Word Count: 4,478
Pairing/Character: Logan/Veronica, Veronica
Rating: R (for language and slight sexuality)
Summary: Veronica decides to not wait and see this time.
Spoilers: Post-Season One with my speculation that Aaron committed the murder.
Notes: Thanks to Wynn for helping me make this better than it was.
Disclaimer: UPN, Rob Thomas, et al. They own these characters.
The red dress.
In a way it was really the only choice. The dress, the color the affirmation of the girl she had become, the girl that Lilly had tempted to shine. While Veronica had spent the last two years facing life's harsh realities head-on with a ready quip and smile made of jade, she had made little foray into facing the demons of her own reality. Believing in a Mary Sunshine reality return once the underbelly she had exposed was healed, she had blinded herself to how she would fit into her own life once the pieces fell back into place. And now here she was, a few years older, a few years wiser and harder and the pieces had fallen, more or less, into place and yet, funny, neither Mary nor Sunshine was heading her way.
She had played the game of being the Veronica who was Lilly's best friend, Duncan's girlfriend with Troy and Leo. With her father, her dream of Lianne's return she had been Veronica, the Sheriff's daughter. In her heart of hearts, the home life, the romance she dreamed of, she had been the Veronica who believed in a happy ever after. She played it nice, played it safe and believed that she could be that Veronica again - the hard shell gone, all marshmallow for the world to see. And she had played that role once the world spun on its head again when she began dating Logan Echolls. Playing a role that believed happy ever after involved pink hearts and puppies frolicking in the grass, sunshine and Mary with her little lamb. And then the truth came out about Lilly's death and he was gone. And Veronica, the girl she had been, was left in the dust once more.
It was the sudden news, delivered with a wary look from Weevil, that Logan had returned from his European summer holiday that had slaughtered the lamb. And she had decided that Veronica Mars was going to have her happy ever after, damnit, but it was going to be the happy ever after of the girl she had become, a happy ever after with crimson hearts and Backup attacking the perp, rain falling and Veronica with her taser gun.
So the red dress it would be.
The red dress and her blond hair, blown-dried tousled curls, falling in loose waves around her shoulders, flowing over her shoulder blades. The red lipstick matched her strapless dress. She walked with a confidence she was determined to project in the three-inch red heels across the mausoleum that was the Echoll's home. Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the slightly ajar door of the home gym and stepped in. And held the breath she had just taken.
He lay upon his back, his eyes closed as he lifted the barbells up, lowered them, up and down again. The muscles in his arms flexed. Eyes widening as they ran over his entire body, clad only in a pair of jeans, Veronica couldn't help but note that he had been busy over the summer if the sculpted shape of his body was any indication. Lifting the weights once more, he set them upon the rack and sat up, his abdomen contracting as he exhaled and inhaled slowly. The weakest of whimpers escaped from her. Very busy.
"Veronica." Her eyes flew to meet his face and he was staring at her, that familiar look of heat and vulnerability, passion and pain mingled in a glorious cacophony devouring her. Standing up, he stalked towards her, his bare feet making no sound, his gaze traveling slowly down her body and then up and the rush of blood burning inside her body heated her skin just by the fire in his eyes. Her chin rose, and the determination that had brought her here roared to life.
She opened her mouth to speak, say his name, say something, but her throat was dry and time lay suspended between them, her lips parted and then his mouth crashed down upon hers. His arms were around her and her fingers were clenching into the skin of his bare back. Their hands pulled and pushed, running hungrily over one another as their breath became one and their bodies moved in tandem, developing a rhythm. She pushed tightly against him, feeling the rasp of his jeans against her flesh.
He pulled away slightly, his hands cupping her face, and she moaned softly in the space before his lips descended upon hers once more. Raining whisper-soft kisses upon her mouth, his tongue rushed in, dancing with hers. Her fingers lost themselves in the strands of his hair as she pushed herself closer and closer yet against him, trying to become one with him. Her fingers fell away from their tousling and her arms locked themselves about his neck as she reached up, her heels off the ground.
"Oh," the exclamation was sharp enough to burst the haze that surrounded them. "I, excuse me." Logan raised his head and Veronica greedily took in the beauty of his features as he stared past her. He stepped back and Veronica tore her gaze from him and smiled awkwardly at the maid who hovered nervously at the door, a bottle of Evian in hand. "You asked for …" and she held up the water.
Walking over, he wordlessly took the bottle and then looked over his shoulder back at Veronica, his gaze burning. His lids closed, and the smallest of shudders ran through his body and then he turned back to the maid. "Thanks." He paused, his head bent and then in a lowered tone, he continued. "I'm going to my room. Don't disturb us." The woman nodded and began to leave when Logan spoke again. "And do not tell my sister I'm even here." One more pause. "And don't mention," he pointed toward Veronica without looking her way, "her."
There was another nod and she left the room. Veronica was quiet. As was Logan. And then he turned and looked at her once more. That sardonic smirk she knew so well curved his lips. "Well, we best hurry before my dearest sister happens upon us and assumes that we've been using my dad's home gym as a fuckground."
Veronica pushed open the door all of the way, finding Logan pacing in the middle of his bedroom, his fingers flexing open and shut. She eased the door behind her and was quiet. He stood still at the sound of the shut and slowly turned to face her. She could time the beats of silence that followed as their gazes locked by the beating of her heart. And then in that explosive way of his, he was moving, heading towards her and she was gathered up in his arms before she could count the next beat.
Before his lips could brush against hers, her lips were parted, her arms wrapping about his neck as she thrust herself against him giving as much as he was taking. There was no hesitation, no holding back in his kiss as he pushed his tongue inside her mouth, a ravishment, staking his claim as he ground his hips urgently against hers. She couldn't think, she couldn't breathe; all she could do was hold onto him. His hands moved from her face, her hair, sliding down her dress, his palms shaping her backside as he lifted her up. She breathed his name as he pushed her against the door.
As if her saying his name broke something within him, he pulled away, set her down and stepped back, but he didn't look away from her. "I have to take a shower," he said.
"Taking matters into your own hands, Logan?”
A quick grin flit across his face, "Something like that."
Veronica leaned against the door and smiled. "By all means, Logan, take a shower. Take your time. I'm not going anywhere." She stretched, arching her back, watching Logan watch her. "I've got all day."
Jamming his hands in his pockets, Logan let out a slight laugh and then there was that smirk she had missed. "What, no cheating husband to catch with his pants around his ankles? No dog-napper to deliver to the hounds of hell? No movie-star murderer to destroy?"
Veronica’s stomach dropped at the bitterness in his voice. She closed her eyes, thisclose to walking out of his room, out of his life, thisclose to giving up on her crimson-colored happy ending when he said, "Veronica, I'm sorry. The son-of-a-bitch deserved it." She opened her eyes. Pain clouded his face with the same gray as his voice, but only for a moment. The slick 09er mask slid back into place as he said, "I'm going to take a shower. Leave. Or don't. It's your choice."
My choice, she thought, looking down, she smoothed the red dress that Lilly had chosen; she took a deep breath. Veronica had made her choice when she put it on. Plastering another smile on her face, she locked gazes with him. "Logan, I'm one step ahead of you."
She had managed to avoid the image of him in the shower while she wandered about his room, distracting herself by snooping a little bit more than she should have. Of course, standing just to the left of the bathroom when he turned the water off shot that avoidance to hell quickly enough. Before she could even tell her brain to stop, she was imagining him stepping out, naked, wet and undeniably gorgeous. Exhaling softly, she decided that sitting down would be a good idea right about then since her legs had decided to suddenly turn to jelly.
So Veronica was sitting primly when Logan stepped out of the bathroom. Decidedly not dressed. Unless, one counted the towel -- a boring white -- wrapped around his hips. And, surprisingly, the white was really not such a boring color when contrasted against his tanned skin. Veronica decided in that moment that white was her new favorite color.
"Sorry." He shrugged. "I didn't bring any clothes in there with me." She nodded and noted that he didn't make a move to actually retrieve clothing at this time. She made another decision; she didn't mind. Near-naked Logan was fine by her. He glanced around his room, seeing a new form of disarray. "Find anything of interest? Hidden cameras? Secret spy pens? The mysteries of the universe solved?"
"Unless you consider one of the universe's mysteries just how many issues of Hustler a boy can stuff under his mattress," she quipped.
With a mini-salute, Logan offered a sarcastic smile, "One can never be too prepared. That's me and the Boy Scouts of America." Then the smile faded to a probing stare and his gaze hardened. "Cut to the chase. What the hell are you doing here, Veronica?"
"I wanted," she began and then stopped. The girl she'd become didn't deal with her heart like this; she didn't have to because the girl she'd become didn't have a heart. And so Veronica was at a loss, what did she say? How did she say it? With honesty? Sarcasm? A winning smile and a Southern belle accent? Standing up, she walked to the window and looked out, her eyes squinting against the sun's brightness. If she was searching for answers in the shine, she was doomed to disappointment.
"You know what I want?" Logan asked and she could hear the sneer, but it wasn't real, there was no venom, just a lurking pain and hope that she braced herself against because when that mixture of pain and hope appeared, it was Logan at his most honest. "To tear your clothes off and," he paused and she held her breath as a soft gentling colored his next word, "take you till you scream." A sardonic laugh followed then, "Thus the shower. But what the hell? We broke up, you betrayed me … again. I left you, I left this and you," and that pause again, the gentling of his tone, "what happened to you." And then the sneer was gone as was the hope and there was just pain. "I don't know how to deal with you, Veronica."
She was silent for a moment. "What happened to me? What happened … Lovely euphemism for rape." She paused, eyes focused still on the sunlight streaming in through the window. "I'm fine with what happened to me, Logan."
She nodded. "Yes.”
"Why can't you look at me then?"
Bowing her head, she marveled as she felt the pull of a genuine smile. Way to make a girl forget her pain, she thought, as the image of him standing etched a doodle in her brain. "Logan," and she laughed, giggled actually. Turning to look at him, the giggle faded and she repeated his name softly, "Logan. You," she looked up, searching for the words, but her quick wit and bag of quips were nowhere in sight. "You're standing there, wet, in only a towel and you are," shaking her head slightly she finished with a fleeting glance in his direction before looking upward, "hot."
Stealing a quick glance at the sudden flash of an arrogant smile on his face, she grinned herself and turned to look out the window once more. "But your hotness, naked, wet or otherwise, is not why I'm here," she paused and allowed a wry smile to curve her lips, "well, only in small part." A menagerie of clouds drifted over the glare of the sun and as if the gloom pervading was a reminder, her smile faded once more and she continued, aware of but unable to dissipate the thread of pain and fear in her voice. "When Duncan dumped me, I just took it. I never confronted him, never flat-out asked him why. Hell, I never even danced around the issue. I used Lilly as a go-between and I didn't fight for him, for us, for anything. I just took it. He dumped me, then Lilly died, then you turned against me completely and the curtain was ripped away from the beautiful fantasy of life that I had thought was real. And I had never fought to keep it alive. I had just accepted it. Because that's what Veronica did."
"I don't understand what that has to do with --" he broke off and she waited for him to finish, but all that followed was a ragged breath.
"Logan," and now she turned to look at him because she needed to see his face, look into his eyes; she needed to know that he understood her, could feel what she was saying, what she was feeling. "I'm not that Veronica anymore and I'm not going to just accept the end of the fantasy without fighting for it. Because it was beautiful and I let it turn into something ugly without a fight. I didn't confront Duncan, hell, I didn't even confront you. I just took it, waited to see what would happen. Well, we both sure as hell know what happened."
She sighed and leaned back against the window before continuing, a softening in her tone. "And now us, whatever we were building in those days, those brief minutes that seemed to last forever, they were a different kind of beauty. And I didn't know, I still don't know, if you've spent the last three months turning that beauty into something ugly. I don't know if you hate me, if you've planned for this year to be a repeat, times ten, of last year. But I," she paused to take a breath and in that breath he spoke.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"No, I treated you -- " he broke off and then continued in a rush. "I was such an asshole. What I did to you, the taunts, the hate I spread …" he trailed off as she shook her head.
"No, Logan, we both hurt each other. I hated you, you hated me but we both know where that came from. When Lilly died, when what happened to me, when the fantasy died, I chopped my hair off and told the world to go fuck itself. You just --" It was her turn to stop and helplessly she gazed at him.
Finishing for her in a soft voice, "told you to go fuck yourself."
Veronica nodded. "I blamed the world; you blamed me. Your pain and betrayal were just more concentrated than mine. You hurt me, Logan. I won't lie and say you didn't; I hated you like I didn't know I could. I dreamed of ways to torture you, I wanted to see you on your knees begging for forgiveness." She laughed with a remembered viciousness. "You have no idea how many fantasies I had that involved the abject humiliation of Logan Echolls. But,” she shook her head briskly, snapping herself back to the present. “That's in the past. It's over; we've dealt and moved on. We wouldn't be here, if we hadn't, right?” He nodded and cocking her head to the side, she smiled softly. “And hey, you didn't have all the fun; I got a few kicks in.” Again, he nodded, a wry smile on his lips now.
"Logan, I just simply refuse to continue to hate you for what happened when we both lost whatever innocence still remained." His smile faded and she sighed. Biting her lip, Veronica closed the door on their past. Revisiting a topic they'd beaten to death three months ago accomplished nothing now. "Look, I'm not here to re-examine our dysfunctional history. It's clean slate time. You fucked me, and I did the same to you," a smile once more curved her lips as the words left her mouth and she added at the quirk of his brow, "Figuratively speaking, of course."
"Does your smart mouth ever take a break?" He asked, his smile betraying his admiration for the 'takes a licking, never stops ticking' of her verbal swordplay.
"Not if I can help it," she returned with a bright smile and an ingenuous headshake. Clearing her throat, she dropped the smile, her expression sobering. "The past is past, we’re here now. In the present and we were cutting to the chase, were we not?"
Spreading his arms out, Logan took a step back, "You have the floor." He then raised one hand and motioned zipping his lips shut. And the fact that he was wearing only a towel just added the perfect touch to the latest chapter of the wonderful world of Logan and Veronica dysfunction.
"Thank you," she straightened up, smoothing the red satin of her dress. "Logan, I don't hate you.” She took a deep breath because this was do or die time. This was the moment when the Veronica she had become opened the heart she hadn't allowed to beat.
"I love you."
He was still and silent and instead of wallowing in that stillness, that silence, she continued, determined to see this through. Her gaze fell and she saw the red of her dress and from that took courage. "I needed to see you. I knew you were back in town and I was not going to just sit back and wait and see. I'm not that Veronica and you are not Duncan. And I'm not leaving until you convince me that I'm crazy to believe there is even an us and that you hate me forever and ever, amen."
"I don't hate you." He said. It wasn't enough. As if sensing that decision run through her mind, he took a breath and added. "I want you."
"Want?" She questioned, her voice barely above a whisper. Not enough, her heart cried. "That's it? Want? Lust?" Veronica forced herself to ask. If that was it, she thought, her mind slowly going numb.
Running a hand over his face, he laughed harshly. "Is that it? Veronica. Veronica," he repeated and laughed again. "Lust. God, Veronica, how can you know me so well and not know …" he trailed off and leaned back against the bathroom door, his head shaking back and forth lightly. And then in a bolt, he pushed forward, moving towards her but not too close. The tension spiraled from his tightly held form and Veronica could feel the energy from where she stood. "I wanted you when you were twelve years old. But you were pining over Duncan and he was mooning over you. So I did the best friend thing and I didn't say a word. And then there was Lilly. Lilly. Oh she was my heaven, but we both know that she was just as surely my hell.
"I know, God, Veronica, I know that you thought, hell, maybe you still think that part of this, us, from me is because you're my substitute for Lilly. How could you not ever know?" He shook his head in wonder. "At thirteen years old, Lilly was my substitute for you, the twelve-year old girl I saw flying by in short shorts and knee socks, her smile lighting the world." A smile of remembrance lit his face and it was so pure and genuine that Veronica's heart stilled and then sped up, beating so fast she lost count. "Now, don’t get me wrong. Once Lilly got her hooks into me, she had me good. You were the girl that got away, but Lilly was …” He trailed off, his smile widening, seeming to encompass the radiant life that still existed even in Lilly’s memory. “Lilly was everything to me. I loved her. I wouldn’t give up a moment I spent with her, the fighting, the loving, the good and the bad … I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.” Laughing lightly, he met her gaze as if sharing a secret, “but you knew that. You knew Lilly. You loved Lilly.
“You know that I loved her. I loved her so much, but she knew … she always knew that there was that part of me, that secret part of me that still wondered what it would have been like, in some alternate universe if it had been you. You and me. She knew. Veronica, she knew. And it didn’t bother her, she was confident in all things Lilly to know that, one, I’d never let her go and two, you’d kick me in the balls on her behalf, if not your own if I made one move.”
Closing her eyes for a moment, Veronica reveled in the memory of Lilly even as she processed everything Logan was saying. And she knew that he was right. She flashed back to the rented limo the night of the homecoming dance the four had never intended. There had been a game of Truth or Dare and the smile on Lilly’s face when she asked Logan what he thought of Veronica when he first met her. “Yeah,” Veronica smiled. “She knew and she loved it.” Laughing, Veronica met his gaze.
He nodded, but then his smile faded. “When she dumped me before she died, I knew it was different. I knew there was someone else and that she was done with me. And then Duncan broke up with you and a part of me just screamed, ‘Yes! This is it. Stick it to Lilly. Get the one who got away, try and find that knee-socked girl who’d stolen my breath, that girl that must be more than I saw half the time for Lilly to love her so much. This is my chance.' But I didn't take it," he shook his head.
"I couldn't and then everything went to hell and I had to hate you, Veronica, I had to hate you because if I didn't I was gone. The years, the what might have been, it was all there, waiting beneath the surface, with nothing between it and a chance but my hate. I didn't know what it would do to Duncan and he was all I had left; all I allowed myself to have left. But it did happen, didn't it?" He paused, waiting for a response. Veronica could only nod.
"I let my guard down and once I did, I let you in. I had no defense against you and I fell. I fell hard, the feeling that had struck me when I was twelve years old finding root in the big boy I'd become." He stepped towards her, his gaze more intense than she could ever recall. "Did you mean it?"
She knew what he meant. Words were still beyond her. She could only nod.
"Tell me," he demanded.
Veronica moved close to him, barely a breath of space between them. "You tell me."
"Goddamnit, Veronica." Their gazes locked, the air around them vibrated with tension and she did not speak. She would not speak. Her heart was still held in reserve, waiting to hide once more behind its shell, the beats fought the hardness, but only his words could break that outer wall once and for all. She shook her head back and forth slowly, never breaking eye contact.
"I love you."
And her heartbeat joined in perfect time with the beats of time, a symphony of beauty and reality merged into a new beginning.
"So what do we do know? See where this goes?" He said softly.
"Wait and see?" she asked, a smile playing around the corners of her mouth. He gulped and nodded as she moved just that much closer to him. And then she shook her head. "No."
He pulled back slightly, a question in his gaze, repeated in his voice. "No?"
One arm stretched across the space between them and she ran her fingers up his arm. His breath held and a glorious feeling spread within her. Trailing her fingers over the curve of his shoulder, across his collarbone, down the center of his chest, her thumb and forefinger danced upon the edge of the towel that hung low on his hips. Veronica bit her bottom lip as she looked at his face; his eyes were dark with desire and there was a tautness about him that just about overwhelmed her.
Releasing a shaky breath, she took a slight step back, her hand falling away from him. "Veronica," he muttered, a pained whimper. And then both of her arms were behind her back, her fingers finding the zipper of the red dress.
"Logan," she said softly, a purring seduction grazing her voice. He was still, his body frozen in all areas but one. "I'd really rather prefer you not tear this dress. I rather like it." He still did not move. "As for the taking," she slid the red material down her body, standing before him as naked as the day she was born, "I feel like screaming."