Title: Hey, Jealousy
Author: chichuri
Pairing/Character: Veronica, Logan/Veronica, Logan

Word Count: 2018
Rating: R for mild language
Summary: While on stakeout, Veronica discovers something unexpected.
Spoilers: through 2.22

Disclaimer: Characters not mine, of course.

Hey, Jealousy

Trust. It's one of the hardest things to earn, yet it can be lost in an instant. Finding someone you can truly trust is a rare occurrence. Finding people that disappoint you is much more common. Even those I trust the most have let me down at one point or another.

Veronica checked that the computer was receiving and recording transmissions from the bug, then lifted her camera, focusing on the storefront. A tall young man walked out the door, followed closely by a red haired woman dressed to catch attention. He turned with a grin, his head bent as he continued the conversation that had started inside. The bug picked up the flirty banter between them; Veronica's camera caught pictures of the man leaning towards the woman, interest evident in his posture. She returned his interest, running a well-manicured hand up his chest.

After a few wide angle shots, the young private investigator zoomed in, catching what looked--and sounded, if her speakers were any indication--like an intimate conversation. She focused the camera until she could make out the man's warm brown eyes and the sunlight gilding his brown hair. Veronica ignored the pain that twisted in her gut as she took the close-up shots.

It was a job, she told herself. Just a job. She had been hired to track Ms. Helen Young and find out what she was really about. Veronica's personal feelings played no part in this scenario. It didn't matter that the target of her job's flirtation was Veronica's own boyfriend, Logan Echolls. It didn't matter that he was smoothly directing the conversation, and showed every sign of enjoying himself. It didn't matter that the pain was creeping up her gut and into her throat, making it hard for her to breathe. It didn't matter that for a moment she half-seriously envisioned the camera her fingers had tightened around as a scope on a sniper rifle that she could use to eliminate the competition.

Veronica closed her eyes, shoving aside her pain and anger and forcing her fingers to unclench. She shuddered for a moment then opened her eyes with resolve. She had clawed her way through more pain, cruelty, and near-death experiences than most people would see in a lifetime. Watching her boyfriend successfully pursue some skank shouldn't even be a blip on the radar.

Now if only she could convince the pressure in her chest of her coldly reasoned logic.

Veronica snapped a dozen more photos as the scene played out. She listened as Logan gave Ms. Young a familiar phone number, watched him lean over the door as the redhead slinked into her car. He sauntered off with a smirk and a wave. Nothing in his demeanor gave any indication that he knew he was being watched by anything other than a very appreciative Helen Young. Veronica fought back the urge to follow him and instead focused on tailing her target. After six days of working this case she wasn't going to fuck it all up now.

Several hours, many pictures, and more than enough incriminating audio later, Veronica could finally call the case closed. Helen Young was not only an unfaithful fiancée, she was collaborating with a partner--one she was on quite intimate terms with--to scam her soon to be husband's company out of millions. Veronica returned to the Mars Investigations office to organize all her evidence and notify Greg Winston that his instincts were indeed correct.

As Veronica finished typing up the report, she saw the clock out of the corner of her eye. 7:06. She checked her watch in disbelief.

"Oh, crap." She hit save, closed the laptop, and dropped it in her bag. A quick glance around the office confirmed that there was nothing that couldn't wait until the next day. After pausing to lock the office door she sprinted out to her LeBaron.

The yellow Xterra was, of course, in her parking lot by the time Veronica reached home. And there, leaning up against her door, was Logan.

"You couldn't call and tell me I was running late?" she asked as she reached him, amusement and annoyance warring in her tone. Veronica shoved Logan over with her hip so she could unlock and open the apartment door. She was immediately set upon by sixty pounds of affectionate brown Pit Bull.

"Figured you got caught up in your case," Logan said with lazy amusement as he followed her inside. "That or kidnapped by aliens, and I thought the former much more likely, tabloid reports to the contrary."

"Are you saying that the tabloids aren't true?" Veronica asked in mock amazement. "And I was so sure it was the little grey men who made me late."

Logan smirked. "Nope. And I'd better not hear that anyone else has been probing you."

"Um, yeah. That whole probing thing? Not gonna happen." She ignored his knowing leer.

Backup abandoned Veronica and shoved his head under Logan's hand, nuzzling insistently. He grinned, dropping to his knees to vigorously scratch the appreciative dog. She deposited her bag on the coffee table and turned to watch. In another second, she thought, boy and dog would be rolling around together on the ground. "My dog loves you more than me."

"But I'm so very loveable." Logan glanced up, eyes sparkling. When he was happy like this, Veronica marveled, he looked five years younger and practically buoyant. She wished she had her camera in hand, so she could record the moment. A permanent record that innocence had not been lost, but hidden under years of pain and bitterness.

Her mind flashed to pictures taken earlier that day, buried within her computer's hard drive, and pain twisted in her gut. Veronica turned towards the kitchen, using the pretense of a glass of water to hide. Behind her she heard Logan stand. She could feel his eyes watching, feel the shift in mood, but didn't turn around.

"Veronica?" One soft word offered love, concern and refuge. "What's wrong?"

If she turned, she would have to face the loss of that carefree boy. And the perception of the young man who replaced him was a constant source of irritation and wonder. It was amazing that he knew her well enough to tell when she was unhappy, and cared enough to find out what was wrong. It was annoying as all hell when she really didn't want to talk about it. And deep down it was terrifying to think that even when she was trying to hide he could see her.

For a second she considered trying to distract him, except that distracting him was another form of running, and she had run from Logan too many times. They were both trying so hard not to repeat the mistakes that had imploded their relationship in the past. Last summer they had lost themselves in explosive chemistry and had never talked out their issues. This summer they were trying to connect on more levels than just the physical.

Besides, she wasn't entirely sure that this new Logan would allow himself to be distracted, no matter how tempting the bait.

"Does it have something to do with the case you're working?" Logan asked softly.

Okay, if she could feel herself involuntarily flinch at that question, there was no way she was hiding it from him. She wondered if the part of her that was so good at concealing emotions had just surrendered in a Logan-inspired daze.

"Veronica . . ." She didn't resist when he turned her around, but she rested her forehead against his collarbone and refused to meet his eyes. His arms wrapped around her shoulders and she grounded herself in the warm solidity that was Logan.

Even though it had been forty-seven days since the night she thought her world had collapsed, Veronica was still surprised that Logan was solidity.

"All right. What happened? Client not happy with your hard-won evidence of planned infidelity? Left the lens cap on your camera? Bug exploded and injured a nearby dog?"

She pulled back and glared at him, mildly outraged. "No, Logan, no dogs were injured in the production of this case. And I have more than enough evidence against Ms. Young. More than I expected, actually. She and her lover are scamming the client, and I have it all--and I do mean all--in glorious audio. That's one bride that will no longer be getting the wedding day of her dreams."

"So . . . ?" His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What's bothering you?"

"I . . ." She didn't want to meet the intensity of his brown eyes. Veronica sighed, shrugged, and pushed away from Logan. "It's nothing." Despite her best intentions, she still hated sharing her emotions.

"Yeah, 'cause 'nothing' makes you tense up and your eyes cloud in pain. Bullshit, Veronica." She watched the irritation fighting the concern on his face, and knew she had made a tactical error if she wanted him to drop the subject. And maybe she had deliberately goaded him, forcing herself to talk rather than run from her issues.

"It's fucking important if it causes you to . . . to duck, and avoid, and not want to talk to me about it." Logan waved his hands to emphasize his words, the gestures sharp and staccato as he tried to rein in his annoyance.

"Okay, fine, I watched you and Helen Young this afternoon."

He blinked. ". . . and?"

"And something about watching and listening to you flirt with her . . . it hurt, Logan." More than she ever could have anticipated, when the memory still tasted like bile.

"We talked about this . . ." he said, dragging a hand through his hair.

"I know, Logan. That's why I didn't want to say anything . . . " She shook her head, trying to find the words.

"I asked you five times if you were sure, that you trusted me not to fuck this up. We went over the scenario in every possible permutation your twisty little mind could come up with. You knew exactly what was going on every moment I was with her."

"I know, Logan." She raised her voice in exasperation. "I didn't say it was fucking rational. I just didn't expect . . . "

"To be jealous?"

"Yes," she yelled, her temper finally snapping. "Are you happy now?" He ducked his head, and she was fairly certain that he was hiding a grin.

"Jackass," she muttered, turning in a huff.

"Your jackass," he offered up. She could hear the laughter in his voice.

"Like anyone else would have you." She rolled her eyes as she glanced back at him.

"Hmm. Only want you." She could feel the heat of him as he wrapped his arms around her. "Only need you," he murmured softly as she turned and leaned her cheek against his chest, her arms circling his waist. She sighed as she let herself relax into his embrace, giving up the rest of her tension in the comfort he provided.

"You did good," she conceded after a moment. "Perfect temptation scenario, and I never could get that close to plant the bug."

"At your service, whenever you need a seduction."

Her arms tightened and she fisted the shirt at his back. "Hey! Tempt others all you want, but the only seducing you'll be doing is of me."

He grinned into her hair. "So, does this mean you won't be giving me the steamy messages Ms. Young leaves at that line you set up at Mars Investigations?" He laughed as she pulled back and glared at him.

Silencing his laughter with a kiss, she pulled him back towards her bedroom. "Keep that up, and you'll be forgoing the promised reward for your services."

I still have issues with trust. I've known Logan long enough to guarantee that I could trust him to fuck up the small issues. But the big ones? Yeah, he comes through. And I'm learning to accept that the benefits of trusting him so outweigh the cost.