A/N - Can't believe I'm putting up another one today. I started this back in early March, but wasn't sure where to take it past the first 3-4 chapters I had written. Suddenly today, the rest of the plot came to me - in a big way - and I couldn't wait to get started on it. Can't promise I'll update as quickly as the last one, because that one was probably 65% written when I posted the first chapter, but I'll try my best. Probably somewhere around 16 chapters total.
On his fourth trip around the block, Logan Echolls decided to man-up and park the truck. It took five more minutes for him to work up his nerve to get out of the vehicle.
Logan had crossed into the Neptune City Limits two hours earlier, and the first thing he had done after checking into the Neptune Grand, had been to look up Veronica Mars. He had been afraid to even hope that she was still in Neptune. He had been afraid to hope about many things - that she wasn't married, that she wasn't in a serious relationship, that she didn't hate his guts for leaving her, that she wasn't out of his reach forever. He told himself that he could take any of it, if only he could just see her face again. He had contemplated calling her and arranging a time to get together for coffee, but he didn't want to give her the opportunity to say "no".
Logan's last sight of Veronica had been in a hospital bed. She'd been giggling from her anesthesia with a bandaged gunshot wound to her shoulder. He had pressed a lingering kiss to her lips and walked away. As he'd left her hospital room, he'd taken Keith Mars aside, unable to look him in the eyes.
"You know what you have to do?" Keith asked in a gentle voice.
Logan nodded, the lump in his throat preventing him from speaking.
"I'll start making arrangements." Keith said, putting a hand on Logan's shoulder and squeezing.
Now, six years later, he braced himself for the worst, and exited his SUV.
Stalling, he took a moment to look over Veronica's house. It was modest, clean, and well tended, with a large, covered front porch, but he wondered why she had chosen this neighborhood. It wasn't the safest, and she certainly could have afforded something more luxurious with the money he had left for her.
He approached the house as a prisoner approaches a firing squad. At each step, he gave himself an opportunity to turn tail and run, but somehow he continued putting one foot in front of the other.
Near the stone front steps, a little voice rang out. "You're not very good at surveillance."
As Logan looked around for the source of the voice, a tiny girl stepped out of the hedges flanking the front steps. She was somewhere around five years old, with long, wavy, medium-brown hair and dark brown eyes. Her stare was very direct and a little disconcerting.
"Oh, I'm not?" Logan asked, with a snort.
"You drove past my house four times," the tiny girl said. "I saw you every time."
"Well, well, Veronica has a new breed of guard dog" Logan thought to himself. "And this one is scarier than Backup."
She walked over to the steps holding out a digital camera set to preview mode.
"There's the second time you passed, there's the third time, and there's the fourth," she said advancing the photos with the arrow button.
Logan chuckled when he saw that she had even zoomed in on him while he'd sat in the car wrestling with his nerves, catching him from several angles.
"If you want to do surveillance, you need to drive a boring old sedan, not a fancy rental SUV," the little girl advised. "My mom could teach you."
Logan laughed. "I presume this the house of Veronica Mars?" he asked.
"I know who you are." she said, instead of answering.
Logan inclined his head in question.
"And you have a lot of explaining to do." the little girl said, grabbing his hand and pulling him through the front door.
The door opened to a small but cozy living room. The little girl pointed at a gray tweed-like sectional sofa and told him to sit. He obeyed, rubbing his palms against the nubby texture. Logan loved textures.
The little girl walked to a tall and thin cherry bookcase and pulled out an obviously heavy burgundy leather photo album, handing it to Logan.
"Hold this. I'll be right back," she commanded, turning back to say, "Don't move." before walking away.
"Yes ma'am." Logan said to her back.
The little girl looked nothing like Veronica, but her bossy streak left little doubt as to whom her mother was. His shoulders slumped as he allowed himself a moment of jealousy of the man Veronica had made a baby with - as much as he had tried to prepare himself for the possibility, it still hurt. Not that he had ever considered children, but it was Veronica...
Logan opened the leather album, and found that it contained only photos of him. Some were couple-photos of himself and Veronica, but most were black and whites of him by himself - mostly at the beach, some at his old estate by the pool, some at Hearst, some even at Neptune High School though he couldn't remember ever dating Veronica publicly there. Maybe during summer school?
He smiled wistfully remembering how Veronica used to follow him around with her camera. She had insisted that the camera loved him. Seeing the candid photos now, he suspected that maybe it had been the photographer who had loved him. Her photos showed sides to him that he'd never known were visible to the outside world, and he was moved that she had devoted an entire album to him
The little brunette returned a moment later followed by a little boy. He was taller than the girl with spiky blond hair and Veronica's blue eyes. He instantly directed a scowl at Logan.
"See? I told you it was him." the little girl said smugly.
"It can't be him, Morgan." the boy answered, impatient with her. "He's dead."
"It is too him, Logan." the little girl argued. "I'll prove it to you."
Logan's thought were swirling:
"Two kids?...She'd called him Logan!….From the boy's age, she couldn't have waited that long before moving on from me….but she named him after me!... and she made that album about me…Has she missed me?...Are they Piz's kids?...No, two blue eyed parents don't make a brown-eyed little girl….Guess that rules out Duncan Kane, also….Why does that make me so happy?"
Logan's eyes flicked around the room, landing on the framed portraits of the children on the wall. From the photos of them as infants, he concluded that despite their coloring and size differences Morgan and Logan had to be fraternal twins. It appeared as if the little boy had experienced a growth spurt (or two) that had bypassed the tiny brunette.
Morgan grabbed a small decorative box from the bookcase, placed it on the coffee table and then came over to sit next to Logan on the couch.
Opening her little box, Morgan produced some paper and a hot pink inkpad of the type used by rubber stampers. She set both on the coffee table opening the lid of the inkpad.
"Give me your right hand." She ordered Logan. Amused, he set down the photo album and gave her his hand. Morgan took him by the index finger, and rolled it into the inkpad. She then rolled it onto the sheet of paper. Logan almost bust a gut laughing as she repeated the process for his other nine fingers. The funniest part was that this little girl was a more efficient finger-printer than Deputy Leo had been during Logan's various arrests for crimes he hadn't committed.
The younger Logan had not spoken again. He leaned back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest directing a scowl at Logan. It made Logan think, for some reason, of that day in Jump Street's motel room at the Camelot right before Veronica had kissed him for the first time. This little boy looked prepared to take him down with extreme prejudice if he proved to be any type of threat to his sister.
Morgan, having finished fingerprinting Logan, picked up the album and turned it to the last page. Taped to the page was a set of police fingerprints. Logan watched in amazement as the little girl compared the pink fingerprints with the black fingerprints in the scrapbook. She opened her box and pulled out a magnifying glass, and returned to her comparison. After several minutes, she looked up with a dazzling smile on her face.
"It's him!" she said, sticking out her tongue at little Logan.
"It can't be!" the boy said. "People don't come back from the dead."
"He's still alive, dummy! I touched him and he wasn't cold or anything." Morgan argued. "I told you he'd come back some day."
"It's probably just an imposter." the boy sneered, refusing to give an inch.
Logan laughed. The boy had obviously been working hard to perfect that sneer. His laughter earned him a sneer to call his own.
"Children? You're too quiet! What are you up to?" He heard Veronica's voice call from the other room.
Goosebumps rose on Logan's skin at the sound of her voice. He had been so entertained by these children that he had forgotten his purpose for being there.
"We're hanging out with our dad." Morgan called back.
"Dad? Impossible! The break-up over Madison had been in January! I left town in June. She would have been showing by then." He thought, heartbeat racing.
"That's nice, Morgan." Veronica called back, indulgently. "Make sure to ask him to dinner. He can sit between Elvis and Michael Jackson."
Morgan rolled her eyes at Logan. "She thinks she's a comedian," she said, dryly.
Raising her voice, she answered her mother. "But it's really him, Mom! I fingerprinted him and everything!"
"You're going to make me regret stealing those fingerprints for you, aren't you?" Veronica answered, a laugh in her voice.
A moment later – Veronica having had time to consider Morgan's words – Logan heard a chair being pushed back somewhere at the rear of the house.
"Wait a second...Morgan?" Veronica called, her footsteps tap tap tapping on the hardwood floor. "You'd better not be fingerprinting Jehovah's Witnesses again. What did I tell you about strangers?" As he heard Veronica's footsteps approach the living room, Logan rose from the couch. He knew he should say something, announce himself, but his vocal chords wouldn't function.
Veronica appeared in the living room doorway. Logan had a moment to reflect that she looked the same - hair past her shoulders, jeans, boots, snug t-shirt, vest - before his eyes locked onto hers.
For a moment, time slowed to a crawl. Logan could hear his own heart beat at half-time, the sound of each breath in, each breath out. The sound of Morgan's voice saying in slow motion: "She's going down!" as Veronica's eyes rolled back in her head and she dropped to the floor.