learn how to clean toilets, because I don't do that either."

She stepped around the remaining stray books and papers on the floor and sat on his unmade bed. Pulling her legs up, crossing them, she placed the gift in front of her, then looked him up and down. He had changed into a pair of sweats and his Pink Floyd t-shirt. It had been a while since she had seen him just before bed. His rumpled look made her smile.

He paused and folded his arms in front of him. "You know, this is the first time I've seen you in my t-shirt."

Veronica looked down at the baggy piece of fabric. "And?"

"It looks waaaayyyyy better on you than it ever did on me. Feel free to take more of my shirts, if you want." He grinned, running his hand through his hair.

Veronica bit her lip, ducking her head as she blushed. She'd never considered that he would actually enjoy seeing her in his shirt. In the silence, she watched as he moved over to his dresser and picked up a little white box with a ribbon around it. He smiled and came to sit next to her on the bed, pulling his legs up and crossing them as well.

Veronica picked up her box and handed it to her on her palm. "Merry Christmas."

Logan smiled and took the package from her hand. Unwrapping it quickly, he opened the small blue jewelry box and smiled.

"They're Saint Christopher and a Saint John medals. Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and surfers. Saint John is the patron saint of friendship." Veronica's heart went heavy, thinking of Logan trapped with his father for so long. "I thought they could protect you when I'm not around."

Logan pulled the long gold chain, with the two gold medallions, out of the box and held them up to inspect. He smiled as he slipped them over his head, letting them fall to his chest.

"It's perfect. Thank you," he replied quietly.

He scooped up the chain and pushed it under his collar, the medals disappearing under his shirt. With a sigh, he patted his shirt where they hung close to his heart. Turning back to her, Logan handed over his tiny present.

"I guess great minds think alike." He smiled.

Veronica took the box and slipped off the red bow. She let out a little gasp when she opened it. Inside, was a delicate single diamond pendent on a white gold chain. As she tilted the box closer, the small stone caught the light and sparkled.

"I thought we were getting too old for pukka shell necklaces," Logan murmured.

Veronica giggled and took it out of the box. "It's so beautiful."

She swung it slightly so it caught the light. Locking on Logan's gaze, she smiled shyly.

"Help me put it on?" she asked.

Logan nodded and reached his hand out for the chain. Veronica swiveled so her back was to him, gathering her hair over one shoulder. His arms appeared over her head and then the diamond pressed against her clavicle gently. Placing her fingers on it, she held it in place as Logan worked on the clasp. She felt his hand shake slightly against her neck and a shiver ran down her spine. The clasp dropped onto her skin and his hands moved to her shoulders.

Veronica gasped, feeling Logan kiss the back of her neck. Her breathing increased in anticipation of what he would do next. His lips made brief contact with the juncture of her shoulder and neck. Veronica closed her eyes, focusing on not passing out from excitement. He moved on, quickly kissing her earlobe, and she let out a giggle at the contact. Logan's arms slid around her waist, wrapping her in a hug as he kissed the top of her head.

Veronica leaned into him, letting herself melt a bit into his embrace. She ran her hands along his arms and covered his hands with hers.

"I love you," he murmured softly.

Tears pricked her eyes and her voice cracked as she replied, "I love you too."

Veronica wasn't sure how long they sat there for. She didn't really care. All she knew was she didn't want him to let go.

"Sleep with me tonight?" she asked, hesitantly.

Veronica felt him take in a deep breath and let it out.

"I can't," he whispered.

"Why not?"

His breath skimmed across her head and he pulled her closer. "Because I'm worried. I'm worried that I will dream about you or you will dream about me and then the next thing we know, we're making love to each other in the middle of the night, half asleep and barely coherent. I don't want our first time together to be some crazy mistake."

He was scared. The idea shocked Veronica. She opened her eyes and took a moment to compose herself before speaking.

"I…I understand," she began hesitantly, "and if you aren't comfortable, that's totally cool."

Veronica shrugged out of his arms and turned her body around to face him. His dark eyes seemed to look right through her.

"I also understand that you're worried about going too far too soon. I know you may not trust your..." Veronica paused again, trying to find the right word, "…desire for me. But I trust you. Completely. And I know that if I told you to stop, you would stop."

Veronica shifted, raising herself up on her knees so she was at eye level with Logan. "And since you told me your feelings, I won't ask you to stay with me again. At least not until we're both ready to do something more."

She ended by giving him a soft kiss on the cheek. "Thank you for this beautiful present. Merry Christmas."

Logan gave her a small smile. "Thank you for my gift. I'll wear it day and night."

Veronica's smile contorted as she stifled a yawn. Logan laughed and kissed her forehead. "I know I said I wouldn't sleep with you, but can I do something else?"

Veronica gave him a mischievous smile. "What would you like?"

Logan hopped off the bed. Bending to her, he easily lifted her off the bed in his arms. She let out a squeal and wrapped her arms around his neck. Giving her a quick peck on the lips, he walked through the bedroom, crossed the bathroom, and into her room, stopping on one side of her bed.

"Are you holding on tight?" he asked.

Veronica nodded and he let go of her back, freeing his hand to pull back her covers. She gasped as he dipped her a bit, sliding her into the middle of the bed. She let go and dropped to the mattress with a giggle.

"Lay down and get cozy." He smiled. Veronica moved the pillows behind her and lay flat on the bed, her arms at her side.

Logan grabbed the covers and tossed them back over her. She freed her arms, laying them on top of the duvet as he began to push the blankets around her body.

A throaty laugh escaped her. "Are you seriously tucking me in to bed?"

Logan bit his lip and stretched out on the bed next to her. Rolling onto his stomach, he hooked his arms under her arms and brought his hands up to her pillow so they gently cupped her face.

"Sort of," he said and planted a soft kiss on her lips.

Veronica closed her eyes and kissed him back, opening her mouth slightly, as they had done before. This time, however, she felt his tongue sweep across her teeth. Letting her own tongue sneak out, she touched it to his, and he reacted quickly, tangling them together. Veronica let out a soft moan as he sucked her tongue into his mouth. She had never heard of anyone spontaneously combusting before, but she was sure, if it was a true phenomenon, it was about to happen to her. Small sounds of pleasure escaped from the back of their throats, as they gently explored and teased each other.

When Logan finally pulled away, Veronica felt hot from head to toe. Logan was breathing hard as he unwound his arms from her and put his forehead on the mattress beside her.

"Holy shit." He gasped.

Veronica was breathing too hard to answer more than one word. "Damn."

Logan started laughing and tilted his head to face her. Veronica looked down, rolling on her side. She placed a hand on his cheek.

"So, I'm not the only one who thought that was amazing." She chuckled.

Logan shook his head. "No. That was so amazing I can't move."

Veronica frowned. "Why?"

Logan wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Because if I move, you will see the raging hard-on I have."

Veronica giggled, covering her mouth with her hands.

"Don't laugh! Blue balls is real and it's painful," he added, with mock seriousness.

This just made Veronica laugh more. "Oh, poor baby! I take Midol for my period cramps. What do you take?"

"A lot of cold showers," he replied, not missing a beat.

Veronica laughed again, so hard this time that her stomach hurt, which promptly caused Logan to dissolve into a laughing fit of his own. When their laughter finally subsided, Logan rolled on his side to lay beside Veronica on her pillow.

Veronica leaned over and gave him a peck on the lips. "I love you."

Logan returned her kiss and added one on the tip of her nose. "I love you too. Good night."

He then rolled off the bed and jogged over to the light switch. She watched as he made his way through the bathroom door, giving her a wink as he closed it behind him.

Veronica rolled on her back, looking up at the outside lights playing on the ceiling.

"Good night," she whispered to herself.

 

Chapter Text

She felt the knife enter her chest. She gasped as it retracted, before the next plunge buried deep in her stomach. The weapon retracted again and then…

Veronica screamed, stabbing pain wrenching her from sleep as she clutched her stomach. Her parents burst into the room, rushing to her side.

"Stabbing…" she gasped.

Keith whipped the covers off her as Lianne began feeling around her body. She let out a groan as they poked and prodded.

"Veronica. There's no blood. You were dreaming," Keith reassured her.

"Stabbing…pain…chest...stomach…" she moaned.

Leanne patted her head. "Hormones, honey. A bad dream combined with hormones. You're probably about to get your period."

Veronica looked up at her Mom from her fetal position. "But the concert is tonight!"

Lianne sat next to her daughter and Keith quietly exited the room. "Funny thing about periods…they seem to show up at the precise moment you don't want them to," her mother sighed. "And that pain in your chest is probably your breasts growing. I remember that from when I was your age."

"So I'm not dying?" Veronica pouted. "This sucks. Now I'm going to be all gross and bloated in my nice dress."

Lianne laughed and stroked Veronica's hair. "I'll go out today and pick up a few pairs of control-top pantyhose. You can wear one of them with your dress and it will help suck in your bloated stomach tonight. Okay?"

Veronica sighed. She pulled the collar of her nightgown out a bit and looked down at herself. Not miraculously a D-cup, but she was sure her boobs were a little bigger this morning.

"Thanks Mom."

Lianne smiled warmly. "Just another part of growing up. A word of warning, you may not want to wear a bra at school today, it will just put pressure on your chest. Layers are good."

Veronica smiled back. "Thanks for all the advice."

Lianne kissed her head. "I'll get some Midol ready for you to have with breakfast. I'm making waffles. Maybe I'll make some chocolate sauce for you too."

"Chocolate good." Veronica said and sat up on her bed. As she did, she felt the blood drain from her face. Swinging her legs off the mattress, she ran for the bathroom.

Her cursing echoed against the tiles when she discovered she had, in fact, started her period. Veronica jumped into a hot shower, in the hopes of feeling more human before going out into the world. Sticking her chest directly under the stream, she sighed at the relief from the aching.

Gazing down at her small breasts, she smiled. They weren't huge, but they were on the right track. At least they would now fill more of her bra. At this rate, she was sure she would be confident enough to be naked in front of Logan at some point in the future.

Turning off the shower, she stepped out and wrapped her big, cozy bathrobe around herself. Reaching under the sink, she grabbed the box of Tampons and walked to her room. Locating her backpack on the floor, she opened the front pouch and unceremoniously dumped the contents of the box inside. She tossed the empty container into her garbage and made her way to her closet. Heeding her Mom's advice, she selected her stretchy black pants, black striped t-shirt, and black hoodie. The final touch was to take her diamond pendent out of her jewelry box, and lay it across her dresser. Changing quickly, she made her way downstairs for breakfast.

Considering how she woke, her Mom and Dad were especially kind to her that morning, her Mom even offering to French braid her long hair for her, and her Dad being extra generous with when he piled her waffles with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. By the time she slouched in the back of the cruiser, she felt mildly better, but still not herself. She hunkered down in her seat quietly for their drive to Logan's.

When they arrived, Logan seemed extra perky as he bounced down the steps to the car.

"Good morning!" Logan greeted everyone, flinging himself into the back seat.

"Good morning," Veronica muttered back.

Logan frowned. "That was less than the chipper response I was hoping for."

Veronica arched an eyebrow at him. "Just not feeling very chipper today, okay?"

She saw Logan look from her to her Dad's reflection then back to her again. "Okay…not chipper. Got it."

"What?" she demanded, looking between them.

Logan held his hands up in defense. "Nothing! Forget I even spoke. I'm just going to sit here, minding my own business."

"Well played, son," Keith spoke up from the front seat.

Veronica let out a heavy sigh. "I just…I woke up feeling like garbage, and it's the last day I see you for three weeks, and I have a test in English, and then tonight I have to sing on stage when I'm feeling like a troll again!"

Logan threw her a big, comforting smile. "Your hair is really pretty today, though."

She rolled her eyes. "Flattery will not help."

Logan leaned back, an amused smile tugged at his lips. "Then what will help?"

Veronica thought for a moment before answering. "Drugs, chocolate, and a very large bag of Doritos."

Logan laughed. "I'm pretty sure we can raid the vending machines for at least two of those requests. For the last one you may have to break into the nurse's room."

"Please don't break in to the nurse's room, you two. I really don't want to have to arrest you both today," Keith said, frowning in the rear view mirror.

Veronica chuckled. "Don't worry. I won't go on a crazy, PMS-induced crime spree."

"Is that an actual thing?" Logan asked, a note of hesitation in his voice.

"No. Thankfully. And I say that as a husband and Sheriff," muttered Keith. "One day, when you're married, you'll understand."

Veronica knew that her Dad really meant when they were each married to other people, but the suggestion that they could be married to each other one day made her blush. She looked at Logan and found his mischievous gaze looking back.

"I'm sure my future wife will be a complete angel, floating on a cloud of joy and happiness, beloved by all who know her," he teased.

Veronica bit her lip and turned to look out the window. Her heart danced in her chest at his words.

Keith laughed. "You just keep believing that, son. Imaginary worlds are a nice place."

"Thanks, sir," Logan replied.

Veronica's thoughts turned inward, happy to hang out in her own imaginary world for a while. What would it be like to marry Logan? They would probably get married on the beach. At sunset. She would wear a white dress. He would wear his khakis and a white shirt. Her Dad would walk her down the aisle. Her Mom would cry. And then, the honeymoon in some amazing, romantic spot like Paris or Italy.

Could she get away with still wearing white if she wasn't a virgin? Who exactly would they invite? And would the paparazzi hound them?

Her thoughts were interrupted by her father opening the door, making her jump. She grabbed her bag and hustled out of the car. Giving Keith a quick kiss, she joined Logan near the curb.

As they walked through the quad, Veronica tried to stay cool, even though her mind was still focused on what her Dad had said.

"So, did your Dad just marry us off to each other?" Logan murmured as they walked.

Veronica looked up at him with a big smile. "I know he didn't mean it that way, but that's how it sounded."

Logan looked down at her with a goofy grin, eyes twinkling, but he didn't say a word.

As they approached their group, they noticed Duncan high-fiving Wallace as he announced happily, "Get out of gym free card!"

"What's that about gym?" Logan asked as they joined the group.

"Guys' locker room flooded last night. No gym for anyone today while they fix it," Duncan replied with a smile.

"I thought you liked gym. Girls in short shorts and all," Logan teased.

Duncan scrunched his nose. "I like surfing and running. Anything that involves teams just sucks, whether it's girls or guys."

"Not much of a team player?" Veronica laughed.

Duncan shook his head. "If it was people I liked, yeah. But being paired with a bunch of jocks is soul-sucking. All they do is make comments about the girls and call other guys 'pussies'."

Casey shook his head, in mock sincerity. "It's just their fragile masculinity talking."

"Truer words were never spoken, my friend," Mac added.

Turning to Veronica, she quickly changed topics. "So, you ready for our big night, Vee?"

Veronica shrugged. "As ready as I'll ever be."

"That's the enthusiasm I needed!" Mac retorted, her voice full of sarcasm.

The first bell rang and the group disbursed quickly, each headed to their lockers. Stealing a final glance at Veronica, Logan gave her his traditional wink goodbye and she melted a bit inside. Once again, it was going to be hard to concentrate in class.

Veronica walked into the cafeteria obsessing about her English test. She had been doing so well until a question about Romeo and Juliet caused her thoughts to drift to Logan instead. When she regained her senses, she had lost a good amount of time and ended up frantically finishing as the bell rang.

Everyone except Logan seemed to make it to the table before her. She slumped into her seat across from Casey and sighed deeply.

"That English test was rough," Casey commented.

Veronica rolled her eyes. "I'm just going to try and forget about it."

"I may have something to cheer you up…" came Logan's voice from behind her.

Before she could turn around, Logan reached around her shoulders and deposited three small bags of Doritos and five chocolate bars on the table in front of her. Veronica gasped and excitedly clapped her hands.

Logan sat down next to her and placed a can of Skist in the middle of the pile of junk food. "And something to wash down your nutritious lunch with."

"You really are the best boyfriend in the world," she sighed quietly.

Her thigh tingled as Logan slid his hand over her leg and let his hand come to rest on her knee. "Anything for you, Sweetums."

Duncan made a gagging sound across from them and Casey chuckled. "Reign in the cuteness, you two or your little secret will be blown."

Veronica popped open the first bag of snacks. "Thanks for your concern. At least you get a three-week break from us."

Dick laughed.

"No…we get a break from him!" he said, gesturing his thumb at Logan. "We all still plan to hang out with you. We'll just get together at my house."

"Gee, thanks for the love, Dick," Logan muttered.

"Puh-leeze! All you do is talk about her anyway. At least she talks to me about other stuff and helps me with homework," Dick scoffed.

"Umm…all she talks about is him. But she just talks to me about it," interjected Mac.

Veronica and Logan looked at each other then back to their friends, before exclaiming in unison, "We do not!"

The entire group burst out laughing.

"You do! But that's okay. It's cute," said Wallace. "One day we all hope to have someone we care about that much."

Veronica smiled down the table at him. "Thanks, Wallace; you old softie."

Wallace smiled warmly, then turned his attention back to his lunch as the group began discussing plans to hang out at Dick's place the next day.

Logan talks about me. Veronica felt slightly giddy at the revelation.

Slipping her hand under the table, Veronica found the soft crease of Logan's elbow. She felt the hair on his arm stand on end and playfully walked her fingers down to his. His palm was open and waiting and she slipped her hand into it, curling her fingers around his.

Looking up at him, Veronica smiled and held a Dorito out to him in invitation. He dutifully parted his lips, accepting it from her, flicking the chip into his mouth with his tongue.

In that moment, she didn't care if the whole world knew they were together. All she wanted to do was shout her love for him down the halls.

Logan bit his lip, looking deep in her eyes. "I hate to be a downer, but we'll be leaving for L.A. right after the concert tonight."

Veronica frowned. She had been trying to get through the day without thinking of Logan's imminent departure.

"Oh," she replied quietly.

He squeezed her hand.

"I'll come backstage to say goodbye after your performance," Logan lowered his head, his voice just above a whisper. "And find a place where we can be alone for a few minutes."

"Okay." She sighed contentedly.

His words reverberated through her, causing a wide smile to light up her face. She squeezed Logan's hand, butterflies fluttering frantically in her stomach, anticipation building at his words.

"Don't worry, bro. We'll look out for her while you're away," piped up Dick.

Veronica turned towards her friend. "I thought I was supposed to take care of you?"

A big grin broke on Dick's face. "Nah, man. Logan passed along the sex book to me. I'm good for taking care of myself now."

A round of boos swept across the table. "That was a classic case of too much information, bro!" commented Duncan.

Dick shook his finger at his friend. "Now be nice to me, or I won't pass it on to you!"

Duncan held up his palms. "I'm good, thanks. Last thing I want is a book about sex coming secondhand from you!"

Groaning joined the booing this time. Veronica shook her head. She was sure her friends would be able to distract her for three weeks. Relaxing in her seat, she let herself enjoy their shenanigans for the rest of the lunch hour.

Mac tuned her guitar as Veronica paced. The girls stood in the hallway, waiting for their turn on stage.

"You're making me nervous," muttered Mac.

Veronica stopped dead in her tracks, a few feet away from her friend.

"Sorry," she said, smoothing her dress down around her as she spoke.

They had decided to wear matching outfits for the concert – Mac's in black, Veronica's in red. The simple long-sleeved, velvet dresses, had modest v-neck collars and fell to their knees. Veronica had been happy to find a dress that allowed her to show off her diamond pendent around her neck, and she brought her hand to it often, fingers playing with the diamond, to help calm her nerves. Her mother had done her hair in an intricate braid that wrapped around her head, with silver sparkling barrettes that caught the light. She had chosen white shimmery pantyhose and black Mary-Jane shoes to complete her Christmas look. Lianne helped both girls with their make-up – including mascara, eyeshadow, and sparkly lip gloss – to add to their stage presence.

Mac shot her a big, shimmery smile. "Are you more nervous about the song or seeing Logan after?"

Veronica smiled coyly. "A little of both?"

Mac laughed. "That's what I thought."

Veronica was about to respond when Mrs. Elliot came from the theatre door. "You're up next, ladies."

The teacher gestured for them to follow her and the girls looked at each other, taking deep breaths. Together, they followed the teacher, transitioning from the bright hallway, to the darkness of the theatre.

Standing in the wings, Veronica's gaze scanned the crowd for her family. She bit her lip as her nerves built. Her parents were sitting together in the middle of the hall. Logan was on her dad's left, with Lynn sitting beside him, and Ben on the other side of her. She released her lips and smiled. There they were…the people that cared about her.

The string quartet on stage ended their set and applause filled the auditorium. Veronica closed her eyes and tried to relax, focusing on her breathing. An image of Logan, smiling joyfully at her, came to mind, sending a warm, peaceful feeling through her.

"…and now performing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' we have grade seven students Veronica Mars and Cindy MacKenzie."

Veronica opened her eyes as the M.C. announced their names, and took another deep breath as she watched the stagehands scurry to set up Mac's chair and their mics.

"Just couldn't announce me as 'Mac', could they?" her friend muttered.

Veronica laughed quietly. "Come on, Cindy, let's go."

They walked on stage to polite applause and as they took their places at the microphones, Veronica was momentarily blinded by the spotlights. She glanced behind her and exchanged a nod with Mac, then turned back to the audience as Mac began playing the beautiful solo intro to the song. The lighting dropped to a softer beam and Veronica found the row with her family. And Logan. Her love for him bubbled up and caught in her chest. Taking another deep breath, she fixed her eyes on him and began to sing.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light

She was singing for him. Singing her goodbye in front of everyone.

From now on,

our troubles will be out of sight

Logan's eyes locked on hers and it was as if they were the only ones there.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Make the Yule-tide gay,

This performance was for him and no one else. Love poured out of her through the words.

From now on,

our troubles will be miles away.

Veronica felt a power and confidence she had never known. This was her proclamation of love to him.

Here we are as in olden days,

Happy golden days of yore.

She saw his understanding and she watched as he closed his eyes, his face cast down, trying to hide his emotion.

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more.

Logan would come back to her. She knew this in her heart, he would come back and they would deal with whatever happened, together.

Through the years

We all will be together, if the Fates allow

He opened his eyes, a beautiful wide smile crossing his lips. Veronica readied herself for the crescendo of the song.

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

She dropped her voice from her high note to almost a whisper through the microphone. To him.

And have yourself, a merry little Christmas now.

Mac played a beautiful finale as Veronica closed her eyes. The last vibration of the guitar still hung in the air as the thunderous applause made Veronica open her eyes. Her mother and father were in tears, clapping wildly. Lynn was dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Ben was smiling at her, his hands over his heart.

But Logan. Logan was gone.

Panic swept over Veronica as she turned to Mac. The girls left the stage quickly, scurried down the stairs, and out into the hallway. Her foot had barely touched the tiles when someone grabbed her hand.

"Come with me," Logan muttered, gently pulling her along with him. She spun slightly as she adjusted to the change in direction, following him quickly down the hall, her feet moving double time to his.

When she saw where he was heading, she almost broke into a run. As they reached the boys locker room door, Logan pressed his back against the "Closed" sign on the door and pulled her into his arms. He spun them through the unlocked door, his body connecting with the tile wall on the other side, a small groan escaping from his mouth.

Before Veronica could comprehend what was going on, Logan's lips were brushing against hers.

"God, you are so amazing," he sighed, before pulling her into a deep, passionate kiss.

Veronica looped her arms around his neck, anchoring herself to him. Opening her mouth, her tongue darted out, seeking out his. When they finally intertwined, a small moan escaped from her throat.

Slowly, Logan nudged her body, urging her to move with him, and they slipped deeper into the dark locker room. He released her momentarily, both of them breathing hard, as he guided her into one of the change rooms. He locked the door and a wicked grin crossed Veronica's face.

"No one will find us in here," she whispered.

Logan dipped his head slightly, the corner of his mouth pulling a mischievous smirk across his face.

"Exactly," he whispered back.

This time, Veronica rose up, capturing his mouth in hers. They both sighed, content once again to be pressed against each other. After a moment, Logan pulled back, looking into her eyes.

"I love you so much." He gasped.

Veronica brought her hand to his face and cupped his cheek gently. "I love you, too. I'm going to miss you so much."

Logan bent his head down, moving his lips to her ear and kissing her lobe softly. Veronica sighed, wrapping her arms around him.

"I will think about you every minute I am gone," he murmured into her ear.

"Logan," she whispered his name like it was spell, hoping if she said it out loud, it would magically make him stay.

Logan lowered his head further, moving his lips to that spot he'd kissed just days ago; that wonderful spot on her neck that made her feel limp. This time, he gently nipped his teeth into her skin, and she was sure she was going to fall apart in his arms. Veronica heard him whispering softly as he continued to kiss her neck.

"You're so beautiful," he continued, brushing his lips over her skin. "So incredible. I can't wait to come home and so I can…"

The sound of the locker room door crashing open, pulled the couple apart. The door slammed shut again and they looked at each other in horror. What if someone was looking for them?

Logan put his finger to his lips and she nodded. They listened silently as they heard two voices. They couldn't make out the words, but they sounded male. Suddenly, there was the metallic crunch of something crashing into the lockers, then silence.

Veronica and Logan looked at each other, frowning in confusion. They waited and waited until finally, Logan tapped his watch. They had to go. Veronica cringed. They would have to make a break for it. She nodded her understanding and pointed to the door. Carefully, Logan unlocked it, easing it open, checking to see if the coast was clear. Gesturing for Veronica to follow, she followed him out of the changing room together. Tip-toeing towards the door, they froze when they realized who was in the locker room with them.

Duncan had Casey pinned up against the lockers, their mouths locked together in a passionate kiss. Veronica couldn't look away. The two boys were completely oblivious to Veronica and Logan's presence. They watched, eyes wide in shock as Casey grabbed the back of Duncan's hair, bringing them closer together, deepening the kiss. Veronica's mouth dropped open, but no sound came out.

"Holy shit." Logan gasped loudly.

Casey and Duncan jumped apart, turning swiftly toward them in amazement, still standing locked in place.

"Fuck," muttered Duncan.

Veronica quickly walked up to them, her hands up to stop them. "No! No! It's okay. I already knew that Casey was gay. It's okay, Duncan."

Duncan looked to Casey, then back to Veronica. "No. It's not! If my parents find out…if Casey's parents find out…"

Veronica frowned. "What could they do? You care about each other…"

Casey shook his head. "I know you're trying to be supportive, Vee, but…"

"What could they do? At the very least, they send one of us away and split us apart," Duncan said, his voice vibrating with emotion. "At the most, they could ship us to one of those crazy conversion camps. My Dad wants me to be a senator one day. He would freak!"

"I'm pretty sure my Dad would beat the shit out of me, if he knew." Casey added quietly. "I floated some things past him a few weeks ago and let's just say it wasn't well received." He shrugged. "Guess it wouldn't look too good to his hunting buddies if his boy was a fag,".

Veronica looked over her shoulder at Logan. His jaw was set hard, eyes dark and serious. Catching her eye, he let out a deep sigh. "Your secret is safe with us. We won't out you."

Veronica turned back to her friends. Their faces had softened slightly, but there was still a hint of fear in both their eyes.

"We'll keep your secret. You never have to worry about being yourselves together around us either. You deserve to love each other."

Casey laughed and ran his hands through his hair. "You really are a hopeless romantic."

Logan approached her from behind and she sighed comfortably as he wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed the back of her head.

"Guess I am. Now." She smiled.

Casey turned, reaching out a hand to Duncan. Casey's fear seemed to be subsiding, but Duncan still looked worried. Casey moved closer and Duncan hesitantly took his hand.

"Really? You guys are cool?" Duncan asked.

"Of course we are, dude. You're our friends," Logan replied, his voice deep with sincerity.

There was a comfortable silence as a small smile finally crossed Duncan's face.

"We gotta go," Veronica began. "Logan has to leave for L.A. after the concert."

"Well, have fun doing the celebrity thing." Casey smiled.

"Thanks." Logan rolled his eyes. "Merry Christmas, gentlemen."

Veronica wrapped herself around Logan's arm, looking up at home with sad eyes. "Let's go."

As they turned the corner towards the exit, Veronica realized she needed to do just one more thing before he left. Stopping abruptly, she used her body to push Logan against the door. His eyes widened as she stood on her tiptoes, pressing her body against his, and stole one last, deep kiss.

She needed this. They needed this. One more. Just one more before he had to go.

Veronica pulled away with a sigh, staring into Logan's sad eyes.

"Whatever happens, remember I love you," she whispered, fighting back tears.

Logan smiled softly. "I love you too," he replied, his voice heavy with emotion.

Veronica reached up and ran her thumb across his lips. "Lip gloss."

Logan chuckled and reached over to her, carefully tucking a stray strand of hair back into her braid. "Dishevelled hair."

Veronica giggled and smoothed her dress over her tiny curves. "Ready?"

Logan sighed. "No. But we should go."

Reaching for the door handle, he pulled it open. They walked into the hallway, a couple of feet apart, to find their families and say goodbye, as friends.

Their group of seven had been whittled down to four by Saturday, as Casey went to Santa Barbara for the week and Duncan left for Napa until New Year's Eve.

Veronica, Mac, Wallace, and Dick spent the day relaxing in the hot tub at the Casablancas estate, trading stories and talking about school. But no matter how hard she laughed or how much she talked, Veronica couldn't get the dull ache to leave her heart. Whatever she did, Logan was always on her mind.

She wondered what he was doing at that moment. Their itinerary had the family flying from L.A. to New York for the first red carpet event and a couple of taped interviews. Then, they would fly back to L.A. for another red carpet and a benefit screening of the picture to benefit some charity Aaron had set up. After Christmas, the family was going to be paraded around the interview circuit for a time before heading back out to New York for a New Year's Eve appearance. Veronica figured that if she just sat in her yoga pant and watched nothing but daytime television all Christmas break, she would catch Logan on every program.

"…so you want the sex book next, bro?" Dick asked Wallace. The mention of the book snapped Veronica out of her pining.

"Why Wallace next?" Veronica questioned. "What about Mac? It's not just for the boys, you know.".

Mac raised her hands out of the hot water, steam rising from her fingertips. "I learned everything I need for now from that book, thanks. Besides, if my Mom finds it, it would mean a one-way ticket to private Catholic girls school."

Dick wiggled his eyebrows and nodded happily at Mac. "Hey…that could be sexy."

Mac rolled her eyes and splashed water at him before retreating up to her chin in the hot water. "Moron."

Wallace wore a broad smile. "Yeah man. I'll take it. Gotta be ready for when the ladies start calling. "

Veronica snorted a short laugh. "You know that this knowledge comes with a strict 'do not use any of this information until you are older' warning, right?"

Dick laughed. "Yeah. Logan told me. The condoms he gave me will probably expire before I get to use them."

Veronica's face dropped. "He gave you our—?"

She stopped suddenly, feeling a deep blush travel all the way up her face.

A shriek of laughter erupted from Mac and the boys began making hooting noises at her.

"We haven't used them!" Veronica exclaimed.

Dick wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. "Yeah. I know. Logan gave them to me to practice with. The bugger told me they didn't fit him."

Veronica furrowed her brow, momentarily confused by the statement.

"I'm not surprised," grumbled Wallace. "I've been in a locker room with him."

Veronica looked between the boys, then over to Mac. She couldn't quite squeeze the words she wanted to ask, from her mouth.

Mac frowned. "Are we talking...they were too big? Or were they too small?"

Veronica sucked in a sharp breath. She wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer to Mac's question.

An mischievous smile crossed Dick's face. "Veronica, you lucky girl…your boy is hung like a freakin' bear."

A wave of panic washed over Veronica. Oh my god, he won't fit.

Her terrified thoughts must have crossed her expression, because she felt Mac reach over and touch her shoulder reassuringly. "Are you okay?"

"Holy shit," Veronica gasped. Dick and Wallace began laughing again.

"Shut up, you jerks! This isn't funny!" Mac chastised and moved closer to Veronica.

"Oh, it's funny," Dick replied. "Don't worry, Ronnie…if a baby can squeeze out of…well…you know…then I'm sure he can squeeze in!"

Veronica covered her eyes with her palms. "I hate you, Dick."

"No you don't. Just think about it; now you've been warned so you can prepare yourself. Mentally, I mean." Dick chuckled.

Veronica peeked out from behind her hands.

"Hey, and they say, size doesn't matter anyway," Wallace added, trying to be helpful. "It's all about what they do and how they do it."

Veronica slid down into the water and leaned her head on the edge of the hot tub. "You guys aren't helpful. You think you are, but you really aren't."

Dick slapped Wallace's shoulder. "Come on, Wally. Let's go up to my room and I'll get you the book. I'll even throw in some condoms for ya!"

Wallace laughed as he followed Dick out of the hot tub, leaving the girls alone in the water.

"Are you okay?" asked Mac.

Veronica shrugged. "I guess. It's all just so weird."

"You mean, the fact that you just found out from Dick that your boyfriend is well endowed, or just sex in general?" Mac replied.

Veronica chuckled. "Both. It just kind of skews the beautiful picture of what our first time will be like."

Mac laughed. "Hoping for more romantic, less porno?"

Veronica rolled her eyes. "I didn't think it could be...difficult."

"You realize, it's not like the movies, right?" Mac said, moving to the spot in the hot tub across from Veronica.

"Yes, I realize that. Now I'm just worried that it won't feel good and neither of us will want to do it again." Veronica scrunched up her face, "Or he actually won't fit."

Mac frowned. "As much as I hate to say that Dick is right, I think he was probably kinda right about the whole 'fitting' thing. I mean, we are sorta stretchy, down there."

Veronica bit her lip, thinking about what Mac said. "Have you actually seen yourself? Like taken a mirror and had a look?"

Mac's eyebrows went up in shock. "No! I mean, you showed me the pictures in the book. I just figured we all looked alike."

Veronica looked off across the grounds, her mind wandering. What did she look like? Would she be able to tell if Logan would fit? What would he think when he saw her?

"So are you and Logan going to do it soon?" Mac's voice broke Veronica's thoughts. "I mean, I know what you told the guys about waiting, but…"

Veronica shook her head. "No. We're not ready. We're still too young. I want to go on the Pill before we do, and my parents don't even know, and what if we accidentally get pregnant…and just…no."

Closing her eyes for a moment, Veronica's memory landed in her bed, tucked under the covers, lustfully tangled in Logan's kisses. She opened her eyes and shivered as her body remembered as well.

"The furthest we've gone is kissing, with tongue. We haven't even reached second base, never mind a home run, yet."

Mac began giggling. "Any guy trying to get to second base with me would be sorely disappointed. At least yours are growing."

Veronica looked down at her chest, strapped down under her conservative blue sport bathing suit, and laughed. "They're coming in more. Maybe by the time we are ready for second base, they will actually be the size of a baseball."

"Well, your boyfriend is carrying around a pretty big bat, so I hope so." Mac snickered at her own joke.

As they began giggling, Dick and Wallace emerged from the house and jumped back into the hot tub with them.

"So what are we talking about now?" questioned Dick.

Veronica and Mac looked at each other.

"Sports!" Mac sputtered, making waves in the water as she started laughing again.

Wallace and Dick shrugged and patiently waited for the giggling to subside.

The days limped towards Christmas, dragging Veronica along with them. Sensing that her daughter was missing her best friend, Lianne tried to distract her with Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking. When they were home, no matter what she and Lianne were doing, Veronica insisted on having the television on all day, in case someone from the Echolls family was on a talk show.

On Monday morning, Veronica succeeded in seeing the whole family on Good Morning America, watching anxiously as the hosts fawned over how handsome Logan was and hearing how the 'handsome apple doesn't fall far from the tree.' She also caught Aaron on Live! with Regis and Kelly, where they cut to the family in the audience, and the hosts commented again on Logan's looks.

Monday night, she watched Logan parade the red carpet on Entertainment Tonight, wearing a stylish navy-blue suit and white button-down shirt, posing for pictures with his family, and even answering a few questions from the press. No, he didn't think he would be an actor or model. Yes, he really liked his Dad's movie.

On Access Hollywood, the same red carpet played and she watched him answer the same questions again. No, really, no Hollywood aspirations. Yes, his Dad is an amazing guy. But then, the pretty brunette interviewer asked Logan if there was someone special in his life. And from across the country, Logan looked directly through the television at Veronica, a shy smile pulling on one corner of his lips.

"Yeah. There's someone really special, back home," he told the reporter.

And Veronica swooned, falling sideways on the couch, burying her face in the pillows. Mercifully, her mother was in the other room, allowing Veronica to let out a little squeal of delight without being heard.

On Tuesday morning, she caught what must have been a taped segment on the Today show, but sadly only Aaron and Lynn were present. She spent the rest of the day wrapping presents and channel surfing, in case they appeared on some other show.

On Wednesday, Aaron and the girl that played his daughter in the movie appeared on Ellen. Knowing that the first L.A. red carpet was that night, Veronica still held out hope that she would see Logan again on the entertainment news programs on Thursday night.

Veronica spent all of Thursday at the boardwalk with Mac, Wallace, and Dick, and got home just in time to catch Logan - sporting a black suit, red shirt, and black tie – making his second appearance on Entertainment Tonight. This time, he didn't talk to reporters, just smiled and nodded as he walked past. For the split second he was posing with his family, she saw the fake smile on his face and his dead eyes staring at the camera. Veronica pressed a hand to her chest. What had Aaron done to him? Had his father's insane jealousy reared its ugly head again? Shutting off the television, Veronica hid up in her room for the rest of the night.

Friday was Christmas Eve and there was a flurry of activity as Veronica and her mother set up the Christmas tree and dragged the boxes of lights and decorations out of storage, ready for their traditional tree-trimming festivities that night. As Veronica sat on the couch and worked on untangling the lights, Lianne approached with a stack of envelopes.

"The last of the Christmas cards arrived…and one for you…on stationery from The Plaza Hotel." Lianne grinned.

Veronica's eyes grew wide. Logan. Logan had sent her something. Using all her strength to suppress the urge to scream and rip the envelope from her Mom's hand, Veronica stood slowly.

"Oh. Logan mentioned he would send me some New York postcards." Veronica reached her hand out to her Mom, trying her best to sound nonchalant. "Must be those."

"I'll go put it upstairs. Be back in a minute," Veronica stated, as Lianne handed it to her, then sauntered up the stairs.

When she got to her room, Veronica leaned her back against the door and held the envelope to her heart.

"Logan," she whispered to the empty room.

Pulling it from her chest, Veronica held the precious object delicately in her hands. Her thumb began moving back and forth over the fine bond paper, caressing the expensive fibres. Her eyes were fixed on the loops and swirls of her name, as rendered by Logan's hand. Flipping the envelope over, she traced the seal and imagined him bringing the fold to his lips. She eased her thumb under the corner of the seal and gently slipped open the fold.

Removing the letter from inside, Veronica bit her lip in anticipation. Easing the page open, she took a deep breath and began to read:

The Plaza Hotel - New York, New York

Dear Veronica,

This is my bagillionth draft of this letter. There are crumpled bits of very expensive Plaza stationery all over my bed, and I had to call the front desk to ask them to send up more. For some reason, I just can't find the right words. So I'm just going to babble on somewhat incoherently, and hope you don't think I'm drunk or lost my mind.

It's beautiful in New York. You would love it. There is snow everywhere and Christmas lights and decorations and it's kind of…magic. There's this weird feeling like anything can happen, you know? One day, I want us to come here, together, in winter, so you can see for yourself how amazing it is. And so we can recreate the piano scene from "Big" at FAO Schwartz. It's also kind of freezing here, so we would need to cuddle together for warmth a lot.

I guess what I really wanted you to know is that I miss you. It's only been a few days, but I miss you so much. And I am amazed every single day that you love me. Truly, blown away by this fact. I know it's not going to be perfect all the time. I'm pretty sure you'll be mad at me at least a couple of times. But I really want you to know, no matter how badly I screw up, I will always love you, Veronica. Always. Merry Christmas.

Yours, Logan

P.S. If this should fall into your parents' hands accidently…Hi Mr. and Mrs. Mars…I really do love your daughter...please don't shoot me when I get home.

Veronica's legs completely gave out on her, and she slowly slid down the door, landing on the floor.

An actual love letter.

Her chest was tight as she clutched the note to her breast again. She never thought she would be the kind of girl that boys wrote love letters to. In her mind, love letters were for sweeping romances and torrid affairs. By comparison, their love felt small and quiet.

She opened the paper and read it again, and again, and then one more time, so she could commit it to memory.

Folding the precious document, Veronica placed it gently into the envelope. Crossing to her closet, she reached up to the top shelf and brought down a shoebox. Lifting her Mary Janes, and the tissue paper below it, she slid the letter inside, covering it with the shoes for safe keeping. Veronica sighed as she placed the shoe box back on the shelf.

Taking a moment, she composed herself in her mirror, waiting until the warmth had drained from her cheeks, and for her heart rate to return to normal. Smiling at her reflection briefly, Veronica returned to the Christmas preparations downstairs, her heart filled with joy.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The new puppy thought Christmas Day was the best day of its little life. Backup was a six-month old, caramel-coloured pitbull, who loved belly-rubs, squeak toys, jumping in boxes, and ripping up paper. When Keith brought the rescue dog home on Christmas Eve, the gangly puppy eagerly began trying to devour the presents under the tree. And each time a present was opened, he tried to fit his gangly body into the box. The next day, Veronica and Keith took him out into the back yard and let him hop happily from empty box to empty box.

Veronica's father named him Backup, insisting again that he and Logan needed help keeping tabs on Veronica. Keith enrolled Backup in obedience classes which Veronica would be responsible for attending and she eagerly agreed, happy to finally have a "sibling" in the house with her.

That afternoon, Veronica was hanging out in her room reading, Backup snuggled at the end of her bed, when the phone rang. She lunged for it, hoping it was Logan.

"Hey, Ronnie! Happy belated Christmas!" came Dick's voice on the receiver.

Veronica scowled. Not Logan. "Hey, Dick! That's not a thing."

"Sure it is," Dick replied. "So, was Santa good to you?"

"Pretty good. My Dad got us a dog. He's the sweetest pitbull you will ever meet. His name is Backup." Veronica leaned over and gave the puppy a rub behind the ears. "How was your Christmas? Was your Dad's Christmas Eve party fun?"

"Uh, you could say it was…interesting." Dick began nervously.

Veronica frowned. "Okay. I'll bite. What made it so interesting?"

"Okay…so normally, I would tell this to Logan, but he's not here, and I gotta tell someone. And you're my second-best-friend…" he rambled on, getting increasingly more excited.

"Out with it Dick. What did you do?" she sighed, growing impatient.

"I had sex with Maddie… sorry…Madison...during the party."

Veronica nearly dropped the phone. Her mouth fell open in shock. "What?"

"We had sex. And it was fan-freaking-tastic!" Dick chuckled.

Dick had sex. Dick had sex with Maddie. Dick had sex before anyone else. She was both horrified and curious.

"How…" Veronica stammered, "…how did that happen?"

"Well, we hung out during the party and had a lot of fun," Dick began, his voice full of enthusiasm. "So we headed up to my room, and started making out. But then, she started letting me do other stuff to her! Fun stuff! And she really liked it so she said we could go further and that's when I…"

"Oh. My. God!" Veronica blurted out, hoping to stop the description that was happening before her brain was permanently scarred by that mental image.

"And here's the thing…I'm good at it. Like, really good at it," proclaimed Dick proudly. "I made her have an orgasm, like, a couple of times and it blew her mind! Now she wants to be my girlfriend so we can do it all the time."

Veronica closed her eyes and covered them with her free hand. "Please tell me you used the condoms."

"Hell yeah! But it's cool because Madison's on the Pill 'cause of her acne. Just using them for extra protection, you know," Dick reassured her. "But I got to try, like, a thousand things from The Joy of Sex book and, let me just say, it is awesome!"

Veronica sighed and shook her head. Uncovering her eyes, she fell back onto her pillow. "You weren't supposed to use that information yet."

Dick was silent for a moment.

"Look, Ronnie, I'm not smart or handsome like Logan. What chance do I have of finding someone who cares about me the way you care about him?" Dick said, a hint of sadness in his tone. "Being with Madison makes me feel good. And I make her feel good. And if she likes me because of that, it's okay."

Veronica's heart went out to her friend. The friend who had been fought over so viciously by both of his parents in divorce court, then raised by nannies when custody was settled. The friend who struggled at school his whole life. The friend who would one day inherit millions and had no reason to plan for any future. The friend who sat back and watched his other two best friends fall in love with each other.

"Just be careful," Veronica said quietly. "Logan and I love you, Dick. We just don't want to see you get hurt. Or end up with a baby. Or contract some horrible STD."

Dick chuckled. "Thanks for caring. I love you guys, too. When you eventually get married, can I live in your basement?"

Veronica laughed at the thought of a grown-up Dick Casablancas living on a futon in her home. "Our basement is your basement, bro."

"Cool," Dick replied. "Have you heard from our boy yet?"

Veronica smiled at her ceiling at the thought of her last communication from Logan. "He sent me a letter from the Big Apple. He said it was snowing in New York and it was beautiful."

"That's all he said?" Dick scoffed.

I will always love you, Veronica. Always.

"He said other stuff," Veronica responded, coyly. "Stuff just to me."

"Ugh. Even with him across the country, you two manage to be nauseatingly cute." Dick gagged.

Veronica giggled. "You should try it. Madison would probably love it. Have you sent her flowers yet?"

"Pfft…no. Why?" replied Dick.

"She decided to lose her virginity to you. Maybe you can show her it actually meant something to you, too? Kind of a big deal to us girls," Veronica explained to her friend.

"I thought that the freaky wild orgasms were enough." Dick laughed.

Veronica dragged her palm across her face, shaking her head. "No Dick. It's not enough. Now go order that girl a big bouquet of flowers. And call her. Ask how she's feeling. Maybe make a date with her that doesn't involve sex."

"Okay. You're right. I'll send her flowers and call her. It kind of meant a lot to me, too, you know," he answered quietly. "I actually do like her. She's beautiful and funny and she kind of gets me. I'm still amazed that she likes me."

"Then show her that you care about her too," Veronica replied. "I'm sure she will love it."

"Ok—ay," Dick sighed deeply. "I'll get off the phone and do it now. Thanks, Ronnie. Call me tomorrow and we can hang out."

"Cool. Good luck, Romeo," she teased lightly, before hanging up.

The box office sales for Aaron's movie opening on Christmas day were abysmal. The reviews were even worse. The Oscar winner, who at one time was known as much for his gut-wrenching dramas as his action movies, could not convince anyone that he was a loving, doting single father to seven orphan children. The press called his on-screen interactions with his 16-year-old co-star "creepy." They said his scenes with his make-believe sons were "cold." Veronica shook her head, as she watched a report on the movie on E! News. Apparently, a bit of the real Aaron Echolls had snuck onto the screen. Any interviews Veronica caught, the days leading up to New Year's Eve, only featured Aaron, in full box-office damage-control mode, extolling his own family and bragging about the talents of his young co-stars.

New Year's Eve found the gang all together at Dick's house to ring in the year. Casey and Duncan were back from their family trips, and the group felt more complete with them. They spent time by the pool, ate the mountain of pizza they ordered, and played video games. They were in the middle of arguing about what movies to watch to pass the time until midnight, when the housekeeper entered the media room and announced that there was a gentleman on the phone for Veronica. Taking the cordless phone, Veronica scurried up to the living room to talk in private.

"Hey Daddy-O! Calling to check on the party?" she answered in a breezy tone.

"It's not your dad," came Logan's voice over the receiver.

"Oh my god, Logan!" she gasped, her hand going up to her chest as her heart began skipping. "I've missed you so much!"

"I've missed you too," he replied, his voice thick with emotion.

Veronica stopped in her tracks. "What's wrong?"

In the silence between them, Veronica could hear a party going on in the background on his end. "Everything. Everything is wrong," Logan choked.

Veronica began rocking on the balls of her feet, panic starting to surge through her.

"What has he done to you?" she whispered.

There was another pause and Veronica heard the sound of a glass hitting the receiver.

"What hasn't he done. So long as I'm breathing, I'm screwing shit up, in his eyes. And he's taken every opportunity to tell me so." Logan let out a caustic laugh. "He wants me to be charming, I'm charming. Oh, but, that was too charming, and who do I think I am, talking to the media, but he told me to so…fuck. I can't win. He keeps changing the fucking rules and I can't fucking win."

Veronica closed her eyes. "I love you. It'll be over soon."

Then, after another pause, she got up the nerve to ask, "Logan, are you drunk?"

Logan's thick chuckle confirmed it before he spoke. "Yeah. I've had a few. Pain killers don't seem to be doing the trick this time. And at these industry parties, no one cares if the underage kid has a glass of champagne."

This was bad, Veronica thought as she began pacing the edge of the rug. "Did he hurt you? Physically, I mean."

A cavernous silence fell between them. Veronica held her breath, anxious for him to answer.

"Yeah," Logan whispered. "And my Mom, too. It's just…messed up."

Veronica froze. "Whatever it is, I can help you. Just please tell me what happened. You're scaring me."

A sharp breath pierced the phone. "I don't want to scare you. I'm sorry. I never meant to drag you into this."

That's when she heard a small sob from Logan. Veronica wanted nothing more than to be able to teleport herself there so she could comfort him.

"I just feel…" Logan began hesitantly, "…like a complete fuck-up right now. I love you so much and I just can't stand the thought that one day I might screw things up so badly that I lose you."

"Please listen to me, Logan. You are not a fuck up. You are a good person. And you won't lose me. I love you too much." She sucked in a shuddering breath, trying to keep her emotions in check. "Whatever has happened, when you come home we'll deal with it or fix it or whatever we have to do. Okay?"

Veronica heard knocking on Logan's end of the line.

"I have to go," he said, hurriedly. "Just remember that I love you. I will always love you. Okay?"

"I know. I love you too. Logan I—" she began, but the phone went dead.

Letting out a little shriek of frustration, Veronica turned off the phone and collapsed on the couch beside her, fighting the angry tears that threatened to consume her.

Veronica lay there, for a moment, her face buried in the pillows, when suddenly, someone's hand brushed her hair. She lifted her head up in shock to find that Duncan was sitting in front of her, kneeling the ground.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

Duncan's lips curled up into a small smile. "Needed some time alone. I saw you were upset when you got off the phone. What's wrong?"

"It's Logan," she murmured softly. "I just talked to him, and there's this stupid shit going on with his family, and he's so upset and I just wish I was there to help him because it's all…so…bad."

Duncan frowned. "Bad how?"

Veronica's breath caught as she swallowed down her emotions. "Just…bad. I can't talk about it. I made him a promise."

Her friend nodded sympathetically. "But he still loves you, right. So, whatever it is, I'm sure it will be alright."

Veronica let out a long sigh. Duncan was right. Once Logan was back, they would deal with it. Just like she said they would.

"And, at least you guys can be together, you know, holding hands and kissing. Casey and I…not so much," Duncan added, sadly.

Veronica's heart went out to him. "Is that why you're up here and not downstairs?"

Duncan nodded. "I kind of wish I had the courage to tell my family about Casey, and let whatever is going to happen, happen. But I don't even have the guts to kiss him at midnight."

Veronica sat up, crossing her legs on the couch. "I wish you did, too. For Logan and I, hiding our relationship is out of convenience. I know your reasons for hiding are much deeper."

"I just hope that one day we can be ourselves," murmured Duncan. "Without worrying about what our families say."

Veronica sighed and took her friend's hand. "Why can't you kiss Casey at midnight? You are with friends. They may be surprised, but they won't judge you."

"I wish it were that easy, Veronica. But it's not." Duncan shrugged.

Veronica dropped her head. "I'm sorry. I just want you guys to be happy. That's all."

She looked up to see a grin began to pull at his lips. "If you care that much, will you help us tonight?"

Veronica's eyes widened, suddenly forgetting about her own problems. "Ooh...what?"

"Can I switch rooms with you? Your room has a connecting door with Casey's," Duncan confided.

Veronica broke out in a mischievous grin. If she couldn't be with the person she loved, at least she could help another couple be together. "Absolutely! Let's go upstairs now and switch our stuff before anyone notices."

Duncan stood, holding out his hand to her. She took it and he helped her off the couch, opening his arms when she stood. She leaned into him as he pulled her into a big hug.

"It'll all be fine. You'll see," Duncan reassured her.

Veronica rested her head on his shoulder for a second, closing her eyes. She wanted Logan to be hugging her. If only he would miraculously appear right now. But, of course he didn't. Veronica opened her eyes again and gave a heavy sigh, pulling away from Duncan.

"Thanks for caring," she forced a small smile. "Now, let's go get you set up for some alone time with your man."

Several hours later, when midnight chimed, the friends worked their way around the group, hugging each other. Veronica looked over Dick's shoulder as he hugged her tightly, watching as Casey and Duncan lingered a little longer in their embrace than everyone else. Even though she missed Logan terribly, she was still happy for all her friends.

Wednesday.

Logan was supposed to be home on Wednesday, Veronica repeated to herself. She wasn't sure what time on Wednesday, but Wednesday was the day. Wednesday morning, she began to get antsy. By Wednesday afternoon, she felt frantic. By Wednesday night, she had cried herself to sleep.

Thursday morning, Veronica was full of excuses. Maybe they were delayed. Maybe their schedule changed. Maybe they were still in New York. Surely he'd call today? She busied herself helping her mom put away decorations, cleaning her room, and doing the homework she had procrastinated on during the holidays. When Logan had not called by the evening Veronica was feeling panicked. Immediately after dinner, she bolted upstairs to call the Echolls and find out what was going on.

"Hello, Veronica," Lynn answered softly.

Veronica's stomach did a flip. They were home. They were home and he didn't call.

"Hi Mrs. Echolls," she replied, her stomach twisting into knots. "Can I speak to Logan, please?"

There was a pause and Lynn sighed. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. Logan and Trina stayed in L.A. for a little longer. They won't be back until Sunday."

Just when she thought she couldn't feel any worse, she hit a new level of misery.

"Okay. Thank you for telling me. I guess I'll see him when he gets home, then," she replied, her shaking voice giving away her emotions.

"Darling…" Lynn began, but Veronica hung up quickly, before she started crying. For the second time in two days, she sobbed herself to sleep.

Friday morning, Veronica returned from walking Backup to an empty house; her Dad was pulling a double shift and her Mom was out grocery shopping. Flopping down on the couch, Veronica picked up the remote and began mindlessly flipping channels. The sound of the phone ringing startled her and she jumped off the couch to answer it, stumbling across the room.

"Hello?" she gasped into the receiver.

"Where are you?" a caustic female voice replied.

"Who is this?" she asked, confused by the voice she thought she recognized, but couldn't place.

"It's me, Trina. Logan needs you, and you aren't here."

"What? Wait, Trina? Your Mom told me you and Logan were in L.A. until Sunday," Veronica shot back.

"Of course she did," Trina grumbled. "We got back on Wednesday. Look, Logan told me that you know about…about how Dad treats him. Something happened while we were away. He hurt Logan. Badly."

Veronica clasped her mouth with her hand. She tried to speak but couldn't get any words out

"I'm really worried about him. He hasn't come out of his room since we got home. I thought, at first, that Mom would have dragged him out, but she's so messed up herself, that she's left him to fend for himself," Trina continued. "Mrs. Navarro has been making sure he eats, but he won't let me in to talk or check on his wounds. That's why I'm calling you; I thought you would have come over by now."

Panic bubbled up in Veronica. Finding her words, she tried to keep her emotions in check. "Okay, I can come over, Trina. But you'll have to send Ben to pick me up, okay?"

"Thank you, Veronica," Trina let out a sigh of relief. "You know, I may tease him, but I still love my little brother. A lot. I just want to try and help, now that I saw for myself how Dad treats him."

"I know you do, Trina. I'll see you soon," Veronica replied before hanging up the phone.

There was no time to wallow. Veronica called her Dad at work to ask if she could stay over at Logan's that night. Since Backup had his morning walk, Keith agreed, and reminded her to leave a note for her mom, if Lianne wasn't home by the time she left. Veronica took a quick shower and packed her bag. As she came downstairs, she saw Ben in front of the house. Scrawling a quick note, Veronica grabbed her keys and ran out of the house.

Ben dropped her off near the side of the Echolls house. As per Trina's instructions, Veronica was to come in the pool door, to avoid the possibility of running into Lynn. The drive gave her time to collect herself before seeing Logan, and as she walked across the pool deck, a feeling of calm begin to settle over her.

When she entered, Trina jumped from couch. "Thank God you're here. I tried to see him again, after we talked, and he just told me to go to hell," Trina confided.

"I'll see what I can do. Thanks Trina," Veronica said with a nod, and made her way up the back staircase.

Opening the door to her bedroom, Veronica dropped her bag on the ground and toed her shoes off on the carpet. Walking to the closed bathroom door, she knocked softly, opening it when there was no response. Across the room was the door that led to Logan's.

Taking a moment, to consider her options, she decided not to go further. When she was young, she loved to pet any animal that she came upon. Her Dad taught her to let a skittish animal come to her by sitting quietly and letting it get used to her. Maybe, she thought, this was what Logan needed – to feel safe enough to come to her.

Walking back to her bed, she crawled onto the mattress, crossed her legs, she sat in the direct line of sight from Logan's door. Taking a deep breath, she began to wait, patiently.

Veronica didn't have to wait long. Her heartbeat increased as she watched him appear in his doorway. He was in shorts and a muscle shirt, his hair disheveled and his face unshaven. A white bandage was wrapped around his left hand and another gauze square peeked out on the left side of his chest, from under his shirt. He froze when he saw her across the way, shock crossing his face.

Veronica stretched out her hand to him. Logan paused for a moment, then swiftly crossed the room. Dropping to his knees at the edge of the bed, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. Veronica enveloped him, sliding her legs out off the bed to wrap around his body, her fingers digging into his skin.

"I missed you," Veronica said softly, burying her face in his messy hair.

"I missed you, too," Logan replied. His stubble pricked her skin as he rested his head on her shoulder.

"Why didn't you call me?" she asked as she began stroking his hair, gently.

He let out a soft sigh that tickled her neck. "I didn't want to drag you into this nightmare."

Veronica closed her eyes. "What happened? What did Aaron do to you?"

Logan peeled himself away from Veronica and sat back on his heels. Her eyes dropped from his haggard face to the bandage on his chest. Reaching out, her palm gently covered the white gauze.

"It's not what he did to me. It's what he did to Mom," Logan stated, his voice shaking slightly.

Veronica's chest tightened. "He hurt her too?"

Logan dropped his eyes from Veronica's face. "I…I didn't see what happened. But Trina said…"

His palms pressed to his eyes, his face contorting in pain. "He attacked her," he whispered, so small that Veronica almost didn't hear him. "She tried to stop him from torturing me, and he…he raped her."

The bile caught in Veronica's throat.

"What?" she gasped, dropping her hand from his chest.

Logan looked up at her and nodded, his face ghostly pale. "I had passed out, but Trina…she heard what happened. And she talked to Mom about it after. It's not the first time he's done it, either."

Veronica sucked in a sharp breath. "That's why she never stopped him from beating you."

Logan dragged his fingers through his hair. "Yeah. That's exactly why."

Veronica brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. "What happened? What did he do to you?"

Logan slumped back onto the floor. Veronica watched as he lay down, his tired eyes gazing blankly at the ceiling, his palms on his forehead. "It was a couple of days after Christmas. Aaron had been on edge, since his movie was officially proclaimed a piece of shit."

Logan let out a sarcastic laugh as he continued. "The studio dropped the rest of the family from the interviews and sent Aaron on with his co-star instead. But we still had to sit in the Green Room, so there was still this illusion that we were an actual family."

Veronica shifted, rolling onto her stomach and leaning over the edge of the bed slightly, to see him better. Logan looked up at her, his eyes moist with tears as he continued his story.

"That evening, there was this party, and I ended up spending most of the time hanging out with a couple of the extras from the movie, who were around our age - 16, 17 - just shooting he shit," Logan retold, his eyes closing again as he spoke.

"Later, I was getting ready for bed, and someone knocked on my bedroom door," he paused, taking a deep breath. "It was one of the girls I was hanging out with. She asked if she could come in."

Veronica bristled. "What did you say?"

Logan turned his head to look at his girlfriend. "I didn't say anything! I was so shocked that I just stood there while she brushed past me."

Veronica's breath caught in her throat. "What happened?"

Logan sat up quickly, moving closer to Veronica. "I didn't touch her. Nothing happened. She said Aaron told her I wanted to sleep with her. I told her he was wrong, that I had a girlfriend, and that she needed to leave."

Veronica sighed in relief.

"Then what?" she asked, trying to focus on what he was saying and not what she was feeling.

Logan pulled his knees up to his chest, remaining on the floor near Veronica. "I followed the girl into the main living room in the suite. We had the entire penthouse, so she just beat it to the elevator and left."

He began shifting his body uncomfortably as he recalled the encounter. "But Aaron wasn't too happy that I rejected his 'Christmas present'. He had been sitting there, in the living room, smoking his cigar, watching all this unfold."

Logan began rocking back and forth slightly, hugging his knees. "So once she was gone, Aaron started laying into me about 'being a man' and how 'ungrateful' I was - like not sleeping with her was a personal affront to him. And I didn't say a word. But then he remembered that I said something on camera about having someone special at home. And that's when he began really laying into me, taunting me, goading me whether the person was a guy or a girl - saying all sorts of disgusting things about who could possibly be with the likes of me."

Logan paused to catch his breath. Veronica held his cold, hard gaze as he steadied himself.

"That's when Trina and Mom came out of their rooms. I thought he would quit once Trina was there,but he was determined to goad me into telling him who I was dating. He said he had to 'approve' of my choice. Even made some crude cracks about 'trying her out' first. But I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of telling him - because I knew if I did, he would make our lives hell."

Fear. A flash of fear crossed Logan's face briefly, just long enough for Veronica to notice. He wasn't afraid for him; he was afraid for her.

"Well, my silence only angered him more. He came and grabbed me by the neck, forced me over to the desk in the middle of the room. He pulled my arm across it and told me to open my hand. So I did, but I still wouldn't tell him about you" Logan explained. "And I still didn't, even when he burned my hand with his cigar."

Veronica's tears began to sting her eyes, but she still held Logan's stare, the feeling of shock finally wearing off and her true emotions started to surface.

"Mom and Trina started into him then, but he was still so enraged that I wouldn't scream or cry out, that he ripped off my t-shirt and began listing names of the girls he meet at the party, while he held his cigar near my chest."

Her stomach twisted and turned as he spoke. Veronica swore she could smell the tobacco.

"Then suddenly, he said your name, and I flinched. Well, he got this sickening smile on his face and I told him to fuck off, and that's when he snuffed out his cigar on my chest."

"Oh my God," Veronica cried.

"The pain was so excruciating that I passed out. The last thing I remember was Trina grabbing me, and my Mom grabbing Aaron." Logan sighed.

"And your mom - ?"

Logan looked away. "Trina told me later what happened. Aaron dragged Mom out of the room, all the while she was screaming and fighting. Trina took care of me; dressed my burns, got me back to my room, doped me with painkillers. She told me, just before we went to that New Year's Eve party, that she found out that Aaron raped Mom."

Carefully, Veronica slipped off the bed and moved to the ground next to Logan. Wrapping her arms around his chest, she coaxed her head under his arm, stretching her legs under his bent knees, just to be as close to him as possible. They created a ball, huddled together for comfort and protection.

"He's a monster," she whispered into Logan's shoulder as she held him tightly.

Logan kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms around her. "Right now, I'm worried about what he will do to you now that he knows we're dating. He seems to think that anything, or anyone, that's mine is also his."

Veronica closed her eyes in thought. "What can he do? He's never around, and if he tries anything, I would tell my dad."

Logan shook his head. "He doesn't care. He raped his own wife with his kids in the next room. He's insane. You need to get as far away from my fucked up family as you can, before he hurts you."

Veronica let go of Logan and moved to sit on her knees, her face inches from his. "And I am saying, no. We're in this together. I'm not going anywhere. All right?"

Logan frowned. "If something happens to you…"

Veronica stopped him with her lips, pressing on his, hard and urgent. His body tensed then relaxed as he yielded to her contact.

Pulling away, Veronica set her eyes on his. "Nothing. Will. Happen. You will keep me safe. My dad will keep me safe. I will keep me safe. Okay?"

A small smile played on Logan's lips. "Okay."

Veronica replied with her own soft smile. Hesitantly, he raised his head and gently pressed his lips to hers again. Pulling back for a moment, he pressed his forehead to hers.

"God, I missed you," he murmured.

She returned to his lips for another kiss, letting him press a little deeper against her this time. The stubble on his face prickled her soft skin, but she barely noticed. Veronica closed her eyes as they separated slightly; this time, his lips searched for hers.

Logan's bandaged hand moved up to cradle Veronica's cheek as they lost themselves in each other. She twined her fingers through his hair, desperate to keep him close. Finally, they released each other, gasping for breath.

Veronica reached up to touch the stubble on his face. "You feel like a hedgehog."

Logan chuckled. "I was about to take a shower and shave, when you showed up."

Veronica wrinkled her nose. "You do smell all sweaty and musky."

Logan arched his eyebrow, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. "Scrub my back for me?"

Veronica giggled, her eyes lighting up. "Really?"

Logan laughed. "No. Not really. This is just the first time I have felt like myself in three weeks and I don't want it to end because I stink."

"I wouldn't say you stink. You just smell very manly. And don't worry…I'm not going anywhere," Veronica reassured him. Then she paused, wrinkling her nose, "Scratch that. I ran out of the house before I ate lunch. I'm going to go find food while you shower."

Letting out a groan, Logan stood, offering his good hand to Veronica. Grasping his fingers tightly, she pulled herself up, inches in front of him. The air between them felt electric. Veronica hadn't realized exactly how much she'd missed him until he was right here in front of her. She watched his eyes as they scanned her face, as if he'd forgotten what she looked like.

"Go and eat," he said, quietly. "I'll meet you downstairs in a little while. Then we can go hide out somewhere together."

Veronica fought the urge to kiss him again, knowing that it would probably lead to even more kissing.

"Okay," she replied.

Biting her lip, she stepped back a little, breaking free of his orbit.

Logan smiled and ducked his head, backing away from her as well. He gave her one last wink, then disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

When Veronica arrived downstairs, Trina was sitting at the kitchen counter consuming a nutritious lunch of Pop Tarts and Frosted Flakes. She gestured to Veronica to sit down.

"Come and eat. Feel free to help yourself. Mrs. Navarro went to the market, so have whatever you can find," Trina smiled.

Veronica sidled over to the freezer, rummaging around until she found two containers of ice cream. She grabbed a spoon from a drawer and turned. Walking over to Trina, she placed the containers on the kitchen island and, opening them both, she began to dig into the gooey treat.

"So, how's Logan?" Trina asked between mouthfuls of cereal.

Veronica shrugged. "Okay, I guess. He's taking a shower."

"Did he tell you what happened?" she asked, quietly.

"Yeah. How is your Mom?" Veronica replied.

Trina pushed her bowl away. "As well as can be expected, considering everything. You know, the next day, she got dressed and went with Dad to an event. Lynn Echolls in the role of a lifetime: Lynn Echolls." Trina dramatically swept her hands across the air, pantomiming a marquee sign.

Veronica sighed and turned her gaze back to the main foyer. She couldn't even begin to imagine what was going on in Lynn's head right now. And she didn't really want to.

"It's all kind of surreal," Veronica murmured.

Trina placed her elbows on the counter, her chin in her hands. "I'm just trying to keep her calm. The doctor came, when we got home, and gave her some sedatives so she could sleep. Dad is off on an international press tour for the next month, so she won't have to deal with him for a while."

Veronica frowned. "Then what? Divorce him?"

"I don't know. Maybe," Trina shrugged. "He's attacked Mom before and she didn't divorce him. He's beaten Logan before and she didn't divorce him. Why would she do it now?"

Veronica shoved another spoonful of ice cream in her mouth as she contemplated what Trina had said.

"So…" Trina began slowly, a sly grin twitching across her face. "You and Logan, huh?"

Veronica's cheeks flushed, a moment of embarrassment taking over. "Yeah. We got together just after Halloween."

"Then Logan stole my copy of The Joy of Sex for you, not Lilly Kane." Trina winked.

Veronica rolled her eyes. "We aren't doing it. If that's what you think."

"Good. You're both still too young," Trina chided, wagging a manicured nail at her. "I lost it when I was 13 and it was a big mistake."

"Why? What happened?" she asked, hoping Trina had some special insight into losing one's virginity. Veronica had always secretly wanted a big sister to talk to. In this case, Trina would have to do.

A look of disgust passed over Trina's face. "It was terrible. I was 13 and he was 16, and I thought that I had to do it, or he would stop dating me. We had sex in his pool house, during a party, and he stopped talking to me a few days later. Thank God Mom had the good sense to put me on the Pill when I got my period," Trina explained. "I was a little boy-crazy and I think she was terrified of what Aaron would do if I got pregnant."

Veronica couldn't help herself; she needed more information. This could be the only opportunity she had to talk to someone with more experience than her.

"Didn't it feel good?" she asked, her voice dropping to a whisper.

Trina let out a deep sigh. "It was awful. I thought it would feel so good, because making out with him felt so good. But the fact of the matter is that it hurt, a lot."

Veronica's mouth dropped open. "It hurt?"

Trina thought for a moment before answering. "Yeah. But that's because the jerk didn't use a condom or lube. I was so raw I couldn't walk right for a week."

Staying a virgin for the rest of her life was sounding better and better to Veronica as all her romantic notions just went up in a little puff of smoke.

Veronica's shocked face must have registered with Trina. "It's not like that for everyone. My brother really cares for you. I'm sure he'll be careful."

Veronica frowned and took a pensive bite ice cream. "We're still a long way off from that."

Trina's expression suddenly changed, her face lit up and she jumped off her stool. "Hey, you're out of your room!"

Veronica whipped around to see Logan leaning against the side of the fridge, a shy smile on his face. He was dressed in jeans and an orange knit shirt, his face smooth once more. Veronica's cheeks flushed at the sight of him. How long had he been standing there while she and Trina were talking?

"Yep. Time to face this shit show," he muttered.

Walking over to the fruit bowl, he grabbed an apple and wandered over to Trina's side of the counter to join them.

"I see you both have selected very nutritious lunches," Logan remarked as he took a seat across from Veronica.

Trina rumpled Logan's wet hair with her hand. "Says the boy who has barely eaten anything the past few days."

Logan playfully swatted her hand and she sat down next to him. Veronica noticed a look of genuine caring in Trina's eyes when she looked at her brother, and it made her smile.

"How's Mom doing?" Logan asked.

Trina shrugged. "Okay, I guess. You should go talk to her."

Logan furrowed his brow. "And say what? Sorry Aaron attacked you because of something I did? Hope there's no hard feelings?"

"Logan…" Trina began.

"It's true, isn't it? I mean, if I had just made up the name of a fake girlfriend, and taken my punishment without being such an asshole, then she wouldn't have fought him, and –" Logan couldn't finish the rest of his sentence.

"You can't blame yourself, Logan," Veronica interjected.

Logan nodded. "Yeah. I can. He figured out it was you anyway, in the end. Now you're in danger, Mom's been attacked, and Trina…" he turned to his sister to fill in the blank.

"…and Trina is leaving," his sister answered quietly.

"What?" Logan exclaimed. "When did this happen?"

Trina looked between the two and sighed. "Mom and I talked about it. She doesn't think it's safe for me to stay here anymore, now that I know what I know. So I'm headed to New York on Wednesday, and I'm not coming back."

There was silence for a moment as the news sunk in.

"I'm going to kill him," Logan murmured, his voice thick with hate.

Veronica's turned to him in horror. "Logan, you can't!"

"No! He needs to be stopped! He's single-handedly fucking up all our lives!"

"Then what? You go to prison and we see each other only through glass for the rest of our lives?" Veronica responded angrily. "Look, I agree, we have to do something, but killing him is off the table."

"So what do you suggest?" asked Trina. "You two are just kids. And I'm about to leave. And Mom is pretty much a zombie."

Veronica arched her eyebrow. Lists and lists of cases her Dad had told her about, and mystery books she had read over the years, ran through her head.

"Blackmail," she said.

Logan's eyes fixed on Veronica. "Blackmail him? With what?"

Veronica shrugged. "I don't know. But we all know he hates bad publicity more than anything else. We also know he beats his son, rapes his wife, and pimps out under age actresses to sleep with guys. I'm pretty sure we could find something that would keep him away from all if us, for good."

"Well, with him overseas, it will give you time to try and dig something up," Trina added.

"We could search the yacht while he's gone. That's where he spends most of his time. See if we can find anything there," Logan suggested, a smile beginning to creep onto his face.

Veronica responded with her own smile. They could do it. They could get rid of Aaron, once and for all.

Logan stood and walked around the counter towards Veronica. She turned to face him and he caught her in a big hug. He kissed the top of her head.

"If we do this, we have to do it in a way that guarantees we're both safe," he murmured into her hair. "Now that we know the full extent of what he is capable of - I don't want you to get hurt."

Veronica kissed his chest, near where her head lay. "Don't worry. If we can't do this safely, we won't do it."

Logan exhaled deeply, then fell silent. Veronica closed her eyes for a moment and inhaled his comforting scent. They needed to do this, she thought, no matter what the risk; no matter what the cost.

"Okay you two. Stop being cute," Trina said, making pretend gagging noises as she rose from her seat.

"For the record, I am ignoring this whole conversation, and will deny any knowledge of it if questioned," she added, as she walked around them to dump her dishes in the sink.

"Thanks, Trina," Logan stated. "Now, leave us alone."

"With pleasure," she muttered as she left the room.

Veronica tightened her grip on Logan, refusing to leave his arms. "What now?" she asked softly.

His body moved against hers as he shrugged. "Watch movies. Make out on the couch. Devise a plan for the destruction of my dear old Dad. The usual teen hijinks."

Veronica looked up at Logan, with mischief in her eyes. "Couldn't have come up with a better plan myself."

"Are you sure about this?" Veronica asked, reaching for the light switch.

"Yeah. I'm sure," Logan replied, already lying under the covers.

With a flick of her wrist, Veronica plunged the room into darkness. Wandering back to her bed, she stopped at the edge, contemplating how to lay beside him, without accidentally hurting his wounds. He was already lying on his back, his arm open, inviting her in. She gently slid under the covers and put her head in the crook of his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her softly as they both exhaled.

"Thanks for letting me stay here tonight," Logan said quietly.

"I hope you get a good night's sleep," she replied.

"Hmm," he murmured contentedly, letting the darkness and silence comfort them both.

Veronica closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of his body against hers. Her mind drifted to a few hours before, when they found themselves tangled together on the couch in the media room. The memory of Logan's body, as it pressed down on her body. The feel of his tongue wrapped around hers, and that wonderful spot on her neck that he teased with his soft lips. Even though they were clothed from neck to ankles, being this close to him again made every inch of her feel like it was on fire. She moved her leg over his, locking her ankle around his calf, so she could feel more connected to him.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you think I'll turn out like him?"

Her body went cold. "What do you mean?"

He fidgeted beside her, as if trying to get away. "If we get married someday. If we have kids one day. Do you think that I would hit them too?"

Veronica clamped himself to his side, anchoring her fingers around the folds of his clothes. The thought that Logan would grow up to be like his father was something she had never entertained.

"No. You could never be like that. Ever," she said, emphatically.

"How do you know?" Logan's voice cracked in the dark. "When we were being paraded around, everyone kept saying how I much look like him when he was younger. And how my mannerisms are like his. And, you know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Veronica placed her hand on his chest and pushed herself up slightly, so she could see his face. Even in the dark, she could make out the sadness in his eyes.

"Listen to me. You are not like him. You are kind and caring and thoughtful and patient and loving and so many more things, that I could go on for days," she said firmly.

He touched her cheek tenderly, giving her a small smile. "I like the person you describe. He sounds like a great guy."

She smiled down at him. "My boyfriend is pretty awesome. I won't have anyone talking smack about him. Especially himself."

Logan lifted his head brushing his lips across hers. She reciprocated, moving her head down and pinning him against their pillow as she lost herself in his kiss. With a contented sigh, Veronica released him and returned her head to his shoulder. Logan reached up and began stroking her hair gently.

"I won't let him hurt you. You know that, right?" he reassured her quietly.

Veronica paused.

"I know," she replied, hoping to heaven he actually could protect her

"One day, this will all be over, and maybe we can live normal lives," he mused.

"In a little apartment," she added.

"Near campus."

"Just you and me."

"Baking cookies all night long."

Veronica closed her eyes. "Exactly," she whispered as she drifted off to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

 She was resisting the urge to touch him. Logan slept soundly next to Veronica, flat on his stomach, one arm slung over her waist, his head turned to her, mouth open, snoring slightly.

Veronica awoke 15 minutes prior and spent the entire time watching him sleep. In the night, they had shifted positions, moving from cuddled together to fighting for space. Logan stretched his long limbs across most of the bed in a star shape, his hand still managing to reach over to her and rest on her stomach. Veronica woke up to find she had rolled on her back, her arms stretched up over her head, her legs stretched out, pushing against Logan's legs to keep his mattress-hogging at bay.

Not wanting to disturb his pleasant slumber, Veronica quietly shimmied closer to him, amusing herself by watching his facial movements as he rested next to her. Once she had memorized every line and pore on his face, she realized she wanted to run her fingers across his skin, play with his hair, kiss his lips. But she didn't. Instead, she let her mind wander, imagining how they would wake up like this when they moved in together.

Logan began to stir. He pulled Veronica to his side as she let out a surprised giggle.

"Good morning," he murmured, not opening his eyes.

"Good morning," she replied happily.

"How's my Teddy Bear this morning?" he yawned.

"Content," Veronica cooed. "And you?"

Logan exhaled and moved his head closer to hers. "Happy."

Veronica bit her lip as he opened his eyes, their noses almost touching. "Happy, huh?"

He nodded and gave her a quick peck on the lips. "I need to make a doll that looks like you, so you can sleep next to me every night."

"That's not creepy at all," Veronica replied sarcastically.

Logan's eyes twinkled mischievously. "Oh, well. Then you'll just have to stay here."

"Oh, well," Veronica whispered, leaning over to give him a soft kiss on the lips.

They held their kiss a little longer this time before Logan pulled away with a sigh. "I should probably get up and shower."

Veronica frowned. "Leaving so soon?"

Logan pursed his lips, trying to fight a smile. "Yeah. It's for the best."

"I don't think it's for the best," Veronica stated, wrapping her leg around the back of his leg, trying to keep him in bed a little while longer.

Logan chuckled. "Do you want to know why it's for the best?"

Damn her curiosity!

"Fine. Tell me why." She rolled her eyes.

"Well, there's this lovely phenomenon we boys like to refer to as 'Morning Wood –" he began, the corner of his mouth twitching into an evil smile.

"You woke up with a hard-on?" She giggled.

"Happens every morning, whether you are here or not. Makes life slightly difficult for the first few minutes of the day," he observed, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

"Score one for being a girl," Veronica teased, releasing his leg from her own.

Sliding his legs closer to the edge of the bed, he blew her a kiss as he positioned himself to retreat. Sitting up quickly, with his back to her, he turned his head over his shoulder and gave her a wink.

"Now, close your eyes and count to five," he instructed.

She looked at the ceiling and sighed. "Really?"

Waving his index finger around at her like a magic wand, he repeated himself. "Yep. Close your eyes, lest you be scarred forever by the sight of my incredible manhood."

This time, she let out a full belly laugh.

"Fine!" she replied and closed her eyes. "But I'll see it eventually!"

Logan's voice carried through the room. "You most definitely will. Just not today!"

The sound of the door closing alerted Veronica to open her eyes. Stretching happily, she rolled into the space he vacated and enjoyed the residual warmth of his body for just a while longer.

There was a small knock on the bathroom door, as Veronica stood at the sink.

"Thumb-gin!" Veronica spoke through her mouthful of toothpaste.

Logan's smile stretched from ear-to-ear as he entered their bathroom. "I'm next."

Veronica smiled through the foam in her mouth, catching Logan's eye in the mirror. He stopped behind her, placing his arms around her waist. She held her breath as he dragged his finger across the back of her neck, moving the long, wet braid in her hair to one side. He gently kissed the exposed skin near the collar of her t-shirt. She stopped brushing her teeth and closed her eyes as he continued to place tiny kisses along her neck and up to her ear.

"You are so beautiful when you practice good oral hygiene," he whispered.

She opened her eyes and laughed, covering her mouth as toothpaste fell out. Grabbing for a cup of water, she rinsed, giggling and sputtering.

Veronica turned to face him. "You're crazy."

He planted a kiss on her forehead. "No. Just enjoying playing house with you for a few minutes more. Is that so bad?"

"What if we could play house for a little longer today?" she asked.

"I'm intrigued," he replied, stroking his non-existent goatee and raising an eyebrow. "What is your plan?"

"Why don't you come over to my place and stay the day. And the night. You haven't crashed on my couch since the summer," she suggested, wrapping her arms around his neck. "We could go take Backup for a walk on the beach, hang out and talk, watch movies…Mom usually goes out Saturday night so I can make you Mac and Cheese from a box for dinner."

"With cut-up hot dogs? That's kind of a deal-breaker for me," Logan stated, pulling her closer to him.

"My boyfriend wants hot dogs? Then he shall have hot dogs," Veronica teased and kissed him on the cheek.

Logan smiled down at her. "Don't make me feel too comfortable. I may not want to leave your house."

Veronica sighed. "How about this thought: we have to go back to being 'just friends' at my place. No hugging. No touching. No kissing my neck."

A look of mischief danced in Logan's eyes and he quickly buried his face in the soft skin under her ear. She squealed and shimmied as he tickled her with his lips, causing him to hold her firmly in place.

"Then we'll have to do that here," he murmured in her ear.

Closing her eyes, Veronica gave into the rush of warmth, radiating from her stomach and out to every tip. The endorphin rush was becoming addictive, and she began to count their minutes apart as just spaces of time leading up to this eventual feeling of euphoria. It was a good thing he was holding her tightly, as her knees turned to Jello.

A knock on Logan's door quickly snapped the two out of their blissful state. Logan frowned as he released her and quickly jogged back through his room to open the door. Veronica, still regaining her composure, staggered slightly to the bathroom door.

Trina was leaning against the door frame, grinning from ear-to-ear.

"I didn't disturb anything, did I?" she asked gleefully, before walking into the room, heading straight towards the bathroom door.

"Come in, sis. Make yourself at home," he snarked.

Trina stopped near Veronica, giving her a knowing wink before she turned and leaned against the wall near her. "Don't mind if I do. Just came to prepare you…Mom is at breakfast this morning."

Logan frowned and walked up to his sister. "Is she okay?"

Trina rolled her eyes. "No. But she is out of bed, pretending to be, and that's what matters."

Veronica furrowed her brow. "So what do we do?"

"Play along," Trina replied. "Don't mention Dad. Or the trip. Or the movie. Or how she is doing."

"So basically, forget this." Logan raised his burnt hand to Trina. "Or what happened to her ever happened?"

"Yes," Trina stated firmly. "You didn't want to talk about it anyway, so just put it out of your head, for now."

"Easier said than done," he grumbled.

Veronica walked over to Logan and put her hand on his arm, reassuringly. "At least she's up and out of her room and trying to move on."

Logan crossed his arms, still looking unhappy about the situation. "Fine. You're right. Thanks for the warning, Trina."

Trina gave them a tight smile. "No problem. Let's all just try to keep her calm, okay? Get yourselves together and get downstairs ASAP."

The teenagers nodded quietly as Trina walked past them, out of the room.

Logan let out a groan. "When Trina is the rational adult in the house, you know things are bad."

Veronica smiled weakly. Carefully, she reached over and took Logan's left hand. Turning it so his palm was facing up, she looked at the round burn mark, now a red, angry scab.

"Does it still hurt?" she asked quietly.

"Not as much as the one on my chest," he murmured. "I was going to put a regular bandage over it today. I don't think I need to wrap it in gauze anymore."

Veronica brought his hand closer to her and kissed his wound softly. Glancing up at Logan, a sly smile pulled at her mouth.

"Now it will heal faster," she mused.

Logan's eyes twinkled and he stepped closer to her, catching her off guard as he enveloped her in a deep kiss. He wrapped his arms around her waist to keep her upright as her body teetered from the sudden shift.

As quickly as it started, Logan broke their kiss, leaving Veronica feeling slightly light-headed.

"Last kiss before we see the parents. Figured I would make it a good one," he teased.

Veronica blinked rapidly as her heart-rate returned to normal. "Mission accomplished."

Logan chuckled and walked back to the bathroom to finish getting ready, while Veronica took a moment to think about her plan for the day. Maybe, having Logan come over to her house, was not going to be as simple as she'd thought it would be.

Lynn sat at the head of the table, drinking a mimosa, her head held high. As Logan and Veronica approached, she smiled warmly, but her eyes still held their dead tone. Much to Veronica's surprise, Lynn rose to greet them, heels clicking on the tile floors. Lynn drew Veronica into a tight hug, catching her off-guard.

"Oh, how I've missed you, Veronica," Lynn gushed as she let go of the shocked girl.

"Umm...thank you, Mrs. Echolls," Veronica stammered. "I missed you guys, too."

Taking a step towards Logan, his mother reached out and ran her fingers gently through his hair. "How did you sleep last night, my dear?"

Veronica watched Logan's spine straighten, his muscles stiffen as he spoke. "Fine. Just fine, Mom."

Lynn nodded, her fingers trailing to touch his cheek. "When I checked on you last night, you weren't in your bed."

Logan stole a glance at Veronica and cleared his throat. "No. I wasn't."

Dropping her hand, she glanced between the couple. "Then I'm glad you both slept so well last night. Come to the table. Mrs. Navarro prepared a breakfast feast."

Lynn led the way back to the table, where Trina was sitting with a mischievous smile on her face. Logan took Veronica's hand and they sat across from Trina, to the left of Lynn.

"Slept very well, did you?" Trina muttered with glee.

"Shut up, Trina," Logan hissed. He grabbed the platter with bacon and offered it to Veronica.

Veronica bit back the smile that was pulling at her lips. Lynn and Trina's easy acceptance of their relationship made her happy. She briefly wished she could tell her own parents, but thought the better of it, knowing they wouldn't be as approving.

Lynn sighed loudly and clasped her hands together. "You two, play nice. This is the last time we will all be together for some time."

The siblings stopped for the moment and went back to their meals. Veronica decided to be bold and start a conversation that, hopefully, would not upset Lynn. "Are you going to continue your acting in New York, Trina?"

Trina nodded. "Yeah. TV and movie auditioning isn't going well in L.A. anyhow. Mom thinks I should try the theatre, like she did when she was in New York."

Veronica smiled and turned to Lynn. "I always loved the time we saw you in Taming of the Shrew."

A genuine sparkle flickered in Lynn's eyes for a moment. "The theatre is wonderful. The rush of never knowing what could happen. The immediate reaction of the audience. And Trina is such a good actress. She just needs a chance to shine!"

Trina snorted. "Yeah. In L.A. all anyone ever wanted me for was 'Dead Blonde #5' in their horror movie."

"You should do more acting again, Mom. Or teach in the theatre," Logan added quietly. "Now that I'm in Junior High, I'm not around as much anymore. And Mrs. Navarro is here to feed me. Even if it's something in San Diego, so you can still be at home most nights."

Lynn reached out and put her hand over Logan's. He responded by grasping her hand tightly.

Lynn's eyes became moist. "I like that idea. Thank you for suggesting it."

A peaceful silence fell in the room. Veronica placed her hand on Logan's knee, under the table and she felt his body relax.

"And you know," Trina interjected, trying to break the silence. "My apartment in New York has two bedrooms, which means you can come and visit me. Both of you."

"That's really nice of you Trina. Thanks," Logan replied with genuine warmth in his voice.

Trina looked between the teenagers, an evil grin suddenly appearing. "But no sleeping in the same bed at my place. I won't have any teen-babies conceived in my beautiful home."

Logan released Lynn's hand, grabbed his linen napkin, and threw it across the table at Trina, hitting her in the face. His sister squealed and launched it back at him with a high pitched laugh.

Logan got in one more toss before Lynn held up her hands. "Alright, you two…stop! Before one of you knocks over my mimosa!"

Veronica couldn't help but burst out laughing, along with Logan and Trina. The rolling laughter got louder and louder until Lynn joined in on the merriment too.

Veronica handed Logan her napkin and he wiped his eyes with it before handing it back to her. His lips silently formed the words 'I love you' and her heart began to swell.

Everything was going to be okay, she thought. They would find a way to get rid of Aaron from their lives and everything would be just fine.

"Veronica, didn't we discuss why we don't pick up hitchhikers?" Keith commented as she slid into the back seat.

"Logan is not a hitchhiker," she pointed out. "He's an industrious young man in need of a good meal and shelter for the night."

Keith turned around to look at the teenagers in the back, letting the car idle in the driveway. "Overnight? You know your Mom is out tonight and my night shift finishes at midnight, right?"

Veronica smiled and dropped her head to the side slightly. "Even more of a reason for Logan to crash on our couch tonight. He can be there to protect me from the marauding bands of axe murderers that are rampant in our society today. If only we had a strong and trusty police force that could be everywhere at all times to stop them."

Keith frowned and looked between the two, considering what Veronica said. "Veronica…"

"Don't worry, sir. You have my word that I won't let any nefarious men come near Veronica," Logan interjected.

"And I, in turn, will be sure that no one steals Logan's innocence while on our property, lest a rebel band of Victoria Secret models shows up at our door, looking for strapping young men," Veronica rambled.

Logan smiled brightly, "My hero."

Keith rubbed his face with his hands and turned back to the road. "Fine. He can stay. Just keep the doors locked tonight. That way neither of you has to worry."

Veronica clapped her hands together happily. "Yeah! Now I get to do your make-up and paint your toenails. Oh…and we can talk about boys and you can braid my hair…"

Keith sighed, looking in the rear view mirror. "Okay Veronica. You got what you wanted. Give it a rest."

She rolled her eyes as Logan let out a snicker. "I don't think she was acting, Mr. Mars."

"Speaking of acting," Keith began. "I hear that Aaron's movie didn't do so well."

Logan let out a throaty laugh. "It's terrible, sir. Trust me. I had to sit through it three times and pretend to like it. Oscar himself would run screaming from the theatre."

Her Dad let out a loud laugh. "Thanks for the heads up. Lianne thought we should see it but I'll suggest something else instead."

"Wise move, sir," Logan muttered and settled back into his seat.

Veronica caught Logan's eye and gave him a warm smile. This was the beginning of an amazing day.

"…keep the door locked. Don't go outside. If Backup needs to go, let him out into the back yard and call him in when he's done. Call your Dad if something happens," Lianne lectured as she put on her coat.

Veronica and Logan sat at the kitchen counter, eating their Mac and Cheese with hot dogs.

"So, no letting in anyone with a machete. No running up and down the street screaming. Worst case scenario, let the zombies eat the dog," Veronica snarked.

Lianne shook her finger at Veronica. "I'm serious, Veronica…"

"You make it sound like you've never left me alone on a Saturday night," Veronica grumbled.

Lianne kissed the side of Veronica's head.

"Just be…smart," she sighed, looking between the two teens.

"Fine. Good bye, Mom. Have fun with the girls," she muttered.

"Goodbye, you two," Lianne called as she scampered down the hall, out the door, and to a waiting taxi.

Veronica frowned and walked to put her dishes in the sink. Logan came over and stood beside her, with his own dishes, Backup close at his heels. Leaning down, he kissed the side of her head and turned on the tap, sliding the dirty plates underneath the water before placing them in the dishwasher. Veronica frowned, leaning against the counter, her arms crossed.

"What?" Logan asked, standing across from her, mimicking her stance.

"I like how my Mom was lecturing me a few months ago about the intentions of my guy friends, but the minute it comes up that we may need her supervision, she bails to go drink with her friends," Veronica stated.

Logan chuckled. "So, you wanted her to stick around?"

"No. But…" she rolled her eyes as she grasped for her words, "I just don't get why she drinks. Does it feel that good? Is she that unhappy? Is life with Dad and I that miserable?"

Logan shrugged. "I'm pretty sure I know why my Mom has a few every day. I can't speak for yours though."

Veronica stood quietly for a moment, thinking about her Mom's life. What was happening in her head that Veronica didn't know about?

"I will say," Logan continued, "that it feels pretty damn good. Those two glasses of champagne were awesome."

A small, curious smile crept onto Veronica's face. "Really? Tell me more."

"Well, the champagne was harsh going down, at first, so I had only a couple of glasses over a couple of hours. But between the light-headed feeling and the full-body tingling sensation, I was feeling pretty amazing," he explained. "Although, the next day, I felt like shit. Hangovers suck."

Veronica's leg started to twitch as her brain kicked into overdrive. Walking to the fridge, she zeroed in on the cupboard above.

"Lift me up," she ordered her boyfriend.

Logan hesitated for a second, beginning to comprehend what she was doing. Then, walking over to her, he bent, wrapping his arms around her knees, and lifted her into the air. Backup began barking and jumping around at his feet, and Veronica felt herself wobble slightly. Opening the cupboard door, she grabbed the bottle of vodka and closed the door with a thud. Logan opened his arms slightly and slid her down slowly.

Veronica turned with her prize and grinned at him. "I want to see what it's like."

Logan frowned. "Are you sure?"

Veronica nodded gleefully. "Yes! I mean, you tried it. And I'm sure we'll try it again at a party or something. But, if I try it now, I'm safe at home and can puke or pass out if I need."

Logan folded his arms. "And your Dad?"

Veronica shrugged. "He won't know. It's only 5:30. Loads of time to drink, watch movies, make-out, watch another movie, fall asleep. See? Simple."

Logan looked at the bottle. He looked at Veronica. Walking to the cupboard, he grabbed two glasses. Then, moving to the fridge, he grabbed a can each of Coke and Skist.

"Okay," he said, placing everything on the counter. Taking the vodka from her, he unscrewed the lid.

"But I'm going to make them so you don't get too drunk. Lord knows I've mixed a drink or two for my Mom before."

Veronica bit her lip and smiled. "Best boyfriend ever."

Logan rolled his eyes and set to pouring the vodka in the tall glasses, placing three fingers together near the bottom to give himself a line to measure.

"I think this falls more under the heading of 'best-friend' activity. If you're going to do this, I'd rather be here to catch you, should you fall down the stairs," he muttered. "And I wouldn't want you to get it in your head to attempt this while you are alone."

He handed the bottle back to her and jerked his head toward the cupboard. Veronica smiled and got into position for him to lift her again.

This time, when she came down, he spun her around on the ground and caught her in a kiss. She stepped back, pulling him with her so his body pressed hers into the refrigerator door. Veronica opened her mouth, letting his tongue tangle with hers. They both let out small moans of satisfaction as their kiss became deeper and deeper.

The mood was instantly broken when Backup began barking and jumping up Logan's leg. Veronica scowled down at the dog.

"Yes. I'm sorry I'm kissing your boyfriend, Backup. You'd better get used to it."

Logan laughed. "It was really nice of your Dad to get me a dog for Christmas."

Veronica rolled her eyes. From the moment they'd met, earlier that day, Backup was in love with Logan. Veronica would throw a stick on the beach, and Backup would bring it back to Logan. Backup would not heel for Veronica when they walked, but did for Logan. And at lunch on the boardwalk, their love was cemented when Logan bought Backup three hotdogs.

"Be warned…I trained him to go for the jugular should any Victoria Secret models actually show up tonight," she replied.

Logan chuckled and rubbed Backup's head before turning back to their drinks. Popping the tabs on the cans, he poured the contents into the glasses and handed the Skist and vodka to Veronica.

Veronica gave him a crooked grin as they clinked glasses. Bringing the beverage to her nose, she gave it a sniff. It smelled like nothing but sickly-sweet soda. Taking a sip was another matter. The drink burned her throat on the way down, causing her to gasp.

"Too strong?" asked Logan with concern.

"No," she hissed. "Just not used to it."

Logan smirked and took a sip of his drink, closing his eyes as he swallowed. Looking at the glass, he shrugged. "Not bad. Not champagne, but it'll do."

Veronica sighed and began walking to the living room. She walked around the room, closing the drapes to keep out the street lights as Logan rifled through the DVDs. Choosing to sit in the middle of the long couch, she took another sip of her drink while Logan loaded in the movie.

"Easy Rider?"

"Hell yeah!" Logan replied and came to join her on the couch. Backup quickly took his position next to Logan, dropping his head in Logan's lap and letting out a happy puppy sigh.

"I'm officially stuck here for the night," Logan muttered.

Veronica let out a high pitched laugh. That warm and tingly feeling Logan told her about was rapidly taking hold of her body.

"You're flushed," Logan observed, his own cheeks getting redder.

Veronica giggled. "I feel all happy. Like when you kiss me. But without you kissing me."

Logan took another sip of his drink. "Just wait for the spinny feeling. That's fun too."

Grabbing the remote, Veronica started the movie. As the previews ran, she leaned her head on Logan's shoulder and stretched out along his body, hooking her leg around his. Backup growled slightly as he adjusted himself on Logan's lap.

"You, hush," Veronica replied. "I had him first."

Logan kissed the top of her head. "You will always get first dibs on me."

Veronica exhaled deeply and closed her eyes, enjoying another moment of pretend domestic bliss.

Boredom began to set in about halfway through the movie. Veronica was also more than half-way through her drink and the lightheadedness was kicking in. Putting her drink down on the coffee table, she returned her head to her comfortable spot on Logan's shoulder.

Pursing her lips, she blew gently on his neck, causing him to flinch. Veronica did it again and his head dipped to avoid it. Moving her body towards him, she planted a soft kiss on his neck, eliciting a moan of pleasure from his throat. She kissed his neck once more, spending a little more time playing with his skin. Logan's hand tightened around her shoulder as he pulled Veronica closer. Working her way up his neck, she bared her teeth and began nibbling as gently as she could until…

"Ow!" Logan exclaimed as he jumped. "Watch those fangs, Bobcat."

Veronica let out a throaty laugh. "Sorry."

Logan put down his drink on the side table and gently moved Backup's head off his lap.

"This is how you do it," he teased and put his arms around Veronica's waist. In one swift motion, he slid them both so Veronica was on her back, his body laying above her.

She let out a squeal as he began kissing her neck, sucking and nibbling Veronica's soft skin. A deep moan, the likes of which she had never heard before, sprang from her mouth.

"God, Logan!" she groaned and pulled him so he was lying right on top of her.

He shifted his kisses to her lips, passionate and consuming. She shimmied her legs out from under him and wrapped them around his body, pressing herself against him.

It was almost too much for her. Desire surged through her like never before and she found herself wishing he would take off all her clothes and…

A big wet tongue swiped across Veronica and Logan's joined faces, breaking the spell. She opened her eyes and Logan pulled away. They turned to see Backup preparing to lick both of them again.

"Argh! Backup!" Veronica yelped as his big, floppy tongue made contact with her face again.

Veronica released Logan and he scrambled off her. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her up to sit with him while Backup happily jumped up, trying to lick them again.

"Maybe this was your Dad's plan all along," Logan laughed as they clung to each other.

Backup barked gleefully and began running around the couch in circles.

"I wouldn't put it past him," Veronica muttered.

Logan kissed the tip of her nose and smiled. "It's probably for the best. Kissing you while already feeling a bit euphoric was a bit—"

"Intense?" Veronica smiled and gave him a small peck on the lips.

"Yes. Very. Like, hormone-exploding, mind-blowingly, crazy," he rambled.

Veronica licked her lips and sighed. "Yeah. It was like that for me, too. Almost got carried away."

Logan's face turned dark and serious as he contemplated what she'd said. He sat down and grabbed his drink. Taking a large gulp, he cringed as it went down his throat.

"Maybe we should stay away from kissing while drinking."

"Maybe…" Veronica murmured. "You know…speaking of getting carried away...Dick had sex with Madison on Christmas Eve."

Logan's face contorted in horror. "Oh my God! Really?"

Veronica nodded and grabbed a sip of her drink before proceeding. "Yep. I got a graphic account of the details. My brain still hasn't recovered."

"Did he use –" Logan began before stopping quickly.

"—the condoms you gave him? Why, yes, he did." She finished his thought. "According to Dick, she's on the Pill so they just used them as an extra precaution."

"Oh," Logan averted his eyes and took another drink. Backup jumped back on his lap and Logan began petting his head.

Veronica was feeling even bolder than usual. The alcohol was pushing her thoughts as her inhibitions lowered and lowered.

"Dick told me why you gave him the condoms," she blurted out.

A wicked grin tugged at Logan's lip. "Really? What did he say?"

Veronica took a deep breath, arching her eyebrow, she smiled mischievously. "He said they didn't 'fit' you. They were too small."

Logan threw back his head and laughed. "So you and Dick were talking about…my dick…while I was gone?"

Veronica gave a little snort when she laughed and covered her mouth. "Well, when you put it that way…yes. I was talking about your dick with Dick."

"All good things, I hope," he mused.

Veronica licked her lips and played along. "All good. I mean, all good if other guys telling your girlfriend that you were…now let me get this quote right…'hung like a bear'…is good."

Logan closed his eyes. "Crap."

Veronica's eyes lit up. "It's true? I thought you were always just joking with me when you said, you know, that you were 'big'."

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, meeting hers. "Yep. True. The condoms were too small. I had to get bigger ones. And I'm going to kill Dick when I see him on Monday."

Veronica's eyes automatically dropped to Logan's pants, lingered a second, then went back up to his eyes. Now she was really curious.

"Can I see it?" she blurted out in a brazen, drunken moment.

"What?" Logan gasped.

"Just so I know! So I'm…prepared," she stammered, giggling. "Like, what if we decide to do it and you whip it out and I get scared by it?"

"It doesn't look like some crazy alien beast! It's just bigger than most guys!" he exclaimed, sputtering with laughter.

Veronica doubled over, clutching her stomach as she lost control of her giggle. "I'm just saying, I need to know what I'm in for."

There was a moment of silence as they faced each other, sharing the same goofy expressions on their faces.

"Fine!" Logan exclaimed and grabbed her hand. Jumping off the couch, the two fell and stumbled towards the stairs, laughing the whole way.

At the bottom of the stairs, Logan turned suddenly and pointed his finger in Veronica's face as she giggled. "Are you sure you want to see it?"

"Yes!" she replied, trying to bite the tip of his finger.

Logan rolled his eyes and they climbed the stairs quickly. Heading for her bedroom, Veronica opened her door as Logan entered. Looking down at Backup, she wagged her finger.

"You stay out here. He's mine right now," she said to the dog and shut the door.

Logan was standing across the room from her, rocking back and forth in his bare feet. He pointed to the bed. "You. Sit. Over there."

Veronica skipped to the end of the bed and sat, her legs dangling off the edge. She bit her lip, trying to contain the ridiculous smile on her face.

"Ground rules! No touching. No getting off the bed. No photos." He laughed.

Veronica moved her hands so she was sitting on them. "Okay. Done."

Logan snorted and looked at his feet.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." he muttered, shaking his head.

"I could put on some musical accompaniment, if it helps your performance," she offered.

He caught her eye and gave her a big grin. "I'm good, but thanks."

Taking a deep breath, Logan grabbed the edge of his t-shirt and whipped it over his head, tossing it to the ground. Dropping his eyes again, he unbuckled his belt. As he glanced up at her, Veronica tried to hide her giddiness by biting her lips again. Letting out a deep chuckle, he undid his button and fly, letting the top fall open, showing off the elastic trim of his underwear.

With one last deep breath, he pushed his pants and underwear down around his ankles. When he stood back up, Veronica gasped.

There it was. Just like the pictures in the book. But bigger. And in person. It was a good thing she was sitting on her hands, because she was overwhelmed with the urge to run her fingers through the soft tuft of hair that surrounded it.

"Get a good look?" Logan called out through her thoughts.

Veronica realized her mouth had fallen open. She closed it and resumed her breathing. Giving her head a shake, she looked him back in the eye.

"Yep," was all she could manage to say.

Logan chuckled and began pulling his pants back up. "What did you think of the show?"

Veronica swallowed hard. "Amazing."

Logan shrugged.

"I can live with that," he said as he finished buckling his belt. Leaning over, he retrieved his t-shirt from the floor.

Her heart began to race as a new idea sprang into her head. Slowly, she stood, at the end of her bed. Catching Logan's eye, she lifted up her black sweater and quickly pulled it over her head. Logan's mouth dropped open at the sight of her black lace bra. Carefully, she reached around and unhooked it, letting it drop to the floor. Logan was standing stock-still, clutching his t-shirt tightly in his hands.

"Fuck."

Veronica heard him whisper the swearword under his breath. It made her bolder, and she reached down to quickly shed her jeans and underwear. Completely naked, her arms dropped to her sides. An involuntary shudder ran through her she watched his eyes move over her. Logan's jaw was clenched, his eyes dark and piercing as he studied every inch of her body.

Suddenly she was sober. Stone sober. Realizing that she was naked, in the same room with her boyfriend, panic began to take hold. Neither of them was laughing anymore. There was no teasing. This was not a game anymore. It was serious.

Closing the gap between them, Logan landed inches away from her, his naked torso creating heat against her naked breasts. Veronica's breath hitched as she looked up at him.

"Lift up your arms," he murmured.

Complying, she closed her eyes and waited. A curtain of fabric grazed her skin and she opened her eyes again to see Logan pull his t-shirt over her head.

Kissing her forehead tenderly, Logan gave her a shy smile. "You really are more beautiful than I imagined."

Veronica mirrored his smile. "So are you."

A lightness crossed Logan's face again and he reached up to brush his fingers along her cheek.

"I'm going to go downstairs and throw on some clothes to sleep in. Come down when you're ready. We can watch another movie before crashing."

"Okay," she replied happily.

With a little nod, Logan crossed to the door and opened it. Backup jumped up off the floor and greeted him like he was gone for years.

"Let's go, buddy," he said before closing the door behind him.

Alone, standing naked under Logan's shirt, Veronica's legs gave out, and she fell backwards on the bed, letting out a loud groan as she hit the mattress.

"Wow." She gasped, looking up to the ceiling. The room was spinning slightly and she closed her eyes. The entire scene ran through her mind again and again. Logan's naked body also ran through her mind again and again.

Taking a few minutes to obsess over the events that transpired, she finally got it together enough to climb off her bed and get dressed. Choosing a warm pair of sweats, tank top, and hoodie, she folded the t-shirt Logan gave her and snuck it into her top drawer, with a smile.

By the time Veronica got downstairs, Logan had changed into a similar outfit. He and Backup were sitting on the couch, his feet up on the coffee table. Veronica noticed a big bowl of pretzels and two large tumblers of water now sat where her drink once did.

"Food and water. I think we've drunk enough for one night," Logan commented as she sat down beside him.

Leaning over, she gave him a sweet kiss on the cheek. "You really are the best boyfriend ever."

Logan shrugged modestly. "I even put in one of your favorite movies – St. Elmo's Fire."

"Geez. If I knew I would get all this special treatment, I would have flashed you sooner," she teased, still feeling the giddy effects of the alcohol.

Reaching for the water, she took a large sip and sat back in his arms. Logan kissed the side of her head and she sighed contentedly.

"You didn't have to do it, you know. This isn't the playground at recess. Although fruit snacks would be nice right about now."

Veronica leaned into him and he dropped his hand to her shoulder. "I know. I wanted to. I can't explain it, I just really wanted you to see how I am now. If that makes any sense."

Logan leaned his head on hers and pulled her a little closer. "I know. I guess I wanted you to know too. This is me. Scars and all."

Veronica closed her eyes for a moment and ran her mind down Logan's body again. This time, she registered the scab on his chest, the scar above his hip, the puckered skin on his arm.

"You're just so perfect and beautiful," he continued quietly, "and I'm…not."

Placing her hand over his heart, she looked up into his eyes. "You are perfect to me. You always will be."

Logan's sad eyes looked back at her. Veronica had been so worried for so long about what he would think of her body, she never thought that he would feel uncomfortable with his own. His focus tuned back to the television as he pressed 'play' on the remote. Veronica settled her head back down on his chest and tried to enjoy the show.

The sound of barking woke them up from their slumber on the couch. Veronica leapt from her place on Logan's shoulder to see the dog running back and forth under the living room windows, barking hysterically. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and tried to focus.

Just then, the shadow of a figure was visible through the curtains.

"Logan!" She gasped.

"I saw it," he whispered and grabbed her arm, pulling her back down on the couch. They watched as the figure moved back and forth on the porch.

Veronica quickly rolled off the couch and crawled along the ground towards the front door.

"What are you doing? Get back here!" Logan hissed, falling to the ground to follow her.

Veronica grabbed her purse from the bench by the door and pulled out a small plastic object. Switching it on, an electric spark arched across the tip of the Taser. Logan moved back in shock, bumping into Backup, who had followed them on the ground.

"Dad also got me a Taser for Christmas. Showed me how to use it too," she explained quickly.

Pointing to the figure, she kept her voice low. "You follow the shadow. On the count of three, open the curtain and distract them. I'll run outside and Taser them."

"Maybe I should…" Logan began.

"Don't argue! Just trust me!" she snipped back.

"Fine!" he spat. "But be careful!"

Veronica frowned and crawled to the door. She crouched, waiting for Logan to take his position. Quietly, she turned the deadbolt and put her hand on the knob. Her heart was pounding in her throat.

Nodding to Logan, she began her count down and the figure came closer to the door. Logan followed it as instructed.

"One,"

"Two,"

"Three!"

Logan stood up and threw open the blinds just as Veronica launched herself out the door. Scrambling along the deck, she flicked the switch to the Taser and caught the assailant in the thigh.

The man screamed and fell on the deck with a loud thud. Logan and Backup came running out of the house. They all gathered around the writhing Deputy as he clutched his leg.

"Lamb! What happened, Lamb? Over!" Keith Mars' voice came over the radio attached to Deputy Lamb's shoulder.

Veronica grabbed the receiver and unhooked it from the officer. "Deputy Lamb has been Tasered by Veronica Mars. Over!"

The radio crackled with silence. Lamb lay still on the ground, muttering to himself as Backup sniffed him. Logan leaned against the house, breathing hard.

"Veronica? Why did you Taser my deputy? Over," Sheriff Mars asked.

Veronica scowled down at the officer. "Because the deputy was skulking around, looking in the windows of the house. He scared the hell out of us! Did you tell him to do that? Over!"

"I sent him to check on you! Over." Keith yelled through the radio.

"What did you think he would see if he looked in our windows? Over!"

"Why were the drapes closed? Over!" her Dad yelled back.

"So the street lights wouldn't reflect on the TV screen while we watched movies! What did you think was going on? Over!" Veronica looked at Logan with fear in her eyes. Did her dad suspect they were dating? If he did, this was the moment of truth.

"Nothing honey. I didn't think anything was going on. I'm sorry if Deputy Lamb scared you. I just wanted to check on you, without you knowing that I still worry about you. But apparently I sent the wrong man for the job. Over."

Veronica handed the radio back to Lamb. He sat up and took it from her.

"Sorry, Sheriff Mars. Over." Lamb muttered as he tried to get up. Logan walked over and took one of his arms to help him stand.

"Being Tasered by a teenage girl is not a good way to start your career, Lamb. Get back to the station. Over," Keith Mars barked through the radio.

Backup barked and danced around Logan happily. Logan bent to pick him up and rubbed his head. "Good job, Backup."

Veronica pulled her hoodie around her and walked into the house as Deputy Lamb limped off the deck. Logan and Backup followed her in, locking the door behind them. Veronica turned off the television, plunging the house into near darkness.

"We should pull out the couch for you," she said quietly and began shifting the coffee table to get Logan's bed ready.

Logan walked up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist. She stopped moving and leaned back against him. "Are you okay?"

Veronica shook her head and slid her hands along his. "He doesn't even know we are dating and he's got his deputies spying on us. What happens when he finds out? He's going to be following us around town!"

Logan kissed her head. "In his defense, we did get drunk and see each other naked. So maybe he's not far off in assuming we need to be checked up on."

Veronica groaned. "My head hurts. From everything."

"We'll get my bed ready, then we can both take some aspirin and a big glass of water before we go to sleep. That should help us feel human tomorrow."

"Fine."

Veronica released his arms and moved back toward the couch, pulling cushions off and tossing them on the floor. Logan helped her wrestle the bed out of the couch, both of them cursing a blue streak as they did. Finally, Logan let Backup out one last time while Veronica finished putting the bedding out.

The two then made their way upstairs to brush their teeth and raid the medicine cabinet for painkillers.

Pausing at Veronica's door, the couple wrapped themselves around each other once again.

"I love you," Veronica murmured into Logan's chest.

"I love you too," Logan replied, placing his cheek on top of her head.

They were silent for a moment, as Veronica ran through their day together in her mind.

"Today was weird," she proclaimed.

Her head bounced as Logan chuckled. "That it was."

Pulling back, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him gently. "There is no one else on the planet I would rather share my strange days with."

Logan smiled and kissed the tip of her nose. "Me too. Good night, Bobcat."

Veronica giggled. "Good night."

Logan released her and headed downstairs with a small wave of his hand, Backup close at his heels. Veronica waved back and slipped into her room. Exhaling deeply, she crawled into bed, the events of the day playing over in her head until she fell into a blissful sleep.

  

Chapter Text

 

In January, the group lost Dick. The first day back at school, after the holidays, he showed up at the morning meeting in the quad with Madison, but was a no-show at lunch. Tuesday morning, Veronica got to hear the graphic account of what an "amazing lover" Dick was, as Madison gossiped about it in the locker room before gym. By Wednesday, the only time she saw Dick was in class. Thursday, Logan convinced him to go surfing after school with them while Madison watched from the shore. By Friday, he had disappeared completely; spending every moment he wasn't in class with his girlfriend.

Veronica felt terrible that she and Logan were abandoning their other friends on the weekend, as they were all still mourning the loss of Dick to Madison. Their mood was solemn until Duncan offered his place to hang out that weekend, making Mac, Wallace, and Casey feel slightly better about all the couples ditching them.

In reality, Logan and Veronica used their time together to search Aaron's yacht. The Neptune Yacht Club was normally packed with people on Saturdays. Every family that owned a sailboat, yacht or speed boat arrived early on the weekends, taking in brunch at the club before heading out onto the water. Logan figured that the best day would be the busiest so they could blend in with the crowd while wandering on the docks.

Veronica and Logan had gone for their first surf lesson in weeks. Not surprisingly, Dick was a no-show, and the couple wondered if they would ever see their friend aging. After the lesson, they asked Ben to drop them off at the Club under the guise that they would shower in the fitness area, change into yacht-club-appropriate clothing, and have a decadent brunch together. Lynn thought it was a romantic idea for Logan and Veronica to have a 'secret date' out in the open at the club, and called ahead to make sure Veronica was on the guest list for their family that day.

When Veronica emerged from the changing room at the doorway to the club's restaurant, she felt like a movie star. Her long hair was pulled back off her face by a royal-blue headband that coordinated with strapless summer dress she was wearing. She had borrowed a large gold purse from her mother and it sparkled against the dark dress. Since there was still a winter chill, she added a soft pink wrap around her shoulders which gave her a feeling of sophistication as she walked through the club.

She caught Logan's eye across the room at a table and waved. As she walked towards him, Veronica noticed he'd changed into beige khakis and a brown button-down shirt. He wore a blue sport coat over the outfit.

Stepping around the table, he pulled out Veronica's chair and she smiled widely at him.

"I really want to kiss you," Logan whispered as she slipped into her chair.

Veronica giggled and watched him return to his seat.

"You look so handsome when you play grown-up," she whispered back.

A second later, a large plate of Eggs Benedict was slipped in front of Veronica, along with a side of bacon.

She thanked the servers and gushed to Logan, "You ordered for me! How very old-movie romantic."

Logan leaned towards her, his eyes dancing with mischief. "And I did it in French. Or Spanish. Whatever language you consider the most romantic."

Veronica happily began eating her bacon, her focus beginning to shift to the task at hand. "So, what do you think we're looking for? Photos? Files? Papers?"

Logan shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that here is where he spends the most time. If this doesn't pan out, we'll search his office at home, tonight. But that will be more difficult because everything is locked up in there."

Veronica nodded. Keeping her voice low, she continued. "What about proof that he's cheating on your mom? Would that work?"

Logan paused to think. "I don't know. Cheating doesn't seem to be a big deal in Hollywood anymore. But maybe if he cheated with a particular person, then it would be big."

Veronica frowned. "Like who?"

"A studio executive's wife or two. A string of underage actresses. A flock of hookers," Logan mused, running his hand anxiously through his hair.

Veronica pointed her fork at him. "I think a group of hookers is a 'gaggle' not a 'flock', but I see your point."

Logan shook his head, his eyes darting around the room. "Glad you still see the humour in this. I think my nerves are starting to get to me."

"Come on, Frank Hardy! Buck up!" she teased, giving him a playful wink.

"I thought Nancy Drew's boyfriend was Ned Nickerson?" he replied.

Veronica arched her eyebrow and smiled mischievously. "Yes, but there was always that unresolved tension between her and Frank when they worked on cases together. You are so much more a Frank than a Ned anyway."

Logan laughed and raised his orange juice glass to her. "Well then, Nancy. Frank it is."

The couple finished their brunch quickly, then headed down to the yacht to begin their investigation. Sure enough, they blended in with the other people on the docks and were able to make their way to Aaron's boat without being noticed. Once on board, Logan produced the keys he had stolen from home and they entered the main living area. Standing in the spacious room used for entertaining, Logan pointed to the door directly across from them.

"That's the master bedroom. We should probably start there and work our way through to the more public areas and other bedrooms," Logan stated.

"Okay," Veronica replied and they crossed the suite quickly before disappearing into the other room.

The palatial bedroom was cast in a soft light from the closed curtains on both sides of the room. Logan flipped on the lights that highlighted the gold and navy-blue interior. Most of the space was taken up by the king-size bed in the middle of the room. A large wooden headboard swept up the wall and across the ceiling. Bright spot-lighting was angled down towards the duvet.

"Apparently, Aaron likes to be properly lit, whatever he's doing," muttered Logan as he flinched from the bright light.

"You can turn them off," Veronica said as she dropped her purse on the bed.

Walking to a small desk, she opened the top drawer and began her search. "The natural light should be enough."

Logan nodded and flipped the switch, taking away the harsh glare. Turning to the dresser drawers, he began his search in silence.

After almost 30 minutes of searching every inch of the room, they had found nothing incriminating. Veronica stood with her arms crossed, tapping her foot, frowning in thought.

"I was sure we would find something in this room," Logan sighed, leaning against the closed door.

Veronica looked around again. "Me too. It's like I can sense something is in here."

The sound of footsteps outside the window broke their thoughts. Veronica crossed quickly to Logan, her eyes wide with fear. Pressing their ears to the door, they heard the outside door open and close.

"Shit!" whispered Logan. "I bet it's Sam from the club! Aaron pays him to check on the place when he's gone."

Veronica walked towards the bathroom door and hissed. "Let's hide!"

Logan shook his head. "He'll check in there for leaks. He's probably down in the galley doing that right now."

Veronica froze, staring as Logan chewed anxiously on his nail. Suddenly, his face lit up and he crossed quickly to her. Reaching out, he grabbed the hairband off her head and tussled her hair.

"Lose the wrap and the shoes. Get under the covers," he ordered, as he began stripping off his jacket and shirt.

Veronica quickly did what he said and by the time she was around the bed and under the duvet, he had kicked off his shoes and was joining her.

"Wrap the blanket around your dress so you look naked," Logan said and rumpled his own hair.

Once Veronica was ready, Logan wrapped the rest of the blankets around his waist, making it look like he was wearing nothing underneath.

"Now." He grinned at her. "Pretend I'm the world's greatest lover."

Veronica giggled as he enveloped her in a deep kiss. She still wasn't too sure what his endgame was, but she was willing to play along.

Working his lips down to her neck, Veronica heard him whisper, "Be loud."

Pulling him closer, she closed her eyes and let out a loud moan of somewhat-fake pleasure.

"Oh, God! Logan!" she called out enthusiastically.

Logan slid her down into the pillows, his hands gripping her waist. The panic and fear mixed with the glorious kisses he was planting across her collar bone stirred up desire in her and she found herself making little mewling sounds of pleasure as he began kissing her earlobe.

The sound of the door swinging open made Veronica open her eyes, but Logan didn't stop.

"What the hell–?" came a man's voice from the doorway.

Finally, Logan released her and turned towards the older man. "Hey Sam! How's it going?"

The bearded man frowned at them momentarily. "Logan! What are you…? I mean…"

Logan sat straight up, squared his naked shoulders and gave Veronica a quick look, his lip curled into his best jackass grin.

"Just figured I'd show my friend, Amber, the inside of the yacht," Logan smirked at Sam.

A big, creepy smile flashed on Sam's face as he looked Veronica up and down, then turned back to Logan. The old man let out a laugh. "While your Dad's away…"

Logan laughed. "I get laid. Do me a favor, Sam. Don't tell him I brought my friend here, okay?"

Sam chuckled, his gaze fixed on Veronica again. "Yeah. I understand. Boys will be boys."

Veronica frowned. If only she had her Taser…

Logan saw her look and quickly put his arm around her bare shoulders. "Well, when you find a good one, you gotta show 'em. Right Amber, my love?"

Veronica licked her lips and gave Logan a wide grin.

"Oh Logie, you just keep showing me again and again…" she cooed in a high-pitch falsetto.

Veronica heard a small snort come from him before she planted a quick kiss on his lips.

"I'm outta here," remarked Sam as he started through the door. "Lock up on your way out."

The couple stayed together in the bed as they listened to Sam's steps going through the living room, the outside door closing, and his shadow going past the window. They let out sighs of relief and collapsed back onto the pillows.

"I'm so sorry –" Logan began, covering his eyes with his hands.

Veronica placed her hands on her heart, feeling it pounding a hundred times a second.

"No! That was the best idea ever," she insisted. "You came up with a completely legitimate excuse for why we would be in here, and made him so uncomfortable he left quickly. It worked and that's what matters."

Logan uncovered his eyes and rolled towards her, propping himself up in his elbow. "Yeah, but I would rather not expose you to that slimeball."

"Boys will be boys?" she rolled her eyes.

Logan snorted a laugh. "Can't really get more old-school chauvinist than that. Apparently, it's totally okay for me to get it on with an underage girl, because, hey, that's just what us guys do."

Logan's half-naked body suddenly caught her eye and she reached over to press her palm between his pecs. Veronica looked up at him from behind heavy lids.

"Speaking of getting it on…" she teased.

Gently, he pressed his lips to hers, letting out a small sigh from the back of his throat.

Veronica moved her hand up his chest, over his shoulder and into his hair. She opened her mouth and a small moan escaped. Logan deepened their kiss, pressing her into the pile of soft pillows. Giving into the rush of adrenaline, Veronica wrapped herself around Logan, pulling him down on top of her. The image of his naked body flashed through her head as she ran one hand up and down his spine.

Dragging himself away, Logan groaned as he left the warmth of her body. The look in his eyes as he gazed down at her was wild and animalistic, as if he was figuring out a way to successfully devour her.

"We should get back to the task at hand," Logan murmured, still staring at her.

Veronica sighed, "You're right. We'll have time to make-out when this is over."

Logan chuckled and quickly slid away from Veronica. Grabbing his shirt off the floor, he began to dress, keeping his eyes on her.

Stretching out on her back, Veronica lay in the pillows for another indulgent minute. Staring up at the ceiling, she followed the decorative grooved lines in the wood.

That's when she saw it.

At the intersection of two deep groves in the wood, there was a small glass bead. Glancing around at the rest of the ceiling, she realized quickly that it wasn't part of the design.

"Logan! Turn on the lights!" she exclaimed.

Logan walked over and did as told. The bed was flooded with white light. Veronica shielded her eyes. She couldn't see the bead anymore.

"Turn them off!" she called, covering her eyes completely.

Once the lights were off, Veronica scrambled out of the covers and stood on the mattress.

"Come here!" She gestured to Logan.

Logan scrambled up onto the bed to look at the dot in the woodwork.

"What the hell is it?" he asked, tapping it with his nail.

Veronica gasped. "A camera."

Scanning the room, the two followed the groove in the wooden ceiling as it connected to the wooden headboard. Approaching the back of the bed, Logan pressed his palms firmly on the wall and slid his hands apart. The headboard opened at the gap and he pushed the doors as far apart as they would go.

The teenagers' mouths dropped open at the sight of the television screen in front of them. The image was a wide view of the bed, extending all the way out to cover most of the room.

"Oh my God," Veronica muttered as she reached up to touch the screen.

"Look at this," Logan said, pointing to rows of tiny video tapes.

Grabbing the first, unmarked case, he opened it. The date was written on the outside of the cassette. Logan glanced at Veronica and she nodded. Hesitantly, he placed the tape in the player. Veronica held her breath for the few seconds it took for the video to begin.

The TV flickered for a moment and then, Aaron Echolls, naked, having sex with someone, flashed on the screen. Veronica shut her eyes as the sounds of raw pleasure filled the room.

The sounds stopped and she opened her eyes to find a blank screen. Looking over at Logan, he shared the same horrified expression.

"Shit," he muttered.

"If he's been videotaping women without them knowing…" Veronica began.

"Even if they know, there are, like, 50 tapes here, with at least 6 hours of video on each." Logan's eyes combed the rows of tapes. "That's a lot of cheating."

Veronica sat back on her heels. "So, what should we do?"

Logan ejected the tape from the player and tossed it to Veronica. "Let's get all the tapes out of the cases. We'll take them back to my place and I'll go through them. Alone."

"Logan –" she began as she reached for her purse.

"Don't fight me on this one, Veronica. I'm going through them by myself. He's already scarred me for life. Might as well just add this to the psychiatrist bill," Logan replied.

Veronica brought the purse closer to him, holding it open as he dropped the tapes in. "You don't have to protect me."

Leaning over, he kissed her gently in the lips. "Yeah. I do."

Veronica sighed as he went back to work. When the last tape was in her purse, the two reset the bed and adjusted their outfits to look presentable again. Quietly, they made their way out of the yacht together.

Back at the Echolls' mansion, they organized the tapes in chronological order, in an empty bottom drawer in Veronica's room. When they were done, she covered the pile with spare bed linens.

"Now what?" Veronica asked, leaning back on her hands across the ground.

Logan brought his knees up to his chin and wrapped his arms around them. "We have to figure out a way to copy them. Do you think Mac would know how to hook up one of those camcorder tape players to a computer?"

Veronica sighed. "Probably. Why? Are you thinking about putting it on the computer in your room?"

Logan nodded. "Mom rarely comes into my room anymore. I can work on it in the evenings. I'll tell her I'm doing homework."

"Why don't you go and get the player from the media room and I'll give her a call. She's probably still at Duncan's place."

"Okay," Logan said, standing up. "I'll grab it. Be right back."

Veronica watched him leave before moving to grab the cordless phone from his room. By the time Mac came to the phone, Logan was back, setting up the player on the desk next to his computer.

"Hey buddy! How's it going at Duncan's?" Veronica cooed into the phone.

"Oh no, you want something," Mac replied with a laugh. "And it's fine. I'm currently kicking the guys' butts in Mario Kart."

"Excellent! So, you wouldn't know how to hook up a video player to a computer, to transfer information onto it, would you?" Veronica asked, hesitantly.

"What the heck are you two doing over there, anyway?" Mac gasped into the receiver.

Veronica looked at Logan and laughed. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Mac! You've officially spent too much time with the boys today."

"So, if you're not making porn, what are you doing?" Mac asked.

"I can't tell you. It's top secret, teenage detective stuff," Veronica said in earnest.

Mac sighed. "Fine. It's actually pretty easy. You just need to get a transfer cord that will go from your player 'output' to your computer's 'input'. And you need a video editing program."

Veronica frowned. "Okay. Thanks Mac."

"Anytime!" Mac replied.

Veronica hung up, turning to Logan. "You need a cord that fits your player 'output' to your computer's 'input'. And a video editing program."

Logan looked on the back of the player, set it down, then looked at the back of his computer. "So a trip to the computer store for me tomorrow."

Veronica frowned, perturbed that they could not start the process today. "But I have my first self-defense class tomorrow."

Logan stepped over to her and kissed the tip of her nose. "I am doing this alone. Do you hear me?"

Veronica looked up at him with hard eyes as he scowled down at her. "This was my idea."

"I thought we were working as a team?" Logan countered. "You go and learn self defense. Then, next weekend, you can come back and show me what you learned. Maybe we can practice together."

Grabbing him by the shirt collar, she pulled him closer, a smirk appearing on her face. "But I like when you pin me."

Logan let out a low growl before kissing her again. Placing his hands on her hips, he spun her around until Veronica was pressed against his bedroom wall, their lips still connected in a deep kiss.

Her mind flashed to when they'd been in bed, on the yacht. The adrenaline rush of being discovered. The euphoric feeling, leaving the dock knowing they found the evidence they needed. The thrill that their plan had worked. Veronica wound her fingers deep into Logan's thick hair. He opened his mouth in a gasp of breath and she flicked her tongue inside.

Grasping her hips, Logan lifted her up off her feet. She responded by wrapping her legs around his waist as he carried her over to his bed. Finally pulling away from their kiss, Logan smiled brightly at her. Bending onto his knee, he gently lowered them down so he was pressing her body into the mattress with his.

"Is this okay?" he murmured.

Veronica's breath caught in her throat. Those were officially the most seductive words he had ever said to her.

"Yes."

Slipping her legs from around his waist, she hooked one bare leg around the back of his, tethering herself to him.

He returned his mouth to hers for a gentle peck before moving to kiss her cheek, her ear, her neck. Veronica cast her gaze down his back, grasping his shirt to keep him near.

Logan's hand tentatively touched her exposed knee, his long fingers gently caressing the soft underside. It lingered there for a moment as he concentrated on kissing her neck, before it began to migrate, ever so slowly, up her exposed thigh. Her skin tingled as his fingers wandered higher, coming to rest at her hip.

"Is this okay?" he whispered into her skin.

Veronica closed her eyes, trying with all her might not to beg him to go further. "Yes. God, yes."

In response, Logan squeezed her leg and began running a string of kisses across her collarbone. She was sure the heat from her body would catch them both on fire. Letting go of his shirt, Veronica allowed her fingers to drift down, settling on a patch of exposed skin on his back, just above his pants. She heard him gasp at the contact. Logan's lips moved back to hers as they resumed their deep kisses.

It felt like they'd stayed this way for hours, although it could have just been minutes. Either way, by the time they released each other, her lips felt numb and her heart was beating erratically.

Logan rolled his body next to hers on the bed, panting while staring at the ceiling. "That was –"

Veronica rolled to face him. "Amazing. Wonderful. Intense. Hot."

Logan let out a low chuckle and gathered her in his arms. She happily snuggled into his shirt, inhaling deeply.

"All of the above," he replied and kissed her forehead.

They fell silent for a moment, enjoying their moment together.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you okay with me not sleeping in your room tonight?" Logan asked as he began stroking her hair.

"Of course. It's up to you. Why?" she responded, shifting to look at him.

Logan let out a deep sigh. "Because ever since last weekend, I've been thinking about you, naked, like, all the time."

Veronica bit back a smile. "Oh really? What exactly have you been thinking about my naked body?"

Logan's lip twitched, trying to hold back a salacious grin. "Everything. You in my bed, naked. You in my shower, naked. You in my pool, naked. Suffice to say, I'm obsessed."

Veronica let out a giggle, her grin stretching from ear-to-ear. "And I thought I was the obsessed one. I think I've imagined you naked in almost all situations – at school, in the limo, while surfing…"

Logan pulled her closer to him, pressing against her once more. "It also doesn't help that I talked to Dick this week about what happened with Madison."

"Oh. What did he say? Or should I ask?" she murmured into his chest.

"Without giving the intimate details, I will say that Dick was trying to sell me on the idea of you and I having sex. He was like a deranged used-car salesman selling me an old Honda."

Veronica laughed. "Why would he try and 'sell you' on the idea?"

"I don't think he wants to be the only one who's done it. In fact, I think he's regretting having sex with Madison," Logan explained.

"Really?"

"Yeah. I think he realized that she just wants to have sex with him, and other than that, she just orders him around like a servant. And he puts up with it because he wants to keep having sex with her."

Veronica cringed. "Poor Dick. I was kind of hoping she would be nicer to him. He seemed to really like her when we talked."

Logan nodded. "I don't know what to tell him. He seems so happy to be with someone, but he's still so miserable at the same time. How is that even possible?"

Veronica was silent a moment. An image of her mother popped into her head. "I guess some relationships are like that," she offered quietly.

The couple fell quiet, lost in their own thoughts.

"What should we do now?" Logan asked quietly. "Our detective work seems to be on hold for the day."

Veronica let out a soft breath and wrapped her arms around his waist. "The usual. Video games. Movies. But first, can we just do this for a while?"

Logan kissed the top of her head, pressing his cheek into her hair. "Absolutely."

Veronica closed her eyes, enjoying their closeness. Sex could wait. For now, being held by Logan was still the best feeling in the world.

She loved her new hair. Veronica stood in front of her mirror, in her nightshirt, playing with her new bob haircut. Now that it was just above her shoulders a lovely natural wave had appeared, and she twisted sections around her finger, seeing if she could enhance her curls.

The phone rang and she happily skipped to pick it up, hoping it was Logan. "Hello!"

"Hey."

"Hey!" Veronica replied, her heart skipping a beat at the sound of Logan's voice.

"How was your self-defense class?"

Veronica lay down on the bed. "So good! But I realized that my long hair was getting in the way, so Dad took me to the salon after class, and I got it cut off."

"Wow! How short?" Logan asked, then quickly added, "I mean, I don't care what length your hair is - I love you for you, not your hair."

Veronica giggled. "I never thought you wouldn't. I got it cut just above my shoulders. It definitely makes me look older. How did your day go?"

Logan let out a deep sigh. "Well, I've got good news and bad news."

Veronica frowned. "Bad news first."

"Watching Aaron screw anything with two legs and a set of boobs, for almost 8 hours today, has taken away whatever sex drive I had. I hope you're okay with us being virgins until we are 50," Logan explained, his voice sad and tired.

She cringed. "That bad, huh?"

"Well, it was, until I realized that the old man only lasts approximately 30 minutes. I was able to get a clip of who he was with on the computer, then fast-forward about 25 minutes and he was usually done."

"Yuck."

"Yeah. My sentiments exactly," Logan replied. "However, the good news is that I may have found something. Two things, as a matter of fact."

"And they are…"

"He's having an affair with Duncan's mom," Logan explained. "But he's not only getting sex from her - he's also getting Kane Software stock tips."

Veronica gasped. "I know this! It's called Insider Trading! My Dad has worked with the feds on cases involving some Neptune businesses, over the years."

"Well, I've got evidence of at least one time he's done it. Aaron's not very good at remembering to turn the video camera off after the women leave," he testified. "In this case, Mrs. Kane left, and he was on the phone with his stockbroker not two seconds afterwards. Got the whole conversation transferred to CD."

Veronica frowned. "What about his escapades with all these women. Are you still going to compile them, now we have this information?"

Logan let out another tired sigh. "I think I should. Even if we only use it as evidence for my mom, to convince her to divorce him. Or we can use it as back-up blackmail."

There was a pause before Logan continued. "You know his co-star…Jenna…the one who played his daughter?"

Veronica's stomach turned. "Yeah?"

"She's on one of the tapes. Except I didn't copy it. She didn't look happy to be there, and I think he may have coerced her into it somehow. But if it got out, the media would probably roast her, not Aaron," he explained, quietly.

Veronica wished she could be with him right now. "I'm sorry you had to see that. You did the right thing."

"Thanks. This process is going to take a while though. When I've done a CD, can I give it to you for safekeeping? When we see how many we have, we can iron out the rest of the details," he asked, a yawn creeping into his voice.

"Sure. And we'll still make the two copies – one for hiding and one to leave with our point person," she reminded him.

"Have you mentioned it to Mac yet?"

"No. I figured I should wait," Veronica replied.

Logan yawned again and she smiled to herself. "You should go to sleep."

"Ugh. I don't want to. I've been dreaming of you all week and now I've got this mess rolling around in my head. I want you back in there instead," Logan chuckled.

"But don't you remember, Logie…" she cooed in a squeaky voice. "Me, naked in your bed. In your pool. In your shower."

There was a pause before a breath went through the receiver. "Nope. Dead from the waist down. Sorry. Virgins until 50. And please, never call me 'Logie' again."

Veronica giggled. "Fine. I tried. Good night, Logan. I love you."

"I love you too, Veronica. Good night." He yawned, then hung up the phone.

Veronica put the phone down with a deep sigh. She couldn't even begin to imagine what Logan was going through right now. What she did know was the deep feeling in her gut of wanting to protect him and see justice served to Aaron for everything he had done.

 

Chapter Text

 

Logan looked like shit. He was sitting on the top step of the mansion, his elbows on his knees, chin in his hands, hood over his head. Keith pulled the cruiser up to the house and Logan rose slowly, stretching his arms and yawning. Crossing in front of the car, even from the back seat Veronica could clearly see the dark circles under his eyes. Slipping into the car, he couldn't manage a smile.

"Good morning," Veronica said, softly.

"Morning," Logan muttered, slouching back into his seat.

"Rough night, Logan?" Keith asked as he pulled out of the driveway.

"Didn't sleep last night," Logan explained, casting his sad eyes at Veronica.

He couldn't get Aaron out of his head, Veronica thought.

"I like your new hair," Logan added, forcing a small smile.

"Thank you," she replied, softly. "Why don't you try to sleep on the way to school? We don't have to talk."

Logan nodded and crossed his arms over his body. Leaning his head against the window, he gazed outside at the passing world.

"Okay," he replied quietly and closed his eyes.

Veronica caught her dad's eye in the rear-view mirror and he nodded, turning down the music. Soon, the car was filled with the gentle buzz of Logan's snoring.

When they arrived at school, Keith turned to Veronica and whispered, "You need to wake him up before I open the door, or he'll end up falling out of the car."

Veronica looked over at Logan, who was still sleeping, pressed against the door, and smiled. "Okay, Dad."

Keith nodded and exited the car. Veronica unbuckled her belt and slid across the bench to Logan.

Placing her hand on his shoulder, she gave him a small shake. "Logan. It's time to get up."

Logan stretched his arms and turned his head to face her, his eyes still closed.

"You're so beautiful, Veronica," he murmured, a smile crossing his lips.

Panic filled Veronica, as she realized what he must be dreaming about. She glanced at her dad through the window and then back to Logan.

"Logan," she hissed. "We are in the car. At school. And my dad is right outside!"

The door opened and a blast of cool morning air struck them both. Logan's eyes opened wide at both her words, and the bracing wind.

"I'm awake!" he proclaimed, wrenching his seat belt off and stumbling out of the car.

"Sorry I couldn't give you more time to sleep, son." Veronica heard her dad say. "I did take the long way, today."

"No problem, sir," Logan said as he reached back into the car for his backpack. "That was probably more sleep than I had last night."

Veronica sighed and grabbed her own backpack. She slipped out of the car, pausing to give her dad a quick peck on the cheek, before following Logan to the curb.

Logan removed his hood and ran his hands through his unkempt hair. He blinked his eyes, rapidly, trying to adjust to the sunlight.

"Are you going to be okay today?" Veronica asked, placing her hand on his forearm.

Logan rolled his eyes. "I guess. Maybe I can hide between the football bleachers and grab a nap at lunch."

"Hey!" Dick called as he barreled towards them.

Veronica frowned. Dick's eyes were narrowed, his face contorted in a fierce scowl. Stopping inches from Logan, Dick grabbed his bicep roughly, causing Logan to bristle.

"I need to talk to you. Now," Dick hissed, glancing briefly at Veronica. "Alone."

"What the hell, dude?" Logan twisted from Dick's grasp.

"We. Need. To. Talk." Dick repeated.

Looking between Dick and Veronica, Logan sighed in frustration. "Fine!"

The boys moved a few feet away to the school fence, still in Veronica's sight as they spoke, heads bent toward each other. Logan let out a large laugh, throwing his head back, and Dick grabbed him by the shoulders. Logan's face grew dark and, with one swift motion, he grabbed Dick by his jacket and threw him to the ground.

Veronica broke into a run. Logan had Dick pinned to the ground with his knees at Dick's shoulders, and Dick was wildly throwing punches in his direction.

"What the hell? Stop it!" Veronica yelled as she stopped near the scene.

Logan glanced up at Veronica and jumped off Dick. Dick scrambled to his feet, breathing hard. Veronica looked around. Some curious eyes had seen the scuffle, but no one approached them.

"You gonna tell her what you did?" Dick spat at Logan, wiping his sweaty face with his arm.

Logan put his hands over his face for a moment. Pulling them off, he looked at Veronica.

"Dick thinks I'm cheating on you," Logan muttered.

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest. "With who?"

"A townie named 'Amber.'" Logan sighed.

Veronica's mouth dropped open in shock. She turned to Dick and stepped closer.

"How did you hear about this?" she asked.

Dick's expression softened, his eyes looking down at Veronica with concern and caring. "Madison told me last night. She was at the Yacht Club on Sunday and some girls were gossiping in the changing rooms."

"What did they say?"

"I'm not doing this to hurt you. I just thought you should know," Dick looked between the two friends and let out a sigh. "They said that Logan was caught…getting it on…with some blonde girl named Amber on his dad's yacht."

Veronica rubbed her eyes with her palms. "Dick…I'm the blonde townie Logan was fooling around with on the yacht. Logan gave the caretaker a fake name to protect me."

Dick gave them a confused look. "So you guys are doing it now?"

Logan rolled his eyes. "No! Kind of besides the point, Dick. And thanks for thinking I'd cheat on Veronica. Really appreciate that."

Dick glanced between his friends, his mouth agape. "I'm sorry, I –"

"Forget it," Logan shoved his hands in his pockets and, turning away, he quickly marched down the quad, leaving Dick and Veronica alone.

"I'm sorry. I was just trying to look out for you," Dick said quietly.

Veronica put her hand on his chest reassuringly. "I know you were. Did you tell Madison about Logan and me?"

Dick shook his head. "No. I know you guys are still trying to keep it secret."

"Good," she replied. "Just let everyone believe it is 'Amber' he is dating and it will all be fine."

Dick furrowed his brow at her. "Did you cut your hair?"

"Yes." Veronica chuckled. "Thanks for noticing."

The bell echoed across the quad and the friends found themselves having to run to their first class.

Once again, word of the legendary Logan Echolls spread like wildfire through the school. Now the 7th Grade boy who took on an entire football team with his fists earlier in the year, was housing a harem of women on his family's yacht.

When Veronica found Logan at lunch, he was lying quietly by himself on the bleachers. He still looked like the boy she loved, even if he was a bit more frazzled than usual.

Climbing the wood and metal structure, she eased herself down to sit by his head.

"You found me," Logan murmured, his eyes still closed.

Veronica reached down and began stroking his hair, lovingly, eliciting a soft sigh from Logan's lips.

"How did you know it was me?" she replied.

"The subtle smell of your vanilla shampoo, as you walked past. It always makes my bathroom smell like marshmallows after you've been over."

A small smile tugged on Veronica's lips. "When you weren't in the cafeteria, I figured you were here. We were worried about you."

Logan smirked, tilting his head. "Did people miss me? That's okay…everyone'll think I'm having a quickie orgy on the yacht. That's what we Echolls men do, you know."

Shit. Shit, shit, shit, Veronica thought. Of course Logan's head would jump to a comparison to his Dad's escapades.

Veronica took a deep breath, trying to think of something to say to convince him that he was, in no way, like his father.

"Logan, you know –" she began hesitantly.

"Don't even bother trying to make me feel better about this, Veronica," Logan grumbled. "The fact that people think it's me having these secret trysts on the boat – when it's actually my sleezebag Dad – is kind of too much for me to handle on this little sleep."

"How bad was it? Your sleep, I mean," she replied in a soothing voice.

Laying his arms over his eyes to block the sunlight, Logan stretched his legs along the wooden bench and sighed.

"It fucking sucked. After we talked, I fell asleep for an hour. An hour of horrific, terrifying nightmares. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I figured watching the tapes couldn't be worse than my dreams."

Veronica twirled a lock of his hair around her finger, making little circles around his scalp. "Did you find anything else?"

"Yeah." Logan let out a deep breath, steadying himself. "My Mom. My Mom came to the yacht to have sex with him."

Veronica furrowed her brow. "When?"

"All of the tapes I'm watching are from a year ago. But if that isn't fucked up enough, afterwards, they started talking like a normal couple. Aaron asked how I was doing at school. They talked about Trina's auditions. She even stayed the entire night." Dropping his arms off his eyes, and blinking into the sun, Logan gazed up at her. "How the hell can they act so normal? He abuses her! He abuses me! And when they're alone, it's like none of that happens. He kissed her shoulder when she was doing her makeup. She straightened his tie when they were leaving for dinner. I just don't understand."

Veronica was at a loss. Her brain tried to find some words that would help him, but she couldn't seem to think of anything.

"I don't understand either," she admitted, softly.

Logan closed his sad eyes again, and she resumed petting his hair, lost in her own thoughts.

"You know," Veronica began. "I've been thinking about my parents. Why my Mom drinks, and why my Dad, for the most part, ignores it."

Taking a breath, her chest tightened. "I guess maybe none of our parents are happy. Separately or together. But sometimes, maybe they try to be."

Logan opened his eyes to meet hers as Veronica fought back tears. "Do you think they ever loved each other? Your parents? My parents?" she asked.

Logan was still gazing up at her, the muscles in his jaw contracting, keeping his expression hard.

"I don't know," he replied softly.

Staring across the field, another though jumped into Veronica's head. "Or what if they were in love once, just like us, but that love just…died?"

Logan reached for her hand. Bringing it to his lips, he peeled open her fingers and placed a gentle kiss on her palm. "We won't let that happen to us. I promise."

Veronica wiped her tears, casting her eyes back down at Logan. It all seemed so easy now. She loved him and he loved her. But what would happen when they left school? Left college? Went out into life? Would they still love each other then?

They stayed that way – Logan holding Veronica's hand, Veronica staring off into the distance – until the first bell rang, when they both shuffled quietly off to class.

After school, in the back seat of the Range Rover, Logan reached across the expanse between them to hold her hand again. Ben looked at them in the rear view mirror, but said nothing. There was no chatter, just a silence that was only broken when Ben exited the vehicle and Logan quickly scooted over to give Veronica a small kiss on the lips.

"I love you," he whispered.

The door opened on Veronica's side and Logan slid back to his spot.

"Love you, too," she replied with a smile. "Call me tonight, if you feel up to it."

Logan nodded and Veronica slipped out of the car.

"Thanks for the ride, Ben," she said.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Miss Mars. Have a good evening," Ben replied with a smile before walking back around the car.

Entering the house, Veronica was accosted by Backup. She knelt while he bounced and jumped around her happily.

"Who's my good boy? Who's my vicious creature?" she teased as she rubbed his head.

Backup barked and rolled on his back for a belly rub, to which Veronica obliged.

Lianne walked into the room, a glass of wine in her hand. "Hello, sweetheart. How was your day?"

Veronica stood and shook off her jacket and school bag, dropping them on the stool by the door.

"Okay," she sighed.

Lianne put a gentle hand on Veronica's shoulder. "Why don't you come and have some ice cream, and we can talk while I make dinner. We never get to talk anymore."

Veronica shrugged. Her mom was right. The last time they talked about anything significant was the day of the Christmas concert. Over the holidays, in an effort to keep herself from accidentally slipping up and telling her about Logan, Veronica just chose to defer any deep conversations.

"Okay," she said and followed Lianne into the kitchen. Veronica sat at the counter while her mom placed a bowl, a spoon, and a carton of chocolate ice cream in front of her.

"So," her Mom began. "What's been on your mind lately?"

Veronica filled her bowl. There was so much on her mind. Logan. Aaron. Lynn. Her parents.

"Can I ask you something?" Veronica said, keeping her eyes trained on Lianne.

Lianne took a sip of her wine and smiled warmly. "You can ask me anything, sweetheart."

"Was Dad the first person you loved?"

The smile momentarily dropped from Lianne's face. Her eyes shifted from Veronica, down to her glass. "Why do you ask?"

Veronica bit her lip. "I don't know. I guess I'm just curious about what things were like before you and Dad met."

Lianne turned and walked over to the stove. Opening the lid of a pot, she took a spoon and stirred the contents. Once she was done, she took another sip of wine and came back to Veronica. Leaning her elbows on the counter, she looked her daughter in the eye.

"No. No, your dad was not the first man I ever loved," she replied, quietly.

Veronica took a spoonful of ice cream, contemplating what her mom had said. "Who was?"

Lianne sighed deeply, a sadness in her eyes. "A boy. Who turned into a man, and broke my heart."

Veronica's heart ached. Is this why her mom drank? To kill the pain of lost love?

"What happened?" Veronica whispered, waiting with bated breath for the answer.

Lianne downed the last of her wine in a long sip. Crossing to the counter next to the stove, she grabbed the bottle of red wine and refilled her glass, before returning to Veronica.

"I was friends with him all through grade 7 and 8. He was part of a group of friends that I hung out with, and we developed feelings for each other. We began dating the summer before grade 9," Lianne explained.

This is why she warned me about my friends developing feelings for me, Veronica thought.

"Well, we dated all the way through high school. We were even the King and Queen of the Prom," Lianne giggled.

"But then, when we went to college, things changed," Lianne offered before taking another sip of wine. "He went to MIT and I stayed and went to Hearst. His family was rich, so sometimes, he would fly me out and we would stay in his apartment. Or he would come visit me and we would stay at the Neptune Grand. Then, one night, he went to a sorority party on campus, got drunk, and cheated on me."

A gasp escaped Veronica; her stomach twisted and turned. She hadn't realized how invested she was in her mom's story, until that moment. Lianne's eyes were glassy with tears.

"We were going to try and work it out…he even talked about transferring to Hearst so we could be together. But then the woman he cheated on me with told him she was pregnant. And he just couldn't let his child be born without his last name so…" Her words dripped with contempt.

Veronica was spellbound. She never imagined that her mother could have loved someone like this, other than her Dad. But there it was. Not only had her mother been in love before her Dad, but she had been deeply and passionately in love with someone else.

"And then –?" Veronica asked.

Lianne looked deeply into Veronica's eyes. "And then, one night, I went out with some friends. And I was pulled over by a handsome Deputy, who wrote his number on the back of a speeding ticket. And we dated and fell in love and got married and had a beautiful daughter. The end."

Veronica looked down at her melted bowl of ice cream and then back to her mom.

"Did you ever get over him?" Veronica prodded.

Lianne shook her head, a tear rolled down her face. "Oh, darling. One day you'll know…when the first boy you ever love breaks your heart, you never get over it."

A searing pain ripped through Veronica, like a knife from her stomach through her chest. Not 'if'. Not 'maybe'. When. When the boy you love breaks your heart.

"I need a shower," Veronica stated, jumping off the stool.

When her mother made no move to stop her, Veronica tore upstairs to the safety of the bathroom. Turning the water on full blast, she stripped quickly and got inside.

It was just that easy. Two people loved each other so much, yet their love could be completely obliterated in one drunken mistake. If it could happen to her mom, it could happen to her. And Logan. It didn't matter that they were friends; in the end, they still stood the same chance as everyone else. It was then that her tears finally fell freely, until she was all cried out.

The rest of the evening passed quietly. Dinner conversation was dominated by Keith telling stories from his day at work, while Lianne and Veronica barely spoke. Her mom was in an alcoholic haze by this time, and Veronica was sure she wouldn't even remember the conversation they'd had earlier.

After dinner, Veronica trudged upstairs to her bedroom and launched into her homework. When she was done, Veronica contemplated calling Logan, but decided better of it, in case he was sleeping already.

By 10:30, Veronica was under the covers, lights out, trying to fall asleep. The phone rang and she nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Hello?"

"Hey."

"I thought you might have gone to sleep," Veronica said.

"I did when I got home," Logan stated. "Then I got up, had something to eat, and did homework. Now I'm going to settle in to an evening of watching the worst porn ever."

"Maybe you should take a break," she suggested. "Even if it's just tonight."

In the darkness of her room, she could hear Logan breathing into the receiver. When she closed her eyes, it was as if he was there, next to her.

"I don't know. Maybe. How was your evening?" he murmured softly.

Veronica took a moment. "It was fine. Just homework and stuff."

Another silence between them. Could Logan sense she was hiding something, she wondered?

"I'd better go," he stated. "It's late and you were about to go to sleep. I just wanted to call and say good night."

Veronica opened her eyes, a wide smile on her face. "You did? That's kind of romantic."

Logan's soft chuckle warmed her. "I'm glad you think so. It was slightly selfish too. I just wanted to hear your voice."

Veronica licked her lips, and cooed into the phone playfully. "Then how's this – I love you. Good night, Logan."

"I love you too, Veronica." Logan sighed. "Good night."

Veronica waited for the dial tone before hanging up. Rolling out of bed, she crossed to her dresser, pulling out Logan's t-shirt she had stolen. She quickly changed, enjoying the feel of the soft t-shirt brushing against her skin. Surrounded by his musky, sweaty scent, Veronica crawled back into bed and quickly fell asleep,

"Logan." Veronica moaned, digging her fingers into his naked shoulders.

Under the blankets, he moved against her body, skin against skin. Her body trembled as a rush of pleasure pulsed through her.

"Veronica," Logan groaned, his face near her ear. She felt his body shaking against hers as he held onto her for dear life.

After a moment, he rolled next to her, gathering her gently in his arms. She reached up to caress the stubble on his face and he smiled warmly.

Their apartment was bathed in morning light, casting pinks and purples around the room. Everything was perfect. Logan was perfect. Their home was perfect. Their lives were perfect.

A small knock on the door broke her thoughts.

"I'll get it," Logan said and climbed out of bed, stopping to pull on a pair of boxers. Veronica ran her eyes over his naked body, and he threw a quick wink at her before crossing the room to open the door.

There, in the doorway, stood a tall blonde woman. Next to her was a child, with sandy hair and beautiful brown eyes.

Veronica pulled the covers closer to her body and got out of bed. Logan and the woman were talking and gesturing, but Veronica couldn't hear them. By the time she reached the door, dragging the sheet around her, Logan was somehow dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.

"Veronica, do you remember that girl, from the hotel? I lied. We did have sex. This is our son."

Veronica was frozen to her spot. Her mouth moved to form words, but no sound came out. She tried to move her body, but she was paralyzed.

Logan reached down to caress Veronica's cheek with the back of his fingers.

"I have to go with them now. I'm sorry," he said quietly. "Just remember that I love you."

Logan took the child by the hand and together they disappeared. The woman smiled at Veronica and shrugged.

"Sorry," she said, and then she disappeared as well.

Veronica clutched the sheet tightly as she crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath. He was gone.

Forcing her eyes open, she whispered to the empty room.

"Logan."

Her heart was racing a mile a minute. Veronica focused on a spot on the ceiling and tried to control her breathing.

It was a dream. Only a dream. She repeated the words over and over in her head until she regained control.

Rolling onto her side, she pulled her knees up under Logan's t-shirt, stretching it around her, wrapping herself in his scent once more.

She was not like her mom, and Logan was different from the boy who broke her mother's heart. Logan would never cheat on her. Veronica knew it in her heart.

Her head, however, was beginning to churn out some vexing thoughts.

Veronica floated through her morning routine, still numb from her nightmare. As they pulled up to Logan's home, her pulse increased wildly. All she wanted to do was hold him, touch him, let him reassure her they would be fine.

When Logan's backpack flew through the door, Veronica jumped. He slipped into his seat soon after.

"Hey!" Logan flashed a big smile at her.

"Hey," she replied, her worries melting away in his presence.

"How did you sleep?" she asked.

"Better. I finally passed out around 3 a.m.," he said with enthusiasm.

"Some sleep is better than none," commented Keith.

"My feelings exactly, Mr. Mars," Logan concurred.

"So no lunchtime naps today?" Veronica teased.

Logan shook his head. "Nope. Not today, anyhow. I have to meet my science partner in the library at lunch and start working on our term project."

"Oh! Who did you get paired with? I got lucky with Mac," Veronica replied enthusiastically.

"Carrie Bishop. When she's not hanging out with Susan and Madison, she's actually kind of nice," Logan said with a shrug.

Veronica face fell slightly. Carrie Bishop. A girl. He was paired with a girl. A good looking girl, with fairly sizable breasts, for that matter. And apparently, she was "nice" too.

She forced a smile back on her lips. "Oh? You guys started working on it already?"

Logan nodded. "Yeah. I was on the phone with her last night for, like, two hours doing homework. We settled on an experiment to monitor how plants react to different music. Did you know Carrie plays piano?"

So, Carrie Bishop was the reason he didn't call her earlier last night? Maybe she can lend me some piano wire, Veronica thought.

"Do you think she's into you, son?" Keith asked from the front, an amused look on his face.

"No!" Logan exclaimed. "I mean, she's nice and she's really pretty, but she's just not –"

"You think she's pretty?" Veronica frowned, dropping the friend façade momentarily.

"Yes. I mean no." Logan gasped, his face full of shock and horror. "I mean, she's pretty, but she's not my type."

Keith chuckled from the front seat. "I didn't mean to put you on the spot, Logan. I'm sorry. I just thought that you may have a girlfriend on your hands soon. Sometimes, all it takes is a little time to get to know each other for sparks to fly. Just see what happens."

Veronica turned to look out the window. Talk of Logan having 'sparks' with someone else, added to the angst from her dream, multiplied by her Mom's comments, equaled one confused teenager.

"Did you and Mac pick your science experiment yet?" Logan asked.

Veronica caught his reflection in the glass, but didn't turn to look at him. "We're going to create a computer program. Not sure what it will be yet, but I'll do the research and she'll do the coding."

"Cool," Logan replied, quietly. Silence fell in the car as Veronica contemplated what was said, over and over in her head.

Keith began talking to Logan about his science experiment, and before long, they were at school.

Today, instead of walking up to Logan on the curb, Veronica swept past him quickly, causing him to jog to catch up. Once he did, Logan jumped in front of her to stop her in her tracks.

"I'm sorry," Logan said quietly, leaning his head down near hers.

Veronica stepped back, creating some space between them. "For what? You were just being honest."

"So you don't want me to apologize?" Logan asked, sighing in frustration.

"Why didn't you tell me you were on the phone with Carrie all night?" she snapped.

Logan stepped closer to her, bringing his head lower to hers again.

"Because I was doing homework with her. Not having phone sex! Just doing homework," he hissed his response.

Veronica's eyes narrowed in anger. "Maybe you should have had phone sex with her, if you think she's so pretty. 'Cause you're never going to have it with me!"

Logan threw up his arms in dismay and rolled his eyes. "I can't talk to you when you're insane!"

"Fine! Then just don't talk to me!" Veronica spat and with that, she matched around him towards the lockers. As she stomped across the quad, the first bell rang, leaving no time to think about what had just happened.

At lunch, Veronica sat at the table, feeling miserable without Logan. All the joking and kidding with her friends couldn't keep her mind off of Logan and Carrie in the library. As soon as she was done eating, Veronica excused herself from her friends, citing her need to get a jump on her homework, and ran off to the library. Walking into the large open area of the junior high library, she scanned the tables for Logan and Carrie. She came up empty.

They must have gone to the private tables. Veronica fumed, looking towards the second tier of the library that ran around the main seating area.

Climbing the four steps to the next level, Veronica began to make her way around the edge of the big circle, peeking down each row of books at the tables.

Several rows in, she spotted them, near the botany section of the science row. Ducking her head back behind the shelf, Veronica snuck to the table directly opposite to them on the other side of the stacks. Glancing between the open shelves, she could see the two on the other side, through the cracks in the books. Grabbing an arbitrary book from the shelf near her, she opened it but kept her eyes trained on Logan and Carrie.

Logan was sitting closest to Veronica, while Carrie hovered near him, in the chair on the other side. Carrie Bishop. If there was a girl who was the complete opposite of Veronica, it was Carrie. Long brown hair and a curvy figure. The school gossip, along with Susan and Madison, she had always been popular, even in elementary school. She was the girl everyone seemed to want on their team.

"I think orchids will be too hard. African Violets would be better," Carrie said. She stood and reached diagonally across Logan's, overtly pressing her breasts on the book spread out in front of him. She retrieved the book she wanted from a pile and brushed against his arm as she sat back down. Veronica noticed Carrie was wearing a tight t-shirt and short jean skirt when she rose, and Veronica wished she hadn't chosen jeans and a hoodie to wear today.

If I pull the fire alarm, Veronica thought, would that break this little party up? Or would it just set off the sprinklers?

"You know, Logan," Carrie began, looking him in the eyes. "I have a confession to make."

"Oh?" Logan looked down at his book, trying not to look at her.

Veronica scrambled to the shelf so she could hear and see better. Logan's jaw was clenched, and he was playing with the edge of the paper in the book.

Carrie dragged her fingers down his arm, stopping at the back of his hand. "I've had a crush on you since grade four."

Veronica dug her nails into the top of the books. If she threw a volume over the bookcase, what were the odds that she could hit Carrie with it?

Logan coughed and turned bright red. "Um. That's cool –"

"And I just thought that maybe," Carrie interrupted him, moving her head closer to his, "we could get to know each other better. Now that we're older."

Veronica held her breath. This was it. Carrie was going to kiss him. Blinding, searing rage rendered Veronica frozen to her spot.

"Carrie! Stop!" Logan moved sideways to avoid Carrie's kiss, and fell out of his chair, onto the floor.

Veronica let out a loud gasp and quickly covered her mouth with her hands, hoping no one heard her. Logan was sitting on the floor, directly on the other side of the shelves.

Carrie raced to offer her hand to Logan but he waved it off.

"Carrie, I'm sorry but I'm dating someone," Logan said, looking up at the girl. "The girl, from the boat. Amber."

Carrie wrinkled her nose. "You mean you are actually dating that townie? I thought you were just –"

"You thought wrong," Logan stated. Looking over his shoulder, he caught Veronica's eye. She saw him do a small double-take, before a giant grin crossed his face.

"In fact," he began, turning to Carrie. "everyone was wrong. Not only am I dating her, but we are madly, passionately, and completely head over heels in love. You feel free to spread that gossip around the entire town."

Veronica's heart melted. She knew that he couldn't say her name, but just the proclamation of his love for her, to someone else, made her knees weak.

"I'm sorry, Logan," Carrie said as she gathered up her backpack and books. "I should go. I'll see you later in class."

Logan raised his hand and waved his fingers at her, his grin now morphing into a smirk. "Bye Carrie! It's been fun!"

When she was gone, Logan leaned towards the shelf and peaked through the books at Veronica.

"Hey."

Veronica bit her lip. Busted.

"Hey."

"Your curiosity get the better of you again?" he chuckled.

"Yeah." Veronica replied quietly.

Logan licked his lips and shook his head. "Can I expect this for the rest of my life?"

Veronica scrunched up her nose. "Maybe?"

Logan threw back his head in a full laugh. "Serves me right for falling in love with a future badass police detective."

"Sorry?" she replied.

Logan shook his head. "Bygones. At least, now I know what I'm in for."

Veronica chewed the end of her nail, a smile still pulling on her lips. Logan turned completely around to face her, a wide grin visible through the books.

"I love you," he whispered through the papers.

"I love you, too," Veronica whispered back before rising to get her things. As she grabbed her backpack, the lunch bell rang, and she ended up having to sprint to class once again, with Logan hot on her heels.

By the end of the day, Veronica just wanted to go home. The rollercoaster of emotions had her thinking a long bubble bath and some chocolate were in order. Carrie had done her duty and by the time Veronica was out of English class, everyone knew about Logan's great love affair with 'Amber', but part of Veronica wished everyone knew it was actually her.

As she trudged through the quad, she took solace in the fact that she would get to be alone with Logan for a few minutes in the car.

Standing on the curb to the parking lot, she looked around. No Logan. No car. No Ben.

"Shit," she muttered, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

Seconds later, a black limousine pulled up in front of her. The door opened, and out stepped Logan, in his deep navy suit and white dress shirt, which was open at the collar. He stood, holding the door open for her, bowing slightly at the waist.

"Your chariot awaits!" Logan said with a wild flourish of his hand, gesturing her inside the car.

Veronica let out a giggle, biting her lip to keep it under control. Tossing her bag into the limo first, Veronica caught Logan's eye before slipping into the vehicle.

Veronica gasped. One side of the limo was filled with white roses. Veronica fell into the seat, her palm on her heart. Logan quietly slipped into the limo and closed the door. He sat on the same bench, as far away from her as possible.

"Flowers for when I screw up," Logan said quietly.

The vehicle began to move. Veronica turned to Logan, looking handsome in his suit, and gave him a wide smile.

"You didn't have to do this," she replied quietly.

Logan nodded. "Yeah. I did. I'm sorry for this morning. I was so blindsided by the conversation about Carrie, in the car, that I totally messed up. And trying to hide my feelings for you at the same time…"

"No. I'm sorry. I was on edge this morning and I overreacted." Veronica reassured him, sliding closer.

Logan sidled closer to her and they met in the middle of the back seat. He took her hand and kissed her knuckles gently, giving her a small smile. "Why were you on edge?"

Veronica took a breath. "My mom told me a story last night, about how her high school love – her first love – cheated on her and left her when they were in college."

Logan's cringed. "That sucks."

She nodded. "I guess, it just set off my own fears. I had a nightmare about you leaving. And then this Carrie thing, just seemed to be the final straw."

"Oh," he replied quietly.

"That's it? That's all you have?" she asked, incredulously.

"What can I say?" Logan shrugged. "You know that I have fears about us too. Even more so, now that I see exactly what my family is like. With Aaron and my mom for role models, what chance do I have for a deep, lasting relationship with anyone?"

"Oh," she whispered back.

"But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Even if we're young, I can't imagine ever loving anyone, the way I love you."

"Really?" Veronica asked, her heart sounding like a drum in her ears.

Her response came in the form of a soft kiss to her lips. Pulling back, a small smiled formed on his face.

"We'll just keep trying. Maybe we'll go the distance. Maybe we won't. But I promise, I will try to make this work every day. Whatever it takes."

Veronica blinked back tears. Gently, Logan scooped her legs up and brought them across his lap. Wrapping his arms around her, he enveloped her in a deep, passionate kiss.

Sinking into the glorious feeling of his lips, Veronica slipped her hand under his suit jacket and around his chest, grabbing the back of his shirt.

A thought sprang into Veronica's head and she pulled away quickly.

"What about Ben?" Veronica said, gesturing her head towards the front seat.

Logan licked his lips and chuckled. "This is my one 'free pass' from Ben. I called him at lunch, before I met with Carrie, and arranged this. I explained to him how I messed up, and he agreed to help. I also convinced him to cut me some slack in the kissing department and take the extra long way home."

Veronica giggled and gave him a quick peck on the lips. "My dad warned me about rich boys with limos."

Logan wiggled his eyebrows at her. "He was right."

Veronica leaned in, pressing her lips against his. From the moment they connected, though, something was off. She attempted to deepen their kiss, opening her mouth slightly, but he wouldn't reciprocate. Giving in to his small kisses, she closed her eyes and just tried to enjoy being close to him.

The limo rocked back and forth as they drove, pressing Logan into her. She bent her knees around his legs to anchor herself, as not to slip and end up on the floor.

Grasping her against the movement of the limo, Logan's large hand caught a bit of exposed skin around her waist. His cold hand against her warm skin made her gasp, releasing him from their kiss.

Veronica pulled her hoodie down, covering his hand underneath.

She arched her eyebrow at him, a mischievous smile on her lips. "You can go higher, if you want."

Shock crossed Logan's face momentarily as he processed what she was saying. Then, slowly, his fingers skimmed along her spine, climbing higher under her t-shirt and sweater. Veronica's held her breath as he rested his palm over her bra strap, between her shoulder blades, fanning his fingers out across her back. He didn't try to unhook her bra; didn't try to slide his hand under. His hand just stayed there, holding her gently.

"Kind of thought you would take the front route," Veronica whispered, a hint of frustration in her voice.

Logan pressed his hand, moving her so they were now chest to chest. He leaned in and kissed the tip of her nose.

"I know," he answered, a goofy grin stretched across his face.

Veronica let out a huff and Logan laughed.

"Mr. Echolls," Ben's voice came through the intercom.

Logan sighed and stared up at the ceiling speaker. "Yes, Ben?"

"Hands where I can see them, sir. You too, Miss Mars," Ben replied.

Logan let out a chuckle as Veronica turned red. She quickly slipped her hand out of his jacket as he removed his hand from the back of her shirt.

"Thanks for the reminder, Ben," Logan responded. "Maybe it's time to get Miss Mars home."

Veronica swung her feet down onto the floor and adjusted her hoodie. Logan straightened his suit jacket and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Maybe it is," Veronica replied. She looked out the window, biting her lip in embarrassment, as Ben changed their direction towards home.

Chapter End Notes

Just a heads up...with the upcoming holidays, I don't know how much time I will get to write. I'm also starting some stuff for the iZombie fandom, so I'll be spending a bit of time on that as well.

So if I don't update as often, don't worry, I am still continuing this story, at just a little slower pace.

 

Chapter Text

 

Logan was pissed off. Spending the weekend with friends meant that he was unable to transfer any more video footage of Aaron's dalliances on the yacht. Veronica tried to convinced him that taking a break from the psychologically tortuous task was a good thing, and an argument broke out between the two, when he told her he didn't want or need a break. She knew that he was feeling the pressure to complete his task before Aaron returned, and combined with lack of sleep, had put Logan on edge. In the end, Logan grudgingly agreed to take some time away from the project, and Veronica privately celebrated her small victory.

Saturday morning, Logan snarked his way through surf class with Veronica and Dick. When Wallace, Mac, Casey, and Duncan arrived, he was sullen and distant, choosing to sit on the edge of the pool, rather than change into his swim trunks and join everyone. The tension, still lingering from their argument, escalated when the group gathered to watch a movie, and Logan chose the opposite end of the couch from Veronica. The action did not go unnoticed by their friends, and everyone left quickly the minute the movie ended.

After Veronica had said goodbye to their friends, all the while making excuses for Logan's moodiness, she went upstairs to find him sitting at his computer again.

Standing in the doorway to the bathroom, Veronica crossed her arms and leaned against the frame. From her position, she could only see the side of the monitor because Logan was blocking the rest, his headphones on as he stared at the screen. He glanced up at her and sighed, tapped a couple of keys, then removed the headphones.

"We need to talk about this," Veronica began, her voice stern.

"We've already talked about this. We've talked. We've argued. And now we're talking again," Logan said, exasperated. "If I'm going to get this done before Aaron gets back, I need to work on it every day, you know that."

"Yes, but we also talked about the fact that you need to step away from it. And get some sleep," Veronica sighed. "I'm worried that you're becoming obsessed."

"I'm not obsessed, okay?" Logan barked, momentarily losing his cool.

Veronica held her hand up in front of her. "Sure. If you're not obsessed, then why did you start a notebook?"

Logan looked down at the school notebook. He had repurposed the back of his math scribbler for his secret project, and Veronica had caught him pouring over it in the library earlier in the week.

"I'm keeping track of the women. What they look like. Dates. Frequency. How long they stayed." Logan admitted, not making eye contact. "Just analyzing the data."

Veronica's arms returned to their crossed position. "What is there to analyze? He screwed a lot of women. The only one we need to concern ourselves with is Mrs. Kane and the inside info she keeps giving him for his services. What else are you hoping to find?"

Logan covered his eyes with his palms and leaned back in his chair. "I don't know what I hope to find! I guess I just want an answer for why the hell he does this, other than he's some maniacal sex addict!"

Veronica dropped her head, watching her toes dig into the shag rug. Since their one make-out session in the car, after the argument about Carrie, Logan had resisted touching her, other than their small kiss goodbye at the end of each day. No invitations to come over to his house. No stolen kisses on the beach. No fingers on her knee during lunch.

"You need to stop, Logan," Veronica implored, looking up at him again. "Our friends were over today and you couldn't get out of your head long enough to have fun."

Veronica took a step closer to him, and Logan reached out to turn off the computer monitor. She walked right up to him, but he still wouldn't look at her. Gently, she began running her fingers through his hair. With a shake of his head, Logan ducked away from her grasp.

"I can't stop," he murmured. "The sooner I finish this, the sooner this will be over. Just give me some time, okay?"

Veronica clenched her jaw. She wanted to argue with him more, to try and get him away from the videos for just a little while longer, but she also wanted to kiss him until she couldn't breathe.

"Fine," she huffed. "I'll be in my room."

Veronica turned on her heels and fled through the bathroom to her room. Grabbing one of the pillows off the bed, she threw it at the wall. Stupid Aaron. Stupid, abusive, misogynist Aaron. Stupid Logan for taking this on. Stupid Veronica, she thought, for suggesting this stupid plan to get rid of stupid Aaron.

Veronica looked around the room. She needed to get out of here. It was only 7 pm and she'd be damned if she was going to feel sorry for herself alone in her room. Crossing to her surf bag on the floor, she dropped to her knees and fished out her spare swimsuit. Quickly she changed into her sport bikini and headed down to the pool.

The Echolls' pool was beautiful at night. The lights from inside the water cast a soft glow around the patio. Just watching the water gently ripple calmed Veronica's nerves. She grabbed a towel from the warmer, watching the heat rise in white streaks as it hit the chilly night air. Walking to one end, she dropped the towel on the tiles, stepped to the edge of the pool, and dove in. Pulling herself through the water, she began her circuits. Long stokes of her arms took her cleanly through the water. At the end of the pool, she paused at the edge to catch her breath, then continued her swim. Lap after lap, her head began to clear. Aaron left. Logan left. Lianne left. Her mind went quiet for the first time in a while.

Losing track of her lap count, Veronica eased her pace, taking longer strokes, letting herself glide slowly through the water. Coming towards the end of the pool, Veronica was startled to see a pair of legs, dangling in the water in front of her. She pulled herself out of her breaststroke to tread water a few feet away from where Logan sat in his board shorts and a sweatshirt.

"Hey," he said shyly.

"Hey," she replied.

Veronica looked at Logan like she was seeing him for the first time. Sometimes, she forgot how beautiful he was. With the pool lights reflecting up at him, she took in his features once more. His round, boyish cheeks. The blush of his lips. And those brown, puppy dog eyes, that she was sure could convince her to follow him to the ends of the earth.

"Why don't you come in?" she offered. "We haven't done laps together in forever."

Logan hesitated, his eyes darting around, as if looking for an excuse to say 'no'.

"Okay," he replied.

Standing, he walked a little way, stripping off his sweatshirt and throwing it on a chair. Coming back to the edge, he stopped for a moment before diving into the water. She watched his lean form dart down to the bottom of the pool, then surface. Without stopping, he began swimming towards the other end.

Veronica restarted her laps, at her own pace, and soon, they were quietly swimming past each other, enjoying the stillness of the night and the warmth of the water.

Veronica tired first and she sat on the pool steps, her body curled up under the warm water, watching Logan continue swimming. It was a few more laps before he realized she wasn't swimming anymore, and came to join her. He took a spot on a step down from her, keeping his body covered by the warm water.

"Feel better?" she asked.

Logan's head bobbed above the water. "Yeah. I should have done that sooner."

"Why didn't you join us in the pool today?" Veronica questioned.

Logan pushed himself out of the water just enough for his chest to show. Pointing down at the puckered cigar wound, he looked her in the eye. "Because then everyone would see this."

Veronica mentally chastised herself. Of course. When they surfed, it was covered by his wet suit. But swimming at home was another matter.

"I…I'm sorry. I forgot," Veronica admitted quietly.

An awkward silence fell as Logan turned to look out over the water.

"Why didn't you want to sit with me during the movie?" Veronica whispered.

Logan shrugged, still not looking at her. "I don't know. I just don't want to be touched right now."

Her instinct made her begin to reach for him, but she quickly retracted her hand under the water.

"It's like, to watch these videos, I have to shut down my emotions," Logan continued. "And I think I'm having problems rebooting."

Veronica processed his words. "We never should have done this."

Logan shook his head. "No. We need to do this. I'm already halfway done. If I can push through, this will be over soon and we can go on with our lives."

"But at what cost?" Veronica sighed. "Your sanity?"

Logan finally faced her again. "My well-being is not going to be any safer if we don't do this. If this saves me from getting beaten, or my mom tortured, or, God forbid he goes after you, then it's worth it. In the meantime, we just need to deal."

Veronica cast her sad eyes at him. "What can I do to help you? My part of this plan doesn't really happen until you're done."

A small smile twitched at the corner of Logan's lip. "Be my best friend. For now, try to forget we are a couple, and just be my friend."

Is he breaking up with me? He just wants to be friends? For how long? Veronica's heart began pounding as she tried to push her insecurities to the side.

"Okay," she choked, trying to keep her composure.

"Hey, I didn't mean to upset you," Logan said quickly, moving closer to her. "I just meant maybe we can do more hanging out stuff and less touchy feely stuff."

A small laugh burst from Veronica, breaking through her fear. "More playing Final Fantasy, less playing house?"

Logan chuckled. "Exactly. But mark my words, when this is done, we can play house for hours and hours."

Veronica shivered a bit. "Well, if that's what you want, then I'll race you to the other end so we can go inside and play. Final Fantasy, that is."

Logan broke out in a wide grin.

"You're on," he exclaimed and dove quickly under the water.

Veronica laughed and swam after him, racing to the other end of the pool.

Another week passed and Logan achieved his goal of having all the tapes transferred. The following Saturday, he was downright jubilant when their friends arrived and had even managed to convince Mrs. Navarro to make them all a Mexican feast for dinner.

After everyone left, Veronica set about completing her part of the plan. Carefully, she copied the handwriting on each tape to a blank "dummy" that Logan had purchased. He would substitute the blank tapes in place of the originals on the yacht tomorrow. After she was done, they organized the original tapes in a metal lock box and buried them deep in the ground, in a section of the estate garden that was never used.

Veronica then took the two CDs containing the information about Aaron's dealings with Mrs. Kane, and copies of the five CDs with the women he had slept with, home to finish her part of the plan.

During the week, she arranged to give one copy of everything to Mac for safekeeping. If she didn't see or hear from either Veronica or Logan, by 6 pm every day, she was to follow their instructions and get the information to the proper authorities as soon as possible. Later in the week, Veronica headed to her father's office, to hide the CD containing the information about the insider trading, in the front of a never-used book on Legal Statutes, situated at the top of his bookshelf. If anything ever happened, the information was already in Keith's possession, and all Veronica had to do was place a simple phone call.

With his part of the project now over, Logan began to transform back into his old self, much to Veronica's glee. Monday, at lunch, Logan's hand slipped gently onto her knee under the table. On Tuesday, he held their goodbye kiss for a second or two longer than normal. By Wednesday, he was back to whispering jokes and cute comments in her ear between surf runs. Thursday, he passed her a note in between classes, outlining a dream he'd had about her that night, that made her blush. Friday, Veronica took matters into her own hands, and locked Logan in the girls' washroom with her, at the far end of the school, so they could make-out at lunch. Saturday, after surfing class, they were told by Dick to "get a room."

Later, the couple was downright blissful as they laughed and bantered their way into the Echolls mansion. They had arranged to spend the weekend without their friends, to finalize their plans for Aaron, and after their antics together all week, their friends were more than happy to oblige without question.

As they entered the house, a familiar voice called out from the kitchen.

"Is that you, Logan?"

The two froze, the colour draining from Logan's face.

Aaron.

"I thought he wasn't back for another two weeks?" Veronica whispered.

Logan nodded. "That's what I thought," he replied quietly.

Aaron appeared from around the corner, causing Veronica's skin to crawl. He wore his best thousand watt smile as he approached them both.

"What? No 'Welcome home, Dad'?" he exclaimed, opening his arms to Logan.

Logan glanced at Veronica and then back to Aaron. Stepping forward, he let his father wrap his arms around him in an awkward hug.

"Hello, Veronica!" Aaron said, stepping away from Logan. "It seems like forever since I've seen you."

Veronica raised her hand in a small wave, stepping closer to Logan.

"Hi Mr. Echolls. Welcome back," she replied, trying her best to sound perky.

Aaron cocked his head to one side. "Now, Logan confided to me over Christmas that you two are dating. Is that still going on?"

Veronica squared her shoulders, trying her best to look bigger and more imposing than she actually was. "Yes. It's true."

She reached for Logan's hand and he grabbed it, holding tightly. Aaron looked between them, a sneer curling at the edge of his lips.

"Well, I gave Mrs. Navarro the afternoon off. Tonight, I'm grilling steaks!" Aaron proclaimed. "In celebration of my homecoming and…young love?"

"Yep. Sure. That sounds great," Logan responded, pulling slightly on Veronica's hand. "In the meantime, we have to do homework. Upstairs."

Veronica took the hint and they turned and dashed up the main staircase. Entering through Veronica's room, they locked the door behind them.

"What the fuck?" Veronica hissed, tossing her bag on the floor with a thud.

Logan put his hands through his hair, his eyes wide with fear. "I swear, he wasn't supposed to be back so soon."

Veronica began pacing. Walking to the bathroom door, she locked it. "So much for talking to your Mom about the tapes this weekend."

Logan looked up at the ceiling and sighed. "No. I can still do it. Just by myself tomorrow, when Aaron goes back to the yacht."

Veronica crossed to him, wrapping herself around his body. His arms came down and held her tightly.

"Don't go anywhere alone today," Logan cautioned quietly. "No swimming. No running downstairs for snacks. Nothing where he would have the opportunity to see you or be alone with you."

Veronica nodded into his chest. "We can hide out here until dinner. Then maybe in the media room after."

Logan tightened his grip on her, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. "You can shower first. I'm going to call Mac and tell her about the change in timeline."

Veronica looked up at his face, a frown crossing her forehead. "What happened to you talking to Aaron after your Mom? You don't want to continue with that plan?"

Logan looked down at her and kissed the tip of her nose. "I just want to be prepared. Just in case I have to drop the bomb sooner."

Veronica reached up and placed her hand on his cheek. "Don't say anything to your Dad without me there. I'm just as much your protection as you are mine. I don't want you out of my sight for a minute!"

A smirk stretched across Logan's lips. "Not for a minute, huh. What about showering? I only get a minute?"

Veronica batted her lashes playfully. "Well, you could join –"

Logan groaned and kissed her cheek. "Don't finish that sentence. I'm liable to take you up on it."

Veronica giggled, extracting herself his grasp, and moving to her overnight bag. "Glad to see you're back in fighting form, so to speak."

She caught Logan watching her in the mirror and he winked playfully. "Yep. My brain is back on all-Veronica-all-the-time mode. And my showers take longer than a minute again."

Veronica grabbed her outfit from her bag and rolled her eyes at him. Logan walked to the bathroom door, opening it with a deep bow, and waving her through with a flourish.

Veronica crossed the room and stopped in front of him.

"I assume you are on your way to lock yourself in your room while I shower," she said, pressing her index finger to the tip of his nose.

Logan shooed her in and closed the door with a dramatic sigh. "Fine! If you insist."

Once they were both showered and changed, Logan and Veronica made a stealth run to the kitchen for supplies. They managed to liberate several bags of chips, some bread, a container of peanut butter, and a jar of strawberry jam, before returning quickly to Veronica's room. Having forgotten a knife, Logan found his Swiss Army knife and they set about making a PB&J feast for lunch. While they were eating, Veronica playfully wiped a dollop of peanut butter onto the tip of Logan's nose, and their picnic on the floor quickly turned into a tickle fight. But when Veronica finally ended the tickling by pinning Logan to the ground, using her self-defense moves, the couple launched into a prolonged make-out session that had them rolling across the carpet, wrapped in each others arms.

Dialing back their romantic interlude, before things got out of hand, they decided to play cards for the remainder of the afternoon, spread across Veronica's bed. At 4:30, they realized that they had to face Aaron soon, and they got dressed for dinner.

As they walked down to the patio, Logan took Veronica's hand in his and held it tightly. "Whatever happens, just remember that I will never let him hurt you."

"I know," she replied.

As they stepped out from the house, they could see Aaron across the patio, standing over the barbecue. Lynn was sitting at the table, cocktail in hand. When she saw the teens, Lynn rose and strode towards them quickly.

"Here are my darlings!" Lynn called out as she came closer, staggering slightly as she walked.

Veronica's suspicion that Lynn was drunk, was confirmed when Lynn embraced her, the smell of alcohol clearly on her breath.

"Please, don't rile him," Lynn whispered to Logan as she pulled away from her hug.

"I'll play nice if he does," was Logan's reply.

Lynn pursed her lips together in frustration. Logan took Veronica's hand again and began walking towards the outside dining area.

The patio was awash with tiny white lights hanging from a pergola over the large oak dining table. The white china glistened against the darkness of the evening and Veronica thought that it would be a beautiful night to eat outside, if it wasn't for the psychotic chef serving tonight's meal.

"Ahhh! There's the lovely couple!" Aaron called from the barbecue. "Have a seat. The steaks are just coming off the grill."

Lynn had already taken her seat, leaving the two seats together for Logan and Veronica, directly across from her. Aaron's full wine glass waited for him at the head of the table. Hesitantly, they sat at their places, immediately locking hands under the table as they did.

"How was your class today?" Lynn asked softly from across the table, taking a long sip of her wine.

Mixing wine with cocktails, Veronica thought. No wonder she's staggering.

"It was great, Mom," Logan responded, trying to sound casual. "Really good waves today."

A genuine smile lit up Lynn's face. "I'm so glad. I missed talking to you both at lunch."

Logan looked at Veronica and smiled. "Decided to have a picnic in Veronica's room. We haven't seen much of each other lately."

Lynn looked between the couple. "That's true. You haven't come over very often lately, Veronica. And Logan, you've been locked in your room, working on that science project every night."

Logan let out a little cough, shifting in his seat. "Yep. Working pretty hard. Hoping for an A."

"Well I, for one, couldn't be happier to hear that Logan is buckling down, now he's in Junior High," Aaron commented from behind them.

Veronica jumped at his voice and looked over her shoulder to see him standing just behind her, holding a big plate of tenderloin steaks.

"Steak, Veronica?" Aaron asked.

"Please," she replied, swallowing the wave of fear, as Aaron loomed above her.

Once everyone had served themselves the various grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, and salads, a silence fell over the table as they all began eating.

Halfway through the meal, Aaron put down his cutlery and leaned back in his chair, his eyes on Veronica. A cold chill ran down her spine. Logan must have noticed because his hand appeared on her knee, gently calming her nerves.

"So. Veronica. You and Logan," Aaron smiled. "How's that going?"

Veronica stole a glance at Logan, then focused back on Aaron. "Fine. Great."

Aaron nodded his head and reached for his wine. "He's handling himself like a gentleman around you?"

Eww, thought Veronica, understanding the underlying question. "Always," she replied.

"And you guys are exclusive? What did we call it in the old days...going steady?" he chuckled.

Veronica forced a smile. "We are. If he was on the football team, I'd be wearing his jacket."

She heard a small snort of a laugh escape Logan and Veronica's smile widened to a grin.

Aaron chuckled again and drank more of his wine. "Well, then, the rumors at the club must not be true."

A sneer curled on Aaron's lips and Veronica glanced at Logan in panic.

"What rumors are those, Dad?" Logan asked, tentatively.

Aaron put his hand over his heart and shook his head sadly. "I hate to bring it up, but it seems, Veronica, that Logan may not be the gentleman you thought he was. I think you should know what you are in for, before you get hurt."

Logan shot his father a look of pure hatred. Veronica grabbed his hand under the table to steady him.

"What should she know, Dad?" Logan's lip curling into a snarl.

Lynn reached over and put her hand on Aaron's arm.

"Please, don't do this," she whispered.

Ignoring Lynn, Aaron carried on, a sadistic grin now stretching across his face.

"Well, if the rumors are true, it seems that Logan has been having sex with a number of women on my yacht while I was away," Aaron stated, trying to sound tragic. "I'm so sorry to have to tell you, but you deserve to know the truth."

Logan's jaw twitched with anger.

"Just couldn't do it," he muttered. "You just couldn't let me be happy. Feel loved. Know any kind of joy, could you?"

Aaron tried to look pained at his son's accusations, but the smile stayed on his face. "But Logan, you cheated on Veronica. Clearly, she needs to know what kind of boy she got herself involved with."

Veronica was momentarily blinded by a vengeful rage, the likes of which she had never experienced. Seeing with her own eyes how Aaron could purposely try and hurt his own son – the boy she loved – filled her with an overwhelming need for revenge.

Turning towards Logan, she saw the same rage in his eyes. He arched his eyebrow knowingly at Veronica, his best jackass smirk twitching across his lips. Veronica responded with her own wicked smile.

Grasping Logan's hand tightly, she turned back to Aaron. "I trust Logan. He wouldn't cheat on me. But I do know someone else who has been cheating on that yacht."

Aaron's smile faltered. He looked between Logan and Veronica, but said nothing.

"We know, Dad," Logan continued, defiantly. "We have proof of all the women you've had sex with on that boat."

Veronica looked across the table at Lynn. Calmly, Logan's mom sat back in her chair and took a long sip of her wine. It seemed as if Aaron's infidelity was no surprise to her.

"Mom, if you wanted to divorce him, I have enough evidence that you could probably take him for all he is worth," Logan sneered. "And embarrass him so badly he would never work again."

Aaron jumped to his feet, knocking over his chair in the process. Logan and Veronica sprang up from the table, still holding hands.

"You know nothing!" Aaron bellowed. "You're both just kids! No one will believe you!"

"I know everything!" Logan hollered back at his father. "I know about the women. I know about Mrs. Kane. And I know about the insider trading of Kane Software stock!"

Aaron froze. Veronica held her breath. Logan had done it. He had Aaron where they wanted him. Like a giant fish on a line, he had Aaron snagged. All Logan had to do now was reel him in.

"Really, Aaron? Celeste Kane?" Lynn rolled her eyes, leaning back in her seat.

Aaron's attention turned towards his wife. "Shut up, Lynn, or I'll –"

"No! You won't do anything!" Logan barked, looking between his parents.

"Here's what's going to happen, Aaron," Logan began. "You are going to go to L.A. and never come back. You won't bother Mom, you won't bother Trina, you won't bother me, and you especially won't bother Veronica."

Aaron threw his head back and laughed. "Or what? You'll call the Neptune Sheriff's department on me?"

Veronica shook her head. "Nope. If you don't do what Logan says, then one copy of our evidence goes straight to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other goes to Kane Software. Insider trading is a pretty big no-no. And I'm sure, once the news breaks that you slept with Mrs. Kane for the information, it will make Mr. Kane pretty upset as well. And he's a very powerful man around this town. Maybe even the most powerful."

Aaron's hands came down hard on the table, causing Veronica and Logan to lurch back slightly.

"You little bitch!" Aaron roared. "You think your daddy can protect you from me?"

Logan reached over to the table and grabbed the large steak knife from his plate. Pointing it at Aaron, he let go of Veronica's hand and slammed his hand down on the table.

"Don't you dare threaten her!" Logan yelled at his father. "The evidence is already in a safe place! If anything happens to any of us, it goes directly to its intended viewers, do you understand?"

Silence fell once again as Aaron considered what Logan was saying.

"All you have to do is go to L.A. and never come back," Logan stated through clenched teeth.

"Go live your life and leave us alone. Just know, if you try to do anything, your comfortable Hollywood life will go 'boom'."

Logan's eyes lit up as he embellished his words with a flourish of his hand, simulating a bomb going off.

There was a pause as time seemingly stood still. Aaron flashed a sinister grin. "Fine Logan. Fine."

Veronica's stomach tightened. This couldn't be good. She grabbed Logan's arm tightly as he kept his knife drawn.

Aaron raised his wine glass and gulped it back. "You know, I was about your age when I first defended my mother against my father's beatings."

"So I guess I did succeed in one thing – I made a man out of you after all," Aaron sneered at his son. "Congratulations, Logan. Guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree."

Veronica felt Logan's body go rigid. She looked up to see Logan's face go pale, his jaw muscles twitching.

"If you're going to go, then go," Lynn commented, finally rising slowly from her chair. "I don't think any of us want you around anymore."

Aaron turned to his wife. Taking a step towards her, she flinched slightly as he came near. "You don't have the guts to divorce me."

Lynn crossed her arms and flicked her hair. "Maybe I do, and maybe I don't. Do you want to push your luck and see?"

Aaron snarled and took another step toward her. Lynn gasped, putting her arms out in front of her defensively. Breaking free of Veronica's grasp, Logan lunged across the table, knocking over dishes and glasses. Landing near his parents, he angrily stabbed the oak surface with his knife.

"Get out!" he yelled at Aaron. "Get out and never come back!"

Anger flashed across Aaron's face, but he chose not to act, putting up his palms up in defense. "Fine. I'll leave. For now."

Aaron smirked, backing away from Logan and Lynn. Tossing a grin at Veronica, she met his glance and glared at him.

"Have a nice life," Aaron proclaimed with a sarcastic lilt. He then walked past Lynn and disappeared into the house.

Logan let out a deep groan, pulling himself off the table. Lynn and Veronica rushed to help him as he brushed the remains of dinner off his sweater.

Lynn looked from Veronica to Logan, her sad eyes resting on her son.

"How many? How many women was he with?" she asked quietly.

Logan met his Mom's eyes. "Over a hundred. He videotaped them all. I have five CDs of all the women on the tapes we found. They're for you, to take to a divorce lawyer, and to the press, if you want them."

Lynn nodded her understanding. "And Celeste? You have video of that too?"

"Yes," Veronica replied. "In fact, one of the CDs with that information is already in my Dad's possession with instructions to take it to the S.E.C. My Dad just doesn't know it yet."

Lynn shook her head and smiled. "I can't believe you both did this."

Logan reached out and pulled Veronica closer to him. She opened her arms and wrapped him in a big hug around his waist.

"This wasn't how we wanted to do it, Mom," Logan stated, pausing to kiss Veronica on top of her head. "But he came home early, and we didn't get a chance to talk to you, and –"

Lynn held up her hands. "It's okay. I'm just glad it worked and he didn't hurt either of you."

"We'll give him some time, then I'll check the garage to see if he took one of the cars, or got Ben to drive him somewhere in the limo," Logan explained.

"I think if we are going to stay here, we should all stick together tonight," Veronica stated. "Even if he does leave now, he could come back later. Mrs. Echolls, maybe you can sleep in Logan's room. We can lock the doors and keep the bathroom door open to look out for each other."

Lynn nodded. "Good idea. Then tomorrow, I'll call the handyman to change the locks and the security codes. Hopefully Aaron will be well on his way to L.A. by then."

Glancing back towards the house, Veronica shivered. Just one more night to get through, and the nightmare would be over.

"Apparently Logan likes lending out his t-shirts," Lynn teased from the bed. She was sitting up, leaning against Logan's headboard, while Logan sat cross-legged near her feet.

Veronica stood in the bathroom doorway and looked down at Logan's Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Tonight, she had on a pair of yoga pants underneath. Lynn was wearing Logan's Pink Floyd t-shirt and a pair of his old sweats. Logan himself was in a pair of baggy flannel pajama pants and a black undershirt.

"His shirts are quite cozy," Veronica stated, crossing to the bed and crawling along to sit next to Logan. He flashed her a small smile and she shimmied closer to him, putting her head on his shoulder. She looked up to see his smile widen.

"Mom and I were just talking about some stuff," Logan murmured. Wrapping his arm around Veronica's waist, he let his hand fall gently on her hip.

"I was just telling Logan that love is a lot more complicated than either of you could ever imagine," Lynn explained, smiling wistfully at Veronica.

Looking up at Logan, Veronica saw him drop his head to avoid his mom's gaze.

"I still don't know how you can you say you love that man after everything he's done to us?" Logan grumbled.

Lynn pulled her knees up to her chest and sighed. With her makeup washed off and her hair back, she looked considerably older than Veronica had noticed before.

"Because, sweetheart, in my heart I still see him as the brave, strong man I fell in love with." Lynn sighed. "And I know that everything he's done should cancel that out, but when you think you're not worthy of anyone's love – and then that one special person loves you back - you end up putting up with a lot, just to keep that love in your life."

"So, what…" Logan began. "You could forgive everything because he once said he loved you?"

Lynn shook her head. "No. Not exactly."

Shifting so she was closer to them, Lynn crossed her legs again and put her hands in her lap. She kept her eyes cast down.

"Growing up, I wasn't the prettiest girl. I wasn't the funniest or smartest. But I could act. And, well, in a small town, that isn't really a talent anyone encourages," Lynn began to explain.

"My mom told me only a whore goes into acting. My dad, who was a quiet man, said nothing. Until the day I graduated high school. That was when he told me to pack my bags."

Lynn paused and wiped a tear from her eye. "He drove me down to the bus station. There, he handed me a ticket to New York and an envelope full of cash. He told me to go be an actor and never look back. So that's what I did."

Veronica glanced at Logan as he shifted to grasp his knees to his chin while Lynn continued her story. His eyes were locked on his mom.

"New York was hard, but I went to classes and worked in a diner and slowly, I began to find work in the theatre. Well, after a time, I caught the eye of an agent who said he could help me break into movies."

Lynn ran her hands through her short hair then covered her mouth for a moment, as if trying to keep her words inside.

"He traded my virginity to a producer. Which is how I landed the starring role in 'Wheat Kings'," Lynn stated in a very matter-of-fact way. "It was also the role that earned me my first Golden Globe nomination."

Veronica placed her hand over her heart. The thought of a young Lynn, so vibrant and beautiful, being passed around like an object, crushed her.

"The 'Casting Couch' is a vicious thing, and once you begin trading sexual favours for roles, it is very hard to get away from the demands of men in positions of power," Lynn explained, casting her gaze past the teens towards the door."

"Then, one day, a director didn't just want a 'favour' – he became obsessed with me. Aaron was my co-star, and he began to see how this director was treating me: berating me in front of others, waiting for me in my trailer, touching me when he thought no one was looking."

Logan shifted uncomfortably next to Veronica. She glanced over to see him staring at his mother, his eyes wide in shock.

"One night, Aaron and I were running lines in my hotel room when this director showed up. He stormed in, cursing and swearing, and Aaron…" Lynn paused, a wistful smile appearing on her face. "…Aaron told him that wasn't how one treated a lady, and proceeded to punch the director in the face. Suffice to say, I had no further problems with the director after that."

Was that really why Aaron bought Logan's way out of a suspension when Logan defended her at the beginning of the school year? Was Aaron actually proud that Logan defended Veronica, just as he had done for Lynn long ago? Veronica shuddered slightly at the comparison between father and son.

"Well, we started dating," Lynn remarked. "I changed to his agent and Aaron put the old boys club on notice that I would not be doing any more 'Casting Couch' auditions."

Lynn paused to take a deep breath, steadying herself as she finally looked Logan in the eye.

"At the time, he was a single Dad to Trina. His first wife left when Trina was only a year old. And he was so loving and gentle with his adopted daughter that I couldn't help but fall in love with him."

Logan's jaw twitched and his eyes cast downwards. Veronica shuffled over to him and gently placed her hand on his lower back.

"It wasn't until after we were married that things began to change. When I was pregnant with you, Logan, Aaron was extremely overprotective. At first, I thought he was just excited about the baby, but then he started monitoring what I ate, how much I was sleeping, things like that." Lynn said, her eyes turning sad.

"After you were born, no nanny was good enough and he fired a string of women, until I finally gave up my career to take care of you and Trina. But he would nitpick at everything I did, from Trina getting hurt at school to you learning your ABC's."

She bit her lip and dropped her head again. "Then, one night, we went to an industry party and left you and Trina with a sitter. I guess I was being a little too friendly with some producer, and that night, at the hotel, he attacked me."

Lynn began rocking slowly. Lifting her head, her eyes focused back on Logan, hard and cold as she relived the memory. "And then the next day, he brought me flowers and apologized that things got 'too rough'. A few weeks later, Logan climbed on the counter to get some cookies out of the cupboard. You were three years old. Aaron grabbed you so hard when he pulled you off the counter top that he dislocated your shoulder. He apologized again for being 'too rough'."

Veronica bit back tears. Logan's head dropped into his hands, unable to look at anyone anymore.

"But I kept thinking," Lynn began, her voice shaking as she fought to keep control. "I kept thinking that it was a mistake. That this man who had protected me – the only man that had ever stood up for me and made me feel safe and loved – couldn't actually be doing this to us.

Finally, raising her head, Lynn looked to her son, unable to hold her tears back anymore. "And as you got older, Logan, he kept insisting that this was what we should do. That for you to grow up to be a man, he had to be heavy handed with you."

Lynn was now sobbing, wiping her face with the t-shirt she was wearing. "And all the while I let him because I loved him…but I was also scared to death of him!"

Logan slipped through Veronica's fingers as he rolled off the bed.

"I can't take this anymore," he murmured, and quickly crossed through the bathroom and into Veronica's room, locking the door behind him.

Veronica launched herself off the bed to follow, but stopped herself quickly. Taking a deep breath, she exhaled slowly. Give him time, she thought.

Walking into the bathroom, she grabbed the box of tissues and took them back to Lynn. Placing the box in front of her, Veronica sat back down on the bed.

As Lynn dabbed at her eyes, Veronica confided softly. "There were more than 50 tapes, each almost 6 hours long, of women that Aaron slept with. Logan watched parts of them when he transferred them to CD."

Lynn closed her eyes and shook her head.

"Oh, my sweet boy," she murmured.

"He's so traumatized and so confused by all of this and I don't know if I can help him," Veronica whispered.

Lynn wiped the last of her tears. Taking Veronica's hand in hers, she smiled warmly. "We'll both help him. He's still so young. I'm sure we can help him move past all of this."

Veronica nodded and wiped her own tears. "But what can I do? I keep trying to think of what I can do to help but nothing seems right."

Lynn reached up and placed her hand on Veronica's cheek. "You are such a kind and loving girl, Veronica. And your heart is so big and open. You have the easy job…just keep loving him."

Veronica glanced towards the locked door and back to Lynn. "Does loving Logan include picking that lock so I can be near him? Or does that cross a line?"

Lynn giggled. "I would say under normal circumstances, it would cross a line, but today is not normal."

Veronica bit her lip and nodded. Standing up, she grabbed Logan's Swiss Army knife off the bedside table and walked through the bathroom.

She knocked gently. There was no reply. She knocked again.

"Go away," Logan's muffled voice came through the door.

Veronica knelt in front of the door and opened the screw driver part of the knife. In just over a minute, she had the doorknob dismantled and she was entering the room.

"No, I won't go away," she replied as she walked in, closing the door behind her. "You're in my room."

Logan was lying on his back, haphazardly across the bed, one knee bent, his hands in his hair. His eyes were bloodshot from crying.

Striding to the bed, she kneeled on it and pushed his knee down. Once he obliged, Veronica stretched out on top of him, and pressed her ear to his chest. She dropped her arms around his side, grasping his shirt for balance.

Logan let out a long breath. "This isn't sexy."

"It wasn't meant to be," was her retort.

Veronica's head bounced as he let out a chuckle. Bringing his arms around her, he squeezed her tightly to his body.

As they held each other, a wonderful calm spread through Veronica as their breathing synced, in and out, cresting and falling together.

"Did my mom says anything else of importance after I left?" he asked quietly.

"She said that I needed to help you by loving you," Veronica admitted.

"So, breaking a lock to get in when I want to be left alone constitutes 'loving'?" Logan retorted.

"Yes. In my world, it does," she replied, shifting her head so her chin rested on his chest.

"Ow! Your chin!" Logan flinched and rolled to the side, dropping Veronica onto the mattress. He quickly caught her up in his arms, wrapping his body around hers, on their side.

"Not as romantic as I thought that position would be," Veronica muttered.

"Nope," Logan replied with a small laugh. "Apparently chins can be used as torture devices."

Veronica sighed into his chest again and closed her eyes. "Stay with me tonight."

Logan began stroking her hair. "I would love to, but I'm going to stay up and patrol the rooms with my baseball bat. Just in case Aaron tries to test me on my threat."

"Oh," she whispered.

They lay together for a minute, in silence, and Veronica was sure she was going to fall asleep that way.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah?"

"Promise me. If I ever hurt you, please leave me. Leave and never look back." Logan's voice shook as he spoke.

Veronica gripped his shirt, in case he chose to flee again. "You won't hurt me."

"You don't know that. Just promise me, if I do, you won't carry around some stupid romantic notion of me. You'll just get out," he reiterated, his voice stronger now.

What was she supposed to say? Was she really supposed to agree to leave the boy she loved? Veronica didn't believe that he could be like Aaron. In her heart, she knew that he wasn't capable of the things that Aaron did. But here he was, asking her to promise to leave him someday, if he did go too far. If the genetic monster that he feared was lurking inside of him ever managed to escape.

"Okay. I promise."

Chapter End Notes

The title "Wheat Kings" is from the song of the same name by The Tragically Hip. It is hauntingly beautiful. You should go and listen to it. It is required listening in Canada.

 

Chapter Text

 

Veronica awoke curled into a tight ball on her side. She yawned and stretched under the covers. It was so early that the room was still dark, except for the crack of light coming from the half-opened bathroom door. Sensing something behind her, she rolled towards the middle of the bed and landed on a wall of decorative pillows. Frowning, she glanced over to find Logan's sleeping form on the other side of the barrier; his back was towards her, the other end of the duvet wrapped tightly around him.

Tossing the pillows on the floor, Veronica shimmied over to his body, under the covers. Laying her head on his pillow, she faced his back. Veronica stared at the back of his neck. The muscles and tendons running from his skull to his shoulders. The little protruding bones of his spine. The soft edge of his hair. And that little divot where his spine and skill met, that made her want to kiss the hollow indentation. Who knew that the back of a person's head could be so sexy?

Unable to control herself, she reached out with her index finger and dragged it slowly along his hair, resting it momentarily in the little crevice at the back of his head, then continued along the top of his spine. Logan let out a small moan, shifting under the covers slightly. Seizing her opportunity, Veronica planted a soft kiss to the indentation, wrapping her arm around his shoulder as she did.

Another moan of pleasure came from deep in Logan's throat and Veronica nuzzled her nose into the back of his neck.

"My mother is in the next room." Logan groaned quietly.

"Then you need to be quiet." Veronica giggled softly, pressing her body against his back, then going back to planting soft kisses in the little divot.

"If you continue doing this, bad things will happen," he warned playfully, moving his head back and forth to try and shake her off him.

"What if I want bad things to happen," she replied cheekily.

"Terrible girlfriend. You know I'm saving myself for marriage," Logan bantered back.

Veronica gave a little snort laugh. Pressing her lips to his ear, she kissed his lobe and whispered. "I fell asleep thinking about your note again. You know, the one outlining your delicious dream about me. It's my new happy place."

Logan exhaled deeply and her body moved with him as his ribs compressed. "Oh? What was that dream again? Remind me."

"You must remember – the dream where you slowly undress me before laying me down on your bed and kissing every inch of my body." Veronica bit her lip, a smile tugging at her lips. "You know...that one?"

"Oh, yeah. That's the one." Logan chuckled. "I take it you read it a couple of times?"

"Are you kidding?" Veronica giggled, recalling the note he passed her between classes, a few days ago. "I still have it in my book bag. Glad you didn't put our names on it, in case I accidentally drop it in the girls' washroom."

"You know, we didn't actually have sex in my dream," he reminded her.

"Yes. I know," she said, snuggling into his body a bit more. "But it was the idea that maybe all that naked kissing would lead to something more."

"Well, if you liked it so much, how about we start with a little something today?" he teased quietly.

Taking her hand from his shoulder, Logan opened her palm, kissing it tenderly. Veronica's face flushed and warm tingles ran through her.

"There. Palm of your hand has been kissed," he stated matter-of-factly. "Next week, I'll kiss the one of your fingers. At that rate, by the time we're sixteen, I should be on to kissing your naughty bits."

Veronica sighed in frustration and yanked her hand away from Logan. He laughed quietly and rolled so he could face her. Gathering her in his arms, he kissed her forehead and she melted into his embrace.

"How are you feeling today?" she whispered.

"Old. I feel old." He sighed. "Well, maybe not old. But older. Like I went to sleep and woke up feeling like I'm 18."

"With everything that happened last night, it's not surprising," Veronica remarked.

"Well, after you fell asleep, I went to dig my baseball bat out of my closet and Mom and I ended up talking some more," Logan explained. "We stayed up for a few more hours before she finally passed out."

"She was still pretty upset?" Veronica asked.

Logan shifted around anxiously, still holding Veronica in his arms. "Yes and no. She's relieved he's gone. But she's kind of…I don't know…lost? Like she was holding things together for him and now it's all fallen apart. And there's no one telling her what to do."

"I'll tell her what to do." Veronica sighed. "Get a lawyer and divorce him."

Logan took a deep breath. "That's what I said. You know what her response was?"

"What?" Veronica shifted in his arms so she could look up into his face.

Logan gazed down at her, his eyes tired and sad. "She said that I was already acting like the 'man of the house' now. I defended us. I protected us. Guess I'm the one in charge now."

Veronica cringed. "That's kind of messed up."

"Tell me about it!" Logan huffed, rolling his eyes. "I can barely get my own act together every day, never mind taking care of my mother too!"

Veronica ran her hand up and down his back, soothingly. "I'm sorry. She said to me yesterday that she knew she needed to help you."

Logan snorted. "Yeah. Some help."

Silence momentarily fell between them, as Veronica continued her ministrations along his spine and Logan began to relax beside her.

"When did you come to bed?" Veronica questioned softly. "I figured you would be up all night on patrol."

Logan placed his cheek on the top of Veronica's head. "About 3 am. I wasn't planning on sleeping, but Ben came by my room last night."

Veronica let out a little gasp in surprise. "What happened?"

"He just got back from driving Aaron – first to the yacht, then to the airport – and he came to check on me. And you. And Mom," Logan began, keeping his voice low. "I guess Aaron got on the phone with his lawyer in the car and started screaming at him to do something to protect him from the possible fallout of the insider trading information and the cheating videos."

Logan let out a chuckle. "Ben figured his lawyer said something along the lines of that he couldn't protect him and Aaron slammed down the phone and started cursing my name. After he dropped off Aaron at the private jet hanger, he came home to check to make sure nothing terrible had happened to me."

"Did you tell Ben what happened?" she asked.

"Yeah. Some of it. I think we can trust him," Logan said. "Ben did offer to call the handyman this morning to change the locks and codes, which I said was okay."

He paused to kiss Veronica's head. "Knowing that Aaron was on a plane, I figured I could go to sleep for a while. But since you weren't expecting me, I built the pillow wall so you wouldn't be surprised by my presence."

Veronica kissed his chest, smiling to herself. "For the record, you appearing in my bed at night is a very welcome surprise. No excuses needed."

Logan shimmied down the bed, along Veronica's body, until his nose touched hers. "God, I love you."

Laying her hand on his cheek, Veronica brushed her lips against his, briefly. "I love you, too."

Logan leaned in, kissing her gently, his lips lingering on hers. She closed her eyes, her hand drifting from his cheek and through his hair, grasping the back of his head. His hand slid under the covers, flattening over the small of her back, pressing her hips against him. Pulling back slightly, Veronica's mouth parted as she dove in for another kiss, capturing his bottom lip between hers. Logan gave a small moan, pulling back, forcing her to release his sensitive flesh. With a grin, he leaned in again, this time catching her lip between his. Now it was Veronica's turn to moan.

Pulling Logan gently with her, Veronica rolled onto her back, with him above her, his body pressing hard against hers. They continued to kiss, deep and slow, until the faintest flecks of light began to shine through the curtains. Finally, planting his hands on either side of Veronica, Logan pulled away with a groan.

"As much as I would love to continue this all morning –" his grin spread wide across his face. "I feel the need to remind you that my mom is sleeping just down the way from us. That, plus I keep fixating on the idea of kissing you right down to your toes."

Veronica licked her lips, her eyes mischievous. "I'm not stopping you. In fact, I'm encouraging it."

Logan rolled to the other side of the bed and sat up. Looking back at her, he rolled his eyes. "You are a bad influence, Veronica Mars. A very, very bad influence."

Veronica threw him a flirtatious wink and snuggled back down under the covers. "You shower first. You probably need it more than I do."

Logan shook his head with a chuckle. "A cold shower is a lovely way to start a day." Rising, he jogged quickly to the bathroom door, closing it behind him. Veronica heard a bumping sound before the sound of the shower started. The image of naked Logan in the shower flashed through her head. Happily, she rolled into the spot in which he slept and closed her eyes again.

Once they were both showered and changed, Veronica and Logan made French Toast for themselves, Lynn, and Ben. The handyman arrived at precisely 9 am to change all the locks and security codes, which seemed to add a measure of relief to Lynn's overall demeanor. Since Aaron had dismissed Mrs. Navarro until Monday, Ben left to deliver the codes and new keys to her. Once breakfast was done, Lynn excused herself to get ready for her day.

Veronica waited on the bottom step of the grand staircase, for her dad to pick her up at 10 am. Logan sat behind her, one step above, his legs on either side of her, his arms around her shoulders. They talked and bantered and kissed until the intercom buzzed, announcing Keith's arrival at the gate.

As Logan buzzed him in, Veronica gathered her overnight bag and her surf bag, and dragged them to the door to wait for him. As she held the door open for her dad, Veronica noticed an angry frown on her Keith's face as he got out of the car. She cringed internally, but kept a perky smile on her face.

"Heyyyyyy…Daddy-O! Did ya miss me?" she asked as he entered the house.

Her father glanced from her to Logan and back. There was a definite scowl on his face. "I need to talk to you both. In private."

Horror washed over Veronica. There was no hiding it on her face. Looking at Logan, he shared her look of terror. Did he know about them? Did he know what happened with Aaron?

"My…my dad's office," Logan stammered, pointing to a door off to the side.

Keith nodded and wordlessly, led them through the door, opening it for them, then shutting it behind.

Logan stood in the middle of the room, nervously rocking on his feet. Veronica stood near him, but not too close as to indicate they were standing there 'together'.

"What's wrong, Dad?" Veronica asked as Keith walked up to them.

Reaching into his jacket, Keith produced a lined piece of notebook paper, words scrawled across it in pencil. Holding it in the air with two fingers, he fluttered it slightly for effect.

Oh my god! The letter! Veronica's brain screamed at her. On the outside, she forced her face to stay cool.

"Last night, Deputy Lamb was detailing the back of the cruiser after a particularly messy drunk-tank pickup," Keith began. "And he found this note, with no names on it, folded like a triangle, in the back seat."

Keith took a deep breath, his eyes laser focused on Logan, then Veronica, as he continued. "And since this isn't the kind of note we happen to find being passed between prisoners, I figured I would ask the two teenagers who usually ride back there if they knew anything about it's origins."

Keith took one step towards them and Veronica's heart stopped beating in her chest. This was officially the most terrifying thing that had happened to her in the past 24 hours.

"So, kids? Whose note is this?"

"Mine!"

The words flew out of Veronica's mouth as a reflex. Her brain needed a second to catch up.

"Yours?" Keith choked. "This…this…pornographic letter is yours?"

Veronica took a deep breath. You can do this. Don't look to the left. Don't look down. Body language, natural. Control your breathing. Look him straight in the eye.

"Well, sort of mine," Veronica began, cautiously. "I found it. At school. And since there were no names on it, I was trying to figure out who wrote it. And who it was written for. That's why I had it."

Veronica heard Logan exhale beside her. She didn't make eye contact with him, keeping her eyes fixed on her father.

Keith's face softened, his frown disappearing, his eyes looking at her with kindness. "Veronica, I can understand you being curious about what's in this letter but –"

"Dad? Can we not do this here?" she begged, jerking her head in Logan's direction, heat rising in her cheeks.

Veronica stole a glance at Logan, his eyes were cast downwards, his face an embarrassed red.

Keith cleared his throat. "Yes. Of course. I'm sorry. We can talk about this more in the car."

He nodded towards Logan and turned to leave. Logan nodded back, but still didn't say a word.

"I'll grab your surf bag and meet you in the car," Keith muttered as he left the room.

Waiting until they heard the outside door open and then close, the two teens turned to each other with wide eyes and gaping mouths.

"That. Was. Terrifying!" exclaimed Logan, his hands threading through his hair, his eyes wide in horror.

Veronica clutched her heart. "Oh my god, if he knew it was us –" She didn't even want to finish her sentence. Thoughts of Convents and firing squads flashed through her head.

"You'd better go, before he starts to wonder why you're still in here," Logan stated, his voice still a little shaky.

Veronica nodded. "This is going to be the worst car ride in the history of car rides."

"Could be worse." Logan chuckled. "It could be the car ride after he confirmed it was me who wrote it to you."

Veronica made a gagging sound and headed to get her overnight bag. "Oh my god, that's so true. I'll call you tonight, if I survive."

"Love you," he whispered, a grin forming on his lips.

"Love you, too," she replied and opened the front door. Seeing her dad in the car, she took a deep breath to steady herself, before heading down the front steps to join him.

Slipping into the front seat, next to her dad, Veronica made sure to keep her eyes fixed firmly on the view out the front windshield.

Keith quietly drove down the driveway. As they exited the main gates, he let out a deep sigh.

"Veronica, I can understand why you were curious about that note," Keith began, softly. "Do you have any ideas about who wrote it? Or who it was for?"

Veronica shook her head. "No. The only people that I know who are dating are Dick and Madison, and that doesn't sound like something Dick would write."

"Do you want my investigative opinion on it?" Keith offered.

"Sure, Dad. Whatever you have to offer would be great."

Keith glanced at his daughter and then back out the window. "I used the wrong term for that letter, when we were with Logan. It isn't pornographic. But it is intimate. Very intimate."

Veronica frowned. "What's the difference?"

"The way the writer describes…well…what the writer wants to do with the other person, while graphic, it's not about sex," Keith explained. "In fact, they never even mention sex. It's about wanting to connect with this other person on a totally different level."

"One day you'll learn, there is love, and there is sex, and then there is intimacy. The thing is, intimacy is something almost intangible. It's about knowing someone on a very deep emotional level – a connection so deep that it almost surpasses any other feeling."

Keith glanced at her then back to the road. "And just because you may love a person or have intercourse with them, it doesn't necessarily mean you are intimate with them. In fact, you can have sex with someone and still never be intimate with them. And vice versa; you can be intimate with a person without having intercourse."

"Oh." Veronica blushed, turning to look out her window.

Intimate. All along, Veronica thought that she and Logan would become intimate when they finally had sex. But the way her dad described it, they were already intimate with each other. And had been for quite some time.

"That letter actually made me blush," Keith admitted with a small chuckle. "And I'm sure that was one of the reasons why you kept it to read it a couple of times."

Veronica's mind went back to the contents of the letter but said nothing. Logan's description of slowly taking her clothes off, starting with her shirt over her head, and working his way to slipping her underwear down her legs to her ankles. How he wrote that he would lead her to his bed, filled with downy pillows and soft blankets, and lay her down, gently. The words detailing how he would reverently kiss every inch of her body, spending time memorizing every curve, every beauty mark, every minute detail exposed to him, but never talking about any remotely sexual parts of her body. And yet, somehow, Veronica read between the lines of his desire and inserted sex into his words. Warmth spread through her as she replayed the letter over in her head once more.

"I really wanted to find out who wrote it," Veronica said. "Any more thoughts on who I should be looking for?"

"I would suspect that it was written by an older student, based on the descriptions and language used," Keith continued. "But I also suspect, that they may be trying to keep it a secret. There are no names for a reason. And there is a lack of gender specific pronouns. Since the person in the letter is a girl, based on some of the physical descriptions, this could be a same sex couple, that feel they need to hide their relationship. Or could still be an opposite sex relationship. Either way, I really don't think they have let anyone know about their feelings for each other, for whatever mysterious reasons."

Veronica looked back at her dad. "What makes you say that?"

"Just a hunch," Keith shrugged. "It felt like it was a secret, from the way it was written. There was something very private about the way it was communicated. Like the couple had a short-hand that only they understood."

"So what would I look for then? Two people sneaking around in awkward places?" Veronica laughed.

"Yes. But out in the open, look for two people that have probably known each other a while. Hung out together a lot. Maybe they're even –" Keith paused, his brow wrinkled as he stole a peek at Veronica, then back to the road. "—good friends."

Damn! You've gone too far. Veronica's brain chastised her.

"Thanks, Dad. I'll keep my eyes out," she said quickly, turning away once more.

"Well, when you find out who it is, let me know," Keith replied, his voice low. "I'll keep that note safe and sound in my possession until then."

"Uh huh. Sure. Thanks for the talk, Dad," Veronica replied as they finally pulled up to the kick-boxing studio where her self-defence lessons were held. The car wasn't even in park when Veronica scrambled out the door, hoping to get away from the conversation as quickly as possible.

They were supposed to be working on their science project. Instead, Veronica spent the afternoon at Mac's house, regaling her with the details of what had taken place over the last 24 hours.

"Did you want to dig a hole and crawl into it when your Dad showed you the letter?" Mac giggled. Pulling her knees up to her chest, she wrapped her arms around her legs.

Veronica was laying on the shag carpet, her arms crossed over her face, covering her eyes. "Yes! Oh my God! It was so terrifying! I mean, Aaron was scary, but at least I knew Logan would protect me from him. But my dad? He's a lose canon."

"What could he actually do, though?" Mac scoffed.

"Um, send me to a convent? Ground me until I'm 18? Have me followed by Deputies for the rest of my life? At best," Veronica replied. "At worst, if he even thinks we are having sex, he could arrest Logan for sex with a minor. Statutory rape."

Mac face turned from laughing to cringing. "Oh, God. I forgot about that. I just figured he would scare the hell out of Logan, not actually arrest him."

"I'm such an idiot. Why did I keep that letter in my bag? I should have just hidden it with the one he wrote me at Christmas." Veronica whined, uncovering her eyes and rolling on her side to face Mac.

"Oh! Speaking of hot sex…" Mac proclaimed, jumping up from her spot. Crossing to her closet, she fished around in the darkness for a moment, emerging with a ratty old backpack. With a flourish, she pulled out The Joy of Sex and presented it to Veronica.

"Wait! I thought you didn't want it," Veronica replied. She sat up and reached for the now dog-eared volume. Flipping it around to inspect it, the once pristine book now had deep grooves through it's spine, the pages were folded and frayed, and there was a slight billowing from what looked like exposure to water.

Mac shrugged and came to sit down on the floor near Veronica again. "Wallace convinced me that I was missing out. Sorry about the water damage. I was reading it in the bathtub."

Veronica laughed. Grabbing her backpack, she pushed the book down to the bottom, covering it with some other books to hide it from view. "Learn anything you'd like to share?"

Mac folded her arms. "Yeah. That I'm going to have very high expectations from the first guy I do it with."

"Any future contenders you're thinking about?" Veronica asked, wiggling her eyebrows.

Mac shrugged, a mischievous smile pulling at her lips. "There is this one guy, at church. Joseph. I sit behind him, just to stare at the back of his neck through the service."

Veronica gasped. "I just figured out how hot the back of Logan's neck is. How did I never notice before?"

"I know! Necks are definitely my turn-on." Mac giggled. "While the Priest is talking about the Commandments, I'm sitting there, trying desperately to keep from biting Joseph's neck!"

Veronica's forehead wrinkled in thought. "I'm just getting why some people are so into vampire movies."

"Think the boys will wonder why we suddenly want to watch 'Interview with the Vampire' next weekend?" Mac suggested.

"Pfft. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise biting peoples' necks? Who cares what they think, I'm in!" said Veronica.

Mac let out a deep sigh, looking off into the distance, a giddy smile on her face. "Maybe we should switch our project to a database of hot guys from the movies?"

Veronica laughed. Reaching for her backpack again, she pulled out her science notebook with all her research for their project.

"Nice try. I would say yes, but I already did a bunch of research on the periodic table for our program. And it was incredibly boring, so really, we need to use it."

Mac stuck her tongue out at her friend. Standing, she stretched her arms over her head before moving over to her computer. "Fine. Let's do some actual work so we can justify this little get together, shall we?"

They quickly went to work on their project, leaving their talk of boys for another time.

"You're alive!" Logan exclaimed through the phone.

"Yep. For now," Veronica sighed, flopping down on her bed.

"How was the car ride with your dad?"

"Ugh. Okay, I guess." Veronica cut her description short, in an effort to hide that she may have inadvertently given her dad cause to suspect she wasn't being completely truthful.

"That's it? That's all you'll give me?" Logan complained.

Veronica rolled her eyes at the ceiling. "Fine. He said the letter wasn't actually pornographic. It was 'intimate'. So intimate it made him blush."

Logan chuckled. "Hey! Maybe I've found my true calling as a writer. I'll be a romance novelist."

"Hot guy writing hot novels," Veronica teased. "You'd be famous in minutes."

"You think I'm 'hot'?" Logan asked, his voice suddenly serious.

Veronica's mouth dropped open. "Um, yeah. Have you looked in a mirror lately?"

Logan laughed. "Yes. But I still see that dorky kid with braces. I didn't know you thought I was hot."

Veronica furrowed her brow. Silently, she wondered if Logan would ever see himself as the person she saw and knew him to be.

"Well then, just so we're clear…you are hot! You are probably the hottest guy at school. And if you continue to get hotter as we get older, I may, one day, need shades to look at you every morning."

Her response from Logan was a wall of silence. She wondered if he'd accidentally hung up on her.

"I'm at a loss for words," Logan finally replied. "Saying 'thank you' sounds odd."

Veronica giggled and rolled onto her stomach, bending her legs and kicking her feet back and forth behind her.

"I'll just change the topic then, if talk of your incredible beauty embarrasses you" she responded. "How did things go with your mom today?"

Logan gave a deep sigh and shuffled about on the other end. "Fine. Actually, really well. I made her a deal; if she gets a lawyer, I'll go to therapy."

Veronica's stomach turned. Therapy. It seemed like such a grown-up concept. "Really?"

"Yep. So tomorrow, while I'm in school, she's finding a good divorce lawyer and a great therapist. I'll probably start by the end of the week," he said quietly.

Veronica's heart hurt. The thought that Logan had so many problems that he needed professional help, made her sad.

"It's good that you are going to see someone to talk about Aaron, and stuff," she said, her voice husky with emotion.

"Yeah, well, I'd rather just try and move past it alone, but my mom was insisting," Logan remarked. "She also said it would be good if I was seeing a therapist through the divorce too, since it may get ugly."

Veronica bit her lip. "You mean if the tapes are made public?"

"That –" he began, his voice dropping to a whisper. "But also if I have to testify. About what Aaron did to me."

Abuse. There was another adult word that was now part of their vocabulary.

"It's probably for the best," Veronica stated. "I can listen to you, I can comfort you, but I don't actually know how to help you."

Logan gave a small cough and Veronica heard the rustle of him shifting around on his bed. "How is your science project with Mac going?"

Okay. Guess we're changing the topic, Veronica thought.

"Fine. Once we stopped gossiping and got down to actually working on it." Veronica gave a small laugh. "How's your plant doing?"

"Dying." Logan laughed dryly. "Violets do not enjoy classic hard rock music. But Carrie's plants are thriving with classical piano, so we may have proven our point. Either that, or I suck at gardening."

Veronica giggled. She was about to say something when Logan spoke first.

"Look, it's been a long, terrible weekend," he said weakly. "I think I'm going to crash. You okay if we say goodbye now?"

Veronica balked, a frown crossing her face. "Um, yeah. I guess."

"I'm sorry," Logan added. "I just think I'm all talked out. Between my mom and you and no sleep and just…everything. And there's still some unfinished business I want to take care of tomorrow so –"

"I understand," Veronica replied, her voice low and soothing. "Get some sleep and regroup. I'll see you tomorrow."

"I love you. Like, a lot." Logan sighed, a yawn following close behind.

"I love you, too. Like, a lot," Veronica responded happily.

After they'd hung up, Veronica stretched and stared at the ceiling. Things were good. No, things were great. Rolling onto her side, she reached for her spare pillow and wrapped herself around it, wishing it was Logan. A few minutes later, she was sound asleep.

"Where's Logan?" Veronica asked as she sat down at the lunch table. She was running late after her last class and by the time she got to the cafeteria, everyone was there. Except Logan.

"He said he had to take care of something," Duncan piped up from down the table.

Veronica's forehead wrinkled. He hadn't told her he was going to miss lunch.

"Thanks Duncan," she called back down the table and sat in her seat, leaving a spot next to her, just in case Logan appeared. But he didn't. And by the time Veronica had finished eating, she'd made up her mind to find him, just to make sure he was okay.

She checked the library, computer lab, and gym and came up empty. Thinking he might have gone for another nap, Veronica walked down the concrete hallway from the gym out to the football bleachers.

Stepping outside, her eyes were momentarily blinded by the bright sun. Shielding her eyes with her hand, she blinked and looked around. Under the bleachers, towards the shaded far end, Veronica could make out a tall figure, standing in profile. As her eyes adjusted, she realized the tall figure had their arms around someone shorter. Stepping back behind the shade of the tunnel wall, Veronica gasped as she realized what she was seeing.

It was Logan. Standing with his arms around Lilly Kane. Lilly's arms were wrapped around his waist, her head on his chest, eyes closed.

Veronica's chest constricted and she grasped the wall to stay upright. This wasn't happening. This must be some nightmare. Biting her lip, hard, the pain assured her that it was real. Taking another step back under the cover of the corridor wall, she peeked around the corner again.

Logan's head dropped and she saw his lips moving. Lilly nodded and stepped back, her hands lingering on him. He dropped his arms from around her and took her hands in his. Veronica realized Lilly had been crying as she caught a glimpse of her blotchy red face. Logan bent his head down towards Lilly, talking with her. She nodded a little more and Logan dropped her hands. He stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and began walking towards the tunnel.

Fight or flight? Panic rose and Veronica's instinct decided what to do as Logan walked towards the entrance to the gym.

Fight.

Before her brain could stop her limbs, Veronica stepped out of the shadows, mere feet from Logan. He stopped dead in his tracks, a flicker of fear and then recognition as he realized it was Veronica in front of him.

Every muscle, every tendon, in Veronica's body twitched with adrenaline. Logan's eyes narrowed in anger, his lip curling into a twisted smile.

"You're following me now?" he snarked.

Veronica opened her mouth but no words came out. The vitriol of his response to seeing her shocked the air out of her lungs.

"I… what were you…with Lilly?" she stammered.

Logan let out an exasperated moan. "Veronica. I love you, but it's none of your business."

Veronica's eyes narrowed, her mind suddenly clear and sharp. Her hands balled tightly into fists, anger channeling through her body. "I'm sorry. But when I see my boyfriend with his arms around another girl, I tend to ask questions."

"Lilly and I had to talk about something. She got upset." Logan shook his head. "I'm not cheating on you. Just talking."

"What were you talking about?" Veronica prodded, stepping closer to him.

Logan cast his eyes down at the ground, then back up at her, his body beginning to rock back and forth on his heels. "I can't tell you. Just please trust me and leave it at that."

Veronica bit her lip, her eyes still dark and angry. "Please trust me and tell me why Lilly would put her arms around you."

"No," Logan whispered. "I won't."

There they stood, at a silent impasse. Neither of them willing to bend to the will of the other.

The silence was broken with the echoing sound of the school bell, ringing down the concrete hallway. Logan brushed past Veronica, making no eye contact, and hurried down the corridor into the gym.

Veronica's stomach turned again as she watched Logan disappear into the school, without once looking back at her.

Afternoon classes were painful. Veronica couldn't concentrate on anything the teachers said, instead obsessing over every detail of her and Logan's encounter at lunch. To make matters worse, walking the halls between periods, Logan averted his eyes as they passed each other, causing Veronica to contemplate just leaving school altogether.

But then, as the clock ticked down to the end of the day, Veronica became hopeful; maybe he would change his mind and tell her what happened while they were in the car on the way home. Maybe there would even be flowers and apologies for how he acted. Maybe he would see that keeping this secret was going to hurt them and they would be kissing by the time they got to her house.

Gathering her things quickly after school, Veronica raced to the parking lot. There, waiting for her at the curb, was Ben and the Range Rover. She smiled happily as Ben opened the door with a nod and a smile in return. Her smile quickly dropped when she realized Logan was already sitting inside, his head turned away from her. He didn't even turn to acknowledge her presence.

Putting on her seat belt, Veronica let out a loud sigh. "Are we still arguing about this?"

Logan shrugged his broad shoulders but didn't look at her. "Are you still going to insist you need to know what I talked to Lilly about?"

"Are you going to keep secrets?" she countered.

Logan turned, his lip curled in a snarl. "Are you going to follow me for the rest of my life?"

Veronica closed her eyes momentarily, taking the brunt of the blow from his words. Opening her eyes slightly, she scowled back at him. "If I need to. Yes."

"Can you please just trust me and let this go?" His words soft and imploring.

Veronica's heart pounded. She was at a crossroads. How strong was her curiosity? Was it worth possibly losing Logan over?

"No," she answered quietly. "I need to know."

Logan's face flinched in pain, as if he had been punched. He fixed his gaze on Veronica. "And if I don't tell you?"

Veronica bit her lip. Heat ran through her chest and her breathing became heavy.

"I don't know," she answered in a whisper.

Logan nodded, giving Veronica one final sad glance, he turned to look out the window.

Flight.

Her fight was gone. Now she needed flight.

"Ben!" she called out, her voice strangled. "Please stop!"

Ben caught her eye in the rear view mirror and nodded. He swiftly pulled the car to the curb.

Veronica began unbuckling her seat belt and gathering her bag together, avoiding Logan's glance. As Ben put the car into 'park', Logan reached over and brushed Veronica's arm gently with his fingers. With a shrug, Veronica shook off his touch, and quickly exited the car, slamming the door behind her.

Her feet hit the pavement and Veronica gasped in the chilly air. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry, even though she wanted to sit on the curb and bawl for days. Instead, she straightened her shoulders and began walking the seven blocks home. After the second block, she sensed she was being watched and turning, realized that Ben was driving the Range Rover just behind her, following her home. Turning back toward her destination, Veronica continued her walk.

When she finally reached her front step, Veronica turned again, this time to see Ben drive past her, heading back towards Logan's home. Watching the car disappear gave Veronica the chance to let go of her tightly held emotions and begin to cry. Trudging up to the front door, she hoped that her mom was either gone or passed out so she didn't have to answer any questions.

Wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve, Veronica took a deep breath and entered. Head down, she dropped her book bag at the door and began taking off her jacket, sniffling softly as she did.

"Veronica?"

Oh. No.

"Dad," she croaked, keeping her back to the living room.

The next thing she knew, Keith had crossed the room and was standing next to her.

"What happened?" he asked, his voice filled with concern. "Why are you crying?"

Veronica bit her lip, her eyes cast down. She couldn't bring herself to speak.

Keith let out a deep sigh. "Is this about a boy?"

Veronica nodded, a fresh round of tears springing to her eyes. Keith stepped closer and wrapped his arms around his daughter. Veronica put her head on his chest and sniffled.

"Boys suck," she whispered, wiping her eyes on his brown uniform shirt.

Keith kissed the top of her head and tightened his hug. "Yeah. Sometimes we do."

Veronica's crying began to subside and her breathing returned to normal in her dad's arms. Pulling from his embrace, she gave one last sniffle and sigh.

"So, who are these tears for?" Keith asked quietly.

Dropping her head away from her dad's gaze, she wiped her eyes again with her sleeve. "A guy I like."

Keith nodded. Putting his arm around Veronica's shoulders, he began walking, guiding her slowly to come along with him. They ended at the couch where Veronica plopped down with a huff. Keith took his place in his big easy chair.

"So, what happened with this boy-with-no-name?" Keith commented, leaning back into his seat.

"I saw him hugging someone. Another girl," Veronica replied quietly.

Keith gave her a tight smile. "Ahhh. So we have a case of jealousy on our hands then."

Veronica frowned. When her Dad put it that way, it sounded like she was in the wrong.

"And where did you see them in this embrace?" he prodded.

Veronica pulled her feet up so she sat cross-legged on the couch. "I found them under the bleachers."

"Were you following them?" Keith continued his questioning.

"I wouldn't say 'following'," she began, "so much as 'looking for'."

Keith chuckled. "So, you ended up finding something you didn't really want to find?"

The memory of Lilly in Logan's embrace flashed across her brain.

"Yeah. Kind of," Veronica replied.

"Does this boy know that you like him?" Keith continued.

Veronica nodded, but said nothing.

"Did he know you followed him?"

Veronica nodded again, cringing at the thought of Logan's reaction to her spying on him.

"And how did he feel about that?"

Folding her arms in front of her, Veronica looked away from her Dad. "He wasn't happy."

"Hmm," Keith murmured. "Kind of like you were angry that I sent Deputy Lamb to check on you?"

Dropping her face into her hands, Veronica realized where her dad was going with this conversation.

"Yes," she muttered through her palms.

"Veronica," Keith began softly. "If you like someone, you need to learn to trust them. Do you even know if this boy likes you?"

Damn it, she hated when her Dad was right.

"Yes. I know he likes me," she sighed, dropping her hands from her eyes.

"Then maybe you have to trust that there is a reason for what happened," Keith said. "Were they kissing?"

"No." Veronica huffed. She was really beginning to hate this interrogation. Especially now she realized she could have been wrong about what had happened.

"Did he provide an explanation for his behavior?"

"No," Veronica informed him. "He said it was none of my business. But it wasn't romantic and it didn't change his feelings for me."

Keith rubbed his face with his hands. "Then maybe you have to understand, Veronica, that you may have misinterpreted what you saw. Or if you actually think that something romantic was happening, then this is not the boy for you."

Veronica stayed quiet, her eyes cast down at her hands on her lap. Of course, Logan was the boy for her. But why on earth would Logan have a reason to hug Lilly Kane? How could she misinterpret that?

"Who is this boy who has you so concerned, Veronica?" her Dad asked quietly.

Veronica's head jerked up suddenly, a wave of panic swept over her.

"Duncan. Duncan Kane."

Shit. Once again, her mouth acted before her brain.

A look of sheer horror flashed across Keith's face for a moment, just long enough for Veronica to catch.

"Duncan? Kane?" Keith asked slowly.

Veronica's hands flew up in front of her waving frantically. "But we're not dating or anything! We just kind of like each other!"

"Good." Keith's spine straightened, his eyes narrowed and his mouth flattened into a serious line. "But if it does turn serious, I want you to tell me."

"Why?" Veronica asked, momentarily distracted from her concerns over Logan. "What's wrong with Duncan?"

Keith stood from his chair and looked down at Veronica. "Nothing. I'm sure he's a fine boy, it's just –" he dropped his voice and glanced around the house. "The Kane family are another matter."

Veronica frowned. Something was up. What did her dad have against the Kane family?

"Thanks for the pep-talk, Dad," she said, rising to give her father a big hug.

Keith held her to him for a moment before releasing her. "Anytime, sweetheart. You know you can always talk to me about anything."

Veronica gave him a tight smile and turned. She hurried up the stairs, her mind running a mile a minute, turning all of this new information over and over in her head.

"Ring," Veronica muttered under her breath, staring at the cordless phone laying in the middle of her bed. Waving her fingers over the receiver, she whispered the words again. "Ring. Ring, ring, ring."

It was 9:30 at night and Logan still hadn't called. And Veronica swore she wouldn't call him. So instead, she went about her evening routine, more or less, until she couldn't take the waiting any more. That was when she got the idea to will the phone to ring using the power of her mind.

"Ring, damn it!"

The phone rang.

Veronica nearly fell off the edge of her bed, she leapt so high in the air. Grabbing the phone, she fumbled to connect the call.

"Hello?" She gasped.

"Hi," came Logan's quiet voice.

Veronica pressed her hand to her heart. She was so relieved to hear from him.

"Can we talk about this?" she asked hesitantly.

"Yeah," Logan's voice was thick with sadness. "But not over the phone. Can you come over after school tomorrow?"

"Yes!" Veronica blurted. "Yes. I can. So we can talk."

A brief silence fell between them.

"Are we okay?" Veronica asked quietly.

"I think we will be," Logan sighed. "I just...I just want to try to work this out. These last few hours have been agony for me. You're still my best friend and I just want this all to be okay. Okay?"

"Okay." Veronica grinned, butterflies dancing happily in her stomach.

Logan let out a small chuckle. "Good. Can we talk about something else then? For now?"

Veronica bit her lip.

"How about this…" she began. "I came into the house all upset and my dad saw me and when he asked what boy I was upset about I said 'Duncan Kane'."

"Duncan?" Logan gave a loud laugh-snort. "You couldn't think of a better lie than Duncan?"

"I panicked, okay?" she giggled. "I mean, Duncan's not bad looking or anything. I'm just not his type."

There was a moment of silence before Logan spoke. "I think I would choose Casey over Duncan. If, you know, I was into guys."

Veronica let out a loud laugh and collapsed onto her pillow. "I can't believe you even thought about this."

"Hey, you thought about it!" Logan pointed out. "Why can't I?"

Veronica climbed under the covers and leaned over to turn off her bedside lamp. "Okay. I'll give you that." She paused and lay on her pillow, her phone next to her ear, and let out a deep sigh.

"Logan?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm glad you're still my best friend."

"I'm glad, too."

Veronica smiled into the darkness of her room.

"Logan?"

"Yeah?"

"Will you talk with me until I fall asleep. Like we used to?"

Veronica heard his breath through the receiver.

"Yeah. Of course I will," he replied.

And so they talked. About nothing. And (almost) everything. Until finally, Veronica fell asleep, as Logan talked to her about something she couldn't quite remember the next morning.

 

Chapter Text

 

Veronica took the wafting smell of bacon as a sign that today was going to be a better day than the last. She hurried down the stairs and plopped herself into her seat next to her dad, loading her plate up with a pile of bacon, and one slice of toast.

"Good morning, sweetheart," Lianne cooed from across the table.

Veronica smiled and nodded, her mouth already stuffed with bacon as she began pouring herself a large glass of orange juice.

"Your dad was just filling me in on your news," Lianne continued. "About the new boy in your life."

Veronica nearly choked as she swallowed her food. Coughing, she grabbed her orange juice and washed everything down.

"Duncan's just a friend." Veronica gasped, still recovering from the choking and the shock.

Lianne giggled. "Oh, you don't have to be coy. You can tell me all about it, if you want."

Veronica glanced between her Dad, who was frowning, and her Mom, who wore a giddy grin.

"I don't. But thanks," Veronica replied and stuffed more bacon in her mouth.

Keith chuckled. "Leave the girl alone, Lianne. She'll tell us when she's ready."

Her mom pouted and took a sip of her coffee. "So this outfit today isn't for Duncan's sake?"

Veronica glanced down. She was in her favorite jean skirt, high black boots, black tank top, and a tight cardigan sweater. She had spent a little extra time on her hair, achieving soft curls in her short bob, that she thought made her look older. As always, her diamond pendant from Logan was around her neck. She knew she looked awesome today. That was part of her plan.

"Nope. Can honestly say, this is not for Duncan," she commented with a smile.

Lianne sighed, finally giving up. She turned back to her food and breakfast continued in silence.

When she and her dad arrived in front of the Echolls mansion, an hour later, Veronica made sure her green army jacket was open enough for Logan to see what she was wearing, but not enough to expose her to the morning chill.

Flopping into his seat and slamming the door behind him, Logan glanced over at her with a big smile. "Hi!"

"Hi to you," she replied as the car began to move.

Logan's eyes drifted from her face, down the front of her open jacket, lingering for a moment on her exposed upper thigh, and then down the black boots to the floor.

"Morning Logan," Keith called out from the front seat.

Logan readjusted his gaze to the front of the vehicle with a small cough. "Morning, Mr. Mars."

Looking back at Veronica, Logan smirked. "You're all dressed up today. Got a hot date I haven't heard about?"

"No," she replied happily. "I just thought that today was a good day for a little something extra."

Logan pursed his lips and nodded. "Hmm. I see."

"Don't let her fool you," Keith said. "It's for a boy."

Veronica let out a gasp of horror. "Dad!"

"And who is this mystery man?" Logan quickly chimed in. "Do you need my protective services?"

Veronica rolled her eyes. "With my self defence classes, I could kick your butt any day."

Logan leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Promises, promises. But you didn't answer my question regarding your mystery man."

Veronica zipped up her coat and crossed her arms over herself. "You know. So quit pretending you don't."

"Ahhh. Is this for Mr. Duncan Kane?" he taunted.

Veronica scowled. "Shut up."

Logan shrugged, a glimmer of mischief in his eyes. "Oh well. I tried. I just hope Duncan enjoys the outfit."

"I hate you," she said, fixing her icy stare at him.

A twisted jackass grin pulled on his lips. "No. You don't."

She had never wanted to kiss him more in that moment. If it wasn't for her father's presence, Veronica was sure she would have climbed across the back seat, jumped on his lap, and savagely kissed him until they both couldn't breathe.

Instead she turned to look out the window, listening to the classic rock playing on the radio, trying to keep her lusty thoughts of Logan in check.

Before long, Logan and Keith started up a conversation about some old rock band and the chatter distracted Veronica until they got to school.

Exiting the car, Veronica said goodbye to her dad and joined Logan near the curb. Standing inches from him, she looked up to see his dark eyes staring down at her.

Lowering his head near her ear, he whispered. "I don't know what was hotter…our banter or your outfit, this morning."

Veronica bit her lip. "Do we still need to go and 'make up' from our argument yesterday?"

Logan raised his head, his eyes darting around to check out their surrounding. Resting on a spot in the distance, he muttered, "Follow me."

Walking across the grounds to the side of the school, Veronica saw where Logan was leading them. A small utility shed sat on the end of the property, next to a line of tall hedges. Stepping around the green tin building, Logan waved his hand with a small flourish, presenting a narrow space between the foliage and the building. Glancing to make sure no one was around, Veronica dropped her backpack in a discreet corner, then slid herself against the wall and into the hiding space. Logan followed, a little less delicately, crashing around against the leaves.

Soon, he was standing next to her, their bodies pressed together in the small space. Veronica wrapped her arms around his neck, placing a small, teasing kiss on his lips.

"I'm sorry for what happened with Lilly. And for how I reacted," he whispered. "I promise, I will explain everything to you after school."

Veronica bit her lip, trying to squelch a broad grin. Victory was hers.

"Kiss now. Explain later," she instructed playfully.

Logan raised an eyebrow, a lecherous grin appearing. Bending slightly, he slipped his hands under her bottom and hoisted her up off her feet. A little squeal escaped her and she wrapped her legs around his waist, her feet locking behind him. Pressed up against the building by Logan's body, all rational thought disappeared as his lips crashed down on hers. She could feel the chill on her exposed thighs, but didn't care – the rest of her body was on fire. Moving his lips from hers, Logan traced kisses across her jaw, down her neck, stopping when he reached her jacket collar.

Veronica closed her eyes and held on to his shoulders for support, as he shifted his hips, bracing himself against her, Logan's jacket moved between them. A delicious tingle ran through her as her underwear made contact with the thick fabric and a gasp of pleasure escaped her lips.

"I hate when we fight," she murmured. "But I love when we make-up."

Logan brought his head up, touching his nose against hers. "I will fight with you every day if you promise to wear this outfit as revenge."

Veronica opened her mouth to retort but Logan stopped her with a quick kiss.

Pressing her forehead against his, she gave a deep sigh. "Can we try to not fight? It's bad enough that my parents fight almost every day. I don't have the energy to fight with you all the time."

Logan kissed her cheek gently before whispering in her ear. "I'm sorry. I know how you hate when your parents argue. I shouldn't have said that."

"I know you were kidding," she replied. "I just hate when we argue too."

Logan nodded and gave her a quick peck on the lips. "We should go before the bell rings."

Veronica released her legs from around Logan's waist as he lowered her to the ground. Grabbing the edge of her skirt, she did a little shimmy to move the hemline back in place.

The two eased themselves out of their hiding spot, Logan shaking the leaves and twigs off his clothes as they emerged. Veronica looked around and found no one in sight.

"I'll leave first," she said, glancing up at Logan.

He nodded and smiled. "See you at lunch?"

She returned his smile. Picking up her backpack, Veronica hurried off to her locker before the first bell rang.

"Where is everyone?" asked Logan, walking up to the cafeteria table where Veronica, Casey, and Duncan were eating lunch. The three turned towards Logan as he sat down next to Veronica.

"Wallace and Mac are at Robotics Club," Veronica said. "And Dick is with Madison and her crew."

"So it's the Secret Couple Society today." Casey laughed.

Logan looked between Duncan and Veronica, an evil grin on his face. "You mean Duncan and Veronica?"

Casey and Duncan frowned, both fixing their gaze at Veronica. Veronica dropped her face in her hands and shook her head.

"You just had to, didn't you?" she muttered.

"What? Veronica and me?" Duncan said, confusion in his voice.

Veronica sighed and looked up from her hands. "I may have said that you were the boy I was interested in, when my father was interrogating me."

Casey let out a noise halfway between a laugh and a snort.

Duncan leaned in closer to Veronica and whispered, "You know I'm not into you, right?"

Veronica sighed heavily as Logan laughed beside her. "Yes. I get it. I just panicked, all right?"

Duncan sat back and chuckled. "Just checking. I am a fine specimen of a man."

Another round of laughter broke out, this time with Veronica chiming in too.

"I know it was a bonehead move. At the time," she said, raising her finger like she had an idea. "But I was sitting in class thinking, this could be an opportunity for us all."

"How so?" asked Logan.

"Well, you know that Valentine's Day is just around the corner," Veronica began. "I thought that the four of us could go out that night, all together."

"So it looks like we are all just going out as friends?" said Casey.

Veronica nodded. "Yeah. The old theatre on the boardwalk has the movie 'Giant' that night. Maybe we could grab dinner and then sit separately, as couples, in the dark movie theatre."

The four friends all looked between each other, smiling mischievously.

"That's kind of brilliant," said Duncan.

"Thanks," Veronica replied gleefully.

"So actual Valentines Day is on the Wednesday, but the school's Valentines Day dance is on Friday of that week," Logan remarked. "What will we do for that little event?"

Veronica shrugged. "I don't know. But maybe my brilliant mind will think of something."

Logan reached under the table and gave Veronica's knee a squeeze. "That's my girl."

After school that day, Veronica found herself, once again, sitting on her hands, trying not to touch Logan. All the way to the Echolls estate, Veronica resisted the impulse to jump across the back seat of the Range Rover and maul Logan.

Upon arrival, Logan took Veronica's hand and led her around the side of the house, all the way up to the pool house. Sliding the door open for her, Logan followed her inside.

She was no stranger to this massive room, having been inside to change into her swimsuit many times over the years. Even though it was supposed to be a guest suite, Veronica couldn't remember anyone actually staying in it. The walls used to be covered with Aaron's movie posters, but they had been taken down and now sat stacked against the big armoire. The centre of the room had a king-sized bed, high up on a platform. There was a bar, and a table with chairs, and a big couch set in front of a big screen TV.

Logan dropped his jacket and backpack near the bar and flopped onto the couch, his arms sprawled across the back. Veronica dropped her bag and jacket on the ground as well and sat down next to him. He smiled at her and dropped his arm over her shoulder.

"I figured we could talk privately here, instead of in one of our bedrooms," Logan explained. "Mom has her hospital board meeting but Mrs. Navarro is still in the house, making dinner for us."

Veronica pulled her legs up beside her and placed her head on his shoulder. "Does that mean you're going to tell me the secret of why you were hugging Lilly?"

Logan sighed loudly. "Yes. But before I do, you need to promise me something."

Veronica sat up, shifting herself so she was out of his arms, but looking straight at him. "What?"

"You need to promise me that you won't use what I am going to tell you to your advantage," he said. "I know you and Lilly don't get along anymore – and I know she is the one who posted porn on your locker – but you need to promise me you won't use this information against her one day."

Veronica nodded. "I promise. I won't use it against her."

Logan shifted so his legs were up on the couch too, sitting directly across from Veronica. With a deep sigh, he began to explain.

"What you saw was me comforting Lilly after I told her that Aaron had left town for good."

Veronica bit her lip, her eyes narrowing with interest.

"She was crying because she was relieved. Aaron attacked her on the boat. I saw it on the video."

Veronica gasped, her hands coming up to cover her mouth. She and Lilly were, admittedly, not on great terms, but no one deserved that.

"Luckily, she got away before Aaron could actually, well, do anything really bad. But he sure scared the shit out of her."

"What happened?" Veronica whispered in shock.

Logan shook his head at the memory. "Seems she got it in her head that she wanted to kiss a movie star. So she set it up that she ran into Aaron at the club. Well, one thing led to another and Aaron got her to come into his bedroom on the yacht. They kissed, but he wanted more and tried to take it –" He paused and let out a chuckle. Veronica frowned as he continued. "—and that's when Lilly kicked him in the balls and fled."

Veronica let out a small laugh. "Go Lilly."

"Exactly. But it really freaked her out, even though she escaped," Logan added.

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't even want to imagine."

"I told her I saw the tape. And that I didn't make a copy. I figured that she wouldn't want her attempted-rape being made public, if the tapes go to court."

Veronica reached out and placed her hand on Logan's chest. "You're a good person. I'm sorry I doubted you."

Logan put his hand over hers. "I'm sorry I reacted that way. Your appearance just kind of surprised me. I panicked."

She ducked her head down, avoiding his eyes. "Well, Dad and I talked. Maybe I shouldn't have gone looking for you in the first place."

"Nah. I was wrong. It's kind of nice to know that someone loves me so much, they would track me down anywhere," he teased.

Veronica giggled, raising her eyes to his. "So, are we cool?"

Logan leaned forward and kissed her gently, lingering for a few moments. Releasing her, he smiled. "We are, most definitely, cool."

That was all the prompting she needed. Veronica rocked up onto her knees, placing her hands on Logan's cheeks, and kissed him firmly. His hands grabbed her hips and he pulled her roughly onto his lap, her legs straddling him. Sitting on his thighs, her skirt rode up to her butt. Logan broke the kiss, licking his lips as a grin tugged at the corners. She watched his eyes begin to darken and her body shivered in anticipation of what would come next.

Gently, Logan slid his hands from her waist, down her thighs to her knees. Veronica's breathing increased and she held his gaze as his fingers wandered. He paused for a moment before his hands began their trek back, this time ending up on her butt.

"Is this okay?" Logan asked quietly, his head near her ear.

Veronica swallowed hard. "Yes."

His soft lips skimmed her earlobe and she gasped. Kissing a path downwards, he reached the juncture of her neck, and nuzzled her softly. Veronica closed her eyes, concentrating on the sensation of his lips on her skin. Tentatively, she let her fingers explore the edge of his green Henley. When he made no move to stop her, she began inching her hands higher along his skin. As she did, his shirt began to ride up, but he still made no move to change her course. When her hands reached his chest, she flattened her palms, enjoying the contact with his skin.

Logan lifted his head to look at her. "What should we do now?"

Intimacy. More than love. More than sex. The thoughts played through Veronica's head.

"Take off your shirt," she whispered, so quietly he almost didn't hear her.

Logan quickly pulled the shirt over his head, dropping it on the couch beside them. His toned chest rose and fell asleep his breathing increased. Veronica paused momentarily to consider all the possibilities of having a half-naked boyfriend at her disposal.

"Now what?" he murmured, a little shiver vibrating through his body.

Taking a breath, Veronica shrugged off her sweater. Logan's eyes dropped to her chest for a moment before returning to her eyes. With a deep breath, Veronica pulled her tank top up over her head, discarding it on the floor.

She heard Logan's breath hitch. His eyes dropped to her black lace bra and lingered there. When he finally gazed back up at her, neither of them moved.

"Now what?" His voice was strained.

Leaning forward, Veronica pressed her breasts to his skin, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. His breath tickled her neck as he sighed deeply. Bringing his hands up, he flattened his palms across her back. Dropping his head to hers, his body relaxed under her grasp.

"I could stay like this forever," Veronica said with a sigh.

"I'll get some Crazy Glue. That stuff adheres skin," Logan murmured.

Veronica giggled and snuggled her head into the crook of his neck. This was exactly what they needed. Not making out. Not sitting side by side, watching a movie or doing homework. She just needed his warm skin next to hers.

They were quiet for a time. So quiet that Veronica felt herself getting drowsy, but then Logan's voice snapped her out of it.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah?"

"I had this crazy nightmare last night."

"What was it?"

Logan moved his hands so they lowered, crossed and wrapping around her back, before landing on her hips. The result was she shifted even closer to him on his lap.

"I had a dream about what my life would be like without you."

Veronica bit her lip and opened her eyes, staring at his neck. "And?"

He let out a low chuckle which made her bounce a little on his lap. "I was an asshole."

She could have bantered. She could have teased. But she knew he was being serious, underneath it all. "Really?"

"Yeah. Like, a really big asshole. Like a fucking-anything-that-moves, drinking every day, partying every night, psychotic jackass."

Logan raised his head and looked down at her, with so much love in his eyes her heart filled full. "And you know what - with my dad and mom being how they are, and the way I was raised - I'm pretty sure that if you weren't my friend, I would have a really good chance of being that asshole."

Veronica held back tears. She knew that their friendship meant the world to both of them, but she never entertained the idea of what her life would have been like if Logan wasn't with her, every day.

"You, and having your dad around too," he continued. "You know, every morning, I actually look forward to him picking me up just so we can talk about music or school or just…stuff? How crazy is that?"

"It's not crazy." Veronica shook her head. "My dad loves you. You're the son he never had."

This time, it was Logan's eyes that got glassy. "Wow."

"Think of it this way," she said with a smile. "When we actually tell him we're together, he'll probably be thrilled."

Logan rolled his eyes and laughed. "And when will that be? Next year? The year after? When we're 18?"

Veronica shrugged. "How about in the fall? After the summer. Give us a little more time before he puts an armed guard on 'Virginity Duty'."

This time, Logan's head dropped back and he looked at the ceiling when he laughed. "Oh god. I really don't feel like being shot because I tried to go for third base."

Veronica reached up and rubbed his shoulder comfortingly. "Well, you've had my almost-naked boobs pressed up against you for quite some time and you still haven't tried to cop a feel. I feel that third base is still a while away."

Logan's head snapped back up, his eyes serious. "Please don't say the word 'cop' in the same sentence as 'boobs'. It makes me think that someone will try and arrest me if I tried to move in for a feel."

This time it was Veronica who burst out laughing. Logan took his chance and began tickling her sides as she was trapped against him. Her laughter turned to giggles as she wiggled and pitched her body on his lap, trying to free herself.

Logan let out a loud yelp of pain, releasing Veronica immediately, and letting her fall on the couch beside him. She looked up to see him wincing in pain, clutching his crotch.

"What happened?" she gasped, the fun suddenly over.

"Hit me with your knee," he gasped. "Had a boner. So very painful!"

Veronica collapsed in a ball on the cushions, gripping her sides as she burst out in hysterical laughter.

"If we can't have children one day," he groaned. "it will be all your fault."

This just made Veronica laugh harder and tears began streaking down her face.

Finally recovering, Veronica glanced up at Logan to see his eyes fixed firmly on her heaving chest.

"You've seen me in a bikini before," she smirked. "Why the staring?"

Logan leaned over, stretching his arms out on either side of her. Pulling his legs onto the couch, he crawled over her until he was suspended just above her body. Holding his gaze, Veronica could feel the heat begin to rise inside her.

"Yes. But your bikini isn't lacy. Or push up," he remarked, looking down at her.

Veronica glanced down at her chest. The Christmas money from Great-Aunt Amelia had gone towards an expensive purchase from Victoria's Secret. She admitted to herself that Madison was, in fact, right when she said that it would give her small breasts a substantial push in the right direction.

"Do you like it? It's new," Veronica said, trying to sound cool.

Logan nodded. "Is that why your boobs grew three sizes in one night?"

Veronica gave him a playful swat on the arm and he laughed.

"I like it. A lot. Just so you know," he said.

Veronica smiled. "Good. Because it's uncomfortable as hell. If I'm going to suffer, at least it's being admired."

Logan lowered himself on top of Veronica, his eyes darkening with lust. "I'll admire them as much as you let me."

His lips gently swept over hers before pressing down, harder, urgently. She wrapped her arms around his naked torso and began dragging her fingers up and down his spine as she became lost in their kiss. Ever so slowly, Logan began planting kisses along her jaw, to her earlobe, and down her neck. But instead of stopping, he continued gently kissing around her neck and down her sternum. Veronica inhaled sharply as his kisses landed like little electric sparks on her skin, making her tingle with anticipation. Down he progressed until he placed one last kiss directly between her breasts, just above the little 'VS' charm that connected the cups of her bra.

Pulling his head up to look at her, he smiled. "Should I continue?"

Veronica opened her mouth to speak just as the phone began to ring. They both jerked in shock and looked at one another.

"Mrs. Navarro's probably calling us for dinner," he explained, quickly jumping up and crossing to the phone on the bedside table.

Veronica took the moment to get her senses back. Staring up at the ceiling, she tried to slow her breathing before she passed out. She closed her eyes but the image of Logan kissing his way down her body came back to her, and her heart rate increased again.

"I believe this is yours?"

Veronica opened her eyes to find Logan standing next to her, still shirtless, dangling her tank top and sweater above her.

She reached out and took the garments, dropping them in a pile across her chest. "Where's your shirt?"

"Somewhere under you." He laughed. "I'm sure it's nice and toasty warm."

Clutching the clothes, Veronica sat up, revealing Logan's shirt, which was a squashed mess. She bit her lip as he reached for it and quickly tossed it on.

Veronica scrambled into her tank top, but it took a moment of fumbling to get her sweater right-side-out. Logan flopped down beside her on the couch, a big grin on his face.

"Mrs. Navarro said to come for dinner in about 10 minutes," he said. "Then scolded me in Spanish for having a 'nice girl' like you alone in the pool house. Or at least that's what I thought she said. I'm only pulling a B in Spanish."

Veronica blushed and dropped her head for a moment.

"Hey. I didn't mean to embarrass you," Logan said and moved closer to her.

She looked up into his eyes. "This was all just...really...awesome."

Logan dropped his head, a bashful smile creeping across his lips.

"We should do this again. Not necessarily the making out part. Even though that was good. But holding each other. That was really nice. To be that close. To you," Logan blathered.

Veronica bit her lip. God, he was adorable sometimes.

"Yeah. We should," she replied happily.

Logan and Veronica enjoyed a spectacular meal of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, all prepared by Mrs. Navarro. The housekeeper wandered past them throughout the meal, making sure they were actually eating their vegetables and not putting their elbows on the table, though when she was invited to sit with them to eat, she regaled them of stories of her grandchildren, including her beloved Eli, who was the same age as them, and would be getting out of juvenile detention that summer, to join them at Neptune Junior High in the Fall.

As they were finishing up their slices of homemade blueberry pie, Lynn appeared in the dining room. She was dressed in a conservative black pantsuit, with no jewelry or accessories. Her face was drawn, her eyes tired and glassy. Forcing a smile, she walked over to Logan and kissed him on the top of the head, before collapsing into the chair at the head of the table.

"You're home early, Mom," Logan said, pushing aside his dessert.

Lynn sighed. "I wasn't at the hospital. I was with my lawyer all day."

Veronica sat forward in her seat, butterflies in her stomach.

"What did he say?" asked Logan.

"She said," Lynn began, leaning her elbows on the table. "in light of everything we have against Aaron, I should be able to get out of the marriage quite quickly."

Both Veronica and Logan sighed, but while a smile crossed Veronica's face, Logan frowned.

"But the downside is….?" Logan asked.

Lynn let out a deep sigh and ran her fingers through her short hair. "The downside is that if I want to get out quickly, I will probably get the house but not that much money. And I want to make sure that there is money for you and Trina, should you need it in the future."

"Which means…?" Logan asked.

"Which means that we would probably sell the house, downsize to a luxury condo or something, and I will go back to work," Lynn explained.

Logan shrugged and looked from his mother to Veronica. "I'm okay with that. Veronica taught me how to make Mac and Cheese with hot dogs. I'm sure I can learn to cook other things for us."

"You'd be okay with no pool? No media room? No games room?" Lynn let out a little laugh. "On the bright side, we may be able to retain Mrs. Navarro and Ben, depending on where we move."

Logan cast a big smile across to Veronica. "I can enjoy watching a movie with Veronica on a couch just as much as I do in a freezing cold media room."

"Would you go back to the stage Mrs.–?" Veronica paused, wondering whether 'Mrs. Echolls' was still appropriate, considering the circumstances.

Lynn reached out and placed her hand on Veronica's arm, reassuringly. "Oh please just call me Lynn, sweetheart. And I don't know about the stage. I may just do some television to pay the bills. Or maybe a soap opera."

Veronica clapped her hands together excitedly, thinking about all the times she would watch soap operas with her mom, when she was home sick from school. "Oh! You could totally be a soap opera diva! With the fancy dresses and the cat fights!"

Logan rolled his eyes at Veronica's excitement and sighed dramatically. Seeing his mocking, Veronica stuck her tongue out at him.

"A soap would be fun," Lynn said. "It would get me used to memorizing scripts again."

"So then that's it? No publicity? No Access Hollywood camped out on our sidewalk?" Logan asked, bringing the conversation back to the original topic. "You aren't releasing the tapes?"

Lynn shook her head. "There won't be any need. We watched two of the CDs you gave us. It is damaging, and humiliating enough that Aaron will probably give up quickly just to keep things quiet."

There was a momentary sigh of relief from the teens before Lynn began talking again. "However, I want you two to be very careful. I am planning on serving the papers on March 1, to give my legal team time to prepare. And us as well. It may get ugly for a few weeks, with the paparazzi."

"Ugly how?" Veronica asked.

"Like them trying to talk to Logan at school. Following you at the beach. And that's if they let us off easy." Lynn looked between the teens. "Once I serve the papers, you and Veronica may want to keep a very low profile together. If they think you two are more than friends, you may become part of their story."

Veronica looked at Logan, the smile falling from her face, Logan's expression mirrored hers as Lynn's words sunk in. 'Low profile' sounded like code for 'don't be seen together'.

Logan turned back to his mother.

"I'm not going to have to live with him, am I?" he asked quietly.

Lynn reached over and took his hands in hers. "No, honey. I told my lawyers what Aaron has done to you over the years. They don't think he will contest my request for full-custody with no visitation rights. But if he does, we will discuss it."

Logan nodded, his eyes cast down at the table. Veronica knew he would rather not share the stories of his abuse with anyone and silently hoped he wouldn't have to.

"And further to that," Lynn continued. "Logan, your first therapist appointment is this Sunday afternoon."

Veronica heard Logan's deep intake of breath from across the table. He was still looking down.

"You work fast," he muttered.

"Logan, I have spent the past decade feeling like I was trapped with Aaron forever," Lynn said. "This is my one chance to get out. I planned it so many times in my head over the years, but I was never able to do it. Now, I can. This is my time. And yours."

Logan looked up and nodded at Lynn, but stayed quiet. Releasing his hand, Lynn rose from the table. "Now, if you will both excuse me, I need food, a tall drink, and a bubble bath. Not necessarily in that order."

Veronica smiled up at Lynn. She smiled warmly at them both, before leaving the room.

Logan finally looked up at Veronica, his eyes heavy with sadness. "Should we go upstairs and do homework?"

Veronica nodded before rising and coming around the table to him. Standing behind him, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him on the cheek. "Are you more upset about the therapy or the prospect of spending time apart?"

Logan relaxed his head so it leaned into her shoulder. "Kind of both. Equally."

"But in the long run, both will help. It'll be fine." She reassured him gently.

His response was a grunt and a deep sigh.

Veronica kissed him again and squeezed him tightly. "Tell you what. We'll go up to your room and do our homework. Maybe make-out some more. And I promise, if you get another boner, I won't knee it."

Logan let out a deep laugh. "Well…okay. Will you show me your boobs again?"

"Hmm…we'll see."

 

Chapter Text

The first two weeks of February passed like all the rest for Veronica and Logan. The routine of school, day in and day out, the beach and surfing and Logan's on the weekends, finding interesting ways and locations to be alone with each other.

Although Veronica made taking off her shirt a new and pleasant development in their private make-out sessions, Logan resisted the urge to grab, grope, or touch her breasts, much to her frustration. Instead, he chose to enjoy pressing his skin against hers as they lay on the bed together, while holding her gently. It wasn't exactly what she had hoped for, but she did love the feel on his skin on hers.

Valentine's Day morning, Veronica came down the stairs to the sounds of classical music mixed with laughter as her mother and father danced together, cheek to cheek, in the living room. Keith was in his jeans and a blue button-down shirt, while Lianne was still in her long silk nightgown and robe. It had been a while since she saw her parents be romantic together and the scene of them together immediately put a smile on Veronica's face. When her father whirled her mother around the room, Veronica's heart soared. Why couldn't it be Valentine's Day every day?

Seeing Veronica standing on the bottom stair, Keith stopped twirling and Lianne let out a loud giggle. "Good morning, Veronica!"

"Well, good morning to you, lovebirds!" Veronica replied happily before skipping over to the table. Set out was a smorgasbord of waffles, consisting of both chocolate and vanilla Belgian waffles, and about ten different toppings.

"Your mom outdid herself," Keith replied as he joined Veronica at the table.

Lianne walked to her seat and picked up a champagne glass filled with Mimosa. "Well, since your dad picked up the evening shift, we had to do Valentine's Day early."

Keith shrugged as he sat down. "I felt like I had to. How often do you think Deputy Sacks gets a date on a regular night – let alone one on Valentine's? He begged for weeks for this night off. It may be his only chance for love."

Veronica laughed as she sat next to her dad. "You old softy!"

Lianne began passing out the waffles. "You look lovely today, honey. Is that what you're wearing on your date tonight?"

Veronica looked down. She was wearing one of her snug graphic t-shirts, her black jeans, and her Docs.

"Okay. Let's go over this one more time," Veronica stated firmly. "One: it is not a 'date'. It's me, Logan, Casey, and Duncan. We're going to hang out and then see a movie. If it were a date, I wouldn't bring along my ex-kind-of-boyfriend."

She heard her dad chuckle next to her.

"And two: no, I brought my blue blouse and jean skirt to change into before we leave school."

Lianne began piling fresh whipped cream onto her waffle. "Well, if you like Duncan, why don't you just go with him? Why does everyone else need to tag along?"

Veronica opened her mouth to speak but her dad cut her off. "No, I think this a great idea. We trust Ben to drive her, and Logan will be there to make sure anyone with designs on Veronica behaves like a gentleman around her."

Veronica bit her lip as the image of half-naked Logan pressed up against her body, flashed through her brain. "Yep. See, Mom. Even Dad approves."

"Well, I do approve of the movie," Lianne said. "James Dean. Elizabeth Taylor. Rock Hudson. 'Giant' is just wonderful."

"Yeah. Should be really cool," Veronica said. "It's playing at the old Paramount Theatre with the velvet seats and the balcony."

She turned to her dad. "Thanks for letting me stay out late, too. I can't believe it's over three-and-a-half hours long."

Her Dad nodded as he swallowed a bite of his waffle. "Back in the day they had an 'intermission' for movies that long. Do you remember when we saw 'Gone with the Wind' there, Lianne?"

"Do I? A four-hour movie with two intermissions, and I was eight-months pregnant." Lianne rolled her eyes and smiled. "With Veronica kicking my bladder every few minutes, I think I saw more of the inside of their bathroom than I did the movie."

Veronica and Keith laughed. Diving back into her breakfast, Veronica silently prayed that this day would help end her parent's arguing for some time.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Logan!" Keith called out from the front seat of the cruiser.

"Same to you, Mr. Mars," Logan replied as he put in his seat belt.

Veronica rocked slightly in her seat as the car began to move.

"Excited about tonight?" she asked, a big grin on her face.

"Am I excited to be going out with two guys and my best friend on the most romantic night of the year, and not, say, Alyssa Milano?" Logan shrugged. "Yeah. Sure. Why not."

"Now Logan," Keith said. "You realize that your job is to keep an eye on Veronica and this Kane kid, right?"

Logan caught Keith's eye in the rear view mirror, raised his hand, and saluted. "You can count on me, sir. I won't let Duncan near her."

Veronica let out a sigh. Well, he was telling the truth.

"You both realize that this conversation is both patronizing and chauvinistic, right?" Veronica said. "You're treating me like I'm some possession that needs to be protected at all costs."

Logan and Keith fell silent for a moment, contemplating what she said.

"I want to say something sarcastic," Logan began. "But I feel like you may try and hurt me."

Veronica shook her finger at him. "Remember. I have my Taser. And I will use it if provoked."

"Sorry, honey." Keith chimed in. "One day, when you have a daughter, you'll understand. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Boys. Are. Trouble."

Veronica turned to Logan. "Hear that? You're trouble!"

"With a capital 'T'," he retorted.

Veronica let out a giggle. Her dad chuckled in the front seat.

"Logan, you aren't trouble," Keith said. "I've known you since you were a boy. You are, most definitely, a fine young man."

The car fell silent for a moment. Veronica looked over at Logan to see him looking down at his hands in his lap. "Thank you, Mr. Mars. I'll try and live up to your high opinion of me."

"And what am I, Dad? Your second favorite child?" Veronica teased.

"Veronica, my smart, talented, curious, child," Keith began. "You are, by far, the most amazing person I know."

Veronica nodded at Logan. "See. I'm still the favorite."

Logan grinned. "So, no bunk beds for us at your place?"

"No." Veronica sighed. "I do miss your old bunk beds, though. Remember how we used to pretend the top bunk was a pirate ship?"

"And you made Dick be the shark?" he replied. "And we would throw blankets over him like we were trying to catch him?"

"Or when we used to throw straws at him like harpoons?" she giggled.

"Good times," Logan said, putting his hands behind his head and relaxing into the seat.

Keith pulled into the school parking lot and came to a stop. Veronica glanced out the window to find their friends standing by the curb. Exiting the car, Logan joined them first, followed by Veronica. She realized that each of them was holding a yellow rose.

In the weeks leading up to today, the student council sold roses that would be given out on Valentine's Day. Red roses for 'love', yellow roses for 'friendship', and white roses for a 'secret crush'. To keep everything a secret, students would fill out a card and put it in an envelope with the cash. The day before Valentine's Day, volunteers would open the anonymous envelopes and attach the cards to the proper colour flower. Currently, each one of her friends held a single yellow rose.

Mac reached out and handed Veronica an extra yellow rose. Looking down at the card attached to the stem, it read: "To my BFF. From L."

"He gave us each one," Mac explained, giving Logan a big smile. "The student council guy knew we hung out together so he gave us yours."

Veronica looked up at Logan and smiled. "You softy."

He shrugged and looked at all his friends. "I didn't want anyone to be left out today."

"Thanks dude," Dick said. "But you need to tell me how many of these things you bought for Ronnie. If she gets more than Madison, my girl will have my balls on the rack by the end of the day."

Logan chuckled. "I may have ordered a few more for Veronica. We'll have to see."

"Will she need help carrying them from class to class?" Duncan laughed. "Will we need to 'jack a pickup truck to haul them all home?"

Logan laughed as well. "I ordered her less than a whole flower shop but more than a wedding's worth."

Veronica rolled her eyes and shook her head at her boyfriend.

"Did you even keep track of how many you bought?" Casey teased. "I mean, what if someone else buys her some? How will you know?"

"My notes are in code," Logan stated with a smirk. "Don't worry…she'll know which ones are from me."

Wallace smacked his hands together and rubbed them with excitement. "Well, yours may be anonymous, but I personally can't wait for Meg Manning to get my red roses today."

The entire group let out chorus of hoots and whistles. "What? Meg's cute and sweet! You mock me, but just wait until I have a date for the Valentine's Dance, and you all have to dance with each other that night!" Wallace exclaimed, pointing around the group.

The school bell interrupted the merriment and the group quickly disbursed to get to class. A tickle of excitement settled into Veronica's stomach as she thought about what Logan had planned for the day.

Lunch time in on Valentine's Day in Neptune Junior High was nothing short of teenage Armageddon. Veronica walked into the cafeteria a little later than usual, as she juggled her books and 18 white (and one yellow) roses, and she paused momentarily to witness the chaos.

Girls were crying because they either didn't get any roses, or they got a rose from someone they didn't like, or they'd sent a rose to someone who didn't like them after all. Half of the guys were fighting because they'd sent roses to the same girl, while others were sulking in the quad because their roses had been rejected.

Throughout the morning, Veronica had been inundated with roses. Student council members had been given permission to interrupt classes to deliver roses throughout the day. And it seemed that they arrived every 15 minutes with more roses for Veronica. She was worried that people would notice, but everyone was so wrapped up in their own hopes and dreams for a rose, that she went undetected.

Attached to each white rose was a card. On each card were a few cryptic words and a number. After receiving several roses and cards, Veronica figured out that the words were jumbled-up sentences from a poem. Not having the time or space to unscramble them, she took each from its flower and tucked them into her bag.

When she finally managed to get to her seat at the table, Veronica paused to figure out what to do with all the flowers in her arms.

"Oh man, those flowers need their own zip code!" Mac said from across the table.

"Nah. They already have one. Those roses have oh-niner written all over them," Wallace retorted.

Veronica snorted with a laugh as Logan stood to help her. "You went overboard."

Logan shrugged and took the flowers from her arms. "I do overboard really well. Figured I would go with my strengths."

He placed the flowers at the end of the table, where no one was sitting. When he returned, Veronica was pulling out the stack of cards.

Everyone at the table watched as Veronica began arranging them in numerical order.

"What is that?" asked Duncan.

"I gave Veronica her favorite gift," Logan said with a warm smile as he sat down next to her. "A mystery."

Veronica bit her lip as she got the final card arranged. Her eyes quickly scanned the words, a lump forming in her throat.

"What does it say?" Mac asked excitedly.

Veronica took a breath but couldn't speak. Then, Logan's thick voice began reading out the words.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Silence fell over the table. Veronica placed her hand on her heart as she tried not to burst into joyful tears at the table.

"It's by e.e. cummings," Logan added.

Veronica remained silent for another moment, her eyes skimming Logan's delicate handwriting across each card.

"It's beautiful," she finally whispered.

"I know you can't really take the flowers home tonight," he said to her softly. "But instead, you can take the poem."

"I love it. Thank you," she replied, her hand falling under the table to grasp his finger.

There was another moment of silence before Duncan's voice broke through their thoughts. "Well, you achieved romantic greatness, my friends. Everyone else, good luck living up to this."

"Geez, if you guys continue this, I really am going to have high expectations for my first boyfriend," Mac said.

Veronica's eyes met Mac's. "Hate to break it to you, I may have the most romantic guy on the planet. Sorry."

"Help me, Logan-Wan-Kenobi! You are my only hope for a girlfriend!" Wallace clasped his hands together, pretending to pray. "Teach me your ways so I can convince Meg to be my girl!"

The table erupted in laughter. Logan clasped his hands and bowed his head. "Anything for you, Wall-do Calrissian."

The conversation quickly devolved into bad Star Wars jokes and gossiping about the emotional fallout the roses had on the entire school population.

The afternoon passed quickly for Veronica. She got some questions from her classmates, as she lugged her flowers from class to class, as to who her secret admirers were, but just smiled and shrugged when asked.

After school, she changed into her new outfit, gathered her things, and went to meet the boys near the parking lot.

As she approached, flowers still in her arms, she noticed Logan, Casey, and Duncan, standing near a white limo, each holding bunches of roses.

"Why, are those more flowers for me?" she called out.

The three turned and laughed. "I think you have enough. These are for the boys," replied Casey.

Veronica frowned at the white roses in Logan's hand.

"I'll save you the trouble." He chuckled. "I got seven, and I have no idea who they are from, but the handwriting is different on each card."

Veronica let out a deep sigh and glanced at Casey and Duncan.

"Four," said Duncan of his white flowers. "Only one of them is from Casey."

Casey laughed. "Five white flowers. Two from Duncan."

Veronica looked down again at her flowers.

"I got two more white flowers that didn't have your handwriting," she said, turning back to Logan.

Logan shrugged. "I'm okay with competition."

"Well, aren't you confident today?" Veronica said.

"Are we going to listen to you two banter all night, or are we going?" Casey asked. "I'm getting hungry."

Logan laughed and walked up to the limo. Opening the back door, he gave a flourish of his hand and a bow. "Ladies first."

Veronica smiled and crawled into the vehicle. Taking one of the side benches, she dropped her flowers and bag on the bench across from her. Casey and Duncan piled in next, taking the full back seat. Logan crawled in, slamming the door behind him, and flopped down next to Veronica. Reaching over to the intercom near them, Logan buzzed the driver.

"We're all in, Ben," he said. "Ready when you are."

"Very good, Mr. Echolls," Ben's voice crackled through the speaker.

Logan smiled and stretched his arm across the back of their seat, grasping Veronica's shoulder. She was busy looking around the posh surroundings.

"This isn't the usual limo," she pointed out.

Logan nodded. "That's right. I convinced my mom to let us rent a limo with full privacy – Ben can't see or hear us and no one can see in."

At the mention of privacy, Veronica noticed Casey and Duncan relax their posture in their seats.

Logan turned to their friends. "I figured, that way, if Casey and Duncan wanted to, you know, act like a couple, no one would see but us."

The guys looked at each other. Casey held out his hand and Duncan took it with a smile. The two shifted closer, morphing from two friends into a couple.

"That was nice of you," Veronica said happily. "How did you convince your mom?"

Logan shrugged. "She knew Duncan and Casey were coming along, so she didn't think some wild sex scene from 'Crash' would break out back here between you and me."

Veronica wrinkled her nose. "When did you see 'Crash'? That's, like, an R rated movie."

"Dick's," Logan replied with a broad smile.

"Figures." She sighed, scooting closer to him. Veronica wrapped her arms around his waist and put her head on his shoulder. Glancing over at Casey and Duncan, Casey had placed his head on Duncan's shoulder and Duncan had placed his cheek on Casey's.

As the limo rocked back and forth, Veronica's stomach tickled with joy, for her friends and for herself. This could end up being the best day of her life.

They ended up eating a romantic dinner of pizza and ice cream on the beach, as they roamed the Boardwalk, laughing and teasing each other, sharing an easy comradery. They walked in couples, but because they weren't holding hands or touching, they looked like just another group of teens, hanging out together.

The small movie theatre was pretty empty and they sat in the balcony, by the dividing wall near the bottom row, Logan and Veronica on the left, Duncan and Casey to the right. No one would notice them here.

A few minutes into the movie, Logan had his arm around Veronica's shoulders, her head on his arm, as they stared at the screen. After 20 minutes, she gently lay her hand on his upper thigh. Five minutes later, they began kissing, and a few minutes after that, they had completely forgotten there was a movie on the screen in front of them, as their kisses became increasingly intense.

Logan shifted his soft lips to Veronica's neck and she stifled a moan of pleasure. She squeezed his thigh, letting her fingers drop into the crevice between his legs, and he groaned into her flesh. Attempting to keep her near while lifting the arm of the seat, Logan caught the curve of her waist, under her blouse, and pulled her closer. The heat rose in her once more, making her bold.

"Higher," she whispered, her eyes closed, trying to block out the sound of the movie.

Much to her surprise, Logan's hand began to drift higher, under her shirt, making its way slowly over her stomach, along the edge of her ribcage, and finally settling gently over one breast.

"Isn't this what we're supposed to do at the movies?" Logan whispered in her ear, before kissing her lobe.

Veronica melted in his grasp. He could have asked her for anything at that moment and she would have done it. When Logan's thumb began moving back and forth, over her bra, right above her nipple, she was sure she was going to completely fall apart.

All at once, it all began to feel too good. With Logan kissing her neck, touching her breast, she felt like she was going to either die or explode at any moment. Her hand moved up his thigh until it came to the bulge in his jeans and stopped as he groaned once more.

Everything began to fall away. No one else was around. It was just them, in the dark, and it all felt so good. So very, very…

A bright light shone through Veronica's closed eyes, making her flinch and duck her head.

"Hands. Where. I. Can. See. Them."

Oh.

No.

Shit.

"Dad?" Veronica gasped.

Logan recoiled from her. She brought her hands up to her eyes, smacking Logan's head in the process. He yelped in pain, as the two made a scrambled attempt to look like they weren't doing what they had been doing.

Keith lowered his mag-light, and Veronica blinked to see him, in full uniform, standing next to her mother, a few feet away from them.

Veronica felt her soul leave her body. It hovered for a moment, watching the scene. Keith and Lianne in the aisle, her dad looking like he was about to kill someone, her mother with her hand over her mouth in shock. Logan, trying in vain to look anywhere but at her parents. And Veronica, her mouth dropped open in shock, looking like a disheveled hot mess.

Yep. This was what death must be like.

"Dad…" she began, in a hushed voice.

"Both of you. Outside," Keith hissed. "Now!"

Logan and Veronica scrambled to their feet. Her parents stepped back to let the two past them in the aisle, Keith's eyes shooting daggers at them both. Veronica glanced across to Duncan and Casey, who were frozen with gaping mouths, watching the scene. Quickly, Veronica followed after Logan as they climbed the stairs to the exit. They continued on, not looking up from the ground, until they reached the lobby.

Standing next to each another, Veronica stood her ground as her father barreled up to them, Lianne close behind.

"Dad…" she began again, putting her hands up defensively.

"No!" he barked, causing her to jump. "Out. To the cruiser. Now!"

Grabbing Logan's hand, the Veronica bolted for the door. Once outside, they looked around to see the cruiser parked up the street. Not looking back, they hurried towards it.

Keith caught up with them as they waited for him to open the back door. Veronica was shaking slightly both from the shock and fear, as well as the cool night air. Crawling into the back seat, like a captured criminal, she looked up at her dad's face to see it turning beet red from anger.

Logan sat in his spot, his arm stretched across the vinyl towards Veronica. Veronica buckled her seat belt and reached across for his hand, her heart pounding in her chest. He squeezed her fingers, hanging on for dear life. Veronica watched Lianne climb in and cast a disappointed look at Veronica and Logan, but said nothing. Veronica's breath momentarily stopped the minute Keith slammed the door and she braced herself for a fight.

"What the hell was that?" Keith hollered, turning to confront his prisoners.

"Dad…" Veronica began again.

"No! Scratch that!" Keith interrupted. "Let's try – why the hell was Logan's hand up your blouse and your hand was in his..."

"Dad!" Veronica yelled.

"What?" Keith yelled back.

"Logan and I are dating," she explained. "We have been for a while."

"What?" Keith roared.

Veronica immediate regretted her words.

"You mean to say," Keith spat. "That you two have been dating - without telling me, without telling your mother – for weeks? Months? Telling secrets and lies so you can do God knows what whenever you felt like it?"

Veronica cringed. "Well, when you put it that way…"

"You lied to me!" Keith bellowed so loudly that the car windows shook. "Everyday, I drove you both to school and you said nothing! Veronica, I even asked you who you liked, and you named someone else!"

"And you!" Keith shifted so he could look Logan in the eye. "You were supposed to be the person protecting her from…from…guys like you! I trusted you!"

Logan's face dropped away from Keith, a look of anguish in his eyes.

"It's not his fault!" Veronica shot back. "It's mine. I didn't want to tell you because I knew you wouldn't let us date without being followed or interfered with. Like you followed me tonight!"

Veronica was sure she had never seen her father turn purple with rage before. This was a new development.

"Sacks' date cancelled so he came in for his shift," Keith said. "I thought it would be romantic to take your mom to the movie. Little did I know that when I got out of my seat to get popcorn that I would see the two of you going at it in the balcony!"

Veronica bit her lip and looked away. Not as hidden as they thought they were.

"But oh, I'm sorry, Veronica," Keith continued, sarcastically. "By all means…I wouldn't want you to think you didn't have personal freedom. Go on and have sex in the middle of a movie theatre! You should be allowed to do whatever the hell you want! Enjoy!"

"We aren't having sex!" Veronica countered and folded her arms across her chest.

Keith rolled his eyes. "My mistake."

Turning his back to the young couple, Keith fumbled around in his pocket for the keys to the car. After a moment, he managed to get the key in the ignition.

"I'm taking Logan to his place, to talk to Lynn and Aaron about this. And then, young lady, we are going home to discuss the consequences of your lies."

Veronica took a sharp inhale, her exhale ragged. Lianne cast her sad eyes at the two of them and turned to face the road.

Veronica reached out and squeezed Logan's hand. Catching his gaze, she saw the fear in his eyes. She knew what he was thinking – Aaron may be gone, but her dad was going to kill him.

Worst.

Day.

Ever.

Lynn stood at the top of the stairs, outside the mansion, in a bright red cowl-neck sweater, yoga pants, and a martini glass in her hand. Veronica caught her eye as the car came to a stop and a smirk – that looked exactly like Logan's – crossed her lips. Lynn knew they were busted.

Lianne left the car first and walked up to Lynn. They began speaking, both of them glancing back to the car. Keith got out and walked to Veronica's side, closest to the house, and waited a minute to open the door.

Veronica turned to Logan. "If we run, I'm pretty sure my dad wouldn't be able to catch us."

"Yeah. Give him a reason to aim his gun at me," Logan replied.

Veronica frowned. Definitely not her night. The door swung open.

"Get out," Keith ordered.

Veronica dragged herself out of the car and up the steps to the house where Lynn and Lianne had already disappeared. Head held down, Veronica led the second line procession through the front doors.

Lianne was standing in the foyer next to Lynn, who was leaning against the large wooden end of the banister. Veronica jumped as her dad let the door slam behind him.

"Lynn, I need to talk to you, and Aaron about the kids," Keith began, walking towards Logan's mother.

Lynn flashed a tight smile. "Aaron doesn't live here anymore, Keith. I will deal with whatever Logan's done."

Her father paused a beat as he processed the subtext of Lynn's words.

"It seems that Logan and Veronica have been dating," Keith began. "And they've kept it a secret from us for some time."

Lynn shook her head and glanced at Logan and Veronica. "So, the word is out, huh?"

Veronica stepped closer to Logan's side, but didn't reach for him. "Yes."

"You mean, you knew?" Keith said incredulously, his face beginning to get red again.

"Keith, please calm down," Lianne said and put her hand on his arm.

Lynn took a sip of her drink. "Yes. I knew. And I've been keeping my eye on them ever since."

"Have you?" Keith fumed. "Because it looks like there are a lot of good hiding places in this house for two kids who want to– "

Keith couldn't bring himself to finish his sentence as he gestured wildly in no particular direction.

I've officially driven my dad insane, thought Veronica.

"Keith, they're good kids," Lynn reassured him calmly. "They're just young and in love and curious."

"Curious?" Keith said. "Is that why I found them groping each other in a dark movie theatre?"

Lynn rolled her eyes. "Keith, are you telling me that you never made out with your sweetheart at the movies when you were a teenager?"

Her Dad paused in thought. One point to Lynn Echolls.

"Yes, but –" Keith stammered.

"Keith. It's Logan. And Veronica," Lynn said. "Would you rather Veronica figure these things out with some boy you don't know? Some boy who was just after her for one thing, and one thing only?"

Lynn turned to Veronica and Logan, a warm smile on her lips. "Or would you rather she figure this out with a boy who loves and respects her."

There was a moment of silence as Keith finally looked Veronica in the eye, his angry expression relaxing momentarily as he thought about Lynn's words once more.

"They aren't little kids anymore, Keith," Lianne said gently. "We have to accept that. And I know it's a shock, but Lynn is right – I'd much rather she date Logan than some boy we don't know."

Keith glanced towards Logan. The boy looked up nervously, but couldn't hold Keith gaze and quickly looked at his shoes again.

"Is it true?" Keith asked Veronica quietly. "Are you in love?"

Veronica nodded vigorously. "Yes. We didn't mean for it to happen, it just kind of did."

This time it was her father who dropped his gaze. Veronica could see his face returning to its normal colour as he furrowed his brow in thought.

Then, all at once, it began to change. Keith looked up, his face contorted in anger once more. Taking two long steps, he stopped directly in front of Logan, forcing the boy to acknowledge his presence.

"The letter," Keith said through clenched teeth. "The letter I found. You wrote it, didn't you."

"Yes," Logan choked, holding Keith's stare. "I wrote the letter."

The image of Logan grinning up at her from between her breasts, flashed across Veronica's mind. She was going to die a virgin, because her dad was going to kill Logan.

Keith closed his eyes and pursed his lips, holding back whatever he was going to say. Opening his eyes, he stepped backwards, away from Logan, his gaze falling on his only daughter.

"Veronica, get in the car," Keith said quietly.

Veronica stepped towards her father. "Dad, please let me…"

"Let you what?" Keith bellowed, his voice echoing in the large room. "Let you stay here and have sex with your boyfriend? Because it's pretty clear that's where this is headed with you two. Now, do as I said and get in the car, Veronica!"

"It's not like that," Veronica said quietly, tears starting to tickle her eyes. "It's not like that at all."

"Well, you could have fooled me," Keith replied.

Turning towards Lynn, Keith let out a deep sigh of frustration. "Lynn, I won't be driving Logan to school anymore. And we won't need Ben to pick Veronica up after school."

Veronica's lip began to quiver and she bit it to keep control of her emotions.

"Fine, Keith," Lynn said. "That will do for now. But mark my words, the more you try and separate them, the more they'll fight to be together."

Keith adjusted his jacket, glancing at Lianne for a moment. "This isn't some Hollywood romance, Lynn."

"You're right, Keith. It's not," Lynn replied. "It's our children. And what they're feeling is very real. Just remember that when you get Veronica home tonight."

Keith scowled at Lynn. "And you remember to ask your son about the details of a letter he wrote to Veronica. Then you can try and lecture me about their true feelings."

Keith turned and walked up to Veronica. Looking down at her, she felt tiny, like she was still a child.

"Let's go," he said quietly, his hand resting on her shoulder.

Veronica nodded, agreeing with her fate for the moment. She turned, trying to catch Logan's eye, but he wouldn't look up.

Wordlessly, she walked through the doors and down to the cruiser. Veronica stopped on the bottom step waiting for her dad to unlock the door and her mind began to turn. This was it. This could, very well be the last time she ever saw Logan again. Her dad could make her change schools. He could keep her at home for the rest of her life. Or worse, have her followed by Deputies until she turned 18.

Turning her head slightly, she caught a glimpse of a tall figure at the top of the steps. Spinning around, she saw that it was, in fact, Logan, standing there, looking down at her with deep sadness on his face.

In a burst of energy, Veronica scampered from the bottom step, running all the way to the top, lunging towards Logan. He caught her around her waist and she kissed him on the lips, with all the force she could manage. He paused a second before kissing her back, pulling her closer.

"Veronica!" Keith hollered up the steps.

As they sprang apart, Veronica gave him one last smile. "I love you."

Logan bit his lip, trying to contain his smile. "Love you, too."

Veronica turned and headed back down the steps, past her seething father, and into the open back seat. Keith slammed the door shut and Veronica sat back, a self satisfied grin on her lips.

Lynn was right, Veronica thought. Now she just wanted Logan even more. There was a new fire in her belly, and it needed to be fed.

Her father got in the front seat and slammed the door. He glanced at Lianne, sitting in the seat next to him, then back to Veronica.

"This is not a game, Veronica! When we get home, there will be consequences to your actions. Mark my words."

A calm swept over Veronica as they pulled down the driveway. She knew that once they got home, there would be hell to pay. But at the moment, she just didn't seem to care.

End notes: Hopen you liked the big reveal! Happy 2017 to you all!

 

Chapter Text

 

Veronica readied herself for a fight. Sitting in the back seat of the cruiser, headed home from the Echolls mansion on Valentine's night, every imaginary argument with Keith she could think of ran through her head. By the time the car stopped, she had come up with three sound arguments she was sure would convince her father not to strap an ankle monitor on her and place her under house arrest.

Keith opened the car door and Veronica quickly headed to the front of the house, where her mother unlocked the door. Backup greeted Veronica happily as Lianne turned on the living room lights. Shedding her coat and tossing it on the sofa, Veronica turned to face her father as he entered the house.

"Dad…" she began.

Keith held up his hand, the frown that appeared earlier still etched on his face. "Veronica, unless the next words out of your mouth are 'I'm sorry', I really don't want to hear it."

Veronica frowned. That wasn't at all what she'd been about to say. Because the only thing she was sorry for was the fact that they got caught.

Keith walked over and put his hands on her shoulders, looking down at her sadly. "Why on earth did you feel you needed to hide this from me? I thought we could talk about anything?"

A bolt of pain shot through her heart. The thought that she'd disappointed him affected her deeper than the knowledge that he was angry at her. Mad she could live with.

"I didn't want you to interfere," Veronica admitted quietly.

Keith pursed his lips. "How would I interfere?"

Veronica looked away, unable to take her father's gaze on her anymore. "Stop us from hanging out, like we did when we were just friends. Question my every move. Have us followed by your deputies."

Keith let out a laugh. "Well, I tried to have you followed and Lamb failed miserably. But as for the other things, maybe if you trusted me enough to tell me, I might have surprised you."

Veronica glanced up at her dad again. "Would you have let me keep sleeping over at Logan's house?"

Keith's eyes narrowed as his agitation began to come out once more. "I may have. But tell me, exactly where have you been sleeping in that house. Or better question, where has Logan been sleeping?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Veronica averted her eyes and took a step out of her father's grasp.

"I'm going to take that to mean that you don't sleep alone when you're over there," Keith said, his tone turning cold and harsh. "Even though Lynn gave you your own room."

"Nothing happens. We just sleep," she muttered.

Keith let out an exasperated sigh. "I'm sorry, but that information doesn't comfort me."

"Veronica," Lianne said, taking a step closer to Keith and Veronica. "Do we need to talk about birth control?"

Veronica buried her face in her hands, shaking her head as she did. "No! Why can't you guys get it? We're not having sex!"

"Then what are you doing?" asked Keith softly.

Veronica dropped her hands from her face, her eyes darting around the room to avoid her parents' eyes. "I don't know…we're just…figuring things out."

"Figuring what out?" Keith said.

"I don't know. Just stuff," Veronica replied, her gaze dropping to her feet. "It wasn't supposed to be like this."

"Like what, honey?" asked Lianne.

Veronica bit her lip as tears began to form in her eyes. "Like this. I wasn't supposed to be in love with Logan and he wasn't supposed to be in love with me. I was supposed to find someone and he was supposed to find someone and we were supposed to be best friends forever, but that's not what happened and we're just trying to figure out what's supposed to happen instead."

Keith's expression softened as Veronica finally looked at him again, his eyes kind and loving. "When did you start feeling this way?"

"I dunno. September?" She shrugged.

"And Logan?" Keith asked.

"I dunno. Kindergarten?" Veronica replied with a small laugh.

Keith let out a chuckle. "Veronica, do you know one of the reasons why I was so upset? Besides the lying-to-me part?"

Veronica shrugged, keeping silent.

"I think of Logan as my son. He is so much part of our lives, that I see him in that way," Keith said. "Now imagine my shock and horror when I see my daughter and the boy I think of as my son making out in a movie theatre."

Veronica wrinkled her nose. Making out with her brother. "Eww."

Keith laughed. "Exactly. But then realizing that both of you had been lying to me made things worse."

Veronica hung her head again. "I'm sorry Daddy. We didn't do this to hurt you."

Keith stepped over to Veronica, wrapping her in a big hug. She placed her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him.

"I know, Veronica. I just wish you both could've trusted me to help you figure this out," Keith said.

"We wanted to figure it out ourselves, Dad," she replied. "We're not little kids anymore. You can't solve all of my problems for me."

There was a moment where everyone fell silent, taking in Veronica's words.

"I know, you're right. You aren't a child anymore," Keith began. "That's why your punishment for lying and sneaking around won't just be sending you to your room with no dessert."

This was it. The moment of truth. Wiping her eyes, Veronica stepped back from her dad, to listen to her sentencing.

"You're grounded. For a month. Home and school are the only places you will be," Keith began. "No Valentine's Dance at school. No surf classes for the month." He took a deep breath. "And no sleepovers at Logan's, ever again."

Veronica closed her eyes as hot tears sprang up once more. Her place with Logan; gone. Her place to hide from her mother's drinking and her parent's arguing; gone.

"Please," Veronica said softly. "Please don't take him away from me."

"Veronica, I'm not taking him away from you. You can still see each other at school like normal teenagers who are dating," Keith said. "But you both need some appropriate boundaries. Now, I still don't know exactly what has been going on at Logan's, but obviously something is going on with Lynn and Aaron, and I'm not confident that Lynn has been setting these boundaries. Especially when you admit that you've been 'just sleeping' together."

"But we're not having sex," Veronica said emphatically.

"It's not about you having sex or not," Keith answered, his voice a forced monotone. "It is your body, Veronica. I don't own your virginity– it's yours."

Keith stepped closer to his daughter, reaching out to gently place his hand on her cheek. "I just want to try and protect your heart. You and Logan are so young to say you're in love. I just want you to take a step back and slow down. You both have so many hopes and dreams for the future, and I don't want either of you to throw them away because of each other. Or a baby."

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest and looked away from Keith. Her father dropped his hand from her cheek with a weary sigh.

"I'm trying to do what's best for both of you. That's all. That's what I'm most concerned with."

Silence fell once again, as Veronica contemplated his words. It wasn't about sex. But it still kind of was. Her dad was mad about the sneaking around, but considered Logan a 'son'. But it didn't matter because the bottom line was she and Logan were never staying over at either of their houses again. A throbbing began behind Veronica's eyes as her brain grappled to process everything her dad was telling her.

"Can I go upstairs now?" she whispered.

Keith nodded. Without a word, Veronica fled up the stairs to her room.

Once inside, in a burst of frustration, she slammed the door, rattling the pictures on her wall. Striding to her bed, she launched herself into her pillows, covering her face while she cried.

When she was all cried out, Veronica rolled on her back to stare at the ceiling. Her dad was blowing everything way out of proportion. They wouldn't get pregnant. They wouldn't give up on their dreams. They planned to follow their dreams together. And nothing and nobody could stop them.

She closed her eyes and Logan appeared in her memory, as he always did, hovering above her, looking down at her with a gleam in his eye and a smile on his lips. Her dad could take him away from her physically, but she always had him safely tucked away in her mind.

Opening her eyes, Veronica slowly pulled herself off her bed and headed towards her dresser. Digging around, she found Logan's Pink Floyd t-shirt stuffed under a pile of her own shirts. Stripping down to her underwear, she threw the giant shirt over her head. Bringing the fabric up to her nose, she tested to make sure it still smelled like Logan – sandalwood and sweat.

Veronica turned out the lights and climbed under the covers. In the quiet darkness, she heard the faint voices of her parents, arguing downstairs. Probably about her. She let out a loud sigh. The day had begun with so much love, so much potential, and now…there was nothing but anger and heartbreak.

Rolling onto her side, she closed her eyes, trying to block out the sound of her parent's voices with her memories of Logan. She fell asleep imagining herself wrapped in his arms.

Morning came too quickly. Veronica lay in bed, Backup squeezed in next to her. Looking at the clock, she realized she didn't have to rush to get ready, as they wouldn't be picking up Logan this morning. Or any morning for that matter. With a sigh, Veronica rose from her bed to take a shower.

Throwing open her bedroom door, she was greeted by her father coming out of his bedroom. Looking her up and down, he frowned.

"Nice shirt," Keith muttered.

Veronica glanced down at Logan's t-shirt. A wave of defiance swept through her and she arched her eyebrow at her dad.

"Thanks. It's not mine."

Keith shook his head and walked past her on his way downstairs. "I'll see you at breakfast."

Veronica smiled with satisfaction. Early morning rebellion felt pretty good, she thought as she entered the bathroom. She may have to try it again sometime.

After a quick shower, Veronica stood in her underwear in front of her closet.

"Conservative sweater and jeans?" she said to Backup, who sat on the end of her bed. "Or tight jeans and tank top?"

Backup cocked his head to one side and let out a soft bark.

"Tight jeans and tank top it is!" she stated as she grabbed her clothes from the hangers. Reaching into her drawer, she grabbed her push-up bra to complete the outfit.

Bouncing down the stairs to breakfast, Veronica felt invincible. She caught her dad's eye roll as she walked to her chair to sit down.

"You're going to freeze in that," Keith stated, as he took a sip of coffee.

Veronica began piling scrambled eggs on her plate.

"So? I'll wear a jacket," she proclaimed.

The rest of the meal was consumed in silence. Veronica didn't feel like talking to her parents, and it didn't seem like her parents wanted to talk to each other either.

As she gathered her things together for school, she realized that she had left her backpack in the limo last night with everyone else's things, and hoped beyond hope that Logan remembered to bring it this morning.

The 15 minutes to school felt like an hour trapped in the back seat of the cruiser. Keith offered the front seat to Veronica but she stubbornly climbed into the back, crossing her arms over her chest, and staring out the window the entire ride.

Pulling up to the curb at school, Veronica spotted her friends gathered near a bench close to the drop off area. Seeing the cruiser, they all turned, revealing Logan standing in the middle of the group. Keith stopped the car and got out, coming around the vehicle to open the door for Veronica.

Stepping out onto the curb, she looked at her father. "Mom picking me up after school?"

Keith nodded. "She is. Have a good day."

Veronica gave him a tight smile and turned towards her friends.

"Ronnie! You're alive!" proclaimed Dick loudly.

Veronica cringed with embarrassment. She heard her dad slam the car door behind her as she continued to walk toward her friend, shaking her head.

Mac rushed over and enveloped her in a hug, almost knocking her over. "Oh my god, when Duncan and Casey told us what happened, I thought for sure your dad would have shipped you off to Penn High!"

Veronica hugged her friend back, keeping her eyes on Logan. "No. No Penn High. Kind of got house arrest but no ankle monitor for me. Yet."

Mac let go of her and Veronica caught sight of the cruiser driving by on her father's way out of the school lot. She watched it leave before walking up to Logan. He opened his arms and caught her in a giant hug, kissing the top of her head, and Veronica closed her eyes, blocking out everything around her but him.

"Let's leave them alone, guys," Casey said and the group quickly disbursed, leaving the couple on their own.

"I brought your backpack," Logan said quietly.

"Thanks," she replied.

"How bad was it?" he asked.

"Bad," Veronica said, opening her eyes. "No Valentine's dance. No surfing for a month. No going out for a month. And no sleepovers - ever again."

"Look on the bright side, we still have school," he said, attempting to remain positive. "And we can talk on the phone, right?"

Veronica nodded into his chest. At least they had that.

"Plus, with the cat out of the bag, we can now do this," Logan said, running his thumb along her jaw.

She raised her head to look up and was met with his lips on hers, kissing her tenderly. Veronica wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his body closer to hers.

Hoots and hollers broke their concentration and they pulled apart to find their friends, several yards away, waving their arms and whistling at them.

Veronica rolled her eyes and stepped away from Logan. He bent to pick up her bag, along with his, and then held out his hand to her. She looked at it for a moment before weaving her fingers between his. Hand in hand, they crossed the quad.

"Oh man," said Wallace as they got closer. "Does this mean you guys will be all kissy-face from now on?"

Logan raised their clasped hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles. "Yep. Sorry."

Mac swatted Wallace's arm. "What do you care? You're taking Meg to the dance on Friday. You'll be all kissy-face soon, too!"

Wallace gave the group a big grin and sighed. "Yeah. I hope so."

"Well, no dance for me," Veronica said. "Grounded. Like, forever."

Everyone gave her a sympathetic nod. "What about you, Logan? Are you going?" Duncan asked.

Logan shook his head. "Nope. But not because I'm grounded. Although I did get a lecture on my un-gentleman-like behaviour."

Veronica shook her head. "Being a boy is so much easier."

"Guess your dad's regretting saying that I wasn't trouble, with a capital T." Logan joked.

Veronica gave a little laugh. "Well, besides the lying and sneaking around, he said that because he thinks of you like a son, it was like catching me making out with my brother."

The entire group let out a range of sounds, from gagging to laughter.

"He actually said I was like his son?" Logan said quietly.

The laughter immediately stopped as everyone realized he was being serious.

"Yeah," Veronica said quietly. "That's why he was so upset – he wasn't kidding that day in the car. I think he really started to think of you that way."

Logan frowned and dropped his gaze to the ground. Suddenly, the situation seemed less funny.

The sound of the bell broke the tension and everyone rushed to their lockers. Before Logan could run off, Veronica grabbed his arm to stop him.

"Hey," she said. "We'll talk in private at lunch. On the bleachers, okay?"

Logan nodded quietly then turned. She let go of his arm as they rushed to their first class.

"Why bother putting on lip gloss," said Mac to Veronica's reflection in the girls' bathroom mirror. "It's just going to end up on Logan anyway."

Veronica giggled, rubbing her lips together to spread the sparkly strawberry gloss evenly. "It helps keep them from chapping. Kissing can be very drying on the lips," she replied.

"If Logan Echolls were my boyfriend, I'd have to buy my own Chapstick factory."

Veronica turned to see Lilly standing near the door to the bathroom, dressed in her pep squad uniform, arms folded across her chest.

"That was quite the kiss on the quad today," Lilly continued. "Who knew goofy, surf bum Logan had it in him?"

Veronica leaned against the edge of the sink, crossing her arms. "What do you want, Lilly?"

Lilly glanced from Veronica to Mac and back. "We the only ones in here?"

Mac glanced towards the empty toilet stalls. "Yeah. Why?"

Lilly's eyes narrowed. "I want a minute alone with Veronica. To talk."

Veronica frowned. What on earth could Lilly want to talk to her about?

"Okay," Veronica said and nodded at Mac. "I'll catch up with you later."

Mac gave her friend a tight smile as she made her way to the door. When Mac was behind Lilly, she stuck her tongue out at the back of the girl's head.

"You know I can see you in the mirror, right?" Lilly said to Mac's reflection.

"Yeah. I know," Mac replied as she left the bathroom.

Veronica stifled a laugh. "Okay, Lilly, what's up? Come to tease me about Logan?"

Lilly leaned against the tiled half-wall across from Veronica. "No. In fact, I came to congratulate you," she stated cheerfully.

"What?" Veronica said, giving her head and little shake in shock. "I'm sorry. I don't think I heard that correctly. Was that sarcastic?"

Lilly rolled her eyes and let out a sigh. "Veronica, do you know why I went after Logan?"

"Because he's hot?" Veronica shrugged.

"Well, now he's hot! But before he was just a dorky surfer." Lilly laughed. "I went after him because I was mad that you didn't want to join pep squad with me. So I thought that I could get the guys to come and hang out with me and Duncan, and you would be left with those two new geeks you hung around with."

"Mac and Wallace aren't geeks," Veronica said. "They're really cool people."

"Who happen to be geeks," Lilly countered. "Regardless, I knew that you were, like, totally in love with Logan and that it would really upset you if I hit on him."

"I wasn't in love with Logan then," Veronica replied.

Lilly shook her head. "Oh, sweetie, you've been in love with Logan since I met you guys. And vice versa. You could see it. Well, we could see it. Guess you guys were a little slow on the uptake."

Veronica covered her eyes with her hands for a moment. "What is your point, Lilly, other than giving me a headache?"

Lilly stepped closer as Veronica dropped her hands from her eyes. "Look, I want to call a truce. I won't bug you or Logan again."

Veronica arched her eyebrow suspiciously. "For the record, I've never been at war with you, Lilly. Even though I know you were the one who defaced my locker with porn."

A scowl crossed Lilly's face. "You didn't want to be on pep squad with me! And you chose those geeks over me!"

"Lilly, me not being on pep squad wasn't about you," Veronica replied. "I just don't see myself being very 'peppy', that's all. I still thought we would hang out to surf and stuff."

Lilly bit her lip and began twisting the end of her long ponytail around her finger. "Well, that's not what it looked like. It looked like you were being a crappy friend."

Veronica smiled, finally beginning to understanding what had really transpired. Tough talking, confident Lilly Kane had been mad all this time because she felt hurt by Veronica's actions.

"Lilly, I'm sorry if that's what it looked like to you," Veronica began. "I just wanted to include everyone, that's all. I didn't think you would get mad."

A pout crossed Lilly's lips. "Yeah, well, I don't like sharing. Especially my friends."

There was a moment of silence as the girls stared at each other, wondering who was going to make the next move.

"Sorry about the locker," Lilly muttered, her eyes cast to the ground.

"Thanks," Veronica replied.

"And –" Lilly began hesitantly. "Thanks for getting rid of Aaron. Logan told me that you were involved...and like…since I know he tells you everything, I'm sure he told you about the tape, and stuff."

"Yeah. Logan told me about what Aaron tried to do to you," Veronica said, quietly. "But he also said that you kicked Aaron in the balls, which was kind of awesome."

Lilly gave an ironic little laugh. "Score one for pep squad high kicks."

"You know, my Dad enrolled me in self defense classes. I can get you the info, if you want?" Veronica offered, trying to be nice.

Lilly shrugged. "Maybe."

Another awkward silence fell between them. Were they friends again? Were they 'not enemies'? Veronica wasn't too sure what to think of the whole situation. All she knew was this was cutting into valuable alone time with Logan.

Veronica sighed, taking a small step away from the sink, she adjusted her backpack. "Well, thanks for the chat, Lil, but I gotta run."

"So, though, we're cool now? Right?" Lilly asked, her eyes narrowing.

Veronica nodded. "Yeah. For now, I guess, we're cool."

"Cool," Lilly replied with a smile.

Taking a deep breath, Veronica walked past Lilly and went out the door. As she made her way quickly through the school, to meet Logan, she ran through the conversation with Lilly, in her head, once more. She wasn't sure she could completely trust her old friend, but for now, she was glad that a possible obstacle for her and Logan seemed to be removed.

By the time she reached the bleachers, Logan was already there, laying across the one of the benches, half-way up the structure, sunning himself. She shimmied along the planks and sat near his head as he looked up and smiled.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"So, was it really brutal when you got home?" he asked.

Veronica shrugged. "Yeah. Kind of. When we talked it was fine, I guess. But the punishment was hard to take."

"What did your Dad say?"

Veronica began playing with a stray lock of Logan's hair, twirling it around and around with her finger.

"Besides the whole thing about being disappointed we didn't trust him to tell him stuff," Veronica said, looking down into Logan's eyes. The sadness in her father's face drifted through Veronica's thoughts, making her chest tighten.

"He also said that having sex with you was for me to decide, not him, and that he was trying to 'protect my heart' and look out for our futures." She added.

"What does that mean?" Logan asked.

"I think he thinks that we'll give up on our career dreams, just to be together," Veronica said quietly. "Or we'll get pregnant and end up caring for a baby, instead of going to college."

"So, he doesn't think we can do both – be together and be successful?" Logan said.

"I think he's just worried about us, in general," Veronica stated. "Even though he says that sex is my choice, I think it still scares him that we could slip up and have a kid."

Logan frowned up at her. "I really, really, don't want a kid. Like, for a very, very long time."

For a moment, the thought of Logan – older, taller, with a scruffy beard – holding a newborn baby, flashed through her mind. Her abdomen tightened and her heart did a flip. Veronica pushed the image from her head. There would be plenty of time for those thoughts later. Much later.

Veronica smiled at his upside-down face. "Neither do I. Poopy diapers and no sleep don't sound very romantic."

"So, we stay away from anything that could get you pregnant then, just in case," Logan stated, his voice full of concern.

Veronica bit her lip. "That still leaves us with lots of options," she said flirtatiously.

"I'm pretty sure your dad wouldn't approve of any of those other things either." Logan chuckled.

"Well, not like we'll get any opportunities to do anything more than this for some time," she laughed. "So, you know, no chance to actually have sex means we're safe. Score one for us!"

"That's the spirit," Logan said with a grin, reaching for her hand.

"I'm going to miss sleeping next to you," Veronica said, her fingers intertwining with his.

"You can call me before bed and I'll lull you to sleep with my soothing voice," he drawled playfully.

"We can pass each other notes in school," she added. "So I have something to read before bed."

"We can, so long as you don't lose them," Logan countered, shaking a finger at her playfully. "Your Dad hasn't killed me yet. Don't give him a reason."

"He won't kill you. I doubt he would kill his own son," she said, trying to be reassuring.

"God, when I disappointed Aaron he would beat me. Now that I disappointed your Dad, I feel like beating myself. That's all I could think about during class." Logan covered his eyes with his palms and groaned. "My therapist is going to have a field-day when I tell her."

"See. Aren't you glad your mom made you go? Now there's someone you can talk to about this," Veronica said.

"True. I did talk to my Mom for a while last night," Logan said, uncovering his eyes to look at her again. "She actually wants to serve Aaron with the divorce papers sooner."

Veronica frowned. "Why? What changed?"

Logan shrugged. "I think she's feeling more confident, being on her own. She sure looked confident when she stood up to your dad last night."

A grin crossed Veronica's face at the memory of Lynn defending them. "This is true."

"She said that your dad would probably say you couldn't come over anymore. And that he would ground you until you were at least 16." He chuckled. "With us not hanging out as much, it would mean that you and I would be less likely to end up in the tabloids, when the paparazzi descend on our lives."

The image of her and Logan, making out in the theatre, plastered on the cover of US Weekly, made her cringe. "Could you imaging if my Dad found out about us from a paparazzi photo?"

Logan shivered. "I would definitely be in prison."

"Speaking of prisons, my new plan is to grow my hair long enough that you can climb up it through my bedroom window," she laughed.

"Changing your name to Rapunzel?" he said, uncovering his eyes and smiling up at her.

"If the glass slipper fits…" she teased.

"That was Cinderella," he said.

"I know. But her family tried to keep her from going to the ball too," she giggled.

"So you're staying home and reading fairy tales while locked in your tower instead of going to the Valentine's Dance?"

"Pretty much the plan," she replied, leaning over him. Gently, she gave him a quick peck on the lips and smiled.

"At least we have this," he said quietly.

"At least we have this," she replied.

 

Chapter Text

 

After school, Veronica sat with Logan on the bench near the parking lot, bouncing her leg nervously. Her mother was late.

"What if she's drunk and got in an accident?" Veronica said, her eyes fixed on the almost empty lot.

"That's why I'm staying. We agreed – if she's drunk, or doesn't show up, Ben will take you to the Sheriff's department instead," Logan replied.

Veronica nodded, her brow furrowed in thought. Surely her dad knew her mom was drunk by this time every day. Wasn't that one of the reasons he drove her every morning? Because her mom was too hungover to operate a vehicle? And why Ben drove them home every evening? Or was he as blind to her mother's drinking, as he was to Logan and her flirting in the car, when he drove them to school?

"He's testing her," Veronica said out loud.

Logan frowned at her in confusion.

"My dad is testing my mom," she added. "To see if she can pull it together enough to pick me up."

"Do you think he would risk your safety that way?" asked Logan.

Veronica spied her mother's car drive through the entrance to the parking lot. "Guess we're about to find out."

Lianne pulled up to the curb close to where Logan and Veronica sat. They both stood, letting go of each other's hands. Lianne rolled down the automatic window on Veronica's side and called out to her.

"Let's go, Veronica," she said, her voice was tinged with annoyance, a frown on her face.

Veronica glanced at Logan. "I'll call you later."

Logan nodded, hesitating for a moment, as Veronica approached the car.

Opening the door, Veronica started to crawl into her seat, sniffing the air for any indication of alcohol. That's when she saw it. With a gasp she stopped what she was doing to focus on her copy of The Joy of Sex, sitting next to her mother, along with her Christmas letter from Logan.

The idea to run crossed her mind, but she realized she would really have nowhere to go. She just really couldn't catch a break.

Her mother looked from the book to Veronica. "We'll talk on the way home."

"Veronica?" Logan's spoke from behind her. "Is everything okay?"

Veronica slid into her seat and leaned out of the car to grab the door handle. "It's fine. I'll call you later."

Veronica looked out the window as Logan slowly stepped away from the car. Her mother put the car in gear and he disappeared from Veronica's sight as her mother drove out of the parking lot.

Clutching her backpack to her chest, Veronica watched the road for signs of any erratic driving by her mom. Today, Lianne drove straight as an arrow and Veronica counted her blessings for the moment.

"Would you like to explain what this book was doing in your room?" Lianne began as they stopped at a red light.

"Would you like to explain why you were searching my room?" Veronica snarked.

Lianne slammed her palm on the steering wheel and Veronica jumped. "You will not talk to me that way, young lady!"

"Why not? Things can't get any worse?" Veronica replied. "Or maybe they can. Are you drunk?"

Lianne turned to Veronica with such a look of disdain that Veronica recoiled slightly, thinking her mother may actually strike her.

"I haven't had a drop this afternoon! Your father said to pick you up safely, so that's what I'm doing." Lianne hissed.

"Does Dad know you searched my room? Or was that on his orders too?" she said.

Lianne kept her eyes on the road as she drove. "No. I decided I needed to do it. For your own good."

Veronica rolled her eyes. She was having a hard time believing her mother did anything good for anyone but herself at the moment.

"However, I'm sure your dad will be interested in what I found, even if he doesn't approve of my methods," Lianne said.

Shit. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Veronica had nothing more to take away. Full armed guard house arrest, with snazzy ankle monitor, it is, she thought.

"But…" Lianne began. "I'm willing to make you a deal."

Veronica's eyes narrowed and she turned to her mother. "A deal? What kind of deal?"

"Your father wants me to stay home on Saturday nights, to make sure that Logan doesn't show up or you don't sneak out," Lianne explained. "I want you to convince him that you'll be a good daughter and not have your boyfriend come over if I'm not there. If you can do that, then I won't tell him about the book and the letter."

Veronica's mouth dropped open. "You're blackmailing me?"

Lianne rolled her eyes. "I'm not blackmailing you. We're making a deal."

"What if I refuse–?" Veronica asked.

"I'll have to show your dad what I found and let him deal with you and Logan," Lianne said. "Since I'm sure Logan is involved in however you got this book in the first place."

Veronica was almost too shocked for words. Yep. Her mom was definitely blackmailing her.

"Fine," she whispered.

Lianne let out a relieved sigh. "Good. Now that's settled, we can move on."

Staring out the window, Veronica's thoughts turned in her head. Why was it so important for her mom to go out on Saturday night? What was the big deal? Couldn't see her friends a different night? Couldn't she have a few drinks another time? Apparently not. She needed to go out and drink so badly that nothing and no one would get in her way.

Veronica's stomach pitched and rolled. Her own mother had just blackmailed her so she could go out and party. She was sure she was going to be sick.

"Can I at least have my letter back?" Veronica asked. "It doesn't have anything that Dad would be upset about written in it. Just please give me that."

Lianne pulled onto the driveway and turned off the car. Reaching beside her, she picked up the letter and handed it to Veronica. "I guess so. But I'm keeping the book."

Veronica held the letter tightly in her hands. Defeated, she climbed out of the car, went up the front steps, and waited quietly for her mother to open the front door for her. Once inside, she bolted upstairs to her room, slamming the door behind her.

Glancing around her room, she realized that everything in her closet was piled on her bed. Hangers, clothes, shoes, and sundry objects, hauled out and inspected, then tossed together. Dropping her backpack to the ground, she crossed the room and flung open the closet door. On the floor lay several shoe boxes, all open with the shoes pulled out. The box to her Docs Martins, which once hid the book, sat on top of the pile, now empty.

Veronica shook her head. Her mom knew there would be something. Of course, she thought, Lianne was a teenage girl once, she probably had her own secrets, once upon a time. What did she think she would find? A diary detailing everything? Photos? More letters? Whatever she thought Veronica knew what her plan had been all along – use whatever she found to get what she wanted.

Turning her back on the closet, Veronica shed her jacket and tossed it on the bed on top of the rest of her clothes. With a heavy sigh, she slumped to the floor. Stretching out on her back, staring at the ceiling, she began to contemplate her next move.

Veronica managed to get her closet reorganized just in time for dinner that night. Her father greeted her with a tight smile as she sat down next to him at the table.

"How was school today, Veronica?" he asked.

Veronica shrugged. "Okay."

"How's Logan?" Keith said.

Veronica glanced at her dad briefly. "Okay."

Lianne walked into the room with a huge plate of pasta carbonara. Veronica found herself unable to look at her mom. Was she even her mother anymore? Wouldn't blackmail nullify that bond? It really didn't matter anymore. If Lianne was going to use Veronica, then Veronica was prepared to use her too.

Everyone helped themselves to the pasta and salad in silence. A few minutes into the meal, Veronica pulled her head up high, her eyes aimed at her mother.

"I changed my mind," Veronica announced. "I do need help getting birth control."

The sound of Keith choking on his water made Veronica glance over at him briefly before looking back at her mom.

Lianne put down her fork and arched her eyebrow suspiciously at Veronica. "Well, this is a surprise. What changed?"

Veronica's eyes narrowed. "Thought about it a little more. Talked to Logan about it, too. I mean, better safe than sorry, right?"

Lianne lifted her wine glass to her lips and took a long sip. "Of course. I'll make an appointment at the Neptune Clinic. We can go together. If you're sure that's what you want."

Veronica nodded emphatically. "Positive. Let's just keep me from making the mistake of having a kid, shall we?"

She saw her mother cringe slightly as she began to catch on to what Veronica was really saying.

"I mean, you were right, Dad," Veronica continued, her eyes set on Lianne. "Logan and I have a lot we want to accomplish. I really don't want to get trapped into being some bored housewife, taking care of some bratty kid all day. That. Would. Suck."

Lianne licked her lips, her eyes narrowing at her daughter. "Do you really think you and Logan have a future? Veronica, this is just a teenage thing. One day, you'll both move on. But for now, I'm glad you are being smart about using protection, so you aren't bound to this boy for the rest of your life."

A smile twisted at Veronica's lips. "I trust Logan, Mom. I know he's a good person. He's not the kind of guy that would, say, knock up some other girl then leave me. You'll see."

The arrow Veronica had shot at her mother hit its mark. Lianne's eyes turned dark with anger. "That's enough out of you, Veronica."

"What the hell is wrong with you two?" Keith said, dropping his cutlery with a clatter.

Veronica held her breath. If her mom said anything about the book, Veronica was ready to tell her father about the blackmail.

"Nothing, Keith," Lianne said, her focus changing to her husband. "Veronica just came home from school a little…testy today."

"Yep. That's it, Dad," Veronica replied. "I should probably be alone. Excuse me."

Pushing back her chair, Veronica scowled at her mother one last time before heading up the stairs, back to her room. If her mom was going to make Veronica's life difficult, she was going to make Lianne's life difficult as well.

"Thank God! I was beginning to worry!" Logan said through the phone.

"Sorry," Veronica replied. "It took me forever to finish my homework."

Glancing at the clock, Veronica saw it was already 9:45 pm. No wonder she felt exhausted.

"I'm just glad you made it home okay," he said. "I take it your mom wasn't drunk."

Veronica sighed and rolled onto her back. Logan's t-shirt rode up slightly and she yanked on its hem to cover herself from the evening chill.

"Oh, she wasn't drunk. I don't think she was drinking when she ransacked my room while I was at school," Veronica snarked.

"What? What the hell happened?" Logan asked.

Veronica took a deep breath. "My mom found the sex book and is blackmailing me into convincing my dad that I can stay home on Saturday nights by myself, and made me promise that you won't try to sneak over here. But to get back at her I announced at the dinner table that I needed to get birth control because I didn't want to get knocked up and turn into her - a bored housewife, who never got over her first boyfriend."

There was silence for a moment on Logan's end of the phone.

"You want to go on the Pill? Now?" he said.

Veronica groaned. "That was your take-away from what I just said?"

"Does this mean you want to have sex soon?" Logan asked.

"I know you're a boy," she said, exasperated. "But could you please focus on the other things I said for a minute and not the part that involves us having sex?"

"Sorry," Logan muttered. "It was a lot to take in. What was the other part?"

"My mom is blackmailing me." Veronica reiterated slowly, enunciating every word. "I have officially hit a new low."

"Why would she blackmail you?" Logan said.

"Because she wants to go out drinking every Saturday night. And my Dad wants her to stay home and watch me," Veronica said.

"That's messed up," he replied. "I can't believe she needs her booze night so much that she would throw her own daughter under the bus."

A lump caught in Veronica's throat. She had been so angry with her mom, and so hell bent on some sort of retaliation, that she had neglected to see what was right in front of her face.

"She loves to drink more than she loves me," Veronica said quietly, tears springing to her eyes.

"Veronica, I didn't mean to –"

"No," she sniffled, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. "That's what it is. What kind of mother blackmails her own daughter?"

"She loves you, Veronica," Logan consoled her.

"She searched my room, Logan." Veronica's voice cracked through her tears. "She was looking for something to hold over me. That was her plan all along."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Use her. Like she's using me." Veronica fell silent for a moment, thinking again about what she needed to do. "It's obvious the drinking has become so bad that I can't count on her anymore. If she can help me get birth control, then I have it for when we are ready to use it, and I don't need to ask her for anything ever again."

Veronica covered her eyes with her arm and sighed. Her happy life had been thrown into chaos, all within 24 hours. Her mother was blackmailing her, her father was disappointed with her, and she couldn't be alone with Logan anymore. Sometimes life just really sucked.

"So –" Logan began hesitantly. "Getting birth control isn't about actually having sex?"

Veronica let out a small laugh. "No. Sorry. Eventually yes, but right now, no."

"Okay, good," he replied. "Because I'd like to read the Joy of Sex again, before we do. I'll have to figure out how to get another copy."

"I thought you had it memorized," she giggled, uncovering her eyes.

"I did, but I may want to brush up, you know, before the big test," he replied.

Veronica bit her lip and smiled. "I promise, I'll be kind with my grading."

"Easy A," Logan teased.

Veronica rolled back onto her stomach and lay her head on her pillow. "God, I miss you. It's only been one day and already I want to run away to your house and hide out where no one can find us."

"Would it help if I said that I think things will eventually get better?" said Logan.

A pout crossed Veronica's lips. "I know. I think it will, too. I mean, my dad actually asked how you were at dinner today. So there's some hope."

"It just means we go back to holding hands and kissing in random places at school for a while," Logan said with a chuckle.

When she closed her eyes, Veronica could imagine Logan's hand sliding gently up her blouse, making her shiver.

"But second base was so awesome. I don't want to be sent back to first!" she groaned.

Logan laughed. "Don't worry. We won't be stuck at first forever. Just keep visualizing a home run, like they do in the majors."

"If you build it, they will come?" she giggled, quoting 'Field of Dreams'.

"Exactly," Logan replied with a throaty chuckle.

The next morning, Veronica stayed in her room until the last possible moment before heading downstairs, grabbing four pieces of toast, her lunch from the counter, and heading out the door without a word to her mother.

Her dad caught up to her, several minute later, as she stood outside of the cruiser, by the passenger side door, quickly finishing the last piece of toast in her hand.

"Sitting up front today?" he asked as he unlocked the door for her.

Veronica swallowed the dry breakfast. "Makes me feel like less of a criminal."

Keith chuckled and walked around to get into the driver's seat as Veronica climbed into the front. She sat in silence as her father started the car and began to drive. A few minutes into the trip, her father finally spoke.

"Your mother seems to think that you can be trusted not to have Logan come over, if she goes out on Saturday night," Keith began.

Shit. This was her big chance to save herself. Her mom set it up, now she just had to finish the job.

"He won't, Dad. I promise," Veronica began. "He's really upset about how upset you are. And so am I. We just want you to trust us again."

Keith sighed. "Veronica, I don't know if I can ever trust you guys again."

Okay. Trust thing isn't working. Time to try something else. Veronica thought.

"Can I be honest, Dad?" Veronica began.

"Always," replied her dad. "What is it?"

"I don't want to be at home watching Mom get drunk by herself every Saturday night," she said quietly.

Keith turned to look at her momentarily, his eyes wide in shock. Quickly, he recovered to watch the road again.

"Please, Dad," Veronica implored. "Please let her go out. I know what will happen and I don't want to see it. At least, when I was at Logan's, I could pretend it wasn't happening. But if I'm at home, I can't ignore it anymore."

Keith kept his eyes on the road, but still didn't speak. Emotion began to bubble in Veronica as she realized what she was saying to her father was, in fact, the truth.

"I felt safe at Logan's," she continued, trying to find her words. "Safe from her drinking. You know, back in the Fall, she picked me up from school when she was drunk? That day that Logan got into the fight. I thought she was going to kill..."

"Veronica!" Keith gasped, his knuckles turning white on the steering wheel. "Please stop!"

Keith maneuvered the car into a parking spot on the street and placed the car in park before turning to face Veronica. She began shaking involuntarily as the gravity of the situation set in.

"I didn't realize –" Keith began, reaching over to take her hand. "I didn't realize that you noticed her drinking."

"I notice, Daddy," she replied, squeezing his hand. "I've noticed most of my life."

Keith's head dropped as he closed his eyes tightly. "I never wanted this to affect you. I thought she could keep it together for you. If not for me, then for you."

"I'm scared," Veronica admitted quietly. "I'm scared to be around her when she's really, truly drunk. Please let her go out. I promise, no Logan. I'll stay in the house. No tricks. No lies. Just please let her drink somewhere else."

Keith opened his eyes and gazed sadly at his daughter. "Alright. I will talk to her again about it. I want to trust you, Veronica. Please don't break that trust again."

Veronica nodded. "Thank you. We won't."

Keith let out a deep sigh and placed the car into drive. As they continued on their way to school, Veronica's heart pounded in her chest. Her two biggest secrets were now out in the open. There was no where to go but up from here.

By the end of the school day, all Veronica wanted to do was crawl in bed and hide. The entire school was buzzing about the dance that night and knowing that she couldn't go just added to Veronica's overall depression. Word had also spread about Logan and Veronica getting caught making out in the theatre, thanks to Dick telling Madison, and their quiet togetherness was now subject to whispers and pointing. None of this seemed to affect Logan, who just put his arm around Veronica's shoulders and kissed her head tenderly. But after being the subject of school gossip a few too many times, Veronica just felt like hiding from the world.

Logan and Veronica sat together on the bench by the parking lot, waiting again for her mother to pick her up. As they did, Veronica hung her head, concentrating on playing with Logan's fingers as they snaked between hers on her lap.

"I know you're disappointed about the dance, but there will be others," Logan reassured her.

Veronica nodded but continued to look down. "I know, but this would be our first time dancing together, as a couple. Even if we were going to keep it a secret, at least we would have known." She let out a deep sigh. "And this is the last time I see you until Monday. Monday!"

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder," he teased.

Veronica groaned. "This weekend is going to suck so badly."

"Veronica."

Veronica's head snapped up to see her father getting out of his police cruiser, striding confidently towards the teens.

The couple dropped hands and stood quickly, taking a tiny shuffle apart from each other.

Keith stopped in front of them, giving a tight smile.

"Logan," he said, nodding in the boy's direction.

"Mr. Mars. Sir," Logan stammered.

"Logan's been waiting with me," Veronica said quickly. "In case Mom…can't drive me home."

It took Keith a second to register what Veronica was saying. He turned towards Logan and nodded. "Thank you, Logan. But it looks like I'll be picking Veronica up for a while."

Veronica frowned, stepping closer to Keith. "Why? Where's Mom?"

Keith looked between Veronica and Logan before resting a hand on Veronica's shoulder. "Your Mom went away for a week, to her sister's place. To think about things."

"Oh," she said quietly, her head dropping to look at the ground.

Keith moved closer and kissed Veronica's forehead gently. "Let's go home and talk, okay?"

Veronica nodded and Keith turned towards the car.

"Goodbye so—," Keith called out before correcting himself. "Goodbye, Logan."

Logan gave a small wave. "Bye, Mr. Mars."

Her mother was gone. The words rolled around in Veronica's head and tears began to sting her eyes. A cold wave swept through her, hardening her heart. She wouldn't cry over her mother's selfish actions again. Not today.

"Are you okay?" Logan asked quietly next to her.

"No. But I will be." Veronica said, turning to face him. "See you on Monday."

Logan gave her a small smile. "See you on Monday."

Sliding into the seat next to her dad, Veronica buckled her seat belt and cast her sad eyes out the front window.

Keith pulled out of the parking lot in silence. When he came up to the first stop light, he let out a deep sigh.

"I'm hoping that when your mom comes back, she'll agree to start going to AA. And she and I will start going to counselling," her dad explained.

"And if she doesn't?" Veronica asked.

"Then we'll deal with it," Keith replied. "But until she gets back, it's just you and me, kiddo. Okay?"

Veronica nodded. "Okay."

"So that means that I'll send a car for you after school next week, to bring you to the station. You can do your homework until my shift ends," he said, tossing a small smile her way.

Veronica gave her father a warm smile. She loved the station. When she was younger, she would sit at the front desk with Olga the receptionist, listening and watching as the wheels of justice turned around her.

"Can I interrogate someone?" she asked.

Keith laughed. "Remember that time I let you and Logan spend the afternoon at the station with me?"

Veronica grinned. In third grade Keith had brought Veronica and Logan to the station to learn more about a community career. It had ended up being a slow day and Keith had treated the kids by fingerprinting them, taking their mug shots, doing a police lineup, and finally locking them in the cell for a time, They'd been delighted and, once released, spent the rest of the time running around the station house, pretending to be detectives hunting for clues, and interrogating each other in one of the rooms, slamming their fists on the big oak table and yelling dramatically.

"Logan would be no fun to interrogate now," she mused. "I know all his secrets."

Keith rolled his eyes and snorted a small laugh. "And I guess everyone knows his biggest secret."

"What's that?" Veronica asked.

"How much he likes you," Keith replied.

Veronica bit her lip to hold back her smile. "Yeah. I guess you're right."

Glancing at her dad, she saw the corner of his mouth turned up in a smile, as he kept his eyes on the road. Maybe this won't be too bad, she thought, as she let her own smile spread across her face.

That evening, Keith ordered pizza for dinner, and the two of them settled in to watch movies together. They decided to begin their marathon with Die Hard, and Veronica hurried upstairs to change into her yoga pants and tank top while her dad hunted for the DVD.

Settled on the couch with chips and pop, Veronica finally relaxed into the comfort of the big cushions. The past 24 hours were a blur, and even though her mother was gone, she took some comfort in knowing that, when she returned, that things would get better.

The doorbell rang, breaking Veronica from her thoughts. Glancing at her father as he paused the movie, she rose to answer the door. Her father lifted his hand to stop her as he quickly walked past. When her flicked on the porch light, Veronica let out a small gasp at the figure illuminated outside.

Her dad opened the door to Logan, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot, in his dark navy blue suit, a crisp white shirt underneath. He held a bouquet of wildflowers in one hand and a portable CD player in the other.

"Hello, Mr. Mars," Logan stammered. "I know that Veronica can't leave the house but I was wondering, sir, if I could see her for maybe ten minutes on the porch, with the door open, and the lights on, sir, since the porch is kind of part of the house and you would be here, so we wouldn't be alone."

Veronica glanced at her dad. His lips twitched as he fought to keep a grin from appearing.

"Why?" Keith asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Logan took a deep breath and looked her father straight in the eyes. "Well, sir. I know she was really looking forward to the dance, sir, and I know she…we…are both in trouble but I really wanted to make sure we had a first dance together now that we are, like, together...well, like a couple together, you know, and not just friends, even if she's still my best friend."

This time, Keith couldn't contain his chuckle. "Takes a lot of guts to try something like this, Logan."

"Ben said this was either the smartest or stupidest thing I've ever done," Logan said, jerking his head towards the waiting car. "He's not too sure."

"Why is it the stupidest?" asked Keith.

"Because you could shoot me, sir," Logan replied seriously.

This time Keith let out a loud laugh. "I'm not going to shoot you, Logan."

Logan glanced at Veronica then back to her father, still seeming unconvinced that her father wasn't hiding his gun somewhere on his person.

"So, why is it the smartest thing you've ever done?" Keith asked with a smile.

Logan fidgeted for a moment then looked past Keith to Veronica then back to Keith.

"Because I want you to know that this isn't some stupid boy hormone thing and that I actually -" Logan took a deep breath in his rambling to steady himself. "—I love her. And respect her. And it's not like a…you know…physical thing…because I would wait until the end of time for her, if I have to. It's a love thing. Sir."

Veronica held her hands over her heart. She couldn't believe what she was seeing and hearing. After the heartbreak of her mother's betrayal, its was amazing to feel loved again.

Keith glanced between them and let out a long sigh. "You both have ten minutes. And the door stays open the entire time. I'm staying right where I can see you. And for the love of God, please, no making out!"

A wide grin pulled across Logan's lips, lighting up his eyes. "Thank you, Mr. Mars! Whatever you say."

Veronica walked outside quickly, past her dad to Logan. He held the flowers out to her and she took them from him, cradling them in her arms.

"They're beautiful. Thank you," Veronica said quietly.

He smiled down at her and raised his finger. "Just a minute."

Placing the CD player on the ground, he pressed play and stepped closer to Veronica.

The low tones of Jimmy Page's slow guitar solo, at the beginning of the song, filled the air.

"Led Zeppelin?" Veronica asked incredulously.

Logan took the flowers from her hands and placed them on the window ledge. "Trust me…Since I've Been Loving You, is like, the most romantic song ever."

Veronica gave a little shiver, from both the cold and the anticipation. Smiling down at her, Logan pulled off his jacket and offered it to her. Biting her lip, Veronica turned around and slipped her arms through the large jacket, wrapping the lapels across her chest for warmth, she relished the fact that the heat from Logan's body still lingered in the fabric. She turned back to him and smiled.

"Thanks. I wasn't expecting to be outside," she said.

"Shouldn't you know to expect the unexpected with me in your life?" Logan countered, moving closer to her and placing his hands gently on her hips.

Veronica wrapped her arms around his neck, leaving a few inches of room between them. Slowly, they began swaying in approximate time to the music.

Robert Plant's sultry voice began singing over the sound of heavy electric guitar and drums.

Veronica glanced towards the doorway as she and Logan moved in small circles together. Her dad had disappeared from view, but she knew he must be there, somewhere, watching. Slowly, she moved her body closer to Logan's and put her head on his chest, listening to the lyrics of the song. Since she had been loving Logan, at times she was sure - as Robert Plant's said - she was going to lose her mind. Their love seemed irrational, bordering on crazy. Who did they think they were, trying to love each other when neither of them really knew anything about love. But still, when she was with him, it just felt right; like this was where their life together should begin. It didn't matter if it made sense, or others thought they were insane for falling in love so young, this was them. Maybe forever, Veronica hoped.

His heart pounded beneath his shirt and she inhaled deeply, capturing his musky scent in her memory.

"Okay, it's kind of a romantic song," Veronica lied, hoping he wouldn't catch on. "Although the drum solos are hard to dance to."

"See. And you doubted me," he replied, pressing his lips to the top of her head.

"I said you had the nerve to tell me you didn't want me no more, yeah," Robert Plant's voice sang. "I open my front door, hear my back door slam"

"Just try to ignore the reference to the cheating wife with her lover running out the back door," Logan interjected quietly into the music. "Keep focused on the romantic parts."

Veronica closed her eyes and began giggling into his shirt. This song was far from the romantic masterpiece Logan thought it was, but dancing with him on her porch was so romantic she could barely think straight.

"In my defence, I just found out about what a 'backdoor man' was a few months ago. But I've liked the song way longer," he continued.

"Be quiet," she whispered. "You're spoiling the mood."

They rocked back and forth together gently, holding each other, knowing it was the last time they would touch for a few days. In that brief moment, Veronica wished this song would go on forever.

As the final strains of the final guitar solo died, Logan let go of Veronica. She dropped her arms and he walked over to shut off the CD. Slowly, she peeled off the jacket and shivered slightly as she held it out for him to take. With a small smile, he reached for it, slinging the fabric back around himself in a swift motion. Closing the gap between them, he took Veronica's hand in his.

"Thank you for the dance, Ms. Mars," he said, his voice filled with sincerity. "I look forward to this being the first of many times we dance together in our lives."

Before she could answer, Logan lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing her knuckles softly.

"Thank you for doing this for me," Veronica replied. "You have no idea how much I needed it right now."

Logan ran his thumb over the back of her hand gently. "Yeah. I do."

Letting go of her, Logan looked past Veronica towards the doorway. "Good night, Mr. Mars."

"'Night, Logan." Veronica heard her father say from behind her. "Good choice of music."

With a small nod and a smile, Logan picked up his CD player and walked into the darkness. Veronica watched as he climbed into the passenger seat of the Range Rover before turning towards the house.

There in the doorway, her father waited, holding her big, fluffy bathrobe open for her. Big tears began to fall down her cheeks as she turned to put the robe on. She wished she had the courage to follow Logan home. Knowing this was the last time she was seeing him until Monday overrode the momentary feeling of bliss from dancing with him and she gave in to her sadness.

Tying the belt tightly around her waist, she felt her dad's hands on her shoulder and he kissed the back of her head.

"It will all be okay," Keith said softly. "You and Logan will easily make it through this time apart, you and I will get through this next week, and your Mom will come home and we'll work things out. You'll see."

Veronica looked into the darkness of the street. She had her dad. She had Logan. Maybe, she thought, that was all she really needed.

 

 

Chapter Text

"No Logan. No Dick. No friends of any shape or form are allowed in. Or on my deck for that matter," Keith lectured Veronica as she sat at the kitchen counter eating day-old pizza for dinner.

"Deputies may drop by at any time, completely at random, to make sure everything is alright," he continued. "Or I may stop by myself."

Veronica bit her lip, keeping any snarky comments about tasering deputies or planning orgies with passing strangers to herself. This was not the time or the place for cute commentary, she thought.

"Backup can go do his business in the backyard. Don't take him for a walk in the dark. Call me before you go to bed," he finished, putting on his jacket and frowning at Veronica.

"I plan on being on the phone with Logan all evening," she stated. "So if you get a busy signal for hours on end, I'm not dead. Just talking."

Keith rolled his eyes and exhaled deeply. Veronica had been stuck together all day, and she was glad to be going their separate ways that night. It looked like he was happy for the time apart as well. It had been the most boring day ever. Instead of surfing and hanging out with her friends, she had moped around the house, watching TV and eating junk food, then got dragged out to buy groceries with her dad, and spent the remaining time before dinner doing the chores her mother normally did - laundry, vacuuming, and dishes.

"Try not to stay up too late," her father added as he leaned over to kiss her forehead.

"I won't. Stay safe tonight," Veronica replied with a smile.

"I will," said Keith as he grabbed his keys and headed for the door. "Give Logan my best, at some point during that five-hour conversation."

Veronica winked and gave her dad a thumbs-up. "Will do, Daddy-O!"

Keith left the house, pausing briefly to lock the front door behind him.

Veronica looked down at Backup, who was sitting by her feet, gazing hopefully at her pizza crust. She arched an eyebrow at him and gave a mischievous grin. "Backup…it's go-time!"

Dropping her pizza crust on the ground for the dog to eat, Veronica hopped off the stool and grabbed the phone from the counter. She dialed Logan's number as she headed upstairs.

"I missed you," Logan said in greeting.

Veronica laughed. "What if it wasn't me?"

"I knew it was you," he chuckled. "I could feel it."

"Strong with the Force, you are, hmm?" replied Veronica. She paused at her parent's bedroom door and leaned against it to talk.

"Well, when it comes to you, yes." Logan said. "So, what do you want to do? Watch TV together? Talk? Just listen to each other breathe?"

Veronica opened the door to the room and switched on the lights. "How about you keep me company while I search my parents' room for the sex book?"

"What? Really?"

"Hell, yeah," Veronica stated. "If I find it, then Mom has nothing on me. Plus, then it saves you from trying to get another copy, so everyone wins."

"What's she going to say when she comes back and realizes it's missing?" he asked.

Veronica walked over to Lianne's dresser and looked in the oval mirror above it. "Don't know. Don't care. But it'll be in your safe hands by that time, so it won't matter."

"Um, thanks?" replied Logan.

Pulling open the top drawer, Veronica stared down at Lianne's underwear. Each bra was perfectly folded and lined up, with matching underwear tucked in with it. A chill went down her spine as her eyes skimmed the delicate materials. Was there any point to this? Would her mom even come back? She once again pushed the thought of Lianne's return out of her head. She had work to do. Plunging her fingers between the rows, she felt to the bottom of the drawer, being careful not to disturb things too much.

"Not in there," Veronica muttered and closed the drawer. "So what did you guys do today?"

"You know, the usual," Logan casually replied. "Went for a swim. Had Mac hand me my ass playing Call of Duty. Walked in on Duncan and Casey making out in the pool house."

Veronica rolled her eyes and opened the next drawer containing Lianne's sweaters and began feeling around. "At least it was just you. Again. They really have to be careful or someone else is going to catch them."

"Yeah. They need to learn from our terrible example," chuckled Logan. "I can't believe we thought no one could see us at the movie."

Veronica scrunched up her nose and closed the drawer, coming up empty. She opened the next one and continued. "It seems so easy. People in books do it and it sounds so romantic. Couples in movies do it and don't get caught. I call it a case of false advertising."

"Don't worry. In a few years, I'll have my license and a car," Logan said. "Then we can attempt to recreate the love scene from 'Say Anything'. I mean, that's gotta be okay, right?"

A shiver ran down Veronica's spine, momentarily distracting her from her search. The thought of her and Logan, making love under a blanket in the back seat of a car set made her skin tingle with anticipation. She contemplated abandoning her search to discuss this plan with him in more detail, but shook it off and continued to the last drawer.

"Yeah," she answered in a small gasp. "That's got to work."

"Although, I'd have to get a big car." Logan continued. "Or it would be really uncomfortable."

Veronica closed the last drawer and stood up, frowning in the mirror as she came up empty. "Have you given this a lot of thought?"

"Veronica, I've given us having sex anywhere a lot of thought," Logan said with a laugh.

A wide grin stretched across Veronica's face. Giving a small turn on her heels to glance around the room, she decided to explore the closet next. "Okay then. How about we do some oversharing tonight?"

"Oh yeah? Oversharing how?" Logan asked, a teasing lilt to his voice.

Veronica opened the closet and flicked on the light. Looking towards the top of the closet there were rows of family photo albums, VHS tapes with family vacations, and several photo boxes Veronica knew contained mementoes from her childhood. She got a pang of sadness in her gut as she thought about how her mother carefully kept each precious item Veronica made in elementary school art classes.

"Veronica?" Logan's voice snapped her out of her thoughts.

She gave her head a little shake and refocused her mind back to their conversation. "Sorry. Momentarily distracted," she said, licking her lips. "What I was going to ask you was this: what are your top three favorite places you've imagined us having sex? You know, so you can overshare them with me."

A low groan came through the receiver. "Really?"

Veronica bit her lip. "Well, you don't have to share. But that means you won't find out mine."

"Aren't you supposed to be snooping?" he said.

Veronica dropped onto her knees on the plush carpet and pushed aside the edges of hanging clothes. The small closet floor was filled with file boxes and shoe boxes of different sizes. Jackpot, she thought.

"I can do both," she replied as she crawled deep into the closet to grab the furthest box in the corner.

There was silence as she brought the first large box in front of her. Opening it, she found it to contain files filled with old receipts. With a sigh she replaced the lid and proceeded to shove it back in it's place.

"The shower. Number one place."

Veronica paused, half-in the closet, half-out, as she listened to Logan's sudden answer.

"Number two?" she asked.

"The pool."

A small gasp escaped Veronica's lips. She had never thought of having sex in the pool before. She filed the information away in her brain for later and continued her search. Grabbing the next box, she made her way back out of the closet.

"Excellent answer. And the third?"

Logan let out a deep sigh. "The bed in the pool house."

"Really?" Veronica drawled. "Why not one of our beds?" She opened the top to the next box only to find it filled with banking paperwork. Sighing, she closed the lid.

"It's neutral territory. Like Switzerland," he explained with a chuckle. "Plus the height of the bed may come into play in one or two of my fantasies."

Veronica once again paused to contemplate his meaning. She wasn't too sure what he was imagining, but when she found the sex book, she was sure going to look it up.

Crawling back into the closet, she replaced the box and grabbed a stack of shoe boxes. Clumsily, she dragged them out, spilling the contents of one as she did.

"Shit," she muttered as she looked at the pile of receipts.

"What's wrong?"

"Spilt a box. Was distracted by the last thing you said," she muttered as she shoved the receipts back in the box.

"Okay, Ms. Mars. Your turn." Logan said, his voice deepening. "Where do you imagine us doing it?"

Veronica paused in her search. Gazing at the wall, she let her mind wander into her fantasies for a moment.

"Number one is the shower too," she admitted quietly. "Although I still don't know how we would do it, exactly."

Logan let out a throaty chuckle and she continued.

"Number two is the back of the car. Because, like you said…'Say Anything'. So make sure you do choose a car with a big back seat," she giggled, her cheeks becoming hot just thinking about it. "And three would be in my bed. At your place. Because my bed at home is just too small for such things."

"I'm sure we could make it work. The small bed I mean," Logan replied.

Veronica took a cleansing breath and opened the top of the next shoebox. She furrowed her brow at the contents. Picking up the first photo, she held it up to see the laughing faces of her parents, at what looked like Dog Beach. They were younger, happier, and by the way they had their arms around each other, much more in love. Her dad even had hair.

"Veronica?"

"Yeah, sorry. What did you say?" she replied, beginning to root through the photos.

"I did suggest a particular position for such a small bed, but I don't think you heard," Logan said.

"I just found a box of photos of my parents, probably when they were dating," she explained, pulling photo after photo of her parents, separately and together, grinning at the camera. "They looked so happy."

"Well, maybe when your mom gets back, they can be that happy again."

Veronica sighed, rifling to the bottom of the box and feeling around. "I don't know. Maybe."

Pulling a thick stack of Polaroid photos from the box, she held them up. The top photo was of a naked man, sprawled on a couch. Not just any man…

Screaming, Veronica tossed the photos away from her like they were a handful of spiders.

"Oh my God!" she shrieked into the phone.

"Veronica! What is it? What the hell?" Logan shot back.

"Naked pictures!" she gasped, staring in horror at all the flesh on the floor, her mother's face smiling up from one of photos. "My parents took naked pictures of each other!"

"Oh my God! And you found them?" Logan replied loudly.

Veronica closed her eyes and covered them with her free hand. "I'm going to have to wash my brain out with bleach to get those images out of my head!"

"You mean of your mom naked?" Logan asked.

Veronica made a gagging sound at the memory. "Yes. And my dad."

"Gross!" Logan laughed. "You want the number of my therapist? She's really good."

"Ugh. Maybe. Can we get a couples rate?" She groaned. Feeling around on the ground with her eyes closed, Veronica gathered up the pictures and shoved them back in the box, then replaced the lid.

"This should have been labeled 'Pandora'," Veronica muttered and opened her eyes again.

By now, Logan was laughing uncontrollably on the other end of the phone. Ignoring him, Veronica reached for the next box and opened it slowly, lest another surprise jump out at her.

"I'm sorry for laughing," Logan gasped, trying to catch his breath.

Veronica rolled her eyes and looked down at the photos in the next box. The first photo was of her mom and a young man. A tall, dark haired young man, with intense eyes and a square jaw. He looked…familiar.

"Duncan?" Veronica whispered.

"What?" replied Logan.

"I found a photo of Mom and some guy that looks like Duncan," she stated, picking up another photo. Her mom couldn't have been much older than Veronica was now. She had her arms around the young man's waist, her head on his shoulder. Flipping it over, she read the name on the back.

"Jake."

"Kane?"

Veronica blinked at Logan's words. Jake Kane. Duncan and Lilly's dad. The richest and one of the most powerful men in Neptune. She had met him only once or twice, when they first started hanging out with the Kanes, but it was only briefly and she barely remembered it.

Running her fingers through the box of photos, she realized they were all of Jake and her mother.

"The boy who broke Mom's heart was Jake Kane," Veronica said softly.

"Then that means he left her for Celeste?" Logan asked.

Veronica nodded to herself, captivated by the happy photos of the young couple, on the beach, at a party, by the pool.

"Yeah. Probably," Veronica said. "And Lilly must be the baby Celeste got pregnant with, the night he cheated on my mom."

"This is all just very messed up," Logan stated dryly.

Then another thought crossed Veronica's mind. "Shit! This is it! This is why Dad got all agitated when he thought I was dating Duncan."

"Two women in his life, dating Kane men, was just too much for your dad to handle?"

Veronica dropped the photos in the box with a deep sigh. "Pretty much. This also may explain why my mom was so excited by the idea that I was dating Duncan. If she couldn't have Jake –"

"I'm just going to stop you there, because that's just creepy," Logan said. "Even more than the naked photos of your dad and mom."

Veronica cringed and put the lid on the box. "No. Naked photos of my parents still wins the prize for most messed up thing tonight."

Reaching for the next box, Veronica said a silent prayer that whatever was inside would not traumatize her further. Taking a breath, she opened the lid. Seeing what was inside, she squealed with delight.

"Found it!" she proclaimed happily and grabbed 'The Joy of Sex' from the box. As she lifted it, she realized there was another book underneath it.

"Well done, Nancy. You solved the 'Mystery of the Missing Sex Book.'" Logan joked.

"And I found one more!" Veronica replied, looking down at the cover of the other book. "Ever heard of the Kama Sutra? Think we need another sex book for our growing library?"

"Really?" Logan asked, a happy lilt to his voice.

Veronica gave an involuntary shudder. "Maybe not. If my mom has it then that means she and dad –" She didn't want to finish her thought.

"So, you're leaving it there?"

"You're really asking me that?"

Silence fell on Logan's side of the phone call.

"That's what I thought," Veronica scoffed and replaced the lid on the box.

"What about our oversharing talk?" Logan said. "We were just getting to the good stuff?"

Veronica laughed and began putting the boxes back in their proper order in the closet. "I think I've overshared with you enough tonight. But thanks. Why don't we watch a movie on TV at the same time together?"

Logan let out a deep sigh of frustration and Veronica stifled a giggle. "Fine," he grumbled. "But not Titanic again. Or Say Anything."

Veronica shimmied out of the closet and picked up the book. Standing, she turned out the light in the closet and closed the door. "Whatever you want, boyfriend. Your choice tonight."

Filled with excitement over her recovery of the blackmail object, as well as some new found knowledge about the mystery man from Lianne's past, Veronica eagerly hid the book back in her room and headed downstairs to continue her night with Logan.

Veronica hung up the phone after saying good night to her dad and reached under her pillow to pull out 'The Joy of Sex'. All evening, the book's presence had twitched in the back of Veronica's mind. While she and Logan bantered through the two old movies they watched on TCM, she'd had a secret wish to return to her room to retrieve the book. Now, alone in bed, she spread the book open in front of her.

The line drawing of a couple – the woman straddling the man, his head slung back in ecstasy – made Veronica smile. She pressed her finger near the top of the woman's head and traced the outline of their form, gently, taking in every curve of the drawing.

Sex. She thought she had learned everything she needed to know about sex from this book. But it was all so much more complicated than she could ever imagine.

Veronica thought about Lynn, being sold by her agent, trading sex for work in Hollywood. And Aaron, who used sex as a weapon, to keep his wife obedient to his demands. Then there was Trina, who was very open and happy about wanting sex for pure pleasure.

But what about Dick and Madison? Were they just in it for pleasure, or was there a deeper need being filled? Veronica flipped through the pages of the book as she thought about her friend. Maybe Dick just really needed someone to love him, since it was obvious to her that not many people cared about him in his life. And for Dick, sex equaled love.

Veronica stopped on her favorite picture of the couple having sex against the door. Passion. Is that what her mom and Jake had, when they were young? She traced the couple on the page with her finger and frowned. From the pictures she found, it was obvious that passion for each other was what her mom and dad had for each other, once upon a time. Veronica's existence was also proof of that. What happened to them? Was it just life getting in their way? Was it getting older? Obviously, sex wasn't enough to keep Jake and Lianne together. And it was what broke them up, when he slept with someone else. But what about her parents? Was it just sex, or did they have that intangible thing her dad talked about? Intimacy. Did her mom and dad have an intimate relationship or was that reserved for her and Jake? Or could you be truly intimate with more than one person in your life?

Veronica flipped the page to the picture of the woman with the man's head between her legs. She covered the drawing with her palm and pressed down, as if trying to absorb the image through her skin. More intimate than sex, they had once agreed. The need to physically consume each other was both shocking and arousing.

She was already intimate with Logan, but sex, all of this information about sex, made her rethink everything she thought sex would be like with him. Why did she want to have sex with him? Weren't they already intimate? Wasn't that better? Wouldn't sex just complicate matters?

Removing her hand, she looked at the couple again, feeling her whole body warm with arousal. She couldn't explain it, but there was something in the pit of her stomach that reminded her that she didn't just want to have sex with Logan, it was a need. She needed to be with him in that way, eventually. She needed to be that close to him, to feel that connection, with only him. Right now, she couldn't imagine being with anyone else in her life.

But it didn't mean they would be together forever. It didn't stop them from one day leaving each other. From one day falling out of love. For the intimacy to fade.

Veronica closed the book with a deep sigh. The thought of losing Logan always came up, no matter how hard she tried not to think about it. Maybe if they didn't have sex, it wouldn't hurt as much, if he left. Or maybe it would hurt more, because she would never be able to find out what it was like to make love to him.

Veronica stood up and turned out the lights. Grabbing the book off the bed, she shoved it between her mattress and box spring, before slipping under the covers. Curled up in Logan's t-shirt, she continued going over her thoughts, hoping for definitive answers.

Maybe Trina was the most honest of any of them. Sex was just pure pleasure, to be enjoyed while you could, with someone who made you feel good. Of everyone, her feelings seemed to be the most black and white; everyone else was just varying shades of grey.

Veronica closed her eyes, unable to think about anything else. With a slow exhale, she let the darkness and the silence of the empty house lull her to sleep.

Veronica stretched her arms across the tiled edge of the pool, gripping the rounded rim for support. Her head fell back, her wet hair hitting the ground, as she gasped with pleasure. Naked under the water, pressed against Logan's body as they moved with each other, her legs wrapped around his hips, his hands around her back, keeping them together. Lifting her head, her eyes connected with Logan's once more before his lips dipped to the nape of her neck. Veronica grabbed his shoulder with one hand, digging her nails into him, calling out his name, as her orgasm rippled through her. Logan's head fell to her shoulder and he tightened his grip on her as his body tensed against her, then relaxed. She moved her fingers from the cold tile to weave through his damp hair, holding him close. The sound of their breathing amplified across the water as they both struggled to catch their breath. Slowly, he began kissing his way up her neck, to her face, ending at her lips.

"See? Wasn't that fun?" he said with a playful grin.

Veronica licked her lips, still trying to regain her composure. "You do have the best ideas sometimes."

"If only it was real," he winked.

"No." A pout formed on Veronica's face. "I don't want this to be a dream."

Logan shrugged. "Sorry. Think of it as practice for the real thing."

Veronica sighed and closed her eyes. She didn't want to wake up.

"I don't want to wake up," she muttered to Backup as he licked her face. Pulling the covers over her head just seemed to egg him on, and the large pit-bull climbed right on top of Veronica, trapping her under the covers.

"Backup," she whined. "Get down! Please!"

The dog barked and climbed off of her, sitting on the other side of the bed. She peeked out from under the covers at the time. 7:20 a.m. Her dad was probably still asleep, which was why Backup was bugging her. She wasn't used to the routine of being at home on a Sunday morning.

With a little sigh, she swung her legs out from under the covers. She stood, pulling Logan's t-shirt down at the hem, and patted her thigh with her hand.

"Come on Backup," she said quietly, heading for her partially opened door. "I'll let you out back."

The dog happily bounced off the bed and swept past Veronica on their way downstairs. Once he was outside, Veronica closed the back door and made her way to the fridge to find something to eat. Just as she was about to pull open the door, she noticed the note pinned to it.

Veronica,

Got in later than expected. Will set my alarm to wake up in time to take you to self-defense class. Make yourself breakfast and please take Backup for a walk.

Love, Dad.

Parole! An actual walk on the beach with Backup. Veronica did a happy little dance then opened the fridge to grab milk for her cereal. As she made herself a large bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast, she had a brainstorm. Lunging for the phone, she quickly dialed Logan's number.

After a few rings, he answered, his voice groggy. "Humph?"

"Logan?" she whispered.

"'Ronica?"

"Are you awake?"

"No."

"Get awake! I'm planning my completely legitimate escape."

"Huh?"

Veronica put the milk back in the fridge. "I have to walk Backup this morning. Dad left me a note because he's still sleeping. Can you meet me at Dog Beach around 8:15?"

"Probably. If I can wake up Ben and convince him to drive me," Logan replied, sounding slightly more alert.

Veronica hopped onto the stool at the counter, picking up a Fruit Loop, she tossed it in her mouth. "Great! Meet me at the big bylaw sign, near the first parking lot."

Veronica shoved a spoonful of cereal into her mouth and listened to Logan yawning and groaning as he struggled to wake up. He was probably stretching across his bed on top of the covers. In his sweats and a t-shirt. Or no shirt. Or maybe just his boxers.

"What are you wearing?" she asked, the thought jumping into her head.

"Oh no," he said, fully alert. "If we start that game I'm never going to make it to the beach in time."

Veronica giggled. "Fine. I'll see you soon."

Logan chuckled.

"See you soon," he said before hanging up.

This is the perfect plan, Veronica though as she began devouring her breakfast. She couldn't wait to see him.

After she'd eaten, Veronica scrawled a quick note back to her dad on the same sheet of paper.

Dad,

Gone for a walk with Backup. Will be back in time for class. Hope you slept well!

Love, V.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Veronica ran to her room to get dressed. Flinging Logan's shirt off onto her bed, she quickly threw on a pair of black jeans, a t-shirt, and finally her black hoodie. Bolting for the bathroom, she freshened up, brushed her hair into a pony tail, and added some lip gloss. Stopping for a last glance in the mirror, she nodded in appreciation that she managed to look thrown together awesome this early in the morning. Jogging downstairs, she grabbed her jacket and purse, and slipped on her Converse sneakers before grabbing Backup's leash and leaving out the back door.

It was several blocks to the beach and Veronica had to hustle Backup from the back yard so they could make it on time to meet Logan. By the time they arrived, Logan was leaning against the sign, his eyes closed. He was in sweats, a ball cap on his head and his hoodie pulled up over it. He looked like he was in disguise.

As they got closer, Backup recognized Logan and began barking happily, pulling at his leash. Logan looked up and smiled, closing the gap between them. Without a word, he leaned down and swept Veronica up in a kiss, his hands curling around her to press her to his warm body, his lips soft and urgent against hers. She responded by grabbing his hood and pulling it off his head, so she could weave her fingers through the short hair at the back of his neck. Backup jumped around beside them, yanking Veronica's arm as she gripped his leash, trying to get in between the couple.

"Down, Backup!" Veronica commanded as she momentarily broke free of their kiss.

Backup stopped and lay down by Logan's feet.

"Good boy," she said.

"Me or the dog?" Logan said with a sly grin.

Veronica's heart began pounding so hard she could hear it in her ears.

"You too," she replied and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him again, her free arm wrapping around his shoulders.

Slowly, Logan untangled himself from their embrace. Taking her hand in his, he kissed it and smiled. "Maybe we should find somewhere more secluded."

Veronica shrugged. "I can't really think of anywhere we could go. But the beach is pretty empty at this time of day."

"Then let's go for a long walk together," he replied happily.

"Okay. Let's." Veronica smiled up at him. Giving Backup's leash a small tug, he rose to follow them.

The rising sun cast a prism of colours across the sky and for a time, Veronica and Logan walked along the sand quietly, content to simply hold hands. Other than a few surfers and one or two joggers, the beach was empty.

Finally coming upon a somewhat secluded bench, Veronica let Backup off his leash and the couple sat down to watch him frolic in the surf. Logan wrapped his arm around Veronica's shoulders, pulling her close to his side, and kissed her head over her hoodie. Winding her arms around his waist, she brought her legs up beside her on the bench, and leaned her head onto his shoulder.

"I missed you last night," he said quietly.

"I missed you, too," she replied.

"I slept in your bed," Logan added.

"I slept in your shirt," Veronica countered.

He chuckled and her head bounced. "That's way cuter. Me sleeping in your bed is kind of pathetic."

Veronica shivered. Sliding her fingers across his body, she slipped her hands in his hoodie pocket. "It's not pathetic. In fact, it's really cute, too."

Logan scratched at the fine, patchy stubble on his cheek. "Guess my rugged and handsome cover is blown."

"Oh, you're that, too," Veronica teased.

The two fell silent again, enjoying the sight of Backup chasing the foam created by the waves on the beach.

"Speaking of cute," Logan began. "Mom drove me here. I ran into her as I was racing to find Ben and she offered me a lift. Apparently us sneaking out to be together first thing in the morning falls within the realm of acceptable behaviour for her. She even called it 'adorable'."

Veronica shook her head. "My dad would kill me if he knew we were doing this."

"Then why are we?" he asked.

"Because I miss you," Veronica said. "Because I need my best friend, and not just my boyfriend, right now."

"Because of your mom?"

"Because of everything," she replied. "I'm just really confused by everything right now. My mom. My dad. The only thing I seem sure about is us."

Backup ran up to them, happy as a clam, and dropped his wet head down on Logan's lap. Veronica smiled and rubbed the dog's head.

"Well, that's comforting," Logan replied, reaching down to scratch Backup under the chin.

"Yeah. It is. That's why I want to be around you," she said.

He leaned over and kissed the side of her head, lovingly. "Ditto."

Another easy silence fell between them as they sat with each other, and Backup, watching the water rise and fall across the sand.

Veronica shifted, pulling her hands away from Logan, to sit cross legged on the bench. "Do you ever think this sex thing is like someone handed you a loaded weapon without any lessons on how to shoot it? Like, don't shoot yourself with it, don't shoot anyone else with it, but good luck, here you are."

Logan frowned as she continued. "I mean, look at my mom and Duncan's dad. Sex is what drove them apart. And apparently sex between her and dad wasn't enough to make them happy. And then there's all this stuff with Aaron and your mom, where Aaron used sex as an actual weapon. I mean, doesn't this all seem really confusing to you too?"

"Were you obsessing again last night?"

"Yeah. Kind of." She said with a small laugh. "But you know me, I need to have things all figured out."

"Maybe there's nothing to figure out. Ever thought about that?" he replied, placing his hand on the small of her back.

She turned to peer at him from under her hood. "There's always something to figure out. There's always a right answer for every problem."

Logan shook his head. "Hate to tell you this, best friend, but I think this whole growing-up thing means that there may not be one answer for these things anymore."

Veronica frowned. "All just shades of grey, huh."

A wry smile pulled on Logan's lips. "Yep. Something like that. Someone once said, the only absolutes in life are death and taxes. They may have been right."

"That doesn't help me."

Logan chuckled. Moving closer to her, he wrapped both arms around her and squeezed. Veronica giggled and unwrapped her legs to be closer to his body.

"Veronica Mars, love of my life, fire in my loins, cream in my coffee, and sun to my moon," he began overdramatically, causing Veronica to giggle more. "You must, you must, just let this all go. You can't control everything that happens in life. Sometimes, you just have to let it be a mystery. Please. You're going to drive yourself insane if you think you can figure this all out. Just let it happen. I promise you, it will be fine in the end."

Veronica pulled her hoodie down off her head so she could see him better. His mouth was turned up in a grin, but his eyes were dark and serious as he continued.

"Believe me, trust me, when I say to you, leave all this stuff with your parents for them to worry about. They need to figure it out. Just like I have to leave my mom to figure this stuff out with Aaron."

His fingers slid along her spine and came to rest on her shoulder. "None of it affects how I feel about you. And I'm pretty sure it doesn't affect how you feel about me."

Veronica placed her palm on Logan's cheek, his patchy stubble rough against her skin. "No. It doesn't. In fact, if anything, it just makes me want to be with your more."

He turned his head slightly to kiss her hand. "And I keep saying, you don't worry about us having sex. I meant it when I said I would wait until the end of time for you."

"Yeah, but it would be fun to have sex before we get all wrinkly and old." She teased.

"Doesn't matter. The image of you standing naked in your room will still be etched in my mind when we're old and saggy," he replied, kissing her forehead. "I'll just close my eyes and think of that."

Veronica laughed loudly, startling Backup. The dog leapt to his feet and Veronica squealed as the sand-covered dog attempted to climb on their laps. She broke free of Logan's embrace to catch Backup by the collar. Grabbing the leash, she attached it quickly.

"Heel, Backup!" she ordered and the dog settled down.

"We should start getting back," Veronica said as she brushed the sand off her.

Logan rose and took her free hand. "Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Mom was going to track down coffee and bagels while I was with you. She's probably waiting for me in the parking lot."

Pulling her hood back over her head, Veronica stood on her tiptoes and gave Logan one last quick peck on the lips. "Thanks for meeting me."

Logan wrapped his arm around her shoulder and they began walking back towards the start of the beach. "Any time, best friend."

"No! Backup!" Veronica yelled from the front door as the sand covered dog galloped across the living room towards Keith.

Her dad leaned over and rubbed Backup's head.

"Come on, boy," he said and led the dog to the back door. "Go outside and shake off that sand."

Backup happily ran into the backyard and Keith closed the door. He was still in his sweats, holding a cup of coffee.

Veronica kicked off her shoes at the front door and flopped onto the couch. "Guess I gotta vacuum now, huh?"

Keith chuckled and came to sit down near her. "No. That can be a chore for this afternoon. How was the beach?"

"Good. Nice." Veronica smiled wistfully at the memory of walking with Logan along the sand. "Nice to get out, that is."

"And how's Logan?" Keith asked, taking a sip of coffee.

Veronica felt the colour drain from her face.

"What?" she stammered, averting her eyes from Keith's.

"Well, I meant how was Logan when you talked to him last night," Keith replied. "But from the look on your face, I would say, you saw him in person recently."

Veronica dropped her head, mentally chastising herself. Busted again!

"Did you just happen to run into him on the beach?" Keith said, his voice exasperated.

"Would you believe me if I said yes?" she said, raising her head to look at her dad.

Keith shook his head. "Veronica –"

"Dad, just listen," she interrupted. "He's still my best friend. And with Mom gone and being alone last night, I just needed to see him and talk. That's all."

Veronica fidgeted in her seat as her dad glared at her. "I know I'm in big trouble, but I just needed to do this. Can you understand that?"

Letting out a deep sigh, Keith rubbed his tired eyes. "Yes. I understand. But you realize this was a test, and you blew it. Right?"

Veronica nodded. She really was feeling like a complete screw up. "Now what?"

Keith leaned back in his seat. "I don't know. Right now, Veronica, I'm still trying to wrap my head around being a single parent to you this week, never mind trying to police your every move."

Scratch that. Now she felt like the worst daughter in the world.

"I'm sorry, Daddy," she said. "I know Mom leaving is hard on you too. I shouldn't have met Logan on the beach. I'm really sorry."

"Thank you, honey." Keith cast a small smile at his daughter. "I know that Logan is still your best friend, and you need him right now. This is all just a bit of a rough patch for us all."

Veronica nodded. A rough patch. Her dad was talking about being a single parent, but it was only a rough patch.

"Do you think she'll come home?" Veronica asked quietly.

Keith reached over and took Veronica's hand. Looking into his eyes, she noticed they had become glassy.

"I don't know, Veronica."

Veronica nodded. Her mom might not be coming home. She had toyed with the idea in theory, when she was mad at her mother, but reality was setting in now. The realization made her feel like she had aged several years in several seconds. She needed to be more responsible, she thought. Look after the house. Look after her dad. Look after herself. She could figure this out.

"Don't worry, Dad," she replied calmly. "We can do this. For a week. Or more."

Keith leaned towards her and kissed her forehead. "I know we can, kiddo."

Veronica's lip began to vibrate and she quickly blinked back tears. Pulling away from her father, she stood to leave.

"I should go get ready," she said and began moving towards the stairs.

Keith reached for her hand as she walked past, causing her to stop. "Hey, you know, if you need to talk, I'm here too. Okay?"

Veronica nodded and pulled her hand away from Keith's.

"Okay," she whispered, her voice beginning to crack.

She ran up the stairs to the bathroom, locking herself inside, her chest heaving as she fought the inevitable tears. Stripping out of her clothes, she turned the shower on as hot as she could stand it, then jumped inside. Only then, sitting on the floor of the tub, her knees pulled tightly to her chest, her arms wrapped around, did she let herself cry. Mom's not coming back. Veronica repeated the words over and over until they sunk in to her brain.

Just when she was beginning to need her the most, her mom was gone. How was she supposed to get birth control now? Her dad? Veronica shuddered at the thought of asking her dad to take her to the clinic. What about if something else happens with her body? She had her period, her breasts were growing, but what else? What if there was something she missed? Who was going to help her through?

Her tears began to stop as she focused on pushing past her sadness. She would figure it out. She didn't need her mom. She had her dad and Logan and her friends. That was enough to get by. Standing, Veronica stuck her face under the water and washed the dried tears. That was it. That was all the self-pity she would allow herself today.

Turning off the water, she stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel, wrapping it firmly around her body. Glancing towards the mirror, she wiped the fog from the glass.

"Time to grow up," Veronica said to her reflection.

Straightening her shoulders, Veronica walked confidently to her room, shutting the door behind her.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Try as she might, Veronica could not keep her hands off of Logan on Monday. The little contact they had over the weekend just made her want more. They spent the better part of school holding hands as Logan walked with her from class to class, and their entire lunch period squeezed into the spot behind the utility shed, making out until Veronica's face hurt. At the end of the day, when her dad picked her up to take her to the precinct, she was confident she had gotten her unabashed need to kiss Logan, out of her system. Until the same thing happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, their friends were threatening to abandon them completely if they didn't at least show up for lunch, which they did, holding hands happily as they chatted and laughed with everyone at the table.

Friday morning, Veronica stood in a towel, staring at her closet, trying to decide which outfit to wear to school. Without her mother around to remind her, Veronica had forgotten to do laundry, and she now had to decide between recycling a dirty pair of jeans or trying to pass off a pair of yoga pants as regular pants. The phone rang, momentarily distracting her from her decision.

"Hello!" she said happily, seeing it was Logan's number on her phone.

"Veronica? It's Lynn. Can I speak to your father please?"

Veronica went cold. "What's wrong? Is it Logan?"

"No, he's fine," Lynn replied. "But I really need to speak to Keith, please."

"Ok-ay," Veronica stammered and ran to her bedroom door.

Sticking her head out into the hall, she yelled towards the stairs. "Dad! Logan's mom is on the phone! She wants to talk to you!"

"Thank you!" Keith replied from somewhere downstairs and a few seconds later, Veronica heard the click on the line as he picked up the phone downstairs. She hung up her phone and quickly began getting dressed, throwing on her yoga pants and rifling through her closet for her favorite black sweater.

She finished applying lip gloss as she headed downstairs to the kitchen, where she found her dad plating pancakes for breakfast.

"Eat up quickly, sweetheart. I'm going to get dressed. We need to stop at Lynn's place on the way to school."

Veronica frowned as she sat down. "Why? What happened?"

Keith took a last sip of his coffee and placed his cup in the sink. "Paparazzi appeared last night and Lynn and Logan are trapped in their house. Guess this divorce isn't going to pass through the news as quietly as she had hoped."

Veronica let out a deep sigh. Wednesday morning, Lynn's lawyers delivered the papers to Aaron and the courts. Her publicist released a statement about "Irreconcilable Differences" and that, they thought, was the end of it. That night and the next day, there were small news items in the papers and on the entertainment news programs, but, as Lynn had hoped, it did not garner much attention.

"So what can you do?" Veronica asked.

"Scare them off with some trespassing and privacy threats," Keith replied. "We'll also take Logan to school, in case they follow Ben in his car."

Veronica nodded and began eating her breakfast. What happened to make the paparazzi suddenly appear? Slow news day? Or did Aaron do something? Her stomach twisted in a knot. This couldn't be good.

As Veronica loaded the dishwasher with the breakfast dishes, Keith returned, dressed in his Sherriff uniform.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

Veronica nodded and quickly got her jacket and backpack together before leaving the house.

On the car ride to Logan's, Keith called over the radio for two backup cars to meet him at the gates of the mansion. As they approached, Veronica's mouth dropped open at the sight. Trucks with cameras mounted on top, as well as cars and paparazzi on foot, lined both sides of the street. Keith turned on his siren and lights, forcing people off the driveway.

"Stay here," Keith ordered as he shut off the siren and placed the car in park.

Veronica nodded and slid down in the front seat slightly to avoid the eyes and cameras of the people now surrounding them.

Keith exited the vehicle, and began talking to the reporters. Veronica assumed he was threatening them with all manner of fines and tickets. Rolling down her window a crack, she could hear some of the ruckus that was going on outside. Paparazzi and reporters came closer to the car and Veronica scrunched down some more, trying to hide. The voices mashed together until one large voice yelled out at her father.

"If you're the county sheriff, then you should know. Are Lynn Echolls' claims that Aaron Echolls abused his son true?"

"What?" Her father went rigid.

"Has the Balboa County Sheriff's Department ever investigated Aaron Echolls for child abuse claims?" the person yelled again.

Veronica slid across the centre console and gasped Keith whipped around to face the reporter, his eyes flashing with anger and fists clenching at his side. His expression was thunderous.

"Deputies! Start handing out tickets! Get these scavengers out of here!" Keith's voice exploded.

Reporters began yelling questions at him as he marched to the intercom by the gate. Pressing the button and speaking quickly, he turned and headed back to the car. Veronica slid back to her seat and rolled up the window. Keith jumped in, slamming the door, and turned on the sirens. The reporters moved away as the gates began to open. His jaw set firm, Keith guided the vehicle through the gates and up to the front of the mansion where he pulled to a stop.

Pausing for a moment, Keith turned to Veronica. His eyes were hard, his face red with anger. But when he opened his mouth, his voice was soft.

"Is it true?"

"Yes." Veronica gasped, her heart beating so hard she thought it would break through her chest.

Keith bit his upper lip. Dropping his eyes, he nodded. "Let's go in."

As she opened the car door, Veronica looked up the steps to see Lynn, dressed in a stylish pink Chanel suit, standing at the door. Veronica exited quickly, running up the steps to the safety of the house.

"Thank you, Keith," Lynn said as she closed the door behind them. "Someone leaked the notes from my lawyer's file to the media. It's just a disaster."

Keith turned on his heels to address Lynn. Veronica looked up to see Logan, dressed for school, sitting a little ways up on the stairs, near the window. He looked down at her, his mouth pursed in a thin line.

"Is it true, Lynn?" Keith began. "Is it true? Was Aaron abusing Logan?"

Veronica turned to see Lynn standing in front of her father, her arms crossed in front of herself protectively.

"Yes," she replied quietly. "It's true."

Veronica looked back up at Logan, his face was emotionless as his eyes watched what was happening between their parents downstairs.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Keith said. "I could have stopped it."

"Keith, you know as well as I do that money would have kept it out of the courts. That's how Aaron hid it in the first place." Lynn shook her head, sighing deeply. "And then what? He would have moved us somewhere else. Logan was safest here, near Veronica…near you. Having her in this house with him every weekend helped save Logan so many times. If we moved, he would have beaten him even more than he did."

Veronica saw her father cringe and look away. When their eyes met, the rage in Keith's face was visible. Those angry eyes began to soften as Keith looked up the stairs, finally noticing Logan's presence.

"Come here, son," Keith said quietly, gesturing with his hand for Logan to come closer.

Slowly, Logan descended the stairs. He stopped when he reached Veronica, but didn't come any closer to Keith.

Her dad took a few steps closer, carefully, as if not to spook Logan. Veronica looked between the two, anxiously holding her breath.

"What did your father do to you, Logan?" Keith asked gently.

A look for fear crossed Logan's face. Veronica touched his arm reassuringly.

"Show him," she said softly. "You're safe. It's okay now."

Logan's eyes darted nervously between the three of them, before he lowered his face and held out his hand, palm up.

Keith's mouth dropped open at the sight of the puckered wound, but no words came out. Logan remained silent.

"Christmas," Veronica said quietly. "Aaron burned him with his cigar."

She caught Logan's eye and nodded to him. Pulling up the sleeve of his shirt, he presented Keith with the scar on his forearm.

"Cigar dragged across his arm," Veronica said. "Logan was ten. He told me then that he spilled boiling water on himself."

Reaching to undo the top buttons of his Henley, Logan pulled his collar down to show off the scar on his chest.

"Cigar. Also at Christmas," Veronica said.

She reached across his back, her hand landing on the sensitive skin underneath his shirt. Giving Logan a reassuring nod, she dropped her hand as he turned around. With a deep breath, he pulled his shirt up to reveal the faint scars on his back.

"Belt. Halloween," Veronica explained. "Although it happened other times before. But this time, he left marks."

Logan dropped his shirt and turned around, his body hunched, his eyes cast downward once more.

"There are others," Veronica said, her voice cracking with emotion. "But they're on his legs and hips –"

"I've seen enough," Keith choked, his eyes heavy with sadness.

Silence fell, the revelation lingering heavy in the air surrounding them.

Then, slowly, Keith stepped over to Logan and wrapped his arms around him tightly. Veronica stepped back as Logan hesitantly returned the hug.

"I'm sorry." Veronica heard her father whisper. "I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you."

Lynn let out a small gasp and Veronica glanced over to see her start to cry. Looking back at Logan, she watched as he dropped his arms and began to wriggle from Keith's grasp. Her father released him and without a word, Logan turned and ran up the stairs. He didn't look back.

The shock of the situation left Veronica numb. Her father wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand before turning to Veronica, wrapping his arm around her shoulder and kissing the side of her head.

"Veronica, can you leave Lynn and I alone for a bit," Keith said. "We need to talk."

Veronica glanced up the stairs where Logan had disappeared, then back to her dad, not sure what she should do.

"You can go upstairs with Logan, if you want," Keith added. "He probably needs his best friend right about now."

"Okay," Veronica replied and quickly hurried up the stairs, before her dad had the chance to change his mind.

Arriving at Logan's bedroom door, she knocked gently. When he didn't respond, she knocked again.

"Go away, Mom." The muffled sound of his voice came through the door.

"It's me," Veronica replied, checking the doorknob to find it locked. "Can I come in?"

There was a pause and the sound of the doorknob clicking as Logan unlocked it before opening it for her to enter. She pushed the door all the way open as Logan shuffled back to his bed, flopping onto his back. He covered his eyes with his arms as she closed the door behind her.

"Thought your dad would have hustled you out of here pretty quick after that scene," Logan muttered from under his arms.

Veronica let out a sigh and took off her jacket, throwing it over a chair. She climbed on the bed and sat cross-legged near Logan's head, looking down at him.

"He said you probably needed your best friend right now," she said. "Plus, he's talking to your mom."

There was a long, awkward silence as she waited for Logan to respond.

"I can't believe everyone is going to know what Aaron did to me," he said quietly. "Showing your dad what happened was humiliating."

Veronica placed her hand on his chest, feeling his heartbeat under her palm. "I'm sorry you had to show him, but now he knows the truth and can help. You shouldn't feel embarrassed by something that wasn't your fault."

Logan removed his arms to look up at her, his eyes bloodshot from crying. "Yeah. What if people think I made it up? That I'm faking it? Or that I deserved it?"

"It doesn't matter what other people think," she said. "You and I know the truth. And our friends will believe you."

Logan scoffed. "Our friends? Great. So they can give me the same pity-stare your dad did? Because I don't want or need their pity."

"They won't pity you," Veronica replied, frowning down at him. "They'll be sympathetic but they won't pity you."

"I think the only part of that you got right was the 'pathetic' part," Logan muttered, throwing his arm over his eyes again.

Letting out a little growl of frustration, Veronica tossed her leg over Logan chest, straddling him. He let out a huff at the sudden weight on him and peeked out from behind his arms to look up at her hovering over him.

"Listen to me…this is not your fault. You are not pathetic. Don't listen to what stupid people say," she said forcefully, as she added. "I love you."

Dropping his arms over his head, his frown quickly morphed into a smirk. "You always have the most interesting ways of showing me you love me. Breaking into my room – "

Veronica sat up on his chest, causing him to moan as air escaped him once more. "I'm just telling you something very, very important. And making sure you listen."

"I am listening," He laughed, resting his hands on her hips. "I love you too. And I'm also grateful that you care enough about me to restrain me to tell me so."

"I love you. Your friends love you. My dad loves you. Your mom loves you," she said, looking down into his deep brown eyes. "It will all be okay."

Logan let out a deep sigh. "I know. You're right."

He shifted sideways, depositing Veronica off his chest and onto the bed. She giggled as she flopped onto the mattress. For a moment, they lay on the bed together, and Veronica wondered what they would do next. With a wink, Logan sat up, and Veronica grudgingly followed suit. Taking her hand in his, Logan kissed her knuckles and smiled.

"You know, the media also know about the video tapes of the women," he said.

Veronica arched her eyebrow and grinned. "Really? That's great. Maybe they'll focus more on that and less on the abuse."

"I'm hoping so," Logan said. "You know, if I was a real slime-ball, I would sell the full tapes to Access Hollywood, then we could take the cash and run off together."

Veronica bit her lip. For a fleeting moment, the idea of running away from everything sounded pretty good. "Yeah, but I think that was what my dad was talking about when he said he was worried we'd give up our futures to be together. Plus, you're not a slime ball."

"Come on," Logan teased. "You and me, hitchhiking down the coast. Sleeping in a tent on the beach. Making love under the stars."

Narrowing her eyes, Veronica tried to make it look like the idea wasn't so appealing. But the reality was that her heart was quietly urging her to go.

"And the baby we accidentally conceive under the stars?" she replied, her head getting into the discussion. "That would be really fun. Waddling down the highway, 8-months pregnant. Giving birth in a tent. Changing diapers on a bench."

Logan frowned. "You're spoiling my fantasy with your logic."

Veronica leaned over and kissed him on the nose. "Good. Because I want you here where I can see you. Please don't think of going anywhere."

"I won't," he replied, leaning over to kiss her gently on the lips. "Not without you."

Veronica let out a deep sigh. "So what now?"

"You know what always cheers me up?" he said, giving her a devilish grin.

Veronica held up her finger and shook it at Logan. "Oh no. No making out with my dad downstairs. No matter what Trina said, the possibility of getting caught does not make it more fun."

"What? No! Get your mind out of the gutter, Veronica." Logan rolled his eyes dramatically and waved her off. "I was going to suggest we play cards."

Logan rolled himself across the bed to his side table and pulled out a deck of cards. Veronica shook her head and laughed. "Fine. But no strip poker."

"Darn," he said, snapping his fingers and shaking his head. "You're on to me."

Opening the box of cards, he began to shuffle.

Veronica undid the laces on her boots and tossed them to the floor. Pulling her feet up underneath her she smiled at Logan.

"By the way," he said, dealing the cards between them. "Feel free to pin me to the bed anytime you want to tell me something. The weather. Geometry equations. Really, anything at all is fine."

Veronica picked up her cards, scratching her nose up and blushing. "Sorry. It was the only thing I could think of to try and make you listen to me."

Logan put the rest of the cards down and smiled. "Then maybe I need to start ignoring you more."

She giggled as she fanned her cards out in front of her face. "Maybe you will."

They played Gin Rummy for several rounds before a firm knock on the door interrupted them.

"Come in!" Veronica called, not moving from her position on the bed.

Keith swung open the door, his face immediately scrunching up, as if he smelled something bad.

"Aren't you glad you had a girl?" Veronica commented with a laugh. "Boys stink."

Logan scowled from behind his cards. "You make it sound like I never shower!"

"All you have to do is put your clothes in the laundry basket and not on the floor," she retorted. "And this room would be fine."

Logan rolled his eyes. "My room. I can do what I want."

"When you two are done with your comedy routine, Lynn and I would like to talk to you both downstairs." Keith glanced around the disheveled room and sighed. "Where the air is cleaner."

Veronica tossed down her cards on the pile and hopped off the bed to retrieve her boots. "Sure thing, Dad. We'll be down in a second."

Keith nodded and backed out of the room, leaving the door wide open.

"Your dad officially knows too much about me now," Logan stated.

Veronica finished tying her boots and grabbed her jacket. "Please. My dad was once a teenage boy. I'm pretty sure he gets it."

Logan dropped his cards on the pile and hopped off the bed. Turning to Veronica, he wove his fingers through hers.

"Shall we go?"

She looked up at him and smiled. "We shall."

Together, they made their way downstairs to their parents. Keith was standing in the sitting room, just off the kitchen, while Lynn sat in one of the plush chairs, a tight smile on her face.

Veronica glanced around and decided to sit on the couch closest to Lynn. Logan sat next to her as he glanced between the adults.

Keith stood behind the couch, across from them, near the window. Veronica noticed the drapes were closed tightly, blocking the morning sun. All the lights were on around them, creating a strange feeling of being out of sync with the actual time of day.

"Guess we're going to be late for school, huh," Veronica observed.

To her surprise, Keith chuckled. "That ship has sailed without you both today. I called and explained the situation to the principal. He was very understanding. Plus, he didn't feel like having paparazzi on his school lawn."

"So, what do we do now?" Logan asked, fidgeting nervously next to Veronica.

"Well, to start with, we lay all the secrets on the table right now," Keith said, looking between the two teens. "Lynn tells me that the two of you dug up quite the cache of evidence against Aaron – a fact that has me both astounded and slightly impressed."

Veronica and Logan looked at each other. She fought to hold back the grin that threatened to take over her face. Her dad was impressed with her detective work. Well done Veronica, she thought.

"Now, before you start congratulating yourselves, there is a problem," Keith continued.

"What's that?" Veronica asked.

"This is completely off the record," Keith said. "But if you release the evidence to the Securities Commission, they will freeze Aaron's assets and Lynn won't get a dime."

Keith walked around the couch and sat down, folding his hands together in front of him. "Plus, Aaron could try and charge you with theft, since you took the original tapes from his private residence."

"But why would he do that?" Logan said, his voice rising. "If anyone sees him, he'll never work again. He slept with, like, a bunch of studio executive's wives, and Celeste Kane!"

Keith rubbed his eyes with his hand and gave a deep sigh. "Be that as it may, the law is the law. And the court of public opinion is another matter."

Veronica felt her good mood deflate. She had been so sure this would work. Now it seemed that there would be more trouble from Aaron.

"That being said, I may have a way to keep Aaron from pressing charges," he said. "But you may not like it."

"What is it, Dad?" asked Veronica.

"Logan, I want you to come down to the station so I can document the abuse," Keith said gently. "I'll just open a file, but I'll wait to proceed. If Aaron tries anything, I'll haul him in for questioning, but if he leaves everyone alone, I'll quietly close the file. You never have to go to court. You never have to testify. It's done."

Logan's leg began to bounce nervously, shaking them both on the couch. Veronica reached over and put her hand on his knee, halting it. The two looked at each other for a second before Logan let out a deep breath.

"Fine. Whatever. Everyone knows about it now, anyhow," he muttered. "Might as well make it official."

"Logan," Keith said quietly. "What's troubling you?"

Logan frowned and crossed his arms. "Besides everything?"

"I'm trying to help you as best I can," Keith replied.

"I know. And I'm grateful," Logan said, dropping his gaze. "But I'm not a fan of people seeing these ugly scars on me, never mind analyzing them."

"That's completely understandable," Keith said. "What else?"

"I'm just," Logan grasped at his words as Veronica sat beside him quietly, listening intently. "I'm worried that people will think I'm this big wimp whose dad beat him up all the time."

Veronica cringed. Her attempts at maneuvering puberty and sexuality had nothing on Logan and his struggles with his dad, figuring out who he was and his place in the world. At least she didn't have someone trying to beat her into some twisted mould of how they thought she should feel or act.

"You're not a wimp, Logan," her father replied. "Aaron's a coward who didn't have the balls to be a real parent. You don't guide a child by beating them; you do it by loving them. As far as I'm concerned he's the wimp."

Veronica gave Keith a small smile, which he returned. God, she was lucky to have him as her dad, she thought.

"Logan," Lynn said quietly. "I'll be there with you. It will all be okay. We'll all be okay after this. He can't hurt us anymore."

Logan remained quiet. Veronica could see in his eyes as they narrowed, glancing back and forth between her dad and his mom, that he was contemplating what everyone was saying.

"I know this is a lot to process, son," Keith said. "We can give you some time. Lynn has hired extra security, but they won't be here for a while. In the meantime, Veronica and I will head down to the precinct. You and your mother can come when you feel comfortable with everything. Okay?"

Logan nodded, glancing at Veronica briefly before looking away. Gently, she ran her hand up and down his arm.

"It will all be okay. I'll see you later."

"Okay," he murmured.

Before she realized what she was doing, Veronica rose from her seat slightly and kissed him on the cheek, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. He turned his head, a startled look crossing his face, before she stood quickly, her face hot with embarrassment.

A small giggle escaped Lynn and Veronica glanced at her quickly before dropping her eyes to avoid her dad.

"Let's go," she said quietly and hurried for the front door.

The sound of her father's shoes on the marble floors, as well as Lynn's high heels clicking, followed behind her. Reaching for the large brass door handle, Veronica heaved the door open and looked outside. All the paparazzi had disappeared and instead, two patrol cars sat at the front gates.

Keith softly placed his hand on her shoulder. "Let's go, sweetheart."

The two descended the steps together to the police cruiser. Once inside, they did not speak. Keith radioed the two cars at the gates to move, and the cruiser left the grounds, on their way to the station. A few blocks down the road, Keith finally spoke gently to his daughter.

"Have you known all this time?"

Veronica shook her head, keeping her eyes fixed on the road outside. "No. I just found out at Halloween. I was worried about our fight and his supposed anaphylactic reaction, so I snuck into his house and found him."

Keith took a long, deep breath. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I believed him when he said he could handle it," she replied. "I also believed him when he said if we told you, Aaron and his lawyers would come after you."

"Veronica, I am the last person that you should have been worried about," Keith said in an exasperated voice. "I would have done anything to protect him, you should know that."

Veronica dropped her gaze to her lap. "That's what we were afraid of."

Keith fell silent for a moment and Veronica began to fidget in her seat. Being interrogated by her dad was becoming a regular thing, but it still didn't get any easier.

"So who's idea was the blackmail then?" he started his line of questioning again.

"Mine," Veronica admitted. "I thought that the threat of embarrassing him was the best way to keep him away from Logan."

Veronica's mind wandered back to what happened to Logan and Lynn over Christmas. Aaron didn't need to be embarrassed; he needed to be put in prison.

"Did Logan's mom tell you about Christmas?" Veronica said hesitantly. "About what Aaron did to her?"

She turned towards her dad just as he turned towards her. His eyes narrowed with interest. "No. She told me about Logan. What happened to her?"

All secrets on the table, Veronica thought. "Aaron attacked her. Raped her. Logan had passed out but Trina heard what happened."

She watched her father's knuckles turn white as he clenched the steering wheel in anger. Pulling the car into a parking spot in front of the courthouse, Keith released the wheel with a long exhale of breath.

"The man raped his own wife, but you and Logan thought you could handle him yourself?" he hissed.

This whole honesty thing really wasn't all it was cracked up to be, Veronica though as her heart began beating loudly in her ears.

"We just wanted him to leave them alone."

"Well, you got what you wanted, in the end," Keith replied, his voice growing weary. "But it's going to be because Logan is reporting his abuse and I can protect him using that information. So maybe you could have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble if you both decided to do this in the first place."

"But if we didn't find the tapes, Lynn would've never divorced him!" Veronica countered, trying to make her father see that they were right. "And he would have been able to hurt them again! The tapes kept him away from them. It was the right thing to do."

"This is not a game, Veronica!" Keith's voice boomed as he smacked the steering wheel with his hand. "I know I indulged your curiosity about investigating all your life, but this is real! And you are not a police detective yet. You are a teenager!"

Veronica recoiled, moving her body closer to the door. She didn't know what to say, but she did know that whatever she chose, it would be wrong, so she kept her mouth closed.

"You are very lucky that Aaron is not a stupid man. Because he could have easily come after all of you, either himself or hiring someone to do his dirty work," Keith continued. "He is a dangerous man, and I aim to make sure he never comes back in my town again."

Dread bubbled up in Veronica's stomach. She never really thought Aaron would come after her; after all, they had Mac set to expose him if something happened. But what if he sent someone; made it look like an accident. Broke into the mansion and hurt Logan or Lynn, making it look like it happened in a botched burglary. Or her house, when she was alone. At night. A shiver ran through Veronica as she pushed what could have happened out of her head.

Her dad touched her arm gently and she flinched, lost momentarily in her terrible thoughts of Aaron's revenge.

"The bottom line is you are both safe now," Keith said. "And I intend to keep it that way."

Veronica looked at her dad and nodded. He was right, once again, and there was noting more to say. Quietly, the two exited the car, making their way into the station.

 

Chapter Text

Veronica lay in bed on Saturday morning, running the events of the last 24 hours over and over in her head. Logan had called her briefly that night, to check in and tell her that he was going to hide-out alone in his room all weekend. Considering the paparazzi were still parked outside the gates, it was probably for the best.

When she and Keith had finally dragged themselves home from the precinct – bags of fast food in hand – Veronica had set herself up in front of the television to see what the entertainment news programs were saying about Logan. It was the media's own personal three-ring circus. One show had a quack psychologist discussing how Logan couldn't have been abused, based on paparazzi photos of him from Christmas, and Lynn was making it all up. There was another psychologist, on a different program, talking about how he was absolutely being abused, based solely on one People Magazine photo shoot, and that Lynn was a saint for finally doing something. There was an addictions counselor, on the last show, talking about Aaron's obvious addiction to sex, if the rumours of the tapes were true. Then there was Aaron himself, on every program, issuing a statement about how much he loved Logan and all of these rumours were lies by Lynn to discredit him in the divorce.

The crash of a plate dropping in the kitchen shook Veronica from her thoughts. Letting out a small laugh, she shook her head and rose from her bed.

"Must be Dad's first day with the new fingers," she joked to herself. Grabbing her robe from the back of the door, she swung it around her Led Zeppelin shirt and headed downstairs.

The smell of bacon wafted up the stairs and Veronica's stomach let out a small growl.

"I heard that crash all the way upstairs!" she called out as she came through the kitchen door.

Veronica let out a gasp as Lianne stood up from behind the counter, pieces of plate in her hands.

"Oh, Veronica!" Lianne said, her eyes wide in shock. "I didn't mean to wake you!"

"I…you…I was…what are you doing here?"

Lianne deposited the plate pieces in the garbage under the sink and rinsed her hands.

"I saw Logan and Lynn on the news," Lianne said, approaching Veronica. "And I thought…I thought you may need me."

She came back for me.

Veronica's chest tightened with emotion as all her anger towards her mother evaporated. She had come home. For her.

"Yeah," Veronica whispered. "I do need you."

Lianne gave her a small smile and stepped closer to wrap her in a soft hug. "I was in Tucson, visiting an old friend. I drove all night to get here."

Veronica glanced up at her mom, noticing how terrible she looked. The dark, puffy circles beneath her eyes contrasted with her pale skin and her hair was haphazardly pulled into a stringy ponytail. An apron was slung loosely over jeans and a wrinkled shirt.

As Veronica analysed her, Lianne pushed a stray strands of hair from her face, her hand shaking slightly as she did.

"I…I haven't had a drink in days, if that's what you're wondering," Lianne said, shoving her quivering hand in the pocket of her apron.

Veronica frowned. It wasn't what she was wondering, but she was glad she knew. "It's okay, Mom."

Stepping away from Veronica and turning her attention back to the completion of breakfast, Lianne began pouring pancake batter on the electric griddle.

"I'm going to get better," Lianne said hesitantly. "For you. And your dad. You both need me."

Veronica didn't move from her spot as she watched her mother twitch and turn like a nervous rabbit around the kitchen.

"Yeah. We really do need you," Veronica replied quietly.

Lianne nodded, avoiding eye contact, turning from the griddle to start making a pot of coffee. Slowly, as not to disturb what felt like a delicate balance in the room, Veronica sat at the counter and waited for whatever was to happen next.

It didn't take long before her father walked into the kitchen, stopping in shock at the sight of his wife. He glanced at Veronica before speaking.

"Lianne. You're back," he said, stumbling slightly over his words, "home."

"I am."Lianne turned towards Keith, a pained smile appearing on her face. "I hope that's okay?"

Keith frowned. "Of course it is. You're my wife. You're my family."

Her dad walked across the kitchen and tentatively wrapped his arms around Lianne. She seemed to relax for a moment in his arms before stepping back to the pancakes.

"Don't want them to burn," she murmured.

"Of course," Keith replied.

Keeping her eyes on her mother, Veronica sat quietly. The pancakes crackled softly while the coffee pot hissed. The rest of the room was filled with a heavy silence.

The awkwardness of her mother's return just added to the feeling of restlessness that consumed Veronica. After breakfast, Lianne went to shower and lie down, and her father retreated to the safety of chores outside the house – walking Backup, cutting the lawn, cleaning the garage – while Veronica was left on the inside to do chores.

When she returned, Lianne joined in the cleaning, attempting to make small talk about Veronica's week. Unsure of what to say, Veronica gave her the barest of details.

By the time her father left for work, Veronica was practically itching to retreat to her room for the rest of the night.

But instead, as she was finishing her dinner, Lianne placed her hand on her shoulder gently and said, "Why don't we have ice cream and girl talk tonight, okay?"

Veronica forced a smile. "Sure. That would be great."

While Lianne cleared away the dishes, Veronica changed into a pair of cozy sweats and tank top. Her mother's return had left her confused. Part of Veronica wanted to welcome her back happily, while another part of her still had misgivings about Lianne's motivation for returning. Both thoughts gave her an uneasy feeling in her stomach as she headed back downstairs.

Her mother sat on the couch; two bowls of rocky road ice cream were on the coffee table. She patted the cushion next to her. "Come and sit with me, sweetheart."

Veronica took a deep breath and steadied herself. Flopping down next to her mom, she pulled the bowl protectively onto her lap and began eating.

"So," Lianne began. "How are you and Logan doing?"

And so it begins, Veronica thought. "Fine."

"Your father told me what happened," Lianne said. "It's terrible what Aaron did to him."

"Yep," Veronica said and shoved more ice cream in her mouth.

Lianne paused, fidgeting in her seat. The silence made the hair on Veronica's neck stand on end. Her mom was gearing up for something. She could feel it.

"So, do you still want me to help you get birth control?" Lianne asked quietly.

Veronica dropped her spoon in the bowl with a clatter. Lianne had a soft smile and a kindness in her eyes that Veronica hadn't seen in a while. Her mom wasn't asking to be judgemenntal; she was asking because she cared.

"I – I don't know," Veronica stammered.

Lianne took Veronica's hand. "Veronica, I suspect you asked for the birth control not because you wanted to use it, but because you wanted to exert your control over things. Is that right?"

Veronica nodded, avoiding her mom's eyes.

"You blackmailed me," she replied.

Lianne let out a sigh and shifted in her seat. "Yes, well, I may have stepped over the line with how I handled finding that book of yours. And I'm sorry."

Frowning, Veronica scooted away from Lianne slightly, slipping her hand out of her mother's grasp.

"Look, if you want to, I am still willing to take you for birth control," Lianne continued. "Even if you don't use it yet. Just so you're prepared, when the time comes."

Veronica crossed her arms over her chest, regarding her mother with some suspicion. "We aren't having sex."

"Why not?"

Veronica wrinkled her nose in disgust. Did her mom really ask her that?

"I don't know –" she replied in shock. "I'm just not ready, I guess."

Lianne smiled. "Good. That was what I was hoping you would say."

"Yeah, well," Veronica began, flustered. "When did you lose your virginity?"

Lianne hesitated a moment before responding. "15. I was 15."

Veronica paused, realizing their 'girl talk' was about to take a wander down memory lane.

"How did it happen?" Veronica asked, curious about where this conversation was headed.

Lianne's forehead wrinkled and she looked away, her hand coming up to rest on her heart. "It was…it was…unexpected."

"Unexpected?" Veronica replied.

"Unexpected. Joyful. Funny." Lianne brought her finger up to her lips, a dazzling smile spread across her face, her eyes twinkling with happiness.

In spite of herself, Veronica smiled back. This was the happiest she had seen her mom in…well…she didn't know how long.

"What happened?" she asked.

Lianne let out a girlish giggle, pulling her legs up underneath her on the couch. "He was in summer school and I came over to quiz him for a French test. His mother insisted he learn French and he hated it."

Veronica was enthralled. Her mom must be talking about Jake Kane. She just knew it was him.

"Anyway, he mispronounced something really badly, and I thought it was funny, so we began teasing each other," Lianne bit her lip to contain her smile. "And then he kissed me. And it was like – nothing mattered after that."

There was a pause as Veronica watched Lianne's eyes drifted around the room, obviously caught up in the memory.

"And we started making out on his bed, and one thing led to another and –" Lianne said. "We ended up having funny, awkward, sex right then and there."

"I worry about us getting carried away." Logan's words rose up in her head. Apparently, it could happen.

"Was it…who did…?" Veronica stammered.

"That boy I told you about. Jay," she replied softly.

"Jay?"

"Well, his real name was Jacob, but most people called him Jake," she said. "But I called him Jay. Like the letter 'J'."

Veronica gave her head a small shake. All the pictures of her mom and Jake jumbled around I'm her mind. "And that's how you began dating?"

"Well, not exactly my recommended way to start a relationship, but yes, that's what happened. Remember, we had known each other as friends for a few years first, so it just seemed kind of natural to be together."

Answers. She still needed more answers. "Did you use protection?"

"No. We were so stupid," Lianne replied. "I was scared to death that I was pregnant for a week, until my period began. After that, we used protection."

She could have had Jake Kane's baby, if things had happened differently. More crazy information to absorb.

"That's why your father and I were so adamant about talking to you from a young age about sex and birth control. We wanted you to be prepared. To ask questions. To feel comfortable about this so you could make an informed decision, when the time came."

Lianne looked down at her hands, clasped in her lap. "I loved Jay, but when it came to having sex with him, I was completely clueless. Everything I knew about sex, I had learned from my friends. I mean, one of them told me I should have jumped up and down after having sex so I wouldn't get pregnant!"

Veronica let out a small laugh. "I overheard someone in the locker room say that if you chewed gum during sex, you wouldn't get pregnant either."

Lianne shook her head with a small laugh. "It sounds ridiculous, but it's also scary to know that girls actually believe this, in this day and age."

Veronica pursed her lips in thought. She had actually overheard all sorts of crazy ideas about how not to get pregnant from girls in school. Maybe this was the time to get some answers.

"Another rumour was that you can't get pregnant your first time," Veronica added.

"I was lucky, Veronica., but you can absolutely get pregnant the first time you have sex. You can also get pregnant if you have sex during your period," she said, holding up her hand and raising one finger to create a list. "You can get pregnant while using birth control. You can get pregnant having sex in water. You can get pregnant if the man pulls out before he comes. And you can most definitely get pregnant if you drink Mountain Dew while having sex."

Veronica's cheeks flushed hot with embarrassment. Her mom was certainly pulling out all the stops with this talk.

"But beyond pregnancy, Veronica, you need to make sure you protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. That's the other reason why you need to use a condom with the Pill or other birth control."

Veronica frowned again. "But Logan's never had sex before. He wouldn't give me anything."

"In my day, that didn't matter," Lianne began. "There were instances where people had contracted AIDS through blood transfusions, because screening practices for blood was not up with the times. People, kids, that had never had sex, were infected and didn't know until they showed symptoms."

Lianne paused to reach over to Veronica, gently placing her hand on Veronica's knee. "Plus, it's a healthy routine. It gives you added protection from pregnancy, and if you and Logan ever break up, then you can insist on condoms with your next partner to protect you from STDs."

Veronica's mouth dropped open to argue, but she quickly shut it. The hard truth was that maybe she and Logan wouldn't be together forever.

"Is there anything else you want to ask me?" Lianne asked quietly.

Veronica summoned the courage to ask the question she wasn't sure she wanted the answer to.

"What was it like? After you had sex," she began slowly. "I mean, you were friends and then you had sex and you started dating. How did it change things?"

Lianne paused, frowning down at her hands in her lap.

"It was terrible and wonderful," Lianne replied. "It was terrible because he was one of my best friends and I knew that if something happened, we wouldn't be friends anymore. But it was also wonderful because we would lay in bed together for hours talking and laughing and making love and sleeping wrapped in each other's arms."

Lianne let out a long sigh. "When it was over, I found out that I was right – we couldn't be just friends. And it wasn't the sex I missed most - I missed the talking and the laughing and the friendship most of all. That's what I miss."

Intimacy. When her mother and Jake broke up, her mother missed the intimacy. It sounded like she still did.

"I'm so scared that will happen with me and Logan," Veronica confided. "If we have sex and we break up, later on. It doesn't seem worth losing his friendship."

"Would it help if I told you that I don't regret being in love with Jay? I just regret how it ended," Lianne said, rubbing Veronica's leg reassuringly.

The vibration of Lianne's shaking hand distracted Veronica momentarily. Veronica's eyes narrowed as she focused on her mother's new affliction. Quickly removing her hand, Lianne grabbed her water bottle off the floor and took a quick sip. Lianne gave her a forced smile and Veronica decided to ignore it, for the time being.

"What about Dad?" Veronica said. "If you were so in love with Jake, then why did you end up with Dad?"

Lianne crossed her arms over her chest, a genuine smile stretching across her face, causing her eyes to sparkle.

"Oh, sweetheart, I love your dad too," she declared. "I just love him in a different way."

Oh great, Veronica thought, first there was all the different ways to have sex, and now there were different ways to be in love? She was never going to figure this stuff out.

"Keith makes me feel safe," Lianne said. "Jay was wild and spontaneous and he always had girls flirting with him. Your father is kind, and funny, and grounded, and mature. On our first date, we stayed out all night, just talking and laughing, walking along the beach. He didn't ask me to sleep at his place, he didn't pressure me for another date." Lianne paused and let out a giggle. "You know, when he brought me home, he didn't even kiss me on the lips? I puckered up, and he kissed me on the forehead!"

Veronica grinned from ear-to-ear. It sounded like what Logan did with her at the doorway to her bedroom the evening they kissed for the first time. Then she cringed, realizing that similarities between her dad and her boyfriend were not something she really wanted to think about.

"Dad sounded sweet," Veronica said.

"He was. He still is," Lianne nodded. "But when you're in law enforcement, and you hear about the horrific things that happen to people day in and day out, it hardens you. I just think somewhere along the line, your dad and I just got…lost."

Veronica's chest tightened. "Does that mean you still love Dad?"

Lianne bit her lip, pausing. "I do. I love both of you very much, Veronica."

Veronica's bottom lip quivered. Their conversation tonight proved to her that, even though she was getting older, Veronica still needed her mother, no matter what. The alcohol – the alcohol was to blame for her behaviour. Not her mom. If she could just stay sober, their lives would get better - her parents wouldn't fight, she would feel safe with her mom - everything would be normal.

"I love you too," she said quietly. "Thanks for coming home."

Rocking her body towards her, Lianne wrapped Veronica in her arms. "I'm so sorry for the pain I caused you, Veronica. I'll try to be a better mother. I promise."

Tears sprang to Veronica's eyes as she relaxed into her mother's embrace. Maybe she would never be too old to need her mom.

The ringing phone broke the moment and Lianne released Veronica.

"That must be Logan," Veronica said, jumping from the couch to answer it.

"R. Casab..." flashed on the call display. Veronica frowned.

"What's up, Dick?" she answered.

"What's up, Dick?" Logan giggled through the receiver. "What's up, Dick?"

This time, she heard Dick laughing loudly behind Logan's crazy giggle.

Cupping the mouthpiece with her hand, Veronica hissed into the phone. "Are you drunk?"

"No!" replied Logan, his giggling subsiding momentarily. "We're stoned out of our minds!"

Veronica's nearly dropped the phone. Stoned. They were stoned. Pressing the receiver to her leg, to cover the sound of the laughter starting up again, Veronica turned to her mom.

"It's Logan. He's calling from Dick's house," she said. "I'm gonna go to my room and talk to him."

Lianne took another sip from her water bottle. "Of course. Have fun."

Fun. Sure.

Racing upstairs, she quickly closed the door behind her and turned on some music to drown out the sound of her voice through the walls.

"Stoned!" she said, returning to the giggling from the boys. "What the hell?"

"Oh 'Ronica. It's fine. Just some pot Dick found in his old man's desk," Logan drawled. "It won't kill us."

"What are you even doing over there?" she replied. "I thought you couldn't go out because of the paparazzi?"

"I busted out!" Logan giggled again. "Left my mom a note then crawled out a bathroom window at the back of the house, went through the hedge to the Kane's, hopped the fence to that mean old guy's yard, then over to Dick's. Simple!"

The weird giggling was really getting on Veronica's nerves. Pacing around her room, she put her hand on her hip, readying herself to kick some ass.

"Logan, do you realize how absolutely stupid this is? What if someone gets a picture of you stoned? And even if they don't, why on earth would you agree to do drugs?"

Logan let out a low groan.

"Ronnie, just relax," he said, drawing out his words. "We're in Dick's basement, in the game room. No one's here and no one can see us. Just don't be a buzzkill, huh?"

Buzzkill? Veronica stopped in her tracks, anger surging through her. "What? I'm just trying to look out for you, and I'm a 'buzzkill'?

"Ver-on-i-ca," he said, drawing out each syllable, then pausing to chuckle. "Your name makes my lips feel all tingly. Vvvvvvveeeeerrrr…"

Veronica pulled the phone away from her ear, looking at it in disgust. Her boyfriend was an idiot. Dick was certainly an idiot, but he had finally succeeded in taking Logan with him. She put the phone back up to her ear to catch the rest of Logan's ramblings.

"…just everything about you makes me feel so good. Do you know that, Vee?" he finished.

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Exactly how much pot did you smoke?"

"I dunno. His dad had the pot in a bag with a glass pipe," he replied. "We both had a couple of drags. But we did it a couple of times."

"Over how long?" she asked.

"Umm, all afternoon," Logan admitted.

"So you aren't stoned or wasted. You're completely fucked up," she said, the anger beginning to rise again.

"But 'Ronnie, just be cool, 'kay," Logan replied, his words dragging slightly. "I don't feel nothing now, you know that? Divorce? Don't care. Paparazzi? Don't care. Humiliated in front of your dad? Don't care. It's great!"

Veronica began pacing again, looking down at her feet as she did. "My mom came back this morning."

A rush of silence swept though the phone. Veronica's step increased as she waited for Logan's response.

"Crazy," he remarked.

Veronica stopped and shook her head, covering her eyes with her hand. "My alcoholic mother, who blackmailed me and then left, just came back to try and fix things, and all you can say is 'crazy'?"

"I…just…" he began.

"Don't even bother," she snapped before hanging up. With a little shriek of anger, she tossed the phone at her pillow, watching it bounce once before landing on her bed.

Almost immediately, it began ringing. Veronica grabbed it off the bed, and seeing Dick's number again, she pressed a button, hanging up on the call. She watched the screen for a moment, wondering if he would ring again so she could yell at him some more. It took a full minute of staring at the receiver to realize he wasn't calling back.

"Jackass, jerk, idiot," she spat at the phone.

Tossing herself onto her bed, she quickly dialed another number. After a few rings, Mac picked up. "Hello!"

"Logan and Dick are stoned," Veronica griped.

"Shut up!" replied Mac. "What happened?"

Veronica let out a deep groan before answering. "They found Dick's dad's pot, so they smoked it. Now they're both morons."

Mac laughed. "They really need our supervision at all times, don't they?"

Veronica draped her arm across her eyes. If Dick offered them all pot, would she have smoked it? No. She was sure her father's constant warnings about drugs would have stopped her.

"But worse than that," she said. "My mom came back this morning. And I wanted to talk to Logan about it, but he was so messed up that he couldn't even carry on a normal conversation."

"Your mom came back? Are you okay?" Mac asked quickly, her voice full of concern.

"I don't know," Veronica replied. "I mean, I'm glad she's home, but I was preparing for the worst, you know?"

"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst," said Mac.

"Pretty much. Now, I'm not too sure what to think," said Veronica. "And on top of that, she wanted to have some 'girl time' together and we ended up talking about sex."

"Oh man, you talked about sex with your mom?" Mac laughed. "The only time I've ever talked about sex with my mom was when she explained how babies were made and then told me it was a sin if I did it before I was married. Was it embarrassing?"

Veronica uncovered her eyes, focusing her gaze on the ceiling. "Some of it was, but it wasn't too bad. We've always talked about that stuff in my house. She even offered, again, to get me birth control."

"So lucky," Mac said. "My mom would send me to confession if she even thought I was having impure thoughts. Or doing what I was doing every night before bed."

Veronica let out a snort-laugh. "Every time you touch yourself, a baby unicorn dies."

"Exactly!" Mac laughed.

"Frig, Mac, what am I supposed to do?" Veronica sighed. "My mom told me she lost her virginity because she just went 'too far'. Like it was driving a car and she ran a stop sign. So, does that mean I get birth control because, better safe than sorry? I mean, jeez, right now I'm so mad at Logan, sex is the last thing I'm thinking about with him!"

"Should you get it while you can?" Mac answered seriously. "I mean, what if your mom leaves again?"

Veronica squeezed her eyes shut. She was trying not to think about that. "I...I want her to stay. She says she's back to stay. But I don't know if she will."

"Then maybe you should get it, just in case the worst happens," Mac said quietly.

"Mom leaves. Dad divorces her. I get knocked up," Veronica replied, sitting up cross-legged on her bed. "Yep. That would probably be the worst case scenario."

"Then that's your answer. Think of it this way…Madison is always bragging about how good her skin looks," Mac said. "With just one pill a day, you can have clear skin and sex without getting pregnant."

"It's a miracle!" Veronica exclaimed and tossed her hand in the air, waving her fingers.

"Yeah. But not a religious one," Mac giggled. "My mom is against birth control too."

"What is your mom for?" Veronica teased.

"Umm…church, camping as a family, and roast beef dinner on Sunday," Mac said.

The two friends chatted for the rest of the night, talking about their families, boys, and school. By the time Veronica finally curled up under the covers, her sides hurt. Glancing once more at the phone, to see if the phone would miraculously begin ringing again, Veronica let out a deep sigh before drifting off to sleep.

The clock read 7:30 a.m. That meant Veronica had been up for approximately three hours, obsessing over her conversation with Logan. His complete insensitivity about her mother coming back, combined with the absolute stupidity of him taking drugs in the first place hurt Veronica more than she first admitted. Was this what he did now? Took drugs to dull the pain? Because if this was going to be his thing…

Veronica let out a moan as she sat up in bed. No point in obsessing any more, she thought as she stood up, making her way downstairs.

The house was quiet. Golden streams of morning light filtered through the drapes in the living room, reminding her of mornings in her room at Logan's home. Her heart tightened slightly and she pushed the thought out of her head.

Wandering into the kitchen, she began fixing cereal for breakfast. Light scratching sounds at the back door alerted her to the fact that Backup was outside and he jumped and barked with happiness when she opened the door for him.

"Did Dad leave you outside last night so he could sleep in?" she asked the dog, rubbing his head.

Backup circled her once more before heading for his breakfast bowl. The kitchen was silent apart from the loud crunching of dog food.

Once they were both well fed, Veronica headed upstairs to get dressed, deciding that a long walk on the beach may be the cure for her bad mood. She briefly thought about her walk with Logan on the beach last weekend, wishing for a second she could ask him to join her again. She had needed him last night, and for the first time in their lives, he just wasn't there for her. Because of one incredibly stupid choice. She wasn't used to being disappointed by him.

Jotting down a note to her parents, she attached Backup's leash and they made their way towards the beach, taking a leisurely pace as the dog sniffed every fence post on their route. As they approached the sand, Backup began pulling on his leash and barking. Veronica released him and he made a beeline towards a figure in a ball cap and hoodie, leaning against the bylaw sign.

Logan.

Veronica's breath hitched at the sight of him as he bent to scratch Backup's head. Walking closer, she crossed her arms, her forehead wrinkling and her eyes narrowing.

"What are you doing here?" she snapped. "What if the paparazzi followed you?"

Logan stood and adjusted his hood to hide his face more. "They wouldn't know it was me. I crashed at Dick's place. His driver brought me, not Ben."

Veronica glanced out to the parking lot to see a black limousine. She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, because that vehicle just blends into the scenery." Gazing back at Logan's bloodshot eyes, she shook her head. "What are you even doing here?"

"Playing a hunch," he shrugged. "Been waiting here since 7:30 this morning."

Veronica pushed at the sand with her toe, her eyes lowered. She clenched her teeth to contain her anger.

"Can I walk with you, and we can talk?" he asked quietly. "Please?"

Veronica looked up towards Backup, who had taken off for the water.

"Sure," she replied, still not making eye contact, and began walking towards the water.

Logan followed close behind but didn't say a word. Backup noticed them and ran to join the couple, then the three began their walk along the sand.

For a time, they were silent, as Veronica contemplated the events of last night. Approaching the bench where they stopped last time, she finally turned to him.

"You hurt me yesterday," she began softly. "I needed you and you weren't there."

Logan's eyes met hers. "I know. I'm so sorry. I was just trying to let off steam. It was a bad idea."

"Drugs don't solve anything. Neither does alcohol."

Logan craned his neck back, looking at the sky, he gave a loud huff. "I know it doesn't. But for one Goddamn moment in my life, I just wanted to forget about everything."

"Does 'everything' include me?" she asked.

Logan looked up at her. "Yeah. For a moment, yeah."

Closing her eyes, Veronica turned her back to Logan so he wouldn't see the pain on her face. His hand brushed her shoulder and she shrugged it off, fighting to keep control over her emotions.

"I didn't mean it like that," Logan said from behind her. "I just meant that I just didn't want to care about every little thing about us, and just let us be…well…us…without overthinking it. You know?"

His hands landed on her hips, but this time she didn't move away as he pressed his warm body against her back.

"I just wanted to think about just us, being together, without everything else – parents, friends, sex - getting in the way."

He kissed the back of her head and she relaxed slightly in his arms.

"I love you. And I wanted to free my mind up to enjoy you. My wonderful, beautiful, mildly pornographic thoughts of you."

Veronica covered her face with her hand and shook her head. "So you got stoned to think about me?"

"Yes," he said, squeezing her hips. "Don't you wish you could just think about us again, without overthinking everything?"

"That does sound appealing," she murmured.

"Jeez, Veronica, in a few weeks, I turn 14. 14! I feel like double that number right now," he said, lowering his mouth to her ear. "I just want to go back to the beginning, when we just enjoyed being together without thinking too much."

"You're making smoking pot sound like something I should do too," she said, a slight teasing in her voice.

"Hell, no! I mean, you really shouldn't. I really shouldn't, either," he replied. "It would be too easy to go down that rabbit hole and stay there."

His hands slid from her waist, moving around her stomach and pulling her as close as he could.

"Besides, I feel like shit today," Logan chuckled. "My mouth is so dry, my tongue feels like sandpaper, my sinuses are giving me the world's worst headache, and my eyes are throbbing."

He paused momentarily to kiss the top of her ear. "And, on top of that, I hurt you. Which breaks my heart."

Veronica wrapped her arms over his arms, threading her fingers with his. She took a deep inhale of the crisp morning air, exhaling all her angst into the breeze.

"Can you stay with me a while now? So we can talk?" she asked.

"I'll stay as long as you need me," he replied.

Releasing her from his embrace, Logan brought her hand to his lips for a kiss. "Come on. Let's keep walking and you can tell me all about your mom coming home."

They walked and talked for another hour before Veronica realized she needed to get home. She left Backup happily rolling the sand off of himself in the backyard and let herself in. Her father was at the counter, reading the paper, while her mother was making breakfast. They both smiled warmly at her.

"Welcome home, sweetheart," Lianne said, glancing up from the stove.

"Did you enjoy the beach this morning?" Keith asked, opening his arms in invitation.

Veronica walked over and gave her dad a hug. "Yeah. I did."

"As much as you enjoyed it last week?" he asked quietly.

A shy smile tugged at Veronica's lips as she pulled away from her dad's embrace. "Yeah. It was good."

Keith nodded, glancing at Lianne then back to Veronica.

"How's Logan doing?" he whispered.

"Coping," she replied sadly.

His face fell slightly at her words. Picking up his coffee, he took a sip, a forced smile on his lips. "Why don't you go get dressed for class. Your mom and I slept in, so breakfast is running late."

"It's been a while since we slept in," Lianne said, winking at Keith and flashing a big grin at him.

Veronica's glanced between her parents, seeing them each catch each other's eyes. A mischievous smirk crossed her dad's face as he tossed her mother a playful wink.

Well, they're acting quite cute this morning, Veronica thought.I wonder wh–

Ew.

Veronica wrinkled her nose at the thought of why her parents were acting this way with each other. Guess it's better than fighting, she thought.

"I'm gonna go shower. See you in a bit," she said and ran up the stairs. Locking herself in the bathroom, she let out a giggle. Maybe there was hope for her parents after all.

 

Chapter Text

 

The days passed quickly, as Veronica settled into a comfortable new routine. Her mother's presence brought with it a calming effect and Veronica began to enjoy her time at home with Lianne; cooking dinner, doing chores, and just talking. Her parents' arguments seemed to disappeared, and she relished the little stolen moments she now witnessed between them instead.

Eventually, the paparazzi left the Echolls' estate, and Lynn and Aaron's divorce proceeded quietly, out of the media glare. Logan was overjoyed to get back his freedom, and Veronica was more than a bit jealous when he and Dick went surfing without her, after school every day.

On this morning, Veronica stood staring at the calendar hanging in her room, as she crossed off another date closer to March 15 – the official end to her grounding.

"Only three more days," she said with a smile, buttoning her blouse.

Today, however, was monumental in its own right. Veronica stayed home from school so Lianne could take her to the clinic to get birth control. Turning to glance in the mirror, she smiled at her reflection. Spending a little extra time on curling her hair and doing her makeup made her look at least 15-years old, she thought.

Heading downstairs, she took a seat at the kitchen island as her mother finished washing the breakfast dishes.

"So are you all ready?" Lianne asked, turning to give her a smile.

"Yep!" she said happily.

Lianne turned the water off and wiped her hands on a dish towel. "Good. Because there's something I want to talk to you about before we go."

Veronica frowned. She thought they had more than covered the sex stuff by now. "What's up?"

Lianne leaned against the counter, crossing her arms. "Now, I want to talk to you about what may happen when we see the doctor at the clinic."

Veronica's stomach gurgled anxiously. "Why? What's going to happen?"

"Well, they may want to do an examination," Lianne began. "I had to do one when I got the Pill. An internal examination."

Veronica's eyes became wide. Her mother couldn't be saying what she thought she was saying.

"You mean," she choked out. "They want to look in my –?"

"Yes," Lianne stated, covering her mouth to hide her giggle.

"Why are you laughing?" Veronica said, her eyes wide in horror at the revelation.

"Oh honey, I'm sorry," Lianne said. "It's just another glorious part of being a woman."

Veronica paused, cringing at the thought of the doctor seeing her very naked.

"And the best part is," her mother continued. "You have to do it every few years. Especially if you are sexually active."

A shiver ran down Veronica's spine. Against her better judgement, her curiosity pushed her to find out more.

"So…what exactly are they going to do to me?"

Lianne took a breath. "Well, they put this thing inside of you called a speculum. Then they open it to take a peek inside."

"Why would they do that?" Veronica gasped, appalled at what her mother was saying. "Why? What kind of monster invented that?"

"I'm sorry, Veronica." Lianne laughed. "I'm not laughing at you. But this is why I'm telling you now, so you don't have this reaction when it happens."

Veronica crossed her arms protectively over her chest. None of the books she had read prepared her for this….intrusion.

"But sweetheart, as unpleasant as it is, you need to do it throughout your life," Lianne said. "They test for STDs, cancers, and just general health."

Veronica hid her eyes in her hands. "Can we cancel? Please?"

"We can," Lianne said. "But you'll have to do it eventually."

"Do boys have to do something like this?" Veronica asked, peeking out between her fingers.

"No, not really," Lianne said.

"So unfair," Veronica muttered.

"Yep," Lianne said. "Like many things in life. Just wait until you are having labour pains while your husband sleeps blissfully unaware in the chair next to your hospital bed. That's a fun one too."

"Being a girl's rough." Veronica sighed.

Lianne came around and gave her a hug. "Oh honey, you have no idea how much rougher being a girl will get."

This offered no comfort to Veronica, who was now on the verge of throwing up from nerves. Pulling away from her mom, she groaned.

"Fine. We'll go," Veronica said. "But I'll need ice cream after."

"You bet," said Lianne as she grabbed her keys.

-
Sitting inside the doctor's office at the clinic, Veronica's leg bounced nervously, as she chewed on her nails, staring at the examination table. It was like some sort of medieval torture device. The white vinyl bed was covered with paper. However, it was the horrible metal things protruding from the end that really freaked her out. Her mother called them "stirrups" – like the horseback riding reference would sooth her – and explained that her feet went into them. But then, there were all the instruments in clear packaging – including that speculum thing – that really freaked her out. Sure, the thing looked like a duck bill, but it sure wasn't cute. If she was ever worried about Logan "fitting" her worries were quadrupled about that…that…large plastic thing being in her.

"Relax, Veronica," her mother said gently.

"This was the dumbest idea ever," Veronica muttered.

"You'll be fine," Lianne reassured her.

"Has anyone actually ever passed out doing this?" she asked.

Lianne chuckled. "I don't think so. No one I know, anyway."

Veronica continued to chew her nails until the door opened. She let her hands drop to her lap when a tall, female doctor dressed in a white coat entered the room, smiling warmly at Veronica and her mom.

"Good morning, Miss Mars," she said as she took a seat across from Veronica.

"Good morning," Veronica said, slightly taken aback by the fact that the doctor was addressing her and not her mother.

"Dr. Jameson," the doctor said, extending her hand to her mom.

"Lianne Mars, Veronica's mother," Lianne replied and shook her hand.

"So, Veronica. I see that you are her for oral contraceptives," Dr. Jamison said.

Veronica quirked her eyebrow in confusion. "Is that like the Pill?"

Dr. Jameson laughed. "Yes. There are several types of birth control, so we refer to any pills as 'oral' and things like a diaphragm as a 'barrier'."

"Oh. I get it," Veronica said, her face growing hot with embarrassment.

"Don't be embarrassed," Dr. Jameson reassured her. "It's all very new to you. But I want you to know that our main concern is keeping you safe and healthy. So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Okay?"

Veronica glanced at the examination table then back to the doctor.

"I do have a question," Veronica began. "Do I have to get an examination? You know…inside?"

The doctor smiled warmly at her. "Well, we'll have to see. Have you already engaged in sexual intercourse?"

"No," Veronica answered.

"Oral sex?" the doctor asked.

Veronica blushed again. "No."

"Anal sex?" the doctor continued.

Veronica was positive she was going to melt from the heat coming off her cheeks.

"No," she squeaked.

"Well, then I don't think it's necessary to do an internal examination," Dr. Jameson said. "I would be looking for signs of an STD, and since you haven't engaged in any sexual activity, it is highly unlikely you would have one. But I would like to do an external exam, just to make sure you are healthy."

Veronica wanted to stand up and do a little happy dance of joy. Escaped the torture chamber for now!

"Wow. Thanks, Dr. Jameson," she said with a sigh of relief.

"That being said, you should come and see me about a year after you begin having sexual relations," Dr. Jameson said. "Just so I can check to make sure you don't have an STD and discuss how the Pill is working out for you. Okay?"

"Okay. Give me a little while," Veronica said, glancing at the table again. "Just to get used to the idea."

"We can do that," Dr. Jameson chuckled.

The rest of the appointment passed quickly, and by the time they left, Veronica was armed with a dozen pamphlets on sexual health and one prescription for the Pill.

While they waited for her perspiration to be filled, Veronica and her mother shared a nutritious banana split at Amy's Ice Cream shop for lunch.

As they were nearing the end of their meal, Lianne reached over and held Veronica's hand.

"Do you feel safer now?" Lianne asked.

Veronica nodded. "Yeah. I mean, I still don't plan on us doing it for a while, but just in case…"

"I'm very proud of you," Lianne said softly. "You know, I would have never had the guts to talk to your Grandma Reynolds about this, when I was your age."

"Really?" Veronica replied, putting down her spoon to listen to her mom.

"Really. I had no clue about this stuff," she laughed. "But here you are, taking out books from the library on puberty, and somehow managing to score an actual sex manual from somewhere. You probably know more than I did when I was 18."

"Um…thanks?" Veronica stammered.

"You know, when I went for birth control, I snuck out of class and took the bus down to the clinic by myself," Lianne said, leaning across the table to whisper to Veronica. "And when the male doctor did his examination, I was sure I was going to die of embarrassment. I had no clue what I was in for!"

"Well, thanks for helping me today, Mom," Veronica replied, putting her hand over Lianne's.

"That's what I'm here for, sweetheart," she said with a smile.

Veronica sat cross-legged on her bed, staring at the fanned-out pile of pamphlets from the clinic, the box with her Pills sat on the pile. Information on different STDs, abortion services, adoption choices, rape counselling, and making healthy choices, all sitting there, waiting for Veronica to absorb. The question she asked herself was: do I really want to know? She was suffering from a serious case of information overload today.

The phone rang and Logan's name popped up on the display. Reaching over to her bedside table, she pulled the receiver from the charger.

"Hello." She sighed.

"Hi!" Logan greeted her happily.

"You sound chipper. How was school?" she said.

"Good!" he replied. "So, did you get them?"

Veronica picked up the box of Pills, shaking it. "Yes. I got them."

"So…are you taking them now?" he asked, a note of excitement creeping into his voice.

"I'll probably start tomorrow morning. I have to take them at the same time every day, so that seems to be the best," she said. "I mean, really, I could wait until my period and start them, since we're not planning on having sex soon, anyway."

"Oh," he said, sounding slightly defeated.

Veronica rolled her eyes. Why oh why did her teenage boyfriend have to act so much like a teenage boy?

"You know, you have the easy job in all of this," she said, her voice tinged with snark. "You just buy condoms and wait patiently for me to be ready. I'm the one who can get pregnant. I have to go on the Pill. I have to go to the doctor's every year and get tortured by her."

"What do you mean by 'tortured'?" he asked.

"I mean, that every year, they have to…" Veronica stuck out her tongue in disgust. "…look inside me to make sure everything's okay. And they use these things that look like horrible medical devices that look like their straight out of a dungeon in the middle ages."

"That was too much information," he muttered.

"Yeah, well, you don't have to do it," she snapped. "So suck it up. You can hear about it."

There was a pause before Logan spoke. "Fair enough. Sorry."

"Thank you," she said, gathering up the pamphlets in a pile. "They gave me a bunch of information that I want you to read."

"Sex homework?" he chuckled.

"Kind of like that, yes," Veronica said. "Worse case scenario stuff. Like choices we need to make, in case we get pregnant. And stuff about STDs."

"What do you mean?" Logan said. "What choices would we have if you get pregnant?"

"Umm…if we would keep it, or put it up for adoption," she replied, quietly. "Or if I would have an abortion."

A heavy silence floated between them as they contemplated the magnitude of what Veronica was saying.

"Do you think Dick and Madison talk about this stuff?" Logan asked.

"I'd like to think we're slightly more mature than them," Veronica stated, rolling her eyes.

Logan laughed. "True. But they do sound like they're having fun."

"Ugh, if I have to overhear one more locker room conversation between Maddie and Carrie about Dick and his 'amazing sex moves', I'm going to barf," Veronica stated, flopping down onto her pillow.

"Can I tell you a secret?" Logan whispered, a hint of mischief in his voice.

"Always! What is it?"

"Those 'amazing sex moves' Madison talks about," Logan said quietly. "They never last more than, like, two minutes. Because Dick can never last more than two minutes before he…you know. He told me when we got stoned."

Veronica's eyes got wide in surprise. "Really?"

"Yep. Really," Logan chuckled. "Nature gave us boys this amazing drive for sex, but unfortunately, it didn't give us longevity. Yet. Apparently that comes with age."

"All the more reason to wait," Veronica stated, rolling onto her stomach and propping herself on her elbows.

"Until when?"

"I dunno. 15?" she said.

There was a silence that followed that told Veronica this was not the number Logan hoped she would say.

"Then…why did you go on the Pill now?" he asked, hesitantly.

Veronica took in a deep breath before speaking.

"Just in case we accidentally get carried away when we're making out one day," she said, quietly. "Or if my mom leaves again and I'm left to figure this out alone."

"So, you did this because you're afraid," Logan said gently, falling into his best friend role again.

"Yeah, I am," Veronica said, choking slightly on her words. "And I can't explain why, exactly. I just am."

"It's been a pretty crazy seven months," he said. "Kind of overwhelming."

Seven months? It sometimes felt like seven years had gone by.

"It is," she said. "I guess, I just don't want to make things worse than they have been, you know?"

"I get that," he replied softly. "If you going on the Pill eases that fear, then it's all good. I said I'd wait until the end of time for you. And I meant it."

"But you sounded disappointed," she said.

"Don't listen to crazy-horny Logan." He laughed. "He gets turned on if the wind blows the right way. He doesn't get a vote in this discussion."

Veronica giggled. "If the wind blows right, huh?"

"Yep. Or if Mrs. Prince bends over her desk to get a pen," he admitted. "Or when Dick's dad's new girlfriend is sunbathing by the pool. Or, you know, if a particularly hot model is on the cover of my mom's Cosmo magazine."

"Oh my God," Veronica sighed. "Don't you have any control over that thing?"

"Nope," he replied. "Which is why I've stopped volunteering to solve equations on the board during math class."

Veronica dissolved into laughter at his admission.

"Hey! Don't laugh at my affliction!"

"I'm sorry," Veronica said, struggling to gain her composure. "But it always seems like things are easier for you than for me with this puberty thing."

"Um, don't you remember in the summer when my voice broke?" he said, shuffling about on the other side of the phone. "And I kept sounding like a deranged Munchkin?"

Veronica bit her lip this time, trying not to laugh at the memory of Logan's ever-changing voice.

"And I hid from you the overwhelming itching that came from hair sprouting out from everywhere," he continued. "Not to mention the spontaneous sweating that no amount of deodorant can mask."

Veronica closed her eyes for a moment, her mind traveling to the image of Logan naked, and the wonderful tufts of hair on his body.

"But then you combine all of that with the ability to think about sex all…the…time…and it's a bit of a shit show," he concluded.

She opened eyes, letting out a very unladylike snort of laughter.

"Define 'all the time'."

"Like, really, all the time. I'm eating dinner, thinking about if the table would be the right height for us to do it on," he explained, his voice dropping slightly. "Or in the middle of English, I'll get an image of you naked. Or even worse, when I'm surfing and I get this crazy thought of how we could do it on a surfboard."

Veronica's laughter started again, and she covered her hand with her mouth. "Oh my God. You poor thing."

"Okay, I know you're making fun of me," he said. "But it is a real affliction. I can't even imagine the amount of brain power that Dick loses to thoughts of sex."

"Stop! My sides are hurting!" she giggled.

"Fine. But don't for a second think that you are the only one suffering," he stated.

"Pfft. I bleed," she shot back. "Way worse then random boners."

There was groan through the phone. "You always have to win, don't you?"

"Yep," she stated proudly. "But it was really no competition."

Logan chuckled through the receiver. "Have I mentioned lately that you are the coolest girlfriend, like, ever?"

"No, but feel free to say it often," Veronica said, smiling to herself.

"Can I also mention that I am wildly in love with you?" Logan added.

"Yeah," Veronica responded softly. "You can say that too."

They were at it again. Veronica glanced up to catch her dad winking at her mom from across the breakfast table. She rolled her eyes and tried to focus on the crêpes on her plate.

The sound of the doorbell made Veronica jump. Backup began barking as her dad rose from the table to answer it. Veronica and Lianne followed him, curious to see who was at their door this early in the morning. Through the window, she could see Logan on their porch. Veronica's heart started racing as her dad opened the door.

Logan greeted Keith with a nervous smile. In one hand, he held a paper bag, in the other, a large paper cup.

"Good morning, Mr. Mars," Logan said hesitantly. "How are you this morning?"

Keith glanced back at Veronica and then to Logan. "Fine. And how are you, Logan?"

Logan caught Veronica's eye and smiled.

"Just peachy, sir. Coffee and donut?" he said, presenting the offerings to Keith.

Keith shook his head and chuckled, taking the coffee and bag from Logan. "Well, thank you, son."

"Mr. Mars, I know it's early, but I wanted to talk to you about something, sir," Logan began, nervously fidgeting from foot to foot. "Now, I know Veronica's grounding ends this weekend, and I was wondering whether or not I could take her out on a date, sir, like, just me and her. Together. If that's okay with you?"

Veronica stepped closer to the door. She bit her lip, a giddy smile beginning to cross her face as she watched Logan squirming on the porch.

"Where would this 'date' happen, Logan?" Keith asked, his voice low and serious.

"Um, well I was thinking," Logan replied. "We could go to Mama Leone's restaurant and then to the amusement park on the boardwalk, sir."

"In a group or by yourselves?"

"By ourselves," Logan said.

"What time would you pick her up?"

"Umm….5:00?" Logan stammered.

"And home by 9:30 pm?"

"Yes, sir, if that's what you want, sir," Logan said.

"No movie theatres," Keith said, arching his eyebrow suspiciously at Logan. "No dark boat rides through the 'Tunnel of Love'."

Logan dropped his eyes.

"No sir," he replied quietly.

Veronica let out a little huff of annoyance. Her dad just wasn't going to make this easy on Logan. Keith glanced at her and smiled warmly.

"Well, Logan, you have my permission," he said, stepping away from the door. "Now you may actually want to ask Veronica."

Veronica beamed at her dad and stepped into the doorway. "Thanks, Dad!"

Logan gave her a shy smile and a nod. "Morning."

"Good morning," she said, the butterflies rising in her stomach.

Logan rubbed the back of his neck nervously, his eyes lowering. "So, um, do you wanna go out Saturday night? Like, you know, a real couple?"

"Yeah," she said softly. "I would love to."

"Cool," Logan replied, a crooked, goofy grin on his face.

"Cool," she repeated awkwardly, unsure of what to do next.

From behind her, Keith cleared his throat. "Logan, maybe you can do me a favour."

Logan glanced past Veronica to her dad. "Sure, Mr. Mars. What is it?"

Keith put his hand on Veronica's shoulder, patting her gently. "Well, I really should go into the office early this morning. Since you and Ben are here, would you mind taking Veronica to school today?"

Best dad ever, Veronica thought as she turned to him.

"Really?" she gasped with excitement.

"If Logan and Ben don't mind," Keith replied with a smile.

"No!" Logan exclaimed. "I mean, yes! We can drive her!"

"Have you eaten breakfast, Logan?" Lianne called from inside the house.

"I did, but I can always eat more," Logan replied.

"He's a teenage boy, Lianne." Keith chuckled and stepped back to let Logan come in the house. "They're always hungry."

"Pretty much, sir," Logan said with a smile, closing the door behind him.

"Mom made crêpes," Veronica stated, wrapping her arms around Logan's arm and dragging him towards the kitchen. "Come and have a few before we go."

Holding Logan's bicep tightly, Veronica pressed her cheek against his arm, closing her eyes for a split second, relishing the perfect moment. She silently hoped that their luck was changing, and that this would be their new calm and normal existence.

Surfing Saturday morning – for the first time in a month – gave Veronica a rush she hadn't experienced since her first time on a surfboard. It took only a few runs to get her confidence back, and by the end of class she was positively giddy. Her father watched from a bench near the edge of the beach, and allowed her to stay for another hour, catching the waves with Logan and Dick.

When she returned home for lunch, she told her mother all about her morning before heading upstairs to do her homework and get ready for her date. At 5:00, she skipped down the stairs in her jean skirt, tank top, knee-high boots, and green army jacket. Lianne had helped her curl her hair and the soft ringlets bounced as she moved.

"You look lovely," her mom said, from the couch, sitting next to her dad.

Keith stood and walked over to her with a sigh. "Was your turtleneck sweater in the wash?"

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Dad!"

Keith let out a chuckle and hugged her tightly. "Just kidding, sweetheart. You look great."

"Now, you're not going to suddenly have the fairgrounds flooded with deputies tonight, right?" Veronica asked, shaking her finger at him.

Keith shrugged and adjusted his uniform shirt. "I might. My prerogative as father and Sherriff."

"Please, please, please don't," Veronica whined. "I've already withstood more embarrassment than anyone else my age. Please don't have me followed."

"I'm not going to have you followed," Keith laughed. "But you don't have to tell Logan that. It'll keep him on his toes."

The doorbell rang and Veronica sprinted to answer it. Throwing the door open, she discovered Logan on the other side, dressed in jeans and his brown leather jacket, holding a large bunch of flowers in his arms.

"Hi!" he exclaimed happily, shoving the rainbow bouquet toward her. "These are for you."

Veronica took the flowers and inhaled their scent deeply.

"They're wonderful," she sighed. "Thank you."

"This is the second time you've been on my doorstep with flowers, Logan," Keith said from behind Veronica. "It's becoming a habit."

"Sir, I would show up every morning with flowers for her, if she let me," Logan said, a crooked, goofy grin stretching across his lips.

"Let me put those in water," Lianne offered, coming up beside Veronica in the doorway.

Veronica handed the flowers to her mom and turned to Logan.

"Shall we go?" she asked.

"We shall," he replied, offering his arm to her as she stepped onto the porch.

"Have fun," Keith called out as they walked to the Range Rover and Veronica gave him a quick wave as they continued down the path.

Ben opened the car door and Veronica climbed inside. Logan jumped into the other side, reaching out to take her hand across the leather seats.

"I've missed this," he said.

Veronica flashed a wide grin. "Me, too."

Veronica was so stuffed from dinner that she could barely walk down the boardwalk as they made their way to the amusement park. Logan's arm was slung loosely around her shoulder and Veronica quietly reveled in the fact that they could finally walk together, in public, as a couple.

"So, where to first?" Logan said as they walked through the flashing pink neon entrance. "Games? Rides? More food?"

"No! Don't even mention food," Veronica laughed, clutching her stomach. "How about some rides? Fun house. Ferris wheel. Tunnel of love?"

Logan stopped, looking down at her with a frown. "I thought we weren't supposed to go through there?"

"I've barely been alone with you in the past month," Veronica stated, standing on her tiptoes to give him a quick peck on the lips. "We're going on that ride. And any others that may be dark and secluded."

Logan took her hand with a wink and a smile. "Who am I to argue with the wants and needs of my girlfriend?"

Leading her over to the wooden ticket stand, Logan purchased enough ride and game tickets to spend several days at the park. Wrapping his arm around her waist, the couple headed into the flashing colours and noise of the midway.

The "Tunnel of Love" was probably the oldest ride on the boardwalk. Rickety red rowing boats with high bench seats, decorated with fading pink hearts and sparkles, glided gently through the water, pulled by a creaky chain into the dark tunnel. Standing in the small line, they began to sway gently to the cheesy Musak mix of old 80's love songs playing through the loudspeakers.

"How many times do you think they'll let us go on this?" Logan asked, kissing the top of Veronica's head.

"We could try for the record." She giggled. "You bought enough tickets."

The old, white-haired carnie working the ride waived for them to come towards a waiting boat.

"Now, there are few rules, you two," he said, taking Logan's tickets and stuffing them in a frayed checkered apron. "Stay seated at all times. Don't get out of the boat until I say so, at the end. And, most importantly, don't do anything to rock the boat."

Veronica glanced up at Logan who flashed the old man a wide smile. "Not a problem, sir."

The man frowned between the couple, before offering his hand to Veronica to help her in.

"That's what they all say," the man muttered as Veronica climbed the steps and maneuvered herself into the boat.

The small boat bobbed and rocked as Logan climbed in, causing Veronica to grab the edge of it to stay upright. Logan shimmied to the middle of the seat and held out his arm, inviting Veronica to come closer. She slid over to him, placing her head on his shoulder with a sigh.

She caught the carnie rolling his eyes at them before he pulled a lever to set them adrift. Slowly, they glided through the heart-shaped arch and into the dimly lit tunnel.

Logan craned his neck to make sure no one could see them. Slowly, they became enveloped by the darkness and a shiver ran through Veronica in anticipation of what could, or would, happen next.

She let out a gasp as Logan's soft fingers began trailing up the exposed skin of her leg, stopping at the hem of her skirt. His warm breath on her cheek gave her goosebumps and she parted her lips, hoping he would kiss her. When his lips brushed against hers, in the absolute darkness, she reached up to entwine her fingers through his hair, trying to keep him close.

His tongue darted into her mouth and she responded by catching it with hers. They both let out small moans of pleasure as they kissed, soft lips and tongues playing with each other in the dark.

Veronica dropped her hand into Logan's lap, causing him to groan deeply as she connected with the bulge in his pants. A small giggle escaped from the back of her throat, and she pressed her palm down between his legs. A feral growl came from his chest and he broke the kiss.

"Is that how we're playing things?" his voice whispered in the darkness.

"Yes," she replied cheekily.

There was a moment where everything around Veronica became silent as she held her breath, waiting for whatever was going to happen next. Her body began to hum with excitement as carefully, Logan's hand traced the edge of her skirt, stopping at the gap of her thighs.

"Is this okay?" he whispered into her ear.

"Yes," she gasped, pressing her palm against him once more.

"Shit, Veronica," he murmured as his lips connected with the nape of her neck.

Every one of her muscles tensed as his fingers swept up between her thighs, stopping once they reached her cotton underwear. She let out a sharp breath, closing her eyes to savour the tingling that ran up and down her nerves. She tightened her thighs around his hand, locking him in place so his fingers stayed pressed against her. A soft mewl of pleasure rose in her throat. Once again, he had taken her to a place where all rational thought began to cease, as she felt her deep need for him rising. Her eyes opened wide in shock as a flash of warmth rushed through her, and she felt a flow of wetness between her legs.

"Oh my God." She gasped, feeling a flash of embarrassment that he might notice what was happening to her.

Shifting quickly to move away from his hand, Veronica pressed her palm down into him. Hard.

Logan's yelp of pain echoed through the tunnel as he pitched himself away from her in the tiny boat. The action pushed the vessel off balance and together, they were thrown to one side. Their weight rocked the boat once more and as they struggled to regain their seating, the shifting ride rolled them off the edge of the boat and into the water with a large splash.

Their screams as they hit the frigid water bounced off the walls. Struggling and gasping, they quickly found their footing and stood in the water so they wouldn't get caught in the chain that was slowly pulling their boat away. The smell of algae assaulted Veronica's nose as she coughed out the foul tasting water before she accidently swallowed any. The water level was up to her chest and she pulled the top of her waterlogged jacket across her chest, trying to cover herself as her shirt stuck to her skin.

The screeching of metal gears echoed through the tunnel before the bright lights flashed on, blinding Veronica momentarily. A chorus of boos filled the space, coming from the other riders in the boats. Shielding her eyes, Veronica glanced up at Logan, who was standing next to her, his hair stuck to his head, his face a bright red. He held out his hand to her and she took it with a tight smile.

"I think this might be what they mean by the term 'walk of shame'," he said as they began to wade through the water towards the exit.

"Nice going, morons," hissed an older teenage boy from the safety of his boat as they passed. His girlfriend shot them a withering glare from the corner of her eye, as he wrapped his arm around her.

"I don't think that's what it means," Veronica replied to Logan, as they hustled through the water. "But it does kind of apply to our situation."

They endured more boos and insults from the other riders until they reached the end of the tunnel. The final indignity was the old man shaking his head and tut-tutting under his breath as they crawled out onto the platform.

"I warned you," the carnie said as he looked them over from head to toe.

Veronica shivered and Logan wrapped an arm protectively around her.

"Yeah. You did." Logan sighed as he steered Veronica away from the waiting crowd of people and towards the parking lot.

"Okay, so movies have lied to us about how romantic it is to make out in theatres and on amusement park rides," Logan stated as they walked quickly, heads down, through the other fair goers. "I'm beginning to think there could be more stuff they made up about romance."

Veronica let out a giggle and huddled closer to him for warmth as they walked. "I don't know…we'll definitely remember this for the rest of our lives. Maybe it'll get more romantic over time."

Logan shivered against her.

"I highly doubt that," he said as they entered the parking lot.

Approaching the Range Rover, Ben spotted them through the window and jumped out, shaking his head as he did.

"Tunnel of Love?" Ben asked with a chuckle.

Veronica looked at the ground, her cheeks growing hot again. There was no way to hide this from her parents.

"Yes, and we're freezing," Logan answered. "Can we please skip the lecture and just let us into the car?"

A giant grin spread across Ben's leathery face. Walking to the back of the vehicle, he pulled two wool blankets out and offered them to the teens.

"Here," he said, unable to contain more laughter. "You have officially experienced a rite of passage for all Neptune teens – falling out of your boat in the 'Tunnel of Love'."

Veronica wrapped the warm blanket around her, tightly. "So we're not the first?"

"Heck, no," Ben replied, opening the back door for them. "I fell in with my high-school sweetheart. Why do you think I brought the blankets?"

Logan chuckled and rounded the vehicle, climbing in on his side, while Veronica slipped into the back seat through Ben's open door. As Veronica buckled her seat belt, Logan slid over to the centre spot, buckling his seat belt and pressing himself next to her for warmth.

"Now, I know what I was doing to make the boat tip, way back when," Ben said, leaning against the door frame. "The question is, what were you two doing?"

Veronica looked at the floor of the car.

"Nothing," she muttered.

"Hmm…I highly doubt that," Ben said. "Miss Veronica, I'm going to drop you off at home. Mr. Echolls here will see you to the door like a gentleman and explain to your folks why you are both in this condition."

The door closed, leaving them alone to contemplate telling Veronica's parents about what happened.

"At least my dad isn't home," Veronica said, trying to sound cheerful, but falling flat.

Logan wrapped his arm around Veronica's shoulders and kissed her head. "That only makes me feel a little better."

With a deep sigh, Veronica leaned her head against Logan shoulder.

"Maybe we should just stick to kissing for a while," she whispered. "I think the universe is against us going any further."

Logan leaned his cheek on top of her head. "Maybe you're right. This was the ultimate cold shower."

Veronica let out a giggle as Ben climbed into the car, started the vehicle, and began their trip home.

When they reached the house, a wave of fear swept through Veronica. Her first day off her grounding and she managed to do the one thing her dad told her not to do.Well, at least I enjoyed my one day of freedom.

Quietly, Logan slipped out of the car, came around, and opened the door for Veronica. Offering her his hand, he gave a small smile.

"For what it's worth, the rest of this date was fun," he stated. "And, I got you home way before your curfew."

Veronica climbed out of the car and took his hand, reaching up to plant a small kiss on his lips.

"It was fun," she replied. "Just a little shorter, and wetter, than I expected."

With a deep breath, Logan tugged his blanket a little higher on his shoulders. His hair was sticking out in every direction and his skin was a pasty white from the cold. Veronica avoided her own reflection in the car window, knowing she must look like a drowned rat by this point.

Together, they walked slowly and quietly up to the front door. Veronica let go of Logan's hand to rifle around in her jacket pocket for her keys. Once located, she opened the door and walked in to face her next punishment. When Veronica and Logan entered, Lianne jumped out of her seat on the couch, dropping her book on the ground, and letting out a loud gasp.

"Hi, Mom," Veronica muttered, looking at the ground.

A snort of laugher rose from Lianne, and Veronica glanced up to find her mother covering her mouth, trying to suppress more.

"Umm, we seem to have had an…accident, Mrs. Mars," Logan stammered, shifting around nervously.

Lianne let out a loud laugh, putting her hands on her hips. "Did the 'Tunnel of Love' get you?"

"Yeah," Veronica replied, feeling her embarrassment rise in her cheeks again.

Lianne sauntered over to them, a gleeful grin spreading across her lips.

"I didn't get dunked until I was 16," she giggled, smoothing down Veronica's wet hair on her head.

"Oh please, Mom…please don't tell Dad," Veronica begged. "I'll wash your car every weekend for a month! I'll do all the dishes for a week! Just please don't tell him."

"It's all my fault, Mrs. Mars!" Logan added, bravely. "If Mr. Mars wants to yell at anyone, he can yell at me."

Lianne shook her head and sighed. "Don't worry, you two. I won't tell. We'll just chalk it up to another life lesson and move on."

"Oh my gosh, thank you, Mom!" Veronica gushed and threw her arms around Lianne.

"Thank you, Mrs. Mars," Logan gasped with relief.

"Now, Veronica, you should head upstairs for a hot bath," Lianne said, unwrapping herself from Veronica's wet clutches. "And Logan, you should go home and do the same thing."

Logan nodded, glancing between Veronica and Lianne as he backed up towards the door. "Good idea, Mrs. Mars."

"Good night, Logan," Veronica said, turning to watch him leave. "Thanks for the memorable evening."

Logan flashed a goofy lopsided grin at her and ran his fingers through his wet hair.

"Ditto," he replied with a wink, before hurrying out of the house.

Veronica bit her lip, holding back her gleeful smile. Their date may not have gone according to plan, but that didn't matter to her. All that mattered was that they were together.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Veronica’s eyes were fixed on the entrance to the parking lot as she sat on one of the cold metal benches outside the school, her leg bouncing nervously. Her mother was supposed to pick her up at three-thirty, but it was already after four and there was no sign of her. Veronica’s stomach turned at the thought of what could be holding her up.

 

“…but there’s something to be said for big, corny movies.” Logan’s voice cut through her thoughts.

 

“Huh?” she responded, turn