Thanks to everyone for their support of this story throughout the ... years that I've had this in progress. I was updating my profile and such on here, and I realized that this chapter was never added. Whoops! *blushes* Hope this answers some of the questions that I'm sure you all have had ...

See ya at the bottom!

CHAPTER NINE

Vain hope that my sins are forgivable.
Appeal for one more opportunity.
–"Title of the Song" by Da Vinci's Notebook

"Is it always this breathtaking?" Veronica asks, leaning out over the porch railing as she gazes out at the panorama of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

Logan smiles. "It's never the same, but it's always worth watching."

A pregnant pause spreads between the pair, their eyes steady on the sight before them as they stand side-by-side. Logan wishes that they could relax while enjoying such a beautiful sunset, but he knows that until they have The Talk, it won't be possible – at least, not for him.

"Why?" Veronica asks suddenly, pulling him from his inward musings.

Logan blinks. "Why what?"

"Why didn't you want to talk to me after we left for college? I thought maybe you just wanted to forget everything related to Neptune, and I missed you, but I could understood that at least. But … " She pauses, as if trying to collect her thoughts. "You talked to Duncan; you returned his emails. I want to know why. Why him and not me?"

He sighs deeply. "It's not as simple as you versus Duncan, but, yes, you deserve an explanation. Just – let me get through it all before you interrupt?"

She nods mutely, and he takes a deep breath before starting.

"You're right when you say that I wanted to cut all my ties to Neptune. The only good things that ever happened there were with you or Duncan or Lilly or Wallace. I knew I could never really escape being Logan Echolls, but I wanted a clean break and a fresh start. But you know all that already."

She nods, and he remembers the conversations they'd had when they were picking out schools. Both of them had wanted to get out of Neptune and out of California. Logan remembers being surprised by how much she wanted to get away from her family, but he understood her reasoning – that she wanted a chance to be Veronica. Just Veronica. Not Lilly's best friend, not Duncan's ex-girlfriend, not the daughter of the former Sheriff. It was a reflection of his own desire to escape the West Coast.

"I second-guessed my decision more times than I could count after I got to Chicago. With every voice mail you left and every email you sent, I thought maybe I should call you back."

"Then why didn't you?" she can't help but ask. "I was all by myself in New York, which, yeah, is what I wanted, but that didn't mean that I didn't want to have any connection to my old life. When we were in high school, we used to talk about everything. I missed that." She pauses, looking down at her fidgeting hands, before adding in a softer voice, "I missed you."

"You told me once that you wanted to be all-but-anonymous in New York; that you were looking forward to being one person out of millions," Logan counters. "My family life was a nightmare then. I was one of the best-paying paparazzi targets in the country. If we had stayed in touch, you would have been on the cover of every tabloid."

She snorts in disbelief. "Right. Because if we're talking on the phone, of course all the gossip columnists will know about it."

"No, but if we had stayed in touch throughout college, I'd have flown to visit you a few times – or sent you a plane ticket to come visit me."

She rolls her eyes but concedes the point. "So you decided never to talk to me again because you thought I'd be ruined by a couple of magazine covers? If there's anything high school taught me, it's that rumors generally aren't worth the effort of fighting."

"It wasn't that simple," he replies. "I wanted you to be able to do your own thing and be happy. That's what really mattered to me, and that's what I was trying to do."

"So you thought I would be happy without being able to talk to one of my best friends?" she asks incredulously.

Logan winces, knowing that she has a point. One that he certainly hadn't even thought to consider all those years ago. "Well, no, I guess not, but I mean, I just kept thinking of all of the bad things that happened to you because of me."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I drugged your drink at Shelley's party," he begins, counting the incidents on his fingers. "I ruined your reputation after Lilly died with lies and innuendo. I trashed your car. I was selfish and pulled you away from more dates than I can count for the stupidest reasons."

"The first few things? Yeah, those were pretty shitty," she admits, "but you've changed, Logan. By our senior year, you weren't the same asshole you once were. As for the rest, I made my own decisions when it came to helping you out. Believe it or not, you mattered to me – maybe more than I wanted to admit."

"I know, but I couldn't help but feel like I was holding you back from actually having a life. Back then, I thought that maybe if I wasn't around, or if I wasn't a part of your life, maybe you'd be able to move forward and finally make that new life for yourself that I knew you were dreaming about."

By this point, Veronica was fuming. "You have got to be the most conceited asshole I've ever met!" she all-but-growls at him. "Did you honestly think that my world revolved around you so much that I needed you to be gone from my life for me to start doing things for myself? After Shelley's party, I swore to myself that I was never going to do something just because someone else asked me to – never, never again. And, for the most part, I've lived by that rule and only done things that I wanted to do."

"Look, I know better than that now, but back then? Yeah, I was a conceited son of a bitch, and I wanted what I thought was best for you."

"What you thought was best?" she explodes. "Logan – "

"You're happy now, aren't you?" he asks, cutting her off.

Veronica glares at him, her simmering fury clear. "So? Are you trying to tell me that you think that I wouldn't be happy if you had been in my life for the past few years? What sort of crack are you smoking, Logan?"

Logan holds up his hands, understanding that she's absolutely right. He can see that now, but back then, his picture of reality was nowhere near as clear. "No, I fucked up. I'm sorry, and I know I shouldn't have tried to cut you out of my life. But that's in the past, Veronica. We can't change it. My point is that you're happy now, right? It's not like losing contact with me made you miserable."

"Sure, Logan," she scoffs, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "I was a broken mess without you. I have no idea how I ever managed to survive without you to dote on."

He shakes his head in amusement. He's not surprised that she's fallen back on sarcasm now that she's likely uncertain as to what'll happen next.

"I've missed you, Veronica," he replies sincerely, hoping that she'll take him seriously. "You have every right to be upset, but I don't want us to lose touch again when you head back to New York."

She glares at him once more, but the heat is gone. "I guess you're right – now." She frowns at him. "But you couldn't have been more wrong all those years ago."

He nods, trying to keep a wide grin from spreading across his face.

"And, hey, maybe you and Esperanza could come visit me sometime. There's a lot to do in New York, and I'd love to be your tour guide."

"Yeah?" Logan asks, happy that Veronica is able to see the big picture and overlook his youthful mistakes. Oh, sure, he doesn't doubt that she'll find a way to extract her revenge somehow. She is, after all, still Veronica Mars. The important thing is that he's going to have Veronica in his life again.

Now that he realizes exactly what he could have – deservedly – lost, he's more thankful than ever that his and Esperanza's futures will include Veronica.

Logan's long since headed back into the house to check on Esperanza while Veronica remains out on the patio, gazing over the cliff upon which Logan's house sits and further, onto the pristine sand below. It's a beautiful sight even though the sun has long since set, and she looks into the crashing waves for some sort of clarity as to what just happened.

The explanation Logan gave her for cutting her out of his life makes some twisted sort of sense if she looks at it through the perspective of the boy she knew in high school. To be honest, she didn't think he really thought about her enough back then to worry about her future and her happiness when it came to making decisions that affected his own life. She can't help but wonder if maybe she's missing a bigger piece of the puzzle.

She knows Logan wouldn't lie to her – not again – or, at least, not outright. Lies of omission were not just minimized during their high school days; more often than not they were common practice. Yeah, that was usually when dealing with their parents (or, more specifically, her parents since Logan's dad generally didn't give a damn), but providing enough information to pacify a worried parent while not giving away so much truth that they'd get into trouble had been an art form back then.

But what reasons could Logan have had that he can't tell her about now, after so many years have passed? She wracks her brain, exploring any and all possibilities, but nothing seems to fit. Or, at least, nothing fits better than the explanation he's just given her.

She'll have to accept it – for now, at least. Veronica will still be in California for a few more weeks, and she'll have to use that time to brush up on her sorely neglected PI skills. If there's more to Logan's story than what he just told her, she'll uncover the truth before too much longer.

"Deep thoughts?" Logan asks, stepping outside with two glasses of lemonade in hand.

"It seems like the time and the place for it," she replies with a shrug. With dusk settling around them and the warm summer breeze slowly cooling, Veronica can't help but feel as if she's stuck in some netherworld. Not day or night, not summer or fall. Just like when she used to head out on a stakeout for her dad or drive around to do some soul searching years ago.

She takes a sip of her lemonade before turning to face Logan, her surprise clear on her face. "There's not any alcohol in here, is there?"

He shakes his head with a laugh. "Not a drop. I might have some vodka in one of the kitchen cupboards somewhere, though, if you'd prefer something a bit harder."

She can't help but echo his laugh, having difficulty believing how much things have changed. "No, I'm good. And, actually, I really should be heading back to my hotel – it's getting late, and I'm sure you have to work in the morning."

"Ah, Veronica, but that's the beauty of being a philanthropist – I pretty much make my own hours."

"Well, I've got a bit of a drive to get back to Neptune. Thanks for dinner, Logan."

"No problem," he replies, leading her towards the end table where she left her purse. "We should do this again before you head out."

"I'd like that," she agrees with a smile. "Good night, Logan."

She reaches out to hug him goodbye, when he suddenly steps back. "No, wait."

She quirks an eyebrow. "What?"

"You shouldn't head back to the hotel."

"What? Why not?" she asks confusedly.

"Look, we've got plenty of bedrooms here, and I'm sure I can find something for you to wear to bed tonight. Lettie lays in probably a year's supply of bathroom stuff, so I can get you a toothbrush and whatever else you'd need. There's no point in you driving all the way back to Neptune – and paying whatever they're charging you at the Regent – when you can stay here with us."

"Logan, I couldn't – " she begins, but he quickly cuts her off.

"Why not? Esperanza loves you, and she'll be thrilled to see you here tomorrow morning. If anything, she'll be upset that she didn't get to play with you more tonight before going to bed. Lettie still thinks you're fabulous after everything you did for Weevil in high school."

"And?" she prompts when he pauses in his persuasion. When he doesn't respond, she prods further. "What about you?"

"Me?"

He sighs, and she sees that evaluating look in his eyes. She's sick of the half-truths, of the lies of omission. "The truth, Logan. All of it."

He looks down as he runs a hand through his hair before meeting her eyes again. "You used to be one of my best friends, Veronica. And, yeah, it's my own fault that that got fucked up, but I figure that if you're over here more before you head back, I can get to know you again. Maybe I can find a way to make up for, well, everything."

He sounds sincere, but she knows from personal experience that Logan can make the most outrageous lie sound like the God's honest truth if he works at it enough.

She likes the thought more than she wants to admit aloud. She wants to believe that Logan means it, and that he wants learn everything that's changed about her since high school. She wants to know him again, too. She's already uncovered more surprises about this new Logan than she expected, and she's sure that there are plenty left to discover.

And, as an added bonus, the more that she's around Logan, the more likely he is to let something slip if there's more to his explanation than what he told her before.

She plays it cool, though – there's no need to show Logan how much she likes his idea.

"Okay, Logan," she says with a shrug, motioning for Logan to lead her to the guest room. "If you cook breakfast half as well as you do dinner, I'll be in for a treat tomorrow morning."

Thanks - again - to all of you who are reading and enjoying this story. I can't put into words how much I appreciate your patience and support as I try to corral the muses and get things going again. I hope you enjoyed getting an answer (or at least a partial answer if Veronica's instincts are accurate) to a question I know many of you have been wondering about for awhile. Please don't be too hard on Logan though - he screwed up, he knows it, but he did what he thought (with his stupid, adolescent, generally inebriated mind) thought was best. ;) At least he's (mostly) fixed it now, right?

I'd love to hear your thoughts - even if they are just to yell at my Logan for ever thinking that what he did was a good idea. (I promise I'll pass along the message!)

As always, reviews feed the muses, and since my muses have been in hibernation for ages, I'm holding out hope that you all can help me persuade them to cooperate again. ;)

Once more: thanks for reading! :)