It started with a mystery package sent from her dad. The note attached said, "Veronica, why did your old boyfriend send these things to my house? I thought this would end when you joined the FBI.

Veronica suspects that the FBI has noticed the use of her ill-gotten hacking skill within their systems to keep track of pesky ex-boyfriends. No one has said anything but there have been some vague and passive aggressive comments in her past reviews. She always ignores the vague and passive aggressive. She learned early on that by ignoring those kinds of things, she can get away with a lot more. After all, if they really wanted her to stop, they'd fire her. She's still getting a paycheck so it's all good.

It's not just boyfriends; it's really anyone that she had long term contact with over the years. She keeps up with the workings of Eli Navarro. It's how she knew to send a card and flowers when his grandmother had passed. With all his struggles, some caused by her, he's turned out okay. He's raising his little brother and sister and his sister is on the fast track to graduating as the valedictorian of her high school class. She wishes she had kept in touch but knows that when all is said and done, he's better off without her. Theirs was a codependent relationship and she suspects she always knew that it wouldn't work out in the long term.

The mystery package is dusted for fingerprints and tested for explosives and poisons since the postmark came from Neptune. Sure, Dad has already touched it but anything could happen. She's tempted to ask the bomb squad blow it up but that seems excessive. Wow, thought Veronica, I haven't seen anything so awful since that horrible dance in high school. Memories, they really weren't all they were cracked up to be. She'd lost Duncan to Meg at the dance, Logan was drunk off his ass and Officer Leo showing up in costume and being forgiving as she ran out on him to deal with her alcoholic mother. Not the best of memories but given her history in Neptune, not the worst.

God, Leo, she really hasn't thought of him in forever. Whenever she does, she feels bad for all the shit she gave him over those years. He stood there and witnessed her stupid high school idiocy with flirting and kissing and then going back and forth with the bad and worse boyfriends. He watched all of it happen and just smiled in sympathy as though he understood what she was going through and he'd just see her on the other side of stupid. Oddly, he wouldn't because in true Veronica Mars fashion, she'd run away. A summer internship turned into a career with a fast tracked degree from Georgetown and nary a look behind her except through the safety of a computer. It took a few years but she did grow up. She's managed a couple of healthy relationships. Nothing has lasted more than a year but they'd parted on good terms.

The computer pings her results and lo and behold, this atrocious package came from the man himself. Wow, this is awkward, she thinks. I'm going to be forced to do something truly horrible…call him. Oh, she has the number, Leo actually took over the P.I. work that became available after her Dad was made sheriff again and Vinnie retired on his take from the Mexico/Duncan and baby Lily job. The fact is Leo probably knows exactly where Veronica is at this very moment using his own investigative skills. That he sent the package to her dad means they are still in touch. God, they're probably friends. Ever since Leo saved Keith's life, he's been the boyfriend Keith has always approved of, the one that got away in her dad's opinion.

The phone rings and he answers, "Mars Investigations, how can I help you?"

"Uhm…what? Since when are you Mars Investigations, why would you change your business to that, what were you thinking?"

"Veronica, chill. I could tell it was you from the caller id. I thought I just try to rattle you. I haven't changed the name", he replies.

"Oh. Well, I got your package. Is there a reason that you've sent me rejects from a Madonna video from the 80s? Not that I don't appreciate it, of course."

"Of course, he says drolly, I knew you'd appreciate having something to put in your trash can other than take out boxes from whatever the closest pizza and Chinese places are nearby. I was simply reminiscing and when I thought of you, I remember that horrible dance and I smiled. I thought to myself, 'Veronica Mars, she's the one that got away'. Your dad says that you'll be coming back to Neptune for Christmas this year and I wanted to see if you'd like to have dinner with me?"

"Sure, why don't you join Dad and me on Christmas eve?"

Uh, Veronica, I'm already invited for Christmas Eve. I meant a dinner for just the two of us. I can cook now and I love to have you over to my place for home cooked meal. It'll be a chance to get to know each other again, as adults. I'll make your favorite desert, ice cream sundaes.

Oh my god, how and why do you know that's my favorite? Alright, we can get together for dinner.

Two weeks later, she's landing at the airport only to find that two people are waiting for her, Leo and her dad. They've both got huge smiles and hugs for her. Leo is even holding flowers for her. It's all surreal and yet it's the best she's felt in years. The ride home in comfortable. She can't remember the last time she sat in a car with Leo and felt this much like herself. She feels like there's no pressure and yet she'd felt pressure even packing for this trip home. It's as if her Dad and Leo are family, and while obviously, her dad is, Leo isn't but it still feels right. She shares some stories from work that have them all laughing and Leo and her dad tell her about some of the times, they've had to work together these last few years. Overall, it's fantastic. If the entire week plays out this well, she'll have had the best vacation ever.

The next night, Leo picks her up for dinner at his place even though she had insisted she could borrow her dad's car and drive herself. He tells her that his mother would not approve of his date driving herself. Italian mothers, what can you do, he says. When they arrive, it's to a small bungalow decorated like a Hallmark store with the perfect amount of decorations. The picture perfect tree with perfectly wrapped presents under it and white twinkling lights everywhere. A candlelit table holds dinner and after a few minutes they sit down to eat. She thinks about teasing Leo about everything but while he seems relaxed there is a certain amount of tension she thinks he's holding in his body so she decides to let this evening play itself out. After a delicious dinner with only minimal talk, Leo asks her to join him in the living room. They end up sitting side by side on the couch staring at the tree when she finally asks, "Are you having your family over for Christmas this year? Is that the reason for all the gifts?"

"No, Veronica, that's not the reason. Oddly, you're the reason for all the gifts. There is a Christmas gift under that tree for you for every year we've been apart. I fell in love with a smart mouthed high school girl and kept waiting for the right time to make my move but things never seemed to work out right. There was always something in the way and not just for me, for you too. You see, I thought that we'd get together after you finished college and started running Mars Investigations. You would have had time to grow up and still experience life so I wouldn't have to feel guilty about asking you to marry me when you were so young and I would have had time to settle myself, to grow into the man I wanted to be and into the man you so obviously deserved. Then you threw a wrench in my unspoken plans with that damned internship. God, the FBI, of course they wanted you and of course you would say yes and never look back. It was enough to make me scream because once again, you were running away. Sure, you had good reason to run away but I'd never had the chance to tell you why you had a good reason to stay. I'd like to do that now."

He got up and started lining presents up on the coffee table in front of her. At a closer look, she can see how the wrapping has improved with time or he's started to pay someone else to wrap these gifts. Though her heart is pounding and everything about this is making her want to run, she's determined to see this through. He tells her to start with the first gift. She opens it to find a mobile phone cloning device. She bursts out laughing and tells him that this is practically an antique compared to the stuff she uses every day. He reminds her that this was cutting edge eight years ago when she was a high school senior. Each gift reflects her growth and actually has personal relevance to her at that point in her life. She was right he had been keeping track of her the way she was doing with people in her past. She smiles realizing that that he cared and that she was right, he was just waiting to meet her on this side of stupid. When she's opened all the gifts, she waits, nodding her head and tearing up at the love she can see on his face. That's when he hands her one more gift, a small box, God, a jewelry box; he's not stupid enough to propose to her, is he?

"Veronica, chill. It's not an engagement ring. Please give me a little credit. It's actually your mom's wedding ring. Your dad wanted you to have it but said that he couldn't handle giving it to you himself. I would like you to consider something. I love you. I loved you when we were both young and stupid and I love the person that you've become since then. I do want to marry you after we've had a chance to grow together as a couple. I would like to one day propose to you using that very ring and knowing that we can make a life together. Would you consider that?"

"Leo, you need to stop talking and kiss me."

The End