Chapter 1: Logan
"Did you know the first two letters of our names spell 'love'?"
Logan's low voice interrupted the hallowed quiet of the Hearst library, where he sat across from Veronica, one leg propped on the chair. Finals were weeks away, but Veronica had insisted he buckle down and study. When he'd suggested working in the comfort and privacy of his hotel suite, she'd merely given him one of her withering stares and dragged him to the library instead.
On a Friday night.
They'd been cooped up among stacks of dry, academic tomes for hours, and after half-heartedly skimming his psych text, Logan was in desperate need of exercising Freud's pleasure principal. He'd started doodling in the spiral notebook Veronica had given him at the start of the semester. "You see, when the professor talks, you're supposed to write down what he says," she'd informed him in her snootiest voice.
Looking up from the book she'd been furiously highlighting, Veronica craned her neck to see what Logan had scrawled. She rolled her eyes, but her lips curved in amusement. In one, swift motion, Veronica reached over and snatched the notebook from Logan's hands. She picked up a Sharpie and, tapping the end on her chin, considered the page.
Then, with slow deliberation, Veronica drew a bright red line through the scribbled initials – LoVe – and wrote something of her own.
"The first two letters of our names also spell 'vole,'" Veronica replied, sliding the notebook back across the table.
"Vole? What the hell is that?" Logan asked.
"Voles are small, furry rodents that resemble meadow mice," Veronica answered with a smirk. "And like all rodents, they spread lots of nasty diseases."
Shaking his head with a grin, Logan leaned forward and whispered, "You. Are such. A romantic."
Their lips met halfway across the table.
"Veronica," Logan said huskily, after they broke apart. "Whad'ya say we blow this boring fire trap and salvage what's left of our night? Dick's visiting his mom, so we've got the suite to ourselves. Plus, there's some Ben & Jerry's chilling in the freezer…"
"Well, I am hard to resist," Logan said, entwining his fingers with Veronica's.
"I meant the ice cream."
Sighing, Logan slumped in his chair and studied Veronica as she turned her attention back to the open book. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she bit her lower lip. Logan was hit with a sudden, powerful urge to throw Veronica on the table and do things to her that would make her bite her lip alright - but it sure as hell wouldn't be over some stupid criminology final.
They'd been lovers for nearly a year now, but Logan still marveled each time he was allowed to kiss Veronica, touch her and sleep curled against her. He couldn't quite believe Veronica Mars belonged to him – in a manner of speaking, anyway.
After all, she was Veronica Mars.
And he was Logan Echolls, the son of a murderer.
When Veronica got back from New York, it had taken her two days to contact Logan. He'd known her silence meant she'd changed her mind about him, so he got drunk on leftover bottles of champagne. Hell, he'd been half expecting it, anyway.
But on the third day, she'd shown up at the Neptune Grande with Chinese food and movies in place of explanations. Wordlessly, he'd let her in. That night, Logan held her as they fell asleep on the couch watching "South Park" until the wee hours of the morning.
They saw each other nearly every day after that. Sometimes he'd stop by Java the Hut, where he gulped one caramel macchiato after another, just so he could catch Veronica during her break or lulls between customers. On her days off, they'd gone to the beach, Backup in tow, or strolled along the Neptune Boardwalk hand-in-hand. Afterwards, in between slurps of spaghetti, they'd smile at each other over the drippy white candles and red-checkered tablecloths at Veronica's favorite Italian restaurant.
Logan had come to think of it as the summer he'd quietly campaigned to win Veronica's heart.
But when it came to sex, he had been painstakingly careful not to pressure her.
Logan was the only person who knew what really happened at Shelly Pomroy's party. Only he knew she sometimes cried herself to sleep, and no one else understood the real source of her nightmares. So every time they kissed in the backseat of his yellow SUV, or necked on the couch, Logan let Veronica set the pace. And, when their make-out sessions got too heated, he was the one who doused cold water on things.
In the end, though, it was Veronica who'd perfectly orchestrated Logan's seduction.
She'd wanted to spend her birthday on Catalina Island, saying they'd never been on an actual first date. After a tranquil sail, they'd sat on a bench and shared a caramel apple while looking out over Avalon Bay. When Veronica leaned over to kiss him, Logan could taste the cool ocean spray on her lips, then creamy, sweet caramel as her tongue tousled with his.
Later that night when they lay in his bed, Veronica turned to Logan again, this time pressing her body urgently against him. When she'd wrenched a reluctant groan from Logan's lips, Veronica had giggled and the sound made his cock harder than he thought possible.
That's when Logan had known he was a goner.
"Veronica …are you sure?" he'd managed to rasp out, when she settled onto his lap and began planting soft kisses along his jaw line.
"Logan, you're talking too much."
"I just – I don't want you to regret anything," he'd said softly.
Logan could still remember the sudden sheen in Veronica's eyes as she whispered fiercely, "The only thing I'll regret is letting Cassidy ruin this for us."
He'd threaded his fingers in Veronica's hair, gently drawing her close and raising his lips to hers. Later, sated and boneless, she'd laughed in his arms and the sound made Logan's heart soar.
"I gotta tell you Mars," he'd gently chided. "You, laughing your ass off after we've just had mind-blowing sex, is doing great things for my ego. Mind telling me what's so funny?"
"You were right," Veronica had giggled. "Cuddling isn't the best part."
Now, almost a year later, Logan realized he'd never been happier. It was Friday night and he was sitting in a drafty library that smelled vaguely of musty, old socks. And he didn't care as long as he was with Veronica.
She looked up then, and caught his gaze. "Logan, you're supposed to be studying," Veronica scolded, tapping her yellow highlighter on his now-closed psychology textbook.
She was smiling, though, and Logan leaned across the table to brush his lips against hers in a soft kiss. He drew back and seeing the glaze in Veronica's eyes, sat back with a grin.
"Yeah, well I was tired of getting my head shrunk," Logan said.
Yawning, Veronica rubbed her neck and checked her watch. "You win. Let's get out of here." She stood and began shoving notes into her bag along with her laptop as Logan grabbed their books.
They exited the Spanish style building through the arched doorway and Logan draped his free arm around Veronica's shoulders. Although it was late in spring, evenings along the Southern California coast were still chilly. He could feel Veronica shiver slightly against him.
"Are you hungry?" he asked, as they approached his car.
"I love it when you use your SAT words. Totally turns me on."
"Logan, dung beetles turn you on," She leaned a hip against the SUV and grinned up at him.
Ignoring her last comment, Logan brushed Veronica's hair from her face and placed a chaste kiss on her cheek. "I was going to suggest we get coffee and dessert."
Ten minutes later, they walked into Java the Hut. Surveying the busy café, Veronica spotted a familiar face and Logan found himself trailing after her, as she made a beeline past the bakery counter.
Mac was sitting at a corner table across from a very tall, Asian American guy that Logan recognized from somewhere. He was gesturing wildly as he told what appeared to be funny story, judging by the way Mac was laughing into her cappuccino. They both looked up as Veronica and Logan approached their table.
"Hey guys," Mac said, surprised to see them.
The stranger's dark eyes widened and he blurted, "Is this your rescue party? How'd you signal for them? I didn't even see your hands leave the table."
As Logan and Veronica exchanged puzzled glances, Mac shook her head laughing. "No, no, no. I made Wallace my go-to guy tonight," she assured him, still giggling. "If he was setting me up on a blind date, he should be the one to save me from it. Naturally, I threatened to use my hacking skills on his grades if he didn't cooperate."
Gesturing for Logan and Veronica to join them at the table, Mac quickly made the introductions. Her date turned out to be one Brian Chan, a Hearst freshman from San Francisco. As they took their seats, Logan realized where he'd seen Brian before.
"Aren't you on the basketball team?" he asked.
"Yeah. My high school was like eighty percent Asian, so I was the freakishly tall guy who always got picked first when we played basketball. Turns out, I was a pretty good baller so here I am," Brian replied. "It's not like playing for the Pac 10 or anything, but it's fun."
Logan and Brian were soon dissecting last week's big game, giving Veronica a chance to huddle with Mac and get the scoop on her date. Glancing over at them, Logan noticed Mac's shining eyes and wide grin. Even he could tell the girl was smitten. Fennell shoots and scores, Logan thought.
"Wait a sec, you're that girl who caught the serial rapist," Brian suddenly exclaimed. "I knew your name sounded familiar."
Logan winced. Barely a week into the fall semester, Veronica had thrown herself into solving yet another mystery after Mac's roommate, Parker, was drugged and raped. She'd been the Hearst rapist's third victim, and like the others, Parker's long, blonde locks had been cruelly shorn from her head.
Veronica had ruthlessly chased suspect after suspect, virtually serving herself up as bait at fraternity parties and bars frequented by Hearst students. It had driven Logan crazy. He groaned remembering the raging battles they'd had whenever he demanded to go with her. Fixing him with a patented Veronica Mars glare, she'd called him a "controlling Neanderthal jackass" among other things. Before they could settle the argument, Veronica had exposed the Hearst rapist, who was now locked in jail awaiting trial.
But it had come at a price. Her nightmares, which had all but ceased, came back full force. Logan knew Veronica still woke in the middle of the night, stifling the screams that were lodged in her throat. Tonight, he couldn't help noticing the dark shadows under her eyes while she studied in the library.
"Yup, that was me," Veronica said, lightly.
"Wow," Brian sounded awed. "The papers said you and your dad are detectives. Do you do this kind of thing regularly? Take people's cases, I mean? The only reason I'm asking is 'cause my roommate might be able to use someone like you."
Logan sighed. He knew Veronica wouldn't be able to resist hearing more. Sure enough, she quickly urged Brian to continue.
"It's nothing too crazy. Jason's adopted and he's been trying to find his birth mother since he got to Hearst. He was born in Neptune, but his adopted father is an admiral in the navy so they basically bounced all over the globe when he was growing up," Brian explained. "Anyway, he hasn't had any luck and it's been months."
"I don't know how much help I can be. If it was a closed adoption, your roommate may have to rely on registries, but I can talk to him and see what I can do," Veronica offered. She scrawled her cell phone number on a piece of paper and handed it to Brian. "Tell him to call me."
"Hey, we should get going." Logan nudged Veronica with his elbow and pointed to his watch. "It's almost the witching hour and those angry stares your dad shoots me are starting to give me nightmares."
Later, as Logan drove along the winding coastal highway, he glanced over at Veronica who'd been strangely quiet since leaving Java the Hut. She was staring out at the ocean speeding by and he could see the white light of the moon illuminating her profile. Reaching across the seat, Logan covered Veronica's hand with his, noting the chill in her fingers.
"Hey," Logan said softly. "What are you thinking?"
When Veronica didn't respond, Logan called her name and she turned to face him, shrugging her shoulders. "Nothing, really," she said, evasively. Knowing he wouldn't be satisfied with her answer, Veronica sighed and added, "Just thinking about this new case. Adoptions can be notoriously difficult."
"You found Trina's birth mom," Logan pointed out.
"There was a lot of press surrounding her adoption since she was the Prom Baby and all," Veronica said. "Plus, I did sort of persuade her to sell her story to the tabloids so that kinda helped, too."
"Right." Logan pulled up to Veronica's apartment building and parked the SUV. "So, how many minutes do we have before your dad comes out with a SWAT team?"
Veronica glanced at her watch, grimacing dramatically. "Sorry, sailor. I should go."
Sighing good naturedly Logan got out, opened Veronica's door and they walked to her apartment arm in arm. As they got closer, Logan slowed and gently grasped Veronica's elbow. Leaning back against the building wall, he pulled her towards him and bent his head to kiss her hungrily. Veronica wrapped her arms around Logan's neck, twining her fingers in his hair and pressing close against his lanky body.
Moments later, Logan breathlessly withdrew and softly kissed her forehead. "Are you busy tomorrow night? I was thinking we could catch a show, or something," Logan said, as his thumb brushed her cheek.
"Mmmm…sounds fun, but I promised Piz I'd help him study for our European art final," Veronica said. "He can't tell Van Gogh from Monet, go figure."
Logan stifled the choice words that bubbled to his lips. Wallace's charmingly goofy roommate had been sniffing around Veronica since the day he moved into the dorms and it infuriated Logan. He'd suppressed his urge to punch Piz's lights out only because he knew it would lead to a fight with Veronica. Even tonight's silent protest drew a stern look of warning from her.
"Logan, don't start," Veronica admonished.
"I wasn't going to say anything," Logan answered, his voice dripping innocence. "Call me when you're done?"
Nodding, Veronica gave Logan a quick kiss and turned to go inside. When he called her name, she looked back expectantly.
"I love you," Logan said.
Veronica's lips parted in surprise. After several, long moments, she flashed a small smile then pushed open the door to her apartment and disappeared inside.
In some deep part of his heart, Logan had always known the life he had precariously pieced together with Veronica would come to an inevitable end.
He just didn't think it would unravel because of three little words.