Logan's fries had been cold for quite some time but they gave him an excuse to continue to dawdle in the Food Court even after his mediocre cheeseburger was gone. His real reason for hanging around was sitting a couple of tables away.
He'd seen the tiny blonde on the first day of school. She was in the Registrar's office, bullying the confused student clerk into a correction of her schedule. He was there to finalize his late registration. He'd only decided to register for college a couple weeks earlier. His plan had been to take some time and figure out his life while sleeping late and surfing but when the lawyer in charge of his trust informed him that he was obligated to enroll in college full time to trigger the latest layer of funds, he'd scrambled to find someplace to go. He'd considered signing up for six units of weight lifting and six of golf at a junior college but then he'd gotten a call from an old friend who convinced him to check out the school he was attending. Hearst College, in Neptune. Far enough away from Los Angeles to avoid any paternal unit ugliness and, apparently, susceptible to cash infusions in the form of exorbitant late registration fees. Logan's SAT scores were in line with your average Hearst student, maybe higher, but his grades weren't exactly stellar. High school hadn't really interested him. Way too much drama in his life to care about school.
So, while Logan waited for his last minute schedule to pop out of the computer, he watched the cute blonde with the sharp tongue. When she finally had the change she wanted—'Criminology 101, not Early Childhood Education 10. I'm not interested in how to keep the kid from becoming a criminal; I'm interested in what to do about him after the little miscreant goes wrong'—and had stormed away muttering, Logan slid up to the dazed clerk to find out where else he might find the tiny spitfire. He had a successful track record of getting what he wanted when he got his flirt on and that day was no exception. He got a peek at the blonde's—Veronica Mars, apt name—corrected schedule and then wheedled a transfer into the Freshman English section that she was in. For the second time that morning, the clerk never knew what hit her.
Unfortunately, after three weeks of classes, even after he'd planted himself directly behind Veronica in the classroom, he still hadn't had an actual conversation with her. He'd said, 'thank you' to her, twice, when she'd passed back a stack of handouts but that was it. She said, 'sure' in response once and 'uh huh' the other time and beyond that, they'd never spoken.
Now, he was watching her try to get rid of the guy sitting next to her with no success. It had been funny at first but after ten minutes of watching her try to discourage the puppy, it was getting pathetic.
"Piz, really, I'm not kidding. You don't want to date me. I'm a trainwreck. My last serious boyfriend? On the run with his kid with another girl. Before that? I got that one arrested for drug dealing. I'm a really bad bet."
The puppy made an earnest face and Logan rolled his eyes. "It sounds like you were dating the wrong kind of guys. I'm a nice guy. I promise I won't do anything to make you want to have me arrested. And I don't have any kids with anyone."
Logan snickered. Does he really think that's all it's gonna take with this one?
He had to hand it to her though. She was still trying to be pleasant as she discouraged him. "I really don't have a lot of time to date. I'm working all the time. Between my shifts at the library and doing surveillance for my dad at night...really, it's a miracle I managed to go to the movies with you guys that one time."
Surveillance? That sounds hot. Distracted by images of the blonde channeling Dana Scully, Logan grabbed a fry but as soon as his teeth sunk into the cold, greasy potato, he grimaced and dropped it back onto his tray.
"Seriously, Veronica, I know you've got an early shift tomorrow at the library. Even if you've got this surveillance thing, which really doesn't seem safe, by the way, let me take you to early dinner first. We'll have fun."
Logan was getting tired of this. He understood the value of persistence but this guy was ridiculous.
"Piz, really, I don't think—"
"Excuse me, Veronica?" Logan was nearly as surprised as the people looking up at him to find himself standing next to their table. "Umm, I'm sorry to interrupt—"
"Yeah, we're busy, man," the annoying puppy said with a sneer.
"Can I help you?" the blonde said, sounding relieved.
"I missed our English class this morning; I wanted to see if we scheduled study group. I thought it was late afternoon tomorrow but I wanted to be sure." He raised his eyebrows, smiling tentatively, pretty sure she would see what he was trying to do. To his relief, she smiled back.
"Yes, tomorrow. Right after I get off work as a matter of fact. Sorry, Piz. And actually, I need to talk to Logan about what he missed in class today." She stood up and gestured toward the table Logan had been sitting at. "You're over there, right?" She grabbed her tray and her bag. "See ya, Piz."
Logan backed away from their table, watching the guy's face crumple in confusion, then harden in irritation. Veronica didn't wait around, she went straight to Logan's table and sat down, pulling a notebook out of her bag. Logan threw Piz a two-fingered salute and walked back to his table.
As he sat down, she leaned toward him, whispering, "Thank you so much." The feel of her breath against his neck made him shiver.
"No problem. He didn't seem to get it so I thought maybe I could help." He glanced back and saw Piz slam out of the food court. "He's gone."
She heaved a sigh of relief and shoved her folder back in her bag. "Oh thank God. Now we don't have to talk about English notes."
He smiled and quirked an eyebrow at her. "You're not going to share?"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "You sit right behind me, Logan, did you think I missed that you were there today?"
His smile widened. "I didn't realize you knew that was me. We haven't really talked." He paused, just realizing something. "I didn't think you even knew my name."
She chuckled and blushed. "Umm, yeah. I heard you say 'Present' when the instructor was still calling role in the first week."
She noticed me in the first week? "Oh, we've never talked, I just..." He trailed off, not sure what he could say that wouldn't make him look as pitiful as Piz. "Huh. Well, maybe next class, we'll actually greet each other."
"Sure, and we've got study group tomorrow, right?" She tilted her head at him and he felt his stomach roll over in excitement.
"You know I made that up," Logan said.
"Yeah, I do. So, maybe dinner?" Her voice suddenly sounded nervous, like she was afraid he'd say no.
"Absolutely, if you've got time." He grinned broadly. "Do you work today?"
She smiled back. "Actually no. I've got a class that starts in a few minutes and after that I'm free. How about you?"
"I'm done for the day."
Her eyebrows scrunched together in a suspicious little 'v'. "Then why were you here?"
He ducked his head, then looked up at her, embarrassed. "Well, I came in for a coffee before I headed home but then...I saw you and thought maybe I'd stick around." He wrinkled his nose at her. "I promise; I'm not a stalker." She threw her head back, laughing, and he felt the swoop in his chest this time.
"So, maybe, if you wanted, you could meet me after class? Hawthorne Hall...we'll be done by 3:00 PM." She reached out tentatively, just fingertips on his arm, but the charge that shot through him was like nothing he'd felt before. From the look of surprise on her face, he was pretty sure she'd felt it too.
"Sounds good; maybe I can walk you over now?" He trailed his own fingers across her hand now resting on his arm, enjoying the spark between them. "Just so I'll know where to meet you later."
She smirked at him and he knew he was a goner. "Couldn't have you getting lost, now could we? Let's go."