Title: "Leaving Regret Behind"
Warnings: some language and slight sexual situations
Word count: 7,889
Characters/Pairings: Logan, Veronica, some Keith; Logan/Veronica
Spoilers: Set after the series finale but there aren't any references to any episodes.
Summary: After Veronica gets some devastating news she decides that there are some relationships in her life that are in need of repair… one in particular. Futurefic set two years after the series finale.
Disclaimer: I only wish I owned Veronica Mars and all its characters.
A/N: I scrapped my original idea halfway through writing it when this sucker came to me. So needless to say it was written in two days and is probably pretty rough. And no beta cause, again, I waited until the very last minute.
Written for the road trippin! challenge at gogetembobcat community over at livejournal.
A/N2: Ok, for all of you who actually still care about "Fractured Dreams," I can promise you that it WILL be finished. It 's just that I've had some setbacks with it and RL has been really, really busy. But I won't bore you with all the details. Just know that I appreciate your patience and I will not let you down!!
"I need a favor."
"Am I getting the head tilt, too… cause you know I can't see you over the phone."
"Yes. Head tilt, hair flip, everything."
"Wow. Bringing out the big guns since I haven't heard from you in months. I'm touched."
She ignored his barb, continuing on.
"I'm bringing some of the stuff in my apartment home for the summer and I need a road trip buddy."
"And I'm the only loser you know with no prior commitments?" he asked teasingly.
"Yes… all of my other friends are busy getting their college degrees."
"College… isn't that the place where you go to get drunk and laid, protest about the whales in China, attend lectures on the evils of the conservative right wingers and at the end of a few years they give you a piece of paper with your name on it saying that you're smart?"
"Wow… tell me again how come you don't go anymore?"
"Ha, ha… very funny… and I already know I'm smart. Besides, I'm busy making my mark on the world."
"Ahh, yes… the secret mystery novels of David Bonner. I still think you're lying, just so you know."
"You just wait tiny blonde one. I'll be king of the world!"
"Yeah, you are sooooo not Jack Dawson. Leo is a such a hottie in that movie."
"I know… he was totally poor. And whatever, Mars… I know you secretly still lust after my hot bod."
Veronica blushed and was extremely grateful that he couldn't see her over the phone. Truth was she often did think of him at night, but no way did she want him to know that. She had last seen him five months earlier when she had gone home for Christmas. She noticed that he was changing, his boyish good looks making way to more distinguished manly features, that if possible, made him even more handsome. And his patented Echolls charm had become more gentlemanlike versus the jackass he was in high school. It was no wonder that he had no shortage of beautiful women fawning over him. The reasons why they had stayed apart seemed to fade away a little more each day.
She was proud of him, too. Although he had never made it back to Hearst for his sophomore year, he had apparently found out that he had a knack for writing. His first book landed him on the NY Times Best Seller Listand the critics actually loved him. Of course he had written everything under a pen name and the only people in the world that knew it was actually him was his agent and herself. The fact that he trusted her with that even after everything meant more to her than he would probably ever know.
"… Veronica, Veronica… "
"What, huh… oh yeah, you just keep thinking that. I'm sure it's hard enough for your head to fit through a doorway as it is."
"Uh-huh. Where did you go just now? Were you having dirty thoughts about me again?"
"Dream on Echolls."
That earned a laugh from both of them. It was nice to know that some things never changed even when her world was crashing in around her.
"Alright. I'll do it on one condition." he stated seriously.
"Yeah? What is it?"
"That you keep your hands to yourself during the trip."
That earned another laugh and Veronica found herself smiling like a giddy school girl. She hadn't felt this lighthearted in weeks and she wondered why she didn't talk to Logan more. He always had a way of making her feel lighter. Maybe she'll tell him during their trip across the country. Maybe she'll tell him a lot of things.
"Veronica… I thought you were just taking a few things home for the summer. This looks like your whole apartment. I mean a U-haul trailer? Come on, I have an image to uphold."
"Riggghhhhht… I'm sure it's hard to hold onto your millionaire playboy status. After all, what would all your bimbo groupies think?"
"Careful… I might start to think you're jealous."
Veronica snorted in place of a retort while continuing to rearrange the back seat of the Saturn. She was jealous but not of the mindless floozies that he'd been occupied with lately. It just hurt a little that she wasn't such a huge part of his life anymore and didn't really have any right to be.
Besides an email or phone call here or there and a couple of visits home where she saw him very little, they hadn't been in each other's lives much at all since she had left Neptune two years ago. Sure she knew about his books but anything else came mostly from the Neptune grapevine, i.e., Wallace and Mac, whom surprisingly had stayed pretty close to him in her absence.
The summer internship at the FBI had gone extremely well, so well that they offered her a permanent internship year round and a scholarship to a local college. The offer was too good to refuse and with her troubles at Hearst she thought it might be nice to get out of Neptune for a while. She needed to breath.
"Speaking of bimbos, what does Trixie think about you going on a long road trip with another woman?"
"It's Taylor and you can retract your claws, bobcat. We broke up. And since when do you know about my love life? Been checking up on me?" he asked, leering at her suggestively.
"It's not my fault you couldn't find friends of your own, that you had to go stealing mine. Apparently Wallace finds your love life very interesting, while I on the other hand am a quote, unquote, wet blanket. His words not mine. I for one find myself very fascinating."
Logan snickered. "Now who's the one with the big head?"
"I'm not going to even touch that. Sometimes you make it too easy. Just keeping loading that stuff so we can get on the road sometime today."
He saluted her before replying, "Yes ma'am!"
"Veronica… Veronica… we're crossing into Tennessee. Let's stop for tonight. I'm tired from the flight this morning and it's obvious that you're exhausted."
She looked over at him sleepily, wanting to protest but unable to. He was right. She was exhausted both emotionally and physically and maybe a little sleep would do her good. Somehow she doubted it though, sleep rarely came at all these days and when it did, it was fitful. But Logan didn't have to know that.
"Yeah, sounds good. Just pull over at the first decent looking motel you see."
"Motel? I don't think so. I'm sure they have a nice hotel around her somewhere. I'm not staying in some flea bag interstate motel."
"Logan, look around. Does this look like the kind of place that has a couple of four -star hotels poking up somewhere. They actually have pretty nice travel motels, you know. Look, there's a Comfort Inn right there," she stated pointing ahead at the next exit. "Take this exit."
"Alright. But let it be known what a sacrifice I'm making for you Mars."
"Duly noted, drama queen. Now pull over and stay in the car, and don't even bother to pull out your credit card. My trip, I'm paying."
"God you're bossy when your tired… wait a minute, have you been sleep deprived the entire time I've known you."
That earned him a glare before Veronica got out of the car to go into the motel lobby. When she came back she gave him instructions on where to park the car before handing him his key card.
"Wait… you got us separate rooms?" Logan asked incredulously.
"What happened to 'I'll come only if you keep your hands to yourself?'"
"I was secretly hoping for a least a little sleep groping."
"Logan…" she started seriously.
"I was kidding, Veronica. Separate rooms are fine. Great even. Now I won't have to listen to you snore."
That earned him a punch in the arm. "I so do not snore."
"You keep telling yourself that. I just feel sorry for the sucker that has to sleep with you the rest of his life."
"Well, I never heard you complaining."
"That's because I was afraid that you would taser me in my sleep."
Veronica punched his arm again, playfully.
"Ouch. Let's get our stuff up to the rooms before you break my arm and I can't carry anything."
"Very funny. Wuss."
They said their goodnights before going in their rooms and settling in. Veronica called to check in with her Dad, letting him know how the trip was going. As she got ready for bed she began to think about how nice it was having Logan on this trip. She was a little apprehensive about asking him at first, but she was glad she did. Life was too short to live with regrets and if she was going to start repairing relationships, theirs was number one on her list.
Veronica went to get ice from the machine down the corridor. On the way back to her room she past Logan's door and paused. She wanted to tell him everything, but she knew if she knocked on that door, there would be no turning back. She wanted him. There was no denying that. Every inch of her body ached for his touch and had ever since she picked him up from the airport earlier that afternoon. But there was no guarantee that he felt the same and she wanted their friendship back more than anything. She didn't want to ruin their chance at that.
Back in her room she fixed a glass of ice water before lying down in the bed and switching on the television. Her thoughts still centered on Logan, though. She just wanted to talk to him. She reached over for the phone.
"Hi," she breathed into the phone.
"Miss me already?"
She let out a strangled laugh before becoming quiet.
"I just… I just wanted to say thank you. You know, for coming with me on this trip. I know you're busy and…"
"Veronica, I'd never be too busy for you," he stated firmly.
His words along with the conviction in his voice caused her breath to hitch and her heart to ache. He always knew just what to say and it reminded her how much he had loved her once. She missed that. She missed him.
"Are you ok?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be," she replied in her best pseudo fine voice.
"I don't know, you just seem… I just wanted to make sure you're alright."
"I am, but thank you. So I guess I'll see you in the morning."
She smiled into the phone before hanging up. Who knows… she just might get that good night sleep after all.
"You hungry? Wait, did I just ask you that?"
"Contrary to popular belief, I do not eat all the time."
"No, you're right, you don't. You manage to sleep for a few hours… well you used to at least," he said, looking over at her, the concern etched in his features.
"The food jokes just never get old with you, do they," Veronica replied trying to avoid the question. She should have known that he would know.
"You want to talk about it?"
"Not on an empty stomach."
Logan seemed satisfied with that answer for now but he wasn't letting her get away that easily. They were going to be in a car for forty hours and he'd be damned if he let her make it there without really talking to him. This was his chance. If they couldn't work things through now, he would have to move on… with or without Veronica.
He checked the GPS once more before maneuvering the Saturn into one of the tight parking spaces on the street. They were lucky to find two together since Veronica had insisted on dragging a U-Haul trailer behind them.
"Why won't you just tell me where we are going?"
"Cause it's a surprise."
"I hate surprises."
"That's it. When we get back into the car, I'm driving."
They walked a couple of blocks west from where they were parked until they found themselves on Broadway in downtown Nashville. Even though it was daytime, the neon signs of Music City were shining brightly, advertising everything from guitars to boots to Pabst Blue Ribbon. Veronica felt infinitely out of place.
"Aha, we're here!" Logan declared, looking proudly up at the sign of the building in front of him.
"Tootsies Orchid Lounge?! We're eating lunch in a bar?! Logan, have you lost your mind?!"
"Nope. And it's the World Famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Also, it's a honky-tonk, not a bar… big difference. I've always wanted to go to one of these places."
Logan led her inside, after much protesting on Veronica's part only to be met by sights and sounds even worse than she had imagined. The walls were covered in a medium brown paneling that looked like it was straight from the seventies and were littered with hundreds of autographed photos of famous people. The benches along the wall in the front and the barstools were covered in cheap, black imitation leather. The stage was immediately to their right, facing the rest of the bar, where a guy about their age crooned an old Johnny Cash song or at least what she thought was a Johnny Cash song.
The bar was on the same side as the stage stretching the length of the building starting from the vinyl tiled dance floor and there was a wooden balcony that spanned across the back of the not-so-fine establishment. It was almost one o'clock in the afternoon and there were actually two older couples decked out in their head to toe western wear, twirling it away to the steel guitar.
They made their way to one of the high round tables on the left side across from the bar and picked up some menus, which were covered in the same thin film of grease that seemed to layer everything in the place. They both settled on cheeseburgers, fries and a coke, placing their order with the waitress.
"So besides the obvious reason of annoying me, why did you want to come here?"
Logan shrugged. "My… Aaron actually mentioned taking my Mom here once when they were younger. Even she talked like she had a good time. I just wanted to see it, you know."
He paused a second before a frowning, seemingly remembering something.
"Great… now I'm wanting to go to places he's been. Next thing you know…"
"Stop, Logan," Veronica whispered firmly, " You are nothing like him, nothing."
He dropped his head and nodded, unable to look at her.
"Yeah, I know."
"Logan… look at me."
She waited for him to look up at her and when he didn't she became more forceful.
"Logan Nathaniel Echolls… look me in the eyes right now. "
When she finally had his attention where she wanted it she continued softly yet forcefully.
"You. Are. Not. Aaron. Nor will you ever be. And I'll tell you over and over until you start to believe it."
He gave her a tight smile and nodded again.
The arrival of their burgers interrupted the tense moment much to Logan's relief. By the sound of things, Veronica's stomach was pretty glad, too.
"Mmmmmmm, oh my god… this burger is heaven."
"Not bad for a bar, huh."
"Hey, it's a honky-tonk. There's a difference, you know."
They both laughed, grateful to slip back in to the ease of their unspoken friendship.
"Now if that damn music would stop so I could really enjoy this gourmet delicacy."
"Hey that's the music of my southern roots you're talking about there."
"Logan… what in the world would you know about southern roots. You're a Hollywood brat."
"Hey… I had fried chicken once."
Veronica laughed so hard she nearly fell off her chair.
Logan…no freaking way. I'm not letting you talk me into that. I let you trick me into eating lunch in a bar. This is where I draw the line."
"Awwwhhh, come on Veronica? Where's your adventurous spirit?"
"I must have left it back wherever you left you're brain. For the last time, I'm not visiting the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library. Besides… it looks like a trailer."
"A trailer? That my dear is a fine example of contemporary southern architecture."
Logan huffed and grabbed his pillow, putting it against the window to lie on. Veronica couldn't help but to think how cute he looked when he was pouting.
They made it just outside Little Rock before stopping for the night. Things went pretty much the same as the night before with each getting their own rooms. Veronica called her Dad and got ready for bed.
An hour later she lay looking up at the ceiling unable to sleep. Looking over at the phone she inwardly debated whether or not she should call him. It had helped her sleep a little last night and she definitely could use the extra help now.
"I was wondering if you were going to call."
"Did I wake you up?"
"No," he said, yawning.
"Yeah, well, sue me."
"Why did you sleep with Madison?"
Veronica was met with silence and for a minute she thought the question that she'd been working up the courage to ask had fallen on deaf ears.
She heard a long sigh, letting her know that he was awake and he'd definitely heard her question.
"I was drunk, Veronica. Stupid, sloppy, miserably, drunk. I don't remember how I even got to her room. I just know that when I woke up she told me we'd had sex. Hell, there was even a trashcan beside the bed from where I had been throwing up. I left and tried to block it permanently out of my mind. You ask me why… she was a girl and she was there and beyond that I don't have an answer. What I do know is that I never, ever did it to hurt you, not intentionally or unintentionally and I regret it every day of my life. "
"Ok? That's it? Ok?"
"Yes. I asked, you answered… ok."
"Can I ask you a question then?"
"I guess it's only fair."
"Well, that's never really been your strong suit."
"Hey, be nice."
"Right… sorry. Anyway… are you ever going to tell me why you're moving back home? Did something happen with your internship or at school?"
"How did you…"
"Come on, Veronica. Give me a little credit, here. I'm not stupid."
There was a long pause before Veronica continued.
"It's… it's my Dad. He's sick, Logan."
Logan could hear her jaw clench with the effort of trying not to cry, even over the phone. His heart silently broke right along with hers.
Veronica heard a knock at the door and went to answer it. She knew that it was Logan and willed herself not to cry. He didn't need her ruining the fun time they'd had today by becoming a blubbering idiot. But the moment she opened the door he enveloped her in a bone crunching hug, causing her to drop the phone, all pretenses of being strong long forgotten.
The tears came and they came hard. It was like a damn had burst and the pain she'd been hiding inside for months finally made its way to the surface. Logan continued to hold her tight after managing to close the door and now he was lightly stroking her hair while whispering into her ear.
"I'm so sorry, baby. I'm so, so, sorry. I promise that I would trade places with him if I could."
That only made her cry harder. Suddenly it was too much effort for her to even stand and her body went slack. Logan lifted her up and carried her to the bed all the while holding her closely and doing whatever he could to comfort her.
Even through the haze of grief, Veronica was reminded of a night in which Logan held her quite like he was doing now. And even though she knew everything would never be ok, she felt safe and loved and that was enough for right now. She fell asleep with those thoughts filling her and Logan's arms around her. And for the first time since her father shared the bad news, she slept soundly.
The next morning Veronica awoke, well rested and content. She removed herself from the strong arms that still encircled her and got up to take a shower. After she was almost ready she went to rouse Logan.
" Wake up sleepy head."
The only response she got was him, covering his head with a pillow.
"Come on… it's almost nine and you still have to go back to your room and take a shower."
"Uhhhhh, you're such a slave driver."
"Well, someone's got to whip you into shape."
He looked up from under his pillow and wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.
"Ugh! You are such a perv."
"Why are we exiting? We don't need gas already do we?"
"No. Just relax, Miss side-seat driver. I'm going downtown to get hotel room."
"Logan, it's only four o'clock. We can't stop now. And there has been nothing wrong with the places we've been staying. They have been perfectly nice."
"We can and we will. And I'll admit it, the motels haven't been all bad, but that doesn't mean I won't take the opportunity to stay at a high rise when I can. Tonight I'm taking you for a nice dinner in downtown Dallas and we're going to stay at the Hyatt Regency, my treat. And now it's me who won't take any arguments."
"Because… I want us to have a nice night together. Forget about things for a while. Just you and me."
She smiled, acutely aware of everything he didn't say but every bit grateful for the things he did.
"That would be nice. I'd like that. …. So who's going to dig around in the back and find my dress clothes?"
"Wow! Just… wow!"
"I'm guessing you like it, then."
"Yes. Most definitely. Wow!"
"I think you said that already. And you don't look so shabby yourself."
"Thanks. Let me just pick my tongue up off the floor and we can get going."
They got in the elevator and went down to the lobby. After making couple of more turns down hotel corridors, they arrived at their destination.
"The golf ball?! First a honky-tonk and now athletic equipment… you sure know how to impress a girl."
"Well, you're more man-eater than girl and you only have to impress her with the fancy places when you are trying to get in her pants."
"Wait a minute, you mean you're not trying to get in my pants," Veronica asked, feigning shock.
Logan stopped in front of her, lightly grasping her arm, causing her to look up at him.
"No. I'm trying to get into your heart," he said seriously.
Veronica's breath hitched and she could do nothing but stare back at the intense brown pools that were swirling with emotion. Every retort just seemed to die on her tongue.
You already are… you've always been…I don't think you'll ever leave…
But she wasn't quite ready for that yet. They had to many issues, too many things to work through before they plunged back into a relationship. It was taking every once of energy she had not to jump him right there but that wouldn't solve anything. It's the way they've always worked before and this time it had to be different. She was about to tell him just that when he cleared his throat.
"Come on… I'll have you know that this is one of the finest dining establishments in all of Dallas," he said winking at her.
"Shaped like a teed-up golf ball?"
"Yes… let's hope that someone with a giant club doesn't come swinging."
"With our luck, I'd say that wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility," she replied, laughing.
He joined her with laughter of his own as he escorted her up to the restaurant.
After dinner, Logan took her up one floor to The Dome, the resident cocktail lounge. Like the restaurant Antares, below them, it also rotated slowly, giving them a beautiful panoramic view of the city. There was a piano off to the left of the dance floor, an older man tickling its keys. The notes of Georgia On My Mind wafted pleasantly over the light hum of the patrons, making the low lit room seem even more intimate.
"Care to dance," Logan asked, offering his hand to her.
"I'd love to."
As he held her tight for the second time in two days, Veronica was finding it hard to hold onto her resolve. She could feel his breath on her skin and he smelled so good and her heart beating faster than hummingbird wings. There was only one thing left to do… close her eyes and enjoy his warm embrace.
She didn't know how many songs had past before Logan broke the comfortable silence by whispering in her ear.
"I have another surprise for you."
She wanted to tell him again, how much she hated surprises but she just couldn't bring herself to hate them at all right then. Instead her stomach fluttered like a thousand butterflies with anticipation. Right then, in that moment, breathing in his scent, taking in his voice, feeling his heart next to hers, she found that she would have followed him anywhere.
They got back in the elevator, Logan gently guiding her by his hand on the small of her back, and went back down two floors to the first floor observation deck. He went over to the security guard in front of the doors and even though Logan's back was toward her, she saw him withdraw his wallet from his back pocket and mumble something to the guard. Whatever he said and did, the guard agreed to it and Logan motioned to her to go with him through the large glass doors.
"You know, bribery is a felony?"
"I just made sure we had some privacy for a little while. Besides, I think that only counts on real cops."
"Ahhh, the rich and their skewed sense of the law."
Veronica smiled at him before drawing her attention over the rails to the sparking city lights all around them. She let herself be pulled back into the memories while taking in the beautiful sight.
"What are you thinking about?"
"How stupid I was to let Madison Sinclair ruin things for us back then."
"Veronica, I'm the one who…"
"No. Stop it Logan," she chided gently, "You've apologized enough. I'm the one who's sorry. I should have listened to you."
"I don't think it would have mattered… not back then anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, as long as it's true confession time, I have a few of my own."
Veronica raised a curious eyebrow at that, willing him to continue.
"To be honest I was a little tired of always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew it was only a matter of time before I did something to disappoint you or things got a little hairy and you ran away. That's how it always was with us and frankly I was exhausted. That's why I didn't run after you. It wouldn't have mattered if I did, you'd already made up your mind."
"Well, excuse me… I didn't know loving me was so strenuous."
"It wasn't… it's not… dammit Veronica, that's not what I meant."
He sighed dejectedly and put his hands in the pockets of his khakis before speaking again.
"This is not how I envisioned our night going."
"Yeah, me neither. Maybe we should just go back to our rooms before we both say something we will really regret."
"That's probably a good idea."
Veronica again found herself staring up at the ceiling, thoughts of a man just one wall away plaguing her mind. After their awkward goodnight hug she had set in on her nightly ritual trying to forget about the things they'd said.
But then she realized, this is what she wanted. She had set out to mend their relationship one way or another and fights, yelling, unpleasant conversation were all just going to be inevitable byproducts of that. If they were going to make it, friends or otherwise, she was going to have to own up to her mistakes and get the issues out in open, however painful that might be.
She reached over on the bedside table for her cell phone and dialed the familiar number, the same as she had the previous two nights.
"I didn't think you'd call tonight."
"Right? About what?"
"It wouldn't have mattered. I would have eventually found a reason to break up with you again."
"Please… let me finish. I need to get this out."
"I've always been self conscious about sex, especially sex with you. But over the summer you were so kind and gentle and loving that those feelings started to go away. I started to feel comfortable with sex, comfortable with you. But the minute you told me that you'd been with someone else while we were broken up, all my fears and hang-ups started coming back in droves. I know I told you that I was ok with it, and I really tried to be. I even went to the lingerie store, hoping to show myself that I was fine, that I could get past it, that we could get past it. And then I found out it was Madison… while I was at the store. It was more than I could take. She told me that you didn't like the one-piece numbers so much and I almost lost it right there in the middle of the store. Every comment, every well placed barb that her and every other 09'er girl had ever said started spreading into my own insecurities like wildfire. And my mind automatically went back to you and all the things you used to say to me too. I wanted you to pay. I wanted you to hurt like I hurt. And I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry."
"Oh, god, Veronica. I had no idea. I don't even know what to say, but I'm sorry."
"No, Logan… I told you that you don't have to apologize anymore. We've talked about it, said our sorrys… let's just move on. I just needed to hear you tell me again that she meant nothing and I needed you to know where I was coming from."
"Thanks… for telling me."
"Wow. I actually feel better. This is kind of nice."
"Maybe I should charge you."
"If you did, that would put our relationship in a professional capacity and any fraternizing would be completely off limits."
"Are you coming on to me, Mars?"
She just laughed in response as they continued their banter. It was nice change to be able to go back to that. He always knew when she needed a break from confessional overload and never pushed her.
"Oh, and Logan…"
"I'm proud of you… and not just for the books."
She could practically hear his smile over the phone.
They continued to talk and she found herself falling asleep, phone still to her ear, listening to his soothing voice singing his own rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
"Alright mister… you've put us behind… we're going to have to make it up today."
"Ugh. Is that why you woke me up at insane o'clock in the morning."
"Logan, it was seven a.m. I know you've gotten up earlier than that to go surfing."
"Yeah, but that's fun. Driving in a car across flat-ass Texas for ten hours is not."
"Hey! You've got me! We could play I Spy or something."
"Veronica… you do realize we're not five, right."
"It could be fun… you'll see!"
"Ugh! I'm finding it really hard to remember why I came on this trip," he mumbled as he threw the pillow back against the passenger side window and pulled a blanket over his head.
"So your Dad… what does he have?" he asked gently.
Veronica swallowed, preparing herself to answer. She knew he'd ask her eventually and she hoped she could get through the conversation without crying.
"Colon cancer. But they caught it pretty early so his chances are… decent."
"That's good…. When did you find out?"
"He told me the day I left after Christmas break. I wanted to stay but he wanted me to finish up school. I promised him that I would finish this semester but after that I wasn't making any promises. The FBI… school… they can all wait. I had to come back home."
"Is it wrong that I'm glad you are?"
Veronica looked over at him, a half-smile gracing her features.
"No. I'm glad I coming home, too."
"So did I really make you miserable the entire time we were dating?"
"What?... No! I never meant it like that, Veronica. It's just… it's like one of those rollercoasters at the fair. It's a helluva ride even when you know the drop is coming. You could never trust me and no matter how much I tried to prove to you otherwise, it didn't work. So after Christmas break when you showed up at my door, I decided that the ride was worth it, even when I knew what would eventually happen."
"I tried. I really did."
"I know, Veronica, but sometimes trying isn't enough… sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. You would think that if you could trust me with you're life that you could trust me with you heart."
"Right, so you could stomp all over it like you did after Lilly died."
Veronica's eyes became as wide as saucers as she realized that her inner thoughts had just become spoken ones. She spared a glance over to the driver's seat where she could see Logan clench his jaw and grip the steering wheel tightly in anger.
"Logan, I didn't…"
"No. Don't even, Veronica."
A heavy silence filled the car for the next few miles. Logan exited the interstate onto a mostly deserted state route but she remained silent. He suddenly swerved the car over into a parking lot of what looked like a long abandoned diner. If the road traffic was any indication, she could see why they had closed. He came to a screeching halt on the pot-holed pavement and jumped out the car, coming around to her side and throwing the door open.
"What the hell, Logan!"
"Get out Veronica! You want to have this fight… let's have it. We're in the middle of nowhere. Now is as good a time as any. I'll let you yell, scream, punch, slap, whatever you want to do to me. But in the end… if you can't find that you'll be able to forgive me for all the shit that's happened in the past then we just can't move forward. I love you, Veronica, god knows I love you but I need to move on… with our without you."
Veronica let out a bitter laugh before sliding out of her seat, slamming the door and taking her battle stance in front of him. If he wanted a fight, then she'd sure as hell give him one.
"You think it's that easy, Logan?! That I can just yell out loud a little and then poof, everything is ok… all is forgiven?!"
"Well, at least I'd know every sin you have me down for in that book of retribution you seem to keep! At what point does the good I do cancel out all my black marks, huh? Can you at least tell me that so I can start thinking of ways to save your life and beat up rapists. Maybe I can just wear a sign around my neck listing every thing I've ever done or that you blame me for, for everyone else to see! Would that make you happy?! Cause I'd do it! I'd do whatever it takes to get an ounce of the same trust you gave your precious Duncan. And from where I stand, his sins far outweigh mine, princess!"
"Don't you dare… don't you dare bring Duncan into this. This is about you and me. Leave your insecurities about him out of this!"
"Why, isn't this what it's all about. You can't have him so you'll settle for me but I have to pay everyday anyway, because I'm not him!"
"Oh, don't start. Maybe I'm just a replacement for Lilly. Lilly's never coming back so you thought you'd bag the next best thing. Hang onto a little piece of her forever!"
"I can't believe you of all people would bring her into this. You know good and well that you have never been a replacement for Lilly and I have never once made you feel that way! If you don't know that, then you've never known me at all and everything has been a lie!"
Veronica's shoulders slumped and she began to lose her steam. She didn't want to fight about Lilly. She loved her, had given up everything to find her real killer and now she was using her as an excuse. Lilly deserved better than that.
"You're right. I'm sorry. I should have never brought Lilly up. It's just that sometimes I feel like I'm betraying you both. Lilly, by being with you at all, and you, by not being her," she confessed.
Logan pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead.
"Veronica, look at me… you aren't a Lilly substitute and I've neverwanted you to be. I loved Lilly, yes, but I will never, ever be able to love another girl like I love you. After everything, you have to know that."
He looked into her eyes, willing her to understand. She was trying her best to blink back tears, but they were coming anyway.
"Please… tell me you believe me."
"I do… I do," she confessed between sobs. "And for the record, I should have never gone back to Duncan. I didn't love him anymore, not like that."
"Shhhhh… it's ok."
They stayed pressed together on the side of the road for what seemed like forever, healing each other in ways they never thought possible
"I don't know that I've ever told you, but I should have. If I could take back everything that happened after Lilly's death, I would. But I was just a kid whose girlfriend was killed, whose best friend was practically comatose, whose father beat him while his mother watched with a whisky in her hand. That doesn't excuse the things I did and I'm not trying to. But I was young, scared and lost and I wasn't strong like you. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think that if I'd just stood by you as your friend that all those horrible things that happened to you wouldn't have happened. And I'd take every pain in the world to take it all back."
"Oh, Logan… if you can forgive me for all the awful things I've done to you, then I can forgive you for those. I don't blame you. Those things that happened weren't you're fault. We've both made mistakes and I don't want those to come between us anymore. Life's too short for regrets."
"You're right about that, Mars," he said, wiping the tears from her eyes with his thumbs. "Now what do you say we blow this road side dust bowl and head towards home."
"I'd say good plan."
Logan kissed her forehead once more before opening the car door so that she could get back in. He found himself whistling as he went around to the driver's side. For once, his future was looking bright and the only thing that would make him any happier is if Keith would get better. One day he was going to marry Veronica Mars and he wanted Keith to be able to be there.
It was late when they pulled into a motel right outside El Paso. They were both tired, emotionally and physically, and looked forward to a warm bed. Veronica went to check in but was only gone for a few minutes and Logan was grateful.
He dragged the luggage up one flight of stairs and then looked to Veronica for directions.
"Which one is mine?"
"I thought you said that was yours."
A grin the size of the state of Texas itself spread across Logan's face and he suddenly found he wasn't so tired anymore.
They door was barely closed before he attacked Veronica's mouth with his own. The luggage was long forgotten as he backed her to the bed, placing kisses anywhere he could find skin. They fell to onto the bed with a thud, both eager to solidify their new found trust in each other. Two and a half years had been way too long.
Veronica pulled the sheet around her and got up to call her Dad. She looked down at Logan who had a huge smile plastered on his face.
"What are you smiling about?"
"Oh, besides the fact that I just had hot, amazing sex with my beautiful girlfriend."
"Yes, besides that," she replied as she felt herself blush all over.
That Logan had referred to her as his girlfriend made her feel all giddy inside, too. She wondered when she had reverted back into a twelve-year old with a crush. But she couldn't help it. Logan made her feel that way. And this time things were going to be different. Deep in her heart, she just knew.
"I was thinking how lucky I am and that if this is a dream, I hope I never wake up."
"Oh, it's definitely not a dream, and when I get finished calling my Dad, I going to prove to you just how real I am."
"Are you propositioning me Miss Mars?"
"Most definitely, Mr. Echolls," she admitted, leaning down to kiss him on the lips.
A couple of minutes later Veronica slid back into to bed, bringing her phone with her. She dialed a number and when Logan's phone rang he looked at her confusedly. He grabbed his phone off the floor and answered it, the witty retort he'd had planned, gone when he caught sight of the look in Veronica's eyes.
"I love you, too, Logan."
He couldn't even speak as those words sunk in and overtook him. He and Veronica had started across a precipice today and as far as he was concerned, this was the final piece to the bridge.
"You think we could make a little detour?"
"What did you have in mind?" he asked suggestively
"Not that kind of detour. The Grand Canyon. I've never seen the Grand Canyon."
"Are you sure you want to. That will put us a day behind, at least."
"Yes… I'm sure. If we hurry, we can see the sunset."
Veronica was struck by how utterly magnificent it was. Pictures and paintings would never be able to do it justice no matter how talented the hand. The sun was just setting over the western side of the canyon, casting giant shadows on the red and blue rock that made up its walls. It was hard to imagine each curve, each ridge being carved out by a river over millions of years.
"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"From where I'm standing it's the second most beautiful thing."
She turned around and found Logan staring at her and couldn't help but to be overwhelmed with by the intensity she found in his eyes. She should be used to it by now, but knowing the depths of his love for her never got old. A blush found it's way to her cheeks as she turned her attention back to the sight before her.
The sky was bathed in oranges and yellows and the most brilliant pink she'd ever seen in her life. The last rays of the sun briefly broke through the picturesque blanket, highlighting the kaleidoscope of colors. It was then that Veronica began to cry.
Logan quickly moved up behind her, wrapping her up in his warmth.
"What is it, baby? What's wrong."
"My Dad… he's never seen The Grand Canyon either. What if he never gets to Logan? I can't lose him… I just can't," she admitted, sobs wracking her body.
Logan continued to hold her tight.
"Listen, Veronica… I can't tell you everything is going to be ok because truth is, we really don't know. But when we get home, we will find the best doctors and get the best treatment and pray like mad for a miracle."
He moved around in front of her, taking her head in his hands and causing her to look at him.
"And no matter what happens, I'll be with you, good or bad. I promise."
"That's good, because I need you Logan. I do. I thought I'd never really need anybody but I don't think I can go through this alone."
"You don't have to, Veronica. You don't ever have to. I love you and I'm never leaving. Got that?"
Veronica nodded, unable to speak for the giant lump in her throat. They loved each other and needed each other and that would always make things a little bit easier.
"Come on. Let's go home, Veronica."
Logan reached out for her hand where she took it gratefully, giving it a gentle squeeze. He gave her a reassuring smile and she returned it with one of her own.
Three years later
"You ready, honey?"
"Yes, I'm ready."
"I just want you to know that even though Logan and I haven't always seen eye to eye on things, we agree on the most important thing."
"And what's that, Dad?"
"That you deserve to be happy and to be loved like no other."
"I already am, Dad… I already am."
After numerous second opinions, two surgeries and several rounds of chemo, her Dad was in remission. Lately the days had been mostly good, but that didn't mean that there wouldn't be bad ones ahead. But they had all made it here and Logan had been right beside her every step of the way. And today, her Dad would give her away to the only man that had ever been able to set her soul on fire, the one man she couldn't ever remember not loving one way or another.
Veronica grabbed Keith's arm tightly as they stood waiting to go down the aisle. Logan caught sight of her and the sheer love in his eyes nearly took her breath away. She was definitely ready to make him permanently hers.
"This is it, honey. Any regrets?"
"No … I left those all behind."
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