A/N Started this a couple of years back with a plan to get all of my favorite fanfic tropes in one story. Decided to finish it so I could post as part of LV AU Week. Goes canon divergent after Plan B. Hope you enjoy!
Huge thanks to Marshmellow Bobcat for the last minute beta!
Of Blizzards & Whiskey
Veronica fusses with the car radio, switching from station to station under the guise of searching for a weather report. Mostly, it's just to have something to do while Logan is on the phone.
"Eight foot swells?" he asks the person on the other end of the line. "You're killing me, man."
Logan glances over at Veronica, who pretends not to notice.
"Can't," he says. "I'm busy. But I'll be back tonight." He pauses, listening for a few seconds. "Sounds fun. Tell her I'll be there."
He hangs up, and Veronica sits back in her seat. She's left the radio on a particularly twangy country tune, but she's too distracted to care.
She looks over at Logan, who's concentrating on the road. "Let me guess," she says, "Madison's big bash?"
"I wasn't aware you still kept abreast of our social gatherings," he replies dryly.
"I hear things," she returns with a shrug. "Too bad my invitation got lost in the mail."
Logan smirks. "Good thing you've got that pity party to attend instead."
Veronica rolls her eyes. Before she can think of a witty comeback, Logan goes on.
"You know," he says, "if you showed up there with me, no one would give you a hard time."
"Thanks. But I'd rather get my wisdom teeth pulled than venture into that viper's nest."
"Right. Because who ever heard of going to a party in high school? Madness."
Veronica looks out the window, trying hard not to think about the way life used to be. Crowded around Lilly's bedroom mirror on a Saturday night, applying lip gloss and mascara while they discussed their plans for the evening. Speculating about who'd be kissing who, who'd get into a fight, who'd get wasted and make a fool of themselves.
"It's just not my scene anymore," she finally replies.
To Logan's credit, he doesn't push. Instead, he makes a face. "What the hell are we listening to?"
"Sorry." Veronica leans forward, pushing the button to scan stations. Finding Green Day's "American Idiot", she flashes a sugary smile at Logan. "Aww, they're playing your anthem."
"I'll take that as a compliment," he replies. "Since I'm decisively not a part of the redneck agenda."
Veronica laughs and settles back into her seat. "Remember when they came to Irvine? Lilly scalped tickets before the show and Duncan was convinced we were going to get arrested?"
Logan chuckles. "Yeah. That was a fun night."
They're both quiet for a moment. Veronica smiles to herself, recalling how Logan had helped navigate her through the crowd, so she could get better pictures of the band.
He clears his throat, snapping her back to the present.
"Dick says this storm is kicking up some tasty waves in Neptune." Logan nods to the radio. "What's the forecast saying for up here?"
"They upgraded it," she replies. "Now we're supposed to get six to eight inches."
Logan grins. "Play your cards right, I can make that eight to ten."
Veronica feigns disgust. Based on her limited exploration of that territory, she's fairly certain he's not exaggerating. But Logan's anatomy isn't exactly a topic she wants to dwell on, at the present moment.
So she remains silent, as they continue their ascent of Bear Mountain. Snow is beginning to coat the roads now, and visibility is diminishing. Veronica finds herself gripping the door handle, the freak spring storm putting her on edge.
Just the storm, she insists to herself. Not my extensive, close proximity to Logan.
"This thing definitely has four-wheel drive, right?" she asks.
"Thought that was the only reason I was invited on this little outing in the first place."
"You weren't invited," she reminds him. "I asked to borrow your car, not to borrow you."
"You really think I'd trust you alone with Daisy?" Logan strokes the X-Terra's dashboard lovingly.
"Daisy?" she repeats.
"Don't mock. She's very sensitive."
Veronica groans. "I should have taken the bus."
"And miss out on the pleasure of my company?"
Veronica glances over at him. She'd never admit it, but Logan has actually been a decent traveling companion. They share the same taste in music, and conversation has flowed easily. He'd even picked up the tab when they'd stopped for lunch.
She isn't sure what to make of it just yet, but things between them have thawed significantly since Duncan left town. She'd thought for sure Logan would have held a grudge, for the way she and Duncan had used him in their ruse, but he hasn't said a word about it.
Deciding to keep the olive branch extended, she offers him a small smile. "I do appreciate the ride," she tells him. "Sorry you're missing out on all that good surfing."
Logan lifts one shoulder. "The waves will still be there in the morning." He reaches for his water bottle, opening it one-handed and taking a sip. "So, where's your backup, anyway?"
"Probably at home, slobbering on my bed."
"I'm not referring to your dog. I'm talking about your friends." Logan glances over at her. "I'm the bad guy, remember? Destroyer of lamps and slayer of bikers? I'm shocked that you're deigning to travel alone with me."
"You were cleared of Felix's murder," she replies. "With my help, if you recall. And for the record, I never thought you did it anyway."
Logan doesn't say anything; he just keeps staring straight ahead.
"Besides," Veronica adds softly, casting her eyes towards him. "I always hated that lamp."
He looks over at her, meeting her gaze briefly before returning his attention to the road. His brow furrows, and he glances over at her again. "Veronica…"
She shoots him a warning look. "Don't."
Logan's jaw goes tight and Veronica turns towards the window. This is the very reason she'd almost canceled this trip in the first place. Ever since the Sadie Hawkins Dance, Logan has been looking at her. Like he's trying to figure her out. Like he wants to talk.
But he broke up with Hannah, like, three seconds ago. And I will not be his rebound.
Veronica stares at the swirling flakes outside, wondering at the chain of events that had brought her to this moment. If I hadn't asked the teary-eyed woman on the beach what was wrong. If I hadn't slipped her a Mars Investigations card. If Dad hadn't left town to hunt down that bail jumper, the day before she finally decided to hire us.
Wallace was supposed to have come with her on this trip. Not Logan. But he'd had to back out at the last minute, when his mom discovered he was failing Spanish. Prepared to go solo, Veronica had caught the news report about the weather an hour before she'd planned to leave.
That had left her with two options: Walk away from a chance to make two grand for photos of a cheating spouse, or brave an almost certainly awkward road trip up to Big Bear with Logan—the only person she knew whose car could handle the trip. She's starting to wish she'd chosen option number one.
The three-hour drive finally comes to an end, and Logan parks his X-Terra in the lot. Their sneakered feet crunch through the snow as they make their way to the main lodge of Big Bear Ski Resort in silence.
I'm not sure what's colder, Veronica thinks. This crisp, mountain air, or Logan's attitude since I put the kibosh on our relationship post mortem.
The walk isn't far, but by the time they reach the lodge all of her extremities are stinging. She's wildly underdressed, having underestimated the impact of the storm. She risks a glance at Logan, who is still studiously ignoring her. His hands are shoved into the pockets of his jacket, but if he's bothered by the cold he doesn't show it.
When they step inside, Veronica's well-trained eyes scan the scene before her. The main lobby opens right up into a large lounge, complete with a vast stone fireplace. Couches and chairs are strategically placed to offer each group of guests a modicum of privacy. She spies a gift shop and restaurant on the opposite side of the lodge, as well as a hallway leading to the elevators.
Okay. With a little luck, I'll find the guy cuddled up in front of the fireplace with his mistress. I'll get the money shot and we'll be back to Neptune before dark.
Logan looks down at her. "So, what now?" he asks, finally breaking his silence.
Veronica reaches into her messenger bag, pulling out the 4x6 photo her client provided. "We look for this guy. Discreetly."
Logan nods, and they walk into the lounge. The lodge is crowded and noisy, which makes it easy for them to blend in but also makes their task more difficult. After a slow lap around the room, Veronica nudges Logan's arm. "Restaurant," she says.
He complies, following her lead without comment, and Veronica hides a smile. She'd never tell him this, but Logan is a halfway decent P.I. From his amateur investigation of the Fitzpatrick family to his stakeout with her at San Diego Seafood last week, she's beginning to realize he has some untapped potential.
When they enter the restaurant, he heads directly to the bar. The bartender approaches just as Veronica takes a seat on the stool next to Logan.
"What can I get you folks?" he asks.
Logan tilts his head, studying the wall of bottles behind the bartender. "What do you have in the way of a thirty year old scotch?"
Before he can reply, Veronica speaks up. "We'll have two Cokes."
Logan sighs heavily, glancing over at her with a grimace. "You're a buzzkill."
"And you're my ride."
She can tell he isn't pleased, but he nods at the bartender. "Two Cokes. Lots of ice."
The bartender walks away to procure their drinks, and Veronica swivels her stool towards the restaurant. It's far less crowded than the lobby, being rather too late for lunch and too early for dinner.
"Keep your eyes peeled," she instructs Logan. "I'll be right back."
He gives her a mock salute and she hops off the bar stool, making her way to the bathroom. Her eyes travel to each male diner as she walks, studying their faces quickly before moving onto the next. Unfortunately, none of them is her guy.
Logan's chewing on the end of his straw when she gets back, having already finished his soda. He removes it from his mouth like a cigarette, eyeing her with hooded eyes. "There you are, darling," he says with a German accent. "I'd nearly given you up for dead."
Veronica suppresses a grin. She's always appreciated these dramatic flairs of his, and how little he gives a shit about what anyone watching may think.
"Any luck?" he asks in his normal voice.
"Sorry, Marlene," she announces. "No joy. It's time to move on to plan B." She leans her head down to take a long sip of her Coke, and then she turns back to Logan. "C'mon."
"Reception. Follow my lead."
Logan sighs, but dutifully jumps down off his bar stool to join her. They exit the restaurant and cross the main lounge to the reception desk. Veronica's eyes dart from an older, no-nonsense looking man to a pretty 20-something woman with a short brown bob. No contest.
Gesturing for Logan to hang back, Veronica affects a rather timid demeanor as she approaches.
"Excuse me, um, Charlene?" she asks, glancing at her name tag.
The desk clerk gives her an encouraging smile. "Hi, how can I help you?"
"Hi. My name's Veronica. My boss is a guest here, Bruce Pinkman? And he decided - very, um, unexpectedly- to propose to his girlfriend this weekend. So he called me- I'm his personal assistant- to bring him his late mother's engagement ring."
"Oh, how sweet!"
"Yeah, it is," she agrees. "But the thing is, I was in such a hurry to get up here before the weather got bad, that I forgot to grab the piece of paper I wrote his room number on."
"Can you call him on his cell?"
Yes, Charlene, that would make perfect sense. Thinking rapidly, Veronica shakes her head. "I tried, but it just goes right to voicemail."
"Hmm. Pinkman, you said?" Charlene types rapidly on her keyboard, frowning at her screen. "I'd ring his room for you, but he's got a 'do not disturb' on."
Veronica tilts her head to the side, giving Charlene a hopeful smile. "Any chance you could let me know what room he's in? He's got this whole romantic thing planned, and if I don't get him that ring by tonight…"
Charlene glances to her right, where the older man- likely her manager- is wiping down his keyboard fastidiously.
"I'm really sorry, but I can't give out any information on our guests…"
"Oh. Okay. I understand."
Veronica slumps her shoulders and walks back over to Logan, who's been listening to every word from five feet away. Conjuring tears, she lifts her gaze to meet his so he can see where she's going next.
"He's going to fire me," she laments, sniffling loudly. "I know he is. I've screwed up one too many times…"
"Hey, it'll be okay," he assures her, recognizing the correct brand of con instantly. "We'll figure something out."
Logan pulls her into a one-armed hug, dropping a kiss on her forehead, and Veronica momentarily loses her train of thought. It's uncanny, how quickly he's able to slip back into the role of doting boyfriend. And unnerving, how normal it feels. His touch and scent are achingly familiar, and she's transported to happier times.
Work, Veronica. Remember? This is what you're good at. She sniffles again, picking up the narrative where she'd left off. "But I need that job. My mom can't make it on her social security check alone. What am I going to do?"
Catching movement out of the corner of her eye, Veronica realizes the receptionist is already waving her back over. That was fast. I guess Logan and I were convincing.
Extracting herself from Logan's grasp, she hurries back over to the desk, noting immediately that the manager is now gone. Charlene is typing on her keyboard again, glancing right once or twice to make sure he hasn't returned. Logan appears by her side, standing rather closer to her than usual. Keeping up the ruse, I suppose.
Charlene stops typing, looking up at Veronica. "If it helps," she begins in a low voice, "He's not staying at the lodge. He's in one of our cabins."
Veronica claps her hand to her forehead. "That's right! But what was the name…?"
Charlene reaches into a plastic holder on top of the desk, extracting a brochure. She unfolds it to a map, indicating a section on the upper left where several cabins are pictured.
"Maybe this will jog your memory?" Charlene taps at a cabin called "Pinewood Cottage" with the tip of her pen, flashing Veronica a conspiratorial smile. "And it happens to be within walking distance."
Logan glances at the nearby window, where fat white flakes are now falling heavily. "Uh, how far of a walk are we talking?"
"Just a few minutes," Charlene promises. Her eyes linger on Logan appreciatively, and then her brow furrows. "You look so familiar..."
"Thank you so much," Veronica interjects quickly, holding up the map. "You're saving my life."
Charlene smiles at Veronica, flashing an even wider smile at Logan. Veronica's own smile fades, and she silently leads Logan over to an empty table by the fireplace. She drops her messenger bag onto the table, digging her camera out and checking its battery life.
"Okay, hang tight," she tells Logan. "This won't take me long."
Veronica doesn't make it two steps before Logan stops her, his hand firm on her arm.
"Whoa, hold up a sec. What the hell am I supposed to do, while you're gone?"
"I don't know, watch TV?" she suggests. "Just try to restrain yourself from hitting the bar, alright? I'd like to get home in one piece."
Logan frowns. "No way I'm sitting here by myself while you're out there in a blizzard."
Veronica sighs. It's hard enough trying to be stealthy in broad daylight by herself, and Logan's six foot frame isn't exactly discreet. Especially with Tinseltown Diaries: The Echolls Chapter running on a loop these days.
She glances around. Two blondes in pink parkas are seated at a nearby table, looking Logan up and down with absolutely zero shame. She nods in their direction. "I'm sure Buffy and Taylor over there would adore your company. Go nuts."
Logan barely glances at them. Instead he stares down at her with arms crossed, gaze stubborn and unflinching.
"Fine," she concedes. "Just… try not to get in the way."
Logan convinces her to stop at the gift shop for some winter gear before they brave the cold, and sneakily pays for it all before she gets the chance. She doesn't fight him too hard once she sees the total pop up on the cash register. He can afford it; she can't.
Sporting a crisp white Columbia jacket, fuzzy white snow boots and a purple and white pom-pom hat with matching scarf and gloves, Veronica blends right in with the rest of the ski bunny crowd as they exit the lodge. Logan - who unsurprisingly went the snowboarder route - is looking right at home in a grey and black striped beanie, black scarf and gloves, and dark grey parka. They find the trailhead that leads to the cabins and begin walking.
"Just a few minutes my ass," Logan remarks, as they near the crest of the narrow forest trail.
They've been trekking through the snow for about fifteen minutes, and Veronica is beyond grateful that she's doing it with boots and a toasty warm parka on. Logan clearly has far more experience in cold weather than she does, and she's glad she actually heeded his advice, for once.
She points to a wooden signpost up ahead. "There," she says, breathless from the exertion. "Pinewood Cottage."
"It's about damn time."
"Hey, you wanted to come."
They reach the short path that leads to the cabin a few minutes later, and Logan turns to face her. "So, what's our play?"
Veronica doesn't really need him for this part, but she decides to humor him. For whatever reason, he seems to be enjoying the role of sidekick today. May as well let him be useful.
She pulls her camera out of her messenger bag. "I'm going to peek through the windows, and hope our timing coincides with their libidos. Because I'm really not down for a subzero stakeout. You're my lookout. Happen to know any bird calls?"
To her utter shock, Logan places his thumbs to his lips and cups his hands together, producing a flawless loon call. At her expression, he drops his hands back down to his sides and chuckles. "My dad had to learn how to do it, for one of his movies. I paid attention."
"You're going to have to show me that trick, one of these days."
Veronica heads towards the cabin without waiting for a response, pulling off her gloves and stuffing them in her pockets. Her fingers start to go numb almost instantly, snowflakes landing on bare skin every few seconds.
She walks over to the right side of the cabin, where there are two windows. She tries the one on the left first, but only finds an empty bathroom. Yet when she looks through the window on her right, she spies Bruce Pinkman standing in front of the fireplace buck naked, his secretary on her knees before him.
Yahtzee. I guess there's a reason why it's a classic.
Veronica points her camera at the window. But before she gets the chance to shoot, the secretary stands up.
She pivots quickly away from the window, fervently hoping they're just changing positions. After half a minute goes by, she risks another peek. They're on the couch, now. But all she can see is Bruce's back, which blocks her view of the secretary.
Veronica makes her way back to the front of the cabin, climbing the stairs to the porch slowly. Thinking about the layout of the interior, she crosses the porch as quietly as she can in her snow boots, towards the window just left of the door.
This time she doesn't hesitate, aiming her lens at the window and taking several shots in quick succession. She glances down at her viewfinder to make sure they're in focus. Finding everything in order, she smiles to herself and starts walking towards the porch stairs.
That's when she hears the mournful call of a loon.
She stuffs her camera into her bag just as the front door opens. Bruce Pinkman's head is poking through the partially opened door, his modesty protected by a plaid fleece throw.
"What the hell are you doing on my porch?" he demands.
Logan steps up to the plate before she even has the chance to enact her own plan, walking towards her with an apologetic glance at Bruce. "I told you it was the wrong cabin, Love Muffin. Ours is this way."
Veronica turns to face her mark, sluggish smile in place. "I'm so sorry to disturb you. It's our honeymoon, and…" She laughs lightly. "… I may have overdone it a little on the complimentary champagne."
For effect, she pretends to stumble as she's descending the porch steps. Logan catches her easily in his arms, holding her steady.
"I had no idea I'd married such a lightweight," he teases.
"Hey, we barely ate today," Veronica protests.
Bruce nods. "Well, congrats to you two."
"Thanks," she replies brightly.
Yet he's lingering at the door, still eyeing them suspiciously. And if he turns his head to the left, he'll see the trail of footprints Veronica left in the snow and put two and two together. So, without thinking it through one bit, Veronica lifts her head and plants a kiss on Logan's lips.
It's meant to be a peck, but it isn't. It's hot, soft lips and tongues touching inside of five seconds, muscle memory taking over. It's Logan's long fingers closing around her waist, and her own fingers sliding across the back of his neck, sifting through baby fine hair. It's the completely unplanned and utterly humiliating moan that escapes from her lips.
Logan pulls back to look at her, and Veronica can feel herself flushing despite the cold. His grip is still firm on her hips, but his eyes are wide with surprise. Fervently hoping he doesn't break character, she forces herself to place one last kiss on his lips for good measure and steps out of his grasp.
A quick glance behind her confirms Bruce has retreated back into his cabin. Just in case, Veronica keeps one arm curled around Logan's waist as they begin to make their way down the path, back to the main trail that leads to the lodge. The moment they're out of sight of Bruce's cabin, she drops her arm and moves a foot away.
"Hell, Mars," Logan remarks, his lips curved in amusement. "If I knew you were that desperate for me, I would have made myself available for a road trip sooner."
"Don't flatter yourself," she replies, her tone dismissive. "It was a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation, and you know it."
"Right, right," he says. "Well between you and I, I don't think the kiss was strictly necessary. But it is nice to know you and I can still lock lips, from time to time, without ushering in the apocalypse."
"Would you rather we'd gotten caught?"
"What, that guy?" Logan scoffs. "I could have taken him, easy."
"You'll take any excuse at all to use your fists, won't you?"
"Any you'll take any excuse to get close to me," he counters. "Like that dance, a couple of weeks ago? You just can't keep your hands off me."
"That was a favor to Gia, because I owed her one. Nothing more."
Veronica scowls, busying herself with replacing both her gloves. Her snap decision to pull Logan onto the dance floor, that night, had led to a far more intimate situation than she'd been prepared to deal with. And all it's done is blur the lines, between the two of us. So I need to redraw them, fast.
She speeds up, ignoring the biting wind and swirling snow. It's much faster going on the way down, than it was on the way up. She's counting the seconds until she's back in Logan's passenger seat, snacking on Doritos and looking for passably good music on his radio.
"What's the rush?" Logan asks, from two paces behind her.
"We need to get out of here before this gets any worse."
Logan is quiet for a minute, as he quickens his pace to catch up with her.
"Fine," he finally says. "Let's get a quick bite to eat, and then we'll bounce."
Veronica stares out the window, fingers curled around her coffee mug. The snow is accumulating fast now, and she's getting anxious. Four wheel drive or not, it's a long way down the mountain. And she doesn't want to get stuck in a ditch somewhere, cuddling with Logan for warmth.
What a disaster that would be. I can picture it now… The car windows fogging from the heat of our breath, that Mexican blanket he keeps in the back wrapped around us, stripped naked to avoid hypothermia…
"Hello? Did you hear me?"
Logan points to the television mounted on the wall above the bar, tuned to the local news, and Veronica grimaces.
Logan sighs and reaches into his wallet, tossing a fifty onto the table with that negligent gesture that comes so easily to him. He stands up and begins walking out of the restaurant without another word.
Veronica snatches her bag up off the bench seat and hurries after him. He's nearly reached reception, black Amex already in hand, by the time she catches up. She grabs his arm, stopping him just short of his goal.
"Not a chance, Echolls," she protests. "If we leave right now, we'll be fine."
"Not according to that big red banner on the news that said 'Blizzard Warning'," Logan replies. "Besides, Daisy doesn't like the cold."
He pulls himself out of her grasp and continues on to the front desk, pausing there as he waits for Charlene to look up.
Resigned to the situation, Veronica digs into her bag for her wallet and silently joins him at the desk. It genuinely sucks, that she's going to have to lose a chunk of that two grand. Stanford is not going to be cheap, and she needs to squirrel away every dime.
"Hello there," Charlene greets Logan warmly. Spotting Veronica, she lowers her voice. "Did you find your boss?"
"I did. Thank you again. But unfortunately, I think it'll be safer if I crash here for the night."
"Oh, I'm so sorry… We're totally booked."
Veronica and Logan exchange glances.
"What about one of those cabins?" Logan speaks up.
Charlene shakes her head, typing into her computer as a courtesy. "No they're all…" She stops, reading something on her screen. "Hang on, there is one thing here. " She flashes them a big smile. "We just had a cancellation on one of our cabins. The Lover's Nest."
"Of course," Veronica says with a sigh.
Logan grins at her, slinging his arm across her shoulders. "You hear that, Pudding Pop? It's almost like fate."
"Would you like to book it?" Charlene asks.
"I… guess we don't have a choice," Veronica replies.
"Excellent." Charlene clicks on her mouse a few times, then looks back up at them. "I do need to inform you that we haven't renovated this particular cabin yet, so I apologize that it's not up to our typical standards. We offer it at a discounted rate for that reason."
"Swell," Logan says dryly.
Charlene flashes him a bright smile. "And how will you be paying for this today?"
Logan holds out his Amex, firmly ignoring Veronica's protests.
Veronica stalls for as long as she can, as she tries to mentally prepare for the prospect of being alone in a secluded cabin dubbed the "Lover's Nest" with her ex-boyfriend… for the entire night. She convinces Logan that they need to return to the gift shop to stock up on snacks, and then talks him into a cup of hot chocolate by the fire.
Finally, she can put it off no longer. According to her trusty map, their cabin is located just past Bruce's cabin, and is not accessible by car. So, she and Logan make their way back up the snowy mountain trail. And twenty minutes later they unlock the front door and step inside, both stopping short at the entrance to look around.
It's a small, studio-style cabin with one main room that functions for everything. A square wooden table with three matching chairs is in one corner, beside an outdated kitchenette. Veronica spots two doors on her right, that presumably lead to a bathroom and closet.
It had certainly been designed with intimacy in mind. There's no couch or television; instead, two oversized armchairs face the chunky stone fireplace. A corner Jacuzzi tub sits within a tile platform, right in the main room. A cozy window seat faces the forest. And, centered directly opposite the fireplace, is a single queen-sized bed.
"I prefer the left side," Logan remarks, smirk firmly in place. "But I'll be a gentleman and take the right, if you feel strongly about it."
Veronica doesn't reply. They'll figure out the sleeping situation later.
They hang their coats on the rack next to the door, depositing their boots on the plastic mat beside it. Logan immediately starts walking around the cabin, checking things out. Veronica sets her messenger bag on the wooden table and pulls out her laptop, which she plugs in and opens.
"Oh good, there's free Wi-Fi," she comments.
Logan watches her, both hands on his hips. "And what the hell am I supposed to do? There's no TV."
Veronica shrugs. "I don't know. Go snowboarding?"
"In a blizzard?"
"Sure," she replies, logging onto her email. "Isn't that the kind of thing you thrill seekers get off on?"
Logan has no reaction but to nod slowly. "Well, this thrill seeker would rather invite Buffy and Taylor from the lodge over to take a dip in that Jacuzzi. It would be a shame to let it go unused." He lifts one brow. "Unless you've got a spare bikini, in that Allison Reynolds bag of yours?"
"Oddly, I neglected to pack swimwear for my daytrip up to a ski lodge in March." Veronica glances up from her computer, giving him a sweet smile. "But you should totally go for it with Buffy and Taylor. They looked like sparkling conversationalists. And I've got work to do."
"I need to upload these photos and get them over to my dad. He's got a meeting with the client first thing tomorrow."
Logan walks from the kitchen over to the window seat and sits down with a sigh. He's got that tiger-trapped-in-a-cage look he gets when he's bored, which usually leads to trouble. He picks up one of the pillows and tosses it into the air.
"Speaking of your dad," he begins. "Isn't he going to blow a gasket when you tell him you're snowed in with me?"
Veronica bites her lip. "Yeah."
"You didn't tell him I was coming, did you."
The defeated tone in his voice makes her stomach clench. Only Logan can go from cocky to self-loathing in thirty seconds flat.
"I told him I was going with Wallace," she admits. "Which was true, at the time."
"But you never bothered to amend your guest list."
"It's just easier than trying to explain why I'd…"
"Share the company of a thrice-accused murderer?" Logan gives her a tight smile. "No, I get it."
He tosses the pillow down and stands up, walking over to the door and pulling his jacket off the rack. He shrugs it on, then pulls on his boots, while Veronica stares at him.
"Where do you think you're going, Crazypants?"
Logan yanks his hat, gloves and scarf off the rack. "I need to get something out of my car."
"Okay," she replies. "Just-"
The door closes on her "be careful" and Veronica sighs. It's going to be a very long night.
Veronica tries to convince herself that she's not worried, but she finds herself glancing down at the clock on her laptop every few minutes. It's beginning to get dark out, now, and Logan's been gone for over a half hour.
Just as she decides to appoint herself head of a one-woman search party, the front door of the cabin opens. Dozens of snowflakes swirl their way into the cabin before Logan closes the door against the whining wind.
Logan removes his winter gear once again, shaking the loose snow off before he hangs everything back up on the rack. He turns to Veronica with a smirk, cheeks and nose pink.
"Well, that was an adventure," he states. He holds up a bottle of Jameson, roughly three quarters full. "But totally worth it."
"That's what you had to get from your car?"
"And this," he replies, shrugging a large backpack off his shoulders. "I forgot I had it in there."
Veronica manages to stop herself, just in time, from asking why he'd keep a packed bag in his car. Logan's life has been volatile, to say the least. The idea that he may need to take off in a hurry, one day, has obviously occurred to him.
It's not a comforting thought, and Veronica looks down. But if Logan notices her distress, he doesn't show it. He unties the laces on his boots and places them on the mat beside the door. Then he walks over to the table and sets his bag down, unzipping it and tugging it open.
Logan begins sifting through the items inside, pulling things out one by one. There's lots of cash, crisp and neatly bundled stacks of hundreds that look like they've come directly from a bank. A couple of bottles of water, a burner phone, a beat up copy of On the Road, and some clothes.
He hands Veronica a grey Henley and a pair of pajama pants that are about eight inches too long for her, and she smiles. "Thank you. I was dreading the thought of sleeping in my jeans."
She closes her laptop and stands up. "I, uh, think I'll go change."
He just nods, and she walks into the tiny bathroom. A few minutes later, she's wearing Logan's shirt over her tank top and pulling on his pajama bottoms. They hang loose on her waist even with the drawstring tied, and the extra material pools at her feet.
She looks in the mirror, trying to remember the last time she saw Logan in this shirt. She sees an image of him in her mind, sneaking a smile at her in Newspaper, and she realizes it was last year, while they were dating in secret. So, when did he pack this bag? After he found out his dad killed Lilly? After we broke up? After he was arrested?
Veronica strokes the shirt sleeve, which is incredibly soft. It feels so intimate, wearing Logan's clothes. It's almost like she's wearing him. She rubs the fabric against her cheek, inhaling before she can stop herself. It smells like his old detergent, the kind his housekeeper used before his house burned down and he moved in with Duncan.
She recalls lying on his bed, this same scent on his sheets and pillowcases. Logan's shirt off and hers gathered in his fist while his free hand roamed across her body. The thrill of being utterly alone with him, no one there to stop them from going as far as they wanted to go…
But we didn't go there. Because, for some reason, he didn't want to.
Veronica frowns, visions of that same room in disarray after Logan's illicit rendezvous with Kendall popping into her mind. He'd certainly had no qualms about going there with her. I've heard the play-by-play myself… and seen the aftermath.
She swallows hard, attempting to push the bitterness down. She has fond memories of the long, lazy afternoons she and Logan spent kissing; the slightly less PG moments they'd shared in his backseat when it had felt like they simply couldn't get close enough. But I guess he was craving more, the whole time. And with Kendall, he finally got it.
Trying not to let old insecurities rattle her, she splashes water on her face and pats it dry. Taking a deep breath, she exhales and opens the door that leads back into the main room of the cabin.
When she steps out of the bathroom, Logan is crouched in front of the fireplace. He's adding kindling to a small blaze, which catches immediately. She watches him place a log on top, and then she walks forward.
"Nice job," she says. "Of course, you've had a lot of practice lighting things on fire, haven't you?"
"Not as much practice as your buddy Weevil," he returns.
Walked right into that one.
"So, any movies you want to see?" she asks. "Mac turned me on to a great website. Once you get past the porn pop-ups, the quality is actually decent."
"Why not click on those too?" Logan suggests. "Not much else to do…"
Veronica rolls her eyes and walks over to the table. She's just opened up her laptop when the power flickers once, and then goes out.
"You've got to be kidding me," Veronica laments. "What are we going to do now?"
Logan just laughs, standing up straight and walking towards her. "How much battery power do you have left on that thing?"
"Uh… sixty percent?"
"So, I guess we watch a movie. Or some porn. Dealer's choice."
Veronica makes a face. "But shouldn't we try to keep from using it?"
Logan shrugs. "What's the point? It's just going to lose power anyway. We may as well enjoy it while we can."
He's not wrong, Veronica considers. If the roads are impassable, we can't contact anyone to come get us. And the lodge has food, so it's not like we'll starve up here.
"Alright," she says aloud.
She sits down at the table and types in the web address. Logan takes a seat beside her, dragging the chair close so he can see the screen too. He reaches forward for the bottle of whiskey and twists the cap off, taking a long swig.
Off Veronica's look he asks, "You have a better idea?"
"Not really," she admits.
Logan holds the bottle out to her. She hesitates, then puts it up to her lips. It's strong, but it warms her to the bone.
She passes the bottle back to him, and they settle in.
Instead of a movie, they end up watching Friends. Logan protests half-heartedly, but Veronica knows he secretly loves it. They keep up a steady stream of commentary during the episodes, and her worries start to ease. Between the laughter and the whiskey, she's feeling far more relaxed than she'd anticipated.
But then the laptop battery dies, and their little corner of the cabin grows dark. For the first time, Veronica realizes how cold it's gotten, despite the raging fire Logan has kept tending throughout the night.
"What now?" he asks. "Cards? I found a deck, earlier."
Now that she doesn't have anything to distract her, Veronica realizes just how much those few swigs of whiskey she took are affecting her. She glances down at her watch, but she can't make out the time in the dim lighting.
"It's getting kind of late," she guesses. "Maybe we should get some sleep."
Logan stands up and walks over to the window seat, pulling the cushions and pillows off and tossing them in front of the fireplace. Then he heads over to the armchairs and begins to do the same.
"Uh, what are you doing?" Veronica asks.
"We'll be a lot warmer over here."
"I'm sorry, we?"
She can just make out Logan's smirk by the firelight. "Feel free to take the bed," he replies. "I'll be curled up next to the nice, toasty fire."
Logan walks over to the closet, removing an extra pillow and a plaid blanket identical to the one Bruce had covered up with, earlier. He brings them over to his pile, arranging the cushions into a passable mattress.
"Ahhh," he says, sitting down and stretching his arms out in front of him. "You really don't know what you're missing."
"I'm too busy cherishing the fact that I'll have this big bed, all to myself."
Determined to prove him wrong, Veronica walks over to the bed… and regrets her decision instantly. She's only fifteen feet away from the fireplace, and the temperature feels like it's dropped twenty degrees.
But it's too late to turn back now. She pulls the comforter up and climbs under the blankets, resting her cheek against an ice-cold pillow. She buries her head beneath the sheet, trying to use her own breath to warm the tip of her nose.
Too late, she realizes that she should have grabbed her hat for extra warmth. Yet if she goes to retrieve it now, Logan will know how cold she is. And I won't give him the satisfaction.
"Wow," Logan speaks up. "It's almost too warm over here. I think I may need to take my shirt off."
"Should I have Buffy and Taylor brought up here to drool over your pecs?" she retorts.
"No need," he replies. "Your drool will be enough to meet my daily recommended allowance."
Veronica lets out a huff and rolls over, hoping the friction generates more heat.
"Scared to get too close to my hot bod?" Logan taunts.
She doesn't reply.
"C'mon, I thought you were this total badass chick now. Not afraid of anything or anyone…"
"I'm not afraid."
Veronica doesn't budge. Logan is a little drunk and a lot bored, and she's not going to let him get a rise out of her.
But she's not getting any warmer. She can hear the musical slosh of whiskey as he brings the bottle to his lips, the occasional pop emanating from the fireplace.
After a few minutes, Logan speaks up again. "Hey, Veronica?"
"What?" she demands, thoroughly exasperated.
"I dare you to sleep next to me."
"What are we, twelve?"
Logan doesn't reply. He knows how hard it is for her to let a dare go unanswered. The silence stretches on, fire crackling invitingly. The tip of Veronica's nose is starting to go numb.
"You know what?" she says, sitting up in bed. "Fine. I'll take your stupid dare."
She pulls the comforter and pillow off the bed and marches over to the fireplace. It's heavenly warm, and Logan has in fact taken his shirt off. I won't look at his chest. I won't look at his chest. I won't look at his- Damn it.
"Why yes, I have been working out," he says, with that annoying cocksure grin. "Thank you for noticing."
"I'm sorry, did you say something?"
Logan chuckles and stands up to tend the fire. It's only then that she realizes he isn't wearing pants, either. Just a pair of boxers.
"I'm sorry, but this cabin isn't pants-optional."
"I gave you my only pair of pajamas," he replies. "And I can't wear jeans to bed."
It's a valid reason, so she doesn't reply. Instead, she busies herself with carving out a space to sleep on Logan's makeshift mattress, setting her pillow as far away from his as she can.
Veronica lies down, but she's wide awake now. And Logan wasn't kidding; it is almost too warm, over here. She starts to sweat, feeling suffocated by the heat. Finally, with a sigh, she pulls off Logan's shirt to reveal her tank top underneath.
One glance at Logan tells her he approves of her wardrobe change. She has to admit, it's satisfying that he still ogles her, from time to time.
He steps away from the fire and sits down beside her, holding out the bottle of Jameson. "Drink?"
She sighs, knowing it's a bad idea. But she holds her hand out for the bottle anyway.
Veronica takes a small swig and hands the bottle back to Logan, who curls the bottle to his chest affectionately. "This is what keeps me warm, most nights."
She raises one brow. "That's not what I hear."
"What, Hannah?" He scoffs. "She's gone, remember?"
Veronica shrugs, wishing she hadn't said anything. She doesn't want to talk about Hannah.
"Or," he asks, drawing out the word, "were you referring to Kendall?"
He's goading her again, trying to push her buttons. Unfortunately, this time it's working.
"I'm not referring to anyone," she lies. After a pause, she continues. "But now that we're on the subject. Why the hell did you think it was a good idea to get involved with a married woman?"
Logan shrugs. "Big Dick cheated too," he replies. "I saw him in action."
"And that makes it okay?"
"No," he admits. Logan takes a long sip from the bottle, his gaze fixed on her the whole time. "But cheating on someone emotionally is ten times worse."
Veronica glares at him, and he looks away. They've officially gone from tossing softballs to lobbing live grenades. She knows they need to change the subject, but she can't seem to manage it. Logan won't meet her eyes, now, so she grabs his arm to get his attention.
"Say what you mean," she demands, certain she already knows.
"All right," he says, false smile upon his lips. "I will. You were still into Duncan the whole time we were together."
"Excuse me?" she replies. "I was not!"
"The super glue wasn't even dry on your shitty lamp when you guys hooked up."
"Bullshit! It was three weeks after you and I broke up."
"Oh, we broke up?" he retorts. "Is that how you remember it? Because I seem to remember you unceremoniously dumping me and your dad physically removing me from your house."
"And how long was it before you were playing footsies with Kendall?"
"That was different."
"Because she didn't mean a damn thing to me," he snaps.
Veronica is silent, taken aback by his emotion, and Logan goes on.
"You and Duncan…" He shakes his head. "You guys have this whole thing."
"Had," she reminds him. "Or did you forget the part about him running off with his love child?"
"But you loved him," Logan says softly. "And I bet you even managed to say it out loud."
Veronica stares at him, too surprised to speak.
"It's cool, I get it. He's him and I'm me."
Logan gets up, walking back over to the fire even though it doesn't need another log yet. Veronica watches him jab at the embers with a metal poker, his movements uncharacteristically jerky.
This can't be easy for him, either, she recognizes. I am the one who did the breaking up.
Veronica continues to keep her eyes on Logan, his back muscles corded while he lifts a heavy log into the flames. And she realizes that she wants to set the record straight. But it's very dangerous territory, and she needs to tread lightly.
"I could have gotten back together with Duncan the night everything went down with your dad," she begins. "But I didn't. I chose you."
He finally turns to look at her, and she goes on.
"Even after all of the stuff you put me through, last year. Telling people about my mom, making up stories about how I banged the entire football team…" She flashes him a hard look. "The salt lick."
Logan looks down.
"I forgave you for all of that, and I chose you," she reminds him. "I was there for you. And you repaid me by spending all your free time locked in a battle with the PCHers, and lying to me about what you were really up to."
"Well to be fair," he mutters, still avoiding her eyes. "They started it."
He toys with the metal poker, letting it hang from his pinky while it swings back and forth. Finally, he looks up. "You're right. I blew it last summer, and I'm really sorry. I tried to be good enough for you, but I…" A bitter laugh escapes his lips. "I'm just not."
"No, it's okay. We both know I didn't deserve you. Let's be honest, you and Duncan always made a hell of a lot more sense."
Veronica knows it's time to let this go, now. But for some reason, Logan's woeful apology spurs her on. It's all coming out in the open, now, and it's bringing up emotions she hasn't allowed herself to entertain for months.
"Why do you even care about any of this?" she counters. "Up until, like, five seconds ago you were in love with Hannah."
She expects anger, but Logan chuckles. "You're not as smart as you look, Mars." He shakes his head. "I was never in love with Hannah. She was… sweet. And nice to me, when not a whole lot of people even bother to pretend, these days." He meets and holds her gaze. "But mostly… she was a distraction."
Okay, time to drop this for real now. Thar be dragons, here.
But as she stares at him, the light and shadow cast by the flames flickering across his face, she just… can't.
"I never told Duncan I loved him either," she admits softly.
"Maybe not in words. But you trusted him to-" Logan shakes his head. "Never mind."
"Logan… I trusted you, too."
"Just not enough."
Veronica throws up her hands, growing exasperated. "I didn't think you wanted to."
She's glad for the dim lighting, so he can't see her blush. "Every time we… started something, you were the one to stop it. Not me."
Logan stares at her, his expression incredulous. "Because I didn't want to push you. Not after the way your first time went down."
"Look, just forget it. Okay? I don't even know why we're talking about this."
Logan sets the poker down and walks back over, sitting down beside her. "But we are talking about this. Veronica, do you seriously not have any idea how much I wanted you? I loved you, more than anything. And-"
Veronica is afraid to ask, to open herself up to this again. Yet the words tumble from her lips. "And what?"
Logan looks almost angry, as he replies. "And I still do."
The silence stretches on, as Veronica processes his words. This moment has weight; what she says and does right here matters. She knows they're just teenagers… but it feels like one of those moments that can change your life. Permanently.
Veronica speaks her next words softly, but her gaze doesn't waiver. "I love you too."
Logan smiles. Really smiles. A smile she hasn't seen since… The last time we were together.
He moves closer to her, and her spine tingles in anticipation. He strokes the side of her cheek with the backs of his fingers, then cups her chin in his hand. He leans closer still, stopping just shy of a kiss.
"The things girls will say to get past second base," he replies, shaking his head slowly.
"Yeah, now you know what that feels like."
"Sorry. That was a shitty thing to say."
"Well," he says, "I can think of about eighty-two different ways you can make it up to me."
And finally his lips are on hers, and she's clasping the back of his neck to bring him closer, and his fingers are tangled in her hair. And her teeth drag across his earlobe, and his hands cup her breasts, and their lips crash together once more. And he can't hide how much he wants her, and she's about to make it very clear how much she wants him too.
Veronica smiles. "So about those eight-two moves of yours…", she begins, sliding her hand down his abdomen. "How about we start at number one and…" She finds the break in his boxers, and takes hold of him. "… see how it goes?"
He inhales sharply and she suppresses a giggle, because the evidence proves that she's going to get that eight to ten inches after all. Veronica shifts her hips so she's straddling him, bowing her head down for another kiss.
But Logan is resisting, turning his face to the side so her lips can't connect. "Wait."
"Oh no," Veronica groans. "Please tell me you have a condom?"
"No, I do," he replies. "It's…" He runs his hand through his hair, regarding her cautiously. "Is this just sex? Or are we doing this for real?"
"Well, I don't know," Veronica teases, giving him a long, slow kiss. "I'm not sure I want to commit before I know how you'll perform."
Logan smirks. "I assure you," he says, running his index finger along her collarbone, "your satisfaction is one hundred percent guaranteed."
Veronica shivers at his touch. She has no doubts about his abilities, but she won't give him the satisfaction of admitting that aloud. Still, he's right. We need to talk. But damn do I want to jump his bones right now…
"So, you want to lay down some ground rules?" she asks. "Let's do it."
Veronica forces herself to climb out of Logan's lap, sitting down so she's facing him while leaving enough space between them to give her back a little mental clarity. She reaches across him for the whiskey, uncapping it and taking a sip.
"Okay," she starts. "One? No more lying. Two, we are monogamous. I'm an only child, and I don't like to share. Three, no more self-destructive behavior. And four, no more gang bullshit. Your life is not Grand Theft Auto, Logan."
"No more," he promises, nodding his head. "I'm done with all of that crap." He leans forward, placing his palm against her cheek. "I swear to you, I won't screw this up again."
Veronica smiles and moves to meet him halfway, eager to get her lips back on his. But he clasps her hand, halting her progress once again.
"Hang on a minute," he says. "I have rules too."
A bit taken aback, Veronica nods and retreats back to her spot. "Let's hear them."
Logan holds out his hand for the bottle, which she passes to him silently. He takes a sip, wiping off his mouth with his forearm. "Okay." He holds up his index finger. "One? Don't always assume the worst of me. I know sometimes I do bad things. But I'm not a bad person."
"I know that," she replies softly.
"Two," he continues, holding out his thumb "don't run away. Okay? If you have a problem, don't do that thing where you shut down. Talk to me. Work it out with me."
Veronica nods. "Okay. Anything else?"
"Can you…" Logan hesitates, putting his hand back in his lap instead of adding a third finger. "Can you tell your dad that I'm not a monster?"
"Logan, he doesn't think you're-"
"Please. He's important to you, and you're important to me."
"I'll talk to him," she promises. "But I'm still not telling him I was here with you."
"Probably for the best," he replies with a grin.
Logan leans forward and kisses her, clearly ready to pick up where they'd left off. He tastes like whiskey, his breath warmer than flames. Kissing him is intoxicating, and she never wants to stop.
But the whiskey hasn't managed to quiet the nagging in her mind completely, and it's Veronica's turn to hesitate. She forces herself to pull away, sitting back onto her cushion and regarding him a bit nervously.
"When did you start to care about me again?" she asks.
"Veronica…" he replies, not bothering to hide his exasperation. "I never stopped. Couldn't you tell?"
"No. I genuinely thought you hated me, at one point."
Logan scoots closer to her, their knees touching, and brushes her hair back from her face with his fingertips. "I could never hate you."
Placated, she smiles. They move towards one another at the same time, and then they both pause. Logan's phone is ringing, vibrating on the wood floor just beside him. He picks it up, rolling his eyes at the name on the display.
"Who is it?" Veronica asks.
"Madison," he replies.
He tosses the phone back onto the floor and reaches his arms out for her, but Veronica's eyes remain fixed on the still-ringing phone. "Go on. Answer."
Flashing her a rather confused look, Logan retrieves his phone and answers the call. "Hello?"
"Logan!" Her voice is loud, tinny music in the background. "We're doing cherry Jell-O shots. Your fave!" Madison giggles. "Where are you?"
He glances over at Veronica. She nods, and a grin spreads across his lips.
"I'm… with my girlfriend," he replies.
"Your what?" Madison asks.
"My girlfriend," Logan repeats, reaching out to squeeze her knee. "Veronica."
Madison's horror is instantaneous. "Veronica Mars?"
Logan laughs and hangs up the phone, tossing it to the side. He crawls over to Veronica on his hands and knees, wrapping her up in his arms and kissing her until she's breathless.
"Well," she manages, in between kisses, "that just guaranteed a very interesting day at school on Monday."
Logan's mouth moves to her neck. "If we're there."
Veronica tilts her neck to the side, giving him easier access. "Planning on ditching?"
"Who knows? We could be snowed in for days…"
"In that case, we might have time to try all eighty-two of those moves you mentioned. I only hope you packed eighty-two condoms."
"Now that you mention it, I did find a box stashed in the front pocket of that backpack."
"Only you would pack emergency condoms."
Logan laughs and eases her backwards, lowering her onto the cushions. He looks at her for a moment, eyes roaming across her body like a painter studying his canvas. He bows his head down to kiss her stomach. "It just so happens that some of those moves," he says, easing her waistband down, kissing lower, "don't require one…"
Anticipation pools in her stomach. This is a line she's never crossed with anyone; not even Duncan.
But he stops before he reaches his goal, rolling onto his side and glancing up at her. His expression is serious, uncertainty creeping into his eyes.
"What?" she asks, rather impatiently, propping herself up on one elbow so she can see him more clearly.
"Are you sure you're not doing this because of the situation we're in? Or the alcohol?"
She throws her head back, rolling her eyes skyward. "Logan…"
"I just need to know that you want this. That you won't wake up in the morning hating yourself and hating me more."
Veronica's eyes meet his. At the moment, there's no hint of the boy she's been trading snarky one-liners with for over half the year. No acerbic barb on his tongue, ready to be unleashed. What she sees is a boy whose eyes are filled with so much raw vulnerability that it makes her heart hurt.
"You're right," she concedes. "The blizzard did force us together. And the whiskey… yeah, maybe it is the reason we're finally letting our guards down."
Logan makes a small movement, like he's going to sit up straight, but Veronica places her hand on his.
"Whatever the reason," she goes on. "I want this." She lifts her hand to his hair, fingers weaving through the silky strands. "I want you." She pauses. "But if you don't get going on those eighty-two moves you keep promising soon, I'm going to start thinking that you're all talk and no action."
Logan gazes up at her, his amber eyes dancing. "Well in that case," he replies, "I have a fourth rule."
"Is it that you need to stop talking? Because I'd be on board with that."
He ignores her, resuming his earlier position. "Rule number four: This is, in fact, a no-pants cabin." He tugs at her pajama bottoms, and she lifts her hips so he can pull them off.
"'Pants-optional' is the preferred nomenclature, dude."
"Mmm," he continues, running his finger beneath black lace. "Had I known you were wearing these the whole time, I would have instituted this rule sooner."
"You certainly could have tried."
Logan smiles against her thigh. His index fingers hook into the waistband of her panties at each hip, sliding them down. Veronica's heart begins to race, secretly nervous despite her bravado.
It's not just the physical act of being with Logan that has her on edge; it's the sudden reality that they're doing this, again. That he's hers, and she's his, flint and steel, ready to ignite at a moment's notice.
But then she feels his tongue against her skin, languid and loving, and her fear recedes. She turns her head and stares into the flames, ready to be consumed.
Thanks for reading :) Please review.