Clomp, clomp, clomp. Her favorite black boots made a funny sound on the shiny tile floors as Veronica walked down the hall of the San Diego criminal court building. She loved the days that she didn't have to meet with judges, witnesses, or anyone else important and could wear clothes that she felt comfortable in.
Today, comfort was especially important, because she had an enormous pile of work waiting for her. A colleague had to leave town suddenly due to a family emergency, so Veronica was taking over a case that was due to go to trial in just two weeks. The district attorney wanted to avoid a continuance, because the accused was wealthy and he didn't want his expensive lawyers to have more time to build their case for the public.
When Veronica had tried to beg off, her boss brought out the big guns: "It's a child abuse case, Mars," he'd said. "This guy's been smacking his kid around for years, but he thinks his money is going to get him off. If anyone is going to be able to nail this bastard's nuts to the wall, it's you."
Just about everyone she'd encountered in her legal career was aware of her role in the Aaron Echolls case. She hadn't decided yet whether it was a help or a hindrance—for every person who tried to kiss her ass to learn more about the sordid details, there was another who was out to show her that she wasn't as smart as she thought she was. It probably all evened out. And Veronica Mars knew she was exactly as smart as she thought she was.
When she arrived at her office, Donna was already there, organizing the case files. Donna was Veronica's favorite paralegal—when she agreed to take the case, she made her boss promise that Donna would work exclusively for her until the case was closed. Donna was in her 50s and had been an invaluable resource when Veronica had first started working as an assistant district attorney. She showed her around the office, gave her the scoop on each person she'd be working with, and helped her polish up her people skills—which, Veronica had to admit, still needed some work.
"You may be the smartest person in the room, but you don't have to shove that fact in people's faces," Donna had said. "And sometimes, experience trumps smarts."
Most importantly, when things got tough, Donna had a soothing, motherly way about her that Veronica secretly loved. Whether it was a particularly tough case or trouble in her personal life, Donna always provided a shoulder to lean—or cry—upon.
"You ready for this?" Veronica said cheerily as she stepped into the office.
"Don't worry about me," Donna responded. "I'm just wondering if you're ready for this."
"I've handled cases like this before," she said. "It's short notice, but I can—"
Before she could finish her sentence, Donna shoved a piece of paper in front of her face.
"It's the witness list," Veronica said, mildly exasperated. "I have seen one of these before. "
"Just read it, smarty-pants."
Veronica scanned the list: The child, Andrew; his mother; a few of his teachers and friends; and…
She looked up at Donna in disbelief. "Logan Echolls is testifying?"
"Mm-hmm," Donna confirmed. "When Andrew went to the Marian-Lynn home, your ex-honey was the one who was working there that night. He saw the injuries first hand and took Andrew to the hospital."
"Logan works at a Marian-Lynn home…" Veronica thought aloud. It made sense—the Marian-Lynn homes were for children or spouses who needed to escape abusive situations. She felt a little twinge of pride in him.
"Sort of," Donna said, handing her another page from the file. "Turns out he runs the Marian-Lynn Foundation to Prevent Domestic Violence, with his sister. They used their father's money to start it—that's a pretty good 'fuck you' to the old man, huh?"
"Yeah, it is," Veronica said with a knowing smile. That was probably just what Logan had thought.
"According to the information there, Logan visits each of different homes for a few days here and there, and he happened to be at the one in San Diego on the night Andrew showed up."
"Wow," Veronica said under her breath.
"Sounds like your high-school sweetheart has done pretty well for himself," Donna said, trying to sound lighthearted, although Veronica had told her more about her history with Logan than she'd told anyone else. Donna knew he wasn't just any ex-boyfriend.
"Sounds like it," Veronica murmured. She took a deep breath and pulled herself together. "So I guess I get to have a little reunion with my ex! That should be fun."
"Actually, it might be," Donna shrugged. "Now that you're both grown up, maybe some of that craziness has faded away and it will just be nice to see each other and catch up. But let's worry about your boy toy later. We've got a lot of work to do today."
The "craziness," as Donna had called it, sometimes did make her relationship with Logan difficult, but sometimes that craziness was wonderful. Veronica spent the next few days embroiled in her work, but every quiet moment found her reminiscing about Logan, and rehashing what had gone wrong the last time.
Watching him beat up Gorya Sorokin to defend her…well, that was hot. She hated to admit it, but it was true. In that moment, when he was standing over his opponent, throwing off Sorokin's threat with a smartass remark, she felt her breathing speed up, heard her heartbeat echoing in her ears. Their eyes locked, and he smiled—that cocky smile that she loved and hated—and when he turned and walked away, everything in her wanted to go after him. She almost did, until she saw Piz watching her sadly. He knew. Before Sorokin and his buddies could regroup, she took Piz by the arm and led him outside.
"Piz, you're a really great guy," she began.
"Don't say it, Veronica," he spat. "Don't insult me by giving me the 'it's not you, it's me' speech."
"But it's true," she said. "You're just, like, almost too good to be real, so I'm probably insane for doing this, but—I don't think Logan and I are finished. I don't know if we ever will be, and I can't string you along."
"I should have seen this coming," Piz said. "I don't know what I was thinking." He started to walk away.
"Piz, wait!" she said quickly. He stopped and turned around. "I…I'm sorry."
"Yeah, whatever," he said as he left.
Veronica watched him for a moment, then realized she still had time to catch up to Logan. She turned and ran to the parking lot to see if his car was still there in his usual spot, but it was already gone. Her Saturn was just across from the empty spot—a hard habit to break—so she climbed in and headed for the Neptune Grande.
When she pulled into the hotel parking lot, she saw his black Range Rover near the entrance and wasn't sure what she felt. Relief? Excitement? Dread? All she knew was that she had to see him. She walked as quickly as she could through the lobby and pressed the button to call the elevator, trying to make it arrive faster through sheer force of her will.
"Looking for someone?"
Logan was leaning back in one of the plush chairs near the elevator, legs crossed casually. He gave her that cocky smile again.
"I was looking…I needed to see…" She wasn't sure what to say.
"Let's go upstairs." As he rose from his chair, the elevator doors opened. He grabbed her hand and pulled her inside.
He pressed the number 12, and stood at her side, facing forward, still holding her hand. But the instant the doors closed, Logan turned and pressed his mouth to hers, pushing her back against the wall of the elevator. She threw her arms around him, grasping frantically at his hair and wrapping one leg around his, trying to press her body more tightly against his.
He hooked one hand under her knee and pulled her close, grinding his erection against her center. His lips moved down her neck until he found that spot just above her shoulder that made her shiver.
"Oh God," she rasped as she ran her hands up inside his untucked shirt. "This elevator is too slow." She slid her hands back down his sides and began to unbuckle his belt.
Before she could get to his fly, the elevator doors opened to his floor. They stumbled out, turning around again and again as they tried to walk without taking their mouths off each other. When they got to the door, she shoved her hands in his back pockets.
"Miss Mars! So forward," Logan said, pretending to be scandalized as he nibbled her ear. "I knew you were trying to get into my pants."
Without a word, she pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and extracted his key card.
"Oh, shut it," she said, reaching around him to swipe the card through the lock. She felt his smile as he lightly bit her neck just before she pushed him backward through the door.
They kissed passionately as they moved toward his bedroom, shedding clothes and bumping into furniture as they went. Logan pushed her jacket down off her shoulders and let it drop to the floor. She fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, opening them as quickly as she could to get to the warm, bare skin underneath. The shirt fell to the floor and she ran her hands over his back and shoulders, fighting the urge to push him down and fuck him right there on the hotel room floor, since she didn't want to be interrupted by his roommate.
He backed her into his room until she was sitting on his bed. As he turned to close the doors, she sat down and fumbled with the laces on her shoes. Why had she chosen today to wear Chucks? Logan used the time to kick off his own shoes and socks, along with his pants and boxers. That done, he began undressing her slowly, running his lips across each expanse of skin as it was revealed. She lay back on the bed so he could pull off her jeans and panties, and after he did so, he kneeled at the foot of the bed and pushed her thighs apart.
His soft, wet kisses up the insides of her legs were maddening. "Oh, God, Logan—please…" she pleaded. He gave her one long, slow lick up through her folds.
"Is this what you want?" he whispered.
"Oh yes, oh God, yes. More…"
He slowly licked her again, this time stopping to swirl his tongue around her clit. She writhed underneath him, lifting her hips toward his mouth. "Faster…harder…please…" she breathed.
Logan did as he was told, and it didn't take long before Veronica felt that beautiful, torturous pressure building between her legs. "Yes, oh fuck, yes," she gasped as she ascended to her orgasm. "Oh my God, Logan! Oh!"
Seconds after she came down—before she could even catch her breath again—she sat up quickly and reached for him, pulling him roughly on top of her as she moved further onto the bed. "I have to have you inside me. NOW." She reached for a condom from his nightstand drawer, deftly opening it and rolling it onto his hard cock as he groaned in pleasure.
"Now, Logan," she moaned.
He plunged into her with one deep thrust, making her cryhis name again. Silencing her with a deep kiss, he began moving in and out, first slowly and gently and then with more force. She dug her nails into his biceps and wrapped her legs tightly around his waist, pushing back against him as she came again, crying out for him with her lips against his.
"Oh, God, Veronica, I love you so much," he moaned as he approached his release. With a few hard thrusts that felt delicious against her core as she was coming down from her own orgasm, he came apart in her arms.
She held him for a few minutes until his breathing returned to normal, and then she gently nudged him off of her—she loved to feel his weight on her during sex, but afterward, their size difference meant he was just too damn heavy. She rolled onto her side and curled up against him.
"So…" she said, raising her eyes up to see his face. "You waited for me in the lobby?"
"I knew you'd come."
"Twice!" she giggled, holding up two fingers.
Logan smiled a little. "Well, yeah…but you know what I mean. It's always about you and me, Veronica." He ran his fingers softly down her bare arm. "Whatever happens, we're always being drawn back together. So I knew you'd be right behind me." She tilted her face up to him for a gentle kiss.
"Plus, I saw that 'fuck me' look you gave me just after the fight," he added, waggling his eyebrow.
"Please!" she asked. "If anyone gave anyone a 'fuck me' look, it was you giving it to me, sweetheart."
"Let's call it a tie," Logan laughed. "But this is what I mean—you and I have something that's never going away. So whatever you want this to be, whether it's just for tonight or for longer than that, it's OK. If it's just a one-night thing, I won't like it, but I'll take it—for now, because I know we'll be back. I love you and that's not going to change."
Veronica felt her eyes well and she pressed closer to him. "I don't want this to be just for tonight—I'm just not happy without you." She sat up and looked into his eyes. "I want us to try again." Logan slipped his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her down to him for a kiss.
And they were happy again, for a few weeks, anyway. But they quickly fell back into their same old patterns of mistrust and insecurity. The sex was always fantastic, but the harsh light of day was full of bickering, recriminations, and dredging up of old wounds. Veronica and Logan broke up—again—before the school year ended.
Click, click, click. Veronica had been interviewing witnesses for the last three days, and was getting sick of wearing heels. She walked into her office and dropped her bag on her desk, while muttering something about professional women, medieval torture devices, and the future of feminism in America. As she continued with a string of curses, Donna appeared in the doorway and looked her up and down.
"You look nice," she said appraisingly. "I guess today's the day you're meeting with your ex."
"Oh, stop," Veronica huffed. "I have to dress up when I'm meeting witnesses."
"New suit, new lip gloss, the nails are done, the roots are done," Donna said, pointing at all the beautifications Veronica had performed over the weekend. "That's not for any witness."
Veronica sighed. "OK, fine—I want to look hot when I see my old boyfriend. So sue me."
Donna laughed. "I get it. Everyone wants to look good when they see an old flame. Even if they're not looking to rekindle that flame…" She rolled her eyes a little.
"I told you, I am not rekindling!" Veronica protested. "I wouldn't mind if he pined after me a little though."
"Pining's good. But what if he's still hot too?" Donna winked. "I'll take the files to the conference room and get you set up while you think on that."
Veronica already knew Logan still looked gooood. Over the years, she had made a conscious effort not to look him up, but since she found out that she would be seeing him in person, she couldn't help herself. He'd been keeping a pretty low profile, but she'd found some photos of him with Trina at a recent charity event for the foundation. (Veronica was more than a little pleased that Logan's sister was his date.) He was still keeping his hair longer, just as she always liked it, although it was a little less mussed-up—otherwise, he still looked nearly the same. Older, yes, but without the world-weariness that had begun to take over his features the last time she saw him, he had a boyish quality that made him look younger than his 29 years.
With one last touch-up to her lip gloss, Veronica scooped up her laptop and went to the conference room to wait for Logan Echolls.
Veronica showed up early for the meeting, and as usual, tried to use the time to get some work done. Because of the witness she was awaiting, however, she couldn't keep her mind on her job.
By the time Veronica left for her internship at the FBI, they were on speaking terms again, and had promised to stay in touch.
Logan had made the first move, calling her after her first week to see how things were going. It hadn't been easy, and she was surprised to realize how comforting it was to talk to him.
They continued to call each other about once a week. Logan kept her up to speed on the goings-on in Neptune, and told her about his sister's sudden attempts to reestablish a relationship with him. Veronica talked about what she was learning at the FBI, while assisting agents with cases and attending the special seminars offered to interns. The conversations usually weren't very deep, but Veronica found herself really looking forward to them. She hoped it meant that things might be different between them when she came home.
Three weeks before the end of the program, she was especially excited to talk to Logan, because that week's seminar had been more enlightening than usual.
"It was about the psychology of the victims," she told him, "including, ah…victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and families of substance abusers."
"I'd think you'd be able to teach that one yourself."
"Actually, I learned a lot…about myself…about you…about us…" she said cautiously. "It turns out that we're remarkably well adjusted, given the childhoods we had."
Logan laughed—a real, all-out laugh, and she realized she hadn't heard that in a long time. "I can honestly say that's the first time anyone has ever called me 'well adjusted.'"
"Let's just say we could have turned out a lot more fucked up than we are," she said, smiling. "But even so, when the instructor talked about the problems that victims have with…" she took a deep breath, "…trust, intimacy, anger management…it was easy to see why things happened the way they did with us."
"Yeah, it sounds like it," he murmured.
"So, I was thinking—I'm going to be home in a few weeks, and maybe before school starts again we can get together and talk more about—"
He cut her off. "Listen, I, um, need to talk to you about that. I won't be going back to Hearst in September."
"You're dropping out? Logan…"
"No, I'm transferring to UCLA," Logan said. "I'm moving to Los Angeles to see if Trina and I can actually work things out."
Veronica's heart dropped into her stomach. "Y-y-you're leaving," she stammered. "Are you sure this isn't just your sister's latest hobby? I don't want you to get hurt again."
"No, I really think she means it this time," Logan said. "I was wondering what motivated this new campaign to be a 'real family,' and she finally told me: Before her mom died last year, she told Trina some stuff about Aaron that lent a little credence to my side of the story. She'd been trying to protect Trina, but after what he did to Lilly, she thought she should know."
"So she believes you now?"
"Yeah, how about that?" he said. "Plus, she started going to therapy and realized that even though he never beat her, he was still abusive to her. He chipped away at her self-esteem every day, telling her she wasn't pretty enough, not thin enough, not talented enough…"
"Well," Veronica began.
Logan chuckled. "OK, she wasn't a very good actress, but you shouldn't have to hear that from your dad. Child abuse isn't just physical, you know."
"You sound like a therapist yourself," Veronica teased gently. "I thought you hated that crap."
"I do—I did," he said. "But a few weeks ago, Trina asked me to come to a session with her, so I drove up for a couple of days. We talked to the shrink, we hung out, and…it was good, you know? I was glad I went. We've been talking a lot since then too, so I decided to move there so we can see each other more often—she's the only family I've got left. And there's nothing really keeping me in Neptune anymore."
"WHAT ABOUT ME? We're supposed to come back to each other! Don't you remember?" her brain screamed. But after she swallowed hard, her mouth said, "Oh. OK. When do you leave?" She felt her voice catch, but she didn't want him to hear her cry. If he didn't want to stay in Neptune, she didn't want to make him feel guilty for going.
"Next week," Logan said. "I still don't have much stuff, so I'm just going to cram it all in the Range Rover and take off."
"But you'll call me when you get there? And we can visit each other?"
"Of course," he said.
And they did call each other, for the first few months. But as time passed, the calls got less frequent until they eventually stopped, and they never visited each other. One winter, she realized she hadn't heard from him since the previous Christmas.
Veronica still thought of Logan often though, especially when one relationship after another failed. She'd dated guys who were attractive, smart, funny—great guys, on paper—but none of them made her feel that flutter in her chest that she always felt when she was with Logan. When conducting the post-mortem on her most recent relationship, she'd concluded that the flutter had just been teenage hormones.
"And adrenaline from being thrown into life-or-death situations on a regular basis," Mac had added.
"That too," Veronica agreed. "Here's to keeping the life-threatening danger to a minimum." The friends clinked their margarita glasses.
The lack of life-threatening danger was definitely a major benefit of her job. She still got to catch the bad guys without ever worrying about getting a gun held on her. The big downside, though, was all the time she spent waiting around for other people. Veronica sighed loudly as she looked at her watch.
"You haven't seen me in almost 10 years but you can't wait another 10 minutes? Sheesh."
Veronica looked up quickly to see Logan leaning against the door frame, hands in his pockets. She was dismayed when she felt that familiar flutter in her chest.
"Have you ever been on time for anything in your life?" Veronica tried to act irritated, but she couldn't keep from smiling.
Logan held up his bare wrist with a grin. "Nope."
"All that money and you still can't buy a watch." Veronica pursed her lips with false pity.
"Ah, but now the money is going to a good cause, so I have an excuse." He stood up straight and walked into the room. "Would the assistant district attorney have any objections to a hug from the witness?"
She giggled at the bad wordplay. "I'll allow it." She stepped toward him stiffly, but as his arms wrapped around her, she relaxed into his embrace. With her head on Logan's chest, Veronica could feel his warmth against her cheek and the flutter in her chest grew stronger.
"OK!" she said brightly, pulling away from him suddenly. "We need to talk about the case."
"Uh, yeah, I guess so," Logan replied, pulling out a chair for himself. "I was pretty surprised when they told me the name of the attorney taking over the case. I figured you were with the FBI."
"I was planning on going to the FBI, but then I took some criminal law courses at Hearst and really got into it," Veronica explained. "You know, punish the guilty without the risk of great bodily harm. So I went to Stanford Law, and here I am."
"Stanford? Wow—that's really great, Veronica," Logan said sincerely. "I'm glad you got your shot."
"Yeah, me too, although the loans are probably going to kill me," she said wryly. "Public service is not the way to riches."
"Neither is a nonprofit," he said with a sarcastic smile. "I don't know where I went wrong."
She shook her head. "I think it's great. And I think your mom would be really proud of you."
"Well, she's a big reason behind all of this."
"I know," Veronica said quietly, thinking of the sweet, broken woman who had always been kind to her family, even when the rest of Neptune had turned against them. "If she's the Lynn in the Marian-Lynn Foundation's name, who's Marian?"
"I thought you knew," Logan replied. "Marian was Trina's mom. She had to put up with that bastard too, so she earned a place in the title."
"I'm sure she did."
"And we didn't want the name Echolls attached. Trina and I decided to stay behind the scenes when we can—the 'children of the murdering movie star' label gets a little old."
"I can imagine," Veronica said.
After a brief but awkward silence, Veronica said, "Now we'd really better talk about the case—I have another meeting this afternoon."
They spent the next hour reviewing the questions Veronica would ask him on the stand and discussing those questions that the defense was likely to ask. "And make sure you don't lose your temper on the stand, no matter what they say," she added.
Logan looked peeved. "I'm not 17 anymore, Veronica. I haven't broken a taillight in a long time."
"Sorry, just thought I should mention it," she said sheepishly. "So, that's it unless you have any questions."
"Yeah, I do," he said, pushing his chair away from the table. "Are you free later? Maybe we can grab some dinner and catch up."
"I wish we could," she said, meaning it more than he knew. "But since you're a witness in my case, we can't socialize."
"Oh, right. I forgot about that. It's just been ages since I've testified in a criminal case!" he said, clasping his hands dramatically. "I do hope I haven't lost my touch."
"Also, I should warn you—my boss says that there's going to be some media attention on this case, since the guy's sort of bigwig in the real estate world," Veronica added. "I'm not sure what that's going to mean for either of us, but just in case…"
"I'll be OK." He rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. "I can handle it. But I'll mention it to Andrew's counselor at the home so she can help him deal if it comes to that."
They stood and walked toward the conference room door. "It was really great to see you again." She gave him a brief hug, without getting too close this time.
"Yeah, you too," he said. "See you in court." As he walked down the hall, he spun around and gave her a little wave, before spinning to face forward again and heading toward the lobby.
"Hoo!" Veronica let all the air out of her lungs and put a hand to her forehead. At that moment, Donna passed by the doorway, stopped to raise her eyebrows suggestively, and continued on.
When the day of the trial arrived, Veronica knew that her butterflies weren't just about the case.
"Maybe it's just nostalgia," Mac had offered when Veronica bemoaned her distinctly physical reaction to seeing Logan again. "Great sex was the one thing that always worked for you two, and you have had quite the dry spell lately."
"I hope you're right," Veronica had said, sighing into the phone. "How pathetic would it be to lust after my high school-slash-college boyfriend?"
"Hey, watch it—I still lust after my college boyfriend," Mac said.
Veronica giggled. "Sorry, don't tell Max I said that."
The first day of the trial consisted mostly of testimony from Andrew and his mother, but Logan still came to provide the boy with moral support. He sat in the seats directly behind Veronica, and although they never spoke, she was unnerved to know he was watching her.
There were reporters outside the courthouse, but not too many, and they were mainly interested in Andrew's father's lawyer—Veronica just gave them a few quick soundbites, and Logan was able to take Andrew and his mother out the back way without being disturbed.
On the second day, Logan and other employees of the San Diego Marian-Lynn home were scheduled to testify. Veronica spent an inordinate amount of time rehearsing her questions for Logan, to make sure she'd be composed and professional.
When he took the stand, she pretended he was a stranger. She asked him to recount the events of the evening, from Andrew's phone call to his arrival at the home, through their visit to the hospital and beyond. He was a perfect witness as he described the boy's injuries, sounding sympathetic and kind without being overly emotional. When the defense questioned him, he stayed perfectly calm as Andrew's father's lawyer tried to poke holes in Logan's story, and even when he brought up Logan's own history of child abuse. She felt a surge of pride as the defense counsel appeared to be returning to his seat.
He turned back to Logan. "Oh, Mr. Echolls, isn't it true that you and the assistant district attorney here have a personal relationship?"
Veronica froze, but Logan was unfazed. "We used to be friends, a long time ago," he replied coolly.
"Friends? I was under the impression that you had a romantic relationship," the attorney smarmed.
"Well, yeah, but it was just high school," Logan shrugged. "I dated a lot of girls in high school."
"I'm sure," said the attorney. He tried to push the issue, but Logan steadfastly maintained that their romantic relationship was part of the distant past. The attorney finally let him off the stand. "Nothing further."
When court adjourned for the evening, Veronica made a point of not looking at Logan as she gathered her things. She escorted Andrew and his mother out a side door of the courtroom and brought them to a conference room to discuss the day's events.
"Was it weird putting your old boyfriend on the stand?" Andrew asked as they walked side-by-side down the hall.
"No, not at all," Veronica lied. "It was just high school."