Logan considered the flask in his glove compartment for a few minutes before stowing it in his pocket. His license was too new for it to be taken away for showing up at the sheriff's house with alcohol on his breath.
He climbed up the stairs to the Mars porch, trying to peer inside to see who is home. The Mars family apparently liked their privacy, though, and he finally just knocked on the door. Veronica opened it and he sent up a quick prayer.
"Logan," she said, and her smile dimmed only just when she noticed that he was alone.
"Hi, Veronica," Logan replied, looking down at her. Friday night, and she was in a tank top and pajama pants covered in multicolored muffins. He could see The Princess Bride paused on the tv behind her, and wondered for the first time who Veronica Mars's friends were. Whoever she had hung out with before her father became sheriff and she became someone in the eyes of Lilly Kane, they probably hadn't stuck around for when Lilly dropped Veronica off the party bus.
"Did you need something?" Veronica prodded when he had been quiet for a minute.
"Lilly broke up with me today," he said, leaving off the 'again.'
Veronica was still looking up at him, waiting, and she was going to help him because she was a good, sweet person. And maybe he wanted some of that to rub off on him, because what came out of his mouth was not, 'Maybe you could talk to her for me,' but, "So I thought that maybe the two of us Kane dumpees could have some ice cream and commiserate."
From Veronica's answering smile, he knew that he had made the right decision for once in his life. "So you came to my doorstep and expected me to provide the Ben and Jerry's?"
Logan heaved a fake sigh. "I stopped by the store to bring my share, but they said some blond grabbed their entire stock."
"Yeah, and maybe I won't give you any," she huffed, but she stepped aside to let him in.
Logan dropped his jacket on a chair and swung his body over the back of the couch, causing the Mars's elderly spaniel, Pepper, to yip as he bounced her.
"You break it, you buy it, Echolls," Veronica's said, voice muffled from deep in the freezer.
"Not a problem," he called back, but he knew that the most expensive couch his platinum card could buy would never hold the comfort of this one, covered in Pepper's fur and smelling of family movie night popcorn and Mrs. Mars's perfume.
"Here you go." Veronica handed him a full pint of ice cream with a spoon jabbed in the middle, keeping one for herself and plunking a full bottle of whipped cream on the coffee table in front of them.
He squinted briefly at the carton before she turned off the light. "Pistachio Pistachio, Mars?" Of the four of them, he was the only one who liked the flavor. Veronica liked to tease him for ingesting something that was such a disgusting color. "Were you hoping I'd come by?" Logan gasped in a breathy voice.
"My mom likes it," she said, and he might have believed her if he couldn't hear the blush in her voice. He scooped up a little ice cream, smiling around the spoon. Her elbow dug in to his side. "Shut up and watch the movie," she admonished, pressing play.
It was already halfway through, but Logan enjoyed himself anyway. Veronica always insisted that they watch it at least four times a year, so he was familiar with it, and most of the movie was spent imitating the actors until Veronica was collapsed against Logan's side, giggling.
The only awkward moment came when Veronica, fed up with Logan making fun of Westley's ponytail, finally yelled, "Stop snarking on my dream guy!"
"What about Duncan?" was out of Logan's mouth before he thought about it. Veronica was quiet for the first time since he'd arrived and he scrambled for something to take the tension away again, because this was the best time he had had in months. "And what about a stud like me?" he finally came up with. She made a disparaging remark about his alleged studliness and it was comfortable again.
He had her in stitches over the Impressive Clergyman, and he noticed, even in the dark, how pretty she was when she laughed. A few minutes later, she gave a more gleeful delivery of the "to the pain" speech than Westley. As she finished off with a fiendish, "It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever," he looked over at her in admiration. "You're something else, Ronnie," he said, and then he kissed her.
It was a more innocent kiss that Logan's first kiss had been, considering that that had been with the nineteen year old daughter of one of his mother's friends. It was over in a minute and when he pulled back, her eyes were wide.
He didn't love her. Of the four of them, she was the one he was least close to. But he liked her before he liked Lilly. He grew up with Lilly. She was his best friend's sister and that seemed sacred.
Veronica Mars, though, with the giggle that made him smile and her shocked "Lilly!" that expressed what he and Duncan liked to pretend that they were too Lilly-jaded for. Her innocence, her full and healthy family were attractive to him, but at the same time, he knew he didn't deserve it. Veronica Mars, whole and pure and delicate- Logan would hurt her.
So when Lilly started walking around in short-shorts when he was around, when she dragged him into closets, he gave in. Because he would never get away with hurting Lilly Kane. If he hurt her, she would make sure he got his.
Logan could see his wide eyes in Veronica's before he backed away. He didn't know if he had ever felt this nervous after kissing a girl.
"Thanks for the movie, Mars. We should do it again."
He left. He forgot his jacket. The maid brought it up to his room the next morning, but he started wearing a green one instead. He hung the old one in the back of his closet with the rest of his guilt.
"Come have dinner with my father," Logan says.
"I don't know. Multimillionaire movie stars aren't exactly my type," Veronica responds promptly.
Logan grins and moves her hair away from her face. "I meant with me and my dad, smartass. And now you can't say no, because I am neither a millionaire nor a movie star."
Veronica squints playfully at him. "I'm still not sure that you're my type."
"Well," he leans forward. "Is your type smart?" He kisses her forehead. "Witty?" The left corner of her mouth. "Wildly handsome?" The right corner.
"Arrogant as hell?" She pushes him back on the couch, out of the puritanical position they had been in, and snakes herself on top of him. She barely covers half of him as he pulls her up higher so they are directly face to face.
"You planning an attack on my virtue, Mars?" Logan leans his head up, doing a very good leer.
"Not really that much to attack," Veronica says, giving a very unvirtuous wriggle before she kisses him. He pulls away after a moment, eyes wide.
"Is this okay? Are you alright with this after...?"
This is exactly what she didn't want to happen when she told him. She liked that Logan treated her like she was hard and bright and fearless. Not the fragile raped girl. She huffs an annoyed breath.
"I take it back," Logan says quickly, leaning up toward her again. "Veronica Mars doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do."
"Got it in one, Echolls," Veronica says, and she kisses him again, hard.
They break away as Logan's phone rings. He fidgets through a minute long conversation with his father that manages to stay only slightly snarky, and which ends with a promise to come home soon.
"So, Veronica," Logan stretches her name out as she pushes herself off his chest. "You coming to sample the fabulous culinary skills of the multitalented Aaron Echolls?"
"If you don't think it's a little early for Meet the Parents," she says lightly, hands in her back jeans pockets as she follows him out to the driveway.
"Pretty sure you met him the other day," he says teasingly.
She blushes a little. "Getting caught making out. A new typical teenage experience to put in my scrapbook."
"Damn, I hope I look good in the pictures," Logan says girlishly, before turning serious. "Besides, how often do I get to bring home a girl who my father likes but who won't spend dinner quizzing him on what kind of sandwiches Connor Larkin eats for lunch?"
"Oh my God, Connor likes turkey too?" Veronica widens her eyes and bounces a little. Logan leans her against the car door and kisses her, smiling against her mouth.
"Come over and find out."
"Let me ask my dad."
He drives up as she's leaving a plate of cookies on Lamb's doorstep. She crouches for a minute, adjusting the foil on top before she climbs into the passenger seat.
"You don't think Lamb will have learned not to take food from strangers after all those poisoned fruit baskets I sent?"
"Ahhh, but I bet you didn't leave a "From your biggest fan" note."
"The secret is revealed," Logan said, overly seriously before rolling his head along the seatback to look at her. "I thought you would be spending the day with your dad."
Her look asks, So why are you here? "He'll still be not dead tomorrow. And he needed to go help Lamb wrap up the investigation."
Because I know your marshmallow center and I thought you might be here. "I'm glad he's okay."
"I heard about your dad," she offers. She doesn't say she's sorry because when she gets a pony, whoever offed Aaron Echolls is getting the first ride.
"It's weird," he says, staring ahead and flexing his fingers on the steering wheel. "I could have killed him myself. I wanted to. He was such a bastard. But..." He still hasn't looked at her, but his profile looks tense with anger and fear of his feelings. "They took me to the morgue. Kendall had run off and they needed me to sign some papers."
"Dead on the table by the office. He would have been disappointed by how washed out those cheap morgue lights made him look. And by the lack of hysterical fans crowded around him." There are tears and anger behind the snark. "They gave me a number for a funeral home and they kept asking me what kind of flowers he would want. And I didn't know what to do, Veronica. I don't know what kind of fucking flowers they should give my abusive rapist of a father."
Veronica thinks about rainy day grilled cheese and bugged cell phones, weekly Make Fun of CSI night, not following Mom and rescues when she needs them. And she realizes that if these are the conflicting feelings that he has to deal with about her father, Logan's are a thousand times worse. Because he has to deal with the death of the man who made him miss two weeks of seventh grade for an 'ear infection,' who killed his girlfriend and drove his mother to suicide, but who was also the man who threw him surprise parties and brought him milkshakes at midnight.
"He was your dad," she says, struggling to make the words sincere. "No one expects you to just give him up."
Maybe he buys it, maybe he's just wrapped in his own griefs. He laughs bitterly. "I would. I would kick my ass for not saying, 'Dump him wherever and hope that Satan doesn't get sick when he gets to hell.'" And then he's crying, silently, like he never learned to cry out loud.
Veronica presses her fingers to his shoulder and he swings around toward her. His mouth lands on hers, wet and mindless and brave and tired.
She kisses him back. It's gratitude and connection to another person when Wallace is so far away, when Mac is dealing by herself, and her father doesn't seem as stable as he used to. But it's also Logan under her hands and her mouth and she's missed him, at the same time that she is also very aware that he's been here the whole time, when so many haven't. Maybe not at her side or at her back, but he's been around and always when it's important.
She wraps her fingers around his and feels with some surprise that they are not the smooth, rich boy hands that you would expect. They're roughened and they feel strong in hers and it makes her smile.
"So, my dad's taking me to New York tomorrow."
He looks up from where their hands are joined. "Finally. Write something dirty on the wall of Yankee Stadium for me. All those World Series wins...They're way too smug."
"Right, I forgot you have the copy rights on smugness," she says, but it's innocent banter and he smiles.
"I'm sorry I can't be here for the funeral," she continues, and the smile vanishes. "But if there's anything I can do..."
"There's one thing."
"Not for him, Logan. I'll do something for you, but for him...I can't..." Veronica's tone is ironed flat until no emotion remains.
"It's for me," Logan assures her. "Before you leave, I hope we can talk."
"You want to have a talk, Echolls? Have you been watching Lifetime movies again?"
"I just want to talk to you, Veronica. Because without school, I'm afraid that we won't see each other anymore. And I really want to see you again."
"I feel like "see" has a deeper meaning here. Brain out of the gutter, cowboy," she teases quietly. "Yeah, tomorrow, we should talk." She lets go of his hand to hold a finger to his face. "But you're bringing the ice cream and mud masks."
Veronica picked up her cell phone with a cheerful "Veronica Mars, girl detective." Now that she was in clean clothes with another case solved- not to mention alive and not raped again- she felt better.
"Now I know what we should put on out business cards," her dad said boisterously before turning it down a notch. "Listen, are you near the sheriff's office?"
"Around the corner from the House of Lamb. Why?"
"Sacks just called me."
"I always knew the deputy was sweet on you. Couldn't ask for a better catch, Pops. Oh, wait..." She was in a good mood and bantering felt good.
"Logan's in lockup." And there went the good mood.
Veronica steeled her tone. "How has he abused the public now? Drunkenness? Nudity?"
"He attacked a police car."
"Hey, do you want to play 'Guess Logan's blood alcohol level'?"
"Apparently it was zero, which is surprising, considering what he did once he got to the station."
"Dad, you're being extremely begrudging with the information coming toward your dear daughter."
"He attacked the other boys who were in there."
Veronica suddenly understood the logic about not talking on the phone while driving. She took a minute to focus on the road before she answered. "It was Mercer, wasn't it?" She made an illegal turn in the center of the street and headed toward the sheriff's department.
"Veronica, did you just make that illegal U on Beach I specifically told you never ever to make?" Keith sounded disapproving, but only beneath his concern.
"Damn, you're breaking up. I'll talk to you later." She tossed her phone on to the passenger seat and ignored it as she pulled into the parking lot.
Lamb was shut in his office, which meant that she would have to save her quips for next time, but also that she got right into the holding area.
Logan was in a cell by himself. There was blood on the floor across from him and it smelled like the men's room at the River Styx."
"I didn't call you. Do you have hidden cameras in here or just bugs?" Logan drew his mark of sarcasm down before she had even spoken.
"Bugs. God, Logan, you think I want to see what men get up to in here?"
"It's not Oz, V." He's leaning against the bars, speaking gently, teasingly. She leans too. Their hands are at the same level and Veronica looks down as they brush together. His knuckles are scabbing, but still colored with blood. Veronica touches their fingers together purposefully, sliding a thumb over the dry back of his hand.
"You're always here if I need anything," she says quietly, looking at his face. She picked up his hand, slips it through the bars of the cell and kisses his closed fist.
"Yeah." He stares at her face for a moment before she smiles, squeezes her hand around his fist and goes to pay his bail.
Veronica grew up in Neptune, not the biggest town in the US, but St. Paul, Minnesota, really felt like the end of the earth.
"Woman, there'd better be some hot supper on the table for me," Veronica called out in a roughened voice, brushing snow out of her hair.
"Just a few more minutes, honeybunch," Logan called back in a high pitched voice, only to find Veronica right behind him. "Too sneaky, Mars," he told her before turning back to stir his sauce.
Veronica stood on tiptoe, pressing her chin and cheek to his shoulder. "All part of my charm, Echolls."
He stuck his fingers into the sauce, sucked some off.
"Hmm," he murmured, and it made her laugh that he's such a cooking perfectionist. He spun the spice rack, plucked two or three little bottles off, shook them in and stirred. He took the spoon and held it up to her mouth.
"Taste," and Veronica's mouth opened. The sauce was incredible. Logan didn't make it often because cooking it fresh took hours. She reached around Logan to stick her index finger into the pot again. He grabbed her around the waist, pulling her away. They spun around the kitchen and when he set her down, they were both dizzy and smiling hugely.
Logan leaned down and kissed her. Their mouths were both hot and garlicky from the sauce, but they pressed close anyway.
"Love you," Logan said, his lips brushing against Veronica's with his words. "Set the table."
"I think you mean, 'I love you, go put your feet up,'" but she went to the cabinet.
"Which one of us cooked dinner?"
"Which one of us helped catch a mobster in ten degree weather?"
"Having a PI girlfriend is still hot. How's the knee?" A year ago, he might not have been so casual. Despite their long relationship, despite loving her, Logan still hated knowing that Veronica could be in danger and that she wouldn't ask for help. But she had just come back from a long rehab period after an accident while on the job had left her, even once the concussion and bruising had gone, with a knee twisted with scar tissue. She was still taking it easy, which kept Logan feeling secure. Soon she would throw herself back into the field, but Logan had accepted long ago that he wouldn't love her the same way if she had been more meek, if they didn't bicker and banter and he didn't have to sometimes yell at her for taking risks.
"Well, we're never going to have to check the tv weather again. I had Mari do the actual chasing." Logan chuckled thinking of Veronica's protege a shy college junior so tall that they seeing her next to Veronica was comical.
"You're such a corporate fat cat, sending your minions to do your dirty work."
"I had coffee waiting for her when she got back," Veronica defended, starting to cut garlic bread while Logan carried the pasta and sauce to the table. "Do the Echolls Enterprises fat cats provide coffee to the employees?"
Logan's arms came down on either side of the counter beside her. His voice was low in her ear. "Echolls Enterprises is a charitable organization that helps many corporations and private individuals."
If she took a step back, it might have seemed odd to her that this was her life, that the FBI turned out to be too confining to her, that she had gotten back together with Logan, that he ran a major corporation for abused women and children, that he cooked for her, that they were engaged...
Veronica didn't know how it happened, how long it would last or if it would break both their hearts. They had tried to take the little pain back in college and had found themselves thrown back together again and again. So now she let herself be there, let herself have this and be happy.
"Do you talk like that at business meetings?"
"If I've done my job, I'd be fighting a sexual harassment suit in two minutes." He sounded so proud and serious that Veronica turned in his arms to see his face. She put her hands up, leaving oily fingerprints on his neck that he ignored as she reached to give him another kiss.
A/N: Timeline possibly twisted, but I'm not sure because I'm too lazy to look it up, which is why the timeline is possibly twisted. Currently unbetaed, but I hope you liked