"You stay here and talk to each other, because as of now, I am officially out of this conversation." Veronica and Logan gaped at Wallace as he backed out of the room, and before either of them could protest, slammed the door behind him.
Veronica chuckled nervously while Logan pulled the cuffs of his jacket down over his hands.
"Look, I know Wallace thinks he's being helpful, but we don't need to do this," Logan said, moving toward the door. "I'm just going to—"
"No, wait!" Veronica said quickly, stepping between him and the door. He stopped, and his eyes met hers for a split second before he went back to studying his sleeves. She stayed silent for a moment, so he finally looked up at her resignedly.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Veronica."
"No, it's me who needs to say something. I just…" Her hands shook anxiously and she pushed a loose piece of hair behind her ear. She crossed her arms in front of her to still them and sighed loudly.
Logan's face fell. "Veronica, I can't do this again. If you still can't talk to me, after everything we've…" A faint thump outside the door halted his train of thought.
"Oh God, Piz isn't back, is he?" Veronica's eyes went wide.
"I hope not—Wallace said he was gone for the weekend." Logan took a long stride toward the door and peered out the peephole. "Wallace is listening outside," he whispered. "What the hell?"
Veronica smiled ruefully. "He worries. He's probably trying to make sure everything's OK before he leaves. It's what he does."
"You know, it's really amazing that you manage to get into all the trouble you do with so many of us trying to protect you," Logan said with a roll of his eyes. "I'm going to tell him he can go."
"Hold on." She grabbed Logan's hand before he could touch the doorknob. "I know how to make him leave."
Taking off her messenger bag and laying it softly on the floor, Veronica tiptoed over to the door, then threw herself backward against it. "Oh, Logan…" she moaned loudly, turning her face into the door to make sure her best friend heard her.
Logan grinned and got into the act. "God, Veronica…" he growled. Veronica scrunched up her face to keep from laughing aloud. "Babe, I missed you so much," Logan added.
Veronica pursed her lips and cooed dramatically: "Oooohhhh…"
At that, they heard the squeak of Wallace's gym sneakers as he retreated quickly down the hall. Logan looked out the peephole again. "He's gone."
Veronica sucked in a lungful of air and let out the guffaw she'd been holding in.
"You know, a lot of guys would have stayed to listen to that," Logan said with a half-smile.
"Not Wallace—he says I'm like the sister he never had, so I knew that would send him running," she replied. "And it was lot funnier than your idea of just politely sending him on his way."
"True, although it may have been a little bit mean," Logan said, holding up his thumb and forefinger a small space apart. He wandered to the other side of the room and leaned against the desk. "It's nice that he wanted to make sure you were all right."
Veronica stopped laughing and walked to the wardrobe across from Logan, leaning against it. "Judging from my conversation with him last night, he was probably looking out for you too."
"Yeah?" Logan said noncommittally, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans.
"Yeah, he thinks I've been too hard on you," Veronica began. Logan raised an eyebrow. "And I think he's probably right."
"Wallace and I sort of had it out last night, and I didn't handle it very well then—"
"So I heard," Logan interjected.
"—and," she continued pointedly, "he made me realize that you're not the only target of my trust and control issues—he's been hit with them too. And a few of my other friends, although that group seems to be shrinking quickly these days."
Logan pulled his hands out of his pockets and they fluttered with nervous energy. He picked up Wallace's stapler and began turning it over in his hands.
"So basically," Veronica continued, "this is a variation on the 'it's not you, it's me' speech. But instead of using it to break up with you, I'm using it to say…I'm sorry. I'm sorry I let all my crap get in the way of us—again."
"And I'm going to work on that. I'm going to try to be less controlling and try to let people in. I'm going to try and really trust the people who have earned it," she added, stepping away from the wardrobe and moving closer to him. "And I want a chance to prove that to you."
He put down the stapler.
"I want you back, Logan. I know that I've put you through a lot, but I can't stand not having you in my life, so…"
"Veronica," Logan cut her off. "I want you back too, so much that it hurts." She smiled and stepped toward him again, but he stood up straight and folded his arms in front of him. "But you've said all of this before, and then nothing changed. You've said you were going to start trusting me, but you never did—not really. It got to the point where I felt like I was walking on eggshells, because if I did anything you didn't like, you were going to leave me. Shit, I was worried that you wouldn't approve of the classes I registered for—which you didn't, by the way."
Veronica felt her eyes get hot, and she bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling.
"That's why I didn't tell you about Madison—I didn't think I really did anything wrong, since we weren't together then, but I knew you'd be out the door if you found out."
"I know," she whispered, her eyes downcast. "I'm sorry for that too."
"I believe you are, I do," he said gently, resting a hand on her shoulder. "But we've done this often enough that I still don't think things will be any different this time. We keep doing the same thing over and over, and it hurts more every time. I can't go back to second-guessing every decision I make because I'm afraid I'm going to lose you again. I can't go back to constantly feeling like I'm not quite good enough, because I've already had too much of that in my life. And I can't live with the feeling that you don't care about me as much as I care about you."
Veronica looked down, trying to hold back the tears that were continuing to build—and developing a terrible sense of déjà vu.
"I love you, Veronica, and I probably always will, but I can't do the same thing all over again." He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her forehead. She thought about the last time they'd performed this scene, and what she wished she had done differently that time. If she'd only said what she felt then, if she'd only been able to tell him… At that, she let the tears come.
Logan paused for a moment when he saw her wet cheeks. He quickly pulled himself together and whispered in a choked voice. "I'll see you around."
"I have to say one more thing," she said suddenly as he moved toward the door.
Logan's shoulders drooped and he hung his head as he turned toward her. "What?" he said, his voice flat.
Veronica took a shaky breath and exhaled hard. "I love you."
He looked up at her, his eyebrows raised.
"I love you," she said again, more firmly.
"Ooookaaay…" he replied carefully. "Um…why…why are you telling me this now?"
"Because you deserve to hear it," she said, struggling to get the words out past the ache in her throat. "Because even if we can't be together, I wanted you to know that I did—I do—love you. I love how you can always make me laugh. I love that you're trying to decide what you want to do with your life, even though you don't really have to do anything. I love that you're immensely loyal to your friends, even when we haven't earned it. I love the way you pull at your sleeves when you're nervous or upset."
Logan smiled a little bit and pushed his cuffs back past his wrists.
"I love the way your hair sticks up even when you try to smooth it down. I love how gentle you were with me the first time we made love, and how…not gentle you were the second time."
Logan blushed, and Veronica began crying again.
"And I love that no matter how many times life has knocked you down, you just keep getting up again and again, and that you've somehow managed to become a loving person despite all of it. And I hate myself for not telling you any of those things when we were together."
She paused awkwardly, but he said nothing. "So, um…I'm telling you now, because you should know that even though I didn't say it then, it doesn't mean that I didn't feel it."
Veronica looked off to the side and wiped at her eyes with her fingers, while Logan just stared at the floor. "That's all," she whispered. "You can…" She waved a hand toward the door. "I'm just going to stay here for a few minutes." She glanced around the room for Wallace's tissue box, and saw it on the desk.
As she began to turn away, Logan reached for her arm and spun her back toward him, pressing his mouth to hers. Her hands came up to grasp his shoulders, crushing his body tightly against hers. When his fingers came up to tangle in her hair, she sighed against his lips, silently praying that this wasn't a goodbye kiss.
He pulled back and looked in her eyes, wiping a tear away with his thumb. "Why did you do that?" she asked.
Logan grinned widely. "Because what you said? That was different. That was definitely not the same thing all over again."
"No, it wasn't," she said quickly, gripping the lapels of his jacket. "I told you, I want to change—I want to try—I want to make things different—better—between us. I can—"
"OK, I believe you!" Logan said, laughing. "I believe you." He smoothed a strand of hair off her forehead.
"So, you'll think about my offer?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"I've thought about it—let's be different together." He leaned down to give her a soft kiss.
"Not too different though," Veronica said with a smirk. She reached around the back of his neck and yanked him down toward her, pushing her tongue into his mouth. He ran his hands up her sides and grazed his hands across the bare skin between her shirt and the waist of her pants. Veronica moaned.
"Hold on, bobcat," Logan said, breaking the passionate kiss. "I think we need to talk some more before we get to that."
Veronica contorted her face into an exaggerated frown.
"Oh, there's going to be that too, don't you worry," he said, planting a kiss on each cheek. "Just not yet. And not in Wallace's room. Let's go somewhere that we can be sure there are no cameras." He shuddered, looking around toward each corner of the ceiling.
"Fine, make a good point, why don't you?" Her stomach rumbled loudly. "How about you buy me dinner?"
"You didn't eat?"
"I was going to gorge on popcorn and candy at the movie," she replied with a shrug as she bent to pick up her bag.
"Gross. Let's get you a real meal," Logan said, opening the door for her.
They walked out of the room and he slipped an arm around her waist, kissing her on the temple. Veronica reached back to make sure the door locked behind them.
"Should we text Wallace to let him know the coast is clear?" Logan asked.
"Yeah, but not yet," she said with a grin. "Let's let him sweat a little longer."
"God, you're mean," Logan laughed.
Veronica leaned into him affectionately as they left the building together. "Well, some things are just not going to change."