A/N 1: For all of those who love a good fluff-pilogue, this one is for you. Consider this my final love note to this version of Veronica and Logan and to all of those who have read, favorited, and followed this story. Much love, fandom friends.
Chapter 25: Epilogue
Residency proved to Veronica that she held a large number of misconceptions about the life of a doctor. The biggest shock came in her third-year of medical school when she discovered that instead of scrubs she would be expected to wear sensible shoes, button down shirts, and slacks. Sensible or not, after fourteen hours on her feet even shoes with the highest degree of orthopedic function were uncomfortable.
As a pathology resident Veronica understood she had it easier than most (emergency medicine or surgery? Lord help them) but being on-call was just as demanding for her specialty as the rest of her cohort. After six straight night shifts she was blissfully, finally, and thank the good-Lord done for the week.
Her first year as a resident required she be on call for eight weeks out of the year. Now in her third year that number was reduced to only five weeks and it surprised her how that slight adjustment greatly improved her quality of life.
As she walked up the short driveway she frowned up at the window of the second floor. The light to the kitchen was still on.
Logan had what she called a frustrating (and yet damn endearing) habit of trying to wait up for her the nights she was on call. He couldn't be talked out of it; even though many nights she'd walk into their townhouse and find him passed out on the couch with a stack of manuscripts on his chest. Often a highlighter was still in hand. No matter how hard she fought to get him to go to bed, she never won that particular battle.
Much like the battle that ensued over renting a townhouse in Palo Alto (her suggestion) rather than buying (his suggestion). Logan had poo-pooed the idea of renting before it was even fully articulated. His argument consisted of phrases like "investment" and "buyer's market" but what it came down to was a long-time dream deferred to share a house with her. She didn't have it in her to kill that dream. And since he was the one leaving his job and his support system to move north with her, she figured suffering though living in a beautiful townhome was the least she could do. She was just that good-hearted.
While she had missed him this past week, she still crossed her fingers he'd be asleep when she walked upstairs to the main floor. There was no reason for the both of them to be awake at four o'clock on a Sunday morning. The sound of two pots clanging together and something sizzling on the stove told her even before she walked into the kitchen that Logan was awake. And apparently cooking.
"Logan?" she asked, smiling at the sight of his sleep rumpled self, standing over the stovetop. "What are you doing?"
"It's nine o'clock somewhere."
She dropped her messenger back and keys on the kitchen counter and walked up behind him, hugging his middle as he finished mixing what looked like blueberry pancake batter. "Have you been up this whole time?" she asked.
He shook his head and she squeezed tighter, lacing their fingers together across his stomach. She'd really good and missed him. "I set an alarm."
"Do me a solid and throw some chocolate chips in there."
He turned around and held up a bag of chocolate chips, clearly poised to do just that.
Blueberries and chocolate chips? Jackpot.
"Seriously?" he asked, his tone affronted. "It's like you don't know me at all."
That statement warranted a snort. In their early months of living together, finding the perfect balance between openness and privacy was a struggle. Logan, she felt, wanted to know too much. He in turn thought Veronica wanted to conceal too much. After three years, though, Veronica could confidently say that while she didn't know everything about him she did in fact know him. And he her.
"I know you like it when I put a little swish in my step," she said, turning around with a flourish. Logan smacked her ass as she walked away. It shouldn't have but it surprised her and she fixed him with a glare that was half-serious.
"Ooh. Scary face." He tilted the spatula at her. "Pajamas and pancakes?"
On-call weeks were unpredictable but they always erred on the side of awful. This week was worse than most in part because it preceded Veronica using five of her guaranteed fifteen vacation days per year.
She'd already informed Logan the first day of vacation would be limited to intervals of sleeping and eating. He agreed but then deemed the other four to be part of Sex-a-Palooza. It was a title she couldn't get him to stop using. Nor could she convince him it wasn't funny. The twitch of her lips every time he said it surely didn't help.
Veronica changed into a pair of yoga pants and an old Northwestern sweatshirt. As she grabbed a pair of socks from their dresser, she knocked over a picture that set atop it. She righted it, taking a moment to trace the edge of the picture frame with a fingertip.
Getting her picture taken was a delicate matter in the two years after Devon's arrest. Whenever one of her classmates would pull out a camera she'd flinch. Having spent several years stalked via camera lens, it had taken a considerable amount of time to work through. The aversion made her feel weak. What kind of a trigger was having your picture taken?
And while Logan never explicitly mentioned her discomfort, he noticed everything. As she started her third year of medical school he'd flown out to Chicago to attend the school's white coat ceremony. There wasn't a way to avoid cameras there. At least five photographers were positioned throughout the ceremony site. She'd worked hard for that moment and some – guy – (Logan had taken to call him 'the fuckwad') wasn't going to take that away from her. So she had let her faculty mentor help slip on her white coat and smiled, locking eyes with Logan in the audience as she did.
The photo on top of her dresser was from the following year. It was of her and Logan on residency Match Day and it captured Veronica holding up her placement letter from Stanford.
Both her dad and Logan had flown out to Chicago in anticipation of Match Day. Northwestern thought it a grand tradition to gather at Gino's East, stuff their students with pasta, and take pictures as everyone in her residency class read their results.
While it was not how she wanted to find out where she'd be spending the next four years of her life, she ended the day thrilled that Logan and her dad had insisted on coming out for the event. Logan stood by her as opened the envelope and it was her dad who snapped the photo the moment she realized just what the letter said. The picture showed Logan tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, his face alight with wonder while Veronica appeared stunned. It took seven years longer than originally planned, but she was going to Stanford.
This same photo currently hung in her work locker and was the source of much confusion among her med students and co-workers that day.
This will be a fun one to explain to Logan.
She didn't think he would mind. In fact, she was almost certain he'd approve of the story and its implications for their future.
The slowly wafting scent of pancakes interrupted Veronica's revelry.
Pancakes. Sleep. Sex. Let the vacation begin.
She peeled out of the room, turning off the bedroom light as she rounded the corner. By the time Veronica returned to the kitchen Logan was pouring the batter onto the griddle. The hot butter on the surface created a satisfying sizzle sound and made Veronica realize just how long it had been since she'd eaten. From where she stood she counted at least six pancakes on the grill and the container of batter was still more than half-full.
"Are you sure you want me to eat all of that? It's gonna make my tummy puffy."
"We'll work it off." He managed to restrain himself from waggling his eyebrows, but she was certain the quick lick of his lips was purposeful.
Message received, processed, and accepted.
"So you're okay with me being all bloated for Sex-a-Palooza?" She clamped a hand over her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut, but not before she saw Logan's delighted expression.
"I knew you liked it. I was waffling between that and Sex-Stock. Thoughts?"
"I plead the fifth," she said.
"Pretty sure I could get you to talk. And then scream. And then -"
She cut him off with a groan and sliced her hand through the air. "Enough."
He shrugged in response, but his grin was too self-satisfied for her liking. She didn't know if she'd ever break him of his desire to get a rise out of her.
She poured each of them a glass of orange juice and watched as Logan purposefully flipped the pancakes and added a smatter of butter to the top of each one. The lines between his brows were knit with concentration and she thought she saw the tip of his tongue poking out between his lips. It was the same look she'd catch on his face as he played video games.
She took a deep breath and prepared herself for the potential awkward conversation before her. Maybe it'd be easier with his back towards her.
"Funny story," she said. She purposefully kept her tone light and conversational. "Well, at least I thought it was funny."
Logan snorted and threw a quick glance her way before looking back down at the griddle, stacking the finished pancakes on top of one another. "Is this really a funny story? Or are you trying to make sure my defenses are down?"
"Why would I want to make sure your defenses are down?" she asked. "You can't see me right now but I'm batting my eyelashes."
"Proceed." She waited until he finished pouring the batter onto the griddle and then turned around to face her, his expression expectant.
"You know that picture I have of the two of us in my locker?"
He nodded. His forehead creased the slightest amount as attempted to work out exactly where this story was going.
"Well one of my students saw it and asked who you were."
The way he smashed his lips together to hide his smile told Veronica he suspected where this was going. He turned around to flip the pancakes and then divided the six that were ready onto two separate plates. The aroma of melted chocolate chips was intoxicating and she looked forward to getting her twelve hour sleep off to a rousing start by weighing herself down with carbohydrates.
Likely he assumed this was about to turn into a hilarious 'Veronica, that girl be crazy jealous story.' He found those to be hysterical; stories of that variety weren't as rare as she would have liked.
You're wrong buddy. Just you wait.
Logan set a plate in each of their respective places but before he sat down Veronica clucked her tongue. At her look she cleared her throat and gestured towards the refrigerator with her chin. It took him a moment longer than usual to figure out what she wanted and when he did, he good-naturedly rolled his eyes. He pulled out a can of whipped cream from the fridge and wiggled it at her to see if he garnered her approval. She nodded enthusiastically and drizzled her pancakes with syrup.
Rather than sit beside her, he sat the can of whipped cream in front of her and leaned over the breakfast bar so they were eye level. "So this med student made an observation about what a pack of man candy I was?"
"Hardly. Anyone with eyes can tell you're a handful."
He pushed away from the counter and then held his hands up in a claw gesture, as if reaching for something with each hand. He squinted his eyes and she frowned, uncertain as to what he was doing. It wasn't an unfamiliar feeling.
"And you're about a handful and a half," he concluded.
"Hardy-har." Veronica fished a blueberry out of her pancake and threw it at him. Unfortunately she didn't get the satisfaction of catching him unawares. His damn reflexes were still sharp enough that he leaned a few inches to the right and caught the blueberry in his mouth.
Despite her obvious ire, that same dumb smug smirk was on his face and she couldn't help the laugh that bubbled out of her.
"So what did you say?" Logan asked. He took the long way around the island so he passed behind her. His hand trailed across her lower back as he pulled his seat out. It made her smile, these small reminders of how much he missed her when she was gone.
She waited until he took a drink of orange juice, his mouth full with the beverage, before she answered his question.
"I said you were my fiancé."
The effort of keeping the orange juice from spewing across the counter was evident. Though Logan managed to swallow it down, his eyes were comically large with surprise. "Did you now?" he managed to choke out. "And why did you say that?"
"It just slipped out. You know I can't be held responsible for the things I say."
"Mmm yes. You're definitely the sort to say things without thinking."
"That's right. Not a calculating bone in my body."
He grinned. "So why didn't you, I don't know, correct her?"
"That's where the story gets even funnier. You ready?"
He rotated in his seat so he faced her. She did the same, bumping their knees together. "I am."
"Well another student came into the locker room to deliver some test results I ordered and student number one left before I could explain. I guess she told a few people at the hospital who told a few other people –"
"Who told a few other people," Logan said. "I get the idea."
Veronica shrugged. "As you can see it was completely out of my control."
He was doing his best to sound indifferent, but as he swiveled back around and reached for the syrup Veronica saw the gleeful expression in his eye.
"So when is the blessed event?" Logan asked.
She smiled and cut off a bite of her short stack, spearing all three of the pieces onto her fork. "I'll send you an invitation." She doffed her fork to him in acknowledgment. The size of her smile rivaled his as she ate her pancakes.
For the better part of breakfast Logan and Veronica updated each other on the small details of their weeks. Whenever Veronica found herself on-call at the hospital those parts of their lives often had to be skipped.
Logan had signed a new YA author with a lot of promise. He was currently working on the pitch for the publishing house he thought was the best fit but his author was getting antsy. It happened a lot and, to Veronica, Logan's patience for the neuroses of his clients was unending.
"I was thinking," Veronica said, helping herself to the final piece of bacon on Logan's plate. "Check-in at the hotel is four but we should grab dinner first."
Logan wiped the corners of his mouth with his napkin. "Actually, I was thinking we could grab dinner here. We'd miss traffic into Santa Cruz if we left later."
"That doesn't make any sense. If anything we should leave here earlier then bum around for a bit before check-in."
"Or, option three, we get dinner with my friend Nathan and leave after?"
"Nathan? Who's Nathan? And you really want to start Sex-Giving by having dinner with your friend Nathan?"
Some combination of her indignation and the new name for their vacation made Logan almost choke on his breakfast. "Sex-Giving?"
The eyebrow waggle wasn't something she could pull off, but a faux-innocent shoulder shrug was firmly in her wheelhouse. "I just thought of it."
"It's good to be social, Veronica."
"Come on. He's a good guy. You'll like him." Logan's abrupt movement to push back from the counter surprised her. He cleared away both of their plates and scraped the remnants into the compost bin. "I think he's going through a hard-time though."
What's your angle, Logan?
"Is that so?" she asked, not caring to keep the suspicion out of her voice. He would tell her what was going on even if she had to tip him over.
"Yeah. Real good guy." His tone was light and breezy. Either he hadn't noticed she was glaring at him or he just wanted to take his buddy Nathan out for a night on the town.
Instead of spending alone time sexing his girlfriend? Nope. Doesn't compute. He's up to something.
"He and his ex are going through a messy divorce. She's threatening to sue for full custody. He's pretty sure the ex is being neglectful but he can't prove it."
Veronica stared at Logan's back as he cleaned the griddle.
Good guy. Nasty divorce? Neglectful ex? No eviden– Ah shit, Logan.
She balled up her paper towel, wetted the edge with water to add some weight, and tossed it at Logan. It landed square in the middle of his back and he turned around. His affronted face was rather believable but she wasn't buying his innocence schtick.
"Absolutely not, Logan. I don't have time to drive all across town following his ex."
"I know that," he said, rushing forward and taking hold of her hand across the breakfast island. "If you do all the grunt work, run the background checks and put a list together of places I should go, I can get the dollar-pic."
She smiled and then cursed herself for finding him so charming. "Money shot, and you know that so stop trying to be cute." As she mulled the idea over, both her schedule and Logan's suggestion for division of the labor, she weighed how much of a burden this would actually be. If Logan was willing to do the after-hours stuff, she could probably take care of everything else in just a few hours. "And you trust him?"
"Yes. I trust him."
"Dammit," she muttered under her breath. "Give me the damn file. I mean, I assume you have a file?"
"A few notes. It's paltry when compared to what someone with your intellectual prowess –."
"God. Spare me the ass kissing."
The bobble of his eyebrows was his way of asking if she truly meant that. Before she could respond with an emphatic 'yes' (and a less-emphatic internal 'maybe?') he walked out of the kitchen. When he returned he held a 6"x9" envelope. She assumed it would be filled with photos of the wife and kid but it was empty. Instead Logan had written a few relevant details on the back of the envelope.
The wife's home address. The name of her boyfriend. A list of places she liked to visit.
"You're a terrible private eye," she said, flipping the envelope around and squinting at Logan's scrawl.
"Well I'm your apprentice, so what does that say about you?"
"That I'm a sucker for a charity case."
A few minutes later Veronica was up in their room, wiggling out of her yoga pants and ready to tuck herself into bed.
She snuggled under the covers, listening to the sound of Logan in the bathroom brushing his teeth.
The year she'd spent in Chicago without Wallace was significantly harder than Veronica had anticipated. Somewhere along the way she'd become a person who relied on others. While she sometimes felt guilty that Logan had moved his life several hours north to follow her to her dream hospital, the companionship was nice. Even if they barely saw each other, having someone to share a cup of coffee and toast with was comforting.
Medical school began as a means to an end. It was something to get her out of Neptune. Then it became a matter of pure stubbornness as she refused to admit she'd made the wrong career choice. It was during her third year of medical school, during her hospital rotations, that it became something different.
Her patients were her cases. In place of background checks she had medical histories. With medicine her ability to compartmentalize was an asset. And whenever that ate away at her, she had her cadre of people that would listen to her frustration and at times her grief.
Now, though, she wasn't sure what was keeping her in the field. She had sixteen months left in her residency and then it'd be time to apply for medical examiner assistant jobs. Once that was over, there was studying for the ME certification exams. Thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt and she was already doubting she'd want to be in field for more than five years.
"Uh oh." Logan turned off the bathroom light and fan. The small change allowed stillness to settle over the whole of the room. She was that much closer to sleep. "Thinking deep thoughts?"
"Always." She took a deep breath and burrowed further into the blankets. The weight of the decisions she'd need to make in the coming years was making her even more tired.
"I could walk away from this." She mumbled the words into her pillow as Logan got into bed beside her. "All of it."
Even in her sleepy state she heard the panic that tinged the edges of Logan's question. If she wasn't so exhausted she might indulge him and talk him through his feelings. As it was she wasn't awake enough to have patience for it. Veronica rolled over and met Logan's stare. She pushed his face away and rolled her eyes.
"Not you, dumb ass. Even if I tried to pull a runner you'd track me down, pee on my porch, and claim it as your own."
Logan's face cleared of all anxiety. They were both works in progress. Veronica continued to work at being more open with her reassurance and Logan at not relying on her quite as much.
"Actually I'd use one of your moves and put a tracker on your car." He trailed a finger down her back and snapped the band of her underwear.
Veronica pressed her face back into her pillow but scooted her body to be a few inches closer to Logan.
"So?" He asked. "What could you walk away from?"
Veronica took a deep breath and sat up, kneading her pillow into the right position. She lay back down and turned her face towards Logan. "The doctor thing. I'm pretty sure."
She expected him to be surprised or at least taken aback, but he didn't have any visible reaction. He offered a slight nod of acknowledgment as he processed her words. "What would you do instead?"
That's the question, isn't it?
She shook her head into the pillow. "Not sure. Something with forensics? I hear the FBI is looking for a few good women."
Logan reached behind him to turn off the bed-side lamp but not before she caught his small smile. "I know an agent who would be delighted by that idea."
"Yeah." She yawned as she spoke, making her voice sound deeper than normal. "Don't know though." She groaned, squeezing her eyes shut.
"Student loans. Oh god. The loans."
"Overwhelming, especially when added to the cost of our upcoming nuptials." It was only half a joke. A carefully orchestrated way for him to gauge how serious she was about the whole fiancé business. He was showing her the door to the escape hatch, but she didn't want to go through.
She cupped his cheek, brushing her fingers across the stubble along his jawline. "Around Christmas could work. We'll already be in Neptune. Pop on down to City Hall?"
Logan swallowed and turned his face more fully into Veronica's palm. "Yeah," he said, his voice just the slightest bit raw. "That sounds perfect."
She smiled as he pulled her closer. It wouldn't surprise her if he already had a ring hidden somewhere.
"As for your student loans," he whispered. "Maybe there's someone willing to put you on a very generous payment plan."
She was tired, but not so tired she'd agree to something dumb like that. It was an ongoing conversation and she didn't presently have the mental acuity to even contemplate what it would mean if she accepted Logan's help. "I can't have this conversation right now."
"I think this is a perfect time to have this conversation. I could probably get you to agree to anything with a few whispered suggestions." She tried to hold in her smile as he kissed the shell of her ear. "While I have you here might I interest you in a suspended congress?"
"Go away," she laughed, pushing his face away again.
He chuckled and kissed her cheek quickly before putting a few inches of space between then. She loved Logan like this – happy, content, and not waiting for the moment to be pulled away. She liked both of them like this.
"Well, you've got time to figure it out," he said. Logan turned on his side, facing her. She moved closer so he could wrap his arms around her.
She nodded against his chest, her eyelids drooping. The pancakes were doing their job, sitting heavy and warm in her stomach. She hadn't slept in close to twenty hours and the smell of Logan's soap was a familiar comfort.
And, holy shit, I sort of proposed to him.
Life would never afford them perfect moments, but this was one of the good ones.
"Yeah," she agreed. "We've got time."
A/N 2: Thank you to every single person who has read even one word of this story. Thank you to all those who were a part of this fic from the time the first chapter was posted and those readers I found along the way. You all made my introduction into writing for Veronica Mars all joy. I've grown as a writer, grown as a storyteller, and have absolutely grown in my confidence as a person. So, again, thank you all!
A/N 3: And I feel so blessed to have written this story because through it I met scandalpants - a delightful human, wise beta, and now a dear, dear friend. Your insight has made this story better. Absolutely. Thank you for your kindness and your honesty. Knowing you is a gift.