Disclaimer: I don't own them.
A/N: Final chapter. Just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone that has read/reviewed this story – it means a lot, and I do hope you enjoyed. Leave me one last review?
She sighed and rested her hand across his chest. His fingers toyed with her belt loops and she looked up at him warily, taking another deep breath. Logan was staring at her intensely, waiting for her to make the first move. It was hers to make, she knew that and he knew that, but she was scared as hell to do it.
For the past few months things had been fine. Commitment wasn't high on her list of favorite things and he was willing to wait for her. They went out, they occasionally kissed or had sex, and then things had gotten more intense. Veronica started going to him when she wasn't feeling well, trusting him to take care of her. Logan started calling more often and eventually they were holding hands in public.
Her classmates often asked her what the deal was with her and the Echolls kid, as they so fondly referred to him. They were just friends, according to her response, but the constant sexual tension said otherwise. Jen had resorted to forcing Veronica into telling her details of the relationship. She was determined to figure out why her tiny blond roommate was so afraid of someone who so clearly loved her. But Jen didn't know the whole story, and Veronica didn't plan to tell it to her.
She wasn't afraid of Logan, far from it. Being close to him felt amazing, but as soon as she started to give into that feeling something happened to make her draw back. A fight. Revenge. Other people. Obstacles were constantly presenting themselves in the course of their relationship, and while none of them had resulted in blood shed— yet —Veronica feared that some day they would. And she was afraid that it would be his blood that colored the earth, because no matter how careful he claimed to be he was rash.
Losing him was something she didn't want to contemplate. That night on the roof at the Neptune Grand had undone her in so many ways. Logan was almost shot, she was led to believe that her father was dead, and every truth she thought she knew was shot to hell in the time span of a few hours.
After that night, she tried to be his girl again. They declared their relationship official and it lasted for a brief three weeks before she realized she couldn't handle the intensity of it so soon. She broke it off under the promise that they would remain close and take things slow. Under the promise that they would pick things up again when they were both ready to do so.
Closeness was not the issue, here. The issue was that she was afraid to give him her heart, even though he so clearly held it in his palm already. He was in, all in, one-hundred percent, and that made her back off even more. She wasn't sure she could be that girl.
"Our lives," she said finally. Logan arched an eyebrow curiously and she cracked a smile. "The picture. Of you. We're supposed to take photos that represent our lives and shoot them in black and white." He studied her seriously for a moment and then smirked.
"Gray does nothing for my complexion," he shook his head playfully, teasing. She smiled and inhaled heavily, kissing him gently. Leave it to him to take a serious subject and make it less difficult to discuss.
"I can't be what you need me to be," she whispered. His eyes widened, his shock obvious. Every time he wanted her to open up and talk to him she refused. Yet here she was, wrapped up in his arms in a tiny dark room, surrounded by chemicals and photos that he couldn't even begin to describe. And she was talking to him. It was new but it was most certainly welcomed.
He opened his mouth to respond and she cut him off before he could make a sound. "I can't pretend that I don't have issues, Logan, and I won't be that girl that reins them in to keep you happy. I don't want to fight over everything, but that's what we do and that's what we'll always do, so I can deal with that," she sighed and looked up at him again.
"Veronica," he murmured. She stared at him seriously, her brow knitting in question, and he smiled shyly. Tucking her hair behind her ear, "Your issues are half of what makes you so fun."
A fist connected with his shoulder and he laughed, pulling her close again.
"The way I've treated you …"
"I get it, Veronica, I do. You're scared that you'll start to worship me if you let me become the boyfriend you know I can be, and that altar you're having built for me isn't complete yet, so the praying thing is going to become an issue," he nodded empathetically. She glared at him and he smirked. "No, no, it's okay, I understand. Sometimes I pray to God just to make sure I never lose my divine status."
"You are such an ass," she sighed and shook her head. He didn't argue and she smiled a little, the silence stretching thinly between them. Tilting forward, she rested her forehead against his chest. Her arms wrapped around his torso and he pulled her closer in turn, dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
"Last summer was hell," she told him quietly. "If we're going to do this then you're going to have to stop with the revenge tactics. And you can't go running into situations that you aren't totally sure of," she looked up at him. He nodded, recognizing her reference to graduation night, and she nodded in response.
"And if I need to bail—"
"—then let me know and I'll leave you alone," he whispered. "Just stop with the back and forth."
She took a deep breath, "We're really doing this, aren't we?"
"I love you," he whispered against her mouth. He covered it with his own and she melted into him easily. They were doing this, just as they technically had been for years.
She dropped the portfolio on the desk, smiling cheerfully. Professor Gregory raised his eyebrows and picked up the folder, noting its thickness with approval. Veronica stepped back and folded her arms across her chest, inwardly shaking with apprehension.
Her smile faded after a second and she dug her fingers into the opposite elbows.
The assignment was not a difficult one. Black and white photos representing her life. For the past two weeks her camera had taken snapshots of anything and everything she held in her heart, and she was proud of herself for opening up so easily to the assignment. Sharing her feelings, her life, was not her favorite thing to do. But when it came to photography she was willing to do whatever it took to get her where she wanted to be.
And this class was mandatory to receiving her degree, so she wasn't about to cheat herself or her work because of her personal demons.
Professor Gregory cleared his throat quietly and opened the folder, scanning her photos intently. She knew the order by heart. Her dad and Backup came first, followed by Logan, asleep in her bed, then various photos of her favorite spots around Neptune. A candid shot of she and Logan kissing that was born of a wrestling match for her camera came after her favorite shot of Dog Beach, and photos of Wallace and her dorm room were some of the last in the fray. There was even a shot of Jen in the mix, and her facial expression captured so many of the emotions that Veronica felt when she was with her roommate.
Exasperation. Annoyance. Amusement.
"Veronica, these are wonderful," he said sincerely. She exhaled slowly and smiled at him, nodding as he looked up at her. The folder remained open on his desk and she briefly glanced down to see what photo he had been looking at. Her hair was blocking part of the shot, but it was still a very clear image of her and Logan. She smiled again.
"I trust you're still planning to receive a degree in photo journalism?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," she nodded. "It's really the only thing I've taken an honest interest in outside of detective work, and my father won't let me enter into that field," she laughed softly. He nodded and smiled.
"Your father is a good man," he told her. She nodded and he closed her folder, setting it on the side of his desk. "Now, if you don't mind I'd like to look at these a little more closely. I'd like to give you a fair grade on the assignment."
"Absolutely," she agreed. She said goodbye and left the room, shutting the door quietly behind her. A smile spread across her face and she leaned back against the wall.
She turned her head just in time to be swept into her boyfriend's arms, his mouth pressed softly against hers. Her arms snaked around his neck and she pulled away after a moment to tell him her good news. His eyes were shining and there was a slightly mischievous glint to them, causing Veronica's to narrow.
"Logan," she nodded and pulled out of his arms, taking his hand as they walked down the hall. He continued to smile in earnest and she rolled her eyes, looking up at him curiously.
"What has got you so happy?"
"Just in a good mood," he shrugged and squeezed her hand. She smiled softly in realization and stepped closer to him as they wandered through a small crowd. Various eyes turned to them as they passed and she resisted the urge to run screaming. This was good, this commitment thing. People were always going to look at her because of her reputation, and thanks to the fact that she was roommates with Jen, even more people took interest in her life.
Veronica slid her other hand up Logan's forearm lightly and walked even closer to him.
"Good enough to buy me a celebratory lunch?" she asked brightly. Her eyes shone as she looked up at him and the crowd behind them broke into whispers as soon as they passed through the group. Veronica sighed quietly and Logan shrugged.
Glancing down at her, "Depends on what we're celebrating."
"Professor Gregory loved my photos," she told him, proud. Logan wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer with a grin.
"Told you it was a good idea to include those photos of me." She scoffed and rolled her eyes, smiling against his mouth when he dipped down to kiss her. The insatiable ego was never going to go away, so there was no use fighting it.
The dice skittered across the board, clattering loudly. She stared down at them disinterestedly. "So what is the point of this, exactly?"
"To drive you insane so that exams seem half as difficult as winning," Veronica explained. Jen nodded, then shrugged as she moved her piece across the board.
"So I guess you two are doing ok, huh?"
Veronica looked up at her roommate oddly and then flushed. She glanced down at the boy that was lying in her lap and smiled softly, nodding as she ran a hand through his messy hair. Monopoly had been spread out on the floor of the dorm room for six hours now, and Logan had given up after four and fallen asleep.
"Then the sorority girls are more trustworthy than I thought!" Jen declared, laughing. "I swear you two get more attention than I ever did."
"Is that a hint of jealousy I hear, Jen?"
"Jealous? Me?" Jen scoffed. "Like I would ever be jealous of someone who so clearly has so many issues," she grinned at Veronica. "Speaking of issues, how are the commitment ones?"
"Less of a problem," she answered honestly.
"But still a problem."
"I'm working on it."
"Can you work on it when I'm not trying to sleep?" Logan grumbled, catching both girls' attention. Veronica rolled her eyes and threatened to kick him out. "You wouldn't dare, Sugarpuss," he kissed her leg gently and she closed her eyes briefly.
"Oh, gag me," Jen groaned and stood, stretching her sore muscles. "And can we call this a tie or say you won and give up? You've got double my money, easy, Mars."
"That's because she distracted me and stole all of mine," Logan nodded against Veronica's thigh. The blonde glared at her boyfriend and then turned it on her roommate.
"You cannot call a tie in Monopoly."
"Watch me," Jen grinned and waved, grabbing her shower kit and leaving for the bathroom. Veronica sighed and stared at the board game in front of her, scrunching up her nose in distaste. She hated the game, always had on a certain level, and after four hours of bickering with Logan over property values and two more trying to ignore Jen's constant questioning, she was exhausted.
"Dating you is too much of a burden," she sighed and dropped her head back against her mattress. Logan opened his eyes slowly and looked up at her, concern etched in his eyes. Veronica ran her hand through his hair gently and closed her eyes. "The gossip mill is working overtime to keep up with our adventures." Her voice softened considerably.
"The gossip mill is working overtime in Neptune? No," he gasped in faux-shock. She laughed lightly and he sat up, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her into him. She settled against his chest comfortably and yawned quietly. "Tired?"
"Exhausted," she murmured, nodding. Logan grinned and kissed her temple lightly. His mouth made a path down the side of her face, lips barely brushing her skin, and Veronica shivered slowly.
"You sure about that?" he wondered quietly. She groaned and buried her head against his chest.
"I'm not as bad as you!"
Her indignant gasp was absorbed by his mouth, and she smiled against him as he pushed her back on the floor. Monopoly, Jen, everything flew to the back of her mind as he trailed kisses down her jaw.
It turned out that really being with him wasn't much different than before. He was still Logan and she was still Veronica, and her fears were allayed a little more every day. It was nice. It was intense, but it was nice, and not nice in a "normal" way.
She had long ago learned that normal wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
As for the people that studied them like they were auditioning for a nature documentary, well. She figured she could deal with the rumors as long as he kept treating her like he did.
"I love you," she murmured into his neck. He kissed her hard, then, and she tangled her fingers tightly in his shirt.