Once Forgotten, Twice Remembered
Word Count: 5504
Pairing/Characters: Veronica, Veronica/Logan
Summary: Veronica gets an interesting message from someone unexpected.
Disclaimer: Don't own a thing.
Spoilers: Starts in the last week before the Christmas holidays, after 3x09.
Thanks: Thank you so much to suivreletoile, semby and skk670 for the beta.
A/N: I am so very sorry for the lateness, but this is for the lovely madseason20 for vmsanta! I'm sorry I haven't completely fulfilled all your requests, but I hope it does meet most.
Sun rays danced across the trees, drawing attention to the myriad of colours that decorated the long branches that stretched above Veronica. She walked through the pathway across campus, her boots crunching on the already fallen leaves. She paused to check the time, shifting the folders she carried in her arms. With a few minutes left until she had to meet Wallace, she sank down on a wooden bench, pulling the reading she had to catch up on out of her bag.
Veronica had just read the first page when she heard someone clear their throat. She looked up quickly, and found a girl standing at the end of the bench. The girl had shoulder-length brunette hair and was dressed casually in a grey Hearst hoodie and faded jeans. She looked around Veronica's age.
"Can I help you?" Veronica asked, looking at the girl curiously.
"It's more a matter of me helping you," the girl replied. "I have a message for you."
Veronica glanced up a noticed a worn-looking book grasped in the girl's hand. She frowned and shut her book with a bang. "Look, if you're trying to convert me into some religion…" she said, standing up. "I'm not interested." She swung her bag over her shoulder and began to walk away.
"Wait!" the girl called, hurrying after her. "Just give me a minute. It has nothing to do with religion…"
Veronica span around, shooting the girl her best glare. "Five seconds."
"This is going to sound really crazy, believe me, I know, but I'm a medium."
"A medium?" Veronica echoed uncertainly. She glanced back at the book and realised it wasn't the bible she originally thought it was, but a well-read Thomas Hardy book.
The girl nodded. "It means I can communicate with the dead," she explained quickly.
"You know there's another name for that…" Veronica pointed out sceptically.
Ruby gave her a brief smile, as if to say she'd heard it all before. "I've been contacted by someone, a girl…" Ruby continued. "She said to ask you if you remember the night of the homecoming dance. She said she knows the answer to her 'I never' question has changed, and she hopes you enjoy it as much as she did."
Veronica continued to look at her with a carefully blank expression. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said. "And I'm late, so if you'll excuse me." Veronica walked away as fast as she could without actually breaking into a run.
Wallace was waiting for her outside the Bohemian café where they had arranged to meet. His expression brightened when he saw her, shooting her a warm grin.
"Where ya been, girl?" Wallace asked, making a show of looking at the time.
"I got held up," Veronica said apologetically. "I'll tell you about it over lunch."
A few minutes later, they were seated in a booth amidst the long drapes that hung across the walls. Brightly coloured beads hung from the material that knocked together every time someone opened the door. Some Christmas decorations had been hung from the ceiling, the colours clashing with the purples and oranges the café favoured for the drapes. Soft chill-out music played as Veronica scooped a spoonful of whipped cream from the top of her hot chocolate and licked it off.
"So… what's the story?" Wallace prompted. Veronica quickly filled him in on her meeting with the girl. He frowned, looking puzzled. "So does playing I Never at Homecoming make sense to you?" Veronica nodded. "And the answer to the I Never question?"
Veronica felt a small blush rise to her cheeks as she looked down at the chocolate sprinkles decorating the cream. "Yeah. It was something Lilly said."
Wallace raised his eyebrow slightly. "Is it something only you and Lilly would know?"
Veronica thought for a second. "Well, no. Logan and Duncan were there." She sighed painfully. "I guess I should ask Logan about it. Maybe he's been telling old memories to random strangers." She shook her head slightly, knowing it sounded implausible.
"Worth a try," Wallace suggested, before his expression lit up. "You'll never guess what happened last night…"
Veronica brushed off the thoughts of the dark-eyed girl, as she listened to her best friend's animated story.
Veronica felt uncomfortable letting herself in with her key, so she knocked on the door to Logan's penthouse suite. It felt strange after months of being able to come and go as she chose. Now she felt she didn't belong. She heard soft footsteps nearing, and then the door clicked open.
She smiled awkwardly. "Hey," she said softly.
"What can I do for you?" he asked, returning the smile. His black shirt fit snugly, showing off muscles he had appeared to have gained in the three and a half weeks since they'd broken up, and Veronica had to fight to keep from openly admiring his lithe body
"I just wanted to ask you something," she said, before jumping straight to the point, "Have you spoken to anyone recently about our past?"
Logan looked confused. "Like a counsellor?"
Veronica shook her head. "No, someone at school. Maybe unintentionally?"
Logan shook his head. "No, I haven't talked to anyone."
"Oh, okay," Veronica said. "Well, sorry to bother you."
"You weren't bothering me, Veronica," Logan said, his steady gaze unreadable.
She spotted something lit up in the corner of his room, and moved slightly to see what it was, before spotting a small tree covered in lights.
"Nice tree," she commented.
"Well, 'tis the season," Logan shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed.
"Yeah," Veronica replied softly. "I'll probably see you on campus sometime then." She nodded, before heading off down the hallway, aware his eyes were still on her.
Veronica spotted the girl waiting for her as she came out of a lecture. She headed straight for her, waiting until the crowd dispersed before asking, "Who are you?"
"My name's Ruby Aston," she said with a Midwestern twang. She hitched her bag up further onto her shoulder as she glanced around, checking no one was about. "I keep getting the same message for you over and over."
Veronica nodded slowly. It wouldn't hurt to just hear the message, at least. Hesitantly she said, "Okay, tell me this message."
"One of your loved ones is in danger."
Veronica frowned. "That's it? You don't know who? How?"
Ruby shook her head. "I'm sorry, sometimes they aren't specific."
"That's a kind of crappy cliché," Veronica complained. "What am I supposed to do? Lock them all in a room? Do you even know the name of the person telling you this?"
Ruby gave Veronica a small smile. "She says the unicorn was a fitting choice and she hoped it hurt." Veronica's mouth dropped open in surprise. "I've got to get to class," Ruby said. "Just keep it in mind, okay?" She walked away before Veronica could form a reply.
Veronica quickly followed her just before she left her sight. She kept out of Ruby's vision, until she saw Ruby meet up with two women, clearly laughing and joking with them before she went into a classroom. Veronica hurried over to them.
"Hi, I'm Veronica," she said. They turned to look at her, friendly if slightly confused look on both their faces. "I saw you talking to Ruby," Veronica explained. "I was just wondering… her gift…" she trailed off, trying to find the right words. Her usual gift for being able to make up a story to suit her purposes at the spur of the moment seemed to fail her. "Do you believe it?" she finally asked.
The girl with darker hair nodded slightly. "She's got stuff right for me in the past," she offered. "And told me stuff I'm sure there is no way she could know otherwise."
Veronica glanced at the other girl and noticed she looked slightly more hesitant. "What do you think?" She still paused, and Veronica quickly added, "I know she's your friend, and you don't know me, but it would be really helpful."
"I don't know," the other friend replied. "Ruby's great and everything, and I think she believes it's all true… But I just don't think it can be, you know?"
Veronica nodded. "Thanks, both of you."
Veronica shivered as the wind picked up, bringing goosebumps to her chilled skin. She pulled her jacket tighter as she headed across campus towards her car. She rummaged in her bag and produced her keys, getting them ready.
Ruby's words swum around her mind, as she examined each one obsessively. She tried to take notes in her lecture, but found herself mind drifting back to the word danger constantly. What exactly was meant by danger anyway and how the hell was she supposed to stop it?
And who did 'loved ones' cover anyway? There was her dad, of course. Wallace, Mac and Backup. With a slight hesitation, she added Logan to the mental list. Then what? She was supposed to turn into Super Woman, clone herself into five people and then of course follow them all about – hopefully with them not noticing - then when this danger presented itself, she was supposed to stop it, in all her five foot, one inch glory? Right.
Veronica had just about reached her car, when she looked up and spotted Logan's black Range Rover parked on the opposite side. She automatically ducked back behind her car when a second later Logan appeared, walking with a blonde-haired girl. She was laughing at something he was saying, as they both climbed into the car. She heard his engine start, the noise ricocheting around the almost empty lot, and he sped away. She straightened up again, her eyes still glued to the now empty spot he'd been parked in, her heart pounding. The girl was pretty; Veronica could see that even from where she'd been hiding. Her chest ached with an increasing intensity as she got into her own car and started the engine.
She sat in the lot, her white hands gripping the steering wheel, for a long time.
"You okay, Vee?" Wallace asked. The town was fairly busy with people doing Christmas shopping as they headed towards the movie theatre, to celebrate the first day of the holidays.
Veronica looked up quickly. "Just dandy," she smiled.
The reached the cinema, and joined the queue. She turned back to look at him, her expression serious. "Hey, Wallace? Be careful, okay."
Wallace looked confused. "Movies can be treacherous…" Wallace said, looking bemused. "All that popcorn about, ready for you to choke on."
Her lips pursed. "I mean it."
"I'm always careful! It's like my middle name. Not very cool though."
Veronica let out a small breath as she nodded towards the attendant waiting for them to purchase tickets.
The smell of the home-made potpourri, cinnamon, orange and spices, filled her senses as she walked in to the living room, closing the front door behind her. It was something that she and her mother had always done at Christmas, drying the ingredients out and then dotting it around their home in festive bowls. The lights twinkled merrily on the tree, the tinsel sparkling as it caught the light. She spotted her dad's suitcase placed outside his bedroom door and frowned as she slipped her shoes off.
"Dad!" she called and he appeared from his bedroom.
"Hello, honey," he greeted, placing a quick kiss on her forehead before he began to gather the documents scattered on the worktop together.
"Where are you going?" she asked curiously.
"I've got a case on –- someone suspects that their son is caught up in some shady dealings, and he wants me to check it out. He's paying for my flight to Wisconsin."
Veronica looked up with a frown. "You'll be back for Christmas though, right?"
"Of course I will!" Keith assured, "I'll be back bright and early Christmas Eve."
"Are you sure?" Veronica asked, unconvinced, leaning on the kitchen counter.
Keith smiled, finally finished collecting his stuff. He walked over to her and kissed her again. "I promise. Now be good –- don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Veronica gave him a small smile in return, before she asked, "Are you sure it's a good idea? I mean… what if something happens?"
"I'm being paid very well for this," Keith pointed out. "We could even get a turducken for Christmas."
Veronica grimaced. "Pass."
She picked up her bag and walked into her room. She hadn't bothered to put any decorations up in her room and she sighed, the slight lift of the Christmas cheer evaporating. She hung her bag up in her closet before she sat down at the laptop. She let it load, then ran a background search on Ruby Aston.
Veronica scanned the information that appeared. Grew up in North Dakota, pulled a 3.0 GPA and lived with her parents. She continued to scroll down, until she spotted another entry, reporting she'd been in and out of a mental institution for around five years, including two court-ordered visits. She bit down on her lip as she frowned, letting out a breath she didn't know she was holding and closed the screen down. Maybe Ruby did believe she could talk to the dead, but it didn't mean Veronica would. She pushed the last remaining niggling doubts away.
"Veronica, I'm going now," Keith called and she walked back out of her room.
Keith looked hesitant as she came into view. "Do you want me to stay?"
Veronica shook her head, giving him a reassuring smile. "No, it's fine. Good luck," she said, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Keith frowned. "I'm not sure what's left."
"Ha ha," Veronica replied dryly.
"I hate Christmas," Mac complained, as a lady bashed her out of the way as she tried to get closer to the sock stand.
"Shopping is not my idea of fun," Veronica admitted. "I think the problem is that I just don't like people." The shop was blaring out cheesy Christmas songs and was filled with last minute shoppers, who all seemed to be of the obnoxious variety. Mac had phoned Veronica and begged her to help her pick out her family's presents, and she'd reluctantly agreed.
"Me neither," Mac sighed, adding a pack of The Simpsons socks to her basket. "Speaking of people, and possibly ones that don't totally suck, everyone's vanished for the holidays. With Parker leaving for home yesterday, Piz back in Beaverton and you mentioned that Wallace was going to his grandparents?"
Veronica sighed. "Yeah. And you are deserting me to go to your family."
Mac looked vaguely disgusted. "It's not my idea of fun. My grandparents always try and convince me to eat meat, and my uncle gets even more drunk and obnoxious every year until my aunt ends up leaving in tears."
Veronica gave her a sympathetic smile. "Sounds like a normal family Christmas to me." She felt a wistful pang, wishing she had a larger family to share Christmas with. Her dad always tried, but it was never quite the same.
"What's Logan doing?" Mac asked tentatively.
"He said awhile ago that his sister Trina is visiting with her new boyfriend, and I think Dick will be there," Veronica said as she examined a shirt hanging on a rail.
"Oh, well that's good. It would suck to spend the holidays alone."
Veronica nodded. "Yeah. Hey, what do you think of this shirt?"
Mac came and stood next to her as she looked over it. It was a deep green colour, and felt soft to the touch. It looked like it would fit perfectly.
"For your dad?" Mac asked in confusion and Veronica shot her a look, trying to banish the image of her father wearing the shirt which he'd look ridiculous in.
A look of surprise crossed the dark-haired girl's face. "Really?"
"We're still friends," Veronica said, almost defensively, before she paused. "I think."
"I think it's really nice," Mac assured her, and Veronica picked it up.
She felt the first flicker of worry as noon arrived on Christmas Eve, and she hadn't heard from her dad. She tried his phone at one p.m., but it was turned off. By the time mid-afternoon rolled on, she was positively in a panic. By four she could barely keep herself together as she paced the apartment, Backup looking at her warily.
At five the phone rang and she pounced on it.
"Dad? Dad is that you?"
"It's me, Veronica. I'm so sorry, there's been a terrible snow storm. The phone lines have been down all day, and the weather is affecting my phone signal. All the planes have been grounded, and sweetie, they don't think any planes will be going out until at least the twenty sixth."
Veronica went silent.
"I really am so sorry, I'll try and make it up to you. Can you go to Wallace's or Mac's?"
Veronica let out a breath, knowing full well everyone was away. "Yeah, I'm sure I can." She heard her dad breathe an audible sigh of relief. "What about you? You're going to be alone."
"I won't be alone, don't worry," Keith assured.
Veronica frowned at the strange tone, before she realised. "Harmony's with you, isn't she?"
"She left her husband and came with me, yeah."
"Are you even on a case?" Veronica asked quietly.
"Of course I am! Look, sweetie, I have to go, there is a line of people waiting to use the phones. I'll phone you tomorrow on your cell. Have a good Christmas."
"You too, Dad," Veronica replied. They said their goodbyes and Veronica put the phone down with a click. She leaned back against the wall, and slid down, hitting the floor with a bump.
"Yeah, Merry Christmas," she said sarcastically to herself.
Veronica woke up feeling miserable and alone. She padded to the kitchen and made herself some coffee, before she settled in front of the TV to watch Christmas movies. She began to feel sick and frustrated when each one featured a happy, loving family. She finally found Home Alone showing, and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Know how you feel, Macaulay," she muttered to herself.
Her chest ached with loneliness as she half-heartedly tried to pay attention, until the phone began to ring shrilly. She groaned, and rolled off the sofa, before she headed over to the phone.
"Is this Veronica Mars, next of kin to Lianne Mars?"
Veronica nodded as the knot in her chest tightened, until she realised they couldn't see her. "Yeah, I'm Veronica."
"This is Linda at Neptune Memorial hospital. Your mother was bought in last night. She's in F Wing."
"What happened?" Veronica asked quietly. She tried to keep taking calming breaths as she spoke.
"I'm afraid I can't give any more information over the phone, but if you ask for me when you arrive… You might want to bring another family member, or friend."
"I'll be alone," Veronica said quickly. "I'll be there as soon as I can." She hung up, found her shoes and gathered her keys on auto-pilot.
The drive to the hospital was a blur. The streets were particularly quiet, a kind that only ever happened on Christmas Day when people were tucked up indoors. Her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, her knuckles turning white as they clenched. She parked in the hospital parking lot, and hurried towards the hospital, shivering slightly in the cool air.
The emergency room was busy as she walked through, with
parents holding screaming children, others holding their stomachs
with pale faces and one man holding a very bloody rag to his face.
She reached the elevator and stepped in, scanning the list to find
the correct wing before stabbing the second floor
button. It made a grinding noise as it slowly rose, and Veronica sighed impatiently. As soon as the doors opened, she rushed out and found the wing. A nurse was standing behind a counter, leafing through a file.
"Hi, is Linda here please?" Veronica asked and the woman looked up.
"I'm Linda," she replied. "You're Veronica?"
She nodded, looking nervous. "Is she okay?"
Linda's expression looked sympathetic as she stepped out from behind the counter. She nodded towards a room nearby, and Veronica followed her through. She sat down opposite Linda on a plastic chair. The silence was almost overwhelming as Veronica waited for answers.
Linda opened another file, before she said, "I'm afraid she overdosed."
"On what?" Veronica asked, a wave of nausea twisting in her stomach.
Linda paused for a second. "Heroin."
Veronica took a sharp intake of breath. "She's an addict?"
"By the marks, for quite a while."
"So, you gave her Narcan?" Veronica asked hesitantly.
"I'm sorry, Veronica," Linda said. "By the time your mother was found, it was too late."
"She's dead?" Veronica asked, her voice almost a whisper.
"Only machines are keeping her alive at the moment," Linda informed her. "Her brain is no longer functioning."
Veronica was silent for a long time as she processed the words, her breathing shallow. "What happens now?"
"Her doctor will be stopping by later to talk to you about that."
"Can't you just do that?" Veronica asked.
Linda glanced back down at the file on her lap. "I'm sorry, all I can tell you is, there's nothing more we can do."
Veronica's eyes widened with realisation. "So you're going to switch the machines off?"
"We can't make that decision," Linda replied.
"So you need my permission to do it?" Veronica asked. The nurse nodded. "Can I see her?"
"Of course you can," she said, standing up. Veronica followed her as Linda led her to a room down the hallway. "Just in here. I'll be at the desk, come and get me if you need anything."
"Thanks," Veronica replied dully as she stepped into the room. Veronica dropped down on the chair next to the bed. Her mom looked completely different from the last time she had seen her. Her skin was sallow and looked paper thin. Dark rings circled the hallowed dips around her closed eyes. Her arms were tucked under the sheet, probably hiding the damage from curious eyes. The stillness was offset by the puffing sound of the ventilator.
Something glinting in the light caught her eye and she glanced up to see a small artificial Christmas tree perched on the window sill. A few sorry-looking baubles and a single strand of tinsel decorated it. The pressure in her throat ached painfully as she stared at it, images of her mom standing by the oven on Christmas day, arranging the vegetables neatly on plates, and spending hours on her perfect gravy flashed through her mind. She saw her parents in dressing gowns opening brightly wrapped gifts with her on Christmas morning, no matter how early she got up. She saw her mom's eyes light up with joy as her daughter squealed over the perfect gift she'd got her, before her eyes dulled with self-medication of the vodka variety, before she stopped smiling, before everything.
She'd been warned someone she loved was in danger, and her own mother – the woman who had given her life - hadn't even crossed her mind. Sickening guilt had her practically jumping out of the chair and fleeing back to the safety of the magnolia hallway, with the lights that hummed incessantly.
"Are you okay, dear?" Linda asked, her forehead wrinkling with concern.
"Does it have to be today?" Veronica asked, hating her voice for sounding so strained and like it took too much effort to get her words out. "Do I have to turn her life-support off today?"
"No, no," Linda denied. "You can do it whenever you want to."
"I can't be here," Veronica managed. "I'm sorry," she choked out, the walls feeling like they were closing in on her. "I'll come back. Tomorrow." She turned and practically ran for the exit, feeling like she was being chased the whole way.
Veronica slid down in front of the sofa, hitting the floor with a small thump. She drew her knees up under her chin, her eyes fluttering shut. Ghosts of the past seemed to surround her, whispering regrets and accusations. Her stomach clenched, and she gritted her teeth, trying to block the sounds murmuring through the air out.
She ran her fingers through her hair, breathing heavily. A sharp knock suddenly sounded, making her jump. Thinking about ignoring it, she buried her head in her hands, when it happened again. She stumbled to her feet, using the sofa to help her and walked over to the door. She opened the door and her eyes widened to see Logan standing there.
"Merry Christmas," he greeted, with one of his patented half-smiles.
She continued to gawp at him.
He glanced behind her, looking a little bemused. "Too stuffed from turkey to function?"
"Hi," she finally managed.
"I just came by to give you your gift," he continued. She noticed for the first time the shiny red bag he held in his hand.
She looked down at the floor, her eyes gliding across the Vans he wore. They looked new.
"Is this a bad time?" he asked, his forehead wrinkling in confusion.
She swallowed hard, shaking her head. "Come in."
He followed her into the small living room. She gestured absently to the sofa. "Drink?"
He nodded. "Where's your dad? Sleeping off the food?"
Veronica hesitated as she pulled a glass from the cupboard, trying to come up with a lie. For the second time that day, her brain failed her. "Wisconsin," she admitted. A second later, she realised she could have just agreed, when the shock flittered across Logan's face.
"He left you at Christmas?"
Veronica shrugged tiredly. "Got caught in a storm. Coke okay?"
"Veronica…" Logan began, but she quickly pushed the can and glass into his hands.
"I have your gift," she said, and hurried into her bedroom. Her heart was pounding as she rummaged through her drawer for his gifts, and she didn't know why. Her stomach felt sore and tender, like she'd been punched, and she rubbed her hand across it. The door opened again, and Logan stood there, sans drink.
"Are you okay?" he said softly, his eyes glinting with concern. "You look really pale."
"Just dandy," she replied dully, holding his presents out.
He shot her a disbelieving look as he took them. "Thank you. You didn't have to."
"Neither did you," Veronica pointed out as he fetched her gift from the living room, and gave it to her.
She sank down on her bed, resting on her feet. Logan looked unsure, before he sat down at the opposite end.
"Trina okay?" Veronica asked.
Logan nodded. "She's great. Talks incessantly about her latest projects, if you can call them that. Her boyfriend's an asshole, but I guess he's better than the last."
"Not hard to be," Veronica pointed out. She turned the package over in her hand, running her finger along the sticky tape that held it in place.
"Gonna open it or just stare?" Logan asked, with a small smile to show he was teasing.
"Sorry," Veronica said quietly, still making no move to do so.
"Hey, have you eaten today?" Logan asked suddenly, standing up. "Why don't I order take-out, and we can watch a movie or something?"
"Thanks, Logan," Veronica replied. "But you should get back home. Aren't they waiting for you?"
He shrugged. "Dick's probably driving them up the wall, but they'll cope. Come on!"
"I'm not hungry," Veronica said. "Plus… nowhere will be open for take-out on Christmas Day."
"Then I'll cook," Logan said immediately. He took Veronica's hand, warm in her own and led her into the kitchen. "What should we have?" he asked, opening cupboard. "Pasta?"
"Logan, really. I can't eat right now."
He turned back to her, his fingers brushing gently across her cheek. "What's wrong? Are you upset your dad's not here?"
Veronica looked away. "Yeah," she lied, knowing that he'd know she wasn't telling the truth anyway. She leaned forward, closing the small distance between them as she buried her head into his chest. His arms immediately wrapped around her, as she breathed in his distinct scent.
"Do you wanna come back to the hotel with me? I know it's not the same, but…" he trailed for with a shrug. She looked up at him, her blue eyes liquid. Her throat felt dry, as her stomach twisted again, but this time with a different kind of feeling. Her hand drifted up of its own accord, and brushed over his soft lower lip. He stared at her with a particularly kind of intensity only Logan could manage, that made her insides melt, her knees weak and all those other kinds of romance novel clichés.
They both moved forward in unison, their mouths meeting in a tangle of lips, tongue and teeth. His hands moved down to circle her small waist as her arms wrapped around his neck, drawing him closer.
"Veronica," Logan murmured, moving gently away. "We shouldn't."
"I know," she replied softly, wistfulness colouring her tone.
"So, pasta?" he asked again, pulling a pack down from the cupboard. She watched as he busied himself, reaching up to find the pasta, his back muscles rippling through his t-shirt. He turned back to look at her, desperate longing shining clear in his warm brown eyes. She jerked in surprise as his arms suddenly wrapped around her again, their lips meeting frantically.
She had missed him with an aching intensity, just being them, as she melted into the kiss. They backed up towards the sofa slowly.
"This is a bad idea," he muttered, as they fell back against the cushions.
"I know," she repeated again, although this time it came out slightly more shut-up-and-carry-on.
"How will it work this time, when we couldn't do it before?" he asked.
"We just will," she said firmly.
She could feel his skin against hers, as they shared each other's warmth. They lay across the sofa, a thin blanket covering them. Her head rested on his chest, his strong arm holding her tightly across the small of her back, like he was afraid to let go. She slowly traced circular patterns on his side. Glancing up, she caught his eye and he smiled lazily.
"Have you ever spoken to Lilly?" she asked. He gave her a baffled look and she shook her head slightly. "I mean, after…"
"After she died?" he finished, her forehead wrinkling.
She sighed, wishing she hadn't said anything. "Never mind."
He reached up and brushed a stand of golden hair out of her face. "I used to see her all the time. In the hallways at school, in crowds, out of the corner of my eye. I'd talk to her, especially when I was drunk."
Veronica nodded. "I thought I saw her sometimes too," she admitted. "Maybe sometimes we're just better off not knowing."
"You mean leave it a mystery?" Logan's eyebrow rose teasingly. "How ever will you sleep at night?" She smiled, punching him gently in the arm.
Things weren't perfect. It wouldn't be her life if there wasn't disaster after disaster, but she could bounce back, perhaps just a little more damaged each time, but still intact. Veronica knew things were going to hit the fan, again, but it was the season to be jolly, and she still had a night to hide away with the man she loved. But she knew what she had to do first.
"Logan, there's something I've got to go and do," Veronica said. "Can I meet you at your place a bit later?"
"Will you tell me what's wrong then?" he asked softly. "I know it's more than your dad."
She hesitated before she nodded. "I will, later. I promise," she replied.
The lights had been dimmed along the hospital hallway, so the patients could get some sleep. Only a small light remained on the nurse's station. Linda looked up as Veronica approached with a welcome smile.
"Hello again, Veronica."
"I'm not doing it," Veronica said, "not until my dad gets home. Then we'll make the decision together."
Linda nodded. "That's a good idea," she replied. "Would you like to go and spend some time with her?
Veronica glanced down at the floor before she nodded. "That would be good."
She opened the door quietly, taking in the sight of her mother lying still on the bed, as she perched down on the seat next to her. She reached under the sheet for one of Lianne's bruised hands. She winced at the needle marks that decorated her pale thin skin as she entwined her fingers through her mother's; trying to think only of her mother that she loved and missed. She reached up and wiped away one of the tears that slipped down her cheek.
"Hi, mom," she began softly.