Always You Recede Through the Evenings

By Catheryne

RATING: R

PAIRING: Logan/Veronica with backgrounds of Connor/Veronica, Logan/OFC

SUMMARY: A few years into the future, Logan and Veronica reunite amidst deception, murder and surprise. Title is from Pablo Neruda's Clenched Soul.

SPOILER: none

WORD COUNT: 2247

DISCLAIMER: VM is RT's.

STATUS: In Progress

Part 1

She was the face of sorrow, but he knew more about her than anyone in America ever did.

The beer in Logan's hands warmed with his body heat, making a bitter-tasting brew. He turned his attention fully to the television hanging high up close to the ceiling of the midafternoon empty Los Angeles bar. So briefly she was flashed on the screen, a quick pan of the camera as the show zoomed into the stoic face of the hottest male sensation of the year. Connor Larkin spoke in his deep sensitive timbre, communicating to the nation his family's heartbreak at the loss of someone so young, so beautiful, so full of promise.

Still the image embedded in Logan's brain was that captive loneliness in Veronica's eyes in that small unintentional moment that was one of the small unintentional moments he waited for, suffered through full half hours of Connor Larkin interviews for. Everyone in America knew Veronica Mars now, years after Neptune and the chaos that was him, Lilly, Duncan and her. Sometimes Duncan would speak to him in that biannual tradition that was Duncan Kane calling Logan to catch up, and marvel at how far they were from all that they had planned as young children experiencing their first loves. Back then it was easy and defined. Logan and Lilly would get married and travel the most exotic locations in the world. Duncan would marry Veronica and she would make him the happiest man in the world by raising their family while he ran the software giant that his father would leave him.

The first time Logan accepted that his portion of that dream was unsalvageable was while he was watching Lilly wash a car in her pep squad uniform. Even then Duncan and Veronica's hemisphere in his dream world was intact. Duncan may have stopped talking to Veronica, but being who they were Logan was certain they would find their way back together.

And then he fell in love Veronica Mars. Logan knew there was a whole new world of dreams to come up with.

Like a great wind, time flew by and blew with it the card palace Logan had tenuously set, the pieces still floating mindlessly in midair until now.

The entire nation knew her. Half the world loathed her. Veronica Mars had been making enemies since high school when she transformed from Duncan's dream wife to a rebel investigator. Even in her maturity she had managed to turn even more people against her when one day, eighteen months since Logan and Veronica's nth and final breakup, she walked down the red carpet on the arm of Connor Larkin, sporting a sparkling ring and a self-assured smile.

Even with that smile that deceived a whole nation, Logan recognized Veronica Mars' lie.

"Mr. Echolls?"

Logan turned his attention away from Connor's speech to the young woman standing beside him, smiling uncomfortably. "Yes?"

The girl pulled up a chair beside Logan and gazed at him intently. She glanced quickly at the screen, taking in the perfectly chiseled features of Connor Larkin. Then she turned back at Logan. "I'm so sorry for your loss."

He swallowed the bile that rose in his throat every time anyone would approach him to give his condolences. "The Larkin family deserves more of your sympathy, but thank you," he rattled off the spiel that his publicist provided for him.

"I do feel sorry for them," the girl gushed. "I see them on tv all the time. But look at you. At least they have each other."

And he was all alone. Logan knew that. He wasn't stupid.

"Connor still has his Veronica Mars."

Logan wondered if he would be fascinated by how this girl's wistful expression would change if he informed her of the facts he was told not to share with the public. The Larkin family grieved for their loss. Leila Larkin was young and she loved life, which meant he was a party girl. When news of her murder broke, so did gossip of her relationship with Logan Echolls. If he told this girl, who obviously took pity on him and he hated pity, that he had been only almost dated Leila and though the news was sad, he could remain unaffected by the young woman's death, would she still feel sorry?

His attention wandered back to the aforementioned man on the screen. The interview outside the police station had wrapped up and Connor could be seen walking away from the camera towards the waiting car. Logan sucked in his breath when he saw Veronica standing beside the car, waiting. Two months after the murder and still she stayed and waited for Connor everywhere he went, every time. How he ever questioned what she felt for Connor Logan would never know.

Two months ago she certainly made it easy to do so.

i Veronica pushed through the gyrating sweaty bodies, gripping her phone in her hand as she searched for a signal. A white hand snatched the phone away.

"Are you kidding me?" Leila screamed over the music, holding the phone away from Veronica with one hand and with the other finish off another shot of courant. "You want to leave now?"

"Leila, Connor doesn't know where I am!" Veronica replied just as loudly. "He's going to be worried sick." She tried to grab for her phone. "How many of those have you had?"

"Don't be such a worrywart, Veronica," Leila retorted. She shook her head, sending her pinned up blonde hair tumbling around her face. "This is just my third one."

"On top of the tequila shots you've had?" Veronica clarified. "Give me my phone, Leila!"

"Only if you can catch me first!" the other woman chirped cheerfully. Leila whirled around, then tried to catch herself on that dizzy spell.

Veronica's arms wrapped around her waist, muttering curses as the weight of Connor's cousin brought her stumbling down as well. "I'm taking you home," Veronica told her firmly. She took her phone from Leila's hand.

"I can't believe how old I'm getting," Leila whined in a slur as Veronica managed to have one of the bar workers to help her take Leila to the exit. "I can't even hold my liquor anymore."

Veronica shook her head, keeping herself from laughing out loud. Leila was always a hot topic for the Larkin family with members throwing ideas around on how to control the girl. Despite the glaring lacks that everyone found in her, Veronica adored Leila. She loved life, she was frank and never lied, and she was the Larkin family member whom Veronica most closely interacted with apart from Connor. Sometimes, in select occasions and specific moods, Leila reminded Veronica of Lilly.

"You'll be able to hold your liquor if you didn't have three vodkas and six shots of tequila."

Leila weakly tried to hit Veronica. "You're starting to sound like my mom. Stop it."

"Alright," Veronica replied, humoring her.

The two stumbled into the back of the car that Connor had hired to escort Veronica around the city. Leila immediately lay down and curled into a ball, taking up two thirds of the space. She groaned. "Leila, you got drunk again. Why am I not surprised?" Leila muttered, mimicking in a half-assed manner what her mother would likely say."So irresponsible, Leila. You're twenty three years old!"

Veronica smiled and reached to push the hair off Leila's face. "Do you want to stay with me at my place tonight? That way they never find out."

Leila tried to sit up but groaned when her head spun. "Yes!" She settled back down to drift off then groaned again.

"What is it?"

"Connor set me up with a high school friend. Actually, more of a family friend I hadn't met yet. If I don't show up he's so going to call Connor to confirm. I'm dead!"

Veronica sighed. She looked Leila over. "You obviously can't meet him like that."

"It's a blind date," Leila complained. "Connor and his pathetic way of setting up a romantic first meeting. He didn't even give me the number." Leila cracked open one eyelid. "You look like me," she realized somberly.

"No, I don't."

Leila seemed fascinated with the idea. "Blonde hair past the shoulders. Small. Fair. All you have to do is carry one rose with you and you're good. Please Veronica."

"He'll find out anyway because I'm not going to date him to cover your ass. Your cousin will kill me."

"Use your persuasive skills."

"You have a lot of that," Veronica noted.

"Just one night, Veronica. Tell him not to tell for one night. I am dead if my parents find out. Dead, I tell you."

Reluctantly, Veronica nodded. "One night."/i

Veronica asked the driver to stop outside the bar. She asked the driver to wait for her for a few minutes. Then she stepped outside and walked into the bar. She stood at the door for a few seconds as she waited for her eyes to adjust to the interior.

That was when she spotted Logan sitting with a girl, nursing a warm beer. A couple of seconds later the girl stood up and walked away, stopping as she caught sight of Veronica then hurrying away.

Veronica walked towards where Logan was sitting. He was now staring into his glass. She placed a hand on Logan's shoulder.

"I don't really want to talk about it anymore," he said, obviously referring to whatever conversation he had with the girl that scurried away only moments ago.

"Logan, it's Veronica." She moved in front of him. "I need to talk to you."

"Aren't you busy still comforting Connor?"

"Logan," she repeated more firmly.

He met her concerned gaze. "I'm fine."

"Are you off the program?"

"I needed this."

She shook her head. "You already worked so hard."

"What's the benefit anyway?" he asked. "So I drop the alcohol. I have better temper. Even if I yell at home nobody's going to flinch away or complain."

"You live longer."

"What's so good about living?" he parried, returning to the age old question he first uttered as an after effect of Lilly's death. "What's to live for, Veronica?"

She looked down at the beer in his hands, then back into his brown eyes. "Are you off the program, Logan?"

"People are hounding me about a dead girl I didn't even know but I'm supposed to be grieving for," Logan answered. "The love of my life ran away from me after sex."

"I'm not asking you for reasons," Veronica challenged. "I'm asking, Logan—are you off the program?"

"You want me back in the program?" Logan argued. "Then fine! I'll fucking get back in and not touch a drop of alcohol if you can give me one good reason that's not about my health or my temper because I don't care!"

She nodded and sat down in front of him. Veronica pried the glass from his hands and placed it on the table beside theirs.

"Can you give me one or are you full of shit with demands that you can't back up?"

"That's why I came by to find you."

"To tell me to stop drinking?" he snorted. Veronica's eyes wandered towards the glass of beer. She hesitated. He reached for it and lifted. She sucked in her breath. "Well," he pushed.

"I'm pregnant."

Logan placed the glass back down.

i "So what did Connor have on you that you just had to come?"

Veronica stiffened at that familiar, warm voice. She pushed the rose away and turned around on the barstool. "Hello Logan," she greeted. "I wasn't expecting you."

His eyebrows arched up. "That's the understatement of the century," Logan returned. "Why is Connor sending me his own fiancé?"

"I'm just a replacement, actually. Your date is drunk and sleeping in my bed," she explained. Veronica's lips curved. "And no, I don't swing both ways. It was Connor's cousin Leila. I came in an attempt to convince you not to holler to Connor that she stood you up."

Logan smiled. "I hope you brought your convincing skills with you." /i

"It's mine," were the next words that came from Logan's lips. He did not ask. Instead, he staked his claim.

"Definitely," Veronica answered. She took a deep breath. "I need your input on my decision, Logan." For the first time, her voice trembled. "This wasn't exactly part of my plan."

"If you're asking me whether you're going to abort or not—"

"No!"

"I'll raise it," he quickly offered.

"Logan," she protested.

"I'll stop drinking. I'm not going to bring girls into my house. I'll even start a college fund. Just tell me what else you'll need and I'll do it."

She nodded. "Show me you can drop the alcohol, Logan. Then we'll talk."

Veronica looked towards the door where a man stood. Logan recognized him as one of Connor's men. She stood up and nodded, then walked towards the door as well.

Veronica Mars was hit and run. Always so quickly she could turn his world upside down and just as quickly leave him to pick up the pieces.

tbc