Author's Note: Thank you to those who read and reviewed Finally. I appreciate it more than you can ever know. A few people asked for more, and while I had intended my ode to Logan to stand alone, I realized I still needed a bit more closure…and wanted to play with the food-court interchange too. Sorta. So at any rate, here's the sequel…please take a second to review this too. Thanks for reading, hopefully you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Not mine
She wasn't avoiding him. Honestly, she wasn't.
Of course she wasn't exactly seeking him out, either.
And she may have been praying to Allah, Buddha, Alanis Morrisette, whoever, that she didn't run into him unexpectedly. But she wasn't avoiding him. Really.
She knew, from the outside, it probably looked like his words hadn't affected her, like the simple act of him leaving her, for once, hadn't changed something deep inside the seemingly impenetrable Veronica Mars. It probably looked like she was doing what she was always doing when it came to him, came to anything that made her feel vulnerable: running and hiding; denying and evading. But she knew this time it was different. She would meet this head on, march up and face him, own up to everything. She had to, because after she'd stopped crying, after she'd breezed past a confused Dick (assuring him she'd take care of him later), after she'd searched the lobby, the bar, the parking garage of the Grande, and found him nowhere, she really and truly actually thought, maybe for the first time ever, that she'd never hear him say he loved her again…and nothing in the danger-filled, turbulent 19 years of her life had ever scared her so much.
So despite appearances, this time was different; she was different.
But she had needed to wait. So she could process everything he said completely. So he could cool down. So the other messes of her life (investigating the Castle; her rematch with Clarence Weidman and Jake Kane; fighting with her father and stressing over all of this' effects on his election) could smooth and calm.
And really she just needed to find the courage to tell Piz that it was over. And something maybe a little more than courage so she could tell Logan… well, tell Logan everything.
Just walking into the food court, she felt herself tense up and she was suddenly on high-alerted edge. Her ears listened for more talk of her nude video debut, her eyes searched for the several powerful enemies she'd made in the last few days, her entire body waited for the familiar tingle that said Logan was near.
All of her senses found what they were looking for at once, and she almost feels physically overwhelmed by it. Holding her chin up high, her eyes straight out and defiant, she goes about the business of getting her lunch and tries to ignore the several sets of eyes she can feel following her every move.
Turning slowly to keep a good balance of her tray, she almost walked directly into chest of Logan Echolls. Looking up at him she could feel her cheeks flush slightly, and a particularly inhibiting lump take up residence in her throat. Her eyes met his and she knew he could see her discomfort plainly, and she was pretty sure he was amused by it. She smiled shyly and nodded as she backed a bit away to give more appropriate distance between them, and then redirected herself to finding a table, relieved when he fell in step beside her.
She'd wanted a bit more time to prepare; she wasn't sure exactly how to say what she thought she wanted to say. Glancing at him nervously again, she recognized the horrible twirling and flipping and spinning of her stomach from the time she'd stood hesitantly outside his door, the morning after the alterna-prom. And of course that reminded her of everything else from that day…including the salty taste of her own tears. But now he had come to her, even after pointing out, quite articulately, that she didn't deserve it, and she let herself hope that she wouldn't be left so heartbroken after this encounter. She slid her tray onto the first empty table they found and took her seat.
He still stood, hesitant, as if he was waiting for her to say something, anything, before he made the decision whether to stay or not.
She didn't know where this conversation was going to go, especially since she was still technically with Piz, but she did know where to start.
She sucked in a deep breath, and looked up at him, her unusually expressive eyes pleading with him. "Logan. I am so very sorry." She heard her voice shake and for once didn't immediately scold herself internally for showing weakness.
They both opened their mouths to speak, simultaneously shutting them when they noticed the other about to say something. They laughed uneasily at the coincidence. He still hadn't sat, but seemed to indicate with his eyebrow for her to go ahead.
Wringing her hands under the table she turned her body a little more towards his, licked her lips before parting them, only to be cut off as another male figure moved in front of her, cutting between Logan and the table to pull out a chair and sit squarely in front of her. Gory's entire body radiated danger and over-confidence, and Veronica couldn't help having a brief flash of his confessional play in her mind as the hair on the back of her neck tingled and perked up straight.
She briefly registered the indignant disbelief that Logan displayed; he was obviously annoyed by Gory's intrusion. She didn't get to concentrate on his reaction long, though, as her unwanted guest spoke, placing her bug mock-delicately on the table between them. "I was hoping I'd see you. I didn't want to carry that around forever. You left it behind in my room."
His tone was faux-casual, lined with threat and malice, and Veronica wondered if her life would ever be, could ever be, full of people who sounded legitimately happy to see her. She doubted it.
He leaned forward, letting any of the faked civility slip from his face and voice, his eyes glazed with loathing and challenge. "You know what? I'm glad we caught you on hidden camera. And I'm glad it's such a popular email attachment, because you're a real bitch. You know what you should do with your sudden popularity? Just lay back and enjoy it."
He left the table, smug and swaggering, and Veronica bit the inside of her cheek to silent her impulse to high light for the public every one of his many flaws, before assuring him she would ruin his life. But for once she thought having the last word wasn't worth the risk.
And that's why she felt a sudden panic when she noticed Logan again, his eyes shooting daggers into the retreating form, his hands clenched into fists. She saw the slightest jittering of his legs and knew he was bouncing on the balls of his feet. He looked at her, then, his eyes asking permission and she knew the set of that jaw so well. But Gory was a dangerous man…and Logan really couldn't just go around punching everyone who insulted her. For one thing, there were just too damn many of them.
"Logan, don't. He's connected. Connected connected." Her voice had just the tiniest bit of begging to it and she tried to warn him with her eyes.
His head nodded, slightly, but his eyes flickered with surprise, and maybe disappointment. "Oh. Yeah, I was wondering. Didn't seem like you to shrug it off."
She offered him a tiny smile and a half shrug. She repositioned her chair and looked briefly at the table to grab her water bottle. Bringing it to her lips, she took a sip to wash down the bad taste Gory's words had left in her mouth, and turned to ask Logan to sit with her, hear her out. When she noticed he was no longer there. Her eyes darted, expression pained, looking for him on the edges of the exits, but he wasn't there. Then she heard the commotion behind her, and stood to turn towards where Gory had gone just moments before and she felt her stomach pinch with dread.
In a blur of violent energy, Logan pulled and pushed and punched Gory to the floor before her. And she stood, slightly gaping, along with the rest of food court full of observers.
The two boys stilled, Gory lying on his back glaring up at Logan, Logan glaring defiantly right back, but the raw tension crackled in the air between them, around them, and Veronica shuddered.
"Want to hear your friend apologize?" The lilt of Logan's voice was one she'd recognized, had heard a thousand times before. It was reminiscent of his psychotic jackass days, but it also revealed what she hoped was still affection for her. She had the image of a cat bringing a slain snake proudly before its master, and she calmed a little, almost smiling.
Somehow seeing the man responsible for so much of her current troubles laid out hardened her voice, restored her bite. "I'm not interested in his apology. But I would like my pen back." Reaching down to retrieve it, she didn't shy away from Gory's dangerous stare. She looked up at Logan again, and found that his lips quirked slightly up at the corners and his face glistened so slightly from sweat. His eyes were fully focused on her, the resulting expression somewhat adoring.
She felt the tension and fear leave her body, her back straightened and her eyes brightened. After all, she was the legendary Veronica Mars. She wasn't afraid of anything, and she certainly never walked away from a fight. Logan Echolls knew that, loved her for that; and in the moment she thought she loved him a little bit more for reminding her of it.
She hoped the look she was giving might have told him that.
Their stare was broken as Gory started to sit up, harsh face set and determined, his voice was icy and sounded disturbingly honest. "Whoever you are, you are gonna die."
Logan's tone was unfazed, amused, and his smirk was easy. "Yeah. Someday."
Veronica felt the huff of a small laugh push forth quietly from her chest, smirking herself. When it came down to it, Logan Echolls wasn't afraid of much anything either. Maybe that's why she needed him so badly.
In the haze of the commotion, she barely noticed as Piz arrived, now standing somewhere between her and Logan, and she wondered briefly at the symbolism.
She held her breath as she watched Logan's attention turn to her boyfriend. "Ah, Piz. Just who I was looking for. Listen, man. I am truly sorry…for everything." And she felt herself react to the utter earnestness she heard in his voice. She was almost mesmerized, so she barely registered he was leaving as she watched him start to walk away.
Then her mind woke up, she felt something jump start inside herself. She knew Piz was watching her watch him. She'd explain it to him later, and mumbled something to that effect as she walked briskly passed her boyfriend, hoping to catch Logan.
Once she was somewhat clear of the din of the cafeteria, because naturally every one who had just witnessed the scene instantly began talking about it, she called for him to wait. She hoped she could assume that he just didn't hear her as she watched his lean frame get farther away, and determinedly broke out into a run.
Finally getting close enough, she slowed to a jog for the last few steps between them and breathed out his name.
He stopped then, and looked genuinely surprised to see her there. "Veronica?" His eyes were wide and brown and beautiful, and looked for the first time in a very long time like they honestly expected nothing from her. And that made her chest ache with sadness.
Suddenly, her earlier nerves returned, wiping out the adrenaline that had been rushing through her moments before, and in a slight panic she tried to sound casual, despite having just chased him down. "I think we were on the verge of a pretty important conversation back there, you know before you went all fists-of-fury."
He gave her a small smile, but it didn't really reach his eyes. His eyes looked over her, past her, where she just came from, and she wished briefly that she could read his mind. He sighed and looked down at her critically, and she could feel herself blush slightly under his scrutiny. Finally, his gaze loosened slightly and his tone was tired. "And what conversation was that, Mars? I think I said all I needed to. And you've already said you're sorry. Which I appreciate, even if it is a bit overdue."
His eyes left hers again, and she felt colder immediately. "There's more, Logan. There's so much more."
"More what? Apologies? Veronica, really, you may require them repeated and carefully specified by offense, but I just needed the one and I believe you. I believe you're sorry."
"Then why are you being like this?"
"Like you can't wait to get as far away from me as you can."
"I believe you're sorry. But I don't believe you'd do anything differently if given the chance, even if you are starting to finally understand just what it did to me. So, I pray you'll excuse me if it isn't everything I hoped for."
"Won't you just listen to me? Maybe…ugh." She let out a low frustrated grunt before continuing. She was usually so articulate. "Maybe I'll surprise you."
He chuckled lightly, but it seemed a sad sound to Veronica. "Maybe you will. Maybe you'll say things I never expected to hear. Maybe I'll be blown away by what you're finally able and willing to reveal. But since I expect very little, Veronica, even if you do surprise me, it probably won't be enough."
She knew he saw the hurt she didn't bother to mask, and it looked like guilt joined the sadness in his eyes. Still he didn't seem to soften, and she suddenly felt very desperate.
"Logan, please. I understand now, okay. I get it. I understand that I didn't deserve how much you lov-"
She was stunned at his sudden burst of vehemence as he cut her off by snapping, "No, you don't understand."
She took in how fiercely his eyes flared up, how his voice seemed to shake as he continued. "It isn't that you didn't deserve how much I loved you, God help me, still love you. It's just that I didn't deserve how much you didn't love me."
She knew her eyes were welling up. Her lip was quivering, and her arms wrapped tightly around herself as she futilely tried to regain some warmth and security. But she saw him tense, like he just remembered something, and he looked at her.
"Like this, Veronica. Your apology, your effort, is all because I finally stood up to you. Didn't just take the reprimand with downcast eyes and desperate pleas for forgiveness. But if that hadn't happened, where would be right now? At the Grande, what had you come to say to me?"
"I, uh-" Veronica felt herself choke a little at her surprise, and she felt the waiting tears on the brim of her eyes fall free at last down her cheeks. "I, God, Logan…I was going to tell you we were over. Like completely, in any way, shape, or form over. That you were out of my life." Feeling so much remorse, so much disgust with herself, she let out a slew of soft curses under her breath.
Logan's eyes rolled to the sky in frustrated hurt, and she felt her shame, so painfully real, shoot through every single inch of her. "But damn it, Logan, I wouldn't have meant it."
He looked at her now, wincing skeptically. "What the hell does that mean, Veronica?"
"It means I say stupid things because I hurt, and I put all of that into anger, and that's the only emotion I ever let run free. I let it boil up and over, and then lash out, say things that aren't true, not really once the anger fades. And especially at you, it's always ten times worse with you. I didn't bother to think first or hold back with you. Because up until the other day I was foolish enough to believe you'd just let me get away with it. Always. I didn't realize that's what I thought, but it is. I was convinced you'd always take me back, Logan."
Veronica's voice was shaking and low, her eyes searched his for any reassurance that it wasn't already too late. "Now, I'm not willing to test that."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that I'm so sorry. I'm saying I took you for granted. I'm saying I used you. I'm saying I blamed you for so much bad you didn't do, and really never gave you credit for all the good you did. I'm saying that I was selfish. I'm saying that I narrow minded and self-righteous. I'm saying that I set us up to fail. I'm saying that I am sorry and that I loved you, Logan. I did. It's just that everything else I was doing over-shadowed that. So I wouldn't have to look at it; so you couldn't see it. Because loving you scared me more than I knew how to handle. But it was there. It's still there."
He was quiet for a long time. Her eyes had stayed locked on his with every word she spoke, until 'love' came out. Then he turned his face away and down and she wondered if he'd stopped listening.
She stared at the tremble that ran through his body, at the flexing of his jaw. She was pretty sure that meant he'd heard.
Slowly he lifted his gaze back up to her, but she was surprised by how hard it was. How dark his eyes were. "Does loving me still scare you?"
"Not nearly as much you not loving me."
He snorted slightly, before muttering. "Well, I'm afraid that's not possible."
She wanted to rejoice at that; wanted to squeal with delight, throw her arms around his neck, and kiss him hard and long. But that still didn't seem possible, not when his eyes were starting to tear and his voice came out pained, almost bitter.
"Fuck, what does this mean, Veronica? So you're saying you did love me, that you do love me. Do you know how long I've waited to hear that? How long I wished, desperately, that maybe one day it'd be true? Yet finally having it, I still can't enjoy it. Because even if you loved me, you left me. More times than Dick can count. So, are we just perpetuating the breaking of my heart, here? Is that what you're giving me? You're giving me all I've ever wanted, just so you can destroy me with it? The whole 'Careful what you wish for' ordeal?"
Her body rumbled with a heavy sob, and he looked at her like he had just noticed she was crying. He watched her, his want to reach out and comfort her apparent, but his distance, with his hands planted firmly in his pockets, proved his need to not get pulled in again had won out.
She finally got her breathing back under control, just in time to hear him ask carefully, "What do you want from me?"
She answered so quickly, he looked at her surprised and she hoped that it meant it was okay to step towards him. "I want everything you have, everything you are. Everything you were promising last time; and everything else." He didn't move away, just continued to stare at her; hopeful, fearful, disbelieving. She stepped in again, it was probably the closest she'd been to him in months, and whispered. "And this time I'm willing to give you everything in return."
His eyes searched hers for sincerity, for truth and when he let out a choked sob of his own she suspected it was because he was overwhelmed by what he found.
"I love you, Logan," she breathed as she rose slowly to her tip toes, and kissed him much like she had for the very first time, soft on the corner of his mouth. Pulling back slightly, just to lean in again, everything around her dimmed into indistinctness and her ears were bombarded with their breath, their heartbeats. She could feel every tiny spec of her hum with the anticipation of him, she felt herself ignite with want and pleaded with the gods he'd never ask her to give that feeling up.
And just as their lips were about to meet, Logan stepped back. She moved to follow him, but he held up his hands and kept her away. Her face fell as she felt herself shatter, and somewhere in her mind she heard the rueful thought that for all her efforts to protect herself, to prevent him from having the power to do this very thing to her, he managed to get all that power anyway. And maybe if she hadn't bothered to set booby traps and build walls, he never would have used it.
Suddenly she couldn't breathe, her brain shifted and left her with just the mantra of "too little, too late" in her head. She backed away, trying desperately to fill her lungs before she physically died too.
Everything was dizzy and dark and painful, so unbelievably painful, and if she could think, could breathe, she might have wondered if this was what he felt like. Each and every time.
If she'd have asked him, he'd have told her yes.
Her sights were so clouded, her body collapsing, that she didn't realized until it was too late that he had grabbed her, stopped her from retreating, and pulled her to his chest.
"Shhh, shhhh. Veronica." And his voice sounded so good, his fingers trailing up and down her back and arms felt so good, alleviated the pain just enough for her to survive, that she let him calm her down in a way that only he could.
When her lungs no longer burned, and her sobs subsided, and all that she was left with was hiccups and her heartache, she finally untangled herself from his arms. Devastated was the closest word to watch she felt, and it somehow fell significantly short, but she would no longer burden him with her tears. After smoothing her clothes and wiping frantically under her eyes, she finally braved looking back to him and was astonished to find him smiling at her.
She interpreted it as mocking, and her cheeks flushed in embarrassed agony. "I'm sorry, Logan. And I won't bother you again." She pushed the words out quickly, preparing to run away, faster than she ever had before, where he answered and froze her immediately.
"Your love doesn't bother me. It's that pesky little boyfriend."
Her eyes shot to his, in surprise and in hope she could kick her own ass for feeling.
He playfully chuckled at her expression. "Did you honestly think I didn't want to kiss you, Mars? Because that would just be stupid. But I refuse to start something I can't finish. And I don't, uh, finish with taken girls. Not anymore."
Veronica's mouth hurt from the speed with which it curled up and across her face, creating a smile wider than Logan had ever seen.
"So, you, um. You're willing to… uh?"
"Love you forever, yes. I just insist you go break up with him first."
Her eyes were red rimmed, her lips chapped. Her make up was smeared, and her tears had dried into streaks down each cheek. But her whole body reacted with relief and she smiled at him, so eager and obviously in love with him, and he'd never ever seen her look more beautiful. He let out a true laugh as she came and hugged him tightly, kissing every inch of his face but his lips, and whispered a conspiring, "Meet me at your suite in 30 minutes."
She started to pull away, apparently impatient to make things official, when he caught her hand, his voice soft but insistent. "Say it again."
"I love you."
Logan smiled and let her hand go. "Then hurry, Mars. Hurry. I intend to make you prove it."
He watched her run back to the cafeteria, his already painfully-wide smile growing when she paused, just a moment, to look back at him longingly, lovingly, silently promising him just what she had said: everything.
And he really believed her.