Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own

Chapter 21: From Red Carpets to the Dollar Movies

A/N: Warning. The beginning of this chapter is violent (flashback) and has dark, ugly and squicky themes. Feel free to skip over it if you choose. Don't worry, after this, things will start looking much more sunny for a while.

Logan – Day Six – Dallas, TX

"So this is what people mean by coming down in the world." Logan eyed the flickering movie marquis with obvious distaste. "Would it kill somebody to change a freaking light bulb?"

"Oh!" Veronica said, lightly smacking the side of her face as if she'd forgotten an important detail. "I was supposed to have them roll out a red carpet or something, wasn't I?"

"Yeah. Get right on that," Logan said, lips curling into a smirk. Veronica hadn't been kidding when she'd called this place the 'Dollar Movies'. All three of their choices were a few months past their release date, and crappy to boot.

"They should pay me a dollar for even considering this drivel."

At Veronica's insistence, they'd stopped to inhale some fast food on the way back from the mall, eating in the car. At the motel, Peggy had waved them into the office ushering them quickly into the kitchen.

"You guys probably want to disappear for a bit," she said. "We have a crew here maintaining the cooling and heating systems, and they'll be working in your wing for a while."

"Where do you think we should go?" Logan asked, after he and Veronica had taken turns changing in Peggy's bathroom.

"If you hurry, you might be able to catch an evening movie." Peggy pointed in the general direction of the theater they'd walked past on their first night in Dallas.

Now they stood outside the building arguing.

"Come on!" Veronica complained. "I know you love your chick flicks, Logan, but you can't really want to see The Notebook."

"Not really. But we're not seeing White Chicks." Logan flicked his fingers dismissively at the movie poster.

"No, we'll see Queen Bees," Veronica said, as if it were the only logical choice. "Everybody says it's brilliantly funny. Like watching a movie about Lilly."

"Give it up, Veronica." Duncan said. "Trust me, Logan's not going to budge. He'd watch White Chicks before he'd agree to see Queen Bees."


"But why?" Veronica pushed. "Come on, Logan. Can't you compromise for once?"

He would find her obstinacy adorable, if he weren't in such a pissy mood. "Nobody's stopping you guys from watching...that," Logan said, gesturing dismissively. "But you couldn't pay me to watch it."

"He made out with Lisa Loper once at a party when he was twelve and refuses to watch any of her movies ever since," Duncan said.

"Of course he did." Veronica sighed and throwing her hands up in a very Logan-like gesture. "Who hasn't he made out with?"

"You?" Duncan pointed at Veronica.

Her eyes flicked straight to Logan's - a momentary glimmer of a shared secret before the poker face returned and she steered them back to the subject. "You can't tell me you haven't seen the first two movies in the Artemis trilogy. I know you. You love badass movie chicks. Especially half-naked badass movie chicks. Even your dad doesn't suck too much as the villain. His hamminess actually works, for once."

"Nope." Logan glanced at an imaginary watch. "So...The Notebook…?"

"Wait, she made out with you when you were twelve?" Veronica asked. "She had to be at least sixteen then, right?"

"Forget about it," Logan said.

"What happened? You act like an octopus and run her off?" A light breeze blew Veronica's hair into her face, and she pushed it back again.

"I don't want to talk about it." He was not going to get into this.

"Had a bad case of halitosis?" Duncan joined in. "Too much garlic?"

"Funny, man."

"She insult your kissing technique?" Veronica threw in. "Did you try sticking your tongue down her throat?"

Logan glared. She should know better. "You want to discuss my kissing technique?" He challenged.

Veronica bit her lip and looked at the ground.

Duncan continued, not catching on to the undercurrents. "You get too close and prematurely-"

Now you've gone too far.

He couldn't listen to their noise anymore. "I didn't make out with her, okay? She took my virginity. Or stole it."

Well...that silenced them.

Fuck! Why did I say that?

Logan turned his back to them, needing space. Wishing he could put a mile between them. He watched a paper bag skittering down the sidewalk while running both hands through the front of his hair.

"Logan…?" Veronica's hand was soft on his arm as she turned him around. "Did Lisa Loper rape you?"

"No! Nothing like that. I was willing. At the time."

"Twelve years old?" She looked nauseated. "Is that even physically possible at that age?"

Duncan nodded, silently.

Veronica stared at Logan, shocked by the revelation.

Logan - Flashback – June, 2000 - Former Echolls residence

Aaron works with a personal trainer every day, yet never remembers to ask which exercises might help strengthen his belt-swinging muscles. As a result, he tends to tire himself out fairly quickly.

On a good night, that means the beating is over and Logan can slip off to lick his wounds.

Tonight is not a good night.

Having exhausted himself swinging the belt, Aaron has moved on to the throwing and kicking portion of the evening.

Logan has made a serious miscalculation. He knew the consequences would be steep before he ever committed the crime - had banked on it - but he's never seen Aaron this enraged.

His father may end up killing him tonight.

He doesn't want to die.

He's only twelve years old. He's never driven a car. Never gone surfing in Australia. Never been to a rock concert. Never smoked a joint. Never been on a real date. Never kissed anybody upside-down like Spiderman.

He's never been in love.

"Do you know how much this is going to cost me?" Aaron screams. "An entire school library?"

He slams Logan face-first into the stainless steel refrigerator, and his nose collapses with a sickening crunch.

"Three books, Logan." Aaron pulls his head back by the hair. The blood trickling from his nostrils tickles. "Out of an entire library, three books weren't water damaged by the sprinklers."

Logan slides to the floor when his hair is released, but Aaron is far from done.

"Was it worth it you little prick? What could you possibly have been thinking?"

Logan curls into the fetal position, arms wrapped tight around his head. He remembers his mom's advice: if there's a choice, protect the head. Both head injuries and rib injuries can be fatal, but brain damage is forever.

Speaking of ribs, there went another one. That's three so far, he thinks, and his chest burns as if it's on fire. Every inhale, like breathing lava. His nose is broken, and It's taking all his strength not to lose consciousness. If he passes out, he can't protect his head. If he passes out, he may never wake again.

A boot catches Logan in the armpit, and he can't help but scream out in pain as his shoulder dislocates.

"EXPELLED! I sacrificed my artistic integrity for you!"


"Only the best for Logan Echolls. Your mom insisted."


"You think I could pay for Wellington Academy on an indie film salary?"


A foot catches Logan in the balls, and he howls. His first instinct to reach down, but that would leave his head unprotected.

"I want to know WHY?" Aaron yells, catching his hip with his booted foot.

He will never admit to the truth. They both know the carrot implicitly follows the stick, but it wasn't something ever discussed.

"A...a girl," Logan lied. "She said it would be funny."

"A GIRL? You lit a firecracker in the school library for a GIRL?" The belt still hanging on Aaron's shoulder swings down with a vicious snap to curl around Logan's arms and head.

Aaron leans over, his hands on his knees to scream at Logan more closely. He face looks evil and distorted, like something out of a David Lynch movie, or maybe Logan's vision is the problem.

"You think girls actually like you, you little fuck? Well they don't. They like me. They watch my movies. Buy my posters. You're just a cheap substitute. The backup prize."

Logan keeps his mouth shut. This particular spiel isn't anything new. Either Aaron feels threatened by Logan – his youth, his looks, his…something, or feels some innate need to keep Logan in his place. Either way, mom says it's Aaron's problem, not his.

"If your name wasn't Echolls they wouldn't come near you. Well maybe the dirty whores, but not the nice girls. Not quality girls. Like Lisa Loper."

Logan's head jerks up, momentarily forgetting about the danger, and Aaron crouches down, dropping the belt and catching his breath.

"Lisa Loper. America's sweetheart. You think she really wanted you?"

Logan's eyes widen. What does he know?

"What? You thought I didn't know about that? Who do you think made it happen?"

Logan really doesn't want to hear this.

"She wanted to be 'Artemis'. She read the book trilogy. Called it the role of a lifetime. A career-maker. Iconic. And she knew that Julia Styles practically had a lock on the role, so she came to me. I have significant pull with the casting director, you know."

Logan lowers his arms, eyeing his father warily. He knows what's coming next and wishes he could block it out.

"She told me she'd do anything, if I were to help her become Artemis. Of course, I told her that I was happily married, and couldn't possibly take her up on her offer, but I had a son who'd always wanted to meet her. She caught on pretty quickly."

He's about to be seriously ill. The fucker has just tainted what had up until now been the best experience of his life.

"The way you prance and flit around here...All of those...gestures...I was afraid you wouldn't be able to perform, if you catch my drift."

Aaron is calm now. No longer acting the sadist, but instead shifting to the benevolent father role. He reaches for Logan's hand, pulling him to a sitting position, and placing a hand on his upper back.

"It wouldn't do for Hollywood's biggest badass to have a fairy son, you know, so I was pretty pleased when she reported back to me." He rumples Logan's hair and grins. "Said you performed pretty well. Better than a certain douchebag actor she's been linked with. Guess you're my son after all."

So he managed to keep it up for a few minutes and not embarrass himself, and Aaron thought he could take the credit? Fuck him!

Aaron pats him awkwardly on the shoulder, and tries to help him up, when suddenly, Logan rolls to his side violently vomiting up blood. Aaron's eyes widen in fear.

"Logan? Son?" He tries to lift Logan again, but jumps back when Logan spits up more blood. He rises to his feet screaming for the maid. "Maria, call Dr. Wilson and get him here immediately."

He eyes the blood in trepidation and then shudders, bucks up his courage, and lifts Logan's torso from the ground, wrapping both arms around him and pulling him close to his chest. He slips into his Guilty Father role, kissing the top of Logan's head and telling him to hold on, help would be there soon.

Were Logan not shaking violently, he could recite Aaron's next lines in unison.

"I'm so sorry."

"I don't know how I got so out of control."

"I promise it'll never happen again."

Days later, Aaron stands next to Lynn at the side of Logan's hospital bed, and brushes hair off his son's forehead. He babbles about Logan's ATV accident, until the nurse leaves, and then leans over speaking quietly. "I'll make this up to you, son. What can I get you? Electronics? Video games? Anything."

Logan lets out the breath he's been holding, and teaches his father a thing or two about acting. His voice is weak. Not much more than a whisper. "I already have everything I want. It's not things that I need."

"Anything, Logan. Name it."

"I just...I hate always being so alone. It just gives me more time to get into trouble. It's great to see the ocean when I wake up, but we live in the middle of nowhere. Nobody ever comes over. I never go anywhere else."

"What are you saying, son?"

"If we lived inside the city limits, I could hang out with Duncan more often. You know, he tried to talk me out of the firecracker thing. He's always trying to talk me out of my bad ideas. He's like one of those angel-on-your-shoulder things."

"Your conscience?" Lynn asks with a smile.


"Son, it's not realistic to-"

"Plus, I could go to public school. I know you always said it would be good for me to learn a little humility."

Aaron and Lynn's eyes meet in silent communication, while Logan keeps his smirk on the inside. His mom has always hated their house anyway, and they both adore Duncan. Were he at home, rather than in the hospital, he would start packing around now.

When Lynn leaves to go to the vending machines, Aaron leans over his son and speaks in a confidential tone. "Just so you know son, Lisa Loper got the role of Artemis. I made that happen. When this movie blows up...when she's a huge star…you'll know."

"That she's a whore?"

Irritation flashes across Aaron's face, but Logan's wounds are too obvious and visible for the emotion to take hold. Once again, his face becomes the picture of geniality, and he looks over his shoulder to make sure Lynn hasn't returned.

"No, son. Power. You had no idea at the time, but you literally held her career in your hands, along with her itty-bitty titties. She's being given this opportunity of a lifetime because of you. I never really liked her holier than thou attitude, but she serviced you, so I serviced her."

Logan wants to throw up. Is he supposed to be impressed?

"Even good girls will go bad for the right incentive."

Logan thinks of Taylor Spencer from school. She had been a good girl before he'd met her. She'd never even been kissed. A few weeks ago, he and Dylan had caught her in the woods near school with her hands down Andrew Seeley's pants.

"Good girls can be corrupted. Power is everything, son."

Logan - Day Six - Dallas, Texas

Veronica wouldn't let this go. "You said 'stole', Logan. If you were so willing, how did she steal your virginity?" she presses.

Logan dropped his head back, staring at the stars for guidance, and then let out a sigh. "You know how in the old Westerns the father will get a hooker for his son as a rite of passage to usher him into manhood? papa got me a starlet. I just didn't know about it until a month later. He thought I was a bit too...flamboyant."

Veronica's jaw literally dropped. It would be kind of cute if he weren't under the microscope at the moment. "Your dad has no gaydar. If he wants to see flamboyant, he should watch his own damn movies. When did this happen?"

"Um...last week of school. Before I moved to Neptune...and met you."


"Veronica, I know you've taken Health class."

"How did it happen?"

"Um...a party. Dad was back from filming. Called me over and told me he could tell how bored I was. It was fine with him if I wanted to sneak off to my room. He didn't have to tell me twice. I got to my room, and she was already there. Lying on my bed, playing a video game. She smiled and told me to lock the door, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven." He let out a bitter laugh.

"But Logan…" Veronica's voice was pained. "...She was so much older…"

He turned his body away, unable to meet her eyes. He remembered the day he met her. The pity and revulsion in her eyes when he'd tested the waters, telling her only how the hangers-on were always hitting on him. He couldn't bear to see that look on her face again.

"Logan always looked much older," Duncan volunteered. As if that mattered.

"Casting couch deal," Logan said, staring at the ground. "She got to play Artemis. Dad got a son who was a real man."

"Dude, your dad whored you out?" Duncan said.

"Technically, he whored her out. That time."

"There were other times?" Veronica choked.

"Uh...Well...there were a few dates he ordered me to go on. Like when he was trying to get the part in Fists of Vengeance. It was right after 'The Echolls at Home' spread in US Weekly, and dear old dad promised the producer's daughter a date with me. Ordered me to quote 'make her happy no matter what'."

"You think he meant—" Veronica started.

"No, of course not. The box of condoms he tossed at me was for weighing down papers." He finally met Veronica's eyes and was blown away by the fury in them. She spun on her heel as if she were about to go use her fists to extract some vengeance of her own, and then stopped.

"He's in the Czech Republic, Veronica," he said softly.

She looked ready to kill or maim on his behalf, and his heart skipped a beat at her ferocity - reminding him again of the first time he ever saw her.

He closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around her from behind. "It's okay, Veronica. I swear," he whispered next to her ear. "I'm okay."

The hospital releases him after two weeks, and his parents make him wear a blindfold for the last fifteen minutes on the ride home.

"This doesn't sound like our house." he says, at the sound of his mom's heel clicks on the floor.

"Surprise!" Aaron says, pulling off the blindfold. "Welcome home!"

"Where are we?"

"About three streets away from Duncan Kane's house. We've already moved in." Aaron says with a huge grin, reaching for Logan's hand. He's nearly manic at this point. Self-absolution must feel good. "Come on! Let's go see your room."

Weeks later, Logan steps up to the chalk sideline of a soccer field at Neptune Community Park and his life changes forever.

Looking down now at the girl in his arms, he realized everything had led here. Firecrackers, sprinklers, beatings, broken ribs, and even Lisa Loper.

"Hey," he said softly. "Suddenly, I'm completely over it. Let's go see Queen Bees."

"Are you crazy?" Veronica said, spinning around and giving him an angry little shove. "I wouldn't watch that bitch in a movie if you paid me. The Notebook, it is."

As always, the sight of Veronica's furious, flashing eyes made his dick twitch. It was going to be a long movie.

Veronica - Day Six - Dallas, TX - Dollar Movies

This could not be happening. She'd survived the debacle at the mall today just to find herself sitting in a musty old theater between two boys (because dudes can't sit together at the movies) watching a chick flick for God's sake.

The boy on her left was sniffling every few seconds, and the boy on her right was trying to molest her hand.

Why had she agreed to this again?

It started when she finished off her own small popcorn and reached her hand into Logan's bag. And why shouldn't she? He should have known to get her a larger bag. She grabbed a few kernels, but Logan snagged her wrist before she could eat them, pulling her hand to his own mouth, and sucking in the popcorn and the tips of two of her fingers. His teeth bit down gently, and she felt it in her entire body.

She gasped and yanked her hand free, but moments later, he pulled it back to his side of the armrest.

He pressed his lips to the back of her hand, and each knuckle before turning her hand over and kissing the center of her palm.

She tried to pull free again, but he held on. "Something wrong, Ronnie?" he asked in a too-loud voice.

She knew what he was doing. He was banking on her not wanting to alert Duncan to her predicament.

Duncan's eyes were transfixed on the movie. How could he not see what Logan was up to? Then again, he'd always been a single-tasker.

Veronica's breath hitched as Logan kissed the inside of her wrist, scraping his teeth against her skin.

Damn it! He just…does it for me!

Onscreen, the couple had their passionate reunion kiss, and Logan leaned over to whisper in her ear "They ain't got nothing on us, Ronnie." As the kiss moved indoors and clothes started flying , he revised his opinion. "Okay, maybe they do. For now. Until you finally get around to seducing me."

"Logan, will you shut up?" Veronica hissed.

"Huh?" Duncan said, from her other side.

"Nothing. Just...Logan."

"Oh," Duncan said as if that explained everything.

Logan found a new way to amuse himself, drawing letters on the palm of her hand with his index finger.


She could barely make out his profile in the dark, but she was pretty sure there was a smirk. She twisted her hand to flip him off - he'd feel it even if he couldn't see it - but he responded by sucking that finger into his mouth to the first knuckle, applying a hint of suction before slowly pulling it back out.

Veronica turned and opened her mouth, prepared to give him an earful, but ended up with a mouthful instead - of popcorn.

Did he just feed me to shut me up?

She was on the verge of getting up and storming out - seriously, if this was his idea of not trying to seduce her, she'd hate to see his full-court press - when the action started heating up onscreen.

She stayed to watch. The onscreen couple were arguing. The man chasing the woman to her car.

"Well that's what we do! We fight! You tell me when I'm being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you're being a pain in the ass! Which you are, 99% of the time. I'm not afraid to hurt your feelings, you have like a two-second rebound rate and you're back doing the next pain in the ass thing."

Veronica's breath caught, and she felt a tight ache in her chest. She risked a glance at Logan, and found him staring at her. She flashed him a soft smile, unsure if he could even see it in the dark.

When he twined their fingers together, she didn't struggle, and she allowed him to feed her bites of popcorn with his free hand for the remainder of the movie.

She was almost disappointed when the credits started to roll, and he let go of her hand.

In the dingy lobby, Veronica saw that both Logan and Duncan had red-rimmed eyes, and had to hide her grin.

You sweet, sappy, sentimental boys.

On the way out of the theater, the Queen Bees poster caught her eye, making her angry all over again.

Walking back to the motel, Logan started to reach for her hand, but reading the expression on her face, changed his mind. He put a few feet of space between them, and appeared to be pouting.

Oh hell. He thinks I'm pissed at him.

She was about to reassure him, to tell him he didn't do anything (other than his stunts in the theater), when Duncan sidled up on her left.

"So...uh...what did you think of the movie?"

"It had its moments." Like that glimpse of Ryan Gosling's bare butt.

Logan began pulling ahead.

Think you could bother to wait for us, Logan?

"Watching that movie, I couldn't help but think about us," Duncan said. "You and I."

That jolted Veronica out of her thoughts. "You saw YOU AND ME in that couple?" she asked, unable to hide her incredulity.

"No," Duncan laughed, sadly. "Not at all. Not even a hint of us."

Veronica stopped and turned to look at him. "Then what are you trying to say?"

"Why do you think we never fought?"

"Um...because we had nothing to fight about?"

"I had a…" He blew out a breath as if preparing to say something embarrassing. "I had a conversation with my dead sister earlier today while I was waiting for you and Logan."

"And she convinced you how unflattering that beige striped polo is?"

"Um...No…?" Duncan said, looking down at his shirt in confusion. "What's wrong with it?"

"Why am I the only one she hounds with fashion advice?" she pouted. "So you were saying?"

"Lilly said you and I had no spark," he said, looking at his feet.

"I don't know if I'd say that," Veronica said. "Maybe there wasn't a raging inferno," – Like I have with your best friend – But there was a spark."

"But we were too much alike," he pressed. "She said you and I never challenged each other."

Veronica pointed a finger at him. "I challenge you to...stop worrying about the past."

"Oh, I am. I didn't really get what she meant earlier, until I saw that movie. The passion between that couple...You and I were never going to be that for each other, were we?"

"No, probably not," Veronica admitted.

"And maybe...we both deserve to have something like that in our lives?"

"Are you trying to tell me you want to break up?" Veronica teased.

"Umm…" Duncan hesitated.

"We never actually broke up," Veronica reminded him. "You just stopped talking to me."

"Oh, right," Duncan said, with a small smile. "Okay, how do I do this?"

He reached for her hand, looking at her earnestly. "Veronica, I don't think this is working out between us."

Veronica laughed softly and then affected a shocked expression. "What are you trying to say, Duncan?"

"It's not you, it's me?" Duncan asked with a raised eyebrow.

"That the best you've got?"

"I love you, but I'm not in love with you?"

"A little better."

"I need my space?"

"Good one," Veronica nodded. "Especially after the way I've smothered you over the past year."

Logan, walking ahead, realized they'd stopped and turned back, "What are you two doing back there?"

"Breaking up," Veronica and Duncan said simultaneously, and then laughed.

"You two are nuts," Logan threw his hands up dramatically, and continued walking back to the motel.

Veronica and Duncan followed slowly behind.

"So you were saying?" she said.

"Oh...I'm just not ready for anything serious?"

"So I should stop writing Veronica Kane on my Trapper Keeper, huh?"

"I think we're moving too fast?"

"It's the china pattern I picked out, isn't it? Too delicate?"

"You can do better than me."

"Never! You're so open. And attentive."

"I think we should see other people?"

Veronica put a hand on Duncan's arm. "Finally! Ready to confess your deep and abiding love for Logan?"

"I will, if you will," he smirked.

"What? Logan and I aren't..."

"Sorry," he laughed. "Blame Lilly for that one. So...I hope we can still be friends." He flashed her a soft teasing smile.

"I'd like that." She smiled back. "Ahhh what the hell." she pulled him in for a hug. "I missed you, you big dummy."

"Missed you too," Duncan said. "So why is Logan pouting?"

"I think I mistakenly gave him a signal that I was pissed at him, when it wasn't him at all."

"It was me?" Duncan asked surprised.

"Nah. His dad. As soon as I saw that Queen Bees poster, I got angry all over again."

"Yeah...That was pretty screwed up."

"That's not screwed up, it's criminal."

They lapsed into silence for the remainder of the walk back to the motel, Veronica remembering the boy she met at twelve. Tall for his age, but not as tall as he was now. Skinnier. Just as graceful. Cocky as hell, but so sweet at the same time. A little lost and much more vulnerable then - he hadn't yet perfected his barriers. She'd known that he'd experienced much more of life than she had, but would never have imagined he'd recently lost his virginity to America's Sweetheart, and had crossed a line he could never come back from. She became more and more worked up until she found herself on the verge of tears.

"Hey," Veronica said, putting a hand on Duncan's arm. "Go back to the room with Logan. I need some Peggy time, okay? Just call me when Antonio shows up with the Explorer."

"Sure thing," Duncan said.

"Peggy?" Veronica called tentatively as she entered the office, her voice quavering.

Peggy stepped into the doorway. "Veronica, is everything alright?"

Veronica pushed past her into the kitchen, breathing hard.


"Give me a moment," Veronica said in a rough voice. Her shoulders vibrated, and she bit her bottom lip hard. "Had to get away. Couldn't let them see me this way."

Peggy ran a hand down Veronica's arm. "Let it out Veronica. Contrary to what you believe, crying does not make you weak."

She rolled up her eyes to stare at the ceiling, blinking rapidly to keep the tears in, but she feared she was losing the battle when the corners of her lips took on a life of their own, trying to twist into an ugly grimace. She clenched her front teeth in an attempt to control her jaw.

"You're safe with me," Peggy said soothingly. "Did Logan do something to hurt you?"

"I'm not hurt. I'm pissed! I'm furious." Her voice broke. "I want to throw something!"

Peggy tentatively reached out for Veronica and when she didn't flinch, pulled her into her arms.

"What'd he do now?"

"Do? Logan?" she said. "Nothing. Done to him?" Her voice took on a choking quality and two tears spilled over the edge. "Remember when you mentioned that Logan may have been emotionally abused? Well it was worse. Much worse."

Peggy pulled out a chair and guided Veronica to sit. Veronica wiped away her tears with a napkin and then spent the next several minutes recounting Logan's revelation outside the theater.

"Twelve years old, Peggy! He should have been…" she lifted her hands in frustration. "...he should have been listening to emo music in a dark room, and playing video games, and reading Harry Potter. Not stroking his father's ego, and not being used as a bargaining chip. Or like a prostitute."

Peggy remained silent, allowing Veronica to rant.

"The day I met him...He told me how he was always fighting off these Hollywood hangers-on. I heard him, but I guess didn't understand the implication then. Not really."

"Nobody should be expected to understand those kinds of implications at the age of twelve, Veronica. You were still innocent."

Too innocent. Too naïve.

What had she been thinking back then? Of course, he wouldn't have wanted her. He'd already had sex with a beautiful movie star.

And here I was daydreaming about holding hands - and maybe my first kiss, if I was feeling really risqué.

He had been way out of her league, but that hadn't stopped her from pining over him for a long time. It was hard not to, when he was constantly in her face. Hanging all over her best friend.

She let out a breath. "Parents are supposed to protect their children, not throw them to the sharks."

"And that explains the haircut, I guess." She reached up and touched her own hair.

"The haircut?"

"He reacted a bit...hostilely...when they showed some celebrities on T.V. who cut their hair like mine. I thought it was his sister he was reacting to, but it wasn't. It was her. Lisa Loper. "

Veronica angrily swiped away another tear. "Oh my God! The sex tapes!"

"Sex tapes?"

"I found a hidden camera set-up in Logan's pool house the day we...our last day in Neptune. Hidden behind a cabinet and aimed at the bed. There were a couple dozen tapes, and at least three of them showed Logan having sex with underaged girls."

"He kept sex tapes of his own son?"

"Yes. I could see maybe if the camera was motion-activated and Aaron got rid of the tapes, but he went to the trouble to date and label them, and slide them into his neat little rows."

She rose from the table and began pacing the kitchen, the soles of her boots making squeaking sounds on the linoleum. "I want to go after him. We could get him for Sexual Abuse, right?"

Peggy considered the question. "Sexual Exploitation at the very least. Child Pornography, probably."

"Okay, I want to go after him for that. He needs to pay for what he's done."

"Veronica," Peggy said gently. "I know you don't want to hear this, but that's a decision Logan needs to make."

"Logan will say he's fine. But he can't be. The fact that he's avoided seeing every Lisa Loper movie has to say something. She's been in everything."

"Think about how prideful Logan is. Do you really think he would want the world to know about this exploitation? You need to tread very carefully."

Veronica felt impotent with rage. She wanted to hurt somebody. Preferably a certain hammy actor with bad hair.

Her throat closed up so that she could barely swallow, and tears once again burned her eyes. "It's not fair," she said, well aware by now that the world wasn't a fair place. "Everybody should have a choice over who their first time is with." A sob wrenched from her throat, and her eyes shot up to Peggy's as if in denial that the sound had issued from her.

Peggy's eyes showed more compassion than Veronica could bear. "We're not only talking about Logan anymore, are we?" she asked gently.

Another sob broke free as Veronica bit her lip and stared at the floor.

"We're not talking about Ciaran Fitzpatrick either. Somebody else hurt you."

Veronica's shoulders began shaking, and she gave up the pretense as she found herself enfolded into Peggy's arms. She allowed the ugly noises out, as Peggy stroked the back of her head and told her to let it out.

When Veronica had cried herself out, Peggy wet a paper towel and swiped at the mascara tracks. "If you want to talk about it, I'm here."

"I appreciate that, I really do. But I'm not ready yet."

Peggy nodded.

"We're leaving first thing in the morning, but if you wouldn't mind...if I ever am ready to talk?...would it be okay for me to call you?"

"Of course it is, Veronica. Don't even hesitate to call me if you need anything."

Veronica gave her a shy uncomfortable smile.

"But you don't like to need people, do you?" Peggy said.

Veronica shook her head no.

"You need those boys, Veronica, and they need you, and acknowledging that will make you stronger, not weaker. It'll make all three of you stronger."

I do need him. Them.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the ugly ring of the burner cell in her pocket. She answered it, and Duncan informed her that Antonio Navarro was there with the Explorer.

"Can you tell I've been crying?" Veronica asked Peggy.

Peggy rubbed at a smudge of mascara. "You're fine now. Be good to Logan, but don't treat him like he's broken. He would hate that."

Veronica sighed. "I know. This is too much, on top of all the emotional stuff between us the past couple days."

"Where's Logan?" Veronica asked, as Duncan met her outside of the motel office.

Duncan rolled his eyes. "Folding laundry. Those loads he put in the dryers before we headed to the mall. He doesn't trust me to do it right."

"He doesn't trust you to fold?"

"He says he can fold flatter and neater - so we can fit more into our bags. He wants everything packed up and put in the truck tonight so that we can take off first thing in the morning."

The return of the Explorer was uneventful. Money changed hands - less than she'd expected to be honest, Thank you Weevil - and Antonio drove off with his brother Fernando.

Veronica moved the truck, backing it in to park in front of their room and Logan came out with two bags.

The Explorer itself had been given the Soccer Mom Special, down to the annoying stick figure family decal on the rear window.

"That's it," Logan said, pointing at the sticker. "Now we have to get a dog."

"And a kid?"

"Duncan can be the kid," Logan said. "We'll just get him a dress. And a hair bow."

"I heard that," Duncan said, walking past them into the room.

Logan held the door and motioned Veronica inside. Several piles of clothing and a laundry basket took up most of their bed, so Veronica took a seat at the foot.

"So you finished up the laundry while I was talking to Peggy."

"It's not rocket science. Just getting us prepared to leave."

"And you wouldn't let Duncan help fold?"

"I've been traveling my entire life. I'm an efficient packer," Logan said, dropping onto the bed and reaching into the basket. "Plus he already had his chance to get into your panties." He plucked out a pair of raspberry-colored cotton bikini underwear.

"It's called respect dude," Duncan said from the other bed. "You should try it some time."

Veronica watched in horror as Logan folded her underwear into a tiny bundle and placed it on the top of one of the stacks. He didn't make a big deal out it, so she let out the breath she'd been holding as he reached for the next item, a tee shirt that she thought might be Duncan's.

"Honey?" Veronica said.

"Yes sweetums?" Logan answered.

"When you're done with the laundry why don't you make me a martini and a meatloaf?"

He arched a single brow. "Long day busting balls?"

"No rest for the wicked." She shrugged.

Logan finished his folding and, after setting out three outfits for the morning, like a mother of toddlers, moved each stack of clothing to its respective bag.

"I think we should take our showers tonight. It'll get us out of here earlier in the morning," Logan said, hefting a bag onto his shoulder, reaching for a second one, and trying to grab a third.

"You don't have to carry everything," Veronica said, jumping up and taking the third bag. She opened the door, allowing him to go outside first.

"How much more?" she asked after the bags were stowed in the trunk area.

"Couple more bags," Logan said. He grabbed Veronica's wrist before she could head back into the room.

"Hey. I'm sorry about the movie," he said. "It was all in fun. I didn't realize it would get you that upset."

"The movie? Oh that." She smiled to show that she wasn't angry. "No, I'm used to you acting like a perv."

"So then… what?" his eyes narrowed in confusion. "What else did I do?"

"Nothing. Why does everyone think you did something? I'm pissed at your dad."

"Oh…" Logan sighed and turned away. As always, a hand went straight to his hair. "I don't know why I even mentioned it."

"It pisses me off. You should have been able to pick. Who your first time was with, I mean."

"Why?" He laughed, bitterly. "So I could have picked Lilly? I couldn't even stand her at the time."

And that was another thing that had never made sense to Veronica. How had he gone from finding Lilly annoying to making out with her so quickly?

"You think she waited for me? I wasn't her first either." At Veronica's expression of surprise, he continued. "Some pool boy. Someone older. Not Weevil."

Veronica took a moment to digest this latest development. Lilly would have been thirteen. Still way too young.

"Logan, imagine you - at your age - having sex with a twelve year old. Maybe one of those girls at the mall today."

Logan looked appalled at the suggestion.

"See? You were a baby. You were way too young. They should have known better. Your dad especially."

"It really wasn't a big deal. Just forget about it."

"Not a big deal?" Veronica raised her voice. "It's a crime, and we need to do something about it."

"No. We really don't," Logan said, firmly. "Let it go."

"No. I'm not going to let it go," Veronica said, grabbing him by the forearm. "We could go to the press. With those three sex tapes, we could at least get him for child pornography. A handwriting expert could examine the labels. And Peggy said that the other stuff was Sexual Exploitation, so-"

"Peggy said what?" Logan's voice became ice. He yanked his arm free.

"Sexual exploitation. He tried to pimp you out to get roles, plus the—"

"You told PEGGY what I told you?" Logan's voice grew louder.

"Oh…" She bit her lip and looked at the ground. "Yeah."

"You had no business telling that to Peggy!" he yelled.

"It's not a big deal, Logan," Veronica said. "She's on our side."

"I know she's on our side, but that information is nobody's business."

"I can't help it Logan," Veronica's voice rose. "I sit down with Peggy and everything just sort of spills out."

Logan turned away running his hands through his hair.

"She gives me perspective. Especially when it comes to you."

"You've talked about me BEFORE?" He took a few steps away and then turned back, lacing his fingers on the back of his head. "Do I have any secrets left?"

"Just about yesterday. What happened. At 7-11. And Carolann. And—"

"Oh fucking great!" Logan shouted, throwing his hands up. "So I'm a porno-starring, sexually exploited asshole who made out with you before going out on a date with her goddaughter!"

"Logan…" she reached out for him, but he pulled away.

"No! Don't touch me!" he said, warding her off with his hands. "I need...some space." He turned and walked away.

"I'm sorry, Logan." She called after him.

Veronica – Day Six – Dallas, Texas – LakeView Court Motel – Room 118

The door swung open and Veronica wandered in, looking shell-shocked.

"S'wrong?" Duncan asked, looking up from his new sketchpad. "Where's Logan?"

She sighed, dropping heavily onto her bed. "We got in a fight. He took off."

"You got in a fight." Duncan repeated, shaking his head. "You weren't even out there for three minutes."

"I was stupid, and told Peggy what he told us about Lisa Loper and his dad, and he blew up at me."

"Smart move, Einstein," Duncan said. "Don't you know how private he is? I've known him since I was five, and he's never told me that story."

"I really appreciate your support," she grumbled, dropping her face into her hands.

"You two are crazy. I can't tell from moment to moment whether you're fighting or best friends. You're almost like—"

"If you say like the couple in that movie, I'm going to punch you in the face," Veronica said.

"Violence will not be necessary." Duncan laughed, holding up his hands. "It'll be fine, Veronica. I know Logan. Better than anyone. He'll head straight to the Moonglow, get smashed, hook-up with some skank, and show up in the morning ashamed and hung-over."

Veronica managed not to flinch at the idea of Logan hooking up with some skank. "You consider that fine? That is NOT fine. That's a disaster. Was he even wearing a disguise? A hat? Glasses? We have to go bring him back."

"You really want to deal with a drunk and pissed off Logan?"

She could feel her lower lip protruding in a pout. "No...?"

"Thought you'd see reason," Duncan said.

"You're going to go bring him back."

"No," he said. "I'm not."

"Duncan…" Veronica whined.

"No. Don't pull that on me, Veronica." Duncan said. "Do you know what I had to go through today? You two were in that mall, undisguised and surrounded by hundreds of people who knew your identities."

Veronica tried to appear contrite.

"I almost had a panic attack when those cops pulled up. I had to be talked down off the ledge by a hallucination of my dead sister. So if Logan wants to go and knock back a few drinks…"

"Logan hasn't had a drink since we left home."

"Surely he's been sipping at that flask of his."

"Nope, honestly, I haven't even seen the flask."

"Really? Well then, I don't see what the problem is. Let him be."

Duncan wasn't going to budge, and Veronica realized this was a first. He'd never stood up to her before.

"Fine. Do you want to shower first?" she asked.

"No, you go ahead."

Veronica was in and out of the shower in under fifteen minutes. While Duncan took his turn, Veronica booted up her laptop. She was disappointed to find that Wallace hadn't emailed, but maybe he was out. It was Friday night, after all.

Veronica was checking the tracking software when Duncan came out of the bathroom. She let out a whoop when she saw Liam Fitzpatrick's Barracuda was headed back to Dallas again. Crazy as it was, Logan's plan had worked.

"Well, it worked. Liam Fitzpatrick has turned around and is heading back this way."

"Good...I guess." Duncan said. "To be honest, that's not much of a consolation. It kind of scares the shit out of me."

"Duncan Kane, did you just swear?"

His cheeks pinkened. "My dead sister told me to earlier."

"Glad to know she has her priorities in order."

"You don't even look at me like I'm crazy. For talking to her."

"Nope. She talks to me now and then. Logan has seen her. At least he saw her that day in the park."

"She said my meds were keeping me from seeing her. But Dr. Tony said coming off the meds could cause hallucinations."

"I wouldn't worry too much about finding an explanation. I don't think it makes you crazy."

The original burner phone rang before she could say anything else.

"Hello?" Veronica said warily.


"Padre." She smiled. "I take it you're somewhere secure."

"I am. Mind explaining to me what you were thinking?"

"Just now? Ice cream. Hot fudge sundae, to be exact."

"You know what I meant. What were you thinking when you and Logan entered a Dallas shopping mall undisguised?"

"We had to dad. It was Logan. He started twitching and drooling. We had to get him to an Abercrombie store stat."

"I don't even know what that means."

"Just a little pretty-boy humor."

Duncan snickered from the other bed, and Veronica pointed a finger at him. "And what would I find if I checked the tags on your clothing?"

He shrugged, looking down with a small smile on his face."

She returned her attention to her phone call. "We needed to do something big to make Liam Fitzpatrick turn around and come back to Dallas."

Keith sighed. "Start from the beginning."

"The beginning? Once upon a time, a handsome county sheriff fell in love with-"

"Not that far back," Keith groaned.

"Oh...Okay. As you know, a few days ago, Liam Fitzpatrick caught up with us in southern Texas. We managed to disable him and cuff him to the sink."


"Well, it was the second day in a row that we'd been caught by a Fitzpatrick. We were travelling down Route 10, and the Fitzpatricks were right on our tail. Since we wanted to continue travelling down Route 10, we needed to send the Fitzpatricks off in a different direction."


"Yes. I stole his car when we left. The intention was to drive out of our way for a couple hours to Dallas, leave the Barracuda somewhere it would be impounded, and plant some clues to draw him up North."

"But somehow you ended up in a different vehicle - some SUV, judging by the interior - with Liam chasing you at high speeds."

"Yep. The Barracuda overheated on the freeway. But I managed to plant a tracking device on it."

"I don't know whether to yell at you for stealing my gadgets or praise you for being a genius."

"I'd go with the praise." Veronica said. "It fosters a sense of teamwork."

"Just go on," Keith said.

"So after that little debacle on the freeway, not only did Liam know what we were driving, but there was enough body damage that the truck would attract attention. So we took it to a chop shop to have it fixed and painted."

"And you just happened to have a Dallas area chop-shop on speed dial?"

"Let's just say I have friends in low places."

"Weevil Navarro."

"Weevil who? I'm sorry, you're breaking up."

"I already knew you guys were working with Weevil. Logan said his name when he answered the phone the other day."

"Dad, you can't-"

"I have no plans to harass Weevil. Now get back to your story."

"Well, there was a three day turn-around on the body work. In the meantime, we had Weevil plant a rumor with a Fitzpatrick stooge that we were hiding out in Irving, Texas - a suburb on the other side of town. We watched Liam making his way around the Irving motels on the tracking software."

"So you've spent the last three days in the same city as Liam Fitzpatrick?"

"Don't worry. Our motel is off the beaten path. He would never find us here."

"That doesn't explain how you ended up in the mall."

"When we woke up this morning, there were reports that we'd been arrested in Florida. I checked the tracking software, and Liam was already hours outside of Dallas heading to Florida."

"So what? Let him go east, and you guys head north."

"No, we're definitely heading east."

"You're saying you already had a destination in mind?"


"Veronica...I hope you know what you're doing."

"I do. We do. Weevil's contact was unavailable, so we needed to do something huge. Something that would hit the news immediately, rather than later."

"So you decided to incite a riot?"

"Well...we were hoping for the get in/get out approach. We had everything planned out. We staked out the mall, located the security cameras, and timed the guards on their rounds. How were we to know one of the guards would cut his rounds short twice so he could flirt with everything that moved?"

"If you were planning to get in/get out, how could you be sure it would hit the news?"

"Oh, we kind of planted the story that we'd be there on a few message boards."

"You thought of all that?" Keith said, admiration obvious in his voice.

"Nope. Logan did."

"Logan Echolls came up with a plan like that?"

"He's much smarter than you think. While we were there, we managed to plant some clues that we were heading to Chicago or Cleveland. If Liam starts heading up North, we should know definitively whether him and Lamb are working together."

"Speaking of Logan...Anything else you might want to tell me about?"

"Umm...Not really."

"Let me be more specific," Keith said. "Anything you want to tell me about the nature of your relationship with Logan?"


"Veronica," he growled. "Witnesses are claiming Logan announced he was pursuing you romantically."

Veronica sighed. "Dad, that was a ploy."

"A ploy," he said, skeptically.

"Yes. A ploy. And it worked, obviously."

"Explain this ploy to me."

"Logan spent his entire life watching Aaron Echolls manipulate his fans. He knew what he was doing."

On the other bed, Duncan looked up in interest.

"He said if they wanted a love triangle, we'd give them a love triangle. He pretended to be...into me...gave them what they wanted - and as a result, those girls protected us from three security guards."

"And that's all it was?"

"That's all it was."

"Good," Keith said. "...good. So I saw that Duncan is awake."

"Yep, he's up."

"How's that going?"

"It's going well. We're getting there."

"Let me talk to Logan."

"He's not here."

"What do you mean he's not there? Where is he?"

Veronica sighed. "Off...somewhere."

"You don't know where he is?" Keith's voice started rising. "He left you alone with Duncan Kane?"


"He promised me he'd watch out for you."

"Don't blame him, dad." Veronica said, "It's my fault. I blabbed something he told me in confidence. He's just cooling off."

"I don't care what you've done, he shouldn't be leaving you alone with Duncan."

Well then, I probably shouldn't mention his date last night.

"How's the Liam case going?" she asked, changing the subject.

"I have somebody combing through their financials, but so far, nothing. I have a handful of rumors, but no conclusive evidence for anything. Yet."


"On the other hand…" Keith started.


"I've located Cheyenne the escort."

"Ahh…Cheyenne the hooker. I was wondering where she'd gotten off to. Can't take your eye off her for a second."

Keith laughed. "Abel Koontz had a standing weekly appointment with Cheyenne - he was with her at the time of Lilly's death, and I have a phone record to prove it."

Veronica hopped off the bed, and headed into the bathroom, lowering her voice. "So she can prove that Abel Koontz is innocent?"

"Yeah, I'm heading to Vegas first thing in the morning. That's why I want you to be extra careful with Duncan."

"You can't possibly think-"

"Who knows, Veronica? Once this comes out and the investigation reopens? Anything's possible. I want you to have Logan call me tomorrow."

"Dad…" she whined.

"Veronica, I'm serious. I need to be absolutely certain that he's keeping you protected."

"I can protect myself. I have my taser, and I know how to use it."

"Veronica," he said, sternly.

"Fine," she pouted. "I'll have Logan call you tomorrow."

"Now how hard was that?"

They said their goodbyes, and Veronica hung up.

"Is everything alright?" Duncan asked when she came back out.

"Yeah, stuff. Oh my God!" She said with a gasp. She snatched the sketchpad from Duncan's hands. "You did this?"

"No, the sketch fairies came while you were out of the room."

"You weren't even working from a photograph?"

"Nope. She's my sister. I've been looking at her my entire life."

"Wow. This is very very good, Duncan."

"Thanks." He looked embarrassed.

"You ever consider being an artist for a living?"

Duncan gave her a resigned smile. "It wasn't part of the ten year plan."

She got his point immediately. Art wasn't part of the White House Prep curriculum.

Strangely, despite the grim circumstances, she'd seen positive changes in him the past couple days. As if a great weight had been taken off his shoulders. As if he was a new person.

She dropped down onto her bed. "Freedom looks good on you, Duncan."

"Thanks. I guess."

"So, any chance you reconsidered and are about to go look for Logan?"



It wasn't only his parent's influence he'd shed.

She sighed, while images of Logan with skanks of all shapes and sizes danced in her head.

Logan – Day Six – Dallas, TX – Lakeview Court Motel – Room 118

Well after midnight, Logan returned to their room. Veronica and Duncan were already in bed, and the lights were out, so he quietly took a shower and went about his nightly routine.

He stood next to the bed, unsure. His need to be next to her was overwhelming and kind of scary, but he'd probably screwed things up (again) when he'd yelled at her earlier. Why couldn't things ever go easy between them?

He heard a rustling from the bed. The squeak of bedsprings. A shadow moved in front of him, and then Veronica was groping for his hand. Giving it a tug. His left knee dropped to the bed, and he had a moment to make out that she was kneeling before him, and then her arms were wrapped around his neck, her cheek pressed to his chest.

"You're still up?" he whispered, and in his current emotional state, it meant everything to him.

"Couldn't sleep." she said. 'Without you' seemed to be implied. "I'm so glad you came back."

It was easier to see her abandonment issues now that he knew what he was looking for. "Veronica…"

"I. Am So. Sorry. Logan," she said.

Logan sighed, lifted his second knee to the bed, and dropped his face to her shoulder. His arms wrapped around her loosely.

"Please don't be mad at me," she whispered.

"I'm not mad at you." And he really wasn't. Anymore. He pulled her closer. There was that scent again - like toasted marshmallow, but he realized it was her skin, not her hair. Except for the thin strap of her tank top, her shoulder was bare against his cheek. He turned his face to touch his lips to her skin. This was quickly becoming his favorite habit - wrapping himself around Veronica in dark rooms.

A faint snore came from Duncan's bed, and Logan realized that once again, he'd forgotten that anybody in the world existed beyond the two of them. What would Duncan see if he woke up and turned on the light? An innocent hug? An odd hug, certainly, considering the time and setting. A glance could never reveal the unspoken pull between himself and Veronica, or the racing of his heart. The hyper-awareness of every inch of Veronica's body pressed against him. Her thighs to his thighs. Her breasts to his chest.

Every part of him wanted to lay her down, guide her backwards, and cover her body with his own. Instead, he lowered himself to his right side, bringing her down next to him.

"You haven't been drinking."

"What makes you say that?"

"The way your breath tastes."

Despite the fact that they were whispering, Duncan was still right in the other bed. Logan leaned forward, tilting her face towards the ceiling so that his mouth was an inch from her ear - their cheeks touching. "I think I'd remember if your tongue had been in my mouth, Veronica."

"You know what I meant," she whispered - her mouth lined up with his ear as well. "No fumes on your breath. More like coffee."

"You caught me," he said. "I've been with Peggy since I left." Telling her my life story. Things I've never told anybody before. "You know girl talk."

Veronica's hand on his back squeezed him tightly in a one-handed hug.

"What was that for?"

"Nothing. Just thought..."

"That I was out drinking and carousing and fucking other girls?"

"Yeah," she admitted with a nervous little laugh. "Although, you say other girls as if I'm your girlfriend or something."

You could be. You should be. Kind of feels like you are.

"Hey, I get it. You'd rather die than admit that you're jealous. Don't think I've forgotten about our little bet either."

"I'm not—"

"Don't waste your time protesting. You cared enough to wait up for me. So anyway, I kind of get it now. Why you told Peggy."

Veronica hesitated as if trying to decide whether to let him get away with changing the subject before she could get in the last word. "There's something about her," she said finally, apparently willing to let it go.

"Yeah, you feel like no matter what you tell her, she would never ever judge you."

"Exactly. So, what are we going to do about your dad?"

"Do? We're not going to do anything."


"But nothing. He's out of my life, Veronica. He has no idea where I am. That's all that matters."

She tilted her head as if to look him in the eyes. "I just...I hate him, Logan." Even at a whisper, he could hear the trembling in her voice. His gut twisted at the knowledge that he - Logan Echolls, psychotic jackass - could inspire that kind of emotion in her. "I hate him so damn much for doing that to you."

"I know." He lifted a hand to stroke her cheek. "And I love you for that."

He froze. "Wait! That came out—"

"I know how you meant it." She laughed.

"Good. Wouldn't want to be giving you a big head or anything. you handling the breakup?" he asked, changing the subject.

"I'm strangely ambivalent."

"He give you a reason this time?"

"Quite a few. Something about wanting to see other people. I guess you two are finally free to consummate your forbidden love."

"You mean I get to be the center of the love triangle for once?" Logan asked with exaggerated delight. "Will you fight him for me?"


"That's why you bought that self-defense DVD, huh? Gonna knock DK around a bit to keep him away from your man?"

"Nope, he can have you."

"Awww…You just called me your man."

"No I didn' tricked—"

"Get some sleep, Ronnie." Logan snickered, pulling back to his own pillow.

"You're a real ass sometimes, Logan." She said, snuggling closely against him.

"Ass?" Being his typical pain-in-the-ass self, Logan's free hand slid down to her butt.

Veronica sighed, reaching behind her, and moving his hand back to the safety of her lower back. She could feel him silently giggling against the top of her head.

"You think you're so funny."

"Four out of five fangirls agree."

"Let's see how you like it," Veronica said, sliding her hand down to cup his butt.

Logan grinned, waiting for her to realize her mistake.

Five Mississippi...Six Mississippi...Seven Mississippi

She snatched her hand back with a huff, moving it to his hip. Logan smirked, grabbing her hand and returning it to his butt.

"Happy?" she asked, giving his ass a little squeeze. His dick twitched in response.

"Mmmm hmmm. My reverse psychology worked," Logan said. "Don't suppose you feel like groping my chest?"

"Do you ever shut up Logan?"

"When I'm kissing?"

"Nice try."

Yep, he was seriously getting hard now, between the banter and the fact that she still hadn't let go of his ass. She'd be feeling it any second now.

"Hey," he said, pulling back, "It's been a really rough night. All this talk about my dad and stuff."


"Think maybe tonight you can keep my back warm?"

"Roll over," she answered, her voice gentle.

Logan rolled onto his left side, and Veronica snuggled against him. Her hand circled around him, and he pressed it to his heart, covering it with his own.

She lifted up slightly, to kiss him softly on the cheek.

A huge grin spread across Logan's face. "You like me," he teased.

"Go to sleep, Loverboy."

"Your Loverboy?"

"Good night."

A/N1 As always, thanks to ShanghaiLily for previewing this. I don't always follow advice, but I'm listening.

A/N2 I'm not the first person to write the 'Aaron gets Logan a starlet at a ridiculously young age' plot. I've seen it done in a few other stories, and something about it always resonated with me. I could see Aaron doing it to stroke his own ego, and it's just one possible explanation for why Logan was so willing to take so much crap from Lilly. When I started writing this, I kept asking myself why a young Logan would be so hesitant to be with V if he was so drawn to her right off the bat, and I kept coming back to this - some early sexual experience made him feel dirty about himself and unwilling to taint somebody as innocent as V. I really wrestled with whether to leave it in the story, but I feel that it explains Logan's motivations, as well as creating a sort of understanding between L/V. Sorry if it squicked you out. It squicks me out.

A/N3 I knew I wanted to do the Lisa Loper reveal at a movie theater. When I researched to see which movies came out in 2004, I almost died when I saw that the Notebook was one of them. I knew I had to incorporate it into the story. Hope it wasn't boring. I just kept seeing this image of stoic Veronica with the two red-eyed emotional boys.

A/N4 Anonymous Me - You are so on the ball. First The Legend of Billie Jean and now the Laura Palmer parallels. You catch everything.

A/N5 And then, there's that movie thing. :) If you don't think I was freaking the hell out, ask Shanghai Lilly. I literally made excuses to leave a meeting so that I could go watch that video, and then spent the rest of the day staring at the Kickstarter page. Blew my entire Sephora budget for the month. That's a joke. Kinda. I buy a LOT of beauty junk. Don't really need it. I'm fabulous on my own. - That really was a joke.

A/N6 So anybody else feeling a lot of pressure now to start posting their future fics? Honestly, I have three started. Two regular-sized ones, and one monster-sized series reboot fic. I'm probably going to to break my rule about only posting one Work in Progress at a time. This is our last chance to share our visions of what went happened in the intervening years before we get new canon, so hopefully we'll see a ton of great future fics popping up.

A/N7 I say it every time, and I mean it. You guys are SO amazing with your support and feedback. I adore each and every one of you.