When Love Comes Around

Chapter One: Two Sparrows in a Hurricane

By: His Beautiful Girl

Challenge: Being quarantined together.

TW: Discussion of Canon Abuse in later chapters.

TW: Discussion of Canon Sexual Assault in later chapters.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

'An Echolls Family Christmas'

The pool house was black, Christmas decorations turned off while Logan Echolls sat on the couch. Knees bounced, and harsh, loud breaths were the only sound filling the blackness. Sleeves drawn down over hands that clenched and unclenched, chestnut topped head bent down while thoughts tumbled, fighting for attention with each other in his brain. Shock long worn off and so too the initial reaction of fear for losing his father as the man bled out onto the expensive Persian rug, staining his mother's dress. Rage long since taken claim as the primary emotion now that Aaron's fate no longer lay in question. 'Aaron wouldn't be laying in a hospital bed recovering from surgery if he knew how to be faithful, keep his dick in his pants!' A hiss escaped through curled lips as the lanky body dropped back against the couch, pressing on a still tender cut from a belt buckle, arm coming up and the forearm pressing over eyes. 'How fucked up is it I'm not sure if I'm happy he survived or disappointed? That there is a part of me that wished Aaron died?'

Soft knocking against the door set his heart pumping and adrenaline coursing through veins and brought him back to reality. "What the hell? Who the hell would show up right now? Hasn't today already brought enough surprises?"

"Logan?" A gentle voice drifted in, slightly muffled through the door. "It's Veronica. Can I come in?"

'Veronica? As in Mars? Why is she here? She wouldn't come to shove this in my face… right?' The tall teen bit his bottom lip, stomach churned uncomfortably as memories of all the cruel things said about her parents over this past year drifted through his mind. 'But we've had a sort-of truce going on lately, since the night of that stupid memorial fountain. And her voice doesn't have that acid tone.'

The petite blond's voice drifted through the glass again, "Okay, Logan, I understand that you might want to be alone, I wanted you to understand that you weren't. I mean, I know we aren't — friends anymore, but we were; I guess I worried nobody else would stay. Didn't want you to be alone if you didn't want to be. So, I'll sit out here on one of the pool loungers for a little while, in case you change your mind, okay? I'll let you know when I'm going."

Decision made, Logan stood and made his way to the door, sliding it open along with the black curtains blocking anyone from seeing inside. Veronica, who was walking toward the pool, stopped and turned around. Logan awkwardly stuck his hands in the pockets of his cargo pants. "Hey- what are you- I mean, hi."

"Hi. I took a chance you were here and not in your room. Wasn't sure about going into the house because of the..." She trailed off, looking down as the toe of her sneaker scuffed into the tile.

"The police tape?" He raised an eyebrow while examining the teenage girl. There was a difference to her tonight, she wasn't the old Veronica but wasn't the confident, snarky, new one either, more a mix of the two. "Yeah, they got everything they needed, so the staff got straight to work and now there's no evidence an attempted murder ever happened." With a sigh, he looked off into the night, the sarcasm dropping from his voice, "Felt too strange to be the only one in there, thought it would be better out here."

"Are you doing okay?" Logan found himself surprised that Veronica's hushed, mild tone was like a soothing balm to his troubled soul, and wasn't sure what to make of that fact exactly. Brown eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed warily when she stepped closer to him.

Snarky and snappy would be so easy to do in response, but a heavy sigh escaped pursed lips instead and his head shook from side to side slowly. "No, not really. But I can't stand to be in the hospital either. Not up for the dog and pony show he expects even while recovering after being stabbed by a scorned lover in front of a crowd."

Tired chocolate eyes widened when the blond's hand came up to rest on his bicep. The warm touch threw his mind back in time, to when the fab four still existed and when the girl in front of him was one of his best friends. Memories of warm hugs, picking her up and twirling while laughter filled the air, Lilly rolling her eyes and Duncan looking slightly disapproving, which only made doing it more fun. Warmth, that was the one word he would have used to describe her. Never once had he worried about Veronica and why she was friends with him, they were friends because she liked him, not the great Aaron and Lynn Echolls or the fact they were movie stars, not what she might get from being his friend, that had never mattered to the blond.

That same warm feeling, while amazing, also left Logan reeling and confused. 'Do we hate each other or not? Are we enemies? What is she doing here? Why am I glad that she's here?' The melting, over the last couple months, of the glacier that had divided them was nice, but they weren't bff's. As that ice continued to melt, other feelings had risen that he tried hard to push away and ignore. Life was too complicated already, and the new thoughts and old emotions left him uncomfortable and sometimes ashamed. Thoughts of missing Veronica, guilt for the things he had said and done to and about her and the desire to have her back in his life again. Other thoughts, however, had tempered these 'good' ones: the sting of betrayal watching her choose Keith over himself and the Kanes, anger that left his vision tinted red and filled him day after day over Lilly's murder and the damage done over the past year. 'How do you move past that?' Another loud breath escaped, shoulders suddenly turned inward and body sagged against the side of the building, "Veronica? What are you doing here?"

For just a moment, a flash so quick that had his gaze been anywhere but on her face he'd have missed it, fire filled her blue eyes darkening them to navy. Logan braced himself for the snarky, stinging retort headed in his direction before being surprised by only a quiet breath being released, her gaze dropping. "Honestly? Not sure. I meant what I said about not wanting you to be alone. What you saw tonight, what happened — I can't imagine how that was like. You don't get along with him, but he is your dad. I saw your face."

"I don't need a babysitter!" The words came out harshly and with a bite as a hand came up to scrub his face. Veronica stepped back defensively. "What I need is to find a bottle and drink until I pass out."

"I — yeah, this was a stupid idea. Sorry, I shouldn't have bothered you." The blond spun on her heel, prepared to make her way out of the yard and back to the LeBaron when a loud, rolling grumble echoed from her stomach.

Logan unexpectedly chuckled. "Wait, sorry, I'm a real dick and jackass when I'm pissed off." Veronica spun back around with a raised eyebrow, crossing her arms, pointed glare pinning him in place. "Okay, yeah, I'm those things all the time but I really didn't mean to snap like that. At least let me feed you before you go, as you can see none of the other assholes I call friends bothered to see how I was." Tilting his head in the house's direction, "I'm sure there's still a ton of party food, what do you say?"

Another sigh, biting her cheek before nodding. "Thanks, I would like that if it wouldn't be too much trouble." Voice softening a touch, "Logan, I really am here if you want to talk, discretion guaranteed. Or even if you want to watch a movie or something to get your mind off things. Not here to babysit you and it's weird being here at all, but not so bad. I wouldn't want to be alone, didn't think you would either."

The two made their way around the pool and to the sliding glass door that let them enter the house. With curiosity, he studied the way blue eyes looked around the living room; tried to see things from her perspective. How strange it must be, to have only been here a few hours ago and seen a pool of blood while cops swarmed the place and now see it look like nothing happened. The ruined carpet taken away, any traces of the crime gone. Holiday lights merrily twinkling as if waiting for the party to start again in full swing. With care not to startle her, Logan placed his hand on her shoulder to direct her past everything to the kitchen. The two teens entered the sizable room, and he flipped the switches on the wall, throwing the lights on, both of them squinting as their eyes adjusted to the brightness. "So Ms. Mars, what would you like?"

"Do you have any of those sweet and sour meatballs? Those little quiches? Oh, how about those spinach puffs?" Veronica's eyes glazed over slightly thinking about the food, something that had always amused Logan. "Mmm, how about those chocolate truffles and mini strawberry cheesecakes?" Her delicate pink tongue swiped across her bottom lip in anticipation while she lifted herself onto a stool at the breakfast bar.

A deep laugh burst from Logan while opening the refrigerator, searching for each item named. When he set them one by one on the breakfast bar, another laugh burst forth because she didn't even give him a chance to ask if she wanted them heated, just dove into the finger food with the cutest little sound while she bit into the quiche. It was always a mystery how she could almost out eat him yet stay so tiny. He got out two forks and was about to join in when the doorbell chimes permeated throughout the house, echoing in the halls. Lips turned downward, and he glanced at the time to see that it was one A.M. "Who the hell could that be?" Veronica swallowed a bite of food and her lips pressed into a line as well while shoulders shrugged. With a push off the counter, frown turning into a scowl, the boy began moving toward the front door. The chimes sounded again. "Hold on! I'm coming!" Voice coming out in a hard, unhappy bark.

The slouching teen reached the front door and yanked it open with a jerk, more than ready to growl and yell at whoever had interrupted the propitious moment he had just been sharing. The night and silence greeted him. "What the hell?" Eyes narrowed to search the surrounding area and then the yard at large. People couldn't just come onto the estate, they needed a code or for someone to buzz them in to get through the gate which was closed tightly. If that douchebag Dick was playing tricks tonight of all nights, Logan would kill him. A gift on the doormat, silver wrapping paper with red ribbons, caught his attention. Small, six inches by eight inches. Fingers snatched it up impatiently and then turned it over, looking for a tag. After a moment noticing someone had written in red marker across the silver paper. To: Aaron. Love and Merry Christmas, Your Secret Admirer. A growl escaped Logan's throat, followed by some choice swear words that would make a sailor blush. With a slam, the door shut and gift in hand, he stalked back to the kitchen. He slouched onto the stool next to Veronica and tossed the gift onto the counter.

"What was that about? A little late for gift delivery." Eyes bright with curiosity, more because of Logan's reaction to the gift than anything.

"Right, like vultures know anything about decency or time. It was one of my father's fans dropping off a gift for him." Lips curled up sneeringly, brown eyes almost black. "What I don't understand is how someone got onto the grounds without being let in. The gate and fence is too high to climb. And now, there could be some creepy stalker of the 'great Aaron Echolls' running around the lawn somewhere." Then, as if all the fight left him, Logan folded his arms and rested his head down.

Veronica thought of the twelve-year-old boy she first met, the one who hated being referred to as the son of Aaron and Lynn Echolls, the one that hated the way people grouped around him trying to be a friend when all they cared about was the prestige they could get from it. A small hand rested on his back and she spoke in a gentle tone, "I'm sorry, Logan. I can't imagine how much this has to suck for you."

A snort is the response and then Logan lifted his head, looking at the blond with slightly narrowed eyes, a wrinkle on his forehead and mouth drawn flat. "How are you even here, Veronica? Unless he's really changed, your dad never let you out of the house this late."

The hand on his back drops back down and Veronica lets out a sigh. "Oh yeah, that. Dad got a call on a bail jumper." Eyes blinked rapidly while looking upward, and she swallowed hard. "We need the money more than Christmas." The voice sounds strained, and he noticed her hands fidgeting.

He sat up stunned, looking wide-eyed, 'Keith Mars left his daughter alone and on Christmas? Just how bad off were they? It had to be bad if Keith wasn't willing to forgo this trip.' Guilt slams into his gut like a punch, almost doubling him over, regret settled heavily on his heart. 'I wanted to make her choose between the father who isn't a drunk and who loves her and the Kane family who couldn't care less about her.'

The teens sit in silence for an interminable stretch; the food forgotten. Tension building slowly up in the air, weighty and thick. Several times, Logan opens his mouth to speak only to close it with a snap, fingers tap along the top of the counter they are sitting at. Finally, Veronica breaks the silence, "Well, you've made it clear that you don't want anyone here. I'm glad you're doing okay. I guess I should be going."

Words burst from Logan, frenzied. As if his constant need to move flooded into his voice. "Veronica, wait. Please, don't go, stay. In fact, stay the night and in the morning we'll go to your place and you can grab some things and stay for a couple of days. My mom will probably come home to sleep and change, but the rest of the time she'll be at the hospital so it's not like anyone will be here. We could call a truce, spend the days watching cheesy Christmas specials and not be alone!" Brown eyes searched blue, begging, while an inner voice chanted, 'please, please, please agree.' The boy might have laughed at himself in disbelief if he weren't so caught up in waiting for an answer.

The petite teenager stopped sliding off her stool and looked at him with narrowed eyes. A 'v' formed between her brows. "Logan- I'm not sure, I mean we aren't-"

"Why can't we be friends again, 'Ronica?" The voice came out soft, the old familiar name slipping past lips. "I know I've fucked up a lot, but I have missed you."

"Logan, you hate me!"

Chestnut hair shifted slightly as the head moved side to side in urgent denial. "I don't, not really. I thought I did, but I didn't. I took my anger out on you. What your dad did pissed me off and I still don't think it was right, but I was wrong to take it out on you or try to make you choose. It would be like someone trying to make me choose between my mom and the Kanes. But I was so pissed off and hurt that I didn't see it that way then." Eyes had dropped to stare at the tile floor, unable to or afraid to see what might be in the cerulean blue ones looking back. "Unless- do you really hate me?"

"I appreciate what you're saying, Logan, but I can't just forget this past year. The rumors, the pranks, the r-" He glanced up quickly as her words cut off, wondering what she would say but only found her shaking her head. "I think we're too broken now. I'm not the same girl you were friends with, you must know that. And no, I don't hate you, not really, but I will be no one's victim either."

Lips twitched in a smile, "Yes you are, you're just more badass now, which is hot. It was always in you. Please, Ronnie, stay for Christmas and let's just see if we can mend fences. You can have your pick of guest rooms and I know how much you love the beds in them."

A sigh escapes. "It's like sleeping on a cloud, and the pillows you guys have. But I have to take care of Backup Logan so I can't."

This time, he could have sworn he saw regret in her eyes. "Sure you can, we'll get him in the morning when you get your stuff. He can run around in the yard and play. I always loved that mutt of yours." He knew he'd won when pink lips smirked back.

"Okay, fine, but just because it's Christmas and nobody should have to spend it alone."

Muscles relaxed in his entire body, allowing him to slouch casually again. Noticing the gift again, he brought it forward and started working his finger under the paper.

"You know, Santa only brings presents to 'good' boys and girls. You opening someone else's gift doesn't put you on the nice list." Amusement filled her voice, and he noticed curiosity was getting the better of her as she leaned in to see what the present was.

"My father has never been on the nice list and never will be. I'm saving my mother the embarrassment of having to deal with this. Besides, what if it's some good Cubans or something like that? Wouldn't want those to go to waste!" With a pull, the ribbon came off and then a tear of the paper before a wooden box sat on the counter with the teens staring at it.

"Logan, given what happened tonight, maybe we should just call the police." Veronica cleared her throat, glancing at the box, biting her bottom lip.

"This isn't the first time someone has gotten on the property to drop a gift off unexpectedly, not even the fifth time. It's fine."

Logan reached forward and pushed the lid up from the box and for a second, neither teen put together what all the parts in the box meant. It wasn't until there was a beeping that both realized they were in danger, but in that moment it was too late. Smoke began billowing thickly around them and in the couple of seconds they needed to get off their stools both were coughing, fighting to breathe and trying to get away from the area as green tinted the air.

Hands reached out blindly before grabbing a hold of clothing and Logan pulled Veronica to him, moving to the front door as their bodies struggled to get some clear air, lungs attempting to expel whatever the box had released. With a tight hold, he pulled her petite body close, trying to protect her with his body, fumbling and getting the door open before stumbling with Veronica outside. The smoke seemed to chase them while the teens tried to escape. Labored wheezing, choking coughs filling the night.

Halfway down the driveway, Veronica collapsed, and it was only Logan's quick reflexes that stopped her from hitting the ground hard. He lowered her. The sound of her gasping, shallow breaths sent his heart racing, and he only managed not to vomit because of the need to make sure she was okay. "Veron-" his words cut short by a jagged coughing attack and bile rose, forcing him to spit it out. "Ronnie, you okay? Please 'Ronica, talk to me."

But Veronica's eyes were closed and her breathing sounded harsh, thick, wet, and wrong, making him want to cover his ears with his hands to block out the sound. Logan shook her lightly, trying to make her wake up. The tiny blond wasn't responding, lying limp on the driveway. "Okay, just hold on, okay? I'll get help, just- don't leave me, 'Ronica." To talk hurt, but it was more important to get help, make her hear his words.

Eyes cast around, searching for something- anything that would help them. Then, he noticed the group of fans gathered at the gate's entrance and for once, was grateful for it. "Please! Call the police, we need help!" The scream tore against his throat, stinging and causing another coughing fit but he didn't care, he needed help for Ronnie. "Call the police, please!" Someone shouted back that they were and he was sure others were taking pictures but couldn't find it to care, someone was getting them help. The hack continued in his throat, pushing material up for him to spit out.

Body shaking, Logan gathered the last of his strength and using gentleness and care pulled his former friend into his lap, rocking slowly. "It's okay, 'Ronica, I've got you, help is coming. You will be okay. Can you please open your eyes? Please?" The distant sound of sirens had never sounded so welcome. The cough kept racking through him, pulling up what felt like the actual lungs. Veronica's breathing was shallow, heavy sounding, and the teenage boy worried about the fact that she wasn't coughing up things like he was. 'What if she needed to?' Her body trembled every once in a while and occasionally it sounded as if she gagged.

A bang and then shouting caused him to look up and see people in uniform trying to get attention at the gate. After a moment, dully realizing through a headache that he needed to let them in. Loathe to let go of Veronica, he stood carefully with her in his arms. A glance revealed smoke still coming from the house and so with stumbled steps, made his way down to the gate itself. Body weaving, blinking and trying to narrow his vision that had doubled, pain pounding in his head and limbs shaking, the walk seemed to take forever. With a push of adrenaline, he finally reached the gate, Logan punched in the numbers to open it before sliding down against the wall, head lolling to one side and passing out.

Sheriff Don Lamb took one look at the two kids and then at the green hazy smoke coming from the house and stepped back. "Nobody is going in there. Call… fuck, call someone who knows how to deal with terrorist shit. I'm not dying to save these two and neither is anybody else." Voice sharp and eyes glaring at Sacks who had stepped forward, anyway. "Anyone who disobeys is on desk duty permanently." The sneer in his voice was crystal clear, and the others knew the threat was real, so nobody approached the kids. "What the hell did these two get into now? I should have known it would involve Veronica Mars when I heard immediate danger."

An ambulance came to a screaming halt near the police cars with their lights flashing. As two men dismounted from the cab, Lamb walked over and held up his hand, "We need to call someone who can deal with terrorist shit boys. You might as well head back."

The men glared and then looked over to the two teenagers. "You expect us to leave them? They need immediate help!" The driver pulled open the back door roughly. "Make your calls to whoever, but we will make sure these kids are okay." A rough hand tugged out two white suits, and both men began pulling a suit over their clothes and zipping it up. They added gloves over their hands, twice over and then shields over their faces, moving quickly and efficiently, ignoring the sheriff completely. In sync, they grabbed their bags of medical equipment they pushed their way past, shaking their heads at the other officers just standing there, far back from the passed out kids.

"Does anyone know their names?" The driver asked while gently attempting to extract Veronica from Logan's grasp. Even passed out, the boy protected her and if it wasn't such an urgent situation, they would have had time to think how sweet it was. It would have been impossible to know that these two were enemies now, the way he held her and the way she curled against them.

"Logan Echolls and Veronica Mars." Sheriff Lamb called out with disdain.

"Logan? Logan? Can you hear me? I need you to let go, okay? I need to take her so I can check and help her. My partner will help you. But I need you to let go of her first."

The teenager's eyes fluttered, a low moan escaping as his head rolled back and forth in a 'no,' "I promise I'll take care of her and help her breathe. I need you to let go of Veronica and you need to let my partner help you."

"'Ronica, take care of Ronnie." Harsh coughing racked the boy's body, and the EMT used the time to extract the girl from his arms, letting his partner move in to help.

There was no response from the female while he moved her, the only sign she was still alive was her chest moving and the sound as she struggled to move breaths in and out. Laying her gently to the ground, he quickly checked her pulse. It beat rapidly and he shouted to Lamb, "What happened to them? Do we know what they inhaled? Was it regular smoke? Carbon Monoxide?" A sharp look over his shoulder let him see the green haze that hung around the front of the house, which only baffled him more. Without warning, Veronica convulsed on the pavement. The EMT quickly turned Veronica to her side and began timing the seizure, biting his bottom lip while concentrating.

"Ronnie!" The shaky, frightened voice pierced the night and the other EMT struggled to hold Logan back and make him continue to hold the oxygen mask to his face. All the crowd at the gate and the three men inside it could do was watch helplessly while Veronica's small body jerked, muscles stiff, praying for it to stop. Then, as suddenly as it started, it ended, and she lay motionless on the ground again. With careful movements, the man moved her to her back and put her in a reclining position, pressing an oxygen mask over her face. A gaze over at his partner showed him he wasn't the only one feeling scared.

"Can you reach your radio without disturbing him, Alex?"

The man named Alex moved carefully so as to not disrupt Logan, "Yeah, Jason, I got it."

"Call it in, we're not prepared for this. I don't know what happened to these kids, but it's bad and they will need a lot of help. Especially the girl."

Alex just nodded and pressed the button on the radio, "Dispatch, we've got a problem. Uh- contact the CDC and possibly the FBI too if the police haven't already done that. Then we need to know how to proceed. These kids need to be in quarantine. I don't know what they breathed in, but it's bad. Over."

Jason nodded and the two men continued to hold their charges, giving them the oxygen their bodies were trying desperately to take in, yet was continuing fighting to do so. He hoped that the CDC responded quickly and would know how to help them because anything they might do could exacerbate the problem since they didn't know what substance was released into their bodies. Tears came to the eyes to hear the girl struggling so hard to breathe, to feel her lay motionless, to look over and see the boy flit in and out of consciousness. Every time Logan came to, his eyes immediately went to the girl called Veronica, a desperate look in his eyes, hand reaching out before losing consciousness again.

They needed a miracle and Jason hoped that one would be forthcoming…