It was a cold day in late November when Veronica saw him outside of the bar.

She was stopping by for a lottery ticket at Big City, which was ever so conveniently located catty corner to the River Styx. There was something big going on between her father and the Fitzpatricks, and no matter how vehemently he denied it, insisted she mind her own business and stay out of his, Veronica was in full on protective mode; detective first, daughter second, she was determined to get to the bottom of what was making her dad so restless.

As the old man behind the register handed Veronica her picks for the Mega Millions, an impulse buy if there ever was one, she saw him. His image may have been blurred behind the bars lining the store windows, the signs advertising lowest cigarette prices allowed by state law obscuring her vision further, but she knew it was him. Her eyes never left him as she shoved the ticket into her jacket pocket and hurried out of the store without another word to the cashier. No sense in checking her numbers later. It was obvious her luck wasn't changing.

She considered following him to his car and trailing him for the rest of the night. She also considered breaking out into a run, pulling out her taser and zapping him before he crossed the street. The thought that he could be so stupid, so irresponsible, after everything they had been through…it all got her blood pumping, her heart beating hard in anger and frustration. She was primed for a fight now and not leaving without one.

"Well, well, well," she spoke loudly when he was finally within an earshot. She watched, fuming, as Logan stopped abruptly. His shoulders slumped dramatically before he spun to face her, annoyance written all over his face.

"Has anyone ever told you that you have a knack for being in the wrong place at the right time?" he asked, a wry smile on his face.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're an idiot?"

He pursed his lips in thought. "I seem to remember a certain ex-girlfriend…"

"What the hell are you doing, Logan? Not even you could be that desperate for a drink."

"Veronica," he began, already turning away from her, "I say this with love: stay the fuck out of my business."

"Logan," she returned, following alongside him, "I say this with disgust: stay the fuck away from the Fitzpatricks."

He didn't say another word as she walked with him to his SUV, her hard stare beating against him. He was silent as he unlocked his door and climbed in to the driver's seat, and she watched him with disbelieving eyes as he started the engine. Before pulling into reverse and driving away, he looked back at her, studying her face. He saw the anger, the disappointment, the fear….all of the looks he was so familiar with. Now she was quiet as he made a show of adjusting his mirrors and fastening his seatbelt. He placed his hands on the steering wheel, at ten and two, and turned to look at her once again. "Always obey the rules of the road," he grinned, ignoring the way she shook her head at him, her eyes narrowed.

She stood back on the curb as he sped off, tires squealing.

He watched her in the rearview mirror, growing smaller and smaller as he drove further away.

Logan knew when he got into this mess that she would eventually find out. It was just his dumb luck that it would happen on his very first day on the job.

Three weeks earlier…

Sophomore year was proving more difficult than she had anticipated. A full course load of requirements fulfilling the liberal arts curriculum left Veronica with a difficult schedule and no classes of particular interest to her. She was still undecided in her major, having chosen to forgo criminology after her internship with the FBI fell through, and so she chose to knock out some of her IP classes.

Now midterms were fast approaching, and she was stuck with upcoming exams in calculus, chemistry, eighteenth century world literature and the history of Russia. Fun times all around.

She looked up from her history book to find Logan standing in front of her, a full lunch tray in his hands as he smiled shyly. "This seat taken?"

Veronica smiled brightly, pulling her messenger bag off the table to make room. "I can spare a square."

"You're so generous," he grinned, settling in the spot across from her.

"You're so…hungry," she managed, taking in the pile of food he had in front of him. "Storing up for winter?"

He shrugged. "I got a little too used to room service. And you know I can't cook. So this is my one meal." He tried to smile as he twirled some pasta on his fork.

Veronica watched him helplessly, her heart breaking a little at the sight. "Maybe I could teach you how to cook?" she offered.

"You can't cook either," he stated, taking a bite of fettuccini.

"I can cook!"

He just smiled at her as he chewed, and Veronica had to check herself before the urge to reach out and caress his face became unbearable.

"So…aside from the lack of room service, how's the new apartment?" she asked brightly.

"Small."

"Well, you start out with just two game rooms, and then that way you have something to work up to."

"How about I start with a living room, kitchenette, and one small bedroom and bathroom?"

"You know, aside from my dad's room, you just described my apartment?"

He stifled a laugh. "Oh man, I'm worse off than I thought."

She gently kicked him from under the table, unable to contain the smile on her face. After a difficult summer, including a couple close calls with the Sorokin clan when they returned to campus, Veronica felt like she and Logan were back on track. She had missed the teasing.

"When do I get to see it?" she asked casually, closing her textbook.

"See what?" he asked, eyebrows raised, his eyes twinkling. It had been a long time since she saw Logan so carefree and happy.

Veronica groaned. "The apartment."

The change of mood was palpable, and Logan suddenly seemed very interested in his food. "I don't think that's such a good idea."

"Why not?"

"It's…there's not much to see, really. It's just an apartment."

"It's your first real place. Hotels don't count."

"It's nothing special," he stammered, but Veronica wouldn't have it.

"Come on. Maybe you can even throw a party," she prodded, trying to get him to loosen up. "I seem to remember you liking parties."

"No. No parties. This is definitely not a party place."

She didn't have to be a detective to notice how he tensed up at the mention of his new home, how his face reddened slightly as he tried to stave off any visitors.

Logan Echolls was embarrassed.

"Hey," she asked softly, reaching out to touch his forearm. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." He looked up to meet her eyes, plastering on an almost convincing smile. "Nothing's wrong. But I have to get going. I've got a class."

She watched him helplessly as he gathered his things, her good mood leaving with him.

-------

Veronica stood at his doorstep, feeling more than a little awkward. While she was well aware that he didn't want her to visit him, for whatever reason, she rationalized that he knew she'd find out where he lived and stop by eventually. Tracking down people was practically her livelihood.

She took in her surroundings, more than a little surprised by the modesty of it all. She knew that Logan was leaving the Grand for financial reasons (about damn time, too, as she had been urging him to move out since they were together freshman year), but she had no idea he was downgrading so drastically. The neighborhood wasn't too bad, a step up from the real lower class areas, but the apartment complex wasn't even as nice as hers. The paint on the door was chipping slightly, and a worn doormat lay at her feet. It was hard to believe that this was where Logan Echolls was hanging his hat now days.

Readying herself for anything, she knocked three times on his door and waited patiently for him to answer. A minute later, she knocked again. She knew he was home; the Range Rover was parked along the street, standing out like a sore thumb among the more affordable vehicles.

"Logan, it's me!" she called out, knocking again. "I know you're here! C'mon, open up!"

Seconds later, the door opened, and there was Logan looking like he'd rather be anywhere else.

Veronica ignored his discomfort and allowed herself in, smiling enthusiastically as she pushed past him to enter the room fully. She stood in the small living room, which housed an oversized couch and a large television set, already hooked up to Logan's Xbox. To her left was a very small kitchen, with a center island that doubled as the eating area, just like her home.

But this place didn't feel like a home at all. The walls were shabby and bare, like everything else. Well, except for the couch and TV. Leave it to Logan to go all out for the essentials.

"This is…nice," she stated, walking around, looking around.

"Yeah, it's a palace."

"Maybe it's not what I pictured, but it's somewhere to live, right? Besides, you're probably never here anyway."

"Because I have so many other places to be?" he asked, bitterness lacing his words.

Sensing the conversation veering off into dangerous territory, she decided to change the subject. "Where's Dick living now?"

Logan sighed, finally moving away from the door to take a seat on the couch. "Dick moved into the Pi Sig house. It's one of the reasons I left the Grand. There's no way I could afford it without him."

"Are things okay? You wanna…talk about it?"

He shifted in his seat, his elbows resting on his knees as he leaned forward, his hands clasped together. "You mean you want me to tell you how I pissed away my trust and now I'm broke? So you can bitch me out for being irresponsible?"

"Logan," she began, sounding as tired as she suddenly felt.

"I really don't need this right now, Veronica."

"I'm not going to bitch you out." She paused in thought, trying to think of something helpful to say. "Isn't there anything you can do about Charlie's money being taken out of yours? Shouldn't he be paid with another one of Aaron's accounts? It's not right-"

"I don't know," he sighed.

"Maybe I could talk to Cliff. Or my dad."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I 'll be fine."

Veronica moved to sit beside him, her shoulder bumping his side as she settled on the couch. "You don't have to do this alone, you know." She decided her voice sounded pathetically small.

"I've been taking care of myself for awhile now." He shrugged. "I'm used to it."

Veronica could actually feel them drifting away from each other, the tentative relationship they had been rebuilding for the last few months disintegrating right in front of her. She shouldn't have come. She should have known Logan would have twisted things to make it seem as though she was condemning him when all she really wanted was to be closer to him.

"I'll go then," she said, rising from her seat. "Sorry I bothered you."

"Veronica," he called before she made it to the door. She turned back to face him. "I'm sorry for being an ass to you. I didn't mean it. I'm just…embarrassed," he admitted, motioning to the room.

"You don't have to be embarrassed," she stated, moving back toward him. "So you've got a crappy apartment and you're broke. Welcome to the life of every college student."

Logan didn't make eye contact, his hands still clasped together nervously. She could see the strain of his throat muscles as he swallowed thickly. "Yeah but, having money…that's all I really had going for me." She opened her mouth to correct him, but he continued. "My murdering, philandering, asshole father's money."

"You know there's more to you than that," she told him quietly.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he admitted. "I won't see anything else from the inheritance until I'm twenty-one."

"Have you thought about selling the Rover?"

"It's a lease," he stated simply, still looking down.

It hurt to see him like this, but she knew him well enough to know that pity was not the way to go. She knew she should be there for him, should offer encouragement and friendship, but she was so sure she would screw it up again and say something that he would take the wrong way. So she opted to swim back to the shallow end of their relationship, safe from any risk of drowning in her own words. Teasing: their default setting.

"I guess you'll just have to get a J-O-" she sing-songed.

"Stop. Don't even say it," he interrupted his tone lighter. "Besides, I called NASA. They're not hiring."

"While I'm sure you'd make an amazing astronaut, I was thinking something a little more practical. Maybe with a little paper hat-"

"Stop it."

"Service with a smile-"

"Stop it."

They grinned at each other, and Veronica took a deep breath before reaching for his hand and holding it between hers. She rubbed gentle circles along his knuckles, a small smile still on her face as she thought about everything they had been through together. Their past was more than a little checkered, but they worked through it.

"It'll be okay," she told him, his hand still in hers. "Everything will be fine."

Friday, November 30, 2007

It had been one week since Veronica saw Logan leaving River Styx. She had been tailing him every night since, only leaving his trail for classes and work for her father. Night after night, she watched completely disheartened as Logan would enter the bar, leave with armfuls of boxes, and then drive to shady areas to drop them off.

For a girl who was so sure that everyone was just waiting to screw her over, hurt her, leave her, she had been adamant that Logan was not stupid enough to work for the Fitzpatricks. But she couldn't deny it anymore.

Almost a month after first visiting his apartment, she found herself back on his doorstep, righteous indignation fueling her on as she waited for him. His schedule seemed to be from 8 p.m. to midnight, four hours of delivering God only knows what to God only knows who.

At 7:45 on the dot, he emerged, only to come face-to-face with one very pissed off Veronica Mars.

"I'm sorry, but I already ordered some cookies from someone else in your troupe," he bit, brushing past her to leave. "Maybe another day though."

"You know, I really shouldn't be surprised," she started, following him once again to his truck. "But I still am. Really, Logan? The Fitzpatricks? You couldn't work at the mall like anyone else?"

"I'd love to stay and chat, really," he said as he settled in his seat and buckled the safety belt. "But I can't be late for work." He leaned out the open window, his face mere inches from Veronica. "Boss really hates that."

"You're such an asshole," she spit. "After everything we've been through…with them, with the Sorokins. How can you even do this?"

"I have to go. And stop following me. I know the puppy dog thing turns you on, but it's not my cup of tea."

"Do you know they're threatening my dad?" she asked, desperate. "They're trying to go after him and you're working for them. He can't even sleep at night and you're making money off of it."

"Maybe your dad can't sleep at night because he's worried about you staking out the bar?"

She ignored that. "You need to get out of this now, Logan. Now. They don't fool around."

"You need to leave me alone and stay out of it."

"I can't believe you're doing this," she told him, shaking her head back and forth as she wrapped her arms around herself. Logan stared straight ahead, his eyes trained on his windshield. Veronica was shaking now, not sure if it was the cold or the fight causing it.

"This isn't you, Logan," she continued. "You're better than this. Just stop, okay? We'll figure something out. Together."

He turned to look at her then, and she was startled by the raw pain she saw in his face. "Please, Veronica, just forget about it. Go home. Leave me alone."

She swallowed, her throat painfully tight. "Please-"

But her plea went unheard as Logan drove away.

-------

"Logan's working for the Fitzpatricks." She decided to drop the bomb before dinner. Her appetite had already been ruined anyway.

Keith stiffened at her words, but recovered quickly. "And how do you know this?" he asked as her stirred the pasta on the stovetop.

"I've been tracking him." She knew it wasn't something he wanted to hear, but there was no sense denying it.

"You've been tracking him?" he asked, livid. "You've been hanging around the Fitzpatricks? What the hell is wrong with you, Veronica?"

"I haven't been hanging around the Fitzpatricks," she told him. "It's not like I'm shooting pool with the gang. I'm tailing Logan because I'm worried about him."

Keith was leaning forward against the countertop, his arms taut. "Don't worry about Logan. You need to stop even thinking about Logan Echolls before it gets you killed!"

It wasn't as if he was wrong, and God only knew how pissed off she was with Logan herself, but she couldn't help but to defend him against her father now. "He's having some money trouble. But he's so much better than this. Maybe if you talk to him…"

"Can't you just stay out of it?" he asked, his voice rising. "Can't you ever just keep your nose out of anything?"

Veronica straightened, her father's words a slap in the face. "Would you stay out of it? If you were me? I know there's something going on with you and Liam." Keith grimaced, which did not go unnoticed by Veronica. "Is it about Kendall? About when she hired you?"

"Veronica," he began, deadly serious, "I want you to stay out of this. Stay away from the Fitzpatricks. Stay away from Logan. Please."

"He could get killed!"

"SO COULD YOU!" Keith roared. Veronica stepped back, mouth open wide in shock at her father's outburst. She didn't say another word as she stormed off to her room.

-------

The summer of 2005, before she began senior year at Neptune High, was spent mostly with Logan. And despite the Aaron aftermath, and Logan's murder charge and the intense standoff it produced, the happier times alone with Logan were a fond memory. They had spent a lot of time together, when she wasn't working and he wasn't meeting with lawyers, and it had felt like a reprieve after all of the drama following Lilly's death. Quiet and romantic dinner dates, movie marathon nights, intense make-outs…it was the first time she felt happy, light and free since before her world had fallen apart.

The summer of 2006, before she began freshman year at Hearst College, was also spent mostly with Logan. And again, despite the Cassidy aftermath, her time with Logan had been something special. They may not have been as close as he wanted (she couldn't allow that just yet), and she certainly had doubts about it all, but she had a new sense of appreciation for him to go along with their shiny new relationship. He had saved her life. In return, she gave him her body.

The summer of 2007 was not spent with Logan, and it was full of disappointments. The FBI retracted their offer, Wallace was off in Africa, she and Piz had ended things, and Vinnie Van Lowe was the new sheriff in town. But the biggest disappointment, one that she didn't even realize at the time, was that it was her first summer in two years without Logan.

In late August, right before classes began, they were pushed together again, forced to work as a team against Gorya Sorokin and his numerous threats. It was then that she realized she never wanted Logan out of her life. He was far too big a piece of it, their history a tapestry so intricately woven that she didn't know where she began and where he ended.

The fall semester was slipping through her fingers, and before she would know it, it would be the spring term. And then it would be summer. As Veronica tried to sleep, she tried not to think about what another summer without Logan would be like.

-------

"Before you make the run tonight, you can clean up. You can do it real nice, too, all Hollywood like. You had maids growing up, right? Did ya learn anything from them?"

Logan smiled tightly as he took the proffered bar rags. "Well, I can make a mean enchilada."

Liam grinned, feral and threatening. "What do you think your daddy would say if he could see you now? His big shot son, wiping up vomit on a bar room floor."

Logan's sarcastic smile fell away from his face, and he took a step forward, his eyes hard in his stand off against Liam, and against his better judgment. "I wouldn't give a fuck what he thought. So you can stop talking about him."

"Not so big on family, huh?" Liam asked, still grinning. "That might be a problem." He moved closer to Logan now, turning the tables on the invasion of personal space, and continued to smile maniacally at his newest employee. "This here's a family establishment."

"Huh. So that's why Danny's serving a three year sentence and Van Lowe's sheriff, right?" Logan smiled back. "If your idea of family is sending them up the river to get what you want, we might get along better than I thought."

Liam laughed, a raucous bark that almost made Logan flinch. "Be careful what you say and who you say it to, Hollywood. You wouldn't be hard to replace."

Logan sighed, turning away to start his work cleaning the bar area. "The only reason you're here now," Liam continued, eyeing Logan derisively, "is because I'm a man who does so enjoy seeing the mighty fall."

"So am I," Logan muttered before kneeling to scrub the floor.

-------

Veronica had been outside of Logan's apartment for fifteen minutes before she got too restless to stay in the Saturn. She pulled the keys from the ignition and then checked her watch. It was only 11 o'clock, and Logan had been in the bar for more than two and a half hours before she realized he probably wasn't making any runs that night. She was dying to know what he was doing in there. Was he shooting pool with his new friends, laughing and drinking beers? Playing on the very table that she was thrown on top of, Liam leaning over her, his face mere inches from hers. She could still remember the feel of his warm breath against her cheek, the smell of vodka filling her senses as she tried to keep her cool and failed miserably.

Then she remembered Logan bursting in the room, cell to his ear. She had felt so relieved. Logan was there, and he was calling the cops. Everything would be all right.

And then he pulled out the gun…

Veronica tried to shake the images from her thoughts as she slowly made her way to Logan's door. It was usually so easy to believe the worst about people, but she couldn't buy that Logan was suddenly bosom buddies with an Irish mob. He might have been working for them, that she couldn't deny, but she didn't want to imagine that it was something he wanted to do. He had to have been worse off than she had ever thought, driven to this point when all other options fell through.

When the fuck did she get so optimistic, Veronica thought? She was trying to find excuses for Logan's behavior when it was inexcusable. He probably didn't even try to do something else to get him out of his mess. A mess he wouldn't have even been in if he would have been more careful with his money.

She sighed in frustration as she tried to pick at his lock. What was she going to look for when she got in to his apartment, anyway? Financial records? Some evidence to give her more of an idea of what he was doing for the Fitzpatricks? The idea of him working for them was keeping her up at night, driving her absolutely mad, but she didn't know what she was going to do about it. It was eating at her, invading her dreams and all of her thoughts, biting at her brain and leaving her barely able to function normally. She was a woman on a mission but she didn't even know what the mission was.

His place was completely dark and silent, and she felt along the side of the wall, searching blindly for a light switch. He wouldn't be home for another hour. She had time. For what, she still wasn't exactly sure.

As the lights came on, artificially brightening the still dreary room, she shut the door behind her and began rummaging around, searching frantically for anything. There was still nothing in the living room except for the couch, TV and videogames. There were several dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, but otherwise it was relatively bare as well. She pulled open drawers, finding them mostly empty aside for a few pieces of silverware and a can opener. He had some cereal boxes and canned soup in his kitchen cabinets, but no papers or drugs or pictures of Liam Fitzpatrick in a heart-shaped frame.

She didn't know what she expecting to find, but it didn't stop her from looking. She burst into his bathroom next. The floor was still wet from the shower he had taken earlier, and there were several dirty towels on the floor. His toothbrush was in the sink, and there was deodorant and aftershave in his medicine cabinet. But nothing. Nothing.

Veronica readied herself before entering his bedroom. If there was anything incriminating, it would probably be in there. She took a deep breath and opened the door.

It was so different from his room at the Neptune Grand, where he had a large bed with expensive sheets and designer throw pillows. Here, Logan had an air mattress. His clothes, if not strewn around the room, were still packed in cardboard boxes. On the floor beside his makeshift bed were a small table lap and a picture frame.

She knew the photo. She had taken it, sometime early freshman year when she was showing Logan the newly sent photos of her and her dad in New York City. She had the memory card in her camera, casually flipping through the menu and telling him a little story behind each picture. They were huddled close together on the couch so they could both see the tiny screen, and she was once again only half-jokingly ranting about all of the one-hand portraits she had to take of herself before Keith finally showed up. Logan told her it was all very MySpace, and she joked that she needed a picture like that of them for it to be complete. They both smiled huge, cheesy grins while she snapped the camera, but while the smiles might have been exaggerated, their eyes were sincere in their happiness. He told her he wanted a copy of it, and then he leaned over and kissed her, pulling her against him as he fell back on the couch.

There's nothing here, she thought to herself, placing the photo back on the floor and then turning to leave.

-------

Another week had passed by, and though she had tried to put Logan out of her mind, she found it near impossible. She would catch glimpses of him on campus, and although she knew he saw her, he never looked her way.

She was making her way to the parking lot after her lit class when she saw him talking to one of Wallace's teammates. Her eyes followed them as Logan and the kid, she thought his name was Jared, walked beside each other to Logan's truck. She was almost certain that neither had noticed her, so she surreptitiously dodged behind another car so she could watch what was going on.

Logan unlocked the Rover and grabbed at something under his seat. Veronica saw that it was a small paper bag, which he handed to Jared. Jared took the bag and then shook Logan's hand, and so carefully that anyone else would have missed it, slid a wad of twenties against his palm. Logan grabbed the money and shoved it in his back pocket before getting into the Rover and driving away.

It was like a punch in the gut. Drugs. It couldn't be anything else. Logan was selling drugs for the Fitzpatricks.

After he had pulled away and Veronica was sure she was out of his sight, she rushed to her car so she could follow him. There was no way she was letting him off the hook for this.

She pulled along the curb in front of his apartment building and waited. She waited for four hours and twenty seven minutes before he came back out of his building, at around quarter to eight again, and made his way to his car. He didn't get far before Veronica bounded out of her own vehicle and ran to catch up with him.

"You suck at the detective thing. I knew you were out here the entire time," he said, his back still to her as he continued to walk to his car.

"I know I've said this many, many times already," she began, trying her best to keep her voice from shaking in anger, "but seriously, how stupid can you be?"

"Veronica, you need to leave. Now. Stop worrying about me and go home."

"NO!" she yelled, grabbing his arm and spinning him to face her. "You're done, okay? As of right now, you're done with them."

"I'm done when I say I'm done," he replied.

"Do you need money that badly?" she asked, disbelieving. "Logan, are you in some kind of trouble?" Her voice was softer now, all traces of disgust and anger replaced with worry.

"Veronica, please, just go. Go home," he pleaded.

"If you need some money, I've got some saved. Almost four thousand. You can take that-"

"Why can't you just leave? What do I have to do to get you to go?" It was as if he was struggling to speak the words, his voice strained.

Veronica stepped closer to him, her hands on his chest. She opened her mouth to say something else when she felt it. Logan saw the change in her expression, the piqued curiosity and then the dawning realization as the flat of her palms traveled down along the front of his shirt. "Logan?"

"Go home, Veronica," he whispered, his eyes boring into hers as he stepped back away from her. "Go."

With that, he turned and jogged to his car, leaving a dumbfounded Veronica standing in front of his apartment complex.

-------

Keith entered his darkened apartment at a little after ten that night, emotionally exhausted. He threw his jacket on the back of one of the chairs and then reached for the lamp switch.

"Dammit!" he yelled in surprise, the room now bright. Veronica didn't move from the couch.

"You knew, didn't you?" she asked, her arms folded across her chest.

"When did you get home?" he asked, attempting casual conversation. "I thought you worked at the library tonight."

"You sent Logan into the River Styx wearing a WIRE and you didn't tell me about it," she accused, standing now from her seat.

Keith exhaled, his eyes to the ceiling. "Why would I tell you? So you could cause even more trouble than you have already?"

"You could get him killed!" she exclaimed, her voice cracking.

"Logan is very well protected. I wish I could say the same for you."

"What's going on? You need to tell me. Now."

Keith sighed, but took a seat in the armchair. There was no sense in keeping it from her any longer. If things went well, it would all be over very soon. "I'm working with the FBI to get Liam locked away. For good."

"What the hell does Logan have to do with that?" she asked.

"Liam's threatening you, okay? He wanted a million dollars by Christmas or he said he was going to come after you. I didn't have a choice."

"What?" she asked, completely confused. "Why does Liam want money from you? What's going on?" she asked again.

Keith ran a frustrated hand through his thinning hair, bringing it down against his forehead to wipe at his brow. "Kendall."

Veronica's jaw clenched at the name. "I don't even want to know."

"Good." Keith snapped. "You know enough already."

"Why'd you drag Logan into this?" she asked. "Why not just go to Vinnie. Get a restraining order. He got Danny Boyd locked away."

"Vinnie?" Keith laughed without humor. "Vinnie's more on Liam's side now than anyone else. Part of the payoff. Liam helped get him elected and threw Danny to him to do it."

"Why Logan?" she asked again, trying not to cry.

"Because I knew he'd do it," he said simply. "And because I trusted him to do it right."

Now it was Veronica's turn to laugh. "You trust Logan? Yeah, right."

"You don't understand Veronica. Your life is on the line here. I knew Logan wouldn't do anything to compromise the situation. We had to get enough evidence to get Liam locked way for a very long time, and I needed someone who could keep an eye on them when it came to you. The FBI can't know about Kendall or I'd be in trouble for helping her."

"I can't believe any of this," she mumbled, her eyes down.

"I'm sorry I got you in this mess, sweetie. It's the last thing I ever wanted." Just then, the phone rang, and Keith moved from the chair to answer it.

Veronica was still standing in the living room, trying to process all of the information, when she heard her father pick up the telephone. "Hello? Hey, John, what's going on?"

It was as if she knew it was coming, her greatest fear materializing with the next few words. "Oh my God. Is he okay?"

She stood there, unable to move, barely able to breathe, until her father hung up the phone. He walked to her, the regret in his eyes further pinning her in her spot. "Logan's been shot."

Of course.

-------

Logan shifted on the hospital bed, his feet dangling over the side. If he had to have been shot, the arm wasn't so bad. Minimal trauma, cool scar that he might actually want to tell the story behind.

"Hey."

He looked up in surprise to see Veronica standing in the room, looking as though she would rather be anywhere else.

"Hi," he returned, staring at her.

"So you'll live?" she squeaked hopefully, not meeting his eyes.

"So they say."

She looked up then, taking in his appearance. He was sitting on the side of the hospital bed, shirtless, a white bandage wrapped around his left bicep. There was blood splattered on his jeans, and the realization that it was his blood almost made her sick.

"Are you okay?" she asked, moving toward him.

"It's only a flesh wound," he teased, his fake British accent as bad as ever.

She sighed, relieved, tired. "You know, if you were going to go work for my dad, you could have just helped me with the filing."

"Where's the fun in that?" he returned, grinning.

Veronica moved even closer, now standing directly in front of him. He could feel the nervousness radiating off of her, and if it hadn't been for her own damn good, he would have felt bad for what they had put her through.

"You could have died," she whispered, looking directly into his eyes. "I know you thought you were doing the right thing, but it could have gotten you killed. Or really hurt"

Logan had to arch an eyebrow at that comment. "I'm so bad at this, thanks to Alanis, but is this irony?"

She rolled her eyes, playfully slapping him in on his good shoulder. "Jackass. And no, it's not."

He smiled at her, reaching to take her free hand. "You're not going to get rid of me that easily, Mars."

Veronica watched with interest as his thumb rubbed gently back and forth along the back of her hand. She had missed his touch more than she realized. She took a deep breath and moved closer, standing between his legs now. Her face so close to his that she could feel the warmth of his breath, and she paused for only a moment before quickly closing the gap between them with the lightest of kisses.

When she pulled away, she laughed gently at his look of surprise. "If you had required surgery, it would have gotten you laid."

"Maybe next time," he whispered, his eyes back on her lips.

"No," she replied, a small smile on her face. "Definitely not."

She kissed him again, lingering for a moment before finding her resolve and pulling away. It might not have been serious, but it was the first time either had been shot. Surprisingly.

"Liam and a bunch of other guys were arrested. Agent McCrae said they'll probably get at least twenty years for it," she informed him. "What are you going to do now that you're out of a job?"

He smiled up at her, relief and shyness and hopefulness written all over his face. "I'll be okay. I think I'll just have to dip into my mom's inheritance. Maybe sell some of her art," he told her. "Because if we're getting back together, I'm going to have to buy an actual bed."

Veronica rolled her eyes, laughing softly. Logan reached up to gently caress her face, pure adoration shining from his eyes. "So we're getting back together?" she asked, only half-teasing.

"Your call."

She smiled, leaning in once more for another kiss, bullet wound or not.

Maybe she'd have to check that lottery ticket when she got home.