Title: Vigil
Author: chichuri
Pairing/Character: Logan, Logan/Veronica

Word Count: 1199
Rating: R
Summary: Logan asks her the same question on this date, in this place, every year.

Spoilers: through 2.22

Warnings: Adult language, Angst, Character death

Disclaimer: Characters not mine, of course.

Vigil

Logan asks her the same question on this date, in this place, every year. "Did you ever fucking think to ask how I felt, or did you just assume you knew and run off in your usual Veronica fashion?" A trace of bitterness worn down by time still laces the question, but it has long since been overshadowed by the pain. She has never answered his question, not in words he could understand. He knows by now--and maybe even accepts--that she never will.

"I would have gone with you," he continues softly, running one hand over grass soft with the new growth of spring and damp with the moisture that has settled in the long hours of the night. The other hand runs up and down smooth glass warmed by his body heat, loosely circling the bottle of obscenely expensive wine he's been toying with for hours. The bottle is still corked and he hasn't yet decided if he's going to leave with it unopened, share it with her, or drink it down in a desperate attempt to blur the edges of his misery. Over the years he's done all three, with a variety of alcoholic beverages. The only constant in this ritual is a price tag that would, if she found out how much he had spent, make her cringe.

"You damned well should have known, Veronica, that I'd have followed you anywhere, no questions asked. Virginia, Boston, London--fuck, I'd've gone with you to a god-forsaken grass hut in Africa if I'd known you wanted me there." His voice cracks, and he drags his knees to his chest and drops his head to hide the tears he can feel gathering in his eyes. "Why didn't you ask?"

He knows, of course. Their always-tempestuous relationship had hit a low, and they had both decided to step away and 'do whatever' before they said or did something irreparable. They didn't break up, of course, they never broke up. That would have been Lilly redux, and they had both spent too much time and effort separating themselves from their pasts to follow the paths trod by ghosts of old. They simply backed off and let tempers cool until they remembered why they couldn't stay away, why their passion and laughter and friendship and love overshadowed the pain they were so exquisitely able to cause.

So he knows why she didn't ask him to uproot his life and move to Virginia for her five months at Quantico. Of course, he had known for months that she was going, even when she would be going, so upon finding out that she had left without saying goodbye he had just shaken his head, grinned and, in countless emails and phone calls, tormented her about using her usual tactics of duck and run. She had pointed out that he had known she was leaving, and that he could have said goodbye to her. When he had retaliated that she was the one that was vacating the state of California, therefore the one that was obligated to make the effort, she had grinned and agreed. She rewarded him with phone sex that made him even more eager for her return.

Contrary to the lessons taught by the tragedies that had surrounded them, they had assumed they had time.

He swipes the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. The light breeze that dries his cheeks carries the ocean and he can almost hear the rhythmic crashing of the surf although it is miles distant. He watches the sky bleed red and gold, then fade into blue. The cheerful bedlam of birdsong provides an ironic counterpoint to his grief.

It was eighty-seven days after Veronica had left, ninety-eight since Logan had touched her. Three a.m. in Virginia, midnight in California. Something went horribly wrong; even Keith with his multitudes of law enforcement contacts hasn't been able to finagle details more illuminating than mutters of classified information and National Security. Both he and Keith know that their Veronica had investigated herself into a situation she couldn't escape and that the proto-FBI she had trusted to watch her back had fucked up royally.

It had taken fourteen hours for the injuries to defeat her willpower. Thirty-six minutes for emergency personnel to respond and transport her to the hospital. Another forty-five before someone thought to notify her loved ones. Seven desperate hours as he and Keith had tried to cross the country to reach her, four of which she had spent in surgery. Five minutes for the doctor to explain that there was nothing else they could do, that it was only a miracle she was still alive. Five and a half hours of standing vigil as she slipped in and out of consciousness, and finally slipped away.

Ten years since he had watched her breathing end.

He pulls the chain out from under his shirt and lightly touches the golden ring. The diamond glitters; the flanking sapphires glow the same color as her eyes. "It should have been yours," he murmurs, voice choking. Keith would have allowed him to bury her with the ring on her finger, but Logan refused to burden Veronica in death with a symbol she had no chance to accept in life. He rubs his thumb over the inscription, Always. "You should have had the chance to refuse me a few dozen times before I wore you down, before you realized that no matter what you did, I wasn't going away."

He lies back in the wet grass and looks up into the sun until spots dance in front of his eyes. "I love you. I won't stop loving you. You were the best thing my fucked up life ever brought me. And if I forget that, I'll never be worth a damned thing to anyone." He tilts his head back until he can see the top of the grey marble headstone, polished granite shining in the sun. "I'm trying to move on, to make my life worthwhile. To remember that there are other people who care about me. Sometimes I even succeed. But when I said always, I meant always. A part of me, the best part of me, will always belong to you." His head falls back to the ground with a thump. He closes his eyes and lies back on her grave, finding peace in the warmth of the sun. "And it's so fucking hard without you here."

When he opens his eyes, the sun has shifted past the top of its arc. His watch shows that two o'clock has been and gone.

With a sigh he lifts himself into a sitting position and turns to the headstone. "The rat race calls." With a twisted grin he salutes the marker, pops the cork on the wine bottle, and takes a long swallow. He pockets the cork as he stands and lays the open bottle against the stone. After a last lingering look, committing the scene to memory, he walks away.

He only allows himself to wallow in his grief this one day each year, but he would be learning to live with the loss for a lifetime.