Characters/Pairing: Logan, Veronica, Wallace, Troy, Cherry Winslow (OC), Annabelle Bonham (OC), Logan/Veronica
Rating: NC-17 overall; this chapter, R
Word Count: 2,465
Summary: Veronica works on the case of the stolen diary, unaware that Logan and Wallace are independently working on it as well. Throughout the investigation, Veronica and Logan are coming to terms with their relationship.
Spoilers: References sprinkled throughout to events in seasons one and two. The only nod to season three is that she's working at the library; she definitely still has the LeBaron because I hate the Saturn. It is sooo not Veronica Mars.
Timeline: I conceived of this story before season three started and this is the way I had hoped Veronica would be with Logan, so although this story takes place around early season three, it is not canon beyond the end of season two. So, yes, Wallace's roommate does not exist in my universe.
Disclaimer: Rob Thomas, Warner Brothers, The CW, they own ... not I. This is just for fun, not profit.
Notes: (1) I would like to give huge thanks to my group of amazing betas who reread chapters multiple times and did so much to make this story a thousand times better than it would have been without their generous help. I am so very, very grateful for all you've done: Sowell, Polartruckin (Belinda), JaneDtwo and SeluciaV (Alli), you are all beyond awesome. (2) ~italics~ indicate what would be Veronica's voiceovers on the show. (3) Like Veronica Mars, I am fond of titles that are pun-laden and/or derived from pop culture sources. The story title is a take on the 1955 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, To Catch a Thief. All chapter titles will be similarly pun and/or pop-culture related. If you're so inclined, guess the reference.
Chapter 1: Sorry Seems to Be the Easiest Word
"Mmm," Veronica moaned as his fingers pressed into the arch of her foot. "You're the bestest boyfriend ever." She sighed with eyes closed and then immediately shot one open to meet his expression, surprise mingled with wariness. "Write that down." A tone of mock gravity entered her voice. "You may never hear me utter such words again."
His surprise drifted away, the wariness fading into resignation. Veronica almost spoke again, wanting to erase the unanticipated sting her levity had caused. A trivial, reassuring platitude ran through her mind, but a wry smile played across Logan’s face now and his eyes were warm and gazing at her with affection. Trivial wasn't them, far from it. She smiled back at him and closed her eyes once more. When Logan resumed massaging her aching feet, she told herself that his initial reaction had been one born of years of being second choice … or no choice at all to those he cared about. He knew how important he was to her, all jokes aside. He had to know by now.
"Veronica, it's a library. How can they need you this much?" Logan asked for the hundredth time as he switched to her other foot. "On top of school, the work you do for your dad and those little side cases that you convince yourself your dad doesn't know about -- and don't give me that look," he added quickly as both her eyes shot open, alight with suspicion. "I haven't told him anything ... despite his less than subtle grilling." Logan pulled back slightly and shook a finger at her. "You're just lucky that I've been arrested so many times and have learned how to resist the mental torture that passes for interrogation in law enforcement."
"Hah!" She snorted. "Don Lamb isn't capable of anything that involves the word 'mental' unless it's a euphemism for insanity." They shared a quick smile at the expense of the local sheriff and then she wiggled her foot in Logan's direction. He took the hint. ~Bestest boyfriend ever, indeed~, she thought to herself as his magic fingers went back to work.
He maintained a steady gaze on her face, biting his bottom lip softly; she looked away, finding herself suddenly skittish. She wondered about what he wasn't saying; knowing Logan, he was trying to control the urge to say something he knew he shouldn't. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to know. ~Still ... ~, she thought with a sigh. Rolling her eyes, she nudged at his hip with her foot and met his gaze: "Spill."
He hesitated a moment longer and then spoke softly and carefully, couching his thought in formal terms. "I've been questioned a time or two by your father on matters concerning law enforcement as well." Veronica looked away again and rather wished that she hadn't pushed it. ~Note to self~, she thought as she closed her eyes and the sound of silence screamed around them, ~when Logan Echolls is biting his tongue instead of unleashing his wit and wisdom upon the world, it's best to let him keep quiet. After all, what girl wants to remember that not too long ago, her father would have been more than happy to have that bestest boyfriend ever locked up multiple times over? ~
"Hey," he broke into her thoughts, "sorry." And he was smiling that almost-shy smile that never failed to make her heart quicken just a little. She shook her head and offered him a smile of her own, one that she knew did a fine job of returning the favor. "Sooo," he dragged the word out slowly. "All those shifts at the library? You need a break."
Her smile dying, Veronica pulled her feet away and sat up. "Logan, I'm spending as much of my time with you as I can, more than I should if you go by complaints about lack of daddy-daughter time, and Wallace has been hinting that his BFF-time is seriously lacking as well." Her voice tightened slightly as she sent a sideways glance his way and added, "I'm also spending time with you when I should be studying, so just … drop it."
With a soft laugh, tinged with bitterness, Logan stood up. "You think this is me complaining about what I want?" He ran fingers through his already tousled hair. "Unbelievable," he mumbled. Blowing out a frustrated breath, Logan continued. "You think --" and then he broke off. "Look, I know that you spend what time with me you can." His voice dropping again, he muttered quietly, "I didn't know it was such a burden." He said it more to himself than her, but Veronica heard it nonetheless.
"Hey! I didn't say that!" she protested as she shot to her feet as well.
"Fine, look, Veronica, I'm just worried about you." He threw his hands in the air, brushing his own concern away like too much smoke, the son of show people to the end. "Yes, I know, a concept nearly impossible to consider: Logan Echolls not being a selfish ass." He lowered his voice and his expression softened as he looked at her. "You're tired, you're exhausted. You’ve been a complete," he paused slightly, "grouch because you're so tired. You don't have time for your dad or Wallace or studying and it's not because you're spending it all with me. It's because you're going to college full-time and then on top of that working thirty to forty hours a week." He reached out to lightly take hold of her shoulders. "I'm worried about you."
Her defensiveness deflated; in the back of her mind she knew that she was being unfair to automatically assume the worst of him. One of these days he was going to call her on it and not back down. Thank God, that day wasn't today, because he was right. She was so very tired. ~If exhaustion wasn't a great excuse for being a bitch, what was? ~
"I'm sorry, look, I know," she all but whispered as she leaned towards him. "But I need the money. My car is falling apart," she fought a grin as his face broke into a smile, a not-so-nice quip about her beloved LeBaron on the tip of his tongue. "Leave my car alone, I love it. It just needs some extra ... care." Leaning more towards him, she grasped his shirt and tugged slightly. "And that's why I need the money. And saving up is never a bad idea." She smiled, adding brightly, "Plus, we can't all be filthy rich."
"Well, lucky for you I am. So why won't you just let me pay for the repairs to that hunk of junk you laughingly refer to as a moving vehicle, at least?"
Veronica pulled back, "I don't want your money, Logan." Her voice dropped quietly. "I'm not ..." She trailed off with a sigh, her gaze falling away from his. She wanted to make this clear, but she didn't want to hurt him; it wasn't his fault. He was accustomed to a certain lifestyle and it was unnecessary to punish Logan just because his mother was a coward and his father, a psychopath. Her eyes closed briefly and then she took a deep breath before continuing. "It has nothing to do with you, but the idea of his money paying for any large expense on my behalf ..." Veronica looked at him. "I'm sorry, I just -- I can't." Logan was silent for a moment and she could see him fighting the hurt her words caused. "Logan, it's not you; it's not even the wealth ... it's him. After everything he's done ..." Her voice trailed off meaningfully and Logan sighed, his features tightening. Reaching out, she rested her palm against his face in a soft caress. "Hey, I'm not judging you. There's no conflict of interest for me. Despite all he's done, he's still your dad." She leaned closer and grasped his forearm. "It's not you." Peering up at him, Veronica's eyes searched his. "Okay?"
Finally, he nodded and then grumbled lightly, "It's my mother's money too," and Veronica knew that was the case. That summer they'd discovered that an entire collection bought by Lynn Echolls on a whim for mere thousands was now worth millions. "Yeah, look I get it. He means just one thing to you, but for me, yeah, I figure he owes me, you know?" He laughed self-deprecatingly. "And you don't say it, but I know that you don't want me, I don't know, buying you, whatever. Big bad 09ers and all of the shit we put you and your dad through. I know; I get it. I just want to do things for you. Make life easier, you know?" Rocking back on his heels slightly, he sighed. His hands went into his pockets as he looked at her with those beautiful puppy-dog eyes.
Stepping forward, Veronica moved right up to him and looped her arms around Logan's neck. Leaning up, she pressed a light kiss to his mouth, their eyes meeting. Sighing, she rested her head against his chest as he gathered her close. He was trying so hard and she knew it. Trying to say, do the right thing and not send her running again.
"Yeah, I – look, I overreacted. My bad," And she wondered how many times the two of them expressed some form of regret per conversation. With a mental shake, she pushed the thought away. "Anyway, back to the matter at hand. This overtime won't last long, just a couple of more weeks. My supervisor swears she has a couple of English majors lined up to start working at the library. So soon enough, I'll be back to twenty-hour week shifts. I promise. Light hours, school, some daddy-daughter time, quality BFF hang-outage and I'm all yours, exhaustion-free and in a much better mood." She smiled broadly.
"And those little cases that seem to pop up weekly that I have to keep lying about to your dad?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
She feigned her best look of innocence, "Why I haven't been asked to do any little favors in at least two weeks."
Pulling back slightly with a grin, she stood on her tip-toes to deliver another kiss as a means of distraction. One kiss turned to another with a lot less ulterior motive … and a lot more tongue. Leaning into him, she opened herself up thoroughly to his advances. So consumed, Veronica didn't even notice their movement and then suddenly the door was at her back.
One of Logan's hands moved up to curl sinuously about her neck, the other slipping to her bare leg as he pushed her skirt up. Breaking from his kiss with a gasp, Veronica met his gaze, a smile curving her lips. He grinned back wickedly as he pressed his body firmly to hers, thrusting his hips against hers in a quick motion. Her eyes drifted shut as he dipped his head, his breath warm upon her neck, his tongue laving at her earlobe. "Veronica," he murmured her name before his lips once more found hers, ravishing her mouth, stealing her breath. Driving her fiercely against the door, Veronica moaned at the feel of his hard heat pressed against her. ~God, yes, Logan! ~
"Logan," she panted between ravenous kisses, her senses reeling as his hands slid under her blouse, skimming under her bra to cup her breasts. "Yes," she hissed as their lips parted. Her head fell forward to rest on his shoulder and she pressed against him, her fingers entangled in his hair, her nails digging into his scalp as she bit his shoulder, standing on the tips of her toes to get as close as possible.
Suddenly, Backup's sharp bark pierced through the air, bringing a startled gasp out of Veronica, her head rising quickly as Logan's hands stilled on her breasts. Breathing heavily, they shared a quick grimace of thwarted passion and she turned to look down at her meddlesome pit bull. "Backup!" She scolded softly and then straightened suddenly in Logan's arms at a loud knock on the door.
A whimper escaped from her and Logan groaned heavily, his head dropping to rest lightly on her lowered one. They were still and silent and Veronica hoped fervently that whoever was on the other side of the door would just leave. ~Now! ~
Sighing, Veronica slipped her arms from where they rested around his shoulders and pushed lightly at his chest. Letting out a frustrated sigh, Logan stepped away. With a downward look at his evident erection, he shook his head and walked around the kitchen counter.
Clearing her throat, Veronica took a deep breath as another, more timid knock came. "Just a second!" She called out, unable to keep the irritation out of her tone. Arranging her clothing properly, she threw an apologetic look to Logan and with one more quick moment spent composing herself, turned to open the door.
On the other side was a young woman Veronica didn't recognize. She was petite (~And yet I still win the contest as the most petite -- as in not short -- girl in all of Neptune~, she thought with an inner sigh). She was also very pretty with glossy chestnut curls. The ideal image of a Stepford wife in the making, she had bright lip gloss and perfect make-up that meshed nicely with her pale pink sweater and mid-thigh pleated skirt of darker pink and moss green checkers. The girl had a face made to smile with all the pep and perk in the world. Except she wasn't smiling and as she nibbled her lower lip with her cheerleader-bright teeth, Veronica had a sudden premonition.
"You're Veronica Mars," she said, rather than asked. "Hi, I'm Cherry Winslow. I go to Hearst and I'm really sorry to bother you at home, but I got your address from Wallace." Out popped the smile and, while her eyes were downcast, it still offered some solid pep. "I'm a cheerleader; he's on the basketball team …" Her voice trailed off. "Of course, you know that." And then her voice picked up speed. "Look, I didn't want to ask you on campus because I didn't want it to get back to Annabelle, but ..." she paused again and looked furtively over her shoulder.
Veronica could hear Logan moving behind the counter, well aware that from his vantage point he could hear every word the girl said; she stiffened, knowing what was coming. For a moment she had the brief hope that she was wrong about the cheerleader … but no banana.
Once Cherry Winslow turned back to face Veronica, she continued without missing a beat.
"I need a favor."