The Masked Caper
LV AU Week: Day Five: Team Detecting
"Sugerpuss, why is it, the only time I can get you dressed up and dripping in diamonds is when it's for a case?" Logan's lower lip pushed out slightly in a pout even while his eyes darkened. He looked down at his wife; hand tightening on her waist to pull her even closer, his other hand holding hers almost against his chest as they swayed to the music filling the room.
"You knew when you married me I'm more of a jeans and t-shirt girl with a leather jacket girl, love muffin. Wasn't it you that told me, and I quote, 'You should only ever wear this?'" Veronica's blue eyes sparkled from behind the delicate black mask that covered her eyes, most of her upper face and down the slim line of her nose.
Knowing that she bested him by his own words, Logan continued to pout, "But I like you all covered in silk, dancing with me occasionally." His chocolate brown eyes held her gaze from his own corresponding solid black mask covering his upper face. "And I love seeing my mother's vintage Cartier jewelry on you. It's like she bought it knowing that one day you would wear it and she was just holding onto them for a time."
Veronica's eyes went soft and round while meeting her husband's gaze and heart fluttering at his words. When she spoke again, her voice was thicker and softer, while her hand moved from his shoulder to touch the part of his cheek left exposed by the mask, "Lo, I know you like to buy me things, but this is why I ask you not to buy me jewelry. I'm aware you think it's because of the money, but it's not. I find it an honor to wear Lynn's jewelry. Your mom had remarkable taste, and it's more fun and meaningful to bring these exquisite pieces out."
Logan's hand tightened against the silk fabric draping her waist before smoothing it out and a heavy sigh let Veronica know that her husband felt frustrated at his inability to kiss her right now. His head lowered, hot breath falling against the shell of her ear, provoking shivers down her spine while his deep, velvet voice fell to a level for her ears only. "Bobcat, saying things like that makes me want to find an empty room or a very dark corner with you."
"How about I make you a deal, Handsome. We finish up this case tonight and I'll let you do whatever you want to me afterwards. I'll even agree to at least five actual dates in the next month and to take that vacation time so we can take that trip.
He pulled back to peer at her, eyes narrowed behind his mask. "Who are you and what have you done with my wife? Is this a body-snatcher situation?"
Giggles erupted from Veronica, resulting in Logan's lips curved into a beaming smile He hadn't heard this sound often enough lately. While adoring her tenacity and the way she threw herself into cases. Recently she had started getting lost in them again and it was worrisome. It had been an adjustment; him leaving the Navy, getting his investigator license and joining her at MI. They had talked about the move for a long time before it happened and both wanted it, but it worried him the reality wasn't living up to the dream for Veronica.
"No, not a body-snatcher. I assure you, I'm still your wife." Veronica's teeth bit into her bottom lip, "It's been a little hard adjusting, ya know? But I love working together. I just realized that I need to get better at separating some time just for us. Maybe it can't happen all the time, but there should be work and home; a separation so we aren't carrying everything with us and we get time to just be... us. In all my stress on how to figure everything out, I've let myself get a bit lost. A vacation would be good. Time for just you and I away from everything. Then when we get home, we can figure out the balance together." Blue eyes gazed into brown, trying to communicate what words couldn't.
Logan's entire body relaxed and out of reflex, he bent to kiss her before their masks collided, preventing it. "Dammit!" He swore under his breath. "Okay, let's get this case done so we can take off these fucking masks." Getting to hear Veronica giggle once more made up for the missed kiss... almost.
Lips curved up, and her head tilted a bit. "Okay, here's the plan, twinkle-toes. I need you to dance me over to the other side of the room, to the staircase. We need to get upstairs. Find his office or maybe the bedroom. That's where I think we'll find the information on the missing girls. I know the esteemed mayor, Branigan Fitzpatrick is elbows deep in this with his cousins, despite him going on and on about how he is not his family." Veronica rolled her eyes hard.
"You know I hate this, right? And before you tell me it's the job, I know. But haven't we had enough mix-ups with the Fitzpatricks to last a lifetime, Vee?" Flashbacks of the River Stix and seeing Veronica being held down on a pool table, tattoo needle about to touch her porcelain skin went through his mind.
"Logan, are you going to do this with me or not? We need to get information on where these girls disappeared to!"
"Of course I'm going to help you, my darling Snookums. I just felt I had to point out the obvious. Okay, get ready to whirl and twirl and don't forget to smile!" Logan felt like he was putting on another mask. The son of the movie stars mask he wore during his adolescence and it felt just as uncomfortable now as it had then, however at least this time it was for something worthy. With the promised twirl, Logan began leading his wife in a new dance, subtly working them across the dance floor.
Any other time there would be the apprehension of someone recognizing them, but the masks were just enough to hide their identity. Even Veronica's, though see-through, was artfully created with swirls and swoops, decorated with crystals enough to mask who she was. Crystal Louboutin heels gave her three inches, give or take, the increased height allowing her to blend with the women here. Her blond hair pulled in an artful chignon kept it from being an identifying feature. And, while her plum purple silk, one shouldered Versace gown stood out amidst the mostly black and occasional red dresses, and caught her some appreciative glances from other men, it wasn't enough to scream 'Hey, I'm Veronica Mars.' They merely passed as another wealthy couple attending the mayor's masquerade ball.
Moving through the other dancing couples toward their target was easy. "Now what?" He eyed her warily, pretty sure he knew what she would say.
Sure enough, Veronica tilted her head and fluttered her eyelashes at him. "You stay here, maybe have a drink and make sure I'm not followed up. When the coast is clear, come up after me." Logan was about to protest them separating, even if it was for just a little while when Veronica tenderly reached up and pushed a comm in his ear before putting one in her own. "So we'll stay connected." With a kiss on his cheek, she spun and started her assent up the stairs. Logan gazed followed the way her body moved, the way the silk slid across and around it as she climbed, a low groan sliding out of his throat, his pants growing tighter.
"Down boy, case first, passionate sex later. You're here to find the missing girls. Keep your mind on that." He willed his body to listen.
Low sultry laughter filled the comm, "You know I can hear you, right, darling?"
With another groan, Logan grabbed a glass of champagne off a tray and downed it in one go.
"Logan! Logan, get up here now!" Her voice came through high and strained.
The urgent voice spurred him into action; long legs sprinting up the stairs, taking them two or three at a time. "Where are you? Are you hurt?"
"Master bedroom, to the right at the end of the hall. I'm okay, but I need you."
At the top of the stairs he turned right and continued his run to the door Veronica had indicated. His hands grabbed the knob, but at the last moment he stopped himself from flinging the door open. If she had been in actual danger, she would have said something else. They needed to keep this covert. He opened the door just enough to slide his body through and then closed it, turning around, unprepared for the sight before him.
Shocked, he stared, his eyes took in the girls handcuffed together and to the bed. Huddled in the corner together as if trying to protect one another, eyes wide and filled with terror. He knew that look; he saw that look in the mirror almost daily while growing up with Aaron Echolls. Veronica spoke in soft soothing tones, trying to reassure they were here to rescue them. She had removed her mask so the girls could see her face and he quickly did the same. "It's okay, it's okay. That's Logan, he's my husband and partner. He will help me get you free."
She turned slightly to him, "Logan, I need your handcuff key. Of course of all the times I need mine it has to be when I have to carry a tiny stupid purse and not my messenger bag!"
Any other time he would have laughed at his wife's rant, but he just couldn't. Not seeing these women so frightened. Covered in bruises and each dressed in a different color lingerie as if they were somebody's dolls to use as they would like. A rage he had controlled years ago churned in his stomach, wanting out and he fought to keep it under control. In this situation it would only hurt, frighten the women more. Instead, he quickly handed Veronica the key and then strode toward the closet, flinging it open, intending to find something for the women to put on that might help them feel less exposed, especially when the cavalry arrived. Bile rose in his throat and it took all of his strength not to drop to his knees. While one side was clothes, the other was lined with belts of all thicknesses and widths and also whips. He bit his tongue, tasting blood to hold back the painful moan that wanted to escape. His back throbbed with the ache of long ago beatings.
"Logan?" Veronica's distressed tone snapped him out of the trance. He quickly stepped in and found some button-down shirts that would be loose and soft against the agitated skin before opening drawers and finding some sweats. He removed himself as quickly, bringing the clothing over to the bed and then moving away to turn around so the women could dress. Pulling the phone from his inside tux pocket and dialed quickly, "Agent Rogers? Logan Mars here. We found more than clues, we found the girls. They were being held in the master bedroom. We're with them now." Logan listened for a moment, "Yes, we'll wait here with them, see you shortly."
"You can turn around now." Veronica's voice quietly brought him back away from the call. "They're on their way I assume?"
"Yeah, it should be about five minutes." He turned slowly and spoke in a calm, muted tone to the girls, "I was just talking to the FBI agent in charge of the investigation of your disappearances. They are on their way and we need to wait here for them, okay?" He let out a slow breath before speaking in a soft tone, "I'll be honest, Veronica and I didn't expect to find you here but we're so glad that we did. You must be terrified and unsure if you can trust us, that's understandable, but we are here to get you out."
The women, too scared to talk, just nodded and Logan didn't push them further. Not even Veronica pushed for answers. The door crashed open as two men entered the room and everyone froze in shock before jumping into action. Both Mars drawing their weapons, Veronica moving to shield the girls and Logan moving to shield them all.
"Who are you? How- it doesn't matter, you've made a colossal mistake." One man eyed Veronica up and down. "This one will make a delightful addition to the mayor's little harem."
Logan's fist shot out, taking down the first man with one blow to the temple. The other hand extended again to nab the other man by the collar. "What did you just say about my wife?" He snarled while delivering blow after blow down on the man; breaking his nose and if the sounds heard were right, several ribs before the final blow knocked him out and the hand loosed letting the man hit the floor.
"Who did you say you were?" One woman inquired with wide eyes.
He straightened his cuffs and then smoothed the jacket's lapels before answering, "Mars, Logan, Mars." The smirk that dominated his face told them all he'd just been waiting for the chance to use the line.
Veronica wasn't sure if she should laugh or cry but was saved from choosing when they heard a commotion from downstairs. Feet pounded up the stairs and down the hall and Logan opened the door before they broke it down. Agent Rogers led the way with four other agents following. He glanced down at the two men on the floor and told one of the other agents to cuff them and get them out of there. Determined, the man strode over to Veronica who was trying to keep the girls calm.
"Hey, hi. My name is Agent Steve Rogers and we've been looking for you. You've all got anxious families looking for you." The tone spoken was soothing and meant to put others at ease.
Veronica gave an encouraging nod and smiled, "It's okay, he's a good guy. Practically a superhero."
Hours and paperwork later found Logan and Veronica home. The night had not gone as expected but had concluded with an even happier ending than hoped. Veronica, eyes sharp, watched her husband while he double checked that the house was locked and the alarm set before guiding them up to the bedroom. She carefully took off her heels before going to the dresser to place her earrings and bracelet on a tray so they could put the jewelry back into the safe tomorrow. She knew the sight of those women, abused, affected her husband. How could it not? But something about the closet had also affected him, however there had been too many people around to ask him so she had bided her time. Logan removed the tux jacket and tossed it carelessly on the chair before sitting down on the bed to remove his shoes and then socks. After standing, he joined her at the dresser, adding cufflinks to the jewelry.
He took his wife's face into his hands gently and rested his forehead down against hers and closed his eyes. Logan kept them like this for several minutes before kissing her nose. "I need a shower." A tired smile graced his face as he walked to the master bath and flipped on the lights before going to start the rainfall shower along and the accompanying side jets. Leaving the bathroom door open, he undressed completely and stepped in.
Veronica knew that leaving the door open was her invitation to join, and she planned to but wanted to be careful about this. They had gotten good at communicating over the years and she knew that they needed to talk about what upset him so much. There was a haunted, dull look in his eyes that sent a shiver down her spine Her fingers reached for the side zipper on the dress and then let the silkiness slide down against her skin to the floor, stepping out of both it and the matching lace thong. She walked to the bathroom and adjusted the lighting, giving them a dimmer, more intimate place. The goal was creating a safe space for him.
"Okay if I join you?"
"Always." His answer was short, but the word was brimming with emotions.
Humming as the water enveloped and washed over her, Veronica wrapped her arms around him and he wrapped his around her. With closed eyes she just let the water fall over them, washing away some of the darkness seen tonight. Veronica stayed silent, and they just held each other for long minutes. When she finally spoke, the voice slid from her throat as a mere whisper, "What happened tonight, Love?"
Logan sagged a bit, but knew this was coming and needed to happen. "The closet-" He took some deep breaths, trying to steady himself from the images that assaulted his mind. "One side of the closet was nothing but belts and whips." His voice came out hoarse. "Methods meant to strike and hurt, to mark and bruise. I just- " Suddenly, Logan broke. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he pressed his face into the top of her head with deep, racking sobs.
Veronica tightened her arms and stroked his back; letting him get this out while she offered every comfort she could. Logan still didn't talk about his past, not much. She knew he had talked in therapy but she wondered if he had ever cried, ever let that younger version of himself out to cry for the injustice of what he had been forced to suffer. Wondered if maybe he was doing that as she held him tightly and stroked his back, So, she let him cry, and kissed the slightly bristled cheek, murmuring 'I love you' on repeat. Moved him only enough to get him to the bench in the shower so he could sit as she stood between his legs and drew him close against her breast and rocked.
When his tears ran out, she continued to hold him. Then, she washed his hair and using his shower gel bathed him, letting her hands run everywhere over his body and telling him he was beautiful and perfect, repeating these words especially while fingers ran over scars made by cigars, and as they washed his back and touched the scars that would never fade away there. Before turning off the shower, she washed herself quickly, smiling at him and maintaining eye contact hoping he could see her love.
After they turned the water off she quickly got two towels; she wrapped one around herself and then using the other took time drying off Logan. She bit her lip as she finally understood why he liked to take care of her. That it was an act of love and she vowed to let him do more of it from now on. She led him to bed, turning down the covers so he could slip in and going around to her side to get in before moving in toward the middle so they could meet.
Logan took her in his arms and held her close, breathing in the scent of marshmallow body wash and coconut shampoo and conditioner that hadn't changed even after all these years. He stroked her wet hair and felt peace settle within him, feeling purged of something he had kept inside for far too long. He smiled as he felt Veronica place a kiss against his chest.
"I love you, Logan"
"I love you, too Veronica"
Logan fell asleep knowing that his wife, his best friend, his partner in everything was safe in his arms and nothing would ever come between them again. He knew there would be more adventures, after all how could there not be with Mars and Mars teaming up? But the bad guys wouldn't stand a chance.