Veronica wakes up knowing it's going to be a bad day. They have never been good at following the "don't go to bed angry" rule (the one Logan swears to God he heard "somewhere" that was not Dr. Phil), and they were very, very angry last night. It's raining out, her laptop is getting fixed by someone who is charging twenty times more than Mac would if she weren't in New York (although twenty times cookies is still cookies) and she's been up late three nights in a row trying to catch a slippery bastard of a drug dealer who's been targeting schools in the D.C. area.
So she drags herself out of bed and goes to her drawers and discovers that she has some kind of Midas touch of badness this morning because none of the clothes that she actually wears are clean. She sifts through whatever is left and comes to the horrible realization that she is going to have to wear a giant, smiling heart on her chest. The shirt is an anomaly, a kind of "what the hell" item, thrown into the box every time she moves or changes wardrobe even though it will never be her style again.
She tries to convince herself that it is navy and it looks alright, but when she looks in the mirror, it's like she's trying to pretend that it's ten years ago. Annoyed, she slams out of the room.
Logan is still in his pajamas- a pair of hideous flannel pants one of the kids he counsels gave him last Christmas- and she's not sure whether he wants to be relaxing this morning, or if he didn't want to venture into the bedroom to get clothes.
She can tell the second he hears her behind him. The scar that arcs over his left shoulder blade, white from too much surf and too little sunscreen, stretches with the tension of his shoulders.
"Hi," she says, quietly.
"Morning." His voice is kept carefully neutral as he turns from the stove and hands her a plate covered with an omelet. It has something green poking out, but it's puffed with enough cheese to stem her complaints. She thinks, not for the first time, that if Logan weren't around, she would be subsisting on Lucky Charms and ice cream, with some mac and cheese thrown in when she needed her yellow dye number six fix.
As they sit down- opposite ends of the table- she watches his eyes focus on her shirt. She can see the questions there, but he does not ask them. She cuts in to her omelet.
"Good," she tells him politely, as if they've just woken up hungover after the the company Christmas party. Not like he's the man who's massaged aloe onto her sunburned back and then listened to her whine all night that it wasn't working, the man who buys her tampons and comforted her when her dog died.
"Thanks." He takes a bite as well, and they chew in creepy unison, even swallowing at the same time. "Plans for today?"
She's glad that she's already swallowed, because it means that she doesn't choke. "You know, laundry, catching up on the last season of Lost. Thought maybe I'd see if Viv wants to get a cup of coffee." Years of observing liars firsthand, and she can't quite make it convincing.
He looks at her oddly. "And that'll take you until...eleven o'clock? What are you doing for the rest of the day?"
She scrambles briefly and some lie about paperwork almost comes out, but in her hesitation, his face darkens. He gets up, knocking against the table. "Damn it, Veronica!" (Which she's heard so many times that it's become a conversation filler.) "I told you to stay away from DeKare. He's a freaking psychopath."
She shoots to her feet as well, ignoring the way her chair scrapes against the floor. "Wow, Dad. You didn't tell me that you and Logan were first in line for brain exchange surgery."
"Why is it so hard for you to believe that someone other than your father cares about you?"
"Why can't you trust me to take care of myself?"
"Trust you? When do you ever trust me, Veronica? How often are you open with me?" He gestures to her chest. "Are you wearing that as a replacement for something, Tin Man?" His face turns mean and it reminds her that he has a psychology degree, but his own psychology isn't always exactly stellar. "Or maybe you're trying to pretend you're someone else for me." It's then that she realizes why this shirt has come with her across the country; it looks remarkably similar to one that Lilly kept wearing the year they were thirteen. Lilly's memory has dulled over the years, but it still hurts, and Logan's words twist in her chest. Her face turns cruel as well.
"Maybe I'm wearing it to remind you of the girlfriend your father fucked and murdered because you weren't good enough."
Logan freezes immediately. It takes Veronica a moment longer before the regret hits her, but by that time, he's grabbing a sweatshirt from the hook by the door, not even bothering to put his shoes on, just picking them up as he rushes out of the house.
By the time she starts moving again, the eggs are cold. She scrapes off the plates and scrubs all the dishes in the sink. She does a couple of loads of laundry and watches two hours of Lost that she'll have to rewatch because nothing sunk in.
As soon as the dryer finishes cycling, Veronica puts on the first shirt she can find and throws out the old one. She takes out the garbage, feeling exhausted as she gets caught talking to Carolyn from down the street. She goes back in and looks at the clock. Logan was right; it's only 3:30. She could call Viv for coffee, but she doesn't want to leave to house.
Her dad calls soon after, asking about her latest cases and whether or not they've finally gotten the cable hooked up. She tells him a story she's been saving about their hunt for the "Greatest Dog Ever (After Backup, May He Rest in Peace)," but it doesn't amuse her as much as it did.
When they hang up, she grabs a pint of Chunky Monkey from the freezer. She sits on the couch and eats the whole thing. When she's done it's dark, and she feels relieved to be able to put on her pajamas and brush her teeth. She doesn't lock the door because Logan doesn't have his keys with him.
She lies diagonally across the bed, trying to make it smaller, but it's Logan who usually takes up the space.
This isn't their first fight, or even the first fight when one of them has left the house. But this time, she doesn't have righteous anger on her side.
Veronica has a skill that she picked up in high school (although, like many of her traits, she might have had it before and just not exercised it) to hit people just where it hurts. Logan's spots haven't changed very much in ten years. It's all about his family, and it just scabs and never heals. She knows that and tries not to use it, but sometimes when she feels trapped, her real wit deserts her and she says what she used to have proudly been able to say she hadn't said for years. She feels regretful for hours.
Her weak point, as Logan reminded her, is trust. She remembers a younger version of herself straddling a younger version of him and all he asked of her was trust.
She can't remember if she was lying then when she said that she did trust him, but somewhere between cheating and drinking and depression, she's learned to hold back from him. They've been happy for years now, but it's always there, sitting small and clawed in her mind: "He could leave." It's easier to hold back than to throw herself - foolishly, according to her memories- all in.
She looks around the room. Right now, all the things here seem like insurance. And it makes her sad that she can believe that he would come back for his favorite jeans and his Xena DVDs but not for her. Thinking that just makes her feel more guilty. Because he's grown; he has a degree and a job and counseling sessions with his kids every Wednesday afternoon and eats three square meals a day. Since they got back together, he's stayed although she's still a train wreck of student loans and commitment issues and getting fired from the FBI for getting involved in dangerous situations without backup one too many times. (It turns out that the federal government is a little more strict about their regulations than the TV had led her to believe.)
And he stuck by her through that. He kept her laughing, stuffed envelopes full of resumes, offered to move wherever she could get a job, supported her when she decided to open an east coast branch of Mars Investigations, celebrated when she got her first case.
She hears the front door open, close and lock, and it makes her feel better. Not because she was afraid, but because it gives an air of permanence. "Logan is in for the night."
It stopped raining a few hours ago, but he is soaking. She can hear him dripping in the doorway behind her back. She doesn't know what will be easier for him: not to have to talk to her, or to know that she waited up for him.
When he hasn't moved for a few minutes, she turns over and tilts her lips at him. His eyes glitter weirdly in the darkness as he turns to take a shower.
She stays in the bed, but it seems seems cozier now. Their house seems inhabited.
He doesn't turn on the light as he comes in, and so he doesn't have to turn them off as he slides under the covers.
She rolls over immediately. "I'm sorry," because maybe she's been watching a little Dr. Phil herself. She wait a full minute for something - absolution, reaction, anything - before adding, quietly into the vicinity of his clavicle, "Thank you for coming back."
He slides down so the outline of his head is level with hers. "I'll always come back, Veronica." He sounds weary and she hates herself for making his voice like that. "I just wish you would believe that."
She reaches a hand under his shirt and touches his chest, feeling around. She finds a shallow valley that runs under his arm. Her fingers slip along it. "What's this one?" It's a game they play sometimes, a game of secrets and trust that she's still shocked he has.
"Hmmm." Veronica can't tell if he's thinking or falling asleep. (She knows that it's not that he doesn't remember. He knows every scar on his body, and if she didn't hate Aaron Echolls for a hundred and six other reasons, that one would be enough.) "Aaron," he finally answers, which is the case more often than she would like. "Threw a glass vase at me when the one of us who isn't me made a bong appear in my locker."
Her fingers freeze, but he pulls her on to his chest and she feels forgiven. "I'm sorry," she repeats anyway, remembering him crumpling but still defiant under Weevil's fists.
"Nah," he says, brushing sleepy fingers through her hair. "I was kind of being a psychotic jackass at the time."
A small "huh" runs through Veronica's mind. She remembers thinking those exact words during high school, but until he repeats them, she didn't remember that she had gotten the phrase from him. He used to say it about his father all the time as they lay around with Duncan and Lilly, and it strikes her that he's been in her life longer than she gives him credit for. Maybe it's because she's changed so much from the girl he first met, toenails half painted by the Kane's pool as she clicked off pictures of a mugging Lilly. Maybe it's because she doesn't think that girl would recognize the man beneath her. But she's still there and he's still with her, give or take a few breaks.
She loves him then, not the slivers she's felt when he brings her cupcakes after a bad day or when he surprises her with tickets to see her dad in Neptune. This is a full, terrifying rush, as if her love has been dammed until now.
She lets her body relax on to his like it's the mattress. "I trust you, you know."
He is still under her chest. "Yeah?"
"You still going after DeKare?"
"Yes." Fact rather than a challenge or a dare or fury. "You know what he does to those kids, Logan. You know I'm not going to let that keep happening."
He hugs her to him in a way that makes I'm worried, I want you safe, I want to protect you redundant. "I want to come with you. Not for everything. But... Please, Veronica. Let me be involved."
Veronica pushes herself up, arms on either side of his torso so she can see his face fully. "I can take care of myself, Logan. Most of the time. And if you come with me, you'll have to take care of yourself. And you have to take care of yourself because you can't leave me."
Logan levers himself up, holding her face between his palms, his thumbs stroking over her temples. "I will not leave you."
"I'm glad." It's such a trivial manifestation of what she actually feels for him right now and she wants to say that she loves him. For all the big reasons of trust and faith and chemistry, and for a patchwork of tiny ones. (The fact that he secretly Tivos Gossip Girlevery week and pretends that it was a mistake, that he always wins at Scrabble unless she pouts at him, that his only requirement for their house was space for a desk and a door "thick enough that I'm not going to have your dad on my ass with a shotgun when he comes to visit," that if she tenses up during sex, which she still does once in a very rare while, he never says "you're okay," he always stops and asks "are you okay?," that he's been saying that he loves her for years even though she doesn't say it back.)
He's not perfect. He yells and sometimes doesn't talk to her and makes fun of her for still watching Saturday Night Live and hasn't bought her a pony yet. He can still be an overprotective dick, still storms in sometimes when she's undercover at a seedy bar. But that he's one of the only ones still around, years after she first met him, to storm and be angry, is the greatest thing he does for her. The hero is the one who stays, after all.
Veronica lowers the two of them back to the bed. "Logan," she whispers, leaning her forehead against his and closing her eyes, because yes she loves him, but it's damn scary. "I lo-"
He kisses her, cutting her off. "Hey." His fingers run along her neck until she looks at him. "Until you can keep your eyes open when you say it, I don't want to hear it."
She smiles at him, pained. "Are you sure? Because at monthly sex toy meetings, my girlfriends tell me that most guys don't want to be saying that they love you for ten years without hearing it back."
He cocks his head but keeps his gaze on hers. "Wow, it's like I've suspected for years: I'm not like most guys." Then he draws back. "Wait a minute...sex toy night? When is this happening and where am I?"
"Oh yeah, not like a guy at all," she replies cheekily, sliding her nails down his sides, purposely hitting the spots where she knows he's ticklish.
He rolls her under him, traps her hands in his. Their faces are very close together. "Hey, stranger. Want to get around to the sin part of living in sin?"
"Didn't that fancy college education teach you that sex doesn't solve...oooh." He is sucking on her neck. She wraps her legs around his waist. He releases her hands and she uses them to start pulling his shirt up and off.
"I definitely remember Professor Holmes saying that makeup sex is necessary to a relationship. There was a study by-"
She kisses him, hands still busy with his uncooperative shirt. "Shut up, Logan."
"Patience is a virtue," he chides her, before nearly giving himself a rash getting the shirt off himself.
"I don't remember you being very virtuous." Her voice is serious and they both know that she isn't talking about his hands on her own top.
Logan pauses, looking right at her, and she's so glad that he's here and suddenly so sure that he's not leaving. "With you, I'm a choir boy."