Duncan stuttered forward, his movements quick and hesitating as he looked across the suite at Logan—trying to work up the nerve needed to evict his best friend. Logan could tell something was wrong. The shifting eyes, fidgety fingers, bird-like motions—they were all signs of a very nervous Duncan. Nodding to himself as if giving an internal pep-talk Duncan took three firm strides towards Logan and perched himself on the end of the couch by the other boy's feet.
Logan nodded in acknowledgement, trying not to smirk at Duncan's terrible try at nonchalance, "Hey, man. What's up?"
"Well, you know mom and dad are coming back to help me with Megan, but that means I'll be moving back home."
"Good old Kane reunion, how cozy," Logan shrugged in acceptance.
"Yeah. Thing is, they don't want to keep the hotel suite. I don't wanna push you or anything but we've only got it for the next two weeks… just till their flights get in."
"Right," Logan had been certain this conversation would come up sooner or later, it was inevitable. "So it's time to pack up my knapsack, huh?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry man, but they don't want their granddaughter living in a hotel."
"No, man, it's cool. This was only temporary anyhow, right?"
"Right," Duncan agreed, happy that Logan seemed to be in a non-confrontational mood for the time being. "So, what are you gonna do?"
"Find my own place, I guess. Doubt I can mooch till the end of the year."
"It's for the best. You'd probably catch something off Dick's floor anyway."
"Yeah," Logan scoffed, "and Babygirl's just a vision cleanliness."
"Her name's Megan."
"Dude, it's boring. Who else is gonna have a kid called Babygirl? It's … different."
"It sounds like a hooker. I don't want my daughter to grow up to be a stripper."
"Okay, 'my daughter' still really weird, man. And that's what the hospital called her, I didn't make it up."
"They put that on all the wristbands before you give the babies a name. She has a name now."
"Babygirl is still better."
"You can explain to my mom when her granddaughter ends up working at the Seventh Veil then."
"Babygirl would be classier than that. You have no faith in your own DNA, dude."
Duncan narrowed his eyes, replying with no real heat, "My mom was right not to let you near her."
Logan held his hands up in agreement. "Hey, man, fine with me. That thing threw up on me the one time I held her."
"That's because you squeezed too tight. And that thing is still my daughter."
Logan paused, looking over to his best friend as he asked, "So, two weeks till I'm out on my ass?"
It only took Logan a week to use his considerable resources and a bunch of pages from the classifieds to find somewhere suitable. His new abode was a two-storey by the sea, away from the main part of town but close enough to drive to. It had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and enough space to fit the family that Logan didn't have. He paid by check and the whole deal was done before mamma Kane had time to get down from Napa for the pleasure of kicking Logan out with a polite drawling.
He didn't tell anyone he was moving and it wasn't until Dick tried to call by the hotel one night that word got out Logan Echolls now had his very own bachelor pad. Not that he could actually live in it properly until he got off his ass and acquired some furniture, maybe something other than the ratty old couch that was left in it.
Logan kicked off his shoes, flopping down onto the couch with all the grace of a seventeen-year-old boy as he surveyed his new home. Staying with Duncan had been more than just looking for a cheap place to crash. If Logan was honest with himself, he'd put off buying some place himself for similar reasons to Duncan—school would be over soon and the promise of college was calling to him from the not so distance future. Unfortunately for Logan a certain ankle bracelet from his favorite local Sheriff made college outside of Neptune a slim possibility. It was finally time to start facing that along with all the other consequences of his summer from hell.
The house was bare. White walls, blank floors, little to no decoration in the clean rooms. It grated on Logan's senses. He was used to bright flamboyant decorating and as much as he would like to stray from his parents' taste in faux fur he had to admit that he missed the warmth of living somewhere that was designed for him. Hotels had to be neutral, plain, hotel decorating was a lot like Switzerland and he was done looking at the same stupid fish framed above his professionally turned-down bed. Sure, he had a maid at home make his bed, but there was something different about having a team of help and knowing that some faceless person you never saw was going into your room (which wasn't really your room anyway) and touching your bed sheets. It was weird. Logan was glad it was over.
Upstairs in the master bedroom Logan had a few boxes of new clothes. The first thing he had done after his little run in with Veronica—fun as that had been—was to make a trip into L.A. for a new wardrobe. There were only so many times he could wear Duncan's clothes. After all, blue just really wasn't Logan's color. Apart from the clothes, some school books and a few bits and pieces that he had picked up as needed (a video camera, a new laptop, DVDs, shampoo and stuff) there was nothing else to move in. Everything that Logan could have possibly owned before was mostly ash.
He was surprised, although he didn't know why, to discover that nothing much survived the fire. Some ass of a fireman had handed him a slightly charred Oscar when they were recovering things later on. Logan nearly hit the guy with it. The little golden guy was one of the only things that made it. That and some exercise equipment from the upstairs gym.
He checked his mail everyday; there was always something—credit card statements, junk mail, the odd letter from his lawyer or the school detailing something that Logan probably didn't want to know anyway. It was the Friday before he was due to go back to school that Logan wandered downstairs to find a thick brown envelope sitting underneath his letter box.
He approached it carefully, his mind conjuring up ideas of anthrax and mail bombs. He was wedged into an awkward place with the public. Some people hated him for being Aaron's son, others hated him for hating Aaron—there was really no winning with them. Pushing aside his melodramatic paranoia Logan noticed that there was no stamp on the envelope. It didn't fill him with assurance but he opened it anyway, taking the package to his breakfast island to empty out the contents.
A pile of photographs—neatly bound with a rubber band—fell out onto the counter. Logan found Duncan and Lilly staring up at him as he turned the stack over; he was in between them—smiling like a moron.
He flicked the band away, spreading out the photos, giving them all the once over. The majority of them were of himself, Lilly and Duncan. Some had Veronica in them, other people from school, but most of them were Logan and the Kane kids. Reaching for the envelope, he searched at the bottom but nothing else fell out. It didn't matter though; Logan would have to be pretty stupid if he couldn't work out who the anonymous sender was. That Veronica was always trying to push the boundaries of his emotional turmoil. He smiled lopsidedly at the pictures, gathering them up and pushing them back into the envelope—they were comforting to have, not so comforting to look at.
"It's so…" Veronica paused, searching for the right words, "clean."
"It's gay," Logan argued, not happy with the décor that his small house had been given. Being seventeen and lazy and… well, male, Logan has hired a designer to take care of the place, he was only now beginning to regret that decision.
"You're right, it does have that metrosexual feel, have your friends been decorating?" she taunted with a warm smile and faux-interest. "Is Sean here?"
"Thanks," he grunted, mostly ignoring her show. Logan took a step toward Veronica, tapping the lid of a very detective-y looking file box in her hands. "So what's in the box?"
"Oh." Veronica looked momentarily flustered as she remembered the cardboard box in her hands. She set it down on the small coffee table, removing the lid as she explained, "Your housewarming gift."
"You didn't have to—" he started to protest.
"Don't worry, I didn't." She stood, pulling a CD from the box to show him.
"Isn't that mine?" he asked.
Veronica nodded. "This is just all the stuff you left at my apartment. I figured you might want it back," she clarified. Adding as an afterthought, "Plus, I really don't need your junk cluttering up my room."
"Uh, thanks." He moved toward the box, rummaging through his belongings. CDs, shirts, a flask, even a pair of boxers which caused Veronica to flush violently. Putting the lid back on he moved the box to the end of the table, not sure what more to say. He appreciated the gesture, having something that was his was definitely nice, but at the same time Logan couldn't help but feel the sting of Veronica returning his things—gesture of goodwill or no.
The awkward silence pervaded between them and Veronica seemed to sense his discomfort. She cleared her throat, taking a step away from Logan and the coffee table to wrap her arms across her chest. "You know, I almost kept the shirt."
"The green one," she admitted with a quick nod, trying to hide her reddening cheeks.
Logan was now completely dumbstruck. Whatever he said to Veronica was going to be the wrong thing, it was just a matter of choosing which wrong thing to say and even then he was having a problem deciding. Veronica barely acknowledged his existence, let alone admitted to hoarding his possessions. "Why?" he questioned, genuinely clueless.
Veronica's mouth gaped open and closed a few times like a guppy. Just when she seemed to have found the right words, they were interrupted by a loud wolf whistle and the sound of the front door banging open and then closed again.
"Dude, this place is sweet! You are so gonna get tail with this place, Logan." Dick ambled into living room from through the spacious hallway. "Oh. Veronica," his voice dropped into a disappointed sneer.
She pursed her lips together, nodding in greeting. "Dick. Always a horror."
"I thought I told you to come by later, man?" Logan regarded Dick with a tightly held look of annoyance, interrupting before the other boy could respond to Veronica's thinly veiled hostility. Now that she was dating neither Logan nor Duncan Veronica wasn't up for playing nice with the remaining 09ers.
He shrugged, his shoulders rising and falling in an awkward slump of muscle. "Something came up. Chick stuff, dude," Dick defended. "Figured I'd check out your pad first."
Logan rolled his eyes, throwing one hand out to the side. "Tada!" he called sarcastically. "It's a house, Dick. They're all the same."
"You're such a gracious host," Veronica rolled her eyes at Logan from her place at his side. She took a deliberate step away from him as Logan's gaze slowly swept over to her, his irritation clear.
"Oh, but you can be rude?"
"He's your friend," she reminded.
"Dude, why is she even here?" Dick asked Logan, turning away from Veronica as if this would somehow keep his inquiry from her ears. Veronica merely sighed in exasperation at his stage-whisper.
Logan nodded to the file box on the table, explaining, "Brought back some of my stuff, man. Since everything got burned."
"Took you long enough, too poor to buy your own shit, Veronica?"
"Man, back off," Logan raised a hand to fend off Dick's remark.
"What, dude?" Dick turned to him. "You guys broke up like months ago."
"So, we weren't exactly on speaking terms."
"I'm still here boys, and fortunately for you I'm leaving now. Nice place, Logan," she added blankly.
Veronica pushed past Logan, her movements tight, her façade pulled together firmly. Just as she was about to reach the door a hand grabbed her arm, dragging Veronica around to face Logan.
"Hey, Veronica. Thanks," he mumbled.
"No big, they're your things anyway."
"No," he stumbled for words. "I meant about the photos."
She stopped, visibly shocked. Veronica hadn't expected any gratitude from Logan. "It's cool," she dismissed. "I figured you probably lost all yours."
He ducked his head sheepishly, nodding as she turned back to the door and left without another word. Veronica had a habit of punching him in the gut and leaving before he could retaliate.
The letter from his lawyers arrived the day after Veronica ran out on him, leaving Logan with Dick and a box of his belongings.
It was clean and crisp, stamped in the right places and typed up neatly. Logan was used to fielding questions and inquiries from the insurance, as best he could considering he was seventeen and his involvement with his parents' finances rounded out to playing with the credit cards they gave him when he turned sixteen.
This one was different though, a personal letter, and Logan couldn't help but be curious as he scanned the hand signed bottom before unfolding the thick, watermarked paper and beginning where most people do—at the start.
Words started to pop out at him as Logan returned to the kitchen and his bowl of cornflakes, slogging the spoon through the maize mush left by his cereal as he read.
Storage. Lynn. Account number. Little pieces of information flitting through the front of his brain and trying to dissolve into something that made sense. Logan dropped his spoon, grasping both ends of the paper and pulling it flat on the counter to reread. It was all there, in black and white, the blue signature at the end confirming it—his mother had possessions in storage, they thought he might appreciate the account passwords. The address.
Logan shoved the paper, crumpled by his haste, into his jeans pocket while he headed to the door, grabbing a coat on his way out. He was in his car and on the main road in under five minutes, searching for the quickest route to this indistinct storage facility that he had never cared so much about.
Logan couldn't remember the last time he had felt physically sick in the face of something so innocuous. The warehouses loomed over him in a dull, prosaic grey as he turned his car sharply into a parking space—his angle taking up two—and hopped out of the driver's side. Logan pulled his sunglasses up, covering his eyes from the glare that sun-off-glass tended to cause, and headed to a small port-a-cabin that looked to be an office or reception of some kind.
"Hey," he greeted the balding guy sitting behind the desk. The man was dressed in a grey shirt that vaguely resembled the color of the buildings. His portable TV was on behind the counter and Logan could see the ends of a box of doughnuts sitting by the screen. He looked up slowly, his eyes travelling up and down Logan in judgment as he tipped his hat back off his face and finally answered, "Hey there."
"I'm here to collect some stuff," Logan's hand fidgeted by his side. His whole body was radiating nervous energy and the man's sloth like attitude was like wading through syrup to Logan.
He man straightened himself in his seat, leaning over to a dusty old computer. "What's the name, son?" he asked pleasantly.
"Lynn Ec—Lester. Lynn Lester," Logan tried to stop his tongue from fumbling as he responded, gripping the paper tighter between his hands.
"You got the account number there?" The man reached out for the piece of paper but Logan kept it held closely. "Four, three, eight, nine, two, zero, one," he read off to the man.
With a slight shrug the man typed in the number slowly, finally looking up and asking, "And the password?"
"N, A, G, O, L, eighty-seven," he nodded, the word 'nagol' finally hitting him with some significance. Logan wanted to be touched by the choice but he couldn't help but think that using your son's name was a pretty stupid idea for a password—it's one of the first things Aaron would have tried had he been desperate to get in at the items.
The man nodded, handed Logan a key card and pointed down a long row of shuttered up warehouses to their left. "Thirty-six. It's near the bottom there."
Logan nodded numbly; it felt like all he was doing lately, "Thanks."
The door opened easily, a small green light blinking at Logan to enter. He pushed through, the door seeming ridiculously tiny inset into the large storage building. Boxes lined up the inside of the walls, not many, but enough to cause Logan to let a small sigh huff through his lips as he set to work opening them all. Coming to the first box he carefully ripped at the scotch tape holding the top shut—lifting the flaps with a sudden hesitation Logan was confronted with something he never expected to see… a tiny pair of baby booties.
They were blue, worn on the bottom, ribbon on the edges. The inventory inside proclaimed them as: Logan's first shoes. He stared, slack-jawed at the tiny pieces of cloth for an inappropriate amount of time considering what they were. Just a pair of shoes. Setting them aside he began to dig through the rest of the contents. There were toys and clothes and pictures he had drawn—all scribbled in crayon with the date neatly penned in the corner.
He didn't cry until the bottom of the third box. Nestled underneath a pile of papers, school reports, inconsequential things that could be boxed away for another day, Logan found a thick, leather-bound book. It was baby blue, a little dusty, and opening it he found it to be a baby book. A photo album full of firsts. His firsts.
The very front page had his name, his date of birth, his parents' names, his weight and measurements. All kinds of unnecessary details. Above was a picture of his mom and a tiny bundle in a green blanket—Aaron had his arm around her, a wide smile gracing his face but it didn't even matter. Logan stared hard at the picture, holding his jaw tight as a small pulse pounded in his throat and his eyes started to sting.
His mom was in a hospital gown, smiling without makeup, holding him like he was the best thing she had ever seen—his father seemed to agree. It was a nice little fantasy but Logan couldn't help but indulge as a hot tear slipped across his cheek. It burned a little, but everything had lately.
Logan's sobs had subsided to hiccupping sniffles when his cell phone started ringing in his pocket. He fished it out awkwardly, his fingers not quiet responding the way his brain wanted through the fog of pity that had enveloped him. His sight still blurred, Logan punched blindly at the call button. Clearing his throat gruffly he brought the phone to his ear and answered, "Yeah?"
"Logan?" the voice on the other end asked.
His breath hitched in realization as Logan responded, "Veronica?"
"Yeah. Where are you?"
"You know where I am, Veronica. Where are you?" he shot back, grabbing desperately for a witty retort and failing spectacularly. The breath huffed out of his lungs strongly at her answer.
"Like outside your apartment?" he asked numbly.
"Like outside your storage facility."
He swallowed thickly, moving back to open the door. When he pulled it back Logan found a very small, very nosy Veronica on the other side. He let the hand holding his cell drop unceremoniously to his side, watching while she carefully lowered her own and cut off the call.
The letter wasn't from my lawyers, was it?"
She shrugged, all cute and flippant. Logan couldn't smile at the gesture but it didn't hurt either. "I may have been able to steal some stationary last time I paid them a visit."
"You…" he started accusingly, impressed despite himself.
"You may not want to finish that sentence."
Logan's face was raw, too honest for his liking, as he asked, "How did you even know?"
"Honestly? It was a guess. What rich people want their old junk cluttering up their new mansions? It made sense that some of your stuff would have been put away. It wasn't hard to check up on."
He nodded in acceptance, gratitude, understanding. His eyes still burned and there was a tight, pulling sensation building in his chest that made it difficult to breathe.
"I brought my car, want some help getting this stuff home?" she offered.
Despite the tiny size of Veronica's LeBaron and the fact that all the boxes could have easily fitted into Logan's much larger SUV he merely nodded. Wiping his face with the back of one hand, Logan fixed Veronica with a thankful gaze and moved to lift the first box.