Title: For me, it's you
Summary: It's always going to be there
Word count: 6,328
Disclaimer: I don't own a single thing
Author's Note: This was written for acinogan(on LJ)
Author's Note2: Big thanks to celtic_flicka, love_is_epic, and hokeysmoke(all on LJ) for their beta work. I appreciate it.
Author's Note3: I was in a hurry to finish this fic because I was entering it in a contest. Because of that I feel the end may be a bit rushed, so I might be changing it later on
It was late, nearly midnight; she should have been at home sleeping. She had an early class in the morning and hadn't slept in about forty-eight hours. But, late as it was, tired as she was, she was still driving out to see Logan. It was his birthday and she hadn't been able to attend any party he'd been planning to have. She'd been working a case (child abuse) and couldn't afford to mess it up. She'd called Logan, explained things and promised to see him the next day. He had understood –how could he not? – but she'd still heard a smidgen of disappointment in his voice.
So, she found herself speeding down the highway towards Logan's beach house, berating herself the whole way for being such a marshmallow, being so damn weak when it came to Logan. She certainly wouldn't be driving out to see Wallace, Mac, or Parker under these circumstances. Logan was a friend, had been since the summer after their freshman year, and all signs pointed to him remaining her friend, just her friend. The problem was she couldn't stop wishing they were more -or treating him like he was more to her. After their freshman year -nearly two years ago- it had seemed like the right choice when they'd made the decision to not resume their previous relationship. Now she wasn't so sure.
A week after the incident in the cafeteria Veronica finally decided to go and see Logan. She hadn't exactly been sure what she was going to say, she wasn't even really sure what she wanted, but she'd figured she couldn't put it off any longer. When she'd arrived at his suite, he had let her in and then made his way out to the balcony, leaving her to follow him. They stood silently; neither quite sure how to begin.
"This isn't going to happen, is it?" Logan finally asked.
"No," Veronica answered quietly. As much as she wanted to give in, to lose herself in everything that made him who he was, there was another part of her that was still angry, disappointed, and scared as hell.
"Yeah, I figured," Logan sighed. "I'm about ninety percent sure it isn't a good idea, but then…"
"Yeah," Logan said. "It'll probably always be there."
"Good," Veronica responded quietly, keeping her gaze firmly on the buildings in the distance.
They lapsed into a thoughtful silence, neither sure how to proceed. A few minutes later Veronica turned to look at him.
"Thank you," she said. Logan gave her a questioning glance and she continued. "For last week, with Gory. Thank you."
"Hey, anytime you need some random gangster's kid's ass kicked, you know where to find me," Logan said, causing her to smile. "Any plans for the summer?"
"I was going to do an internship with the FBI but…"
"Yeah, I heard about that. What happened?"
"Background checks…lie detector tests," Veronica sighed. "I'm here for the summer. I'm going to help my dad however I can."
"How's he doing?"
"All right. You know, all things considered." Veronica paused for a long moment, before continuing. "He's being polite. You know, 'Good morning,' 'How are you?' 'How was your day?' 'Good night, sweet dreams.' I just wish he'd get to the part where he gives me what I deserve."
Logan nodded, but didn't comment, and she was grateful for that. She didn't deserve to feel better and she didn't think she could handle feeling worse.
"Um, are you doing anything this summer?"
"Yeah," Logan said, looking a little excited. "I'm going on a road trip."
"No clue," he chuckled. "I'm gonna let a map and a dart decide. I just need to get out of Neptune."
"Sounds interesting," Veronica nodded.
"I know it's not exactly something you'd-"
"I didn't mean anything by that," Veronica hurried to explain. "Believe me, it sounds appealing. Be sure and send me some photos of all the destinations reached."
Once again they lapsed into silence. There were a lot of things they should have been discussing but neither of them seemed willing to scale the mountain of issues that lay between them.
"I should go," Veronica finally said, breaking the silence. "My dad is expecting me."
Logan walked her to the door and held it open for her. As soon as she crossed the threshold she turned back. They stared at each other for a moment, the air heavy with unsaid words.
"Have a good summer," Veronica eventually said.
"You too," Logan responded, watching as she made her way to the elevator.
As soon as the elevator arrived she hurried on. After choosing her desired floor she glanced up to find Logan standing in the hall, watching her leave. They held eye contact as the doors swished closed.
In the beginning of that summer she and Logan had exchanged emails, nothing serious, just random pictures or amusing anecdotes about their day. Unfortunately the more things had heated up for her father, and the further Logan had gotten from Neptune the more sparse the emails had become. The day eventually came where there hadn't been an email from either of them in over a month.
When school started up again in the fall Logan had returned, but it hadn't been until Mac suggested they all go to hear a new band play that she'd finally seen him. He'd looked happy, lighter somehow, and though she'd been happy to see the change in him, she'd envied it. She had felt listless and uncertain about everything, lost without a clear vision for her future, or even so much as a dream. And though her father had gotten off with a heavy fine and community service, his hopes of ever becoming sheriff again had been effectively ruined. She had known she'd never forgive herself for that.
That night at the club had set the tone for her relationship with Logan for the next few months. They had laughed, mocked random strangers, exchanged lighthearted barbs, but hadn't attempted to take their conversation to a deeper level. After that, they became two people who exchanged hellos if their paths crossed and people who went along to group activities, but never made plans of their own. If it hadn't been for Mac they probably would have made it the entire school year, only seeing each other a handful of times.
Their lack of significant contact hadn't bothered her at first. She'd been more focused on school and on doing everything she could to fix things with her father. However, one day she'd walked into the cafeteria at Hearst and been greeted by the sight of Mac, Parker, and Parker's new boyfriend, Spencer, talking and laughing with him. She had suddenly been struck with the realization that she missed that. She'd missed being able to really talk to him, to laugh and joke around with him, and not simply because they were desperate to avoid talking about anything else.
One night the whole group went out to dinner and Logan had brought his new girlfriend, Amber. Veronica had seen her before, so her presence hadn't been especially surprising, but that had been the first time she had seen them interact for a prolonged period of time. Their ease with each other was something she'd envied more than she'd cared to admit. Her response hadn't exactly been mature, most of her comments had been uncalled for. But she hadn't enjoyed seeing them together like that, joking and having a good time, entirely comfortable with each other. Logan had been pretty pissed off about all her veiled insults, -even though most of them had gone right over the girlfriend's head,- and the next day he'd arrived at her apartment to let her know just how little he'd appreciated it.
When Veronica opened the door to find Logan standing there, she hadn't been surprised. After the way she'd acted, she was amazed it had taken him so long to finally get around to paying her a visit. However, knowing she had it coming didn't mean she was ready to listen to what she was sure was his ever growing list of complaints about her.
"Now isn't a good time," Veronica told Logan before attempting to close her door. Logan stopped her by putting his foot in the way, forcing her to open the door. "Look," she began. "I'm sorry. What I said…it was a bad choice of words."
"It was bad, period," Logan told her, his voice tight with anger.
"But you're not sorry, are you?"
"I'm sorry for the time and place," Veronica answered, crossing her arms defensively over her chest. "I just couldn't help but notice she's like a lot of other girls you've dated."
"You're unbelievable," Logan told her.
"I'm sorry; I thought friends could be honest with each other."
"You only like honesty when you're giving it," Logan said, taking a step back. "You know damn well if I had pulled a stunt like that you would have never let me hear the end of it." When Veronica didn't respond Logan rolled his eyes. "Who are we kidding? We've never been friends."
Veronica stared silently after him as he got in his car and sped out of the parking lot. She probably should have been honest with him, but after everything that had happened between them, him rejecting her was most certainly the reaction she'd get, and she'd never been good with rejection.
After the confrontation at her apartment weeks passed without them so much as saying one word to each other. If they happened to cross paths on campus, they'd ignored each other. Veronica had known she'd eventually have to apologize, but apologizing meant being honest and being honest meant being vulnerable, and she hadn't been ready for that.
Eventually she had tried to use Mac's friendship with Logan to her advantage, asking Mac if Logan had said anything about her and if he seemed like he would be willing to speak to her. It may have been incredibly junior high-ish, and left her wanting to kick her own ass, but she had been desperate. Not that it mattered. Mac hadn't liked the idea of betraying Logan's confidence and she really hadn't appreciated Veronica asking her to. She had told Veronica point blank that she wasn't interested in playing mediator between the two of them, and suggested –in that gentle but firm way of hers- that they both grow up. It had been another week before she took Mac's advice.
A month after their big fight, Veronica finally worked up the nerve to go and apologize. She arrived at Logan's newly acquired beach house but there was no answer when she knocked at the door. Since his car was in the driveway and she was certain if she left it would be a good while before she could convince herself to give apologizing another try, she made herself comfortable on his front steps, prepared to wait as long as she needed to.
Twenty minutes later, Logan came running up the path from the beach, clearly just getting back from a morning jog. Veronica rose to greet him, ignoring the familiar flutter in her stomach at the sight of his fitted shirt clinging to his chest.
"Hi," she nervously greeted when he finally noticed her presence.
Logan shook his head, moving past her. "Whatever this is, I'm not in the mood."
"Please," Veronica said, surprising even herself with her boldness as she grabbed his arm, pulling him to a stop. "I know you don't want to hear it, probably won't believe it, but I am sorry."
"Why'd you do it?" Logan demanded.
Veronica broke eye contact. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it again almost immediately.
"Veronica?" Logan questioned, his voice taking on a tone that let her know he thought he knew the answer to his question.
"Don't," Veronica held up a hand to forestall any further comment. "I don't want…" she trailed off and was silent for a few moments. "Do you really think we were never friends?"
Logan looked down at his feet for a long moment before once more meeting her eye, one corner of his lip creeping up in a crooked smile. "No."
Veronica smiled, letting loose a relieved sigh. "I know things need to change, I know we have a lot we need to talk about, but I don't want you to not be in my life."
"Do you want to come in?" Logan asked. "I want to take a quick shower but we can talk afterward."
Veronica nodded. "Yeah."
As Logan showered, Veronica took advantage of the opportunity to check out his new place. As she peeked into each room she was surprised to find that the place was actually pretty nicely decorated. Yes, there were still clear signs that a young bachelor lived there, but it had all the comforts of a home.
Ten minutes after he left to shower, Logan returned, hair still slightly damp. Veronica was seated on the couch in the living room, doing her best to look innocent.
"So," Logan said, taking a seat in the recliner opposite her. "What do you think of the place?"
"Um," Veronica glanced around the room. "From what I can tell it looks nice."
Logan smirked. "I've known you since you were twelve. If you think you can convince me you didn't peek, you're dreaming."
"Fine," Veronica chuckled. "I peeked, but at least I resisted the urge to check out your bedroom."
Logan gave a good-natured eye roll. "A commendable show of restraint."
Veronica smiled, giving the room another once over. "Don't take this the wrong way, but it's a lot better than I expected."
"You were expecting frat boy chic I suppose?"
Veronica smiled and nodded. "Yeah, you know, Ikea furniture, mini fridge for the living room, candy dispenser of some kind. Definitely didn't picture painted walls, curtains for the guest room, or antique bookshelf in the spare room."
"Yeah, I can't exactly take credit for this. I had no idea where to start. Amber and Parker kind of took over and I had full veto power. Then Mac and Dick helped with getting stuff moved in and painted."
"Dick helped paint?" Veronica asked, pushing aside her irrational jealousy over Amber and Parker helping him decorate. Since when was she Martha Stewart?
"Well, he did that corner by the stand-y thing anyway."
"Stand-y thing?" Veronica glanced over to where he'd gestured.
"Parker bought it. It's a housewarming gift," Logan shrugged. "Apparently I can put plants, pictures, and knickknacks on it."
"You always were one for knickknacks," Veronica joked. She paused for a moment before continuing in a more serious tone. "I really am sorry about that night. It was just an uncomfortable situation."
Logan nodded. "Because of Amber and me."
Veronica was silent for a moment, nervously fiddling with her necklace. "It's always gonna be there, right?" She shrugged, "I may have been slightly jealous. You both are comfortable in a way we never were."
"There is no history between Amber and me," Logan rushed to explain. "I haven't hurt her or given her a reason to not trust me. I gave you a lot of reasons to be wary of me."
"I did the same to you," Veronica pointed out, not comfortable with him taking all the blame for their failed relationship.
"What do you want, Veronica?" Logan asked, gesturing between them. "Are you looking to-"
"No," Veronica answered quickly, almost too quickly. "I'm not looking to come between you. Not that I'm ruling out the possibility that we might…in the future."
"I haven't ruled it out either," Logan admitted softly.
Their gazes locked and Veronica felt that all too familiar pull. Abruptly, she broke eye contact. "Right…so…"
"You hungry?" Logan suddenly asked, rising to his feet.
Logan grabbed his coat off a hook by the door, sliding it on. "Friends grab burgers or get pizza right?"
Veronica bit her lip but was unable to keep the smile off her face. Standing up, she made her way over to Logan who was holding the door for her. "I have heard tell of such events."
Over the next year, they'd made a point of getting together. It had been interesting, getting to a place where they could be friends. Well, as good of friends as two people who'd previously been in a relationship could be. Though things hadn't always gone smoothly, as time went by they'd managed to find better ways of dealing with each other and communicating.
Though, of course spending so much time with him had helped rebuild their friendship, it had also served to remind her of all the reasons she'd never managed to get over him. For a while she had let herself hope that their friendship would lead to something more, however, despite the fact that they'd both admitted to not being opposed to a reconciliation and had plenty of opportunities to resume their previous relationship, nothing had come of it. Eventually Veronica had figured Logan wasn't ready or was no longer interested and decided it was pointless and more than a little pathetic to sit around and wait for his feelings to change.
She hadn't rushed blindly into any relationships but she'd stopped going out of her way to avoid them. Over the course of a few months, she'd had a few dates before allowing her attention to settle on one persistent young man. His name had been Harvey Pearman; he'd been an eighteen-year-old junior in one of her classes. Harvey's age had brought on more than a few jokes from her friends –Logan especially- but that hadn't bothered her. He had been smart, sweet, and okay, a bit naive and idealistic, but she'd liked him and enjoyed hanging out.
Their relationship lasted about four months and though things hadn't been terribly exciting she'd been content. Of course the inevitable time came when Harvey had been more than ready to take their relationship to the next level and she had been forced to acknowledge that her feelings for him just didn't run that deep, while her ever-present feelings for Logan did. So, she had ended the relationship as gently as possible and accepted Wallace's "I told you so" smirk without comment.
It had taken her a week after her breakup with Harvey to make the decision to face the Logan issue head on, or rather it had taken her a week and one too many margaritas with Parker and Mac to decide to try and subtly find out if Logan's feelings for her extended further than the friend zone. Logan had called a few days later, inviting her to a beach party that Dick and his other lowlife frat boy friends were throwing, and though she'd normally rather be strapped down naked on an ant hill than attend one of Dick's parties, she'd decided the loose party atmosphere would probably work in her favor when she finally spoke with Logan.
The party had been in full swing when they arrived, bonfire lit, kegs out, and music blaring. At first their group had all stayed together, talking and joking around, but as time wore on they broke apart. Mac and Max had made their way into the house, heading to the entertainment room to see what games were available, Wallace had decided to hang out with some of his old team mates with Piz along for the ride, and Parker had pulled a reluctant Spencer along behind her, intent on doing some dancing. After grabbing another drink each and two beach chairs, Veronica and Logan moved a fair distance away from the party.
As Veronica settled down in her chair her attention was drawn to the beach by a loud and piercing shriek. She watched as two large guys in cut off shorts and shoulder length hair dragged a girl not even half their size into the cold water, laughing as they dunked her.
"Why did I let you talk me into this?" Veronica asked, rolling her eyes.
"Come on," Logan said, slouching down in his chair, long legs stretched out. "It's not that bad."
Veronica shot him a disbelieving look and he chuckled in response, giving a shrug. They both briefly lapsed into silence, observing their fellow party goers and their drunken debauchery.
"So, how are things with Howser?" Logan asked breaking the silence, smirk firmly in place.
"Harvey," Veronica automatically corrected.
"That's what I said."
Veronica just shook her head. "We decided we were better off being friends."
"And by that you mean you're better off being two people who nod and smile politely should your paths cross but don't seek out any further contact."
"What can I say," Veronica smiled and shrugged. "When it works it works." After a brief pause she continued, imitating Logan's deliberate cluelessness "How are things with Kelsey?"
"You mean Chelsea?" Logan asked, smiling at her sarcastic tone. "She's fine. We aren't serious, just a bit of fun."
Veronica felt her usual surge of annoyance at his casual attitude towards dating and sex but forced it down. It wasn't a fight worth having. "Don't you ever get tired of just having fun?" she asked, trying to sound nonchalant . Though she could feel his eyes on her she avoided meeting his gaze.
"Sometimes," Logan eventually admitted. Immediately after his admission Logan stood up, quickly downing the rest of his drink. "I'm going to get another beer. You want another soda?"
"Uh, yeah," Veronica handed him her empty soda can, trying not to feel too disappointed at the abrupt end to their conversation.
Ten minutes later Logan returned with a bottle of tequila and two shot glasses. Veronica raised her eyebrows, looking pointedly at his alcoholicdrink selection.
"What?" Logan asked, adopting an innocent look. "You refuse to join the party and we gotta have some fun."
"Getting me drunk is fun?"
"Well, I won't know until I try," Logan winked.
Veronica couldn't help but smile as she accepted her glass. "So, what, we sit here and try and out…drink each other?"
"Actually, I was thinking of going with a round of twenty questions. You answer the question or you do a shot."
"Oh, this'll end well," Veronica chuckled. "I'll go first."
Thirty minutes later Veronica was definitely feeling buzzed as she lounged back in her chair waiting for Logan to take his turn.
"Favorite sexual experience?"
Veronica rolled her eyes. "Is there a particular reason you keep asking questions that are sexual in nature?"
"Is there a reason you keep avoiding them?" Logan replied cheekily.
A slightly evil grin crossed her face. "Let's see, my favorite sexual experience. Well, there was this one time…with Duncan."
"Knock it off," Logan said, half amused and half annoyed with her antics.
"Then don't ask questions you already know the answer to. I'm not here to stroke your ego."
"What are you here to stroke?" Logan joked.
Veronica snorted. "Okay, that was bad, even for you, but I'm gonna let it slide because you're drunk."
"No, you're drunk, which is why you're letting it slide."
"I'm not drunk, just tipsy."
"Yeah, okay," Logan said, the look on his face making it clear he didn't believe her. "You still haven't answered the question. Favorite sexual experience, Veronica, who, what, when, where, and why?"
Veronica considered how to answer the question. She had never been all that good at baring her emotions, but then that had been one of the major problems in their previous relationship. If she wanted things to change…
Taking a deep breath, Veronica responded. "You, sex, that weekend in August before our Freshman year when my father was out of town, my room or more specifically my desk."
"You forgot why," Logan said quietly, watching her intently. For all his joking and prodding he clearly hadn't expected an answer to his question.
Veronica met his gaze and shrugged. "I don't know, it was the first time I felt completely comfortable, and sexy, and like I was an active participant rather than a…detached one."
"You felt like you were uninvolved the first time we-"
"No. I didn't mean that. I was a bit uncomfortable that first time, not in a bad way, just in a 'nervous about a new experience' way."
Logan rolled his eyes. "It probably didn't help that I tripped and knocked you flat on your ass."
Veronica burst out laughing at the memory. "Actually that was a pretty good tension breaker. Don't beat yourself up over it. My ass wasn't too badly bruised."
Logan held his head in his hands, groaning at the memory.
"Come on," Veronica cajoled. "You more than made up for it. Besides, it was nice to be reminded that you were still just…you." Veronica cleared her throat. "Your experience used to-"
"Anger and disappoint you," Logan finished for her, glancing away.
"I'm not going to lie and say it didn't, but honestly, a lot of that was jealousy, some insecurity. I was going to say your experience intimidated me."
"You never had anything to worry about," Logan said softly. Before Veronica could respond he continued. "It was your turn, right?"
"Uh, yeah," Veronica thought for a moment, thinking back on a conversation she'd had earlier that week with Parker. "Do you believe in fate or destiny?"
"You used to."
"I used to believe a lot of things," Logan shrugged. "You have to grow up eventually. Do you wish I did?"
"Do you believe in it?"
Veronica shook her head. "No. I don't like the thought of there being some unseen force directing all of our lives. I can't believe that. Believing that would mean my life isn't my own, that my choices don't matter because everything has already been decided for me. I need to know that I'm in control, that this is my life, on my terms. And as far as romantic relationships go…anyone who believes fate or destiny has led them to you can one day just as easily believe it is leading them away from you."
"True," Logan nodded. "All right, what's your first memory?"
Veronica chuckled, leaning back in her chair. "I was about three or four years old. My parents were having a get together and a friend of mine was staying with us while her mom was out of town on business. Anyway, one of my dad's friends was a really big guy. My friend saw him and freaked. My dad was trying to calm her down and I walked over and said 'Daddy, I'm not scared' and then I repeated it to make sure he heard. I just remember it being very important that he knew I wasn't afraid."
"I expected nothing less," Logan smiled. "Your turn."
There was a long pause and Veronica knew she'd manage to step on one of those land mines she'd been so careful to avoid during their relationship. She watched Logan consider his glass for a long moment. She was about to speak up and change the subject when he began.
"I'm not sure how old I was but…I was in my room, playing with some toys. I don't know, I just remember thinking," Logan paused, clearing his throat. "I remember thinking my father didn't love me." As he finished Logan rolled his eyes and downed his shot. "Cue sob story soundtrack."
"I think you only need the music if you're playing to a crowd. It's just me and I probably won't remember this in the morning," Veronica lightly joked, earning a smile.
Logan cleared his throat. "Well, it's my turn, right?"
Veronica shook her head, dropping her shot glass in the sand. "I don't want to play anymore."
Logan nodded reaching for the bottle that lay in the sand between them, intent on pouring himself another drink. Veronica reached out, grasping his hand in hers.
"I'm sorry," Veronica said, cutting him off.
"I never asked…about any of it. I just wanted everything to go back to normal. I always want everything to go back to normal. I'm sorry I never asked."
Logan was silent for a moment before turning his hand, slowly interlocking their fingers. Before either of them could say anything more a loud scream split the air and they both whirled around. A fair distance away a blonde guy knelt on the ground cradling his hand and cursing profusely.
"Great," Logan groaned. "That's Dick."
"Of course it is," Veronica rolled her eyes and followed after Logan, cursing Dick the whole way.
When Veronica saw the turn off to Logan's house come into view, she made a right turn and headed up his driveway. It had been a week since the beach party. Neither she nor Logan had brought up the brief moment they shared. She wasn't sure if that meant it had been important or insignificant in the grand scheme of things. When Veronica pulled into Logan's driveway, she was surprised to find the driveway empty save for Logan's lone car, and no sound coming from the house. Logan had toned down his partying in the last year but there was no way Dick would have allowed an opportunity to throw a raging kegger pass him by.
Making sure to grab Logan's present, Veronica got out of her car and made her way up to the front door. When none of her knocks were responded to, she pulled out her phone and hit speed dial #2. After three rings Logan's voice came over the line.
"Hey," Veronica greeted. "Are you home?"
"Yeah," Logan responded slowly, clearly trying to figure out where this was going. "Why?"
"Well, your car is in the driveway, all the lights are on, and yet I've been knocking for the past few minutes and no answer."
"Yes," Veronica responded. "Where are you?"
"I'm out back with Fred."
"Who is Fred?" Veronica asked as she made her way to the back deck.
"Come and see," Logan responded before hanging up.
Veronica removed her shoes, laying them next to Logan's and made her way onto the beach. She wasn't there a minute before a large black dog charged her, bark loud and tail wagging.
"Hey boy," Veronica greeted, dropping to her knees, petting his head. Movement to her right caused her to pause and when a pair of feet came into view Veronica glanced up, meeting Logan's gaze with a smile. "Well, if it isn't the birthday boy."
"Hey," Logan greeted, holding out a yellow tennis ball.
Taking the ball Veronica rose to her feet. She briefly waved it before the dog, getting his attention before throwing it as hard as she could down the beach.
"That's Fred I presume," Veronica said as they watched the dog race down the beach after the ball.
"Yep, he's Charlie's."
"And you have him because..."
"Charlie had to go back to Idaho for his great-grandmother's ninetieth birthday, which is also serving as a family reunion."
"That's cool," Veronica commented as she bent over to pick up the ball an excited Fred has dropped at her feet.
"Here, let me have it," Logan held out a hand.
After passing the ball over, Veronica watched as he pulled his arm back and pitched the ball into the air. It flew higher and farther than hers and she chuckled as Fred stumbled briefly in his haste to go after it.
"So," Veronica began, turning to Logan. "This isn't exactly the raging party I was expecting."
"Dick, Mac, Parker, and Charlie were here earlier. We had a few drinks, played some video games. I'm not really in the mood for something big."
Veronica nodded. Logan had never been too big on his birthday. When he was younger Aaron used it as a chance to play the loving and generous father for adoring party guests. Logan had told her Lynn always made up for it by taking him on special trips, just the two of them.
"So, what did you get me?" Logan asked, cutting through the somber mood with an easy smirk and playful tone.
Veronica smiled and shrugged. "What does one get a man with enough money to buy himself anything he could possibly want?"
"Not everything," Logan replied, giving her a look that help to bolster her confidence to discuss their lack of relationship and what they could do to change that.
Bending over, Veronica snatched his present off the sand and held it out for him. "Here."
She watched as Logan began unwrapping the gift. He made slow and dainty work of it and the slightly crooked smile he was trying to suppress made it clear he was doing so to push her buttons. She reached for the present, intent on ripping the paper away but Logan swatted her hands before she got close. While birthday spankings were common for some and maybe even acceptable she doubted she could get away with birthday smacks upside his head, so with a huff Veronica crossed her arms and tried to be patient.
"A photo album?" Logan removed the last of the wrapping paper, looking confused. "Just what I've always wanted."
"Open it," Veronica replied softly.
"Don't tell me you've actually decided to let me have those pictures I took of you wearing my t-shirt," Logan joked as he opened the album.
Veronica chose not to respond, instead watching silently as Logan's gaze fell on the first picture in the album. It was a shot of him and his mother taken at the Echolls mansion a few months before Lilly's death. In the photo Lynn was laughing at Logan as he gave a big cheesy grin to the camera.
Logan glanced up at Veronica briefly before returning his gaze to the album. He slowly flipped through it, taking a long moment to study each picture. When he finally returned his gaze to Veronica he couldn't hide the tears in his eyes.
"Where did you get these?" he asked quietly.
"Alicia finally talked my dad into cleaning out his storage unit," Veronica explained. "I went to help him. I found them in one of the boxes. I would have given them to you sooner if I'd remembered I had them."
Moving forward, Logan enveloped her in a hug. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Veronica smiled, enjoying the feel of his arms wrapped around her.
The hug lasted nearly a minute and as they pulled apart they exchanged awkward smiles. They were saved from having to say anything when Fred -tired of being ignored- nudged at Logan's leg. Bending over Logan retrieved the ball Fred had dropped and once more threw it for him to chase down.
"You know," Logan said as he watched Fred take off. "I never really gave much thought to having a pet, but it might be cool to have a dog of my own."
"Yeah," Veronica answered, not really paying attention. Her heart was pounding wildly in her chest as she tried to work up the nerve to confront Logan about what, if anything, all the little moments they'd had meant.
"Veronica?" Logan said, turning to face her.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she assured him, taking a deep breath. "I was just, um...do you remember that conversation we had freshman year?"
"Bit more specific?" Logan requested.
"The one we had before you left on your road trip."
"Ten percent," Logan murmured.
"Yes," Veronica said, forcing herself to meet his gaze. "Lately it's been a little...a lot more than that."
"Yeah?" Logan moved closer to her, forcing her to tilt her head back slightly to meet his gaze.
"I know we haven't exactly talked about it lately and that is totally understandable. We have a good friendship. I mean, after everything we've been through we've still somehow managed to be friends. Why rock the boat? But, all these years and we're still here. That has to count for something right?"
"Veronica," Logan said, smiling at her rambling.
"I love you," Veronica blurted out, taking them both by surprise. "I can't be your friend. I mean, I can't just be your friend. I love you and being your friend is not enough. I'm not saying we should rush into anything, but..." Veronica lapsed into silence. When Logan didn't immediatly respond she became more anxious. 'Please say something."
"I love you too, Veronica," Logan finally admitted, a small smile working its way across his face.
Reaching out, Logan gently cupped her cheek, lightly tracing her lips with his thumb. After a moment he leaned in for a kiss.
"Kelsey!" Veronica blurted out before their lips met.
"Chelsea," Logan smirked. "We ended things a few days ago. She decided she wanted more, I didn't."
"Oh," Veronica exhaled, her relief evident. "You...you can kiss me now."
"Thanks," Logan chuckled.
As their lips met, Veronica sighed and sank into him, enjoying the slide of his lips against hers and the way his hands gripped her hips. It had been a long time since she has been kissed like this.
"Do you want to come inside?" Logan asked when they finally parted.
Veronica considered it for a moment, but decided against it. In the past they'd always leaped in with both feet, thinking with their hearts or hormones. Better to learn from the past then endlessly relive it.
"No," she told him. At his surprised look she continued. "We can't mess this up again."
"So, we're taking is slow?"
"For now," Veronica nodded.
"Okay," Logan agreed. "Would you like to go out to dinner tomorrow night?"
Veronica nodded, biting her lip in an attempt to keep a huge grin off her face.
"Come on," Logan said, laying a kiss on her head. "I'll walk you to your car."
As they made their way back up to his house Logan wrapped an arm around her waist and Veronica leaned into his side, enjoying just being with him. This time they were going to make it work. End of story.