A/N 1: So I co-moderate a blog on tumblr called "VM Fic Recs". We give a few different fanfic recommendations each week, do interviews with VMars fic authors, and also have a monthly challenge for fic authors to write. January's was inspired by the movie trailer - specifically the "Wait, don't go" moment. We're all writing our takes on what happens next, and here is mine. All the submissions will be posted tomorrow so go check it out!
A/N 2: This wasn't technically beta'd but scandalpants did give it a once over. If she hadn't, Veronica would have stolen a "French fly" off Logan's plate.
Dinner use to be their precursor for something more.
The summer between their senior year of high school and freshman year at Hearst, their days formed a predictable and yet pleasant rhythm. He'd surf while she worked for her dad, they'd pretend to consider going out but opt for room service at the Grand instead, and then finish the night by settling on the couch to watch a movie. On days when she was running late he'd magically time the room service to show up minutes after her own arrival. It sometimes made her wonder if he had her phone tracked.
(He picks up a strand of her hair from where it's lying in contrast to the blue of her t-shirt, and twirls it around his finger. "How long does it take you to do your hair each morning?"
Rolling her eyes, she leans over to steal a French fry from his plate, then dips it in the ketchup on her own. "How long does it take you to do yours?")
Each night they traded off who got to select the movie, both knowing that not having their movie selected provided them with license to complain about the other person's choice.
("'Dogma' really isn't as funny as you think it is." She's already grimacing and the movie hasn't even started.
"The fact that you don't like something is not unequivocal proof it sucks." He flops onto the couch, tossing her an annoyed glance as he presses play.
"Yes it is." She smiles at him, walking the fingers of one hand towards his, being careful to keep the move out of his periphery. Slow and steady will get her the remote control. "But the counter is also true. If I like it, it's unequivocal proof of its greatness." She reaches his wrist and holds it loosely. Before she can make a grab for the remote, he's pinned her arm behind her back and kisses her.
"Stop trying to butter me up and watch the movie.")
Inevitably halfway through the movie, the one who hadn't selected what to watch would initiate a series of chaste kisses. Sometimes along a jawline. Sometimes along a collar bone. Regardless of how soft or chaste they started, they always turned feverish. They had a 70% success rate of making it to the bedroom before both were completely unclothed.
After they were both sated enough they'd pad back out to the living room, Logan always wearing a pair of low slung sweatpants. She'd wear whatever shirt he'd had on that day or steal another of his sweatshirts from his drawer. There would be a half-hearted attempt to finish the movie but Logan never let it go longer than ten minutes without kissing some part of her skin.
Around 11 PM she'd extricate herself from Logan's grasp and attempt to get dressed. She had an 80% success rate of getting out of his suite without him putting up a fight or complaining. Although, if she were to be honest, she had a lot more fun the evenings she was unsuccessful.
("Didn't you say your dad was seeing someone new? He won't even notice you're missing."
She's pulling a t-shirt over her head as he's simultaneously working to unbutton the jeans she just put back on. "He'd know."
She bats his hands away from her jeans and he grabs her by the elbows to pull her in for a kiss.
When they separate, he pulls her close and whispers directly into her ear. "The Grand just put apple pancakes on the breakfast menu."
She laughs, burrowing her face into the fabric of his sweatshirt and wrapping her arms around his waist. "You're saying I should stay the night so I can taste test tomorrow morning?"
"I think you have a moral imperative to do so."
Only Logan Echolls could use four-syllable words in a seduction attempt. "Well when you put it that way." She takes a step back and shimmies the jeans, already unbuttoned, down her hips and kicks them into the corner. "I love pancakes.")
Now it's close to ten years later. They're sitting in her dad's new kitchen, having just finished dinner, and based on the fact that her hands are shaking a little, her body seems to be remembering the familiar sequence of events.
He stands up, grabbing both of their plates and puts them in the sink. The years have quieted the shuffle of his feet but if she looks close enough, she can see the slight sway of his body as he stands in one place. As much as they've both changed (thank god!) traces of her Logan remained.
"Thanks for the invite. It was good to catch up."
She nods her head in agreement and clears the glasses from the table before coming to stand in front of him. "Yeah, it was."
"Look, Veronica, I've been thinking—"
When he looks away from her face, like it might actually hurt him to keep eye contact, another series of flashbacks is there. They're from a more painful time, when the rhythms of summer blended into a discordant fall. Her first thought is that he's going to break up with her, which given the fact that they're barely friends, is more than a little irrational.
She can't really breathe because she's pretty sure she's heard him speak the words 'I've been thinking' before, and they didn't lead her to good places then. They sure as hell aren't going to lead anywhere good now.
"—I'm thankful you want to help me out but this is all so much more than I thought it'd be. I thought you'd show up, find a fingerprint or some other mishandled piece of evidence, and then head home before the week was done. But it's not turning out that way and it's not fair to you to have you stay here."
"Logan, what about your case?"
With his hands in his front jeans pockets, he shrugs, his gaze focused downward. "My lawyer doesn't think they have enough to file charges. If they did, it would have happened by now."
"So, you're saying I should just head back to New York then?"
"You can do what you want." He wiggles his fingers and then waves his hands, drawing a figure eight in the air, before throwing them up one last time. "But I release you from any further obligation."
She's spent hours in secret cataloguing each of his hand gestures. The conclusion she's formed in retrospect is that the more flamboyant and nonsensical his hand gestures, the more emotional he actually is. The more you have to conceal, the bigger the show you put on. Based on this gesture he doesn't want her to go. Far from it, actually.
"I'm fine. Really. Things have been a little intense but that's not your fault and I think—"
"I heard your dad, Veronica. Last week. That night I met you at his office."
"Heard him say what?"
"I don't remember his exact words but something about me not being a safe person for you to be around, and I can't exactly disagree with that."
"Logan, when's the last time you and my dad even talked? He doesn't know you now."
"Yeah, well, neither do you. Maybe he's right. And if he is, you shouldn't be around me. Just go back to New York. Go back to Piz. Live your life, Veronica."
Her pulse is pounding in her ears, and she almost flinches when he steps into her personal space and places a feather light kiss on her forehead. He turns to walk away, and she's fucking incensed that he's doing this again.
Nine years prior, on a sunny day on the Hearst campus, this was his same move. Emotional declaration. Forehead kiss. Leave her standing alone without a chance to defend herself, or explain, or fix it. Well fuck him. She refuses to be caught by surprise again.
She's only a few seconds behind him but he's already reaching for the front door. Like he desperately needs to escape her dad's house.
"Wait." It's what she wanted to say to him that day he broke up with her. And on that day her junior year when he'd found her on the beach with Backup. But she never did. Because if you take a chance and ask someone to stay and they leave you anyway, it hurts more than if you'd never asked in the first place. "Don't go."
He stops moving the second the word "Wait" leaves her mouth but doesn't turn around until the "Don't go" accompanies it. His hand still hovers over the doorknob.
"You're my friend, Logan. And you're in trouble. And I'm staying until this gets figured out."
She shrugs, focusing all her attention on the hardwood floors and the way she can see Logan's toes wriggling under the leather of his shoes. "I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead. I know I want us to stay friends, even after everything gets fixed."
As he retreats from the door, the left side of his mouth turns up into an almost indecipherable smirk. "My mom. My ex-girlfriend. You think we'll ever get to the point where we don't need someone dying to bring us back together again?"
Sometimes friends hold hands. That's what she tells herself as she grabs for his. She used to hold hands with Lilly, especially during the summer, and especially if they were ever running. There was something exhilarating about being anchored to another person as your feet carried you faster than you expected.
But when she holds Logan's hand there's a jolt of familiarity that sparks in her, and she realizes she may have miscalculated the sanity of platonic hand holding with him.
"I like my life better when you're in it. You piss me off more than just about anyone but, it's better," she tells him. He may want her to go back to her life in New York but she wants him to understand it's better for her if she stays.
Their fingers intertwine and she's fascinated at how his hand dwarfs hers in size. She's so focused on the feel of his callouses against her knuckles that it doesn't register he's lifting their joined hands until he brushes a kiss against the back of her hand. He gives her fingers a squeeze and then releases his hold.
"Even with you gone all this time, I've still always thought of you as one of my best friends."
It's just such a Logan thing to say. At once poetic and tragic. She nods, because if she tries to speak she might confess to the number of times she's had to stop herself from 'accidentally' texting him just to see if he'd respond.
"Your friends really like Piz. Wallace and Mac. I saw you guys together at the reunion."
The observation startles her with how it comes from nowhere. And that tells her it's something he's been thinking about since the reunion.
It's one of those times where he's saying one thing but the words coupled with the expression in his eyes is actually telling her something else entirely. She gives him a half smile because it doesn't actually thrill her, the idea of having to talk to Logan about Piz.
"Maybe if they got to know me, they'd like me too? I think Mac almost did once." He looks up into the air of the room, trying to recall the memory. "Wallace did too, I think. Probably before I beat up Piz. Note to self, don't beat up other friends' friends."
This combination of sincerity and bravado has been her undoing with Logan more times than she can count. He sounds so damn confident most of the time that when he just stops it's arresting.
Which is probably why she reaches out to take his hand again. Although his shoulders are tense, he doesn't back away when she uses the grip she has on his hand to pull herself closer to him. "Being well liked is overrated."
She finds it's almost a confession. The past nine years she's gotten good at biting her tongue. At recognizing the signs a friend's boyfriend is cheating and not saying anything until her friend asks. At tamping down the urge to reach into her bag to grab a taser she no longer carries. But all of that, she finds, is overrated.
Her dad thinks she's destined for greatness but there have been plenty of great women and men who weren't all that good. On the dramatic side of the spectrum she could offer Aaron Echolls as an example and on the more temperate side Jake Kane. The longer she spends in Neptune the more she finds she doesn't want greatness – she wants her-ness.
And this man standing in front of her, who is strangely enough wearing a corresponding shade of blue to hers, sees her. He doesn't see someone unobtainable or destined to be great. He sees Veronica Mars.
Her hand slides up his arm, and her body continues to wake up as it remembers the steps to this dance. She'll press closer to him, tug at the hair at the nape of his neck, and he'll grab her by the waist, forcing her to stand on her toes to get close enough to his lips.
But his body doesn't seem to remember that's what supposed to happen because, rathern than gripping her waist, his hands hold her shoulders. "I have to go." The fingers of one hand dust over her shoulder and up her neck so he is cupping her cheek, the pad of his thumb running along her cheekbone. "I don't want to but I need to."
She realizes then that his body does remember but his brain is offering a counterpoint, and Logan is listening.
His hand falls away and she's left standing there, wrapping her arms around her waist in an old gesture of self-comfort. "Logan, I'm not going to stop working on your case."
"Well then, I'm not going to stop helping you work on my case."
His hand is on the doorknob again, and they both know if she asks him to stay he will. His staying could easily head in the direction of infidelity, and sex on her dad's couch, so she stays silent and stationary.
He's almost out the door, when he turns in three-quarters profile to look at her. "Veronica, do you think your dad will ever like me again?"
The truth is she doesn't know for certain. There's a half dozen reasons she can give for why he might not, but none of them apply to the man Logan is now, only the boy she once dated.
This matters to Logan. It's always mattered to him but, she can't promise him anything. However, she can extend an invitation. "Maybe, when this is all over, you can come over for dinner. I'll let you talk, and you can attempt to stand up against the force of my dad's withering stare."
He rubs his hand on the back of his neck and, while the gesture itself is familiar, his hair is much shorter than it used to be when he did that, so it also feels like a new thing. "I'll bring him a ficus or something. Dads love that kind of stuff, right?"
The flippant answer that belies how important this really is to him makes her grin, and she nods. "Yeah, they do."
He lets himself out, giving her one final wave as he does, and she locks the door behind him.
She stands with her forehead pressed against the glass of the door, blinded by his headlights as he pulls out of the driveway and then his taillights as he drives away from the house.
It's as she's standing there that she decides against accepting the job offer she received in New York. Piz was right. She could have left Neptune by now. And yet she's still there, denying an offer from Logan that would have led to her being back in New York the following day.
When she's honest with herself about that fact, that she's choosing to stay, other pieces of truth and half-truth slide into place. She's scrolling to Piz's name on her phone without knowing exactly what she's going to say.
But when the line clicks through, his sweet and guileless voice attempting to disguise the fact her call woke him up, a weight sinks in the pit of her stomach. "Hey Piz, I'm not calling too late am I?...No, everything here is fine, I just…we need to talk about some things."
A/N 3: Thanks for reading, all! I can't wait to hear what you think :) Comments, questions, queries?