The small blonde shivered in the light rain. She knew that the precipitation was a mere annoyance, barely misting her, and that Southern California never really was cold enough to warrant her shaking. A small part of her told her to not push the doorbell, but the rest of her consciousness knew it was the right decision, that it was the only thing that would stop her mental anguish and the quivers. So, she pressed.

Upon hearing the ringing, Logan Echolls rose from the table with an exasperated sigh and an eye roll. "Gotta see which member of the Logan Echolls Fan Club is here for an autograph," he sarcastically remarked to his companions.

Truth be told, Logan wasn't much one for unannounced visitors. He'd seen enough murders and violent episodes in his life to be cautious when opening the door. He idly wondered whether it would be a reporter, or a fan of his father's, or a lover of the macabre, or a one-night-stand hoping for a repeat, or, God forbid, an old enemy hunting him down. He'd encountered enough of all of those to be able to dispose of them quickly, but it would put a damper on his night.

He finally reached the foyer. As the sound his footsteps on the marble faded, he looked through the peephole. The sight in front of him made his heart pound and leap into his throat. "Veronica! Come inside before you get anymore wet." She stepped forward, a bit hesitantly, not like the woman he knew at all. Something was wrong, but he knew asking would produce no results. He swept her into his arms for a quick but firm hug, released her, and turned on his heel, catching a glimpse of her climbing the stairs.

"Sorry, guys, but Poker Night's over," he announced to the small gathering of his friends. "Keep your money; we'll do it again later."

He left, but not before Dick explained, "Ronnie must be here," a statement met with a mixture of looks of understanding and bewilderment from the other players. To Logan's relief, they were gone in less than five minutes, and he went upstairs.

Veronica hadn't said a word to him. She'd been wearing her best poker face for the past three and a half hours. She'd done her best to hide her distress, but he'd immediately known something was wrong. She really couldn't deny that that was why she came; he could read her moods like a children's book. He knew what she needed when she needed it, even if she wasn't consciously aware of it.

Honestly, it was comfort that she was really seeking. His house certainly had all the best amenities, but that wasn't what made her come. She knew that she could just turn herself off for as long as she needed, and he'd take care of her. Special Agent Mars didn't exist within the walls of his mansion. It was her only place of respite.

She entered his bedroom. It hadn't changed much in the two months since she'd last been in it. The bed which she knew they'd soon occupy still had a white comforter. The armchair still occupied the corner. She was pretty sure the same old magazine lay on his nightstand. There were still pictures of them, and some of her alone, throughout the room. She always found that strange. They hadn't dated since freshman year of college. She noticed a bottle of her perfume still rested on the dresser. She felt certain the second drawer on the left side of the dresser still contained her clothes. Her favorite shampoo probably still sat in the shower.

Veronica crossed the room and eased into the armchair. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. She sat with her head in her hands for several minutes, until a quiet "hey" interrupted her reverie.

Everything Logan touched turned to gold. It had started simple in college. Mac was starting her own computer business, and he fronted her the cash. At the time, he'd said he expected ten percent of all profits, a somewhat self-depreciating joke, as he fully expect the company to fold. To everyone's surprise, Mac's side project had blossomed into one of Neptune's most lucrative businesses. It had heralded the beginning of Silicon Beach. To his surprise, Mac had insisted on honoring the terms of his loan, saying they had a verbal contract. He'd become a successful venture capitalist simply by lending his friend some money.

He invested in a few more startups with similar results. After awhile, he'd become bored and written an action screenplay to amuse himself. It was full of violence and gore, and light on plot, a perfect distraction. He'd gone to a party hosted by some of his father's former colleagues, and mistakenly remarked to someone, "But then again, everyone's written a movie." The producer he'd absent-mindedly said that to insisted on seeing his, and to get him to stop, he'd given it over, promising that his father just happened to be an actor, and he had no talent. Amazingly, the producer had loved it, and it had opened the year before and been a summer blockbuster. Now he was a twenty-seven-year-old billionaire.

King Midas had realized his gift was a curse when he'd transmuted his daughter, the only one he loved, to gold; his greed effectively destroying his happiness. Logan rather felt that he'd been given this money because the cosmos regretted not being able to give him the one gold he could never buy, could never attain, Veronica.

He'd been with other women. He'd even managed to date someone else for six months. None of them had ever seen his bedroom, although he was certain many thought they had. It was a benefit of his wealth that he could have a room devoted to sleeping with other women. He couldn't let them into his actual bedroom, because he knew Veronica was the only one who belonged in it. Their room, as he thought of it, was filled with traces of her: her clothes, her perfume, her lotion, even a hairbrush he was sure she'd forgotten. She'd noticed, but never commented that he'd devoted the room to her comfort, to the idea of them. She didn't know that deep in one of his closets downstairs, in a small box, was a ring he'd bought years ago, just gathering dust as he gathered the courage to ask her to be his. He almost had, once, about two years before. She lay in his bed, and he told her he'd give her anything she wanted: money, gifts, children, marriage. She'd laughed and brushed it off as post-coital bliss, not realizing that he'd meant every word.

She'd been coming to him for years. The first time was the night after he'd beaten Gory, after her eyes had made it clear that despite her declarations to him, she'd always be his. He'd opened his door just before midnight that night to find her eyes focused on him with absolute adoration. She said it was over with Piz, and then her lips were on his, and she was in his bed. He was certain the next morning that she was forever his, but she left without saying a word. In the near decade since, their relationship, if one could even call it that, had largely remained exactly the same. She came and went as she pleased. Sometimes, she was only there long enough to have sex with him. Once, she'd stayed in his house an entire week without once stepping beyond his walls. More often than not, she spent a night.

He approached his bedroom, the light still on. She sat in his armchair, for once appearing as frail as one would expect a small blonde woman to be. He stared at her for a minute, studying her every angle, analyzing her head in her hand. Finally, he managed to say, "Hey."

Veronica's head snapped up. She had lightning fast reflexes, and had been trained to cover up inner turmoil. She saw his frame in the doorway, his right arm lifted up and resting against the opening. His eyes carried a mixture of lust and affection. She held his gaze steadily, but felt her muscles relax. She instinctively knew that he was rightfully in control at this point. Sometimes, she just wanted to be fucked, to feel alive. Sometimes, she just need to release. Once, she'd spent all night in his arms, with sex the furthest thing from both their minds.

Logan crossed the room in three strides. He pulled her upright, kissed the top of her head, and steered her toward the large bed. She fell back onto the soft down, and as he kissed her passionately and started to unbutton her blouse, she realized that tonight, he was making love to her.

She allowed herself to be undressed, to be caressed. She responded to each light kiss upon her skin. Every one of his thrusts into her carried the promised that he loved her, that anything that was wrong would be okay. He kissed her as he came, mere seconds after she.

He lay down on his back, her head on his chest. Tears began to fall from her eyes, and soon she was weeping openly. He didn't say anything, only stroked her hair. Finally, she confessed in a whisper, "I killed someone today. He was a coyote, a human trafficker, responsible for at least twenty deaths. He pointed his gun at me, and meant to kill me. I shot him first. The FBI made me talk to Internal Affairs and a shrink for three hours. I know I had no choice, but they made me feel like a horrible agent and person."

For several seconds, all she heard was the deep breaths from his chest. Then, "You did the right thing. I love you." They both fell asleep at that.

The next morning, she released herself from his arms to shower in his connected master bathroom. As she nakedly traversed the room, she heard a sleepy, "Ronnie."


"My offer still stands."

She considered faking ignorance, pretending she hadn't considered his causal proposal hundreds of times. Eventually, she just said, "Thank you."

Someday soon, she knew, she'd let him into her life the way he wanted. It wouldn't be today, but she knew it was what she wanted and needed, and every day, her independent streak and self sufficiency crumbled more, telling her they wanted Logan.

Next time, she thought to herself, I'll tell him that I love him.