Later that week, Veronica went to Logan's place to pick him up for dinner. When she rang the bell outside, she was surprised to hear Trina's voice on the intercom. "Veronica! Come on up!"
Trina greeted her when she arrived at the door to Logan's condo. Veronica knew that she didn't have her own home in San Diego, so she stayed with Logan occasionally, but she hadn't seen Trina at all since high school.
"Hi! How are you?" Trina reached forward and pulled Veronica into a hug. "Princess is still futzing with his hair, so it might be a while."
"Hey!" came Logan's voice from the bathroom down the hall.
"He says that a conference call ran long, but he takes longer to get ready to go out than I do," Trina whispered conspiratorially.
"It's good to see you, Trina," Veronica said sincerely. "You really look great. Happy."
"Staying out of the tabloids does wonders for the complexion." Trina grinned goofily and framed her face with her hands. "But thanks—I feel great. The last few years have been pretty good to me."
"It shows," Veronica said. "So, I didn't know you were in town."
"I wasn't planning on it, but I just needed to get out of LA for a couple of days," Trina explained. "I just sort of showed up on my brother's doorstep—I hope I'm not going to be in your way…"
"No! Not at all," Veronica said.
"Are you sure?"
"Really, we're going out—to that new Greek restaurant downtown. Do you want to come with us?"
"Thanks, but I, uh, need to stay in and get some work done while I have the home office to myself," Trina said.
Just then, Logan appeared next to them. "Should we get going?"
"Well, don't you look pretty!" Trina exclaimed. She reached up and tried to tousle his hair, but his longer reach allowed him to hold her off.
"Nice try, Trin."
"You mess up that hair and we're going to miss our reservation!" Veronica told her sternly.
"Good point," Trina laughed, giving Logan a playful shove when he let go of her wrists. "Have fun, you guys."
Veronica and Logan both loved their work, and as usual, had spent most of dinner talking about their respective jobs. She felt like she knew Logan's job as well as her own, and he was familiar with all of her current cases. On the drive home, Veronica excitedly described a break in her case against a high-school drug dealer. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Logan watching her intently.
"What?" she asked, without taking her eyes off the road.
"I'm really proud of you."
She giggled self-consciously. "Why? Because I like taking down the evil-doers? You know that's always been a hobby of mine."
"Not just that." He fidgeted with the hem of his jacket. "You found a way to channel your pit-bull-like tenacity in a positive direction. You seem…OK, I'm going to try and word this carefully in case I'm wrong…but you seem less…pissed off."
She raised an eyebrow and gave him a smirk. "Bold move, Echolls, poking the pit bull like that."
"I like to live on the edge," he said with a wry smile.
"You're right though. Remember when I told you about that course I took at the FBI during my summer internship?"
"The one about crime victims?"
"Yeah," she said. "It got me thinking, so I did more reading about it and learned a lot about why I couldn't trust anyone, why I was so controlling—I even had my very own therapist for a while there."
"I know!" Veronica was still a little surprised herself. "I always thought I didn't need to talk to anyone about my stuff, but apparently I did. And it does feel better to not be so angry all the time."
"Right? I only wish someone had told me sooner," Logan chuckled.
"Yeah, I'm new and improved," she said, when a realization came to her. "I'm Veronica 2.0."
"A computer joke?" he asked. "Did Mac tell you that?"
"Sort of…" she said thoughtfully, without elaborating.
"So—what is this exciting new piece of evidence in your drug-dealer case? Did someone find a bong in his locker?" Logan teased.
"More like the makings of a small meth lab," she replied. "Bongs are so 2004."
Logan laughed. "Now that we're no longer under Van Clemmons' thumb, are you finally going to tell me how you did that?"
"Please, that was hardly one of my more complex setups," Veronica said. "I had a master key to all the lockers. Plant the bong, make an anonymous phone call, and bam! One Logan Echolls is being dragged out of school by Neptune's finest."
"And here I thought you were a trained safecracker," Logan said. "I pictured you holding a stethoscope up to the lock until you figured out the combination."
"You watch too many old movies."
"Actually, that one might be from a Bugs Bunny cartoon."
"OK, now I get to ask one," Veronica said.
"Can I take the dare instead?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow.
"Not a chance," she said. "How the hell did you and Weevil spike that teacher's car onto the flagpole?"
"Who said we did that?" Logan asked innocently. She raised a suspicious eyebrow. "OK, we did, but all the credit goes to Weevil. I was just the accomplice."
Veronica pretended to clutch her pearls. "You couldn't operate a metal saw and a welding torch on your own?"
"Hey, someone had to pay for the illegal tow truck to get the car on the pedestal," he said.
"That answers that part of the question, but how did you wrap it around the pole?"
Logan raised his index finger. "Ah, that's where the real genius came in. We didn't take apart the car—we cut down the flagpole."
Veronica laughed in amazement. "Seriously?"
"Seriously! Then Weevil cut holes in the roof and floor of the car, and the truck moved it onto the pedestal and helped us lift the pole to put it through the car. Weevil welded the pole back down, and voila! Car kabob."
"Jesus!" Veronica guffawed as she pulled up in front of Logan's building and turned off the ignition. "I always wanted to know how you guys did that, but Weevil wouldn't say after he almost got expelled."
"Is it my turn to ask something I've always wanted to know?"
"Shoot," she said, gleefully wondering which of her capers he would ask about next.
He paused for a moment, looking ahead out the windshield. After taking a deep breath, he asked, "Why was Duncan your first instead of me?"
Veronica looked at Logan's face and saw that he was dead serious.
"Why does that matter now?"
Logan shrugged. "Because that question ate at me for a long time. It's not like it's keeping me awake at night—anymore—but I still want to know." He turned in his seat to face her. "That summer when we were together, I tried so hard to be understanding, to wait until you were ready. I was so in love with you and I wanted so badly to be your first."
He smiled sheepishly and started tugging at his sleeves. "You know, I had this whole image in my head about how I would make it so special and perfect for you…but then we broke up, and you got back together with Duncan, and you slept with him after just a few weeks. I have to say—that really hurt. It made me wonder if maybe you meant more to me than I did to you."
"No!" she almost yelled. Then she said, more softly, "No, that wasn't it. Oh my God, I'm sorry you thought that." She put her hand over his.
"Then what was it?"
This was an easy one to answer—she'd thought about it a lot over the years. "Things between us were really intense, you know? We were like a speeding car, going so far, so fast. And then with everything that was going on that summer, it was a lot to handle, and I was afraid that adding sex into that was going to be just too much. I was waiting for things to become more…normal."
"And they never did," Logan muttered, slouching back in his seat.
"No, they didn't. I think that's why I got back together with Duncan—I was looking for things to go back to the way they were before. Before Lilly…before…everything, you know? It just felt safe and normal to be with him, and that's what I needed after everything we'd all been through. But it was never going to be the same, and I think he knew it too."
"I guess that makes sense…" he said begrudgingly.
She smiled shyly—she had a little secret that she knew would make him feel better. "Besides, you were still my first in another way."
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "I didn't know there was another way."
"Well…remember that time in the back of your car…"
"You'll need to be more specific," he said, with a begrudging half-smile.
"…when we tried to go to the movie but went to the beach instead? And I was wearing that green skirt you liked, and you…" She was glad it was dark in the car and he couldn't see her blush.
Logan turned his head slowly toward her. "Really!" he said, widening his eyes and raising his eyebrows with a sly grin. "That was your first?"
"My first with someone…"
"Veronica Mars! You naughty girl. Why didn't you say anything?"
They'd planned on seeing a movie, but it was sold out, so they decided to go for a walk on the beach. They parked in a secluded spot, since the beach was supposed to be closed. But before they could get out of the car, a quick kiss across the front seat evolved into heavy making out, both of them pulling at each other's clothes, sliding their hands up inside each other's shirts. She gasped when he slipped his fingers underneath her bra, rolling them over her hard nipples.
She didn't even know how or when they ended up in the back seat, with her sitting in his lap. When she felt his fingers on the inside of her bare thigh as she had so many times before, she didn't want to push them away as she usually did—she couldn't. She wasn't even sure how she'd managed to stop him before, but this time, the throbbing between her legs was unbearable and she needed to feel his hands on her.
He paused as though he expected her to bring his hand to a halt, but when she didn't, he tipped her back onto the car seat, with his arm under her head. She opened her eyes and saw him looking down at her so tenderly, and she wondered if she might be in love with him. It didn't feel like it did with Duncan. This was different, almost overwhelming. She put a hand on his cheek and smiled nervously.
"Relax, babe," he said, leaning down to nibble the side of her neck. "If you want me to stop, anytime, you just say so."
She nodded and closed her eyes as he continued caressing her inner thighs. His hand moved slowly up her skirt until he reached the edge of her panties. He touched her through the moist fabric. "Is this OK?"
"Oh yeah," she panted. "Please don't stop."
He tugged lightly at her underwear, and she lifted her hips so he could remove them. Her skirt—the one she wore because she knew he liked it—was pushed up around her waist, and he lightly dragged his fingers through her damp curls. She parted her knees to give him better access. "Oh, that feels so good," she whispered.
"All I want is to make you feel good," he breathed into her ear. "I love you, Veronica."
He stroked her softly for a few minutes, until she was breathing faster and moving her hips in rhythm with his hand. With one finger, he began to trace small, slow circles around her clit. She inhaled sharply.
It was so much better than anything she'd ever done to herself—she knew she needed him to keep touching her like that. And he did, gradually moving his fingers a little bit harder and a little bit faster, as she involuntarily thrust her hips against his hand, desperately seeking her release. She tossed her head from side to side and bit her lip to keep from screaming.
"Just let go, babe," he murmured. "I've got you."
The exquisite feeling was building…and building…she didn't know if she could take it anymore until… "Oh God!" She threw her head back as her whole body shuddered in ecstasy. Everything went white and all she could feel was his hands on her body, his breath on her neck. He kept touching her through every last tremor, then he'd held her close as she came down, gasping for air and holding him tightly to her. She laid in his arms, with her head on his shoulder, until it was time to go home.
Veronica blinked hard to force herself to stop thinking about that night. "You were…a lot more experienced than I was," she explained with an uneasy laugh. "I guess I just didn't want to seem like a prude."
"None of that would have mattered at all," Logan said. "I just…"
They sat awkwardly for a moment, until Logan broke the silence. "So now that you've had more to compare it to, how did it rate?"
"Come on, I want to know!" he said, teasing. "If I gave you your first non-solo orgasm, I have the right to know how it measured up."
"Oh my God, I cannot believe I'm having this conversation with you!" Talking about orgasms with Logan was making her wet, and she shifted uncomfortably in her seat, squeezing her thighs together.
"Veronica…" he wheedled.
She realized that he was not going to drop this until she told him. "To the other ones from you, or in general?"
Trying to maintain his joking tone, she said. "You've always been my best."
He smiled bashfully. "You're not just saying that to save my inner 17-year-old's pride, are you?"
"Since when has your pride ever been an issue?" Veronica asked. She paused for a moment, then continued sincerely, "I've always been glad that the first time was with you. You did make it perfect and special."
This time, Logan blushed.
"And now I'm completely embarrassed," she added.
"Don't be," he murmured. "You've always been my best too."
Veronica thought she saw him lean toward her, just a little bit. Or had she leaned toward him? Their faces drew closer to each other and she closed her eyes. Logan gave her a soft, lingering kiss on the cheek. Feeling him so close made her breath catch—she wanted to turn her head to claim his lips with hers, to drag him into the back seat and feel his hands sliding up her thighs again…
"I'd better go," he said quietly as he pulled away. "It's getting late."
She cleared her throat. "Yeah."
"I'll call you," he said cheerily as he got out of the car.
"OK, later." After she watched him stride quickly up his front walk and into the building, she banged her head on the steering wheel and sighed.
Two days later, Logan called Veronica from Los Angeles. "Hey, I forgot to ask you when we went out the other night—do you have any plans for the Friday after your birthday?"
"No, why?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, I have to be in Torrance on your actual birthday next week, but I'll be back in San Diego on Friday. Can I take you out for a late birthday dinner?"
"I'll pencil you in," Veronica said, trying to sound cheerful.
"Great! I'll call you later."
She hung up and dropped her head into her hands with a loud, dramatic sigh.
"Are you finally going to tell me what the hell is going on with him?" Donna appeared in the doorway. "And don't give me that 'we're just friends' garbage anymore." She sat in the chair opposite Veronica's desk and leaned toward her. "Come on, talk to me."
Veronica pressed her palms to her forehead. "Oh, we're trying to be friends, but I don't know if it's enough for me anymore."
She told Donna everything: About the one night they'd spent together, the flutter she felt in her chest every time they went on one of their platonic "dates," how Logan just wanted to be friends, and how it was growing more and more painful for Veronica to spend time with him knowing that they weren't more.
"For starters, you need to find out how he feels," Donna said matter-of-factly. "You need to just ask. The wait-and-see approach is obviously not working for you."
"But what if I scare him off? What if my big declaration freaks him out and he doesn't even want to be friends anymore?"
"Honey, being just friends with him is hurting you," Donna said gently, "so if that's all he wants from the relationship, well, you might need to end it."
Veronica's eyes filled with tears. "You may be right," she sniffled. "I don't want to lose him again, but I can't keep doing this. It's too hard."
"Just talk to him first," Donna said, standing and walking around the desk. "And whatever happens, I'm going to be here for you." She leaned over and gave Veronica a hug from behind.
On the day of her birthday, Veronica met Mac at a restaurant bar. Max planned to join them for dinner when he got out of work, so before he arrived, Veronica told Mac about her conversation with Donna.
"I hate to say it, but Donna has a point," Mac said. "I like having Logan around again too—not as much as you, of course—but if it's that painful for you, you might need to cut him off."
"I know," Veronica sighed. "I just don't want to think about that possibility."
"Oh for fuck's sake, are we analyzing the Logan situation again?" Max said as he walked up behind them. "My God, we need to have another topic."
"We were trying to finish up that portion of the evening before you showed up," Mac explained, giving him a smooch. "I really did try to spare you, sweetie."
"Fine. Why are we talking about cutting him off?" Max asked, resigned. "From what?" He gestured to the bartender to bring him a beer.
"From me," Veronica said. "Donna thinks I need to stop hanging out with him if he only wants to be friends, since obviously I'm not handling that well."
Max got his drink and dropped his money onto the bar. "Why are you so sure that he wants to be just friends? I mean, it's not like you've ever, you know, asked him."
"Are you always in such a bitchy mood after work?" Veronica asked.
"Today I am—I've been listening to you two talk about this endlessly for fucking months, and as far as I know, you've never talked to him about the subject," Max said exasperatedly. "Not talking about this shit didn't help you much in the past, so I don't know why you're trying it again, quite frankly."
"Max…" Mac took a warning tone.
"No, let him keep going," Veronica said thoughtfully. "I think Bitchy Max may be right. Donna said almost the same thing, with less cursing."
"Look—you've got nothing to lose anymore," Max continued, more kindly. "You might as well get it out in the open and see what happens. Not that I want you to dump him, because it was nice to finally have another guy around to balance you two out, but you can't keep flailing around like this. It's not you—you need to do something. Either way, at least you'll know where you stand and be able to make a decision." He took a long sip of his beer.
Veronica looked sad while Mac watched her sympathetically.
"He's right," Veronica said, taking a deep breath and slapping her hands down on her knees. "I'm seeing Logan on Friday, I'll talk to him then."
"Good. Happy birthday, by the way." Max said warmly, giving Veronica a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks, Maxie," she said as she returned the hug. "And for your sake, we'll stop talking about this and move on to something else."
"Thank you!" he said as he helped gather their jackets so they could go get a table.
"Oo! Let me show you swatches for the bridesmaids' dresses!" Mac yelped as she dug into her messenger bag.
"We really need to find more guys to hang out with," Max sighed.
Logan said he'd pick Veronica up at 7:30, so she was surprised to hear her doorbell at 7:35.
"You're almost on time!" she said into the intercom.
"I thought I'd do something special for your birthday," his voice crackled back through the speaker. She buzzed him in and waited for him to come to her door.
He arrived with his arms thrown open wide. "Come here, birthday girl."
As she pressed her body to his, she tried not to get choked up but her cheeks still got hot. She pulled away. "Listen, I need to talk to you about something," she began.
"Presents first," Logan replied. He held out a small box, beautifully wrapped, with a silver bow on top. Veronica held her breath, and clasped her hands together to keep them from shaking.
"Come on," he said, wiggling the box in her face enticingly. "Don't pretend to be shy. I know how you feel about presents."
A slow grin crept across her face. "What is it?"
"You don't really think I'm going to tell you, do you? Just open it or I'm taking it back!"
She snatched the box from him. It felt light and delicate in her hands. She carefully tore the wrapping paper with her fingernail and slid the little box out. With another glance at Logan, she lifted the lid to find…
"A gift certificate for a handyman service?" She tried to contain her disappointment.
"So you can finally get all of these projects done around your place," Logan said, gesturing to the curtain rods in the corner. He took his jacket off and sat on the arm of the couch. "You said you didn't have time, so now you can just have professionals do it for you."
Veronica put the box down on a side table. "I'm sorry, I can't do this."
"You don't like it? I thought…"
"No, I can't go out with you tonight," she said, beginning to cry. "I can't see you anymore."
Logan's face fell. "Can't see me anymore? Veronica, what's going on? I thought we were friends again."
"We are, but I can't do it anymore. It's just too hard," she cried.
"I don't understand," Logan said, standing up and starting to pace. "I thought we were having a great time. I don't get it. Why is it hard?"
Veronica sobbed quietly and turned away from him. This was even harder than she expected it to be.
Logan's tone grew more panicked and he put a hand on her shoulder. "Talk to me, Veronica! Please, don't do this. Why can't you see me anymore?"
She spun around to face him. "Because I still love you!" she shouted, her voice raw.
Logan yanked his hand back and stood frozen to his spot, his eyes wide.
"I still love you, but I know that you just want to be friends," Veronica continued loudly, "and I can't do that anymore. I thought that being just friends with you would be better than nothing, because that way at least I'd be able to be with you somehow—but it just hurts too much. So I think I have to stay away from you. I can't be your friend anymore, knowing that it will never be anything more than that."
"Wait—you still love me." He looked at the ceiling as though he were trying to comprehend the words.
"I always have, and the goddamned irony is that I couldn't tell you that when we were together, but now that you just want to be friends, apparently the words can just come pouring out." She made a sweeping gesture with her hands.
Logan ran a trembling hand through his hair. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came.
"I'm sorry to lay all of this on you," Veronica continued, "because you probably don't want to hear it right now, but I had to tell you the truth so you wouldn't think I'd just run off on you again."
"You thought I wouldn't want to hear this?" Logan said hoarsely, barely regaining his voice. "Veronica, I've been in love with you since the first time you kissed me. And for 12 years I've wanted to hear you say that you love me the way I love you—12 years. I've never gotten over you, as much as I wanted to. I can't even—" He stepped forward to take her in his arms, but before he could embrace her, Veronica thumped his chest with her fist. "Veronica, what the hell?"
"Then what was all this 'just friends' crap about?" she asked, not succeeding at keeping the annoyance out of her voice. "If you didn't really want to be just friends, then why did you keep saying that? I've been torturing myself for months!"
"Because I thought that's what you wanted! You never gave me any sign that you wanted anything other than friendship, so I was just taking what I could get!" He held his hands out toward her. "I just wanted to be with you."
"Dragging you into my bed the first night we went out wasn't a sign?" Veronica asked incredulously, crossing her arms.
Logan laughed lightly. "Hey, I made the first move!" She rolled her eyes at him. "I did! And my sister had warned me not to push things, not to assume we were still... us. But it just felt like us that night, you know? Like we'd always been that way. Then when I thought about it the next morning, I was sure I'd moved too fast and fucked everything up, and I just felt weird and embarrassed about putting myself out there like that."
"I felt weird and embarrassed when you took off!" Veronica groused. "I thought I was such an idiot."
"And I really did have a meeting," he said, his eyes twinkling. "Hold on—why is this my fault? You didn't say anything either!"
"I did—just now!" She threw a hand in the air for emphasis.
"Well, thanks for letting me dangle for six months before bringing it up," he scoffed gently. "I guess neither one of us is as new and improved as we thought."
Veronica crossed her arms and chuckled. "I guess not."
She waved a hand toward the gift box on the table. "My birthday present—I guess when I saw the little box, I got my hopes up for something romantic."
"That wasn't romantic? I put a lot of thought into that." Logan was clearly a little hurt. "It was something you needed, it showed I was paying attention…"
"I know!" Veronica interrupted. "I didn't mean it like that. This is a great gift, but it doesn't exactly make your feelings clear. So that's when I realized that I just needed to say something."
Logan's hands stilled and he stopped pacing. He looked her in the eyes. "Say it again."
"What? What did I say?"
"Please, Veronica," he said, walking toward her. "I need you to say it again."
A smile crept slowly across her face when she realized what he meant. "I love you, Logan."
He suddenly swooped her up in his arms, spinning her around and kissing her deeply. She cried and laughed at the same time as he brushed his tongue against hers. He put her down and cupped her face. "I love you too," he said between kisses. "Always have."
She took his hands in hers and pulled him over to the couch. They both sat sideways, facing each other, with their knees touching. She kissed him again, reassuring herself that what was happening was real.
"So how long were you going to wait?" Veronica asked. "If I hadn't said anything, what would you have done eventually?"
"I was just hoping this would happen sometime—I just didn't know how long it would take," Logan said. "We're always being drawn back together. And it's for the right reasons this time. We need to make a pact to just say what we're feeling from now on. I want this to be it, Veronica—you and me, no more screwing around."
"You and me," she whispered, holding his face in her hands and kissing him softly.
He leaned back to look at her face, tucking her loose strands of hair behind her ears. "You know, all these years, I've thought a lot about what it would be like to hear you say you love me." He stroked her cheeks with the backs of his fingers. "I imagined all the different ways that might happen, and I have to say, I never thought that when you finally said those three little words for the first time, you'd be screaming them at me."
"Oh yeah?" With a smile, she grabbed the lapels of his shirt and laid back on the couch, pulling him down on top of her. She put her lips close to his ear and breathed, "Make me do it again."