Spoilers through 210 (One Angry Veronica) and set in early January 2006.

Enjoy, and I'll see you at the bottom! :)


I never said I was perfect, but I can take you away
-
Garbage, "Drive You Home"

"Logan, what are you doing?"

"Surveillance tactics not up to snuff, Mars? What a shameful way for you to start off the new year." Logan smirks unconsciously, even though he's well aware that Veronica can't see him.

"Funny boy," her voice snarks through the cell phone. "I've found someone that you'll want to talk to. We'll be at your suite in twenty minutes, and I don't want to find you hung over and reeking of alcohol."

"I'll be presentable, Veronica," Logan replies, injecting just the right amount of disdain into his voice. After all, she's clearly finally found the man from the bridge, but he doesn't want to make his excitement or gratitude too obvious. No good can come from that, after all.

"Twenty minutes," she repeats one last time, before she disconnects. Logan snaps his phone shut, shoving it in his pocket and moving towards the nearest mirror.

He still has bed-hair – yes, at one in the afternoon – and his breath probably smells of alcohol. A comb and a toothbrush ought to do the trick.

He hates how he finds himself caving so easily to Veronica's request. He wants to trash the suite, to force her to deal with a scenario where he's drunk off his ass.

Then again, he knows that she's put a lot of work into finding the man who will be the star witness at his trial. And, if he can make a good impression now, perhaps it will become clear that he's not a murderer, that he's not like his father.

He didn't kill Felix. He knows that he didn't.

Now he just needs to convince the man from the bridge of the same thing.

%%%-

As Veronica approaches the Presidential Suite, she wants to believe that Logan has done what she's asked and is looking respectable. After all, she knows how important this is for him.

But, if his past behavior is any indication, after this is all over, he'll have wished that he hadn't embarrassed himself by appearing like one who couldn't spend more than two hours out of the reach of an alcoholic beverage.

Once the pair reaches the door, Veronica raises one hand to knock, praying to a God that she's not sure she believes in anymore that Logan has done as she asked - for this one time, at least.

"I hate to ask this of you - especially after everything you've already done - but would you mind waiting outside for a few moments? I don't want Logan to be too surprised by your appearance if I can help it," she explains, wondering how much of the inevitable mess she can hide away in the next few minutes.

Her companion wears a slightly bemused if not slightly disbelieving smile while simultaneously nodding to accede to her request.

"Thanks," she responds, half-wondering why this matters so much to her. Sure, she put a lot of time and effort into tracking down this individual and arranging this meeting, but if Logan wants to play the drunk-off-his-ass poor little rich boy, how is that her problem?

But then she remembers how Logan had fallen apart in her arms in the lobby of the Sunset Regent nearly a year ago, as if she was the only friend he had left; how Logan had clasped her hand tightly after the grand jury had decided not to return an indictment on the charges he'd faced; how Logan had erupted in such a volatile – and granted, very Logan-like – manner when she broke up with him almost five months ago.

Over the past year, every time she thinks she's seen Logan at his lowest, she is inevitably proven wrong within a too short period of time. She wants to see him happy, to give him some sense of hope in his life that sometimes seems all too bleak.

%%%-

A sharp knock on the door alerts Logan to their arrival and pulls him from his self-pitying preoccupation. The opening of the door reveals one very relieved Veronica Mars. Judging from the sigh of relief she exhales after peering past him into the suite, she was clearly not expecting him to comply with her request.

Logan can't count on much in this life, except that the people he loves will eventually abandon him and that Veronica Mars will never trust him.

"Is he here?" Logan asks, leaning forward to peer his head out the doorway. She stills him by placing a single hand on his chest. The second her palm makes contact with the orange cotton of his tee-shirt, she pulls the appendage back almost as if she's been burned. For fuck's sake, it's not like touching him is akin to cheating on her boyfriend.

"Logan, I don't want you to be too surprised when you see who I found for you to talk to," Veronica begins. "I know that we'd pretty much given up hope of finding her, but I did some more legwork over the holidays, and I finally had a break in the case. I just – I want you to be prepared when you see her."

As she's saying these words, she's slipping past him into the hotel room, and he – of course – is following her without thinking twice. He finds himself puzzled at her words though. Her? Could the problem with finding the man from the bridge be that he was actually a she?

"But I could have sworn it was a guy on the bridge who called 911. Are you telling me that you found the woman who made the call?" His voice clearly conveys his bafflement, and Veronica flinches at his words, making him wonder what it is that she's really trying to say.

"No, Logan. I haven't found the man from the bridge yet. Just standing outside the door, actually, is – " She pauses for a moment, possibly for effect. Then again, Veronica has never had much of a flair for the dramatic – at least, not enough to do something like that. Right?

She takes a deep breath, looks at her feet for a split second before meeting his gaze again. She's nervous for some unknown reason – and that alone is giving him second thoughts about who really is standing outside his suite. After all, Veronica Mars doesn't do tense or uncertain or any of those other plebian emotions.

Who the fuck does she have stashed outside? Another witness that can attest to his mother's death? The unfortunate diver who stumbled upon her water-logged and rotting corpse? A young girl who found her body under a pile of seashells?

"Logan?" A voice from his past, from days gone by, utters his name in a way that only she could. His eyes move past Veronica, wondering if maybe he's hearing things.

But then a slender figure moves into his line of vision. She's clad in a classy knee-length black skirt and matching cardigan and is wearing a black hat and sunglasses. Logan is overcome by a strong sense of déjà vu.

Seriously. That can't be his mother, right? It's just Trina or something, playing one of those laugh-at-your-brother-funny sorts of jokes.

"Mom?" The word escapes his lips involuntarily, and he wishes he could take it back. Fuck, he remembers how this turned out last time.

The woman slowly removes her sunglasses and nods her head. "It's me, honey. I'm here."

%%%-

Veronica watches the events unfolding before her, as if in slow motion. Logan seems both confused and surprised by this revelation – as she somewhat expected. She wanted to give him fair warning, tell him who was outside.

But, at the same time, she wondered if he'd believe her or even want to see his mom. After all, the fact that his mom was alive when his dad was charged with murder and statutory rape and alive when Logan was charged with murder, and she still didn't make any move to contact him or try to help him through those tough times? Won't be an easy pill for Logan to swallow.

Still, ever since Wallace's return, they've talked about everything that's happened since he skipped town with his dad. And Wallace has made her realize that maybe she wasn't being as fair to Logan as she should have been.

Not that he didn't deserve to have all of his random acts of violence go unpunished. But, still, Wallace has made her see that she lets Duncan get away with things that she would have crucified Logan for, and that maybe she owes Logan something of an apology.

Of course, she would never verbalize such a thing, but given the recent holidays – along with the fact that today is his eighteenth birthday – giving him a gift like this is easy enough to explain away.

Veronica watches Logan embrace his mom and then quickly steps into Duncan's adjoining yet empty bedroom. She may have been a part of this reunion, but that doesn't mean that she should be a third party overseeing their interaction. She could leave, of course, but she figures that Logan might have some questions for her after the fact, things that he didn't want to ask his mother. And he's the birthday boy, so it's the least she can do to stay and answer a few questions, she figures.

She perches carefully on the edge of her boyfriend's perfectly made bed and pulls her cell phone from her jacket pocket. Quickly, she messages Wallace – just thanking him and letting him know that things appear to have gone well. She tries not to overhear the conversation being held just past the oaken doors, but her inner private eye can't help but eavesdrop on the conversation – especially after Logan begins raising his voice.

She should have known that a peaceful reunion just isn't in the cards for them.

"Didn't you think that I might need you? That I would want to talk to you? That I'd want you by my side, to support me through the hell of this summer?"

She can't really blame him for asking that question – it's one she asked of Mrs. Echolls herself, when she first talked with her. Her explanation was convoluted and twisted. It didn't make much logical sense to Veronica, and she somehow doubts that Logan will be pacified by her explanation.

The one thing that is clear to Veronica after her conversations with the older woman is the fact that the twenty-odd years she spent married to Aaron did a fair amount of damage to her sense of self and her psyche. To Veronica, Lynn seems like a woman who left her family – despite the obvious trouble that would result from leaving Aaron as Logan's sole parent – simply because she didn't have the strength to stay any longer.

She suspects that she didn't come back after her husband's arrest for much the same reason. She just didn't think that she could handle the publicity, the paparazzi, the pressure.

Veronica knows that she never wants to be like Lynn Echolls – dependent on vodka and sleeping pills to get through each day, dependent on her partner for her sense of self. Rather, she craves independence, the way that she doesn't let anyone try to tell her what to do. She is her own woman, and damn anyone who gets in her way.

Then her gaze falls on a framed photograph of the Kane family, smiling happily together before Lilly's death. And she realizes just how much she has let both Duncan and her relationship with him define her sense of self.

That is going to have to change. Somehow, some way, she is going to reclaim the real Veronica Mars that has been hiding inside her for the past few months.

She'd rather fall off a bridge than turn into a shell of her self, than turn into a scared and empty woman like Lynn Echolls.

%%%-

"So I guess that was more of a surprise than I expected, huh?" he hears Veronica remark as the double doors to Duncan's room latch shut behind her.

"You could say that," he returns, his voice even and steady. "I mean, we saw footage of her body falling off the bridge. It still doesn't seem real."

"I thought it might almost be too much to hope for myself," she admits. "But when I saw a clip on your parents and their turbulent relationship on Entertainment Tonight - "

"You watch that crap?" Logan snarks, not trying to hide his laughter at all.

"I was channel surfing, dumbass," she returns, slapping his shoulder in such a way that it has him quirking an eyebrow. Is she flirting with him?

"Anyhow," she continues, "there was a mention of a PI that your mom hired to take pictures of your dad on set. I did a bit of research, pretended to be a rich and abused wife that just wanted to disappear and make it all go away, and the man just pretty much told me how he got your mom hidden away."

"So the woman from the tabloid, with the van?" he questions, wondering if such a crazy could maybe, possibly have been telling the truth.

"Your mom hired her to act like a crazy obsessive fan and tell what was pretty much what really happened, just so that her story would be immediately discounted by anyone with half a brain. And it worked - Sondra Boland was hardly someone that I felt comfortable building an investigation off of."

"What about the body we saw?" he interrogates further, wanting to fully understand how his mother had fled.

"Actually, it was just a black sleeping bag that she filled enough to make it resemble a body from a distance. But it wasn't something that would probably ever be tied to her disappearance should it be found. This PI that she hired – he was a sneaky, tricky man.

"I ended up finding her at a hotel in Santa Barbara, under the name of Dana Grason. That's – "

"That's the name of her one-line character in her first movie – from before she met my dad. Yeah, I know. She told me that much, actually. So I could go and see her if I wanted to."

"You going to go visit her yet before classes start up again on Monday?"

"Probably not. It's at least three hours to Santa Barbara. I don't think it's worth it."

"Why the hell am I not surprised?" Veronica asks rhetorically, scornfully. "Goddammit, Logan, you wanted so badly to know that she was alive – not even a year ago. And now, she comes back into your life, and you just want to forget that she didn't actually jump off the bridge like we originally thought."

"Yeah, I wanted to know what happened to her. She was my mom, and I thought she fucking loved me. But, no, she's just like everyone else in this godforsaken world. Who gives a fuck about Logan, anyhow, huh? I'm not worth hanging around for or loving or even coming back to, am I, Veronica?"

"You at least have a mother who wants to spend time with you!" she shouts, her face quickly flushing with the build up of her anger and rage as her hands ball up into fists at her side. "My mother fucking stole the money that Dad and I earned and walked out without a word. Your mom at least cares about you, loves you in some capacity. All my mom loves is her stupid fucking vodka."

She's shaking by this point – from rage, jealousy, or sadness. Logan doesn't have a clue as to what's really going through her head. Unsure of what to say, he tentatively places a hand on her shoulder, wondering if maybe she'll jerk away and avoid his touch like she's done so adroitly over the past few months.

Instead – much to his surprise – she leans into his touch, stepping closer to him until her head is resting on his shoulder and his arms are wrapped around her back. She's still shaking, but now laughter is bubbling past her lips, and he can't help but wonder what the hell has gotten into her.

"Veronica?"

"We're a fine pair, aren't we?" she questions. "Both of us thinking that we're better off without our weak-willed mothers."

He nods mechanically, not really knowing where she's going with this train of thought. Her assessment is certainly true, however.

"Whatever, I should be going anyhow," she finishes, carefully extracting herself from his embrace. "Happy birthday, Logan."

"Wait," he commands before he can think better of it. "Can't you stay for awhile yet? We can, like, watch a movie or something."

She cocks her head at him quizzically, and he wonders if she's realized the true intentions behind his request. After all, he isn't planning on telling her the real reasons why he wants her to stay – that he doesn't want to be alone on his birthday, that he doesn't want to spend another birthday haunted by memories of the ones he'd spent with Lilly.

Especially now. Especially after she's been revealed to be an all too literal father-fucker.

"Okay," she nods, acceding to his request without any questioning. "What do you want to watch?"

%%%-

"Who do you think you are in this movie?" Veronica asks as they are relaxing on the sofa and watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

"You're not suggesting that I'm Cameron, are you?" Logan responds, raising an eyebrow querulously.

A giggle escapes her mouth, almost against her will. "No, I definitely don't think of you as Cameron."

"Other than our shared fucked-up families, yeah. So, who then? Ferris?"

"It fits, don't you think? You do have a silver-tongued way of getting most everyone to do what you want. I mean, you're pretty much the king of Neptune High, with almost half the student population wanting to be you and the other half wanting to date you."

"And which group would you fit into?" Logan queries, a teasing grin on his face. Still, Veronica can see the genuine curiosity flashing in his eyes.

She has to admit that she's not as past her relationship with him as she's liked to believe she was. Her relationship with Logan was never easy – it was explosive and erotic and … endlessly frustrating.

She quickly found that the easiest way to deal with Logan is to avoid him, to not spend time with him, to just try to pretend that he doesn't exist so that she doesn't have to think about what he does to both her emotions and her libido. Even now that she's helping him with solving Felix's murder, she does what she can to maintain both a professional and personal distance between them.

Of course, right now that said distance is shot to hell, given the fact that she's seated beside him on the couch, with less than a fraction of an inch separating their bodies. And she knows that it's only that minuscule space that is allowing her to keep her wits about her.

After all, now that she's waken up to all of the problems that were inherent in her resumed relationship with Duncan, her attraction to Logan has been reawakened.

"Veronica?" Logan queries, nudging her arm gently to get her attention.

His mouth is parted slightly as he's probably wondering what she's thinking about. Her gaze is fixating on his lips, and she knows no good can come from that. Quickly, she glances down at his chest and her eyes stare in eager appreciation at the well-toned muscles that his tight shirt shows off.

She feels herself growing warmer, just from looking at him – not that she'd ever admit to it. She considers peeling off a layer to compensate, but given the fact that she's not wearing another shirt underneath her green tee shirt, she knows that that isn't be a good idea.

It's clear to her, from the sexual tension that is crackling between them, that even partial nudity around Logan will only lead to one thing.

Very good and very hot sex.

"Veronica?" he repeats, turning this time to fully face her, completely ignoring the movie playing in the background. He's gazing into her eyes, probably trying to determine what – exactly – is going on inside her head. He looks both curious – if not slightly worried – and incredibly hot. Like that's any surprise – physical attraction between them has never really been an issue.

Her decision made, Veronica simply says, "I'm fine, Logan," before reaching forward to plant a kiss on his lips.

He's understandably a little thrown by her sudden action, although she doesn't really know how he can be that surprised. After all, she's felt the sparks crackling between them with even the most innocuous contact between them. And now, she feels her nerve endings sizzle with each touch of lips on lips, hands over fabric, and fingers parting hair.

She could feel what minimal control she had over her actions slipping away from her like a raging river sweeping past. She knows that she wants this, now, with him, so she has no real reason to need to fight the heady sensations that are filling her body.

Her fingers slide unconsciously under his thin cotton tee shirt, and she loves the sensation of tracing his well-defined abs, of tracing her fingernails over and into the hills and valleys that surround each individual muscle.

"Wh – what are we doing?" he asks breathlessly, forcing himself to separate their bodies, which had become so very intertwined in such a short period of time.

"Shhh," she shushes him, covering his mouth with her own. "Don't ruin this with talking."

He gives into her kiss for a few moments, before he forces himself to stand and separate from her. She misses the heat, the electricity of their physical contact. She reaches for him, wanting to bring him back to her, but he just steps back again.

"I'm not going to fuck you while your boyfriend's away, just so you can get laid," he bites out tersely, and she can clearly see that it's taking almost all of his willpower to keep his voice even and his hands away from her.

"You think I just want to have sex, and you're here, and that's why I'm making out with you on the couch?"

"Veronica, usually you don't give me the time of day, let alone acknowledge that I'm worth spending time with. Yet, all of a sudden, after your boyfriend has been up in Napa for almost a month, you're kissing me, straddling me, and rocking yourself against me like you want to fuck my brains out. What the fuck am I supposed to think?"

"That I want you, you fucking moron," she responds with a roll of her eyes. "Trust me. You are in no way a Duncan-replacement."

She moves towards him – slowly sneaking across the leather of the couch, watching his eyes carefully to see his reaction. She's being honest with him – for once, so she can hardly blame him for questioning her true intentions. However, when she kissed him, thoughts of Duncan were the furthest thing from her mind.

She reaches for his right hand and pulls him back onto the couch beside her.

"I, Veronica Anne Mars," she begins, her voice solemn and serious, "want you, Logan Alexander Echolls, and no one else."

He nods, accepting her words as the truth. She feels silly, almost, that she has to convince Logan – a guy who's far more sexually experienced than she – to she really wants to have sex with him. Logan's practically the poster boy for anonymous, emotionally-detached couplings – at least, that's how he's been ever since Lilly died.

She doesn't have time to focus on that, however, as coherent thought flies out the window as his lips graze hers, teasing her and exciting her all at once. She knows what she wants – him – but she doesn't want to attack him for a second time in the span of five minutes. She probably already looks desperate enough, practically begging him to sleep with her.

He pulls back, and Veronica is forced to reconsider her stance on mauling him to get what she wants. What the fuck is going on with him?

"You're sure, Vee? This is what you want?"

She nods, feeling that words would seem almost trite. She considers herself to be a master of communication, of making her wants and needs crystal clear. She can't begin to describe to Logan just how certain she is that this is something that she just needs right now.

It's like it's an unfinished chapter of a book, something that she and Logan never shared during their time together. There were so many reasons that they told themselves and each other about why they decided to wait. She wasn't ready as she was still dealing with what had happened with Duncan. He wasn't ready, wanting to have a relationship that was different from all the purely sexual ones he'd had in the past. They weren't ready because they wanted to prove to themselves and to each other that their relationship was more than just animal attraction and scorching hot sex.

Looking back on the times that they spent together then, knowing what she knows now, Veronica thinks that the real reason that she held back and avoided going all the way with Logan was more because she was afraid. Not so much of the sex, not really. He cared about her enough and was experienced enough to do whatever was necessary to make it good for her. She was more afraid of her feelings for him, of simply her reaction to him.

With Duncan, things are safe and simple. She doesn't have to worry about being carried away, about getting in over her head in any situation. Duncan has never really excited her to the point where she completely loses control. And for a person like Veronica Mars, that stability, that safety net was very comforting.

With Logan, however, things were and still are exciting and erotic. During their summer together, she'd routinely lose sight of the world flying by around her while making out with him in the back of his XTerra, or while kissing him on her front porch, or even while walking hand-in-hand with him along the beach. Logan captivated her attention, drew her to him like a moth to a flame, and near the end, she began to fear that she was going to get burned.

Veronica doesn't want to be afraid. She wants to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She craves balance in her life, and she needs the pendulum of her life to finally start middling out.

As Logan's lips press sweet kisses to her face and neck, he pulls her handily into his arms before carrying her in the direction of his room.

"If we're going to do this, Mars, we're going to do this right," he says sternly, in a voice that brooks no argument. Still, she can see the question shining in his eyes, reminding her that it's still not too late to back out, to stop what they're doing here and now.

Wanting to reassure him, she meets his lips in a sweet kiss.

"Damn straight, this is right," she murmurs softly into his ear, as she feels laughter shaking within his chest.

Nothing has felt quite so right in a very long time.

%%%-

Logan is lying on his bed, stripped down to his boxers still staring in surprise at the blonde-haired beauty who is beside him, clad only in her cotton bra and panties. Certainly, this is a scenario that has played out in his dreams more times than he will ever admit to, but this isn't something he ever pictured actually happening, like, ever.

He's continually resisting the urge to pinch himself, just to double-check that he's not dreaming, but he doubts that Veronica will have any interest in sleeping with him should he show such unnatural tics.

Besides, if the jolt of fire that courses through his body with every kiss she lays on his all-too-sensitive skin is any indication, he is most definitely not sleeping.

He lazily traces his fingertips over the warm flesh of her stomach before trailing down her legs and gently feeling her wetness through her gray cotton underwear.

So wet and so soon? She wasn't fucking around when she said that she wanted him, wanted this.

He tosses his green silk boxers in some corner of his room before slowly removing Veronica's undergarments. He opens his mouth, wanting to double-check – well, more like quadruple-check, to be honest – that she is sure in what she's doing.

She, however, shushes him with a glance and a few choice words. "I know what I want, Logan. Fuck me, dammit."

She strikes a fuck-me pose – legs spread wide, arms posed, and lips pouty, and he has to resist the urge to laugh. Only Veronica – the once innocent Veronica-turned jaded Veronica – could make such an intentionally sultry position more humorous than erotic.

He reaches for a rubber from his bedside table, tearing the package open with his teeth before slipping it on. He moves carefully between her legs, kissing his way up her body – from her belly up to her forehead – before he slowly levers himself inside of her.

She lets out a gasp before too long, and her mouth forms into a tiny O, and he wonders what in the hell she's reacting to. He hasn't done anything yet, other than slip inside her hot, tight core, and there's so much more he still wants to do.

He corrals her tiny body between his arms, cradling her head in his arms, stroking her long blonde hair with his one hand, and absentmindedly tracing the curve of her shoulder with the other.

And then he starts to move, in and out, harder and faster, deeper and deeper, until he can feel her walls convulse around him, and she cries out, unable to keep her reaction bottled up inside herself.

"I love you, I love you, I love you."

The words spill unbidden from his lips, as he rains kisses down on her face, each phrase timed with the fan-fucking-tastic sensation that his movements are creating within him.

It's not much longer until he reaches his own release and tumbles down on top of her, his forearms no longer able to support his weight as he feels the reverberations of that heady feeling throughout his body.

His face is crushed against her own, and he feels a salty wetness there. Not sweat, but … something different. He carefully rolls onto his side, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tight. It's then that he sees the teardrops glistening on her cheeks.

"Shhh," he soothes, moving to kiss away a trailing tear. "It's okay, Veronica. You don't have to cry. Everything is going to be okay now."

She doesn't reply and instead lies stiffly in his arms, making him wonder if he's just made his biggest mistake yet.

But the allure of post-coital dreamland calls to him, and he can't hardly resist.

In the morning. They'll talk about this in the morning.

%%%-

Maybe an hour later, once she's sure that he's asleep, Veronica carefully moves to extricate herself from Logan's embrace, not wanting to wake him and make this awakening even more awkward and uncomfortable.

The sex had been great, yes, but they could hardly go back to what they had before, to who they had tried to be before.

"'Ronica?" he mutters in his sleep, reaching his arms out unconsciously for a body that was no longer beside him.

She holds her breath, hoping that he won't notice her disappearance and will slip back to sleep.

As of late, however, lady luck has not been on her side.

"Veronica, where are you going?"

She considers lying to him – I was just going to grab some food, Logan – but she knows that it would be for naught. They have the suite all to themselves, rendering her clothes pretty much unnecessary for anything but leaving.

"I'm going home. My dad's going to start worrying if I'm not home in the next thirty minutes."

Logan accepts this with a nod, likely remembering events that had transpired over this past summer. "Are you gonna come by tomorrow?"

"I don't think I should, Logan," she hedges, not wanting to have this conversation with him.

"We could go out somewhere, if you want," he offers. "Food, beach, theater – whatever."

"I – No, Logan. I don't think that's a good idea."

"So you don't want to spend time with me anymore , Veronica? What the fuck was this for then? I thought you said – swore even – that you weren't using me as a Duncan replacement."

"I wasn't, I didn't," she replies immediately. "It's just … things aren't as simple as they used to be. Shit, Logan, you said you loved me!"

"It's the goddamn truth, Veronica. Don't tell me you want me to start lying to you now."

"No, I don't. I just … I don't know what I want, what I need. Hopping from boyfriend to boyfriend isn't the answer – I know that much."

"But trying to reclaim your lost innocence, your lost youth is? For fuck's sake, Veronica, you may look the role of Duncan's girlfriend from freshman year, but that doesn't mean that you two even have anything in common anymore. Long blonde hair does not a docile angel make."

"I know that," she bites out, her distaste for his words and this conversation clear. "I'm not fucking stupid, Logan."

"No? When you chopped off your hair, it was this big 'fuck you' to pretty much everyone in Neptune. You didn't give a damn what people said about you, but instead just took every opportunity you could to make their lives – our lives – a living hell.

"Shit, Veronica, I'd rather have you fucking up my life than fucking with my mind."

"It's not that simple, Logan. I wanted you – you know that much. I thought it could be simple, just you and me, like we used to be. It's just, now I don't know what I want anymore."

"Yeah right," Logan snarks back sarcastically. "Fuck off, Veronica. And get the fuck out of my hotel room. Happy fucking birthday to me."

She wants to talk to him, make him see that she's not this evil, heartless bitch he's made her out to be. Except, she doesn't know what to say or how to explain herself.

So she leaves, as per his request, and wonders how the hell she's going to figure out what she's going to do.

%%%-

When Logan enters the halls of Neptune High the following Monday morning for the first day of class after the winter holiday, he tries to convince himself that he's not on the lookout for one Veronica Mars – not at all. Of course, she'd sent him a plain white card in the mail a few days prior, and he doesn't really believe that, not at all.

Inside the cards, she'd scribbled two words in her distinctive handwriting.

Thank you

Thanks for what? That question plagued the remainder of his break, making him wish that the Neptune School District didn't pander to the wealthy families that loved to take extended winter vacations and that classes had already started.

Logan nods at the friends he passes as he heads towards his locker, barely taking notice of the students he breezes past as he's keeping his eyes peeled for one tiny-yet-explosive blonde. He acknowledges his suitemate – and technically his best friend – before freezing at the sight he sees before his eyes.

First, he sees Wallace Fennell, high-fiving his way down the hallway, greeting friends and teammates as if he hadn't just been out of town for the past two months.

Even more amazing though, is the girl standing by his side, a blindingly happy smile on her face, as she swishes her new short blonde bob around her head. Sure, her haircut looks a bit more professional than the one she probably did herself the last time, but the concept is still the same.

The new Veronica Mars is back again, and she won't be putting up with much shit from anyone any longer – especially if the way she just ignored Duncan's attempts to get her attention is any indication.

Then her gaze meets his, and she smirks in his direction before mouthing 'thank you,' tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear, and continuing on down the hall with Wallace.

Logan doesn't know if he or Veronica will ever be happy, together. Hell, at this point, he'd settle for being happy in general.

Still, as he watches her saunter off towards her next class, he has to admit that she looks happier than she's been in a long time. Maybe she had a point when she told him that jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend wasn't the answer. Maybe she needed some time to be alone, to just be Veronica.

Maybe he needs some time alone, to just be himself and not think about girls.

He almost laughs at the thought – giving up girls and sex just to try to 'find himself' or some stupid shit like that.

She sends him a salacious smile when he walks into homeroom, and he's forced to reconsider yet again. After all, how fun would it be to play up the sexual tension between him and Veronica? How easy it would be invade her personal space and try to drive her up the wall?

It would be their own personal game of one-upmanship. And now that he's thinking about it? He can't wait to get started.

END

I fully admit that in "my" version of canon, Lynn Echolls is still alive - by the method described here. I think it's plausible! ... Maybe? ;)

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this piece and would love to hear any and all thoughts you might have to share. Veronica's always been one of the tougher characters for me to write in this fandom. I don't know why, but any critiques (or compliments!) that you might have would be greatly appreciated.

As always, reviews are love. Thanks for reading!