Rating: NC-17 for sex, language and adult situations.
Word Count: 6228
Summary: The ocean view that once soothed her, now tormented. Every wave was a cruel taunt. They knew what she didn't.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Spoilers: Up to3.4 – Charlie Don't Surf.
Thanks: Thanks so much to moire2 and takenwithyou for the beta!
His arms were wrapped around her tightly, his breath hot on the back of her neck. She sighed contentedly as she ran her fingertips over the sensitive flesh of his wrist, following the pattern of the thin blue veins she could see beneath the surface.
It was like the world had melted away, leaving just the two of them, alone, curled up together in their bed. She could feel the hard outline of his abs pressing against her back, as they fit perfectly together. Their legs were tangled beneath the covers like a jigsaw puzzle only the other could complete.
Her eyes were tightly closed, as Veronica reached down, grasped the white duvet cover and pulled it up over both their heads. It was crisp and fresh, having just been washed.
He chucked in her ear. "What are you doing?"
"Hiding," she replied softly.
She felt his lips brush gently across the top of her spine, leaving a warmth on her skin she didn't feel inside her.
The familiar scent of his aftershave teased her senses; cooked apples, spices and oak. She took a deep breath, letting it fill her lungs, drawing strength from it.
"Open your eyes," he whispered, his handing sliding down her front and coming to rest in the exposed area of her slender stomach between her night shirt and short black sleep pants.
"I don't want to," she argued, swallowing hard. She heard the front door slam downstairs, and startled, she forgot to keep her eyes squeezed shut.
Instantly she was cold and alone again.
She twisted over, placing her palm on the bed where he'd been. The area was still cool, no human body to warm it.
"Where are you?" she murmured to herself.
"You should eat something," Keith said, pushing a plate of spaghetti carbonara towards her across the table she'd picked out with Logan for their kitchen. They'd battered ideas back and forth before they decided to have neutral colours on the walls, and the woodwork in cornflower blue, to accent it. Every other room was painted in bright, fresh colours, so they'd wanted at least one calm room.
She looked at the plate blankly, before picking up the fork and sliding it across the plate. She began carefully pile the spaghetti up into a small mountain at the edge, before she stabbed it, letting it all tumble down again. Veronica glanced up and frowned to see her father's concerned gaze was still on her.
"I didn't mean make a food-fort out of it," he said, shaking his head, trying to smile at her.
"I'm not hungry," she said thickly, pushing the plate away.
He looked like he wanted to argue with her, his gaze flittering across her exposed collarbones. "Honey," he began instead, sitting down on the kitchen stool opposite her, "I've been meaning to ask you. How do you feel about going back to America? Just… for awhile. Until the arrangements are made."
"Arrangements?" Veronica snapped. "What kind of arrangements?"
Keith swallowed noticeably, his Adam's apple bobbing briefly. "Don't you think it's time?"
Veronica gave him a look of pure disbelief. "Two weeks? You think two weeks is enough?" Her voice raised and she stood from the table, pushing the stool back quickly. It tumbled and fell to the floor with a crash, but Veronica barely noticed. "He's not dead, Dad. How can you even say that?"
"Veronica, the chances of Logan being found…"
"Shut up!" she shrieked, tears burning at the back of eyes. Her throat clenched painfully as she backed away.
"Sweetheart," Keith began, his face a picture of sympathy.
Veronica span around, almost tripping over the forgotten stool in her haste to leave. She slammed the door behind her.
Her denim-clad hips gyrated in time to the music, as Veronica painted even strokes up and down the wall of the living room. The large French windows were wide open, giving her a beautiful view of the ocean as the breeze carried the fumes out the room.
"Oh, sugar, sugar…" she sung to the music she had blasting. She span around, bending down and dipping the brush into the paint pot, before bringing it back to the wall before the next beat began. Beads of lilac splattered across the white shirt she was wearing, the bottom of which was tied in a knot above her stomach.
She turned again, her brush outstretched, until she caught sight of Logan leaning in the doorway and froze. His arms were folded over his chest and his eyebrow raised as an amused smirk played across his full lips. She blushed and dropped the brush back into the tin.
"No, don't stop," Logan said huskily. "I was enjoying the show…"
Veronica reached down, picked up the paintbrush again and flicked it at him. He made an outraged face as he stared at the little spots of lilac across his grey t-shirt. A second later, he was running towards her, as she scrambled to get away, using the brush as a weapon. He scooped her up, ignoring the paint going across his face and deposited her on the sheet covering the sofa. He glowered at her and she laughed; no one could look scary with streaks of girly paint across their cheeks.
Logan smirked as he crawled onto her, meeting her lips in a tangle of teeth and tongue. His large hands slid up her body, lifting her t-shirt over her head. She reached for the buttons on his pants and deftly undid them. She pushed the pants away and raised her eyebrow when she saw he had no underwear on.
"Someone was hopeful today, huh?"
"What can I say…" he replied, as he quickly pulled her denim shorts and underwear away in one swift motion, "this outfit is hot. You should quit studying," he said, kissing her on the forehead, "and paint all day."
She shook her head as she wrapped her legs around him, drawing him closer. "Shut up," she whispered, as he unclasped her bra and slowly drew his tongue across her nipple. Veronica reached up, placing her palm flat on his chest and twisted, pushing him over so she was on top. She smirked as he grinned, sliding down his body. The sunlight danced across his body, highlighting the golden hues of his tan. She ran her hand across his abs, and up over his chest, a look of wonder on her face. She swallowed hard and looked away, knowing she was feeding his over-growing ego as she admired her lover's physique.
Veronica slowly slid down his body until she was sitting on his bare thighs. She lowered her head, her hair falling in front of her face like a curtain as she ran her tongue across the tip of his hardened cock. She slowly took him into her open mouth, her tongue swirling around the tip as he groaned in response. She circled the base of his shaft with her fingers as she sucked down. Slowly running her finger along the underside of his cock, she could see he was fighting not to thrust his hips. Veronica lifted her head for a minute, as she cupped his balls and began to gently massage them with her fingers.
"Veronica," he moaned and she looked up. He nodded and she shifted upwards. "Condom?"
"I'm on the Pill," she gasped out, as she lowered herself down on him. His hands came to rest on the curve of her hip as she began thrust, setting the rhythm.
His hand slipped between her legs and he dragged his thumb across her clit. She bit down on her lip, letting out a moan as her eyes squeezed shut. He kept up with her pace with his hand, until she felt her muscles begin to contract tightly.
"Oh, god, Veronica," Logan murmured as he came, and she joined him a second later, her vision whitening as she crashed onto his chest. His arms held her tightly as she waited for her breathing to even out. His fingers ran along her back as she curled around him, in a random pattern.
"I've never had sex without a condom before," Logan said quietly.
"Oh, well, I figured with the Pill… and we've both been tested for stuff… and we're clean and…" she babbled nervously.
"It's okay," he assured, moving his hand up to run through her golden hair. "I wasn't complaining. It was amazing."
"Oh," she said, her cheeks still aflame with embarrassment.
"Nice song, by the way. I had you more for angry rock-chick music, not bubblegum-pop."
She laughed, punching him in the shoulder. "This coming from the guy who has Avril Lavigne on his iPod!"
"Hey," he protested, "she can be deep."
The midday summer sun was out in full-force, and Veronica wished too late she'd put some sunscreen on. It became a habit not to wear it, when the temperature dropped below twenty-three Fahrenheit – it seemed pointless. She had to get used to putting it on again, now it was back in the nineties.
She hadn't put any shoes on in her getaway, and she flinched as she stepped onto the sharp stones of the promenade. Jumping back off, she walked to the middle, where a strip of tar ran along the centre. It seemed to serve no purpose that Veronica could make out, but it was much easier to walk along, despite being much hotter.
The ocean breeze gently lifted her hair as she walked, fury pulsating through her veins. She glared at a small boy walking towards her in much the same fashion, clutching a bucket and a spade. The boy caught her look and, startled, moved out of her way.
Veronica reached the end of the promenade, where it cut around into a sharp corner. She stopped and jumped up onto the wall that ran alongside, protecting people from the ocean waves. Her eyes immediately drifted across to the outline of the cliffs in the distance, beyond the beach corner. Her gaze skipped across the yellow that stretched out in front of it, before catching herself. It wasn't like she was going to spot him emerging from the ocean, soaking wet with a sheepish expression. There was no way he could have survived the fall.
Something else had happened. It had to have been something else.
When she reached home, her dad had cleared the kitchen up. He'd left a pot of fresh tea in the middle of the table and a note.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so I thought I'd give my teabag stirring skills a go.
I'll be at the Bed and Breakfast if you need me.
Her answering machine flashed and she hit the play button as she poured herself a drink.
"Veronica, hey," Wallace's voice said, sounding more sombre than usual. "I hoped to catch you, but obviously not. Give me a call, okay? We're all here for you."
The loud beep signalled the end of the message as Veronica added two heaped table spoons of sugar in. She glanced around – no one was there to lecture her. She added another and stirred it, before she added milk. She understood why the English drank it so often in times of crisis. It gave them something to do. Something to focus on, just for a few minutes.
Veronica walked up the stairs, into the bathroom, and opened the washing basket. She couldn't live in limbo forever – chores still needed to be done. She began to pile the clothes into a basket, until a green shirt caught her eyes. She lifted it up, almost reverently as she clutched it to her. He'd been wearing it the day before the incident.
They'd gone to Stonehenge for the day. Nothing had prepared her for the sheer size and beauty of them. It made her feel she was following the footsteps of history, as they walked around the circle, hand in hand. There was such an atmosphere in the large field they were situated in, like a buzz of something special. Veronica excitedly made Logan pause every few steps for another photo.
"They're rocks, Veronica. They all the look the same," he'd said, rolling his eyes, but doing as she asked nonetheless.
She hadn't looked at the camera since.
Veronica blinked and realised she'd been unbuttoning her shirt, lost in her own thoughts. She slipped it off and dropped into on the washing pile, before she slid her arms into Logan's much larger one. It still smelled like the Chinese food they'd picked up on the way back. They had stopped in a motorway lay-by and eaten in the car, awkwardly using the chopsticks provided. Afterwards, Veronica had climbed on top of him, and thanked him for the trip she'd never forget, the darkness as their cover.
Every day was a little darker.
Even when the sun was shining brightly outside, casting everything with a cheery shimmer, she just saw everything in dull tones. She could hear families laughing and children playing whenever she had the windows open or went outside. She wished they hadn't picked an apartment so close to the beach. The ocean view that once soothed her, now tormented. Every wave was a cruel taunt. They knew what she didn't.
And the grey murky depths kept their secret well.
She'd been assigned a family support officer called Lauren. It had seemed weird for a second when she heard the title – family. But she was Logan's family.
When Veronica had completed her degree in Criminology, she'd wanted to continue on to a Masters. Neptune had felt stifling and oppressive, her name now common knowledge amongst the citizens after successfully solving a string of mysteries throughout her time in college. But she'd never managed to gain back the like she'd lost in her freshman year, just their grudging respect. Logan had suggested going elsewhere to do the degree, he'd get a job as she studied and they would live together. They'd picked England together. He'd been with her as she broke the news to Keith, squeezing Logan's hand tightly between her own.
They had been living together eleven and a half months. Veronica had completed her degree the month before, but they'd wanted to stay and enjoy the summer months before heading back. They'd lived, breathed, eaten and worked together. They'd fought viciously and made up in every single room of the apartment.
They were family.
Lauren was friendly, empathetic and professional – a sharp contrast to Lamb. She kept Veronica updated every step of the way, and didn't seem to mind the multitude of questions and suggestions Veronica had for her daily.
Lauren had been the one to break the news to her in the first place, that evening just over two weeks ago. She had gently told her she might never see the love of her life again.
Logan had become quite sentimental over things. After losing all his possessions in the fire during senior year, he was careful with the ones he owned now. Ticket stubs from movies they'd seen, train tickets from places they went too were all filed away in a drawer by the bed.
Veronica was walking through the bedroom when she spotted some photographs she'd printed from the computer of Wallace and his new girlfriend. She picked them up, opened Logan's drawer and was about to put them in when another picture caught her eye.
Every weekend they'd tried to go somewhere different. The weekend of Logan's twenty-second birthday they'd visited London. They both immediately loved the brightly-coloured busyness of Camden and were amused by the large wooden shop-frontages, showing the product the shop sold. Shoes that would fit a giant sat on top of the shoe stores, and a giant rocking chair—among several other things—was suspended above them. Logan had laughed at the cafés so blatantly selling cannabis, while Veronica was shocked they weren't closed down.
In the late afternoon, they took the tube over to Covent Garden. They'd walked around the cobbled square of the Piazza, watching the street entertainers with interest. Veronica had discovered Lush and spent a long time picking out what she was going to buy. Logan had done nothing but complain about the scents of the products that invaded his senses. She'd come back with her arms full of bath bombs, hard shampoo, frozen shower gel and a bright smile. He'd stopped complaining.
After a meal at Garfunkles, where they both enthused over the incredibly creamy thick vanilla milkshake, they'd gone to Leicester Square to finally see a West End play. They'd found a ticket booth in the square, and looked over all the posters showing the different plays. Logan had wanted to see We Will Rock You, but Veronica had her eye on The Phantom of the Opera. They finally settled on Blood Brothers, a play neither of them had heard of in compromise.
Veronica stared at the picture they'd asked someone to take of them both outside the Royal Opera House. They both looked so damn happy. She dropped the picture and slammed the drawer shut with a bang.
She was watching every credit card closely. She had spoken to everyone who lived along the cliff top to see if they'd seen anything that night. She registered him under the Missing Person's Helpline, who helped her affix posters across the town.
All while her father watched, a look in his eyes that spelled she was in denial.
There were no leads, no credit cards being used… He hadn't even withdrawn any money for a few days before, so she knew he didn't have any cash on him. Veronica knew wherever Logan was, it was against his will.
And the look remained in her dad's eyes.
"Let's not do this," Veronica said, turning and beginning to walk back towards Logan's car, which he'd parked outside the complex.
"Veronica!" Logan called, laugher in his voice. He jogged after her, and grabbed her arm gently, pulling her to a halt. "It will be okay."
"My dad's only daughter telling him I'm not just moving out, but moving to another country?" Veronica said sceptically. "He's going to get out his gun, shoot you, then lock me away. Seriously!"
Logan smiled, before leaning forward and kissing her. His hands circled her waist as she moved her arms up around his neck, drawing him closer. They broke apart and she breathed out harshly, her forehead resting on his chest.
"What was that for?" she mumbled.
"Distraction," he answered, his arms wrapping around her. "Plus you're hot when you're freaking out." She laughed and punched him lightly in the arm. He gently kissed her on the top of her head then moved away. "Come on. He's going to take the news fine. We'll promise to come back, and he can visit us…"
Veronica sighed, slipping her hand into his and gripping it tightly. "Okay."
Her pen tapped against her front tooth as she frowned at the list in front of her. She hesitated before adding The Fitzpatricks.
"What are you doing, Veronica?" Keith asked, putting a plate of cheese and ham sandwiches down next to her. He'd cut them into little triangles, just like he'd done when she was child. He'd stood them upright and added a garnish of salad and a handful of chips. She was aware he knew she'd leave the greenery, pick at the chips and only eat one of the small triangles. But he still did it.
"I'm making a list of all the people that might gain from taking Logan. So far, there have been no ransom notes, so I can assume it's not that. And anyway, if they wanted money, they should have taken me. I don't have access to Logan's funds, but I guess they don't know that."
Keith didn't respond, staring down at his mug of coffee.
"I don't see why the Fitzpatricks would go to this length. I mean, all that stuff with them was so long ago. And with Liam in prison now…" She sighed. "Well, I guess it's better to have them down as a possibility than not."
"People in Neptune are beginning to book flights over to here."
Veronica looked up sharply. "Why?"
"I understand how difficult this is for you," Keith said.
"Do you?" Veronica asked coldly.
"It's obvious you aren't going to leave here, and people want to… pay their respects. Say goodbye."
Veronica's mouth dropped open as her stomach tightened. "Have a funeral?" she breathed out in shock.
"Not a funeral exactly. Some kind of service."
"But he's not dead. A service isn't necessary. Searching for him would be a lot more helpful."
"They've read the reports too, Veronica," Keith said calmly. "The chances of him surviving something like that… You saw the wreck of his car."
Veronica let out a shaky breath, gripping the table tightly. "You've all given up on him?" she asked quietly. "No one is on my side?"
"It's not about sides, honey," Keith replied. "It's about moving on."
The sharp sting of betrayal twisted inside her and she slowly stood up. "You should leave."
"Veronica," Keith protested, reaching out to her.
She lifted her arm, blocking his and stepped back. "Leave," she repeated.
She knew the second Logan realised he was in the shithouse. His posture changed from relaxed, to taut. He looked defensive before even knowing what he'd done. She slammed her book shut and stood up, walking straight past him into the kitchen without giving him even a cursory glance.
He followed her a second later as she poured herself a glass of Apple and Melon J20.
"Gonna let me in on the reason you're Little Miss Sunshine and Light today?" he snapped.
"Don't forget it's the post-graduate function tonight," Veronica answered shortly. "You are still coming, aren't you? Or are you too busy spending all our saved money?"
"What…" Logan answered, looking confused, before a look of enlightenment crossed his eyes. "Oh. Look, Veronica, I can explain…"
"Explain how you spent it all gambling?" she hissed. "That was our money."
"I was going to replace it… I just didn't have my other cards on me at the time."
"So you spent what we'd saved up?" she snapped. Her fingers twisted the sweater she wearing around her fingers tightly as she glared at him. "You wasted it all on nothing."
Logan looked away, breathing heavily. "I get bored when you're at the university all day."
"But of all the things… gambling? It's such a waste!"
"Hey," he said, his voice rising, "I enjoy it. I don't comment on your hobbies. Oh, but of course, they aren't a waste of time, are they? Not whatever Veronica Mars chooses to do with her spare time."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, shoving the glass down on the counter.
"You're so judgemental!"
"I wouldn't have anything to judge if you stopped fucking around and actually did something worthwhile," Veronica bit out.
"How is that any of your business?" he yelled back. "I want to gamble and it's not like I can't afford to spend it, so what's it to you? Annoyed I'm not buying you stuff instead?"
She gaped at him before she turned and walked out the back door.
Veronica forced a smile on her face as she greeted the head of her department. She hated these functions – they were all for face. They'd particularly gone all out for this one, hiring a small ocean cruiser and caterers to do a proper sit-down dinner, rather than the casual buffet the university kitchen staff usually put on. Most of the guests were out on desk where a six-piece clarinet band was playing. Small fairy lights twinkled around the desk as waiters walked around, offering glasses of wine or hors d'oeuvres
Veronica sighed the second she was left alone, her stomach churning. She hated it when they fought, yet she couldn't stop being angry at him. He had no future plans, was happy to get a visitor's visa and just bum around. She couldn't help but think that was all he was ever going to do, and he was capable of so much more than that.
A waiter walked by and she picked up a glass of wine from his tray. She took a large gulp of the sweet liquid. Before she actually turned to look, she felt his presence next to her. Immediately, she noticed that although he was dressed in a crisp shirt and smart pants, his eyes were still dull and his jaw was still set.
"I didn't expect you to show," she said coolly.
"I said I would, didn't I?"
Veronica turned away from him and was surprised to see a woman from her class standing right in front of her.
"Veronica! You haven't introduced me yet…" she said, motioning towards Logan.
Veronica pursed her lips. "Megan, this is Logan," she said.
"Wow, it's so nice to finally meet you," Megan gushed, smiling brightly at Logan. "Veronica's told me so much about you, I feel like I know you already."
"All bad things, I'm sure," Logan replied, without a smile.
Megan's smile faltered. "No… nothing bad," she said. She glanced between the two, looking confused. "Have I interrupted something?"
"No, Megan. Not at all," Veronica assured, grabbing Logan's hand. "I'll see you later, okay?" She pulled him through the nearest door, into the plush dining hall. "You didn't have to be rude," she remarked, as they walked around the tables, and through to the deserted cabins, where people could stay overnight.
"Coming from you?" he responded. "Someone who's a bitch to people on your good days?"
As she opened one of the cabin doors and stomped in, Veronica turned back to glare at him. She flicked the light on before turning to face him, her arms crossed over her chest as he closed the door behind them. It was a basic room, a single bed lined one wall and a cupboard on the other.
"What is up with you?" she snapped. "You're angry with me for being angry with you?"
"I just don't see why I've got to have a life-plan at twenty-one years old," he replied.
"Well don't then," Veronica shot back. "Live off your father's money for the rest of your life."
His eyes flashed dangerously as he stalked towards her. She narrowed her eyes at him resolutely as he backed her up against the wall. She could smell the mint on his breath as he continued to look darkly at her. A second later, his lips were on hers as her arms tangled around his head, pulling his closer, their tongues battling for dominance fiercely.
She shoved him away and began to pull at the buttons on his shirt, yanking them off in her desperation to get to his skin. His hand travelled downwards, and grasped the bottom of her simple wine-coloured dress. He pulled it up as she unbuckled his pants and let them fall to the ground. Her nails dug into his sides as she yanked down his underwear. With his free hand, he yanked her red lace panties to the side and thrust into her.
She gasped, raking her nails across his back as she threw her head back against the wall. His large hands encircled her wrists, holding them against the wall as their hips slammed against each others, their fury at one another making the air almost crackle between them. When she came, she bit down on his shoulder, making sure to leave a mark and he shuddered a few seconds later, joining her, letting go of her wrists.
They continued to hold on to each other, her face pressed into his shoulder. He picked one of her wrists up again and brought it to his mouth, gently pressing a kiss to it. Veronica ran her fingertips slowly across the bloody lines on his back, apologising with every scratch she covered.
She adjusted her underwear and smoothing her dress down. When she turned around, Logan had fixed his pants, and was working on his shirt with a perplexed expression at the missing buttons. He looked up and smiled.
"I think they'll notice," he said.
"Wanna get out of here?" she asked, holding out her hand. He nodded, entwining his fingers with hers.
Breaking into the police compound was pretty easy. Veronica thought they would have had tighter security than a couple of padlocks on the metal gate she picked in a few minutes. She pulled her jacket around her tighter, shivering at the misty air. She was halfway across the compound, her flashlight lighting her way, when it began to rain.
Veronica knew Logan's car the second she spotted it. A silver Mercedes, sitting next to an abandoned Toyota. She reached the side of the car and peered in. The windshield was totally missing and the front of the car was crumpled, like it hit the ground front first. The glass along the driver's side was jagged and sharp, and had a few bits of seaweed caught in it. She pulled on the door handle of the driver's side, but found it jammed. She peered in, her flashlight held up as she looked for a sign, a clue… anything, that could help her.
The rain blocked her view and her teeth chattered as it drenched through to her skin. She heard another car door slam and jumped, before switching her light out. She waited in silence for a few moments, before heading back the way she came.
Wallace sighed, looking down. "Please, Veronica."
She sat on the bed, her knees drawn up under her chin, escaping from the people downstairs.
"No," she murmured. "Why do you need a service for someone who isn't dead?"
Wallace rubbed his forehead with his hand. "What if he is?" Veronica turned to glare at him angrily and he held his hands up. "I know what you're going to say. But Veronica, the police are convinced, everyone who has read the report, his friends, Trina…"
"Everyone thought Abel Koontz killed Lilly, too," Veronica said, a tear slipping down her cheek, "and they were all wrong."
Wallace nodded slowly. "I'm going to go to the service… for you. And then, if it turns out he's okay, you can rub it in our faces for the rest of our lives." He got up from the bed where he was sat next to her. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Veronica breathed out slowly, as soon as he was gone. She unclenched her hand and stared down at the small half-moons on her palm, glowing with crimson blood.
She woke up to her dad looming above her, a look of misery on his face. She sat up quickly.
"What is it?" she asked, panic fluttering at her stomach.
Keith perched down on the bed next to her, and took her hand on his. His took a deep breath, as if trying to give himself strength.
"Honey, they found a body matching Logan's description. It washed up on a beach a few miles from here."
She stared at him in shock, feeling nothing but icy numbness.
"I'm so sorry," Keith continued.
She swallowed hard, her chin feeling tight. She realised she wasn't breathing and gasped a mouthful of oxygen in quickly. Her stomach churching, she leaped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. She skidded to a halt next to the porcelain, her gut heaving. Flushing it, she got to her feet and walked over to the hand basin. She ran the cold tap for a few seconds before she brought a handful of it up to her mouth.
"Veronica?" Keith called from outside the door. "Are you okay?"
She opened the door and gave him a shaky smile. The icy numbness was slipping away, leaving nothing but raw agony. She stumbled forward into his open arms, her chest shaking with sobs.
"It can't be true," she cried, "it can't…"
He gently lowered her to the floor, rocking her slowly. "I'm so sorry," he murmured, over and over.
"Are you sure you don't want me to come in with you?" Keith asked his daughter. She looked pale and drawn as they stood outside the mortuary.
"I need to do this on my own," Veronica said. "I need to say goodbye to him." She blinked in the harsh sunlight as she rubbed her temple with two fingers.
Her father nodded. "I'll wait for you here," he promised.
A light-haired man was sitting behind the desk as she walked through, her boots tapping on the polished floor. He looked up at the door shut behind her.
"Can I help you?" he asked with a friendly smile.
"I'm here to identify someone," she replied, staring past him to the double doors. Logan was beyond them, waiting for her.
"Logan Echolls." His name rolled off her tongue, so familiar and known. She'd been saying his name for the past nine years of her life. He'd always been there, no matter what else was going on or how they felt about each other.
The man nodded, before walked out from behind the desk. "This way," he said, motioning for her to follow.
The walls seemed to be closing in on her as she walked down the corridor. He held the final door open and as she stepped into the room, the temperature dropped vastly. She barely noticed it as she watched the man walk across the room and slide open the silver drawer that held the bodies.
"Are you ready?" he asked, poised with his hand on the sheet.
Veronica nodded, her arms crossed in front of her stomach. She realised she was shaking.
The man lifted the sheet and Veronica stepped forward, letting out a gasp.
"It's not him," she whispered, relief burning white-hot through her veins. "It's not Logan."
"Dad, where are we going?" Veronica asked for the third time, sighing impatiently.
Keith shook his head, his expression blank. "We're almost there. One more minute."
Veronica made a clicking sound with her tongue as she stared out the window. She recognised the police station as they pulled up outside.
"Day trip to the station? Not so much on the fun things to do."
"Come on," Keith said, climbing out the car. Veronica frowned, unbuckling her seatbelt then climbing out the car. He'd almost reached the station when she slammed her door and jogged after him.
Keith had paused waiting for her, still not looking her in the eye. They walked through the door and Keith motioned for her to wait. He walked up to the reception desk and said something to the officer on duty, as Veronica strained to hear. He pointed at a door and Keith nodded, looking back towards her.
Veronica walked over to him. "What's going on?" she asked impatiently. Keith ignored her, and opened the door that the man had pointed at.
"Go on," he commanded.
She did as she was told and stopped dead.
Logan looked up from the table he was sitting at, his warm brown eyes immediately lighting up as he jumped up. She moved faster than she ever had before, and found herself in his arms before she had to think. She grasped at his back, as she gasped in lungfuls of his scent.
"Oh, god, oh god…" she murmured.
"Veronica," he said, and it was the sweetest thing she'd ever heard. "I thought I'd never see you again." She pulled away, cupping his wet face and it wasn't until he reached out, stroking her cheek, she realised she was crying too.
"Where have you been?" she asked, her voice cracking, before she pushed herself up and kissed him joyfully. He tasted exactly as she remembered.
They couldn't let go of each other as he tried to explain, while stopping to kiss her at the end of every sentence, deeply and passionately. He sat on the table, holding Veronica close to him on his lap.
"But he's your brother!" Veronica exclaimed. "How could he do that?"
Logan shrugged. "Money. He thought I owed him a great deal more after I exposed him as an Echolls."
"But why did he fake your death?" she asked.
"So people wouldn't look for me. He drained all my bank accounts and didn't let me go until they cleared. I'm so, so sorry for what he put you through," he said, his arms tightening around her as she kissed him again.
The worst part? The imagined reunions. Over and over. Every way possible. Happy ones, sad ones… ones where the first thing they did was pull each other's clothes off, not even bothering with the police/doctors/whoever else was in the room. She'd wake in the night, aching for him, his name a memory on her lips.
Her visa was almost at an end, and she knew she had to make a choice soon. If she stayed, she could end up fined, deported or even in jail.
So why did she feel that leaving was a betrayal to him? Like thinking he was truly gone, and wasn't coming back.
And that was just something Veronica could never accept.