Title: "Fractured Dreams"

Part 1/2

Characters/Pairings: Logan/Veronica, Veronica/Duncan, Keith

Rating: PG-13 (for some language)

Spoilers: This is a future fic so you should know what happened in the whole series but there isn't anything episode specific.

Disclaimers: You should know, I should know, they should know by now. I don't own anything. It's all Rob Thomas.

A/N: I'm still working on my story "The Realization of a Lifetime," I promise. It's just that this fic was worming its way through my brain and wouldn't be ignored. I should have the next chapter of that up soon along with the second installment of this.

Please, please review and let me know if you like it or not. I guess if you don't, I won't have to bother finishing the second part.

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She told herself that this would never happen. That she'd made the right choices in life and there would never be a need for regrets and disappointments. Of course that was before Logan Echolls decided to show up on her doorstep two days before her wedding to Duncan Kane, profusely spouting declarations of love and destiny. And his version of destiny wasn't with her riding off into the sunset with the software prince charming, it was being whisked away by the dread pirate Echolls. No, no... this is definitely not happening.

"Logan... You just can't show up out of the blue and tell me you love me and that I can't marry Duncan. You've been in Hollywood too long...It just doesn't work like that."

"Veronica..."

"Look, I'm not sure what you expected to come of this grand gesture but it's about, I dunna know... six years to late. I love Duncan, I'm marrying Duncan." she said soundly in an attempt to either derail his intentions or reassure herself of her own. Which, she wasn't sure.

"Yeah, well I had a grand gesture planned for then, too, but Duncan had to go and ruin it."

"Don't you dare blame this on Duncan. Don't blame your issues... what grand gesture?"

The sadness invaded him and desperation started to take over. He didn't know what to expect when he came here but Veronica's indifference was begging to unnerve him. In all their years as lovers, friends, enemies, not once had she been so unaffected by him. And that scared him.

"Never mind. I doesn't matter now. I... just... God, Veronica... you just can't marry Duncan, ok?"

"Wow! Now that's enough to get a girl swooning. Let me just make a call right now and cancel the wedding. Any girl would love to have the famous Logan Echolls and I should feel lucky that he wants me at all... I should just drop my Fiancé two days before the wedding and come running into his waiting arms."

Logan leaned back on the balls of his feet, running his left through his already tousled hair and let out a deep sigh.

"God, Logan... is that how you pictured it... I'd just come running back to you, dumping Duncan without a backwards glance?"

"Why not? That's what you did, isn't it," Logan asked, the bitterness almost tangible.

Veronica stilled, squared her shoulders and prepared for the inevitable battle that was to come. So far their exchange had been fairly calm but all that was about to change in one long, deep intake of breath.

"You. Left. Me. Remember? I believe your exact words were 'I was wrong to think you could ever replace Lilly' before walking out the door and to your new life."

Logan had the good sense to hang his head in shame. He had said that. He knew just what to say to really make it sting. They had too much practice, knew each others weaknesses too well, had too much experience in hitting below the belt. But god, seeing her in Duncan's arms that morning had left him teetering on the edge. And when he found out their little secret... well let's just say it sent him leaping head first into whatever oblivion was waiting for him.

"Now, please Logan, just leave. Lilly's still dead and I still can't be her so just stop pretending that it was ever me that you wanted."

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Flashback

The day was finally here. This day would be perfect. Both he and Veronica were graduating from Hearst College and it was going to be the beginning of the rest of their lives together. He had been to New York a few months earlier to go shopping. He had told Veronica that it had been to take care of some unfinished business with his parents estate but it'd really been a ruse. His real intentions were far more important. After spending more than three hours in Tiffany's he'd finally chosen the perfect symbol of his everlasting love.

Graduation wasn't until two o'clock but Logan had decided start the day out with a surprise. He wanted this day to be magical for Veronica. Stopping by her favorite bakery he picked up two of each pastry and then swung by Starbucks for her favorite coffee before making his way to her apartment. He was giddy with excitement, feeling more like a school boy than a college graduate, but that's what Veronica did to him. And he could say, he didn't mind it in the least.

He was sure she would still be asleep so he used the key that she'd given him and let himself in. His heart plummeted to his stomach when he took in the sight in front of him. Duncan Kane. Duncan Kane in Veronica's living room. Hugging Veronica. And she was smiling. Happy, smiling Veronica in the arms of another man. But not just any man. Duncan Kane.

Logan walked over and put the box of pastries and the two coffees on the bar before he unceremoniously dropped them on the floor. Looking up from her embrace of Duncan, Veronica spotted him. He did not look happy. Taken off guard by his surprise visit, the words could only stumble ungracefully out of her mouth.

"Logan! Um... hi!... What are you doing here?"

She was trying for nonchalant but instead, it just coming out desperate.

He took one step closer, the anger evident in his eyes but even more so in his voice.

"I came to surprise my girl-friend, but I guess I'm the one with the surprise."

Duncan, seemingly oblivious to Logan's anger or the tension in the room moved to shake Logan's hand. Logan never moved, never took his steely stare off Veronica. Finally getting the vibe that maybe it was a bad time to come, Duncan started to apologize to them.

"Veronica, I'm sorry I came by so early. I know you wanted to wait to later this afternoon but I couldn't wait to see you." He glanced towards Logan before continuing, "To see you both. And Veronica, I just wanted to thank you again for helping me. I could have never returned if is wasn'tfor you."

And with that Duncan gave them both apologetic looks and left.

Veronica could feel Logan's anger building up just waiting to be released. She tried to head him off.

"Logan you don't understand. It was..."

"How long, Veronica?"

"But if you'd..."

"How long!!"

Veronica visibly flinched at his shouting but it wasn't enough to keep him in check. His girlfriend, the love of his life had been secretly plotting to bring her long lost first love back into her life. The betrayal that Logan felt in that moment was immeasurable.

She hung her head a answered meekly.

"A little over a year."

Veronica braced herself for the inevitable verbal onslaught but it never came. She looked up at him and was surprised to find him smiling. But it wasn't a happy smile. It was forced and it was one of the smirk's he wore back during his jackass days right before he was ready to dig deep into his arsenal of wounding words.

"You know what, Ron-nie? You can have your precious Duncan. After all, we're both just trying to replace our true loves with each other, right?"

Veronica recoiled at his harshness. She never thought Logan could go that low... at least not the Logan she knew and loved, now. Tears were threatening but she clenched her jaw hard and took deep breaths to keep them from flowing. He was reverting back to his old self and her natural defenses started kicking in. She wouldn't let him see her cry, wouldn't let him know her words cut her so deeply.

But Logan knew his words were like knives. He knew he was hitting Veronica hard even though she was trying her best not to show it. He knew that he should stop now and drop down on his knees and beg for her forgiveness. But the hurt was deep, the betrayal fresh and he was too far gone to stop now. Everything he had worked so hard to become for himself and for Veronica was being crushed in the matter of ten minutes. And the trek back up that mountain just seemed too long and too hard to try again. So he might as well make the most of being at the bottom.

"I was wrong to think you could ever replace Lilly."

Logan served her with an icy glare before stomping out the door and slamming it behind him. The door was barely latched before both he and Veronica were reduced to tears, feeling their loss simultaneously.

End Flashback

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Damn. He'd been a bastard. It was what had kept him away all those years. Too ashamed that he could ever hurt someone he loved so much and too afraid she would never, ever forgive him. He felt his heart drop and the lump in his chest growing exponentially. But he was here now and he couldn't let their story end that way. It wasn't really meant to end at all.

How was he going to make her realize it? He'd been so stupid back then, letting his insecurities get the best of him. She would probably never forgive him but if he could just touch her... just kiss her... she would remember. Secret kisses, gentle caresses, skin ablaze with passion, her body surely would remember what her mind was trying to block out. He wanted her to remember what things were like before that night.

When he looked up at her again he could see the tell-tell signs of anger creeping over her whole body. Her face was flushed hot pink and she was taking great pains to keep her jaw clenched and her breath even.

"Veronica..." he said breathlessly, "You know that's not..."

He was abruptly silenced as the breeze caused by the slamming of a large wooden door blew over him. He didn't know what in the world made him think that this was ever going to be easy. Come on Logan, did you think the she would just fall right back in your arms... that she'd just been biding her time until you came to your senses. He guesses he probably did. God, he was such a prick sometimes and all those ass- kissers in Hollywood weren't helping at all.

Well, there was one good thing. Angry Veronica was back and that was something he could work with. He definitely knew how to handle an angry Veronica. He steeled his resolve and raised his hand again to the door that had just been slammed in his face. He wasn't going to take the hint. Knocking loudly, he strained to hear tiny feet stomping towards the door. Silence. Surely she didn't think that ignoring him would work. Didn't she know him better than that?

"I'm not going away Veronica. You better open the door before your neighbors start getting really nosy. You wouldn't want Duncan..."

The door flew open as abruptly as it had been closed, revealing a infuriated tiny blond. Her arms were crossed across her chest, linked protectively by her hands clasping her elbows; her brow was furrowed and one eyebrow perked up trying to convey her best pissed off expression. Then there was of course the foot tap. Veronica's left foot angled out slightly, tapping furiously on the hardwood floor of the entryway. It was the cutest damn thing he'd ever scene.

"Go..."

Before she had a chance to get another word out of that beautiful pink pursed mouth, Logan lunged at her, assaulting her lips with his own. He reached his left hand around her back and circled her waist with his right, both in an attempt to keep her from falling backwards and to keep her from escaping.

At first she tried to pull away from him, keeping her lips sealed tight as to ward off Logan's advances but soon it just became futile. She wanted this, had longed for his touch for so long. It didn't matter how long it'd been, though, just one touch of his lips against hers and her skin was on fire, her heart pounding profusely. Her body could never forget the things he could do. No one else had ever come close.

Logan slammed the door with his foot and hefted her up. She immediately wrapped her legs around his waist, never breaking the contact between them. Her hands were in his hair, trying desperately to bring him closer. She would crawl inside him if it were possible. His lips broke from hers only to follow her chin down to that spot on her neck that drove her wild with desire. He found it quickly and sucked lightly, eliciting a gasp from Veronica. All thoughts became incoherent but she managed to muddle a few things between moans.

"Bedroom... that way," she breathed, pointing in the direction of her bedroom.

Logan cut his eyes to where she was pointing and began to carry her in that direction. A few bumps into the wall later and they were falling onto her bed still kissing each other frantically. He began to murmur endearments between kisses letting her know the things he had wanted to say since she opened that door.

"Oh, god... Veronica... missed you... missed this... love you."

Veronica grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it off, relishing the feel of his hard, toned chest against her seeking hands.

She had gone to see one of his movies once. He had been shirtless in one of the scenes and it was all she could do not to flush completely with the memory of his body on top of hers. She remembered being so terrified that Duncan, who was sitting beside her, would notice. But of course being typical Dunc... Omigod... Duncan. I can't do this.

"Stop! Logan stop!"

Logan, slightly panicked, looked up from the unbuttoning of her shirt by his large,deft hands.

"I can't do this, Logan. I'm sorry."

She could see the disappointment and heartbreak written all over his face but his deep amber eyes shone with understanding. Logan could convey more emotions at the same time than anyone she'd ever known. That's why she had been so scared early in their relationship. She could see the needlovedesire in his face, in his eyes, and the intensity had both thrilled and frightened her at the same time.

Veronica moved off the bed towards her dresser and began to button her shirt back up. She couldn't look Logan in the eyes right now. To do so would just weaken her resolve. She had waited for this moment, waited for Logan to show up with his apologies and declarations of love, for years. When she realized he was never going to come she'd finally said 'yes' to Duncan and now here he was expecting her just to forget and forgive and fall into his waiting arms. And yet, that's exactly what she wanted to do.

She stayed silent for minute and Logan let her collect her thoughts. It wouldn't do to push her too hard now.

"I love Duncan, Logan, I really do."

"But not like you love me."

"I'm not going to even dignify that with a response."

Her back was to him but he heard her sigh and could see her shoulders slump, a sure sign of tiredness and defeat.

"It's different... I love you both differently."

Still unable to look at him, Veronica let out a deep breath, one she'd been holding for six years.

"It was for you, you know."

Logan was confused but Veronica, sensing it, quickly continued.

"I helped him come back, for you. For little Lilly, too, but mostly for you. It was going to be a surprise... a graduation surprise. He was your best friend once upon a time and I just wanted someone from your old life besides me to see the man you had become."

She turned around to face him, her eyes telling him that she'd come to some sort of absolution but he didn't miss the defeat still bracing her body.

"Don't do this Logan... please don't do this. Don't turn me into my mother. I love you... you know I do but I can't do that... I can't be her. I made him a promise and I made little Lilly a promise and I intend to keep them both. Don't make me a cheater and a deserter. We've both seen too many broken promises by the people we loved most. And I know what your thinking... if I go through with this wedding then I'll be just like her but I'll be faithful, I'll keep those promises. And I will never, ever abandon my family. So please...you have to be the strong one this time. If you ever loved me at all you'll let me marry Duncan."

"God, Veronica. You know I did... I do. I love you and would do anything for you but do you know what you're asking?"

"Yes. I'm asking you to keep me from despising myself."

Veronica had never pleaded with him about anything and now here she was, in the intimacy of her own bedroom begging him to keep her from turning into the one thing she feared the most... begging him to be the better person. The irony wasn't lost on him. The question was, could he do it?

Could he walk out that door, out of Veronica's inner sanctum and out of her life forever? He had done it once before but had been living in the hell of his mistake ever since. After all, he had come her to win her back, beg her for her forgiveness. Looking at her, the utter fear of becoming her mother was emitting from every pore of her body. For once in her life, Veronica Mars looked helpless. She actually needed Logan Echolls to save her from herself. He knew that it would only take one long step towards her, she would fall into his arms, they would make love and then she would be his again. But at what cost? God, he loved her but he loved her too much to take her soul.

"Ok... ok," he drew out slowly, trying to mask the cracking of his voice.

She looked at him and had he not been looking so close he would have missed the look of gratitude in her eyes. He had done the right thing and she was thankful. She nodded slowly, keeping the tears that were threatening to fall at bay.

"So... I guess this is good-bye. We can't... we don't need to see each other again."

Logan swallowed the lump in his throat and let out a cough that half sounded like a sob.

"Right."

A moment passed, then two but neither one could seem to break the gaze they held with each other. A world of memories: innocent laughter, blond, long-haired girls, stolen kisses, epic speeches, rooftop revelations, cafeteria brawls and teary-eyed reunions all passed through the air between them. Their past, this present, someone's else's future, fractured dreams, repressed love. That's what they had to look forward to and back upon. Logan and Veronica's story together may have to end here but both knew their love never would.

Logan was the first to break both their intense gaze and wordless longings.

"I should go. I can let myself out."

Pausing briefly, he decided he couldn't leave it like this. Not without telling her once more how much he was sorry for and how much he truly loved her and only her.

"Veronica, I lov..."

She stopped him quickly with a open palm in the air.

"Please Logan. Don't. Don't make this any harder," she begged, squeezing her eyes shut for fear of looking at him.

He silently acquiesced before turning on a heel, making his way to the front door.

"Logan... wait..."

He tried to hide the immense hope welling up in his chest and filtering through his eyes before he turned around to face her. Hope apparently does spring eternal but after all, she is Veronica Mars, this could go either way. The moment he turned around to find her unchanged demeanor he inwardly cursed the whole damn concept of hope.

"Please don't come to the wedding."

He nodded quickly and walked out the door before his heart could break any more. The question that was plaguing him when he got here of whether he had waited too long had been answered. He had let the jealousy and bitterness drive him for far too long. Now it was too late.

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Veronica stared at herself in the mirror before opening the beautifully wrapped package sitting on the dressing room table. She forced a smile, taking in the slight lines around her eyes. Why did Logan have to come back? She was doing just fine without him dredging up hidden feelings and old regrets. But it didn't matter. She had made a promise to be Duncan's wife and she had kept that promise at all costs, including a perpetual breaking heart. She really did love Duncan. If she didn't she wouldn't have been able to stand in front of four hundred-plus people and promise to love, cherish and obey till death do them part. It could just never be the soul-consuming, earth shattering, skin burning, heart bulging kind of love that her and Logan had shared.

She returned her focus to the small square box adorned with silver paper and coordinating ribbon. No doubt from Duncan. A 'thanks for marrying me' gift if you will. That was Duncan, always thoughtful. It brought a genuine smile to her face that quickly fell as she opened the box, taking in the handwriting of the letter that sat inside. The letter was accompanied by a even smaller box in a very recognizable blue color. She reached in with shaky hands and opened the letter addressed 'Bobcat.' The tears began to well in her eyes as she read the words of Logan's heartfelt scrawl.

Dearest Veronica,

I know you told me to stay away but I couldn't. I had to see you on your day. Don't worry I stayed completely out of sight, no one recognized me. I just needed to see what it was like, needed to imagine what it would be like if it was me up there with you, needed fuel for my dreams. By the way, you looked breathtaking. I know you took mine, but then, you always did.

Veronica, I know that we can't be together and that you said we shouldn't see each other at all, but I have to ask one thing. Will you give me one day a year? Just one day to see you? We don't have talk or whatever, just let me see you and maybe exchange letters telling each other what's going on in our lives. Please. I know I really messed up but I'm asking for this one small thing. Our love deserves at least that. If you agree, meet me at Redemption Point just south of San Diego on September 7th of next year at 3:00pm. I'll be waiting.

And Veronica, one more thing. I just wanted you to know what it meant to me that you trusted me to be a better man. I'll never forget it.

Yours, always and forever,

LE

P.S. The ring is yours. I was going to propose the night I walked out on you. I'm so sorry I gave up on you, on us, and even more sorry about those things I said. You know it's always been you, never Lilly. Anyways, I wanted you to have it.

Veronica did her best to wipe her tears away but it was no use, they just kept falling faster. She opened the Tiffany's box to reveal a black velvet one. The ring inside was beautiful. One simple solitaire, she guessed about two carats, mounted on a plain platinum band. Simple, elegant, classic... just what she would have wanted. She glimpsed at the ring set currently on her left hand and couldn't help but compare the two. Logan had always understood her, always knew what she wanted. It was going to be hard to remember sometimes why she didn't follow her heart, consequences be damned.

A knock on the door startled her from her reverie. She shoved the ring back in the box and threw in her bag before hastily wiping away her tears.

"Come in."

It was Sarah, the wedding planner.

"I'm sorry to bother you Mrs. Kane, but your husband is getting restless."

"Ok. Thanks Sarah. Tell him I'll be out in a minute."

"Sure, Mrs. Kane. Oh, and your Dad wants to come in. He wanted me to make sure you were decent."

"Of course. Let him in, thanks."

Sarah had just closed the door when her father walked back through it. He immediately took her red rimmed eyes and forced smile and took cause for concern.

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?"

His concerned fatherly tone did nothing to quell her tears. They fell even faster than before. Keith was at his daughters side and had her in a tight embrace in one fell swoop.

"Nothing, Dad. Just tears of happiness. I'm just... really happy," she tried to tell him in between sobs.

"Oh, Veronica, honey. You're going to be ok," he assured her, while rubbing soothing circles on her back. "It's going to be ok. You love Duncan and he loves you. Everything will work out. You will have a happy marriage and give little Lilly the safe and happy family that she deserves."

Keith pulled back slightly and tilted Veronica's chin up, gently forcing her to look him right in the eye.

"You made the right choice, Veronica, but if you're not sure we can fix it. We can have the marriage annulled. Honey I don't want to see you unhappy, ever. It's not too late."

What Duncan lacked in astuteness her Dad more than made up for. He knew her way too well. And somehow the concern in his eyes and confidence in her choice gave her the resolve she needed. She did love Duncan and she wanted them and little Lilly to be a family. Logan Echolls was her past. He walked out on her without a backwards glance and no chance at explanations. Duncan was the one who stayed. He was one who had been there for her for the past six years. And now she would be there for him for the next sixty.

Veronica pulled back from her Dad and smiled.

"You're right, Dad. I made the right choice. Let me fix my make-up and I'll be right out. Tell Duncan not to leave for our honeymoon without me."

Keith let out a loud chuckle.

"Just call it a hunch, but somehow I doubt a honeymoon by yourself would be any fun."

His laughter faded out and he looked at her pointedly with a soft and unguarded stare. The one reserved just for her.

"I love you kiddo."

"I love you, too, Dad."

He hugged her again and made his way to leave.

"Now get out here and save your husband from his mother," he said, winking at her before exiting out the door.

Veronica laughed. God, Celeste. She would give a Saint something to cuss about. She looked into the mirror once again, this time the face staring back at her was happier and much more content than before. She had made the right choice.

She grabbed a couple of items off the table, threw them into her bag and headed out the door, Logan's request all but forgotten. She was ready for her new life. She would be the loving wife and doting mother hers never was.

To be continued...

A/N: Now before you all get your panties in a wad (hehehehe), remember there is still another part coming.

Now come on... you can do it. Hit the little button and review. Pretty please?