He brings her lunch at the office the next day. She's made some headway with the piles, though Veronica is sure no one can tell but her.
"Thanks," Veronica says as Logan hands her the bag of food. She leans up for a kiss as she grabs the bag. Logan wrapped his arm around her waist and attempts to deepen the kiss.
"Down boy," she says, breaking away from him, though part of her entertains the idea of a quick romp across the desk.
"That was definitely not your stance last night," he says with a smirk. She gives him a look over her shoulder as she moves back behind the desk. Once seated, she tears into the bag, pulling out a sandwich and an order of fried pickles.
"Mmm," she says with a grin. "My favorite food group- fried."
"We aim to please," Logan responds with a small bow, taking a seat across from her and perching his own bag on the edge of the desk. "Productive morning?" he asks.
Veronica nods an affirmative, her mouth already wrapped around the sandwich. "Interesting morning," she mumbles through the bread. She knew as soon as he offered to bring her lunch that she'd have to tell him about the phone calls from the morning, and she figures honesty is the best policy. Well, at least this newly evolved, "ready to really give it a go" Veronica thinks so, and if she's going to convince him that she's in, then she'll have to stick to her policy of honesty.
"Interesting?" he repeats, clearly waiting for her to elaborate. She wonders if that's something he picked up from his shrink.
Veronica nods again, swallowing her food. "Yeah, I got a few interesting calls this morning."
"New cases after last week, or interview requests from Oprah?" He may be sincere, but Veronica detects Logan Echolls' unique blend of sarcasm and snark, which usually means defensiveness. Veronica takes a fry from his side of the desk.
"Well, I wouldn't say Oprah level interesting, but I did get a call from Mac." She watches Logan nod, and takes it as her cue to continue. "Apparently, my recent antics have inspired her to think about her own career change."
Logan's left eyebrow shoots up. "Really?"
"Yeah, I guess working for a soulless corporation take a toll on your, well, soul," she finishes lamely. She curses herself for not coming up with a good Buffy reference.
Logan remains quiet. She wonders how he can do that. It's almost enough to make her ask, but she keeps going. "She wants to be the first Mars Investigations hire outside of the Mars family." She bites her lower lip. "I mean, I'd love to hire her, but I don't know how I could afford to pay her. Forget what she makes at Kane," she looks around the office, "I don't even know if my dad was in the black before the accident. His ledger isn't exactly easy to decode. I'm still trying to figure out what's active and what's in need of shredding." She takes another bite of sandwich, waiting for Logan to speak.
"You know, if you want, I could-"
Veronica cuts him off. What she doesn't want is charity. "I don't want your money," she says, sharper than she intends.
He stays cool. Point for mature Logan, she thinks. "I wasn't offering a handout. I was thinking that if Mars Investigations is branching out, it could be to my benefit to be an investor. Silent, of course," he adds, looking directly at her.
Veronica pauses, which she knows he takes as a tell. "I'll think about it," she mumbles, and chomps another fry. Her dad will hate it, but it's not the worst idea ever. If it keeps the doors open, goes towards the medical bills, and leaves enough to pay at least Mac for a few weeks, she might have to take it. She can figure out her loans later. She quickly tabulates some of their known bills and expenditures, looking at Logan as he takes a bite of his sandwich. How much is behind that Echolls' name these days, anyway? How much can she ask for? What's the line between appreciative girlfriend and gold digger?
She must be thinking too hard, because he looks up at her. "Just think about it, OK?" he asks. She nods and goes back to her sandwich. It's not entirely how she thought the conversation would go, but that's not atypical for them. It's the next conversation that worries her, though. She doesn't know how to start, so she dives right in.
"The other call was from Piz," Veronica says, looking straight at Logan. For just a moment, he stops chewing, his jaw tight. He resumes chewing, but the pause speaks volumes to Veronica.
Logan swallows. "Yeah? To what do you owe the pleasure of hearing from ol' Pizaroo?" She knows what he's trying to do, but she isn't sure if she should call him on it.
"Um, I guess he wanted to know what to do with my stuff, what I want, what he should keep, you know." Logan nodded. Veronica continued, "I don't know, I told him I'll probably go out there to sort through my stuff."
"Do you want me to come?" Veronica almost smirks at the protective tone in his voice. It was the reaction she expected. She already knows how to respond. "No, I'll be fine. I'm not going to go until after your deploy, anyway. He's got some weekend telethon thing in a few weeks, so he won't be home. He said it's OK for me to be there then."
Logan nods solemnly, but doesn't take another bite of his lunch. He looks deep in thought.
"How are you going to get stuff back here," he asks finally.
She's been thinking about this since the call this morning. "I don't really know. Honestly, there's not much that I can think of that I really want. Most of the clothes don't fit the PI lifestyle. The furniture was all secondhand stuff we found," suddenly she feels embarrassed. She's not sure if it's because she just admitted to scrounging curbs for end tables, or her choice of pronoun in that statement. She hurries on, "there's some kitchen stuff dad sent me over the years in hopes that I'd get inspired, and a few knick-knacks, books, and blankets and stuff, but that's pretty much it. Oh! And the shoes. I'll probably need a suitcase for the shoes." Every time she thinks about this, her list stretches a little longer. "Of course, I can't bring too much stuff back with me. God knows where I'll fit it in that tiny guest room."
Logan nods again and Veronica sputters. "Not that I'm going to live there forever! Just while he's recovering and until my income is a bit more reliable." Good God. How did she manage to make herself sound and feel so lame?
"How long did you live together?" The question catches her off guard, but it tells her exactly where his mind is.
"Just over a year. We resigned the lease last month." She doesn't know why she adds the last bit. She reminds herself that there's a difference between being honest and driving away everyone in your life.
Logan nods, wrapping the rest of his sandwich. "I gotta go, you're gonna be here for the rest of the day?" She nods, stunned by his hasty exit. "I'll call you about dinner."
Veronica's mouth is dry, so she nods again. She remembers the Echolls' blow off, and this feels mighty similar. He leans across the desk and gives her a quick kiss on the cheek before he turns and leaves. Veronica tosses her sandwich and pickles in the trash. No use trying to eat now. She turns back to the piles on the desk.
Veronica vacillates between compartmentalizing the lunch conversation to focus on the cases, and pausing to replay the details. In the first hour, it's guilt that eats her. She should have been more careful about what she said and how she said it. By the second hour, it's morphed into anger. How dare he throw her honesty in her face? What right did he have to get upset? It's not like he's been living a celibate life waiting for her. After all, the reason Veronica came back to Neptune was because of another woman. He doesn't get to act all holier than thou because she was living with someone.
The anger makes her feel better, work harder. When she hears someone ascending the stairs, she looks up to see that it's already past three o'clock. There's a pause before the outer office door opens, which intrigues Veronica. When she left messages, she mentioned to a few of the clients that she'd be in the office the rest of the day, so she assumes someone thought coming over more convenient than returning a call. From her seat behind the desk, she can't actually see the front door when it opens, but she recognizes the throat clear immediately.
Logan actually knocks on the inner door to her office, although it's open. A feat in itself, as he carries two very large, hot beverages in his hands. He holds one up to her with accompanying raised eyebrows as though asking permission to approach an untamed animal. Veronica sets her face. In the past, he's used this move as the start to groveling. She isn't sure what he'll do now. Will he ask for her forgiveness, or use this as a parting gift? I got you a coffee, but I'm also breaking up with you. Well, at least she'd have something to show for it. It's probably a better story to tell than her last break up.
Veronica nods at him, waiting for him to say something. "Hey," he starts. "I was hoping we could talk." Veronica looks at the chair in front of the desk. "Actually, could we do it someplace where I don't feel like I'm in the principal's office?" He's still hanging in the doorway. His eyes shift to the couch in the waiting area. Veronica pushes her chair back, feeling the ache in her muscles as she stands. She stiffly moves around the desk. Logan gives her plenty of space, handing off the large cup as she walks by. After Veronica is seated on the couch, Logan sits on the opposite end with his coffee. A moment later, he hops up, shaking his head. He moves into her office, returning with a chair which he places in front of her. He sits in the chair, perched on the edge, his knees almost touching hers. Veronica doesn't have a choice but to sink into the couch. OK, ergonomic desk chair and new couch are definitely going on the Christmas list this year, she thinks, trying to not look like a floundering 12-year old in the sagging cushions.
"I was kind of a jerk before," he starts, looking at her solemnly. Veronica takes a sip of her drink, the hot liquid sliding down her throat. "I shouldn't have left like that, I'm sorry." Veronica says nothing. His leaving isn't a surprise, in fact it's their M.O. Unless the new Logan doesn't run. Unless he somehow became this highly evolved creature that knows how to fix things by talking through them. Since their time together has started, he's certainly shown that he's trying, but she doesn't know how much of that is an act- "best boyfriend behavior", as someone used to tell her. Logan runs his free hand through his hair. She can tell he has more to say, but she isn't sure she wants him to have all the control in the conversation.
"Where'd you go?" Veronica asks. She thinks she knows what he'll say.
Logan chuckles. "Serendipitously, I did actually have an appointment with my shrink at 1:30, so I was a little early," he says before clearing his throat. "Listen, I got upset because of stupid things. The good doctor was quick to point out that I was being an ass and jumping to conclusions without actually, you know, having the information to get there." Veronica nods. So far this conversation is worth having. Logan is silent now, looking at her. It takes a moment to realize that he's asking her permission.
"What do you want to know?" she asks, watching as his forehead relaxes.
"I had this vision of you and Piz dating for nine years and you just walking away from it. That's not how it went, was it?"
Veronica shakes her head. Honesty. "Piz moved to New York about two years ago. A few weeks after he got there, Wallace finally broke down and gave him my number. We hung out a few times, then after a few months, we started dating. My roommate at the time was a couple of semesters ahead of me, and got offered a position in Boston. Piz was literally renting a closet in Brooklyn, and I couldn't afford rent on my own, so we moved into a smaller place." She shrugs. For a while, she really thought they were happy, but that feeling was quickly replaced by boredom. She told herself it was the stress of law school that made her forget most milestones with him and at least three dates a month, but she always knew there was something unfair about the way she treated him. Veronica takes another sip of her coffee, holding the caramel flavored beverage on the back of her tongue.
Logan nods. "And the break up? I mean, he was at the reunion."
Veronica swallows her beverage with a nod. "The beginning of the end? Or maybe it was the middle of the end at that point. I don't know. I was supposed to meet his parents. He'd been planning it for weeks."
"And I was here," she answers with a shrug. "I promised him I'd be there, I wasn't. It was a pretty systematic flaw for our entire relationship." Veronica spins the cardboard on the outside of the cup. There's a stilted silence between them before Logan nods. Veronica assumes that he's reconciling what he said with whatever he's created in his mind over the last few weeks.
"Did you really never ask?" Veronica looks at him inquisitively. When he cocks his head to the side, Veronica elaborates. "Mac? Wallace? You never asked about me?"
Logan shrugs. "I mean, I only ran into them every once in a while, but our updates were mostly kept to professional stuff. I tried not to ask about you. Sometimes Mac threw me a bone and mentioned law school or New York or whatever. Wallace was pretty tight lipped."
Veronica nods with a smile. Of course Wallace wouldn't tell Logan anything about her. It did explain how word got back to her about the Navy. "And here I was thinking you all have a weekly trivia team at the Southside Pub."
Logan seems to ponder the thought for a moment. "Actually, we'd make a pretty kickass team. I could do pop culture, Mac's got technology, and Wallace can be the sports guy. All we'd need is someone to cover history and literature."
Veronica shakes her head. It won't be her. The levity between them feels good, but she can't help but think they might have done what they did best- deflect and avoid.
"Not that I mean to jump back into the fire, but is there anything else we should be talking about?" she asks. Logan blows out a breath of air, and the smell of coffee wafts by her.
"I guess I've just been working things up in my head," Logan starts. "Believe it or not, that phone call a few weeks ago wasn't the first time I picked up the phone. Dialed? Yes. But there were a few other times I came close."
"Tell me about them?"
Logan sighs again. "The first anniversary of Lilly's death after you left. A few times on her birthday. Once when Trina was back in town. Using, again. She was a mess. It was right around the time she burned through the last of her inheritance." Logan's brows furrow as he speaks, his eyes dark.
Veronica swallows. "You could've called," she says quietly. She means it. She thinks back to all the times she almost deleted his number, and how often it almost ended in her dialing as well.
"Actually, Dick got really good at remembering dates, and my cell usually disappeared for a few days surrounding all major milestones and anniversaries."
Veronica nods in acknowledgement. She feels angry. Or is that disappointment? What if he had called sooner? Would she have left New York? Would she have started law school somewhere else? At all? Though she knows it's not worth it, Veronica can't help but cycle through the what-ifs.
Another long exhale interrupts her thoughts. Veronica pulls her gaze up from the floor to meet his dark eyes. He's leaned forward again, his cup dangling from his hands between his knees.
"What?" she asks.
"I was going to ask you the same thing. What's going on in there, Mars?" Veronica shrugs, her eyes now settling on the wall behind him. "Veronica?" he tries again.
"Just thinking about being back here." It's not entirely the truth, but it's close enough. "It's a weird thing, sometimes. This feeling of déjà vu. Like I never really left, even though there's enough that's different to tell me I did." She shrugs in response to his encouraging nod. When he remains quiet, she continues. "Like this," she says, patting the couch and watching the dust swirl in the sunlight filtering through the dirty windows. "Different office, same stupid couch." She offers a half smile. It wasn't until right now that she could articulate this feeling. When he is still mum, she tries to draw a conclusion. "It's just weird."
She can tell the moment he decides to change the subject. His creased forehead relaxes as his lips twist into a smirk. A quick glance from her to the door, and she's almost worked out what he's going to say before he opens his mouth.
"Same couch, huh?" he asks, his left eyebrow cocked. She lets herself smile, satisfied that she anticipated this.
"Mm-hmm," she replies, cocking her eyebrow to mirror his. She glances towards the door, pointedly. Logan places his drink on the ground and stands, pushing back the chair with his legs, avoiding the drink. In two steps, he's crossed the space to the door, and Veronica hears the deadbolt latch. Veronica turns slightly on the couch, kicking out a leg, pointing her toe in her black Louboutins. Her other foot she crosses behind at the ankle as she tries to recline on the couch, using her best come-hither stare. Unfortunately, it isn't until Logan is turning back around that she realizes that her supporting arm, which now rests on the back of the couch, is still holding her coffee. It must be the look of complete bafflement that Logan sees, because he chuckles as he makes his way back to her, looking beyond her eyes as he reaches for the cup.
"Here, let me," he says, taking the cup from her hand while he leans over her. His mouth just inches from her ear, he whispers, "I've been thinking about that skirt from the moment you put it on this morning." Veronica feels chills move through her body. The outfit is from her old life- black pencil skirt, white blouse, black heels. The events of the last week means laundry hasn't been a priority. The night prior, Logan finally convinced her to send out her stuff with the items he wanted laundered before deployment. In the meantime, she'd dredged this from her limited supply. The whistle he gave her in the morning indicated his approval, though she'd rushed to make it into the office, leaving him to settle down on his own.
After moving both of their cups to a shelf above her, he drops to the floor in front of her, a mischievous grin on his face. She lets him untwist her legs, licking her lips as he pulls her knees apart slightly. Logan's eyes lock with hers as she feels his fingers move slowly up her legs, teasing at her hemline. She pulls her legs as far apart as the skirt will let them go, letting out a small whimper when he smirks again, his fingers continuing to dance along her exposed thighs.
Veronica can feel her breathing change. She's about to beg him for more when he sits up on his knees. Expertly, Logan slides one hand between her legs while the other weaves into her hair, pulling her close for a kiss. His long, slender fingers move her black lace undies to the side, his moan escaping into her mouth when he feels the wetness between her folds. This time it's Veronica's turn to smirk. She lets him dip his fingers into her folds a few times before grabbing him by the shirt collar, pulling him towards the couch. He lets her take the lead, and she sits him on the couch, swinging a leg across his lap, straddling him. Veronica can feel the bulge beneath his jeans as she shimmies the skirt up to her hips. While she unbuckles his belt, she kisses him, catching his bottom lip in her teeth.
"Tease," he whispers, his voice raspy, hands sliding to her hips.
"Mm-hmm," she replies, moving to the button and zipper of his fly. When she manages to free him, she quickly pulls her panties to the side, slowly descending his length. His hands tighten their grip as she finds her pace. She tries to extend the pleasure but her pace picks up with his guidance. In a matter of moments, they are both panting and moaning.
Veronica almost misses the sound of the door at the bottom of the stairs. For a millisecond she feels her stomach drop before she realizes it can't be her dad. Probably just another building tenant, she thinks. It's her last thought before she feels her body tip over the edge. Everything becomes sensory- the feel of Logan's hands on her body, his mouth on her neck, moving up to her lips when her moan escapes. Her hips are stilled with him buried deep as his entire body shudders.
There's a moment when she thinks she should remember something important, but the smile on Logan's face makes her laugh out loud. In retaliation, he quickly runs his hands up her sides, the sensation tickling her sensitive skin. She playfully slaps his chest, then suddenly freezes, the sound of footfalls on the landing catching her attention. Veronica looks towards the door, Logan following her gaze.
A thought suddenly occurs to Veronica. "What time is it?" she hisses.
Logan's eyes are wide. Veronica's sure that if he had heckles to show, they would be standing at attention. He doesn't answer quickly enough, so she repeats herself. "4:15," he answers after a quick glance at his wrist. Veronica already knew the answer, untangling herself from him.
"Shit," she says, pulling her skirt down, retrieving her heels from where they fell to the floor.
"Expecting someone?" he asks. She swears there's just a little bit of jealousy in his voice. She wants to clarify but there's no time before the door handle jiggles. She's pulling him up with all her might as he holds his pants up with the other. "Get dressed," she whispers, pushing him to the back office.
There's a knock on the door while Veronica smooths her hair. Logan looks over his shoulder as he redresses. A voice accompanies a second knock. "Bond?"
Logan's face pales a little when he recognizes the voice, but it takes only a moment for a cheshire-cat grin to grace his features. She can tell he's about to laugh, and she shoos him to the other room. "Get yourself together and you can come out," she scolds.
There's another jiggle on the door handle. "Hey Veronica- you said 4:15, remember?" Veronica crosses to the door as Logan closes the office door most of the way. She unlocks the deadbolt and pulls the door open, hoping the flush to her features isn't evident.
On the other side of the doorway stands Mac, her business wardrobe similar to Veronica's, though, Veronica muses, probably considerably less wrinkled. "Q!" Veronica greets, probably louder than she needs to. Mac receives the hug in the hallway, then steps back.
"Is this an OK time? I mean, you said it would-"
"Yeah, yeah, sorry. I was just caught up in something. Now's great. Thanks for leaving work early for me." Veronica steps back into the waiting area and gestures for Mac to join her. "Can I get you some water or something? I don't think dad's Diet Pepsi inventory is too well stocked, but I can check." Veronica moves towards the mini fridge tucked in a corner.
"Water would be great," Mac answers.
It's this moment in which Logan chooses to stroll from the inner office, the picture of relaxed confidence. Veronica is only able to see Mac in her peripheral vision as the woman turns her head towards Logan, then snaps it back in Veronica's direction. She doesn't have to see Mac's face to know what the look says. "Mac," Logan greets her warmly. "Good to see you again." Veronica can hear Mac returning a greeting, but the subtext is clear. She waits just a moment in front of the mini fridge, the cool air a nice contrast to her burning cheeks.
"I asked Mac to help me with We-" she corrects herself, "Eli's case. I need her technical prowess to follow up on something," Veronica explains as she turns around. She hopes flattery will get her somewhere.
Mac still looks amused, and Logan just nods, clearly enjoying Veronica's discomfort. He crosses the room, reaching for their coffees. He hands hers over as she passes off a bottle of water to Mac.
"Logan dropped by with some much needed coffee, but he's leaving now," Veronica says pointedly. "You can set up in there," she says to Mac, tilting her head back towards the office. "I'll be right in." Mac nods in return, but Veronica hears the subtext in the nod.
Logan plants a kiss on her cheek. "At least it wasn't your dad with a key, this time," he whispers mischievously. He takes a well-timed step back to avoid her swat. "You'll be back for dinner," he asks. For just a moment, he looks so much younger, or maybe that's just the effect of the sadness and uncertainty on his face. She remembers the conversation that seems like it was at least a day ago.
"I'll be there," she promises. His eyes sparkle with relief, which in turn makes her smile. "You're in charge of the meal, though," she adds. "I can't be worrying about bringing home the bacon and being Susie Homemaker."
"Got it," he says, a quick peck to her lips and a squeeze of her ass with his free hand. "I'll see you later," he tells her, pulling his keys from his pocket as he heads for the door.
"Love ya," she says, more a reflex than anything. It's not until after it's out of her mouth that she realizes it. It was a routine she had with Piz, when either of them left the apartment. She knew she rarely meant it when she said it to him. She certainly hadn't meant it to say it now, not this way for the first time. She hopes it went unheard under the jingle of his keys, but his pause tells her he is contemplating his next move.
"Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean-" she's cut off as he closes the distance between them. She instinctively moves to tiptoe while he bends, kissing her soundly on the lips, his hand moving to the base of her skull, keys cool on her neck. He pulls away so their foreheads touch.
"It's OK," he says, her heart beats fast. She can't tell if it's his hand or her whole body that trembles. Either way, she is sure there's a faint smile on his lips. He gives her one more peck before crossing back to the door. "For the record?" he pauses at the door, "always." He gives her a wink, then slides out the door. Veronica can hear him bounce down the stairs. There's a grin on her face as she realizes that whether or not she meant to say it, the feelings are legitimate.
Veronica crosses back to the office door, where Mac is typing diligently on her computer, her eyes trained to the screen. "If you want to wait on this until after he leaves, I'm sure Weevil would understand."
"No, let's get started. I want to get this wrapped up for Eli as soon as possible. He doesn't need this following him around." Mac nods silently, eyes still on the screen. Veronica continues, "I was hoping you could maybe find out if there's been a connection between Lamb and Celeste since the shooting? Any contributions to his reelection campaign, donations to the department- you know." Mac just nods while Veronica's phone and computer ding simultaneously. She sees an email from Mac.
"Did you just do this?" she questions, after clicking the supplied link. It takes her to a server page with a number of files. She scans through the list of file names. Kane Contributions, Celeste's Donations, Security footage 126th St, Security footage pedestrian bridge, phone records- Celeste are only a few that catch Veronica's eye.
Mac shrugs. "When you texted last night, I had a feeling I could help. I started looking at a few things, and it sort of spiraled from there."
Veronica stands and moves around the desk, throwing her arms around Mac's neck. "You are seriously the best. Did you sleep at all last night?"
"Not so much, no. But to be honest, it felt good. Really good. I meant it when I called this morning, Veronica. I know you're all worried about the pay, but I've been thinking about it all day. For the first few months, I've at least got enough to make it by on my savings. Longer if I get a smaller place closer to here."
Veronica only nods. "Mac, are you really really sure? Because I don't want you to give up your life for this. Only one of us needs to be sucked back in."
"I know what I want, Veronica. I'm tired of living my life writing and rewriting the same lines of code day in and day out. I want to do something that matters." Veronica nods again.
"I can't promise you much of anything right now, but I also know I can't afford to look a gift-horse in the mouth. I would love to have you on board, Mac, and god knows I could use your help. Just do me a favor and take one more day to think about it, please?" Mac nods and Veronica smiles. She honestly doesn't know which response to hope for.