"Forget to pay the bills again, Echolls?" She chirped in her patented dulcet tones.

"I used to have people for that." She couldn't see his face as she neared his back, wrapping her arms around the narrow span of his waist, but she knew he was smiling even as he sighed with mock irritation.

"Mmm. An 09'er without a staff of twenty. That makes you almost helpless doesn't it? How does the rest of the world survive?"

His hands had crept up over hers, slowly sliding back and forth across her forearms, fingertips caressing her skin. "I get by on my good looks and my inimitable charm."

"Inimitable," Veronica quirked a brow, pursing her lips as she hummed, "Triple word score."

The soft huff of his laughter increased their awareness of just how quiet it had unexpectedly become in the small two-bedroom apartment. The silence was almost deafening without all of the usual white noise to drown out the nothingness. It was the third in a sweep of ever troubling brown outs bothering the city. The apartment had suddenly gone black, the steady drone of the television, the refrigerator, the air-conditioner winding down all at once, plunging them into an inky stillness.

Slowly he began taking steps towards the sliding glass door, carrying Veronica with him at his back in an awkward saunter that landed him starring out their back door at a neighborhood gone dark.

"Ooh look," she whispered, peeking around his shoulder. Her voice had taken on the purity of a child's and he smiled at the sound, "Without all the lights of the city, you can see the fireflies." She pointed just off to their left, catching small glimpses of flashing yellow here and there.

This amused Logan. It wasn't just her exuberance and youthful naturalness that he loved. It was the fact that somewhere beyond all that they had been through, together and apart, there was still some little piece of innocence left within her that lingered untouched. He thanked God every time he saw it. Even though he'd rather focus on pretty much anything else, he knew he wasn't blameless in jeopardizing Veronica's innocence. These days he found himself fiercely protective of whatever remained.

Logan released her hands from where they held him, edging behind her to hold her in front of the pane of glass, just as she had been holding him. Once again his hands came to rest on her abdomen, worrying the fraying fabric of her t-shirt. "Do you think if I touched you just right, I could make you spark?"

Her smile turned lascivious. Before he even gave her time to respond (and he never did), his mouth lit on the apex between her neck and shoulder. Hot, moist breath tickled her collarbone at first, registering in her mind with the subtle sensation of his lungs expanding beneath her weight as she leaned against him. Gently his lips played over the bone before nipping at her flesh.

Veronica drew in a quavering breath, the apartment already registering a slight temperature change, as his hands filled in the spaces where her ribcage had drawn in tight. She loved that about him. That he had always known her so instinctively. She never had to tell him when she wanted it closer, stronger, harder, faster. The fact that he knew usually didn't stop her from commanding whatever she wanted, however, but somehow, he knew and she reveled in it.

His lips continued to tease her sensitive skin, until they finally parted, his tongue flicking out to make her gasp. The heat began to draw up from the window, radiating off of her body in the small space that separated her from the door. A little "ooh" also radiated back at her as he freed one of his hands from her abdomen and played it up along her sternum.

When his fingers wrapped almost possessively around her neck, he felt her surging pulse as he tilted her head in the other direction so he could dance his lips against that side too. She had shut her eyes when he moved her head against his chest, but when she opened them she ooh'd once more. Her reflection in the window, aided by a very distant glow of meridian street lights, portrayed a woman very much enrapt; held captive by one smooth hand working against her suddenly exposed stomach, and another stroking wantonly across her throat, she had just enough time to consider what power grid the lights were on before he pulled his mouth away and put them to her ear.

"Do you remember when you hated me?" The tremor of his lips and the quiet cadence of his voice made her shiver, not just from his nearness, but from a rush of emotions that she knew too well; all the hidden things inside that always lay just under the surface. Scratch at them and they'd bleed.

"Are you kidding me?" she swallowed unsteadily. "When you touch that spot I can barely remember my own name." The hitch in her voice gave her away though and without hesitation she shifted in his arms, spinning her body against his chest in an effort to face him.

Even through the shadows, his eyes were filled with everything that made Logan Echolls, Logan Echolls: longing, pain, intensity, lust, iniquity, an underlying decency. It was always agonizing to look at him this raw. A pure liquid torture when his eyes met hers and everything he felt was written all over every inch of him. Years ago, when neither of them was much more than adolescence playing at maturity, this look had scared the shit out of her. She could barely take care of herself at the time, let alone play babysitter for his bad boy without a care routine. But that was then and this was now. They had both grown, changed.

"Logan..." his name just a breath, "I never hated you. Well okay," she admitted with a small smile, "maybe when you were making my life a miserable hell. Smashing headlights and rubbing Kendall Casablancas in my face. But hate is far too strong a word. Envied you a little at times, became irritated with you, hell yes! Aggravated, indifferent towards you, worried about you, "she watched his face fall as she rattled off the list of things he'd made her feel, carefully reaching up to bring his eyes back to hers with the press of her finger under his chin. "But never hate."

Logan couldn't help but swallow hard, breathing in air that felt too thick inside his chest. Even though the valley typically cooled at night, the heat wave that had been wreaking havoc on the city for the last week still left everything blistering hot, even after the sun went down. Without the aid of air-conditioning, the tiny place they shared would become an oven. Still, it wasn't only the oppressive heat that made him feel as though he were trying to breathe through cotton. It was her and her proximity, her and the truth, her... always, always her.

"What else, Veronica? What else did I make you feel?"

His hands moved up her back, her small pink t-shirt clinging to her skin where the sweat had already started to seep through. He ran his fingers along the v of her shoulder blades, then over and around her arms to cup her shoulders, splaying his thumbs across tightened muscle.

"Anger, jealousy," she admitted honestly, her brows knitting together as she thought. "Doubt," she continued in a whisper. "Ache, compassion, need, temptation; pretty much the entire Sweet Valley High gamut," she smirked, giving him a slight shrug that he felt through the pads of his thumbs. He smiled for her then, a glow lighting within his darkened eyes.

"And now?"

"And now... love."

"Love," he mimicked and she watched his mouth form the word. There was almost something impossibly wrong with him saying it. It seemed not quite believable when he put sound to the syllables. It was almost as wrong on him as vulnerability, but that was part of what made it so right. She understood now that he was just as capable of falling apart inside as she was and had been doing so for a long time, even before the death of his mother. She had begun to trust in that and it had made his unpredictability less ... frightening. As soon as she had learned that lesson, she discovered that he could love her just as powerfully as she loved him, even for the danger that made their being together so perilous.

"Love," she murmured once more, pressing up onto the tips of her toes to slide her mouth over his. She did it gracefully and without insistence. That was more his style, and she grinned wide as true to form his mouth moved urgently against hers. There was nothing soft about his technique now, and the heat of the room wrapped around them, his hand sliding up to cradle her head. His mouth crushed down against hers, his tongue forcing its way past her lips, eliciting a tiny whimper from Veronica that fueled everything.

When he pulled back to look at her he growled, shifting his hands to her ass, pulling her up into the solid line of his body. She whimpered once more with the sensation of his hard cock pressing into her. As he lifted, she drew her legs up his and wrapped them around his waist, locking them at the ankles. He spun her around, pressing her back to the glass, leveraging her weight before turning to carry her through the apartment.

"Where are you taking me?" she asked breathlessly through broken kisses.

"Where do you think?"

She landed on the bed with a rush of hot air. His body met hers seconds later, crawling up between her parting thighs. The shorts she wore, a matching pink terry, hung loosely over her slender hips. Without ceremony he slipped his hand beyond the tie that held them in place, dragging his nails across the arch of her hipbone.

"I'm going to make you come." His words were accentuated by kisses and the path his fingers stole over her stomach, his thumb swirling around her bellybutton. He hungrily absorbed her helpless little cry, dragging his thumb with intention further south, over the small cotton slip of her panties.

Sliding the material aside, he flexed his hand against her and made her jerk in anticipation. Even as she whimpered she was sure a brazen smirk had crept across his face and she reached up to kiss it away. She used her fingertips, passing them over his eyelids, trailing them through the sweat that clung to his forehead.

"It's... so...fucking... hot," she breathed and he took that opportunity to press two fingers into her center, hooking them slightly, before pulling out and slipping them back in with a deliberate rhythm.

"Yes it is," he drawled sensually, letting her fluid heat coat him over and over until her hips ground down on him and her pants became shallow, vulnerable sounds. He used his free hand to pull the material away from her body, both the shorts and her panties, but she was barely aware. Rhythmically he never missed a beat, working his hand inside her while kissing her now naked abdomen. Her muscles tightened against his fingers and under his lips, her breath catching on each sweep inside her.

Without apology he pulled his fingers out of her, sliding them into his mouth, and sucked them clean. If she could have seen it, the way he savored the taste of her, she would have come undone; shattered into a million tiny pieces hovering effortlessly in the air. But her eyes were shut to the pitch of the room and her body was completely on fire. She could feel her face flushed, sweat sliding between the valley of her breasts. She wanted to care about it, really she did, but all of her attention was focused on sustaining the sensation that was slowly melting away.

Logan wouldn't have that though. He set about in typical Logan-fashion, doing what he did best; using his mouth like a weapon. There was no woman he had ever given so much, had ever wanted to give to so much to that it hurt, and he made that perfectly clear as his tongue wrote the word "love" over and over and over again until she screamed his name, mumbled incoherent promises about forever, begging him with laughter bubbling up in her throat to please stop.

Only then did he finish, kissing her once more for good measure before returning to her mouth to absorb the heat that emanated from her cheeks.

"What were you doing, writing a novel down there?" she asked through gasped breaths and a grin.

"Something like that," he muttered, still kissing her. "A sweeping tale of love and loss. An epic romance, you could say."

"Ahh, yes. The epic."

"Our epic," he whispered, balancing his weight on his forearms, sweat forming streaks down his back, rolling along taut sinew. Veronica took that moment to wrap her slender fingers around his cock, gliding them up and down his solid shaft, making him catch his breath, only to release it in a wavering, "Ohgod..."

She loved to watch him like this and even though she couldn't see his face, she drew it to memory on command. The way his jaw would draw stiff, his eyes glazed with passion, his chest seizing and releasing once the oxygen debt forced his lungs to burn. And then, the slow, shallow gulp and shaking intake of breath, his hips intuitively seeking the vice of her fist, or the friction of her mouth, or the warm, wet confines of her body. This was where she could take him, make him defenseless, break down all the walls and send him crashing into her for some sense of equilibrium in the vacuum where everything but feeling was lost.

"Veronica," there was a sharp edge to it and without giving him any time to think she reached up, hooking her hands around his neck to throw his poise off kilter. Raising her hips she met him, sheathing him deep inside of her. He really didn't require any more invitation than that and he pumped his hips to meet hers through sticky dampness that threatened to overwhelm him.

"Now it's my turn," she spoke against his slick temple. "You're going to come for me. Inside me, Logan. Say it."

"Come for you, yes... ohgodVeronica."

Her body wrapped tightly around him, swallow him up from the inside out on each blow. He was bringing her close again, recalling the reverberant sensation in the pit of her stomach, lending her her own reasons to draw in quivering breaths, moaning into his drenched shoulder. She held herself on the verge, as he did, and just like magic as they each clung to the precipice that threatened to shatter, the entire complex sprang to life. The lights that had been on, the television in the living room, the central air, it all came back just in time for the two of them to watch each other climax, for the two of them to call each other's names before they each surrendered.

"I'll love you forever, Veronica," he uttered, resting his forehead against hers. When he curled up against her breast, listening to her heartbeat, he was absolutely positive of that one constant. No matter where their classic saga would lead him, he'd always be completely convinced. "And you'll always smell of marshmallows and promises."