A/N: Huge thanks to Maria, Lazeema, and Bissele for their fabulous beta-work during this story. You all deserve naked Logans for listening to me whine and offering up some fantastic advice. Melissa also deserves a naked Logan and many thanks for putting together the newspaper clipping at the end.
The original posting of this story has a newspaper clipping at the end but I cannot post it here. If you would like to see the chapter as it was intended to be viewed, please go to my Live Journal (username: jaggedreality). There is a link to my journal in my profile.
taken a long time but here is the finished product! Thanks to everyone
who has stuck around to this point and thank you all for your kind
reviews. All of you deserve props for your patience and kindness. I
hope you've had as much fun reading this story as I did writing it. And
that's enough with the notes, let's get on with the story.
Epilogue: Life Ain't Always Beautiful But It's a Beautiful Ride
Logan lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. His wife, still the most beautiful woman in his eyes, lay curled beside him with her head resting on his chest. He lightly stroked a finger across the small of her back, taking care not to wake her. She had finally managed to doze off a few minutes before and he wanted her to rest.
His breath was becoming more ragged with every passing hour. He did not have much time left. A part of him wanted to close his eyes and slip away right now, the memory of his wife's warm, soft breath on his chest his very last. However, Logan knew Veronica would never forgive him, or herself, if she woke up to find he had passed away while she slept.
The cancer had ravaged his once strong body and it was no longer able to fight back. For his family's sake, he wished he could continue the battle, but his body could take no more. He had been fighting for most of his life and to be honest, he was tired and wanted to rest. There was a calmness that settled over him as he realized had no more than a few hours left.
He had not been prepared for the doctor's news, delivered suddenly, ten months before. The cancer attacked fast and hard, and his body had not been able to withstand the assault.
Veronica and their children had been unwilling to accept the diagnosis and had searched the world over for a cure. He had known it was a futile quest, but for their sakes he had gone along with it. Letting them take him to every kind of doctor they could find, willing to fight for them.
Until three weeks ago, he had let them deny the inevitable. Finally he had set his foot down and called a halt to all treatments. He knew he had very little time left and he refused to spend the rest of the time he had left chasing the unattainable.
He came home from the clinic in Texas and moved into one of the guest bedrooms downstairs. It had been outfitted with a hospital bed and everything else he could possibly need. A nurse was employed around the clock to check on him and keep him comfortable. He may have given up searching for a cure but that didn't mean he wouldn't use his money to make himself as comfortable as possible.
As soon as his death had been accepted as unavoidable, his normally strong family had wilted. Tears now flowed more regularly than water. He had sent everyone but Veronica from the room a few hours ago. Not that they had gone far. His children and grandchildren had all come to stay at the house so they had only gone as far as their bedrooms.
He doubted they were asleep. If he knew anything about his children, he knew they were waiting for their mother to tell them it was over. They would be preparing to rally around her, to help in anyway they could.
Knowing she would not be alone after he died helped ease his burden of guilt. Not that dying was his choice, but it forced him to break his promise to always be there for her during the hard times and that broke his heart.
Logan had spent the last few weeks saying private goodbyes to his family. One by one he had spent time alone with each and every one of them. He was grateful to have been given the opportunity to say all the things he'd wanted to say. He would not die with anything left unsaid, nor would his family have to be troubled that they had not said everything.
To his sons, Matthew and Jacob, Logan spoke of his pride. He let them know that he was proud of the fine, young men they had become. Matthew was a wonderful father and husband. His youngest traveled the world, happily single, and the thrill reflected in his eyes was all Logan could ever have hoped for. While he was sure Jacob would someday find a wife and have children, he knew it would not matter to him either way; he was happy with his life. He asked both of them to look out for their mother and sister, neither of whom would ever admit to needing help.
With his daughter, Logan spoke of his delight in watching her grow into a strong young woman. She may be a wife and mother but she would always be his baby girl. He begged her to not be as stubborn as her parents and ask for help when she needed it. He also asked her to watch over her brothers. As the girl, she would be the touchstone where they could always return long after their parents were both gone.
He also said his goodbyes to each of his grandchildren. He laughed at the oldest boy and girl who not only looked like their grandparents but acted like them as well. His children would have their hands full. In the third he saw a contentment with life that he had never known. In the youngest, he saw Veronica as she had been when he first met her, all big eyes, bright smile and shining innocence. He prayed that nothing would ever take that away.
He had also tried to spend time with his friends. While most of them were still alive and well, a few had preceded him in death. It was with a saddened heart that he thought about Duncan. They had never spoken again after he was sent to the hospital. Logan reminded himself frequently that the boy who left was not the boy he had known and loved. Even accepting the truth, it had not kept him from mourning when Duncan had died suddenly 7 years after leaving Neptune.
Logan had endeavored to say goodbye to Veronica but could not seem to get the words to come. The one time he had actually managed to start the conversation she had gotten mad and yelled at him to shut up. She told him that she was not going to be a participant in one of his ridiculous goodbye conversations. If they hadn't managed to say it all to each other in the last forty plus years, they weren't going to in the short amount of time they had left.
Anyway, it wasn't a goodbye as far as she was concerned. Someday they would be back together, so this was just a temporary break. In the end, he had not wanted to fight with her and let it go.
Though he knew it was a cliché, he could not help but think back over his life with Veronica as he lay there. It had been more than 45 years since they had gotten back together during their senior year of high school. As long as that might seem, it wasn't nearly long enough in his mind. They were supposed to live to be doddering old people who did nothing but harass each other, their children and grandchildren. He could not help but feel that yet again he was being cheated out of what should have been.
"Promise me we will always be friends," she demanded abruptly.
"Huh? What the hell are you talking about?" he questioned.
"I want you to promise me that no matter what happens, we will always be friends," she reiterated.
He stared at her confusedly for a few moments before rolling his eyes in exasperation. "Fine. I promise that no matter what happens we will always be friends."
She stared into his eyes as if assuring herself that he wasn't just placating her.
He picked up her hands and threaded his fingers through hers, pulling her against his body. Dropping his forehead to hers, he further promised, "Not only will we always be friends, I will always love you and I will always be there to help you through the hard times."
Logan had made those promises at the graduation barbeque Keith and Alicia had thrown for them. He'd been able to keep them even through the difficult periods, until now when he would be leaving her alone. This would be one time he could do nothing to comfort or protect her.
College had been hard on their relationship. He went to film school in Los Angeles while she headed north to Stanford to study behavioral psychology. The long distance thing had been difficult but they had managed fairly well the first few years. They called each other numerous times each week and exchanged emails and text messages multiple times a day.
About midway through their third year though, things began to fall apart. The fights became more frequent and the time between phone calls and emails grew longer. Veronica seemed to be growing distant and making excuses not to spend time with him. He had been jealous and gotten drunk one night when visiting her and they had gotten in a screaming match, during which they hurled accusations of unfaithfulness and not caring at each other.
"If you think so damn little of me and my ability to remain faithful then maybe you should find someone you can trust!" he screamed.
"Maybe I will! Why don't you just go home and cozy up to that little red-headed slut who claims she's an actress? I'm sure she'd be happy to join you on your casting couch," she spat bitterly.
"Well, God knows, she'd be a hell of a lot warmer than curling up next to you," he threw back at her. As soon as the words left his mouth, he wanted to take them back. She looked like he had smacked her across the face. "Veron-"
"Get out," she stated quietly. "Get the fuck out."
"I didn't mean -"
"Leave!" she shrieked. "Get away from me."
Logan had stumbled out of the hotel room they'd been in and headed for the bar downstairs. He hadn't meant to say those words. Hell, they weren't even vaguely true. After a few hours, he had finally stumbled back to the room only to find Veronica long gone. He cursed his own stupidity for what seemed like hours and when she didn't come back he called the airline and switched his flight back to L.A. to that afternoon. The following seven months were akin to torture.
He had waited a few weeks after the fight before trying to talk to her again, which turned out to be a huge tactical error. She had convinced herself that he'd meant what he said and she would not answer his phone calls, letters, or emails. It wasn't until shortly before their fourth year of college began that she would even speak to him in passing.
Though they both returned to Neptune for the summer, he had seen little of her. She managed to make herself nearly invisible. He had left her innumerable messages, stopped by her apartment, and sent her multiple bouquets of flowers, hell he'd even tried cookie bouquets a few times. Nothing worked; she still would not listen to him. In late August though, he couldn't take it any longer and began staking out the beach every morning. Eventually, his tenacity paid off.
Their short conversation had been stiff and uncomfortable and she'd turned to leave before he could say what he had been practicing in his head for months. Knowing he was about to lose any chance of having her in his life, he took a gamble.
"Don't forget that I'm still your friend. I'll always be here when you need me," he blurted out, the words practically running together in his haste to get them said.
She had stopped, her back to him for a moment, before turning around to look at him. "W-What?"
"I promised. You made me promise that at the barbeque. I just wanted you to know I remembered and I still mean it." His voice was ragged and he could feel his throat squeezing shut but he knew he had to get it out. He needed Veronica in his life in some capacity in order to make it work right.
She had looked at him and he could see the tears welling in her eyes. A few slipped down her face, but before he could wipe them away, she had clenched her jaw and nodded at him before turning and running off the beach. It probably hadn't been fair to ambush her that way but he had long since quit playing fair.
It was over six weeks later before Logan heard from Veronica again. He had been stunned to answer the phone to a sobbing, hysterical female. It had taken him a good five minutes to get Veronica calm enough to tell him what happened.
"I don't know what to do. He…accident...ICU…won't tell me…help me Logan."
She had been frantic and he'd only gotten a tiny part of what she'd been saying. He could feel his heart racing but was trying to remain calm for her sake.
"Veronica," he snapped, trying to break through her tears. "Honey, I need you to calm down for a minute. I don't understand what you are saying. Can you take a deep breath and tell me what happened?
The other end of the line was silent but he could hear her breathing slowing down and the sobs turning into soggy hiccups. He could picture her on the other end trying to collect herself.
"Okay, now tell me again what happened."
She took a few shuddering breaths before speaking again. "H-he wa- was in a car accident. He's in the ICU and they won't tell me anything. I-I need to be there. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I need you to h-help me, please."
"Who was in an accident?" he asked softly.
"Okay, where is Wallace now? Is he in Neptune?"
"No. He's back at school in North Carolina. I need to get there. But I-I can't think of what I need to do."
"Where are your Dad and Alicia?"
"Dad called me from the airport. They had already called the airlines and are flying out there. I need to be there with them." He was relieved to hear her calming down but was worried about the monotone note that was slipping into her speech.
Not wanting to let her be alone with her thoughts, he kept her talking on his cell while calling airlines with his house phone. Once arrangements were made, he reluctantly allowed Veronica to hang up and pack so she would be ready when the car service he arranged arrived to pick her up and take her to the airport.
Three hours later, Logan watched Veronica walk off the plane at LAX, visibly in shock. When she saw him, she stopped in her tracks and stared for a moment before dropping her bag and running toward him. Flinging her arms around him, she held on tight as she once again dissolved into tears. He had been hard-pressed to hold back his own anguish at seeing her so broken. She was his Valkerie, his warrior, and he could not stand to see her be anything but her toughest.
He got her bag and ushered her to her next flight. She had been shocked when he had revealed that he was there to go with her. He wasn't about to let her go through this alone. She didn't say anything but the look of relief in her eyes and the squeezing of his hand told him all he needed to know.
Logan was with Veronica almost ever waking moment of the next few weeks. He barely let her out of his sight, making sure she ate, slept, and actually got fresh air now and again.
Fortunately, Wallace pulled through his injuries but not without lasting damage. It would take three surgeries and countless months of physical therapy to repair his right knee and shoulder. Though he was able to regain the function in both limbs, the accident destroyed any basketball career he could have had. After the loss of his scholarship to UNC, Wallace had returned home to California and enrolled at UCLA where he studied sports medicine.
A few months later, Logan arrived in San Francisco for an internship with Lucas Films. It was a dream job that allowed him to indulge his sci-fi geek and it had the added benefit of being close to Veronica while they repaired their relationship.
After both of them had completed their educations, they settled into the house Logan had purchased in L.A. Veronica's father was relieved that they were not rushing into marriage but he had expressed hoped that she might get her own place for awhile or live with Wallace.
Over the next few years, Veronica settled into her new position as a profiler for the FBI and Logan began writing and directing films. At first, he stuck mostly to smaller, independent films that he often financed himself. It wasn't until he was well-established as an award-winning director in his own right that he began to make larger, studio blockbusters. He was the first to admit he enjoyed the money and fame those films brought, but his true passion were the smaller films that allowed him his freedom.
The most notable film of his career would be about the Lilly Kane murder, which he wrote and directed himself. At Billie Maxwell's suggestion, he had written the screenplay as a catharsis in college, but had never intended for it to be anything more than an exercise. However, Veronica had run across the manuscript years later and insisted that he needed to make the film. Unlike the previous tabloid versions of the story, his story was mostly about Lilly the person and the fab four, not Lilly the tabloid sensation. Also, unlike the other films, his story opened and closed with the murder, with the resultant events being little more than a short epilogue on the screen. It was the only film he ever did that would make Veronica cry throughout and thank him for making.
A couple of years after moving to L.A., Veronica and Logan got married. A few more years after that, they presented Keith with his first grandson, Matthew Keith. Their daughter, Riley Katherine, followed a few years later.
Things were going well in the Echolls' household until shortly after Veronica's 36th birthday. Veronica and Logan had both been working long hours, spending little time together, when Logan was offered the chance to direct a film in Scotland. He always tried to limit his time away to short periods or he took the family along. However, this was to take place during the school year and it would mean uprooting the kids to a new school, which Veronica refused to allow. While her objection to taking the kids out of school was valid, her main excuse was hatred of the movie's star.
"If you want to go off and make a film with your 'star', Madison Sinclair, fine. But, I'm not going and neither are my kids," she screamed.
"Your kids? Wow, I didn't know you'd created them all by yourself. You're even more talented than I realized. I guess I'm just superfluous," he replied snidely. He was tired of Veronica bitching about Madison. Yes, her flirting was annoying, but he wasn't interested in her or any woman other than his wife and Veronica knew that.
The argument continued without resolution until Logan stormed into his den. A week later, he left for the movie shoot with nothing resolved. Right before his departure he let her know that he wasn't sure when he would be able to come home for a visit during production and Veronica had responded by suggesting that maybe he shouldn't bother coming home at all. Enraged by her insinuation that it might be better if he never came home, he had left without a backward glance.
When Logan stormed out of the house, he had been filled with righteous anger. Halfway across the ocean, he wanted nothing more than to order the pilot to turn around. He had never left on a note like that and now he feared his marriage might really be over.
Veronica may have used Madison as the excuse but she wasn't the real cause of their problems. No, the root source of the problem was that each hated the other's profession. Veronica detested the media attention his career brought upon them; he feared the danger she faced every time she went into the field.
No, Madison was not the problem. This fight had been building for months. This fight had been just a matter of time since the night of the shooting.
Even a few decades later, thoughts of that night could turn his blood to ice. The terror he felt on the ride from his house to the hospital was unparalleled.
Unfortunately for the young agent charged with getting him to the hospital, details were sketchy. The only thing he knew was that Veronica had been shot and was rushed by life-flight to the hospital. Logan knew if life-flight was involved the situation was dire.
The following hours were beyond any nightmare that he could have imagined. Keith showed up with the children and the four of them sat in silence, waiting for word from the operating room. When the surgeon arrived to talk to them, he found two stone-faced men, each holding tightly to a sleeping child.
"She came through the surgery better than we could have hoped. She lost a lot of blood, her lung collapsed and we had to remove her spleen. She's being taken to recovery now and you can go see her after she's settled. She's hooked to a machine to help her breathe so it's probably going to look scary but with time she should make a full recovery," the doctor assured them solemnly.
Keith thanked the doctor profusely as tears flowed down his cheeks. Logan was too numb to do anything more than nod and offer a small thanks to the doctor.
Later, sitting by her bedside, watching the machine help her breath, he broke down and cried. He had almost become a widower, his children motherless. He didn't know how he would cope if she died.
Now, she was talking about returning to fieldwork. That was true source of their current problems. He felt she was being selfish for putting herself back on the line. She thought he was being a controlling asshole for not understanding how much her job meant. Neither was willing to compromise and see the other's side.
The weeks following his departure were long and lonely. Were it not for the ability to bury himself in work, he would probably have gone crazy. Of course the cast and crew were not happy with the way he was driving him. They were a week ahead of shooting because of his pushing them so hard.
Madison was being a horrid pest, throwing herself at him on regular intervals. When he returned to his suite one night to find her naked on his bed, he had thrown her out and threatened to fire her if she pulled another stunt like that.
Logan was bewildered nine weeks after arriving in Scotland to open the suite door and see his wife. "Veronica?" He noted that her eyes were red-rimmed, her manner dejected. He was instantly worried that something horrible had happened. "Are you okay? Are the kids alright?"
"No…yes," she drew in a deep breath before continuing. "The kids are fine. They are probably being spoiled rotten by their grandparents." She stopped abruptly and looked him in the eye. "Can I come in?"
Realizing they were still standing in the doorway, he stepped back and motioned her inside. She strode into the suite and then just stood there.
When she didn't speak he finally asked, "If nothing is wrong, why are here Veronica?" He tried to keep his tone casual and a little bland but his bitterness was evident.
"I never said that there wasn't something wrong." She stood there, seemingly debating what to say before she finally just blurted out why she was in Scotland. "You haven't come home. You've barely even called." Her tone was lost, mystified.
He frowned at her words. He almost started yelling but clenched his jaw, trying to remain calm. "You told me not to come home. And I did call, daily. I've talked to the kidsevery-single-day without fail."
"But you hardly ever talked to me," she answered petulantly. "You've always called me to at least say goodnight."
Had he not been so incensed he would have laughed at her pouting. But what she said was true. In their time apart, they hadn't spoken more than a hand full of words to each other. He timed most of his calls when he was fairly certain she would not be around, going so far as to call the kids at Keith and Alicia's house, where they usually went after school. The few times she answered he had spoken no more than a few words before requesting to speak to the children. She attempted to start a conversation a few times but he had been angry and refused to listen.
"You all but threw me out the door. It didn't exactly leave with the impression that you wanted to talk. I was trying to go along with your wishes," he answered snottily.
She stared at him disbelievingly. "You pick now to do what I want. You haven't listened to me a day of our marriage!"
"I was angry and I had every right to be. You made a major decision about our lives without even asking me. I have a job, our kids have school; we can't just pick up and go at your whim."
"I made a major life decision without asking you. Did you think about me or the kids when you decided to go back into the field? Did you think about how we would feel if you got shot again? You have no idea what it was like to sit next to your hospital bed, afraid the doctors were wrong and you weren't going to make it. How would I explain that to the kids? How could I be expected to keep going? I can't even take care of myself, much less two kids," he finished brokenly.
He was stunned by his own statement. Until now he had never admitted his true fear. He knew he wouldn't be able to raise the kids without her. How would he be able to teach them about love and life when his heart and soul would be buried with Veronica?
She walked up to him, tears filling her eyes. When he didn't reject her, she placed a hand on his cheek. "You would do a wonderful job with the children. I wish you could see what I do. You are so much stronger than you think." She waited while he assimilated her words before continuing. "I do think about you and the kids when I go to work. All of you are why I go out there every day. I want to make the world a safer place for them, for us. Every time I catch one of the bad guys, I breathe a little easier. It's one less person that can hurt our family. And my job is a large part of who I am. I don't want a different job. I don't know how to do anything else, how to be someone else," she beseeched, trying to make him understand.
"I don't want you to be anyone else. But I need to know that you are safe. That you are doing everything possible to come home to us every night," he responded fervently.
By now both of them were crying openly. He pulled her close and squeezed her tightly. His world was slowing shifting back on the right axis with her in his arms.
The rest of the night was spent talking, yelling, and even some more crying. Finally they were releasing months of pent-up anger. It had been a long time since they'd been this honest with each other, with themselves for that matter.
In keeping with the spirit of honesty, he told her about Madison's little stunt in his room. Veronica was livid with the actress but she believed him when he said nothing happened.
As the sun came up, Logan called his assistant director and asked her to take over shooting for the day. She was an eager, talented young woman looking to make her mark so she was thrilled at the opportunity. Had Logan not worked with her previously on one of his independent films and been so impressed with her work, he would have called off work for the day.
Right now though, his immediate concern was his wife and saving his marriage. The rest of the world could go fuck themselves as far as he was concerned.
Veronica stayed for a week during which they took full advantage of having no children present. It was the first time they had been away from the kids for more than a night or two. It was a second honeymoon of sorts.
They promised during that week to make more time for one another. Their priorities for the last few years and been work and children and in the process they neglected each other, much to the detriment of their marriage.
Things were far from perfect but they were back on track by the time Veronica went home. Logan gave the cast and crew a much needed couple days break while she was there but he was back to pushing them hard once she left. This time things went smoother however as he was no longer furiously barking orders. He even began to turn more things over to his assistant so he could make a few trips home.
Logan and Veronica laughed at what a total cliché it was when she gave birth to a baby boy, Jacob Tyler, nine months after she returned from her trip to Scotland. The teasing about no souvenirs in Scotland being good enough for them so they had to make their own was merciless, but the proud parents were too happy to care.
Logan came back to the present momentarily as he shifted slightly to ease a cramp forming in his arm. Before long though, his mind was back to sifting through the memories. He could feel himself weakening quickly.
He remembered the terror of learning Veronica was pregnant for the first time. The pride and joy he felt when he held each of his children for the first time. He remembered first steps, first words, birthday parties, anniversaries…he had led a full life. There were plenty of down times over the years but he wouldn't trade them for anything if it had meant giving up the joys.
He had thought he was ready to let go but as the moment grew nearer he could feel the fear settling in. How would the kids and Veronica deal? Would his grandchildren even remember him?
He shook Veronica gently; no longer wanting to be alone with his thoughts. He needed her to be there, to assure him he didn't need to be frightened.
She buried her face tiredly into his chest as she tried to awaken. A gesture she had performed many times during their life together. It took mere seconds this time for her to come fully alert and sit upright.
"Logan," she cried frantically as she hovered over him. "Are you okay? Do you need something? I'm so sorry I fell asleep."
"Hey, it's okay," he assured her. "You needed the rest."
"Have you been awake this whole time? You should have woken me up."
"I was just thinking about that day on the balcony of The Camelot. My life would have been so different if you hadn't kissed me or if I hadn't pulled you back for that second kiss. We may have never had our epic."
"It was definitely a life-altering day." She tried to muster up a small smile as she stared down at him. "Are you sure you don't need anything?"
"I need you to talk to me," he whispered. "Tell me a story."
Her eyes full of tears she asked, "What kind of story?"
"Tell me about the day we met. I've told my side of the story about how hot you were in those knee socks a hundred times. It occurred to me earlier that I'd never heard your version."
She lay back down with her head on his chest, trying to keep him from seeing the tears that coursed down her cheeks. Her voice full of anguish she began her story.
"I had just finished a soccer game and came running off the field to meet Lilly. We were supposed to go to the mall and then spend the night at my place. She was there with Duncan and this other boy that they introduced as Duncan's best friend, who had just moved to town. Lilly whispered to me that she thought he was cute and she wanted to kiss him. I laughed and I'm sure I probably blushed. The boy was cute but what I was struck most by was his eyes. They were such a warm, chocolate brown but so full of sadness. I remember wanting to…"