-1Summary: He didn't make her feel shiny and new, but their history probably had something to do with that. Logan and Veronica, post season three. The sky didn't come crashing down this time. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: I wish I did.
A/N: bliccy (of livejournal) posted her last L/V fanmix a few months ago, and when I was listening to it, I couldn't help but imagine what could have happened had the show not been cancelled and the plotlines not been disintegrating. I started this and got about four paragraphs into it before I gave up. Then, about a week ago, I was listening to that fanmix again and realized that my muse was actually going to cooperate and let me write Logan and Veronica, really write them, for the first time in over a year. This piece turned into the longest piece of one-shot fan fiction I have ever written. And I'm not even sure how I feel about it yet. Why don't you tell me your thoughts and help me figure it out?
It was stupid to believe that she could move on and cut him out of her life completely, but she tried anyway. Veronica Mars was nothing if not up for a challenge, and if the challenge was letting Logan Echolls go so that she could be with Piz and be happy, then she was going to rise to the occasion and conquer the task.
No matter what.
So even when they were separated by too many miles, a radio station in New York and the chance of a lifetime in Virginia pulling them apart after just a few fragile weeks as a couple wherein her ex beat the crap out of her new boyfriend for something he didn't do and she received a death threat from one of the oldest, scariest secret societies in Neptune, she held onto her relationship with Piz like it meant everything to her. At the time, she thought she was doing herself a favor.
A month later, when they were both back in Neptune and she still hadn't seen him despite the I miss you's they had been exchanging on the phone, she came home to a bouquet of roses and a note proclaiming they needed to talk. The words were ominous enough to make her eyes burn, but she didn't make any assumptions until she arrived at the café down the street to find him sitting at her favorite table with a look on his face that told her all too quickly what they needed to talk about.
Veronica resisted the urge to turn tail and avoid the confrontation. Piz could send her another Hallmark card if he wanted to break up; she didn't need to watch his puppy dog pout turn into a determined set of lines as he tried to explain why they couldn't be together. Today, of all days, was not one wherein she needed to suffer anymore than usual.
She was never one for emotional outbursts, anyway, which was maybe one of the major reasons for her multiple break-ups with Logan. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and she still wasn't comfortable with revealing anything about her thoughts to anyone other than her dog.
Apparently, Piz had picked up on that. Clearly, that meant she was losing her touch.
"Hi," he said, trying for a smile as she approached the table. He stood when she was less than a foot from him, and he looked torn between greeting her like a proper boyfriend and cutting straight to the chase.
With a curt nod and a half-smile, closed lips and no heart behind the expression, she took a seat and made his decision for him. Piz hovered awkwardly for a moment and then joined her, tapping his fingers nervously on the table. She used to find the gesture endearing. Now, she wanted to handcuff him to the chair just to make the rhythm stop.
"How are you?" he asked. She realized she hadn't spoken yet, and she shrugged as she set her bag on the floor next to her chair.
"Alright," she offered. "Glad to be home. I think my dad missed me."
"I'm sure you missed him just as much," he replied, smiling genuinely. Veronica nodded her agreement as he cleared his throat. Here goes, she thought. It almost pained her that they had managed to avoid the inevitable for so long.
Though, technically, a few short weeks and five minutes of awkwardness didn't really match Webster's definition of long.
"Look, Veronica, I've been thinking," Piz muttered, avoiding her eyes. The lack of conviction in his posture – from the lowered eyes to the shaking hands to the mumbling – made her wonder why she had ever decided to turn her back on her original judgment of the boy sitting before her. Nothing about him was intriguing, or off-kilter, or broken in the way that she usually required of her romantic interests. He cleared his throat again and she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "I don't know if this is working."
"What do you mean?" She forced congeniality into her tone and tried for genuine confusion. It seemed to work, because he finally looked up from the salt shaker he was twirling between his palms to lock eyes with her.
"It's just–" He paused. "I really like you, Veronica." His eyes remained locked on hers, which surprised her, but his voice was getting less and less confident with each word he uttered. "But being with you isn't what I expected."
She tuned out the rest of his speech, but when he stopped to catch his breath she blinked and nodded once to assure him she had heard what he had to say. "Maybe we can try again sometime. In the future, I mean, if we're both in the same place and everything."
In many ways, he was even more idealistic than Logan. The realization made her want to puke.
When school started again, she felt like she was in high school again. It was a never-ending circle of whispering, and she knew without having to ask that everyone was wondering what she did to inspire such a massive display of physical violence in the cafeteria at the end of last term.
Logan wasn't anywhere to be seen, which suited her just fine until his disappearance started to fuel the gossip mill. Veronica resisted the urge to rip into every single person who gave her an odd look as she walked through the quad and, instead, forged a friendship with Parker and started spending time with her and Mac to keep from losing her mind.
"I told you that you're still all anyone talks about," Mac reminded her. "Remember?"
"Yes, but that was when I was seventeen and a junior in high school," Veronica replied, offering her friend a sarcastically joyful expression. "I thought college was supposed to mature people, not knock them further down the evolutionary ladder."
"Clearly, you have forgotten the number one rule in life," Mac drawled, dropping into a seat next to her roommate and setting her food down on the table. Veronica mimicked her and the brunette sighed as she picked up her fork, stabbing into her pancakes with more force than was absolutely necessary. "Do not, under any circumstances, set expectations for anyone but yourself."
Parker laughed behind her napkin and shook her head. "Way to be optimistic, Mac."
"I'm serious! It's not pessimistic if it's true," she argued. Veronica idly picked at her hash browns, her mouth curling into a smile as she listened to her friends bicker. For a moment, she expected Wallace to interject with a witty anecdote about 'the hood' that would completely contradict what Mac was saying, but then she remembered that he was in Africa for the semester.
It seemed like the more she tried to adjust to life without the usual anchors, the further she drifted into the storm. Rolling her eyes at the cliché, she took a sip of her coffee and focused her attention on the conversation at hand.
"Why are we even arguing about this? There's no logical support for anything that either of us is saying," Parker decided, laughing brightly.
"Looks like that philosophy class is finally getting to you," Veronica commented. Parker rolled her eyes and popped a strawberry into her mouth, pointing her fork at Veronica as though it was a teaching instrument.
"Laugh all you want, Veronica, but that class has helped me learn how to read people like that." She snapped her fingers and raised an eyebrow challengingly. Mac snorted and Parker turned her attention to the brunette, still pointing her fork at the girl to her right. "What?"
"Nothing," Mac murmured, pursing her lips innocently. Veronica smiled slightly and coughed into her hand to hide a laugh. Parker continued to glare at her roommate for a moment and then turned back to her food, thankfully using her fork for its intended purpose.
"What ever happened to Max?" Veronica asked. Mac stiffened slightly at the question and Parker swallowed rather loudly, making her wonder if she shouldn't have brought up the subject.
"You missed way too much when you were gone," Parker said seriously, her brow creasing. Veronica exchanged a look with Mac from across the table and nodded once. She licked her lips and took another sip of her coffee, letting the subject change to more trivial matters.
She definitely understood not wanting to discuss boys and break-ups.
Two months into her sophomore year, she decided she was done moping. Wallace wrote to her at least once every two weeks, which was a big difference from his disappearance senior year, and her dad was happy to be back in the PI business after he lost the election. They still got plenty of business and the new landlord was actually following up on all of the promises the old one made, so life for Keith Mars was as good as it got. Seeing her dad happy made Veronica happy, and she maintained that high whenever she wasn't at Hearst.
Logan was back in school, according to Parker, but he was only taking one class at the university. Everything else was online. Veronica wanted to laugh at the news, make some crack about how it didn't surprise her that he was too lazy to even leave his suite for a few hours to listen to a lecture, but she found herself trying not to cry instead.
Parker, for all of her philosophical "people-reading" skills, didn't notice the raw expression on her face. For her part, Veronica managed to cover up the shock within a few short seconds, but Mac still eyed her curiously from the other side of the couch.
"I guess it would be hard to take a human sexuality course online, though," Parker continued, tilting her head back to rest on the couch as the credits rolled on the DVD they had rented for the evening. "The whole point of a class like that is learning how people interact. That doesn't really happen if all you're doing is letting a computer screen suck out your brain cells."
"Oh, I don't know," Veronica said flippantly, irrationally proud of the strength in her voice. "From what I hear, the internet is full of human sexuality." She rolled her eyes toward Mac and the three of them burst into giggles, prompting Parker to curl into the fetal position on the floor to catch her breath.
"We really shouldn't bring Pixie Sticks to these movie nights anymore," Mac commented, holding up one of the offending items. "They just make trouble."
"But we can't afford cocaine," Veronica replied, wide-eyed.
"Damn," Parker muttered as she sat up. "So which one of us is getting the tip job, then?"
Both she and Mac turned their eyes to Veronica, who held up her hands. "No," she said simply. "I don't need to add anything else to my oh-so-pleasant reputation."
"We could always ask your dad," Parker suggested. "I'm sure he'd love to get out of that uniform every once in a while."
A pillow hit her in the head before she could even finish the sentence, and the three of them descended into another fit of giggles as they fought each other. Half an hour later, they didn't even remember what prompted the outburst.
Human sexuality was offered three times a week, and it just so happened that she had classes in the same hall all three days. Veronica ignored the information after she asked the admissions office about it, justifying her curiosity with a natural need to know everything about everyone. Mac found her schedule when they were helping Parker study for her philosophy test one night, though, and she wasn't so quick to believe Veronica's cover story.
Parker was asleep when they had the conversation, and it ended in a hushed argument on Mac's bed that had Veronica seething and Mac looking thoroughly irritated. Piz was thrown into the conversation after an hour of hissing at each other in the dark, and Veronica hastily grabbed her bag and got up to leave.
Mac grabbed her wrist just before she reached the door. "I'm just saying, Veronica, maybe you need to stop acting like Logan is the Antichrist."
It wasn't an epiphany by any stretch, but when she left the dorms and headed for her car, she didn't try to ignore the tears that were rapidly blurring her vision. If crying over a simple observation qualified as an eye-opening experience, then Veronica had clearly missed a lot of big, important moments throughout the course of her life.
"You've reached Logan, with the inspirational quote of the day. 'We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.' George Bernard Shaw."
She rolled her eyes at the familiarly flippant tone of voice, the well-rehearsed inflection on the day's quote, and the three beeps that he insisted were better than one because they allowed a person to truly make the decision to leave a message before they were forced to.
After the third beep sounded, Veronica had trouble finding her voice. When she finally did, at least ten seconds of silence had passed, and she sighed as silently as she could. "It's Veronica. I heard you're only taking one class this semester, so I figured trying to find you wasn't an option." She winced. The cheer in her voice was obviously forced. "Call me."
Her Sidekick thudded to the ground after she ended the call and she groaned as she flopped back on her bed. Backup raised his head from the floor to look at her and she smiled a little, scratching his ears as she closed her eyes for the night.
Tomorrow she would call Mac and let her know she actually listened to her advice for once.
He glanced up from his textbook and she inhaled sharply. The smile he wore when he saw her was the different, more mature, but the intention behind it was the same. His hair was shorter, and he was still trying to maintain the just-fell-out-of-bed look, which made her bite back an involuntary smile.
"Veronica Mars," he greeted, standing as she approached the bench he was sitting on. She didn't bother to bite back her smile this time, though she squinted into the sun that was shining behind him to temper the expression.
"Logan." She nodded. "How was class?"
"Oh, you know," he replied, waving his hand absently. "We discussed the psychological effects of female castration and why the problem isn't discussed enough in the media."
The words made her pause; it wasn't often that she found Logan really telling her what he was learning about in his classes, mostly because he didn't find the discussions intriguing enough to relay to anyone. The simple fact that he was voluntarily revealing a topic of study was enough to make her want to run screaming from him and what may or may not have been between them and all of the implications that his voicemail had given.
Veronica rather liked her tactics of avoidance, and she mentally kicked herself for listening to Mac and Parker's coaxing to meet him for coffee. Parker, surprisingly, hadn't seemed at all bitter about the fact that Veronica was asking for advice about their mutual ex. She wasn't sure if her friend was just a brilliant actress or if she really had missed a lot while she was in Virginia, but she was sure that she didn't need to lose any more friends this year.
So that was why she took Parker's advice and agreed to meet him for coffee today. At least that justification was more sensible and less painful to think about than what the real reasons might have been.
Logan didn't know what to do with his hands. That much was obvious, as he twiddled his thumbs against the pockets of his jeans for a solid minute before he picked up his books and swung them around as they headed for the coffee stand by the library. She wanted to tell him that it was okay to touch her; they hadn't seen each other in months, after all, and friends hugged after being absent from each other's lives for that long.
But then she remembered that they weren't friends and that it had been her decision not to forgive him, even after he defended her – though he had put himself in unnecessary danger in the process – and that this entire afternoon was a really awful idea.
"So I hear your dad is back in the dirty laundry business," he offered, breaking the awkward silence brilliantly. Veronica smiled.
"Yeah, he is. I guess it's hard to resist, once you catch the bug."
"And you're a badass FBI agent now?" he questioned.
"I wish," she said, laughing at the prospect. "The internship was amazing, but it'll be a few more years before I can actually start working for the department."
"Good luck, then. I hear there's some serious corruption in our blessed government," he said, all smiles and sarcasm. She rolled her eyes. "What does Piz think of this new-found determination to run with the big dogs?"
For a moment, she had forgotten that her life was a mess. Of course, he had to bring it crashing down on her again. That was always his way, whether he realized it or not. She sighed. "We broke up when I got back."
"Oh?" Logan sounded genuinely concerned, which surprised her. Last time she checked, he took great pleasure in beating the shit out of her most recent ex because he thought the kid was trying to ruin her non-existent virtue. "I won't push."
"Since I promised this girl that I know that I would stop being an inconsiderate jackass," he said, making a flippant hand gesture that was one hundred percent I Logan /I . She didn't miss the pointed tone of the comment.
"Lucky girl," she commented.
"You should tell her that," he retorted. "Last time I checked, she wasn't looking for a knight in shining armor."
"Maybe she just wasn't impressed with the lack of shine," Veronica replied. He stared down at her as they approached the coffee cart and she avoided his eye, certain that if she met his gaze, then all her hard work would mean nothing.
The barista asked for her order and it didn't surprise her in the least that Logan automatically ordered her regular drink, along with his, and paid for both before she could even form a protest in her mind. The conviction in his voice as he ordered for her made her want to scream in frustration.
Of course she missed him. That didn't explain the throbbing, empty ache her hand was suffering, though. She made a mental note to take back her apology to Mac when she got home. The Antichrist was all about temptation, wasn't he?
Logan certainly fit that description. He didn't make her feel shiny and new, but their history probably had something to do with that. As soon as she thought it, she started recalling all of the issues that had led them to the awkward conversation they were having now. She added a reminder to tell Mac about all of those issues to her mental note.
"Well," Parker considered, taking a bite of a French fry. She dipped the rest in ketchup and waved it around as she spoke, creating the perfect picture of relaxation. "If we're being totally honest, he's never going to get over you."
"And you're never going to get over him," Mac continued. Parker pointed at her and nodded her agreement, prompting a smile from the brunette. "I think you're trying too hard to make up excuses not to be with him, Veronica."
"I don't have to try," she argued. "He's fucked up enough times without me having to make up issues in my head."
Mac and Parker exchanged a significant look that make Veronica's skin crawl with frustration. A pregnant silence settled over the trio, broken only by the occasional slurping as someone took a sip of their soda or, in Parker's case, mineral water. After what seemed like hours in uncomfortable, pervasive quiet, Mac finally sighed and pushed her tray away.
Folding her hands on the table in front of her, she leaned forward on her elbows and looked Veronica directly in the eye. "I think Logan has more than made up for his mistakes. He's saved your life twice, helped you through the aftermath of finding out who raped you – again, twice – and defended your honor on more occasions than I can even remember."
"He also asked your permission before he asked me out, despite how bad things were when you broke up with him," Parker added.
"And he didn't get into trouble once this summer," Mac continued. "He's even trying to get Dick turned around."
"Since when are the two of you the assistant coaches for the pep squad?" Veronica asked sarcastically. "You make him sound like he's a saint."
"Not a saint," Parker corrected, shaking her head sadly. "He's done some stupid shit," she agreed. Veronica opened her mouth to reply but Parker held up a hand to silence her. "But he loves you."
She wasn't sure how to argue with that, so she said the first thing she could think of. "Did you learn how to determine that in your philosophy class? Because unless you have sound reasoning to logically support your conclusion…"
"Don't do that," Parker replied, with no menace in her tone.
"Lash out at me because I'm making you question your own belief system."
Her hands shook as she reached for her Skist, but neither of her companions commented on her distress. It made her wonder if she had ever been good at hiding her feelings or if her friends had just let her think that she was by keeping quiet when she was vulnerable.
"So what you're saying is that it's worse for a man to get raped than it is for a woman," he concluded. The incredulity in his voice was strong, and she wasn't surprised at how quickly his companion bristled at his tone.
"Well, yeah, man. Come on, are you saying it wouldn't be way worse to be forced to take it up the ass as a straight man than to just take it like a woman?"
Logan smiled sardonically and then grabbed the guy's arm, jerking him to a stand-still in the middle of the corridor. Everyone filtered around them, caught up in their own conversations, but Veronica remained where she was.
"Why don't you ask that question of a woman who's been a victim of sexual assault?" he seethed. "I'm sure she'd have a few choice words for you on your bigoted opinion of forced intercourse."
"Whatever, man," the guy scoffed, rolling his eyes as he broke free of Logan's grip on his arm and sauntered down the hallway. Logan stayed in the same spot for a few moments, visibly shaking, before turning and spotting her on the opposite end of the hall. She offered him a small smile and he roughly ran his hand through his hair as he headed toward her.
"Look at you, with your self-restraint," she greeted. "I expected you to punch that guy's lights out for suggesting something so chauvinistic."
"I almost did," he admitted. Veronica didn't need him to finish the thought, and he obviously picked up on her understanding, because he nodded stiffly and they headed for the exit together.
"I take it rape was the topic of conversation today."
"Yes and no." He shrugged. "We were discussing that island by Tahiti where sexual assault is ingrained in the culture and whether Britain has a right to intervene when it technically isn't their territory. It branched out from there."
She furrowed her brow and looked up at him, glad that the sun was low enough in the sky now that she didn't have to squint to see him. "I didn't know you knew about that."
"There's a lot you don't know, Mars," he replied, smirking slightly. She sighed and bumped him playfully with her shoulder. He bumped her back and she bit back a laugh.
"You should fill me in, then," she said seriously, stopping directly in his path so that he was forced to halt as well. She tilted her head back and locked eyes with him. "Think you can handle a night with me without trying to tear my clothes off?"
His eyes darkened at her words and she hastily caught her breath. "I can if you can."
It was a challenge, and Veronica Mars was nothing if not up for a little competition.
She could feel his eyes burning a hole in her back as she poured herself a glass of water. The night had gone smoothly, so far, and she was mildly surprised to find that he had opted for soda instead of Vodka when he ordered room service earlier. Parker's words from a few days ago kept playing on repeat in her head, causing her to look for signs in the things he told her, the gestures he made.
Veronica was less surprised to find that Parker was apparently completely correct in her assumption, but that didn't make the situation any less difficult to swallow.
"Did he say anything?" she asked, turning to face him. He leaned on the opposite side of the bar, flipping his hand a little.
"He made some comment about feeding my pretty face to his pit bull, but it's hard to take a guy seriously when he's too drunk to pronounce 'face.'"
She smiled around the rim of her glass. "And I assume he hasn't made good on his promise, seeing as your head is still in tact."
Logan's jaw dropped playfully. "Are you saying I'm pretty?"
Shrugging, she set her glass behind her and hoisted her small frame up to sit next to the sink. "I'm not saying you aren't," she replied, rather diplomatically. He smiled lazily, causing her heart rate to increase significantly, and she desperately wished she hadn't let Piz end things that day in the café. Maybe if she had been more devoted, gone to see him as soon as he landed, then she wouldn't be here right now, risking the destruction of everything she had managed to build in the past several months.
When Logan rounded the counter and hopped up so that they were facing each other with the five-foot width of the kitchen floor separating them, she had a feeling it wouldn't have mattered. Somehow, she would always end up here.
"Better be glad I wasn't wasted that night, too," he decided. "Otherwise you might not hold such a high opinion of my striking good looks."
"From what I remember, you don't have to be drunk to get your face bashed in," she murmured, tilting her head to the side. The implication was there, but the bitter threat wasn't. Logan swallowed audibly and leaned back a bit, his hands resting behind him.
They maintained eye contact, but lost the thread of conversation. Veronica's skin tingled with the faintest taste of anticipation. She missed this: the challenge, the playfulness, the bickering and the double entendres.
"I really am sorry, you know," he offered finally, breaking the thick silence as effectively as a roll of thunder. She almost jumped at the sudden sound of his voice, as involved in her own musing as she was. Logan took a deep breath, but before he could speak again, she slid off the counter and took a step toward him.
"I know," she murmured. He looked down at her and she bit her bottom lip lightly, crossing the distance between them and resting her hands on his knees. Keeping her gaze focused on the counter top, she swallowed around the lump in her throat and laughed nervously. "I'm sorry, too."
There was a pause, and then, "Did I hear you correctly?" He sounded so awed that she couldn't fight the impulse to look at his face. His expression matched his words perfectly.
What a shock.
"Did Veronica Mars just apologize? To me?" he continued, resting his right hand over his heart. Logan let out his breath in a whoosh and laughed, looking up at the ceiling. Her brow creased in irritation. She was trying to be serious and he was cracking jokes.
He lowered his gaze to hers again and laughed once more, the sound more grating than before. "I thought Princess Veronica could do no wrong," he said bitterly. The name made her recoil.
"Wow," she muttered, backing away from him as though she had been burned. Curling her fingers into fists, she clenched her jaw and stormed into the living room to gather her stuff. "You know, here I was thinking that maybe, just maybe you were turning into a decent guy when you turn around and throw some – stupid – bullshit at me and make me completely regret every moment we've spent together in the past few weeks."
"No, I think I was the mistaken one," he shouted. She stood up to find him standing a few feet from her, darting his eyes all over the room. They never once landed on her, but the ignorance didn't do anything to temper the anger boiling in her veins. "I thought that you apologizing might mean we were making some sort of progress for once."
"We were until you decided to throw it back in my face!" She was nearly screaming now, and she silently begged the guests in the suite next door to forgive them for disturbing their evening.
She shook her head and grabbed her bag, shoving past him to the door.
"Like I was out of line!" he retorted harshly. "You haven't taken responsibility for anything that's gone wrong in our relationship, Veronica! I can't fix everything when not everything is my fault!"
At that, she stopped, the door less than two feet in front of her. Logan stood behind her somewhere, close enough that she could hear his ragged breathing but far enough away that she couldn't feel it disturbing her air space. "Fine," she said quietly, turning to face him. "You want me to take responsibility?"
"I wouldn't want you to strain yourself," he retorted sarcastically.
Dropping her bag, Veronica walked toward him again and stopped when there was a scant foot of space between them. "I chased after Piz that night because you were so wrapped up in Parker that I wanted to vomit every time I saw you together."
His eyes flared. "I asked you for your blessing before I asked her out."
"And I said yes because I didn't want you to think I still missed you," she hissed. Logan scoffed, and it was enough to push her over the edge. "Because I didn't want you to know that I still had nightmares about you and Madison," she whispered.
Had she still been looking at him, she would've noticed how much he stiffened at the words. Instead, she was staring at the carpet, clenching and unclenching her fists as she tried not to burst into irrational tears.
Turning on her heel, she grabbed her bag and headed for the door again.
"I wanted to call Duncan and tell him I won after you left for New York," he said suddenly. She winced and halted her retreat. "If I had his number, I would have, too."
Veronica loosened her grip on her bag and spoke to the door. "I'm not a prize, Logan."
A long pause interrupted the flow of the fight, and the next time he spoke the words were against her neck. "I know that now," he whispered. She closed her eyes tightly, inwardly choking on the tears she refused to let fall, and dropped her bag as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. "I missed you."
"Don't fuck up this time," she murmured stoically, turning her head to see him. He rubbed his hand across her stomach and nuzzled the corner of her jaw.
"I won't if you won't," he breathed.
She kissed him in response.
Mac absolutely glowed when she heard the news. Veronica wasn't surprised to find that Parker wasn't nearly as excited as her roommate was, but she was still pleasantly supportive and incredibly enthusiastic about the questions she asked to try and pry more information out of her friend when she refused to budge anymore on what was said and done to lead to her reconciliation with Logan.
Her dad nodded and then asked her to file a few cases for him because he had other, more important work to do. It wasn't his blessing and it wasn't acceptance of her decision, but it was good enough. At least, she told herself it was.
"Are you guys official, then?" Parker wondered.
"I don't know," Veronica replied. "I don't–" She paused, trying to gather her thoughts. Mac and Parker looked on eagerly, and finally she let out a laugh and shrugged her shoulders. "Do I really need to start anymore gossip by proclaiming that I'm officially back together with Logan?"
"Here we go again," Mac muttered, rolling her eyes. Veronica furrowed her brow in confusion, and her friend sighed as she reached over and pulled her into a hug. "Every time you're with Logan, some outside force manages to drive you apart," she explained as she pulled away. "And then you take whatever he did, or whatever you neglected to do, and pile everyone else's problems on top of it and come up with this insane concoction of problems that inevitably leads to another break up."
"Can't it just be about the two of you?" Parker asked. "I don't see why the label you give your relationship should have any effect on the relationship itself."
Veronica resisted the urge to curse that damn philosophy class.
He kissed her neck as he snuggled into the couch next to her and she turned her head toward him, catching his mouth with hers to prevent him from breaking contact with her skin. The old routines were easy to fall into, but she was adamant in her insistence that they not give each other half-truths and assumptions based on their own insecurities.
Logan was hesitant to agree to the no holds barred, total honesty night she had proposed two days after they got back together. He argued that they would both end up angry beyond words at each other, and she offered him a sad smile in response. "That's the point," she had said. He caught her meaning and deflated at the words, promising that they would work everything out.
It had been six hours since they started their talk, and they had argued thirteen times thus far. Veronica knew; she had been counting. Twisting her fingers through his as they kissed, she sighed against his mouth and pulled away when he tried to deepen the embrace.
"Why didn't you follow me the night I found out about Madison?"
His breath left him in a rush against her shoulder. "I didn't want to explain why I hadn't lied to you."
"You did lie to me."
"No, I didn't," he murmured. She bristled and he wrapped his arm around her, pressing another kiss to her neck. "I told you I slept with another girl. And I told you that she didn't mean anything. I just didn't tell you her name."
"Why? Did you think I wouldn't find out?"
"No," he agreed. "I didn't. But I also didn't realize that you would be so upset about it if you did find out."
"I hate her," she whispered painfully. "That night at Shelley's party–"
"I know," he cut her off gently, raising his head to look at her. Veronica locked eyes with him and he reached up to cup her cheek, wiping away a stray tear with his thumb. "If she had a heart, I would drag her back here by the hair and force her to apologize. But I don't like fruitless missions."
"You do like your rewards," she teased. Logan grinned and kissed her softly. "See? This is good. The honesty."
He didn't respond, and she prepared herself for whatever question he was about to ask.
"Did you have sex with Piz?"
She swallowed. "Yes."
"Was it for comfort?"
"Did I use him?"
Logan just stared at her, waiting for her response to the question. With a small, shameful nod, Veronica filled him in on the details of what happened after that day in the cafeteria up until she left on her flight to Virginia. He didn't interrupt her once, but the small strokes his thumb was making on the back of her palm gradually slowed to a stop until they were no longer holding hands at all.
It didn't take a genius to figure out how much of a manipulative bitch she had been before her departure. When she voiced the thought out loud, Logan kissed her again and she tried to let go of the guilt she felt for leading on such a perfectly nice, normal, average guy.
All because he wasn't the man who was kissing her right now.
The realization startled her, and she jerked away from Logan. He groaned in protest and she inhaled sharply, darting her eyes around the room to find some solace for her thoughts. "I didn't think he would beat me to the punch," she said abruptly. He pushed her hair behind her ear and she locked eyes with him. "I thought I would be the one to break up with him once I figured out what was so wrong with me that I couldn't make anything work."
"Karma's a bitch," he replied. She punched him in the arm and he winced slightly. "What do you want me to say, Veronica?"
"Anything but that," she told him.
Smoothing her hair back, he pressed a kiss to her forehead and then rested his own against the spot. "Okay," he agreed. "I used Hannah. I used Parker. You used Piz. From where I'm standing, you aren't nearly as awful as you're making yourself out to be."
"So your being a jackass is supposed to make me feel better about my being a manipulative bitch?"
"Something like that," he whispered. She closed her eyes tightly and let him kiss her again, smiling against his mouth as he pushed her back on the couch. Seven hours; thirteen fights. It was something of a record for them.