Location: Elevate Lounge
Time: 10:16 p.m.
Objective: Find Mark Goering, prove him to be the cheating scum he undoubtedly is, and then hightail it back to Neptune before sunrise.

And, if time permits, order one of those fancy pink cocktails. She always did want to drink something with a little umbrella in it.

"So when exactly is he supposed to be here?"

Veronica resists the urge to roll her eyes. She'd been on edge the entire drive to LA, all 140 miles of it. Her jaw clenched with every word he spoke, her fists tightening every time he tapped the steering wheel, or played with the radio, or ran a hand though his hair.

"Sheryl said that the girl wanted to meet him around 1 a.m. But he'll probably show early."

"What makes you so sure?"

"His type always does," she replies briskly.

"His type?" Logan smirks, his eyebrows raised. "I thought your bread and butter was the mid-life crisis cheater. When did you become so familiar with the mating rituals of the hipster manwhore?"

"Probably when I spent the better part of my late teens dating one," she bites, turning to glare at him.

"And the claws come out." He grins. "But I, dear Veronica, am no hipster."

"I'm sorry, I only heard the word 'manwhore.'"

The damn grin never leaves his face. "On a scale of one to ten, how pissed are you that I'm here?"

She doesn't say anything, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of her annoyance.

"Because you seemed fine with it when I asked to come along. But, if I can be frank, you've been a total bitch since we left Neptune." He pauses, bringing his hand up to his chin in a gesture of thoughtfulness. "You'd think, with today's outrageous gas prices and all, that you'd be more appreciative of a ride."

She remains silent, her arms crossed defensively, her jaw tense.

"So I have to wonder, what was it exactly that put you in such a tiff?"

Veronica sighs in annoyance. Truth be told, she was fine with the idea of Logan accompanying her to LA, as she didn't really want to make the drive by herself or face the awkwardness of scouring such a hotspot all by her lonesome. Everyone else was busy, and Logan didn't make it sound like he was in it for her own protection, like some knight in shining armor to guard her from the club-going men in $500 skinny jeans and two dollar t-shirts.

Nope, it hadn't been a problem because she was fine with idea of Logan joining her tonight; she was fine with it when he offered, she was fine with it when he picked her up, she was fine with it when they pulled on to the freeway. But she became decidedly less fine with it the moment he pulled out his cell to call his hookup du jour. "Rain check?" he whispered, his voice low and flirty. He smiled at whatever the girl on the other end of the line said, declaring that he "wouldn't dream of missing out on that." By the time he hung up, Veronica's whole demeanor had changed drastically.

"I hope you didn't cancel any hot date on account of little 'ol me." She was going for quippy and non-interested with a hint of arrogance, but it came out more clipped and acerbic.

To his credit, he acted oblivious to her obvious jealousy. "I just rescheduled. I'd rather you not go to LA alone."

She folded her arms across her chest and scowled.

Logan Echolls: 1, Veronica Mars: 0.

"Veronica?" Logan asks, bringing her back to the present. "What's your problem?" When she doesn't say anything, her eyes staring down at the floor, he softens his tone. "I thought we were trying to be friends, you know?"

She sighs, shuffling her feet back and forth before looking up to meet his gaze. "Yeah, I know. Sorry. I'm fine." She manages a half-hearted smile before motioning him toward the bar. "C'mon, I'll buy you an appletini."

"Only if you pretend it's for you," he replies, following her.

Elevate Lounge is famous for its panoramic, penthouse view of LA nightlife. And even though Logan hates LA, he can't deny that the scenery is pretty damn cool. He's appreciating the beauty from the bar when a deep voice interrupts him.

"Appletini?" the bartender asks, sliding the drink towards him. Logan glares at Veronica who smiles innocently in return. The bartender looks over Veronica appreciatively before handing her a rose tea martini . She thanks him, fluttering her lashes coyly. "What are the odds a gal could get one of those cute paper umbrellas to go with it?"
The bartender laughs before producing one from underneath the bar area. "On the house," he smirks, placing it in her drink. "But it'll be twenty eight dollars for the tab."

Veronica giggles. Actually giggles. "You gotta love LA," she says, reaching for her purse. The bartender leans forward, his weight resting on his beefy forearms as he eyes her with a predatory smile. "Nah, this one is my treat. Enjoy your drink." He winks before moving on to the next customer, and Logan notes with distaste that Veronica is blushing.

"Looks like someone made a friend." He inwardly cringes at the bitterness in his tone.

Logan knows Veronica hears it, too, and he notes a sense of smug pleasure cross her face as she absently scans the room for her target. The club is busy but far from packed, so her task shouldn't be too difficult. "Sheryl told me that he always wears a bright red leather jacket with a black star stitched on the back when he goes clubbing," she tells him. "That should have been her first clue she was dating an asshole," she adds, sipping her martini.

"Red? With star stitching? I would have taken it as another sort of clue."

"Didn't you once own a red jacket?" she teases, stirring her drink with the umbrella.

Logan scoffs. "Red leather? Very 1985." He waits a beat before sighing in boredom. "Wanna go outside?"

"Maybe later."

A slow smile crosses his face as he leans into her, conspiring. "Wanna play Guess What They Do for a Living?"

"Here?" she grins. "Easy!" She motions to several people lounging on one of the white couches along the wall. "Actress/waitress, actress/waitress, actor/waiter. Welcome to LA."

"You're too cocky. She," he points at a tall brunette, "is clearly an actress/model/socialite. Her dad is probably a multimillionaire, but his money is tied up in embarrassing stocks, like Preparation H or Charmin toilet paper. So she tries to pretend like they're old money…"

"Hey, maybe he invented Toaster Strudels."

Logan shakes his head in mock disgust. "I hate that I get that."

Veronica's smile widens. "It was on cable last night."

"Ah, you should have called. We could have had a marathon," Logan offers. He takes a drink and then licks his lips, watching Veronica watch his mouth. She swallows thickly before turning away from him. He likes that part of her is still attracted to him, may always be a little bit attracted to him, but it can't make up for the disappoint she'll always associate with him. He saw it in the car on the way to the club, heard it in the way she talked to him after he hung up on Amanda. Logan Echolls- an aimless, slutty fuckup. But damn if he didn't still miss her like crazy, no matter how little she thought of him. "We don't really hangout much anymore," he tells her, unable to hide the sadness in his voice before he turns his back on her form.

She's well aware of their distance. After their armistice following the fallout with Gory, Veronica, confused and conflicted over the feelings Logan could always stir within her, was steadfast in her avoidance. She thought she was terribly transparent when it came to him- Hell, Piz saw it- and she just wasn't ready to go there again. Not yet.

She sidestepped him every chance she got, but she didn't fail to notice that he wasn't exactly going out of his way to run into her. The night before she left for her internship, she called him to tell him goodbye and quietly thanked him. When she returned, he was the one making efforts to reforge their bond: catching her in between classes, sitting with her at lunch, or listening in on conversations with clients and offering himself up for a road trip to LA.

She knows, deep down, that it is sweet that he is always the one willing to make the first move or take that extra step. She knows she should be easier on him and at least try to meet him halfway. But it feels as though every time she almost relents, she sees him walking with some gorgeous, intimidating girl, casually flirting. Or, even worse, images of Madison Sinclair, moaning and writhing on top of him, pop back into her head. It amazes her, even still, how she could forgive so easily for that year after Lilly's death, but can still hold on so tightly to her anger over Madison. And when she feels that slipping, she only has to imagine him with Parker, or Hannah or Kendall or even Lilly, and the fire settles back in the pit of her stomach, fueling her. She doesn't want to examine her feelings on the matter and risk finding out what it would say about her. No, avoidance is best here.

Veronica shakes the thoughts from her head and takes another drink of her martini. She feels underdressed in a short black skirt with black knee highs and a teal sweater. The club is full of beautiful girls in ridiculously expensive clothes, and while Veronica always felt confident back in Neptune, Los Angeles did nothing but feed her insecurities. She had felt that way since the days when Lilly would drag her to LA for shopping sprees.

She swivels in her bar stool to turn to Logan, but finds him chatting with a tall blonde in the next seat. She rolls her eyes for the thirtieth time that night, trying to swallow back the bitterness. Logan flirts with everyone. It's just what he does. It's of no concern to her anymore.

She looks over the room again for the cheater, desperately wanting to get the money shot so she can get back to Neptune before Logan finds someone to fuck in the bathroom. If he hasn't already. She turns back to look at Logan and finds him slipping a cocktail napkin into his back pocket. So predictable.

"What will your girlfriend think?" she asks him, her eyes trained straight ahead and her drink a mere inch away from her lips.

"Which one?" The tilt of arrogance is like nails on a chalkboard to her. She'd love nothing more than to fling her overpriced beverage right in his face.

"Bambi? Minnie?" she starts casually naming names, her lips pursed dramatically.

"I've found that the Disney characters usually aren't so jealous," he interrupts. Her scowl does nothing to deter him. "Besides, I settle for no one. Spread the love, that's my motto."

"I'm pretty sure it's not love you're spreading," she retorts, and he grins at the fire in her eyes.

"Why buy a cow, you know?" he adds, his eyes purposefully searching the club. "Especially when there's so much free milk."

"It must be like shooting fish in a barrel, huh?" she asks, following his gaze.

"You have no idea."

"Do you want me to leave?" Her eyes lock with his, and she's sure she's now got a tight reign on any questionable emotions. "I wouldn't want to cock block you."

"Oh please, Veronica," he sighs. "We're in a nightclub in LA. You could be sitting in my lap, licking my neck, and I'd still be able to get twenty numbers within the next hour."

"I'll take your word for it."

Logan smiles, a devious plan already formed. "Hey, you think you could do better?"

"What?" she asks, momentarily confused.

"Here. You think you could get more numbers than me here, tonight?"

"Why would I even want to try?" she asks seriously, and he shrugs. But he knows she'd never back down from a challenge. "Besides, it's not exactly an even playing field."

"Sure it is. Why do you think all of these guys are here? A love for techno?"

She eyes him skeptically. "C'mon, Veronica, you're-" he stops himself quickly. "Cute. Guys love cute girls." His recovery is so smooth, even he's impressed. His reward is written all over her face, a golden trophy shaped like Veronica's furrowed brow and patented grimace.

"What are we playing for?" she asks before chugging the rest of her drink.

"Just a friendly bet. Between friends."

"The most numbers in the next hour?"


Veronica glares at him, willing him to burst into flames right there at the bar. When he doesn't spontaneously combust, she offers her hand. They shake on it, their eyes locked in a power battle, before she pulls away from him and makes her way across the room.

He always wanted to see her jealous. Following Lilly's death and the carefully orchestrated ostracization of his former friend, he lived for Veronica's pain. The only reason he had to get out of bed each morning was to see her face, to watch it crumple in sadness as he put on another show. Tease her, taunt her, hurt her. Remember what we all used to have, Veronica? You don't have that anymore.

When their relationship changed, and he was still only getting out of bed to see her face, but for entirely different reasons, he longed for another kind of jealousy. He wanted it to be jealousy when she stormed into his room, ranting about bimbos and poor little rich boys and their death wishes. He wanted it to be jealousy when she scoffed at his use of Hannah. He wanted, more than anything, for it to be just jealousy when she showed up on date night wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt and he knew somehow before she even opened her mouth that she knew. He always wanted jealousy and only ever got disgust or indifference.

Logan still remembers how intently he studied her face when he asked her about Parker. He didn't get it then and he doubts he'll get it now, but he'll be damned if he ever stops searching for it.

Jealousy means fire. It means passion. It means she still cares.

It's been over twenty minutes and Veronica has three numbers. She spots what is sure to be her fourth leaning against the wall, drink in hand as he watches a group of girls dancing across from him. She decides to play stupid sorority girl again, since it's worked out well enough so far. She moves toward him with purpose, her hips swaying with each step, and he grins when he sees her, straightening his body as he looks her up and down.
"You look bored," she giggles, standing beside him. "Want some company?"

"Love some." He continues to check her out, his eyes roaming her body with no attempt to be discreet.

"You in college?" she smiles sweetly, her head cocked to one side.


Veronica feigns amazement, bringing her hand to her chest for effect. "Me too!" she practically squeals. Just then, she spots Logan out of the corner of her eye. He's talking up a curvy brunette, seemingly oblivious to anything else around him. I have to move things along, she thinks to herself, not wanting to fall behind in the race. The guy's about to launch into a lengthy discussion of his collegiate career, but Veronica cuts him short. "Ugh, I just remembered that I promised to meet up with a girlfriend. Maybe we can exchange numbers and get together on campus sometime?"

The guy looks a little perplexed, but he pulls out his cell. "What's your name, baby?"

"Madison," she smiles. She plugs his information into her cell phone and gives him Logan's number as her own.

Her fifth number is sitting at a corner table with another man and woman. Veronica picks him because he looks harmless enough, and he's wearing a West Coast University sweatshirt, so she has an opening line. As she's making her way toward her conquest, Logan breezes past her. She turns to see where he's going, and as if he knows she's watching him, he pivots on his heel and spins to face her, grinning as he holds up his right hand and three fingers on his left. Veronica scowls as he continues to walk backwards before disappearing into the crowd. Now she really needs to up the ante.

Fifth number's name is Jon, and his overall awkwardness lets her know that the club scene isn't really his thing. He keeps running a nervous hand through his curly black hair, and he doesn't make eye contact as Veronica shamelessly flirts. His bashfulness doesn't make things easy for her, and she's ready to cut her losses and move on. While Jon is fumbling through stories about his hometown and college major, Veronica's mind wanders. She reminds herself to keep an eye out for a red leather jacket with a black star, because she is working a case, but she knows she's really watching for Logan. He's wearing jeans and a thin, black v-neck sweater. Nothing about his ensemble would stick out in the crowd, but Veronica knows the curve of his shoulders like the back of her hand. Hell, after spending hours running her hands down along his back, tracing patterns on his skin and kissing away the salty moisture of his sweat, there's very few things she knows better.

She dreamt about him earlier. Mid-afternoon, when she realized she'd have a late night in LA, she decided to take a nap on her couch. She woke up about an hour later, warm and content, stretching languidly as images from her dream came to her in little puzzle pieces that she tried to fit back together.

For the first time in a long time, nobody else was invading her subconscious. It was only her and Logan, hanging out in his room at Neptune Grand. Or walking side-by-side along the beach. Or huddled together in the library. All of those images felt very real to her, like the memories in her mind, and she realized it was because at one time, they were real. It made her feel good, to see that. She even wished her dream was some recordable thing that she could replay on her TV right then, just to feel the goodness for a little bit longer and to remember it as it actually happened.

She shrugged it off by the time he came to pick her up. It was easier that way.

She sees him just then, with another girl. His number nine, or maybe ten, he moves so damn fast. Her number five is all but forgotten as she focuses all of her attention on Logan in action. They're about ten feet ahead, the girl against a wall as Logan stands beside her, leaning on his side, one arm propped above his head and resting flat against the surface of the wall. He leans further into her, so now the girl seems to be willingly trapped between the wall and his body. Veronica can only make out the side of the girl's face, which is partially hidden beneath a mask of wavy dark hair. But she has a clearer view of Logan, of every expression dancing across his face as he lays on the charm.

Veronica has to remind herself that this is all just a game, and that the looks he's giving someone else mean nothing. Logan's eyes, dark, intense, and sickeningly sexy, are locked on the woman in front of him. He's talking, and then she's talking, and then he's talking again. What about, Veronica can only imagine. The girl seems more confident now, and brazenly reaches up to rest her hand against Logan's chest. His eyes widen just a bit as the girl leans in to say something.

Unable to take anymore of the disgusting display, Veronica forces herself to focus on Jon. He's still idly chatting, a bit more relaxed with each word. She tries to pay attention to him, but her thoughts takeover again.

The look Logan was giving that girl was a look he used to give Veronica. Was it so easy for him, to transfer his affections on the whim? Could it be any girl in front of him and he would still treat them as he had treated her? The secret looks, the special touches, and seemingly uncharacteristic tenderness that she was so sure was reserved only for her now seemed to be public domain. Was Veronica that interchangeable? Was she so easy to replace?

Maybe she was a replacement herself. She saw firsthand how he was with Lilly. It's all her own fault for ever allowing herself to think that she held a special place in Logan Echolls's heart when she was probably nothing more than another notch on his belt.

Oh, she is pissed now.

Did Kendall's name falling from his lips sound just like hers? Did he spend a lazy afternoon naked with Hannah, telling her in detail about his favorite parts of her body? Did he run his fingers through Madison's hair? Madison. Fuck, how hard did he try to make her feel good when all she ever did was try to make Veronica feel bad?

And what about Parker? Veronica had assumed that Logan would have been her first after the rape. Did Logan treat her just as he had treated Veronica their first time? Did he let her be on top, his hands on her hips as he helped set the pace? It was probably in his room in the Grand, in the very same bed. Did they shower together afterwards, too? Did Logan go down on her then, making her feel so amazingly good that she was practically begging for it again?

Veronica feels her throat constricting. But she won't cry. No, she wants to make him feel as bad as he makes her feel. Fuck their little game here. Logan wouldn't care if she came away with fifty numbers. Hell, he'd probably slap her on the back in congratulations and tell her that all that practice with the football team must've paid off.

It wouldn't mean anything if she left with hundreds of numbers. But she knows him well enough to know that it would hurt him if she left with only one.

Veronica turns her attention back to Jon now. "Wanna go out on the balcony?"

He's watching them. Of that she's sure. She saw the way his eyes flitted toward her as she took Jon's hand and made her way outside. She makes sure to pay special attention to Jon now. To smile, bright and warm. To laugh any chance she can. She keeps his hand in hers as they look out on to the city. It must be quite the ego bruiser to see your ex-girlfriend so happy with someone else rather than pining away. Not that she had ever thought about that before. Definitely not.


They hadn't even been outside for more than five minutes. It's a small victory, but she enjoys it.

Veronica spins around, smiling. "Hey, Logan. Logan, this is Jon. Jon, Logan." She turns to Jon now. "He's the friend from Neptune who's helping me on my case." Yeah, there it is- the wince. It'd probably go unnoticed by anyone else, but she saw it. It was the only reason she decided to be honest with Jon. Such truthfulness wasn't exactly part of the game.

"It's almost midnight," Logan tells her, ignoring the other man.

Veronica feigns confusion. "Are you going to turn into a pumpkin?" Beside her, Jon laughs.

Logan finally spares a glance toward number five before gently grabbing Veronica by her elbow and pulling her away.

"Game over. How'd you do?" he asks once they're more than an earshot's distance.

"Oh. I kind of stopped playing when I started talking to Jon here. He's actually from San Diego." She's lying, not having paid enough attention to anything he had said to know more than his first name. "We're going to try and get together when he's in town for Spring Break next week."

"I see. So you were losing and now you're pulling the, 'I stopped playing!' card. Sneaky, Mars."

Veronica dismisses him with a laugh. "Yeah, you got me. Think you can keep yourself preoccupied for awhile? I'm kind of in the middle of something." She motions toward Jon. Logan's eyes darken, but he recovers quickly.

"By all means. I'm sure I can find…something to do." He smirks and offers a two-fingered salute toward Jon before he goes back inside the club.

"Let's go back in, too," Jon, now back at her side, says. "It's getting kind of chilly."

Veronica nods absently, her thoughts back to Logan. She should have had one-up on him, but she feels far from victorious. Her mood is dark as she imagines him grabbing one of the many girls in the club and effortlessly killing an hour.

Well, fuck him. He can screw whoever he wants. He can do everything he's done with her with any random stranger. Or he can go ahead and get an STD or knock up some other girl and forever ruin any chance they may have of getting back together.

The lights in the club dim for a moment, and Veronica's so angry she wonders if she did it, somehow going all Carrie White in Elevate Lounge because she's so pissed at her idiotic ex. Jon's hand is at the small of her back, and together they maneuver around all the other club-goers. They're heading back to the bar when the lights go out completely this time, the music stopping abruptly. The club is dark now, everyone voicing their annoyance.

Veronica can barely make out her hand in front of her face, but she pulls away from Jon and tries to reach blindly for the bar area. "I'm sure the emergency lights will come on soon," Jon tells her, but she's already out of his reach, dodging bodies as she tries to find something sturdy to hold on to.

She's being pushed around now as everyone tries to move at once. The skyline is dark now, the entire city in a blackout, and the moonlight provides little illumination.

"Veronica?" she hears Logan calling her again, his voice a bit panicked. She calls out, "Over here!" waving her arm, even though she's not sure he can see it. She can make out his outline as he pushes past other people to make his way to her.

He reaches out for her, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her to him. "Let's get out of here before you get trampled." She doesn't protest, poor Jon long forgotten as she trails behind Logan, her hand in his. She doesn't know where he's leading her, and she's pretty sure he doesn't know where he's going either, but she still follows.

They move through the masses of people, passing the still crowded dance floor. Veronica's not sure of the exact layout of the club, but she thinks they're heading toward the restaurant next door. "How the fuck do we get out of here?" Logan asks her, frustrated.

By this time, the emergency lights have come on, so Veronica points to the closest red exit sign. "Follow the yellow brick road."

"No good," Logan says, motioning to the security scrambling around them. "And we need to find the stairs." Veronica is about to argue, but Logan is already dragging her with him. She's all for finding a less crowded spot until the lights come back on, but she doesn't want to leave without her money shot.

Logan leads her to an unmarked white door, and he jingles the knob as he keeps an eye out for security. Finding it unlocked, he pulls her with him. Soon they find themselves in a back stairwell, dangerously dark despite the emergency lights along the ceiling.

"C'mon," he tells her, her hand still in his as they slowly descend the stairs. "Be careful."

"I'm sure the lights will come back on any minute," she protests. "Don't you wanna stick around for some sushi?"

"I hate blackouts. I just want to get out of here."

"Aw, Logan, are you afraid of the dark?" she teases. When he doesn't say anything, she continues. "I can't leave. Sheryl wanted pictures. And I don't want to die trying to go down twenty-one flights of stairs in the dark."

"I won't let you fall," he tells her, resolute.

"What about my case?"

Logan stops and pulls out his cell phone. "This good enough?" It's an only slightly blurry picture of a man in a red jacket kissing a girl with long, dark hair. While it's far from the quality of her small digital camera, it's still a pretty decent shot. It works in a pinch, she thinks.

"He was there and you didn't come and get me?" She turns to lightly punch him on the arm.

"You looked busy. Besides, I didn't want you to accuse me of interrupting anything." He pauses for a minute before adding, "I hope you got to say your goodbyes to your boyfriend. Wouldn't want him to worry about you getting lost in the dark."

Jon. Damn, she already forgot about him. She also somehow forgot how pissed off she was at Logan. But it was all coming back to her now.

"I got his number. I'll call him later," she tells him coolly.

He reaches for her hand again to help her continue down the stairs. Veronica doesn't fight it. "How many numbers did you get in all?"

"I told you I wasn't really playing anymore. But if you insist on knowing, Jon was my fifth."

"Only five, huh? No wonder you quit."

"I got the only one I wanted," she informs him. She waits a beat. "How many did you get?"

She can see him grinning even in the dark. "Eleven."

"Must've been a slow night," she sighs. Veronica misjudges the number of steps then, stumbling a bit before Logan steadies her. "Here," he tells her, moving to her other side. "You hold on to the railing."

"What if the door leading out to the first floor is locked?"

"You didn't bring your lock picking kit? Uh oh."

"Let's just go back upstairs," she says, annoyed. "We can wait for the lights to come on and I can find Jon. And you can find one of your numbers and we'll all be happy."

"Wow, this Jon must be a real keeper. I haven't seen you this excited about something since they brought back the McRib."

"Fuck you, okay?" Logan turns to her, his mouth open in shock. Veronica pulls her hand out of his and moves to the landing. She crosses her arms defensively, carefully pacing back and forth on the small space.

"What the hell is your problem?" he asks her, still dumbfounded. She doesn't answer. "Veronica?"

"Nothing. I'm just tired. Let's go." Logan reaches for her arm, forcing her to look at him. There's a single emergency light on the wall behind them, and it allows him to see her face perfectly, her blue eyes sharp and sad all at once. They stare at one another for many seconds, not saying anything.

"Logan," she falters, seemingly unable to stop herself from asking the next question. "How many women have you been with?"

Logan laughs nervously, his face confused. "What?"

She swallows thickly, but repeats the question. He stares at her for a moment before looking upwards, exasperated. "That's really none of your business."

Veronica nods. She knows that. But lots of things are none of her business. It's never stopped her before.

He moves to take a seat on one of the steps in front of her. "Why do you care?"

She shrugs, not even sure of the answer herself. Finally, in a rare moment of vulnerability and against her better judgment, she opts for one of the truths. "It doesn't seem to be a big deal to you, to sleep with someone. I don't understand how you can be like that."

Logan regards her seriously. "You're confusing sex and love, Veronica. For a lot of people, they're not the same thing."

"But it's the same to me!" she responds, her voice thick with emotion. "How many?"

He exhales slowly, readying himself for her reaction. "I don't know…twenty, maybe?"

"Twenty?" she parrots, incredulous.

"Give or take," he bites back in annoyance. "Most of those were after Lilly died, if you must know. Which you do." He doesn't know what to make of the frustrated tears in her eyes, but he's pissed that he allowed himself to give her another reason to think less of him. Regardless of what she thought in the past, now she's sure that Logan's a whore.

"How many times have you been in love?" She's as taken by surprise by her question as he is. She watches him carefully, and it's then she realizes that she has been holding her breath as she waits for his answer.

"Twice." He pauses, looking down at his hands. "But I'm not even sure if the first time counts anymore. After knowing she could do…that." He looks up to meet her eyes. "How many times have you been in love?" he returns, dreading her answer but still needing to know.

"Twice," she replies quickly. He wanted the answer to be once, to be him, but he knows better than that. At least now he's sure she wasn't head-over-heels for Piz. Unless life is punching him in the stomach again and Piz is her second love. Would he even be surprised at this point?

"If Duncan came back, would you want to be with him?" It's the question he's always wanted to ask, even if he's terrified of her response.

"Duncan's not coming back," she answers flatly.

"If he was?"

She's looking at him like's nuts, and her reply is firm. "No."

He doesn't blame himself for not believing her. "Why not?"

"Because we're over." She says this as if it's the most obvious thing in the world, like it's just that simple. Maybe to her, it is. He's gone and that's that. But Logan's not sure if he'll ever believe it is that easy; the idea of Veronica loving and still wanting Duncan will always be in the back of his mind. It's one of his many crosses to bear.

She steps closer to him. With Logan sitting on the stairs and Veronica standing before him, they're practically eye level. "Did you sleep with Hannah?"

He rolls his eyes. "No."

"Parker?" she pushes, her voice small. He nods, and her jaw clenches. "Well, I hope you were a gentleman."

"It wasn't a big deal," he sighs. At her look of disbelief, he elaborates. "Parker was already back in the game before we slept together. Some guy on Wallace's floor, I think." Veronica is imagining them discussing this, the intimacy of it, and that hurts in a whole new way. "Don't tell her I told you that," Logan adds, a bit ashamed he gave away another person's privacy. After a moment's hesitation, he continues the questioning. "Did you sleep with Piz?"

"No. We only ever…you saw the video," she finishes.

"Yeah," he replies bitterly. "But I didn't watch all of it," he confesses quickly, hoping that somehow eases her embarrassment.

"You seemed happy with Parker," Veronica tells him absently, her focus on her feet.

"I wanted to be."

"I was so pissed that you went after Piz when you had Parker. It felt like you could move on but you didn't want me to."

"That's not why I went after Piz." They had already been through this and it wasn't something he wanted to go over again.

"I know." She sighs, resigned to her feelings. The whole night, most of it fighting with Logan or being angry with Logan, has taken its toll on her. She moves her hand to his face and gently strokes his cheek. "Sometimes it's just easier to think the worst of you," she admits.


"I don't know," she answers honestly, pulling her hand away. She thinks seriously for a minute, feeling as though she owes him some sort of explanation. "Maybe because I'm afraid that the one time I don't will be the one time I should."

He shakes his head in frustration. "You still don't trust me. After everything, you still don't trust me."

"I'm still working on it," she promises. It's all she's got. She moves as close to him as she can, her shoes against the bottom step. She can smell his cologne.

"Do you think you'll ever be able to trust me?"

"Yes." She sounds sure because she is sure. She has to believe she'll workout all her kinks one day. Despite what most think, she's painfully aware of all of her shortcomings.

Veronica feels as though it's her turn to ask another question. She treads carefully, unsure of how she wants to reopen this can of worms. But after the way she tortured herself with her imagination, she has to know the truth. "Was sex with Madison good?"

He knew it was coming sooner or later. "I was drunk. I really don't even remember."

"She said you weren't big on the one-piece numbers." Logan looks confused, but she ignores him and continues. "I figured you guys made a whole night of it."

"I told you I don't remember anything. A bunch of us from high school were all staying on the same floor at the resort. I woke up and she was in my bed. And I spent the morning throwing up, for more reasons than one."

She has to smile at that, relieved that it wasn't all she thought it was. She pushes on. "What about with Kendall? And Parker?"

Logan's jaw tenses at her questions. "What do you want me to say, Veronica? That I thought of you the whole time?"

She blanches at his tone. "No," she replies, petulant.

"Good, because I didn't." At her hurt expression, he adds, "It's one of the only times I'm not thinking about you."

Her eyes widen a bit at his admission. He wants to touch her, to move his hands to her waist so he can pull her flush against him.

"Do you really like Jon?" he asks her now, his voice low. She shakes her head, her eyes locked with his.

"Did you like any of the girls you met tonight?" she volleys. He smirks, thinking maybe he's finally got one of the things he's always wanted. "No."

"You…you looked at them the way you used to look at me."

He smiles softly, reaching to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "Veronica, I never look at anyone the way I look at you."

She looks up, eyeing the stairwell, wondering if they'll be interrupted. Logan scoots forward on the step, and then suddenly his hands are at the back of her thighs, his fingers grazing the edge of her skirt. She relaxes, having missed his touch, and wraps her arms around his neck. "Do you like me?" he asks her teasingly, his hands slowly moving higher.

"You're okay," she breathes, her eyes closed. He chuckles as he cups her ass, loving the way the silk of her underwear feels against his hands.

Veronica can feel her body responding to his touch, her nipples tightening as he traces her skin. His hands move down now, to her thighs, knees. "You look so hot in these," he tells her, touching her black knee highs. "How the hell did you only get five numbers?"

She licks her lips, her eyes closed, her body humming. "I wore them for you."

Her eyes open when she feels his touch leaving her body. She watches as Logan leans back to unbuckle his belt, and so she moves her hands to under his sweater so she can caress his abs.

With his belt out of the way and his zipper down, Veronica slips her hand in his pants, palming him through his boxers. He groans, his eyes half closed, and she can barely stand it anymore. "Have you ever fucked on stairs before?" she asks, breathless.

"No." He gently pushes her back, shoving his hands back under her skirt. He hooks his fingers into the waistband of her underwear and pulls them down her legs. Veronica leans heavily on his shoulder as she steps out of them, Logan untangling them from around her high heel shoe before he slips them into the pocket of his jeans.

"Have you thought about me since we broke up?" he whispers in her ear before his lips move to her neck.

"Yes," she moans, gripping his shoulders, her fingers tightly bunching the soft fabric of his sweater. "Have you?"

"All the fucking time." She moves now to straddle him. When she's in his lap, he shifts so he can push his jeans and boxers down past his hips, freeing his cock. He can feel the heat of her against him, her wet warmth, and he wants to bury himself inside of her and never leave. "Are you wet for me?"

"Mm, yeah," she sighs, writhing against him.

"Say it."

"I'm wet for you." Her mouth opens in pleasure as his fingers move to her pussy, and she has to force herself to not crumple in his arms. Instead, she reaches for him, stroking his cock and grinning when he groans.

"Are you hard for me?" she asks, and he nods furiously, his eyes on her hand as she touches him. "Say it."

He looks up at her with so much intensity it dumbfounds her, and she forgets her command as she leans in to kiss him. She moans when his tongue pushes past her lips, and memories of their previous kisses, of all the times they spent like this, wash over her.

They finally break apart, panting. "It's never like this with anyone else," he tells her. "Never."

She nods. She believes him.

"Do you love me?" he asks her, and the vulnerability of it all breaks her heart.

"Yes." She runs her fingers through his thick hair and watches him as he watches her. "I love you," she says, intercepting him, and then kisses him again.

His mouth still on hers, Logan blindly reaches for the wallet in his jeans. Veronica breaks the kiss as he searches for a condom, and she shakes her head in mock disapproval when he finds one. He grins as she takes it from him, tearing the foil with her teeth. He growls, playfully nibbling her earlobe, but the sound turns to a choked sob as she slowly rolls the latex down his shaft.

"I love the way you feel inside of me," she tells him, shifting in his lap so he can enter her. He sighs in pleasure as she surrounds him, fitting him like a glove.

"Me too," he gasps, his hands on her hips. He moves to wrap his arms around her, holding her tight against him in an intimate embrace as he slowly thrusts. It's feels like it's been forever since he's been with her. "Oh god, Veronica, I'm not going to last long."

She leans back, moving one of his hands to her clit to let him know what she wants. He rubs his thumb against her, and brings his other hand to squeeze her breast through her sweater. They both wish they were in his bed, completely naked, completely alone.

"I'm close," she whimpers, and he licks his lips as he watches her. He speeds up the movements of his thumb, and he can feel her on the cusp of release. "We're not leaving my room for the rest of the weekend," he tells her, egging her on. "I'm going to fuck you from behind, with you against the headboard. I want you in the shower. On the bathroom countertop. On the couch."

"You're going to have to throw out Dick," she tells him, bouncing enthusiastically in his lap.

"I'll toss him out so fast his head will spin," he pants. She's almost there, digging her fingernails into his back as she grinds against him, slower now, savoring it. He feels her release as it hits her, and it's exactly what he needed to trigger his own orgasm. She gently nuzzles his neck as he comes, peppering kisses along his throat.

"You know," he rasps, exhausted, "if this were a movie, the lights would have just come on."

She laughs softly, moving out of his lap. "Can I have my underwear back?"

"Keep 'em off," he tells her, removing the condom. "It'll save some trouble when we have a quickie in the car." He looks around the still dim stairwell. "Now what the hell am I supposed to do with this?"

Veronica ignores his question as she looks around them. "Um, where's my purse?"

"I don't know. Did you have it with you when we left?"

She tries to remember where she last had it. "Shit. I think I left it at the bar."

Logan looks up at the more than ten flights of stairs above them. "You'll have to carry me."

"Come along, Butternut," she says, pulling him to his feet. "I'll buy you another appletini."

He wraps his arm around her waist as they start their trek back up to the club. "But can you handle all those women throwing themselves at me?"

She considers it for a moment, her lips pursed in thought. "Probably not, but my taser is in my bag."

"Good. I might need it if Jon's still there."

Veronica sighs, sleepy and content, and rests her head against Logan's chest. "Is my jealous streak going to be a problem?"

"For us? It probably won't even rank."

"I think we've still got a lot to talk about," she tells him honestly. "And I might still have a couple questions. And residual…issues that need to be discussed."

He chuckles and kisses her forehead. "Yeah, I figured. But if you're trying to get me drunk so I'll talk, I'll need something a hell of a lot stronger than an appletini."