Wallace sat on his mother's couch, hiding his snickerdoodles in a paper towel, trying to cover the fact that he'd really taken seven rather than the four his mother had reluctantly agreed that he could eat before their guest arrived. Veronica had come over the day before, just to bake, and Wallace wasn't about to let Logan get all the delicious treats. Wallace liked Veronica's boyfriend just fine, but he was a newcomer, a nobody, and he did not deserve to get more of Wallace's absolute favorite dessert than Wallace himself did. Mom had watched him take the first one, but then she'd glanced away, and he'd made off with two cookies instead of one for each of the rest as he counted in an exaggerated voice, "One...two...three...four...there, happy? I could starve to death, ya know."
Now he was discreetly nibbling on his prize, watching and listening with amusement as his mother and her boyfriend chopped vegetables for a green salad and discussed that newcomer nobody who was supposed to be arriving shortly with his best friend-slash-sister. He wondered if he could get more cookies, maybe a whole batch of his own, if he shared this conversation with the baker herself.
"I really think you need to take this more seriously, Keith," Alicia Fennel was saying. "I don't know what she's told you, but I spent the afternoon in this very room with her yesterday. She's smitten."
Keith Mars threw his head back and laughed, a laugh that almost sounded mocking, and Wallace frowned as he wondered for a moment if he should be irritated on behalf of his mother. That thought floated away quickly though as he realized the mocking was of Logan, or at least the idea of him, more than of what his mom was saying.
"Look, Alicia, Veronica's got her head solidly on her shoulders when it comes to the boys that come sniffing around her." Keith put his knife down with a thump and scooped up chunks of tomato to drop into the salad bowl. "None of them are good enough and she knows it. Okay, so she's dating again, but it's casual, it has to be. She's made it pretty clear that she's got a plan for her future and she knows from experience that none of these idiots are important enough to mess that up."
Alicia shook her head, sighing. "I didn't say she was going to mess anything up, Keith. I'm just saying she really likes this boy and you should probably be taking this one a little more seriously."
Keith snorted and Wallace snickered, rolling his eyes. Keith may have been a widely respected investigator, but on the subject of Veronica's love life, he really was relying on old information. Wonder how that's gonna be working for him at the end of the night.
He considered what Veronica might have told his mother as they baked the day before that had her so convinced that Veronica was—what did Mom say?—smitten. He grinned and shoved another cookie in his mouth. His mother was a hundred percent correct. For the first time since he'd known her, Veronica was head-over-heels. And honestly, it made him happy to see.
He'd been relieved that the jag-offs that she'd dated in high school hadn't hurt her with the disgraceful ways they'd acted with her, at least not like they could have, but it had also worried him a bit that she hadn't seemed to care that much. He'd been ready to beat Duncan's ass when she'd passed on the fact of Meg's pregnancy, but Veronica had been adamant that nothing like that would be necessary. Wallace hadn't had a chance where Troy was concerned; Veronica had dealt with him thoroughly before Wallace even knew there was an issue. She was such a softy about the people she loved, so he'd been concerned, but she rolled with the punches of both those breakups better than he would ever have imagined.
Despite his better efforts to avoid the conversations, he'd heard plenty about Logan from his BFF, and it was very evident that what she was feeling with him was a lot more...intense, than anything she'd experienced in the past. She wasn't saying it outright—honestly, he wasn't sure that she would ever confess such a thing, even to him—but he was pretty sure he was witnessing what it was for Veronica Mars to fall in love.
"I guess we'll see." Keith's voice broke through Wallace's contemplation. "But I'm not really that worried. Veronica's goal-oriented and practical. She's not going to let herself be distracted by the offspring of some action star." He stopped and glanced over at Wallace. "Hey, are we positive this isn't for one of her cases? Maybe she's trying to find something out from the kid. Wallace? Do you know anything about this?"
Wallace put his hands up in surrender. "I definitely do not know anything about Logan being part of a case. As far as I know, she really does like him, but that's really all I want to say about that. Talking about Veronica behind her back is not something I'm willing to do. I'm a young, good looking basketball stud in the prime of my life. Not ready to get taken down by a hundred pound girl."
Keith laughed and nodded. Veronica getting her revenge on was something Keith seemed to enjoy more than most parents probably would. Alicia huffed a laugh too, then stepped into the living room and looked pointedly at Wallace.
"Okay, basketball stud—" Wallace shuddered at those words coming out of his mother's mouth "—if you've finished your SEVEN cookies, hop up and set the table. Dinner's almost ready and Veronica and her guest should be here anytime. And when you're done, go upstairs and make sure your brother washes up before he comes down. I shudder to think what he's gotten into up there while we've all been down here. Despite Keith's denial, I think we need to try to make a good impression on Logan when he arrives."
Wallace cringed a little at her knowledge of his extra cookies, but when she didn't pursue that avenue, he decided to focus on the subject that did not involve him. "Logan's a good guy. I think he's gonna be fine." He pushed himself upright and headed for the china hutch. "And probably, we should let him get used to what we're really like around here. If he's going to be here long term, he needs to know what he's getting himself into."
"Okay, last house on the left," Veronica directed, and Logan nodded.
"I know. I dropped you off here once before, remember?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to make sure." She wound the string of her hoodie around her index finger, again, then shook it free, again. "Sorry. I'm just a little nervous."
Logan reached across the console and took her hand in his, stroking his thumb soothingly across her skin. "I promised to behave myself, remember? No talk of milky thighs; no calling you Bobcat."
He saw her shudder and shake her head. "I know you're joking, but God...that is terrifying."
"I'm sorry." He lifted her hand, raising it to his lips and kissing it. "I'll be on my very best behavior."
"I know you will. I'm not worried about that...really." She pulled her hand free of his grasp, turning her fingers to trace his cheek. "My dad, on the other hand. I have no idea how he's going to behave."
Logan pulled the car up to the curb in from of her house, shut it off, and turned to face her. "It's gonna be okay. I'm sure of it. This is your family. You love them, I adore you, we're gonna get along like crazy."
Veronica sucked a disbelieving breath through her teeth. "I'm not sure your logic is as solid as you want it to be."
He laughed and leaned across the console to kiss her forehead, then the tip of her nose. "Don't worry so much," he said with a smile, then turned and got out of the car, hustling around the front of it to get to Veronica's door before she could get out. He opened the door with a flourish and extended his hand to help her out of the car.
"You're trying to make a good impression," Veronica teased and he nodded.
"Of course I am. Think anyone's watching?" He shut the door behind her, beeped the lock, and then caught her hand in his as they made their way up the front walk.
"Oh absolutely. But you lost points as soon as you held my hand." She chuckled and shook her head. "At least you didn't put your arm around me."
Logan looked over at her with a grimace. "You're joking. You have to be."
"Don't count on it." She tipped her head toward a bay window overlooking the front porch, then smiled and raised her hand to the window. Logan could now see a balding, middle-aged man sitting at a table in the window, looking out at them. The man gave a tight-lipped smile as he waved in response, then stood and moved out of view.
"Told'ja," Veronica said. "That's my dad." She stopped at the base of the stairs leading up to the porch. "Last chance, buddy. You can still es-ca-pay."
"No way," Logan replied, tugging her up the stairs. "It's gonna be fine."
"He's a little familiar with her for my taste," Keith grumbled as he moved toward the front door. "Is he always like that, Wallace?"
Wallace raised his hands in front of him, fingers spread wide. "Do not involve me."
"Well that's a yes then." Keith flung the front door open, pulling Veronica into a hug like she hadn't just been there the day before. "Veronica! It's so good to see you!"
Veronica hugged him back, but looked past him to Wallace as she did so, confusion evident on her face. He gave her a supportive smile, then sat on the sofa to watch the show.
"Thanks, Dad, you too. Just like it was great to see you yesterday. Of course yesterday, I had to let myself in with my key and you barely spoke to me for the first thirty minutes I was here while you watched some Padres thing on ESPN."
"That was a retrospective on Tony Gwynn's career. It was important."
"Got it," Veronica said with a nod and a smirk as she pulled away from her father and crossed the room toward Alicia. "Do you rank above Tony Gwynn?" she asked as they exchanged a quick embrace.
Alicia laughed. "No one does."
"That's ridiculous," Keith sputtered and the women stood together, arms around each other, with matching grins.
"Uh huh," Alicia said, before turning her attention to their visitor, just inside the doorway, a bemused smile on his face.
"Logan, I presume." Alicia stepped clear of Veronica and moved toward Logan with her hands outstretched. "Welcome to our home. We're so happy you could join us today."
"You presume correctly," Logan said with a smile, accepting her hug. "And I'm guessing you're not Darrell."
"Also correct," Alicia laughed, then turned back toward Veronica who took the cue, moving forward to reach for Logan before turning to Keith.
"And this is my dad, Keith Mars. Dad, this is Logan Echolls."
Logan took another step toward Keith with an outstretched hand. "It's very nice to meet you, sir. Veronica's told me so much about you."
"Is that so?" Keith asked, shaking Logan's hand with a grip that even from the sofa, Wallace could see was a bit on the crushing side. "I've heard very little about you."
"Dad!" Veronica said in an exasperated voice. "That is not true. I've told you about Logan. We have Freshman English together, he's from L.A., he likes to surf."
"Okay, yes, I'm sorry I didn't realize, I guess that's his whole life story then." Keith released Logan's hand and, to Wallace's surprise, gave the newcomer a conspiratorial grin. "I think you can probably fill in a little more detail." He gestured to the kitchen. "Can I get you a beer?"
It was all Wallace could do to not burst into laughter at the blatant attempt at entrapment. Logan was way ahead of him there though.
"Oh no, sir. I'm only eighteen. Almost nineteen, but even then, no, thank you."
"I'll get you a soda," Veronica said, with a glare at her dad. She glanced at Wallace as she walked toward the kitchen. "What the hell," her eyes said and he laughed and shrugged.
Yep, this oughta be interesting.