*++*

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. -C. S. Lewis

Saturday, January 11, 2014 (Veronica is 26, Logan is 25)

VERONICA: Maybe I shouldn't have gone to college. I've already done that on the first go around. Maybe I should have taken a risk and started out on my own. I don't think things could have turned out any worse than they already are.

"Twins? More kids?" Piz is pissed. He's flailing his hands about, staring down at the game board. "I can't afford more kids on a struggling artist's salary! And I barely have any room in my car."

"Well, maybe next time you'll use a condom," Logan deadpans before nodding towards me. "Your turn to spin, Veronica."

Ah, yes. So will I get lucky in the game of Life? Or will I end up alone and broke, with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest? I spin a seven and pass a payday. "Ha. I wish." Logan smiles at me ruefully before handing me $80,000 in play money.

"Are you going to say that every time you get paid? Cause it's a little depressing."
Piz's hair is a little shorter now, finally out of his eyes. But other than that, he looks perpetually 19 years old.

"I don't know. Are you going to bitch every time your slutty wife pops out another brat?" I ask, annoyed.

Piz pretends to be offended, and there's something about his facial nuances that remind me of Logan's patented You Slay Me look. Clearly they've been spending too much time together, and it must be stopped, because if Logan starts acting like a bunny jacked up on Jolt Cola, I will have no choice but murder/suicide.

"She's not a slut. She's Catholic. And her name is Linda and she is a lovely person."

"Good to know. My turn," Logan interrupts, spinning the little plastic wheel. He gets a four and moves his game piece. "Ah, look at that," he grins. "I win $10,000 in a talent show. And I do believe I also got $50 earlier in Monopoly after winning that beauty contest. It's good to know that my finest attributes are being rewarded in some universe."

"You were runner-up," I correct him.

"True, but if the reigning winner is unable to fulfill their duties for any reason, the crown is mine."

"I see. So what was your talent, Logan? Was it annoying me? Because I couldn't contest the judges' decision with that one."

Logan chuckles and nods toward Piz. "And it sounds like someone's pain medication has worn off." He stands from the kitchen table and goes to get my pills from one of the cabinets.

"Is Wallace ever going to get off the phone?" he asks, pouring a glass of water while he looks out through the French doors. Wallace is still on the back deck, on his cell with his girlfriend. I actually really like Samantha. I'd like her even more if she didn't feel the need to disclose details about Wallace's sexual prowess.

"If he's out there for much longer, I think I'm just going to head home. I have a lot of studying to do, and I don't think I'm ever going get to retire at this point." Piz is looking down at the game, disgusted. I feel guilty. He's knee deep in law school, and he's stuck playing board games on a Saturday night.

Logan hands me two Percocets and the water. I take them and try to force a thankful smile. He smiles back down at me, and I hate this. I hate this. Friendship is baking your BFF snickerdoodles, or tracking down their murderer. It's not mooching off of them for months at a time, or acting so helpless and pathetic that they feel the need to coddle you and spend their free time suffering through Milton and Bradley's deranged idea of Family Game Night.

"Your loss, Piznarski. Mac might be coming over later. If we're feeling extra crazy, we might break out the Uno cards."

I take a deep breath and look at Logan and then at Piz. "Guys, you don't-"

"Veronica, stop." Logan's tone is firm. "I swear to God, if we didn't want to be here, we wouldn't be."

"He's right," Piz agrees.

"We're here because you're important to us. And because we love you. And because in about twenty minutes, you're going to be totally looped and we find that funny."

"Again, he's right," Piz says, grinning.

I catch Logan's eyes and hold his stare. His expression is pleading, begging to just let him be there for me. "Okay?" he asks, soft and serious.

I work past the lump in my throat and look down at my plastic white car, with a pink peg and a blue peg occupying the front seat. "Okay."

*++*

A friend is a gift you give yourself. - Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, May 24, 2014 (Logan is 41 and 26, Veronica is 26)

LOGAN: They say practice makes perfect. This time leaping thing is something I think I've gotten better at, over the years. I still can't exactly control it, but there has to be something going on in my mind to help me out. There has to be some level of autonomy at play. I'm no longer finding myself in dark alleys or strange homes, and I'm not going as frequently as I used to, either. I still don't know what triggers it, or how to go back at will…

But at least I know that I can end up somewhere I might want to be, whether it's with Veronica, or Veronica and me. Like right now, I'm back in the house I shared with her before we were married. I can relax, I can feel safe. I can go to a room that's technically mine and wear clothes that are technically mine.

Sometimes they see me; that's never going to stop being weird, so if it's at all possible, I just hang back, lurk, reminisce. For instance, Veronica and I are currently in the living room, using her laptop to shop for a wedding gift for Wallace. I'm going through the halls of our house, and it is still so surreal, like being able to walk into a 3-D photograph or transfer yourself into your old home videos.

I can hear Veronica laughing in the next room, laughing at something I had said. I sneak through the kitchen and slide down along the wall, so I can sit on the floor and listen to our conversation play out just as it did.

"So everything's already been bought on the registration from Linen's 'N Things. Cross your fingers for Bed, Bath and Beyond," Veronica is telling me.

"Surely there has to be something available in the Beyond section."

There's silence for a few minutes as Veronica is scrolling through pages on her computer. I can't see them, for risk of revealing myself (which I know I don't), but I can still remember watching her. I remember the dim light from the screen reflecting off of her reading glasses, which she had just gotten a few weeks before. I remember her biting her lip in concentration as she read through the list. I remember thinking she looked beautiful. I remember thinking that I desperately wanted to kiss her right then.

"Foiled again," she sighs. "And I am going to kill Mac. She bought that down comforter I wanted to get them."

"How dare she!"

"Joke if you must, but now we have to put actual thought into our gifts."

"Okay, I might be off-base here, but if your self-proclaimed BFF is getting married, shouldn't you be putting thought into your gift regardless?"

"Under normal circumstances? Yes. But when said BFF makes his brother best man over you, then he'll be lucky if he gets corn-on-the-cob holders."

"I know I still tease you about being butch…"

"It's just the principle of the whole thing. I'm going to be standing with a bunch of girls I don't know on Samantha's side of the church, when I should be on Wallace's side. Darrell gets to be on Wallace's side. You, Mark and Piz get to be on Wallace's side. That's where I should be."

I remember her looking so serious and cute. I really wanted to kiss her right then.

"And who picks their brother over me? I mean, if you were getting married, who would be your best man? Charlie or me?

There's an awkward pause, and I remember my heart breaking a little at the idea of Veronica being on my right instead of my left.

"Um, I don't know. I guess I never really thought about it."

She's silent for a moment, and I'm still wondering what she's thinking. I'll have to ask her about it later.

"I got an idea," I tell her. "Since it's Wallace, and he's…Wallace, let's go in on something together and get him something good."

"Go halfsies?"

"Kind of."

"What do you have in mind?"

"They're not going on a honeymoon, right? Said they couldn't afford it."

"Yeeaahh," she says slowly, skeptically.

"So let's buy them a honeymoon."

She snorts. "Ha, sure! We'll go halfsies on a honeymoon. Or maybe a car! Or, or you know what we could do? We could hire Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to reenact scenes from Titanic at the reception!"

"So it won't exactly be halfsies. I'll pay for it, we'll both sign the card. They'll love it."

"They would know that you paid for it."

"They'll probably just assume that you performed some contortionistic sexual act in order to convince me. They'll be grateful!"

I remember her shaking her head, smiling at me, and I knew then that she wanted nothing more than to be able to give Wallace a honeymoon.

"If, hypothetically, we were to do this, where would we send them?"

"I dunno. Hawaii? The Bahamas? Jamaica? Kokomo?"

"So they can take it slow?"

"That's where they wanna go."

She's cracking up now, and I know I'm grinning like an idiot just watching her.

"Okay, okay. But if we do this, I'm paying you back. Plus interest."

"Fine."

"I'm serious! I'm reevaluating my career options for maximum income potential."

"Huh. Well, what are some of these options?"

"Um, well, there's ballerina. Veterinarian. Astronaut. Or, if I want to always have cash available, stripper."

"That's a good one. You should go with stripper."

"Yeah, but then there's the issue with my scars…"

"You know, there just might be a market for that," I tease, going along with her. She was very insecure about her scars for a long time after the shooting, and it was something she would bring up a lot. At first they were a physical reminder of her mistakes, of her first real failure. Now they're faded medals, marking her survival.

"Really? Okay, so it's settled. We'll send the Fennels on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon, which I'll help finance by dancing nude for men with bullet wound fetishes."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Just look up a travel agent."

I can hear her repositioning herself on the couch so she can settle comfortably in my arms. I smile to myself and wait to go home, so I can hold her now.

*++*

Sympathy constitutes friendship; but in love there is a sort of antipathy, or opposing passion. Each strives to be the other, and both together make up one whole. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sunday, December 7, 2003 (Logan is 26, Veronica is 16)

LOGAN: I'm in Veronica's bedroom, the one in the house she lived in before they moved into the apartment complex. They must already be in the process of moving, because Veronica's room is torn apart, with scattered boxes littering the area and different cleaning supplies on almost every surface.

But I don't know why I'm in Veronica's room. My leaving today to visit her wasn't on the list.

She's currently not here, and I wonder if I just disappear before she sees me, which would explain the date thing. I search under her bed for the clothes and I dress anyway, just in case. Then I look around the room for the date. I check for it on her computer.

December 7, 2003. It's in the months following Lilly's death, so I already know it won't be one of the most pleasant visits. But there's something about this date that nags in the back of my mind.

Oh.

Oh.

I suddenly feel like I shouldn't be here. Like I'm intruding, and there's a reason this date wasn't listed and if she sees me, it'll only make things worse.

Then I feel her presence, and sure enough when I turn around, she's looking at me. Her face is rather blank, and her long blonde hair is down. She's wearing a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, and she just looks so pale and so small.

"I really don't feel like talking tonight, Logan, so just hang around until you have to go," she says flatly, moving around me to finish cleaning the area around her computer.

I feel stuck in my spot in the middle of the room. "Veronica, I…"

She suddenly stops what she's doing and looks up at me with wide eyes. "You know, don't you?"

"Are you okay?" It's the last thing I wanted to ask, the stupidest cliché that could have fallen out of my mouth.

She acts as though she didn't hear me. "How do you know? Do you know who did it?"

If ever there was a time that I wish I could forego fate and just tell her, spill everything I know, it would be now. But I can't. I try to speak, but there are no words.

"How do you know?" she asks again, her voice barely a whisper. She sounds so broken.

"I…I can't…"

Anger flashes across her face, and then it's replaced by sadness and hopelessness. I'd give anything to just be able to tell her. I search for any words, anything I can tell her that could help her out. "Veronica, you have to take care of yourself now, okay? You need to go to a doctor, make sure you're all right. You don't have to tell your parents, but you should talk to someone."

She looks up at me, tears brimming in her already red eyes. Everything about her screams lost, violated, tired. "Logan, when you said that you did some horrible things…you, you didn't mean…" She trails off, and I feel a sucker punch to the gut. I'm at her front door again, begging her to talk to me. She's angry and vengeful and I don't know why. Then she says the word rape, and looks at me with such hate that my already broken heart somehow shatters even more.

"I don't know if I could forgive you for that," she tells me, sobbing. "I don't know if I could," she repeats as she crashes against my body, her arms encircling my waist as she hugs me with all of her strength. The floodgates have broken now, and she's shaking violently against me, her tears soaking through Keith's threadbare Padres t-shirt.

I want to tell her, but I can't. Dammit, I can't! So I just hug her back, as tight as possible, trying to absorb some of her pain.

"Maybe I could," I hear her say against my chest. "I could." Another sucker punch and then I'm down. I hold her as tight as I can, because it's the only thing I can do.

*++*

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. -Anonymous

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 (Veronica is 26, Logan is 26)

VERONICA: Logan has been acting strange all day. He's quiet, and I think he's avoiding me.

Wherever he went last night, it's affected him. We've been sleeping together in his bed since I moved in, back when I was still having nightmares. It's probably strange, maybe a little foolish, and it's definitely sometimes frustrating, but we are all of those things. Nothing ever happens; we just find it comforting. But last night, after he got back from wherever, he went to go sleep in one of the guest rooms. He didn't say anything to me in the morning, and he barely spoke more than three words during dinner. Now he's outside, sitting in the sand and staring at the ocean, and I'm here wondering what he saw to make him like this. Did he run into Aaron? Lilly? I can't just let my mind wander like it is. I have to know.

It's really beautiful outside, a perfect summer evening. The sun is setting, and the sky is an incredible warm mix of hues: oranges, reds, yellows. I wish I had my camera with me, so I could capture the way the last rays of sunshine are bouncing off the waves of the ocean. I take so many pictures of so many ugly, horrible things. But there's so much more always going on, so much more that I always ignore. I can't keep doing that, forgetting about the beautiful things. If I do, then what's the point in anything?

I settle in the sand beside Logan, but he doesn't acknowledge me. This isn't like him.

"Where were you last night?" I ask, looking over at him. He's staring straight ahead, and the warm tones of the sky are bathing his face. He is one of the beautiful things that I need to start paying more attention to. Logan's a man now, with a strong jaw and knowing eyes, but there's still so much boy in him. That's Logan, ever a dichotomy. He's sensible and stormy, boisterous and bashful, sweet and sour all at once.

"Logan, please?" I ask, my voice breaking. Where could he have been that has had such a profound impact on him?

"I was with you," he answers calmly, still looking ahead, out onto the sea.

"What?" That wasn't an answer I was expecting. It wasn't on the list. For a second I wonder if he somehow leaped into the future, but then I remember.

Oh.

"After Shelly's party?" I ask, and he nods. "Logan, I don't understand why you're so upset. It was a long time ago, and I couldn't have gotten through that if it weren't for you-"

"You asked me if it was me. If I did it. And you said-"

"Logan, no! I was really upset, really confused. I never thought you could do it. Even after Tad told me about the GHB, deep down, I never really believed it was you…" I'm panicking now, worried that something I said to him over ten years ago has ruined one of the most important things in my life now.

He turns to me, and there are tears coursing down his cheeks. "You told me that you'd forgive me if it was. If I did that to you. I would never, ever want your forgiveness if I could do something like that."

"You would never do something like that!"

"Why are you here, Veronica?" He's shouting now, his voice thick and strained. "Why are you here right now? Why do you always keep coming back to me? Is it because you want it, or because I keep forcing my way into your life?"

I open my mouth to speak, but there are no words. My chest feels heavy, like someone is pushing against me, their hands on my breastbone and they're just pushing, pushing. I take a deep breath and try to collect my thoughts.

"Logan, I don't know why I do a lot of the things I do. It's…it's like my life is a cross-word puzzle, and I have some of the words and letters, and I'm just trying to solve it anyway I can." I'm crying now, too, and it's hard to get the words out.

"I make a lot of mistakes. I know that, even if it seems like I don't. When I blamed you for things, when I thought…about the party, about Lilly…I was just trying to make things fit. I don't know anything about tomorrow, or the next day. You never told me…"

"Why are you here, Veronica?" he asks again.

"God, Logan! I could have gone with Duncan! At anytime, I could have tried to track him down and gone to him. I could have found a way to go to Stanford! I could have at least tried to stay with the FBI!"

"Why didn't you?"

"Because of my dad. And Wallace. And you. Because of you."

"Is it because our lives are so messed up, so twisted together-"

"I don't know!" I shout. "I can't say anything for sure. I don't know anything for sure. But I think...I think that I'd love you even if we only met when we were twelve. Or if we met when we were eighteen. Or if we didn't meet until we were forty. It's you, Logan. It'll always be you."

There's so many emotions playing on his face right now, I can't even begin to decipher them all. But I see the shock, and it makes me realize that he has yet to hear me tell him that I love him, that I have never before said the actual words. I don't know why it's so hard to just say the words.

"I love you," I tell him, and he looks like he wants to believe me more than anything. I want him to believe me, too. "I love you, Logan," I repeat, reaching for him, pulling him to me.

His lips meet mine and it feels like all of the pieces have finally fallen into place. I finally have all of the words and letters, and I can solve the puzzle. This won't be like every other time, when we rushed back together because we wanted it to work. It will work now. We've been biding our time, fixing ourselves, and now we're ready. We'll never not be broken, but together we can try to be whole.

He trails kisses along my jawline before breaking away. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that," he tells me breathlessly, resting his forehead against mine.

"Me too," I say, closing my eyes.

"That night your dad called, when I thought I might lose you-"

"But you didn't. Everything worked out."

I pull back to look at him and I see him smiling at me, his eyes happy, and while he still looks like the boy I used to frantically kiss in the girls' bathroom at Neptune High, he is also the man that I've been waiting for.

I stand and pull him to his feet. The sun is down now, and the remaining orange glow of the sky is the only light illuminating us. "It's getting late," I tell him seriously. "We should really get to bed."

He throws his arm around me and laughs. "Agreed!"

And so we walk back home, hand in hand, and the pieces finally fit.

*++*

Epilogue

The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time. -Lawrence Durrell

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 (Logan is 29, Veronica is 30)

LOGAN: Veronica has been acting strange all day. She's giddy, practically chasing me from room to room.

"How long do you think you'll be gone for?" she asks, following me into our bedroom.

The list has me down for traveling tonight, to visit Veronica during the first summer we were together.

"You know I have no idea," I tell her, searching the top of my desk for some papers I need for work.

"Mmm. Well, in case you have any sort of subconscious mental control over it, I just want you to know that you don't have to rush back or anything."

I look over at her suspiciously. She's standing by our bed, faux-innocence plastered on her face. "Are you having an affair?" I ask, teasingly. "Planning dalliances while I'm off cavorting with a younger you?"

"Hey, now, you're the one cavorting with the younger me," she says, mock defensively.

"It's the pool boy, isn't it? Or the gardener? Maybe the French maid?"

"We don't have a French maid. I'm pretty sure Gladys the Clean Queen is from Jersey."

"We could get a French maid," I purr, slowly walking up to her.

"Like a Jean-Pierre? Yum."

"I was thinking more like a Chantal," I joke, grabbing her and pulling her to me. I kiss her hard and then gently push her back onto the bed.

"Slow down there, cowboy," she tells me when our make-out intensifies and I snake my hand under her shirt, cupping her breast. "Save your energy. I have to get dinner started." With that, she pushes me off of her and flounces out of the room and I am left wondering, for approximately the one millionth time, what the hell she is up to.

Saturday, July 9, 2005 (Veronica is 17, Logan is 29)

VERONICA: One of the things I'm learning about Logan is that he's exceptionally good with his hands and his mouth. He dropped me off over an hour ago, and my nipples are still sore.

I could have stayed out with him longer. A part of me wanted to; Dad's on another book tour and won't be back until Tuesday, so curfew isn't really a factor. But I'm expecting a visit tonight, so I had to be home.

Think of the devil…

"No peeking," he yells playfully, so I turn my back to him.

"You do realize that I've seen your ass at least five times, right? You were never one to pass up a mooning."

"All right," he gives me the clear, so I turn around to find him standing in a pair of navy sweats that I got for him. His chest is bare, so I take a second to admire his arms and abs.

"No shirt?" he asks, eyebrow raised.

"Oh, I actually have one of yours," I tell him, crossing the room to get the t-shirt from my dresser. "I stole it from you when we were at the beach," I say, throwing it to him.

He looks down at the white shirt with a cartoon shrimp on the left corner. "Hey, this is like one of my favorite shirts. I thought I lost it."

"You're welcome," I grin.

"Klepto," he mutters, pulling the shirt over his head. I ask him the date he is coming from and move to my desk to record the information on the list.

"So what have you been up to?" he asks, once I'm finished.

"Just got back from a date with you, actually."

"Oh yeah? What'd we do?"

"You know, the usual: Dinner, movie. Clandestine make-out in the Love Mobile."

"I was always such a romantic," he smiles, taking a seat on my bed.

I sit next to him. "You actually kind of are. And tonight, in case you don't remember, was the first time I let you get to second base," I tell him.

He looks contemplative for a moment. "Ah, it's all coming back to me now."

"Really? So you do remember?" I ask cautiously.

"A man never forgets his first time on second base with a girl."

"So," I begin slowly, trying to not come off as too pathetic or insecure. "What did you think?"

"Are you serious?" he asks me, surprised. "I thought it was incredible. You're incredible."

I smile, satisfied with his answer. "Well then," I tell him, running my hand along his forearm, "maybe, if you play your cards right…I mean, you're coming over tomorrow…"

His posture tenses.

"Is that what happens?" I try and guess. "Is tomorrow our first time?"

He looks at me regretfully. "Veronica, do you know where I am right now?"

"The other you that's not with me, you mean?"

"Yeah."

"You said you were going to head home, play some video games." I don't like the expression on his face, like he has to tell me something he really doesn't want to admit. I've seen that look before. It speaks of salt licks and GHB in Duncan's drink.

"Yeah, and I do. I go home, and take a shower." He smiles sheepishly, and clears his throat. "And I play video games for about an hour. But then I go out with Dick and a few other guys, and we slash the tires on some of the PCH'ers' bikes."

"Oh God, Logan. Why?"

"Revenge? They'd been pulling shit all week, and I didn't want them to think that I would just take it."

I feel that pang of disappointment again. It's the same one I felt when I turned to Logan after Lilly died and he called me a traitor, or when Cassidy told me about Logan's alibi.

"You're going to have to break-up with me," he tells me, even though I know he doesn't want to say it. "Things are just going to get worse, and somebody could get killed."

"So that's what happens?" I ask, trying to fight tears. "I break-up with you?" I really thought things couldn't get worse. After everything with Aaron, and then Logan's arrest, I thought things could only get better. I thought that we were finally in a place where we could be together.

"You'll know when you have to do it," he says, and I can tell that there's more that he wants to say, but can't. "I just…I'm not in a good place right now, Veronica. And that's not good for you. I end up doing a lot of stupid things.

"Just enjoy our time together until then, okay? Because no matter what happens, you being with me now? That's everything to me. You're my world."

I feel like I want to cry, but I'm too emotionally drained. I knew it was too good to be true, the idea that things could go back to normal and Logan and I could be together. After the last two years, that's all I wanted.

"I just, I want to be with you," I tell him, resting my head on his shoulder. "I want you."

"There's no way you could know how good that is to hear," he whispers wistfully. "But things have already happened, and they can't change. Just go with your instincts."

"If I really went with my instincts, then we would stay together," I say, determined, bitter.

"You don't have the whole picture yet. Trust me."

"I wanted you to be my first," I say, wiping at my eyes. "The first that counted. The first I would remember."

"I'm sorry."

"You could…you still could be." I look up into his eyes and see his confusion. "You could still be my first."

"No, Veronica. I…I can't. I'm not. Duncan…" He's struggling with words.

"Duncan?" I ask, disbelieving.

"These things, they've already happened," he says. "Even if I don't want them to happen, that's the way they went."

"Okay, fine. So you're going by what you already know. But what if there are things that you didn't know?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you know what happens next, right now? With us? Here? Did I ever tell you?"

He shakes his head.

"Then be with me now," I tell him. "You could be with me now. Maybe that's what really happened, and I just never told you."

I can see him thinking, trying to process what I just told him, and it's like something has suddenly clicked in his mind.

"Follow your instincts," I say, my voice raspy. I trail my fingers down along his chest, over his stomach, down his thigh. "Follow your instincts, Logan."

He pulls me toward him, his lips crashing against mine. It's the first time I've ever kissed an older version of Logan. His mouth is warm, and I can feel his tongue against my lips. I part my mouth and take him in, and it's just like that day at the Camelot, but somehow, it's even better.

His tongue is tangled with mine, his hands twisted in my hair. I straddle his lap, and I can feel him pressed hard against me. I grind my hips downward and he moans into my mouth.

"We can stop, if you want," he tells me breathlessly after breaking the kiss. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to do. We don't know what happens next-"

"I know, isn't it great?" I grin, continuing to move my hips against him.

He pulls my head forward for another kiss, and laughs into my mouth. "I never thought I'd hear you say that."

I break the kiss this time, trying to smile seductively as I unbutton my blouse, even though my fingers are shaking.

LOGAN: There are so many things I wish I could go back and change, but that I know I'm helpless over. Aside from the bloodshed and tears, one of my biggest regrets is fucking things up with Veronica that summer, sending her flying back into Duncan's arms. I always hated that he would forever be inscribed in her mind as her first.

But I think I was fooled, as Veronica is currently wiggling in my lap, trying her damnedest to pull off sex kitten while she nervously undoes her shirt.

I take her hands in mine and then finish the job, pushing the thin material down her shoulders. There are light bruises peppering the curves of her breasts, which are still covered by her lacy white bra. "My handiwork from earlier?" I ask, trying to keep the pride out of my voice. She nods timidly, and so I pull the cups down and take her nipple into my mouth.

"Oh, god, that feels so good," she moans, her hips rocking against me. I suck harder and she hisses. "I'm still a little sore from earlier," she tells me, and so I apologize.

I unhook her bra and it falls to the floor, along with her shirt. She pulls at the hem of my t-shirt and I raise my arms so she can lift it off. Once we're both topless, I reposition us on the bed so that she is underneath me.

"You have no idea how much I wanted this," I mumble against her skin as I suckle at her pulse point. "There's nothing I want more."

"Me, too," she breathes, her hands running up and down my back.

I want to take all night with this, to be able to kiss her for hours, take my time, make her come over and over again. But I don't know how long I have with her here, so I have to move things along.

I lick a path from her breasts, down to her tummy. Her chest is so smooth and flawless, not yet marred by any scar tissue. I kiss her hipbone, pulling down her skirt to reveal more skin for my mouth.

Soon her skirt and panties are discarded, too, and thrown to the floor with the other clothes. I know that time is limited, but I have to taste her. On my list of Favorite Things Ever, going down on Veronica is numero uno, sitting smack at the very top.

She screams as my mouth closes over her, my tongue darting out against her clit. She's delicious. Always delicious. I lick with a firm pressure, and I can feel her thighs tensing and the heel of her foot digging into my back. Soon her body is rigid, and as she's raising her hips to create more sensation, I increase the speed and she comes against my mouth.

She's still moaning my name as I gently lick at her, lapping up her essence. Then she grabs at my shoulders, urging me up her body.

"I want you, now. Inside of me," she pants, her eyes locked with mine. I reach between our bodies and gauge her reactions and comfort level as I insert a finger inside of her, trying to prepare her for my cock. I've done this with Veronica so many times, and I know her body, but I want to know this is good for her.

My voice is soft, soothing. "Is that good, baby? Do you like that?"

"Oh God," she moans, her face contorting. I slip a second finger inside of her and use my thumb to rub back and forth against her clit. She's bucking and gasping, her bare breasts heaving, and it's about the sexiest thing I've ever seen.

"Ready?" I ask her, pulling down my sweats before settling between her thighs. She nods, and I gently push forward, the tip of my cock now inside of her. She arches up, immediately trying to take more. "Spread your legs a little wider, babe, okay?" She does, and I ease in more, teeth gritted.

"Is this okay?" I ask her once I'm fully inside, and she nods eagerly, smiling dreamily. This feels incredibly good. She's so warm and willing, and innocent.

I drop a kiss on the tip of her nose as I begin moving inside of her, and soon she's wrapping her legs around my waist and moving urgently against me. I'm doing my best to hold off, to try and concentrate on anything other than how incredible this feels, so I can make this last.

"Logan?" she asks, her fingers tightening against my biceps. "Can I be on top?"

I grin down at her and then roll over. She pulls me into a sitting position, so she's once again in my lap, and wraps her arms and legs around me. Soon she's grinding against me with vengeance, completely in control, and I can barely see straight because it feels so good. When she starts moving faster, I can't take it anymore. I come, whispering her name over and over again. My fingers are on her clit, furiously stimulating her. She comes hard around me, her head thrown back in ecstasy. Her pale throat convulses as she swallows, momentarily lost in her own bliss. I'm so happy that I've made this wonderful for her, this memory—that she's let me make it wonderful.

I fall back onto the mattress, and she moves beside me to rest her head on my chest.

"I guess it's a good thing we know you don't get pregnant," I whisper into her hair, grinning.

"I'm on the Pill," she informs me sleepily, her eyes drifting shut. I stroke her hair and watch her fall asleep. I'd love to stay all night and just hold her, but I know I'll be gone very soon, so I kiss her on the forehead, tell her I love her, and wait.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 (Veronica is 30, Logan is 29)

VERONICA: I'm already in bed by the time Logan gets back, at around 11 p.m. I consider the old 'pretend to be asleep' ploy, just to tease him. But I can barely keep the grin off of my face, so I know that it won't work for long. I can hear him whistling happily as he climbs into bed with me. I keep my back turned to him, waiting to see what he'll do next.

"Veronica?" he calls my name softly, running his fingers through my hair. "You awake?"

I fake a yawn and turn my head to acknowledge him. "I guess I am now, thanks to your impromptu musical interlude."

He grins, pulling me to him so my back is flush against his chest. "Mm, I can't help it. I'm in an extremely good mood."

"Hmm, whatever for?" I ask, blinking innocently.

His smile widens and he leans forward, resting his chin on my shoulder. "Thank you."

"Shouldn't I be thanking you?" I ask, rolling over.

He just stares at me with serious eyes and whispers, "Thank you," again. I nod and kiss him softly on the lips.

"Are you happy?" I question him, once he's settled back against the pillows, his eyes closed.

"So happy," he smiles, not bothering to open his eyes.

"Me too," I tell him, resting my head on his chest. And I am.

"Veronica," he says, his eyes still shut. "Let's have a baby."

I smile against his skin. I think we're ready now, after letting go of our fears and facing our worries. "You want to have a baby?" I ask, raising my head to watch his expression.

"Yeah," he replies softly, gauging my reaction.

I grin. "Then let's have a baby."

He sighs happily and wraps his arm around me, hugging me closer to his chest. I feel so at peace, so content; I never want to let this go. "Don't go anywhere else, all right? Just stay with me," I plead, my eyes drifting shut.

"I'll always come back to you," he tells me, the only promise he can make.

I kiss his chin and give a small nod. "I know you will."

And I do.

The End