When LoVe Comes Around Chapter Three

A Reason To Start Over New

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TW: Discussion Canon Child Abuse

TW: Discussion Canon Sexual Assault

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Summary: Our favorite duo is still sick and trapped in quarantine together. Maybe it's time to start really breaking down some walls and talking. Plus, a little innocent cuddling doesn't hurt. I mean, who doesn't need cuddles when sick?

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Many, many thanks to CubbieGirl, who has agreed to beta for me on this story. I know that it will be better for it. Thank you, my friend.

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The next morning Logan woke warm and comfortable, though his body ached like death warmed over. He frowned at the soft weight against his side. Then Veronica snuffled in her sleep and she snuggled closer to him. Soft hair brushed against Logan's chest and his heavy eyes blinked open. It was then he realized they had migrated toward the center of the bed and each other during the night.

Veronica lay curled next to him, head on his chest, using him for a pillow. In an instant, Logan's mind flew back to memories of the sleepovers spent in the Kane mansion. The fab four would fall asleep in the media room together, watching movies. After the movies, they would laugh while building a blanket fort. Then the four of them would crawl in the tight space to sleep. Duncan and Lilly always migrated to the outsides during the night, spreading out as if trying to escape. More than once taking the fort down in their effort to get away. He and Veronica, though, always ended up curled up together. Both Kanes ridiculed them about it. Logan never admitted it, but he had lived for those sleepovers. It was the only time he could be close to her, the way his heart yearned to.

He lay unmoving, unwilling to disturb or wake Veronica. Logan hoped she wouldn't be angry when she woke and saw how they had ended up during the night. He bit his bottom lip and wondered if he should try to move them apart. But he couldn't bring himself to do it, not wanting to lose contact. Letting his mind drift, Logan thought about yesterday and the shitshow they had watched on tv. How can people watch and not see behind the mask? Do they not see that he's not a good person or father? Can nobody see the threat in his words? He's not that talented of an actor. Are people willing to be that blinded?

A heavy sigh escaped from deep within his chest, and he let his eyes close again. This sucks and I hate that we're sick- that she's sick, but I'm so glad Ronica is with me. Please- whoever is out there in charge of the universe, please, let us find our way back together again. Never let me forget how much worse life is being on the opposite side of Veronica.

As much as Logan didn't want to get up, his bladder had other ideas. Another heavy sigh blew through his lips when he realized he had to move. With his tongue peeking out through his teeth, he concentrated on sliding out of bed, not wanting to wake up the sleeping beauty in it

Veronica let out a little sound. Her hand searched the warm spot he had been occupying. "Logan?" Coughs racked her body and his eyes popped wide when she turned red in the face, struggling to get oxygen.

He was back at her side immediately, rubbing her back, and helping her to sit up. Stomach knotted and hands trembling. The image of her turning blue and then dying flooded his mind. His tired and foggy brain scrambled to remember the steps of CPR he had mastered when learning to surf. Several agonizing minutes later, the coughs subsided, but her breaths were still heavy and labored.

"Hey- you're alright, it's okay. Slow breaths." Logan grabbed the bottle of water on the nightstand and opened it. His large hand wrapped around her delicate one, steadying it so she could sip the liquid. "I'm right here." He took the water bottle back and set it on the nightstand when she finished, then continued to rub circles on her back.

"Where were you going?" Her voice was soft, hoarse, fading in and out, and some syllables were missing. Logan, familiar with 'Veronica speak' could decipher her, though. Her sunken, glassy eyes gazed at him, waiting for her answer.

"The bathroom, I was coming right back." Logan's own voice was little more than a croak. "Ronica, you need to lay back down. Your skin is hot and you're pale. I'm going to call the doctor."

Logan studied his Veronica. Her cheeks were red, while the rest of her looked whiter than the sheets on the bed. Her petite body swayed to one side, then the other, and he didn't think she realized it was happening. A light sheen of sweat covered her, and he worried how high her fever might be.

She attempted to lift her arm, to wave her hands and the suggestion away. But it fell midway with the effort, and Veronica sighed and nodded instead. "Can you help me to the bathroom first? Then I promise to get back in bed and we can call the doctor."

Logan contemplated her request for a moment. He understood where she was coming from. His own bladder screamed at him. But the worry that she would fall knotted the pit of his stomach. After a long pause, he nodded. "Okay, here's the deal. I'll do it, but I'm waiting outside the door in case you need me."

Veronica crossed her arms, and her eyes narrowed in a glare. Several long moments passed before she huffed and her beautiful face went pink. Empathy formed a lump in his throat and Logan swallowed around it; he got it. He wouldn't want her outside the door. After a pregnant pause she nodded, and Logan released the breath held in his chest.

He wished he could scoop her up and carry her. Instead, he helped her up. They used furniture and walls for extra support and they made their way to the bathroom. After washing her hands, face and brushing her teeth, Logan helped her back to bed. He stumbled his way back to his side of the bed and collapsed, the last of his strength drained away.

Both suffered through another round of coughing before Logan could pick up the phone. After the fifth ring, the doctor picked up, sounding asleep. Between hacks, Logan explained the situation. Dr. Streightman assured him he would be over in ten minutes. Satisfied, Logan rolled onto his back after hanging up, wheezing. His throat burned with each cough and his chest ached. Veronica murmured words of comfort; her small hand rubbed circles on his sternum. A heavy pressure on his leg caused him to look down. Backup dog whined in concern, a paw on each of his legs. Logan managed a weak smile and stroked the dog.

"We're quite the pair, aren't we?" Veronica's raspy voice startled him. She coughed again before taking a drink of water and lying back down.

Logan managed a slight smile, nodding while both rested, waiting for the doctor. Worried any movement might set off a coughing fit, Logan lay still.

Dr. Streightman arrived seven minutes after receiving Logan's phone call. The moment he saw the pair, his eyes widened and his mouth set in a frown. Immediately taking the no-touch thermometer, he got a reading for Veronica. "One-oh- three point two," he muttered while he moved to take Logan's. "One-oh-three point five."

Taking out a small recorder and pushing the button, he announced his name, and the date, followed by their names. Then recorded their temperatures before continuing. "Both patients are pallid with flushed cheeks. Skin sallow and clammy to the touch. Both exhibit sunken eyes with a glassy appearance, dark bruising around them." Ragged coughs interrupted his dictation. Both teens rolled to their sides, almost gagging. The coughs produced nothing except making the two more miserable than before.

When it was over, Logan and Veronica lay back again, panting. Their hands found one another's and clasped together while gulping for breaths. Backup, who had gotten down, paced back and forth at the foot of the bed, letting out soft whines.

Doctor Streightman whistled through clenched teeth. His green eyes tightened and narrowed. "Okay kids, I hate to say this, but I need more blood. We need to figure out what is going on with you two because we can't afford for it to get any worse."

He stalked from the bedroom. There was a soft clinking of glass and other sounds, which made Logan conclude he was gathering supplies. Then he was back. With efficient movements, he drew several vials from both and labeled them carefully.

"We're going to change the schedule for now. I don't think you're getting enough fluid. If that doesn't change within the next twelve hours, you'll both need to be on IV's getting the fluid into you. I'll be in to check on you every two hours, take your vitals each time. Also, I can make sure you get some water or other type of fluid during that time. I'll take responsibility for getting your meals. You should only get out of bed when necessary. Understood?"

"But, won't that put you more at risk for catching what we have?" Logan strained to make his raspy voice come out of his burning throat. His heart pounding in his chest, tremors shook his entire body. "You can't get sick! You need to be okay to take care of V'ronica."

"And you, he needs to take care of you too, Lo." Veronica's weak voice cut in and glassy blue eyes gazed at him.

Dr. Streightman cleared his throat. "The risk will increase, but I am wearing a full suit so I am well protected. I will take every precaution. I didn't agree with having you alone like you've been, but my superiors overruled that decision. Now I'm insisting. You need to have someone take care of you, at least until you are on the mend."

Logan bit his lip. On one hand, he wanted—no needed— Veronica to have what she required. And until he could take care of her himself, this seemed the only solution. Plus, with the doctor here, he would catch things immediately if they turned for the worse. But if the doctor got sick, then what would they do? There didn't seem to be a choice, though. So Logan nodded his head in assent while Veronica murmured an, "Okay," her eyes falling closed.

The doctor nodded back and left the room again. The tinkling of glass followed, and then he was back with two large cups of water. "Now, I want you to have finished these by the time I return. I'll leave a pitcher of water too, and if you can manage more than that one glass, it would be better, but let's start slow." He again left the room before returning a moment later with said pitcher. The doctor placed it on Logan's bedside.

Limbs heavy and moving slowly, Logan sat up against the headboard and stroked Veronica's blond hair. She let out a little whimper and moved closer. "Want to sleep."

"I understand, baby, but we have to drink some water first, okay? Then we can sleep." The endearment slipped out, and neither caught it.

"Okay." The whisper was tiny and Logan's heart ached. His Veronica's voice wasn't tiny or soft or small. His Ronica's voice was powerful, full of wit and barbs for those that crossed her. He needed his Ronica to get better, to have that powerful voice again.

Channeling his strength, Logan helped her sit up. Then he got the glass of water. Again, steadying the glass because her fingers were trembling, he encouraged Veronica to sip rather than gulp down the liquid. It took awhile, but she drank the whole thing. Then he helped her lie down, smoothing back her hair.

Dull blue eyes gazed at him. "You too. You drink your water too, then sleep with me, Lo."

With a nod, he realized how his neck and back ached. It wasn't pain like Aaron inflicted, but a throb that made the tiniest of movement hurt, made it difficult to move. But, for Veronica, he picked up his glass, sipping the water until there was none left. Then he lay down and closed his eyes.

"Logan?"

"Hmm?"

"Would it be okay if we cuddled again?"

In response, Logan rolled onto his side and opened his arms. "Come 'ere Ronnie," he mumbled, his voice thick with sleep on the edges now. "I missed cuddling with you."

Veronica wiggled over and into his arms before curling up. "Me too. I hate that we started fighting." The drowsy quality of her voice made Logan aware she was on the verge of sleep too. It was probably also the reason she was willing to admit such a thing. He wasn't sure if it was somnolence or delirium, but he would take it.

"So stupid. Never hated you. So sorry." He drifted, but the words were sincere.

"Talk later, be okay." Veronica's soft voice answered, body snuggling closer, hand patted on his chest while both drifted off to sleep.

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A Reason To Start Over New

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Several hours later, Logan surfaced when he heard his name said in a quiet tone. His heavy eyes struggled to open. Bringing his hand up to rub them, he tried to clear his blurred vision. Aware enough, he didn't want to disturb the sleeping beauty next to him.

Dr. Streightman came into focus. "Time for you guys to wake up and get some more fluid in you and some food if you're able. Your fevers have lowered, at least for the time being, so it should be easier for you."

Logan nodded, and then his nose wrinkled. "Ugh. I need a shower."

The doctor chuckled. "If you can extract yourself from Miss Mars, we could let her sleep a little longer. I'll let you go to your room and shower, but I need to be outside the door in case you get dizzy or fall. Those are the terms."

The snarky comment of how he had been showering by himself and been in worse shape sat on the tip of Logan's tongue. But he held it back. It would open things up to too many questions, and it was better if the doc was there. Hadn't he insisted on the same thing this morning, helping Veronica?

Logan murmured an agreement and extracted himself away from the cuddly blond. A discontented sound came from Veronica's throat. So, he moved the pillow he had been using in his place. He watched in fascination when she cuddled around it with a hum and fell back into a deeper sleep. Warmth curled in his belly at the sight. His mind whirled with the why of it.

He took the glass of water the doctor offered, gulping it down the cool liquid. It soothed his dry, raw throat. Then, with slow and deliberate movements, he got off the bed. He held onto the bedpost and made sure he had his bearing before taking any steps. The doctor hovered nearby. It seemed better than earlier, less dreamlike and more in reality. With more confidence he moved from the room, across the hall to his bedroom. Dr. Streightman followed, ready to assist but otherwise observing.

True to his word, the doctor waited outside while Logan made his way into the bathroom. First, he used the facilities and brushed his teeth before turning on the shower. He adjusted the water to hot like normal when a voice floated through the half-closed door. "Make sure you aren't taking a too hot shower, Logan. That will cause you to get light-headed and put you more at risk for a fall."

A hot shower sounded amazing. But falling and passing out wasn't in Logan's plan. He adjusted the water and then stepped in after shedding his grimy clothes. A groan escaped when the water hit his body, washing away the layer of sweat covering him. Logan hung his head for a minute, letting the water run over him. Then, reaching for his shampoo, he began the ritual of washing his entire body from head to toe. He wasn't sure he had ever felt anything as wonderful as that shower. Logan was reluctant to turn the water off but was anxious to return to Veronica. He thought of her cuddling with him. No, that is a million times better than the feeling of this shower.

After some time, he turned off the water and stepped out. Logan dried off and ran a comb through his hair, leaving it at that. Exhausted, he made his way into the bedroom.

Dr. Streightman gave him a smile. "Better?"

"I shed a layer of skin in there. It was fantastic." The teen muttered, taking a pair of black boxer briefs out of a drawer, followed by a pair of grey jersey pajama pants. He started back toward the bathroom when the doctor's voice stopped him.

"Logan? What happened to your back?"

Logan froze. I'm so, so stupid? I forgot to make sure I covered my back! After a moment's hesitation, the lie fell from his tongue. One that he learned to tell a long time ago. "A couple of years ago I was on set with my dad and fooling around with some other kids there. The stunt guys were showing us how they do some stunts and we thought we would try." Logan shrugs. He made his body relax as he snatched up a black t-shirt, pulling it over his torso. "We were messing around without them there to help us and, well, accidents happen."

Doctor Streightman made a mm-hmm sound behind him. "Someone should have been supervising you boys. You'll have those scars for the rest of your life."

Logan exhaled. "Yeah, but at least there's a cool story behind it. I'm going to go finish changing."

The doctor's voice stopped him again. "I'm going to change the bedding in here, when you're done, why don't you get into this bed-"

Logan spun to protest, not caring that he was still only wearing a towel, clothes in hand. He ignored the sensation of dizzying swirling and the way his body swayed. Dr. Streightman held up his hand to stop him.

"I'm going to go wake Veronica. She might like a shower too, so you can give her some privacy while I watch over her. Then when she's done, I'll bring her in here. The bed in there needs stripping anyway, and those items washed. We don't want you laying and sleeping in those germs, and clean bedding always helps when you're sick."

The tension melted from Logan's spine, and he jerked his head in agreement. Then he headed into the bathroom to dress. By the time he emerged again, the sheets were fresh, and the bed looked inviting. Logan found himself more than happy to climb in and accept another glass of water from the doctor.

"After I get Veronica settled, I'll get some food for you two. You need to eat and get some of your strength up."

Logan, having spent his energy getting himself clean, nodded. His stomach rumbled at the mention of food. After the doctor left the room, he finished the glass of water and picked up the remote, turning on the TV. A grin crossed his face when he discovered a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon playing. Perfect. Veronica loved the show. And in secret, he might be a Scooby himself, not that he would ever admit that in public. But come on- sassy hot blond fighting bad guys? He was in. Reminded him of someone else he knew, in fact. While the Scooby Gang discussed how they will kill Mayor Wilkins, Logan dozed in and out, never falling into too deep of a sleep, waiting for Veronica.

He woke from his light sleep when the bed shifted later, and Logan opened his eyes. He smiled at Veronica's choice of pajamas. The pink and white plaid pajama pants were cute and the black tank top reading 'Classy, Sassy, and a bit Smart Assy.' made him chuckle. Her still-damp hair tickled his nose with its scent, making him think the word home.

After she was settled, Doctor Streightman went to the kitchen. He returned with a tray bearing two bowls of steaming chicken noodle soup, accompanied with some fresh baked bread and two glasses of apple juice. "Mrs. Navarro has been wringing her hands that she can't care for you. She sent this down with instructions for you to eat it all." A smile threatened to take over his lips.

Both teens sat up and got situated against the headboard. The aromas from the tray made their stomachs rumble. The doctor's eyebrows rose when he set the tray down and their eager hands reached for the food. Both were careful to eat slowly, but their appetites were obvious. Several times coughing fits interrupted them. They winced with the pain in their throat and chest. "If I discovered this secret would get you to eat, I would have asked her to make something sooner."

After swallowing a bit of soft bread, Veronica answered for the both of them. "Have you not tried Mrs. Navarro's cooking? There is nothing better, and she makes everything with love. It's so good." Logan nodded, taking another spoonful of soup and closing his eyes, savoring it. It was perfect, not too spicy but not bland, soothing to his throat and soul.

It didn't take long for both bowls of soup and the soft bread to disappear, along with the glasses of juice. Neither teen realized how hungry they were until that moment, and now their stomachs were full and warm. Warm because Mrs. Navarro cared about them and this food came from that place of caring.

As the doctor took away the empty dishes. He returned long enough to put two bottles of water on each nightstand and let them know he would be back. Logan and Veronica were lulled and sleepy. They moved together toward the center of the bed and snuggled against one another. Heavy eyes watched Buffy until they drifted off to sleep.

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A Reason To Start Over New

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Logan awoke to the sounds of fighting. Confused, he sprang up and then moaned. Grabbing his head at the pain, his body spun with lightheadedness and ached. Soft hands touched his shoulder.

"Lo? Are you okay? Lie back down."

Veronica's hoarse voice broke through his consciousness. He peeked open his eyes and realized the sounds of fighting were coming from the TV. Buffy and Faith were duking it out over something. With a groan, he let himself fall back to the pillows

One of those delicate hands brushed his forehead, her light touch pressing for a moment. Then the backs of it rested against his cheek. "You're still warm, but I don't think your fever is any worse. What happened?"

"Startled awake." Logan muttered, wishing she would put her hand back against his face. He reveled in the tenderness she showed.

A few minutes passed, then he sat up more slowly and reached for the bottle of water. Logan drank half of it before putting the cap back on and then lying down again. "How long have you been awake, Ronica? You should be sleeping too. Are you okay? Did something happen?" Nerves built up and his stomach flip-flopped. He rolled to his side to examine her, but she looked about the same as when they fell asleep. Her face appeared to have more color to it.

"I've only been awake for about twenty minutes. We've been asleep for five hours, Lo. It's okay if we stay conscious for a bit. We need more water, too." A smile tugged at the corner of her lips, blue eyes soft, and he could gaze at her forever. He wanted to get lost in her, hold her hand, talk with her for hours.

With a start, he realized he was just staring. Heat rushed to his already warm cheeks. "Wow, yeah, okay. Uh- I'll be right back." Not moving fast this time, he sat up and started to get out of bed when her voice stopped him.

"Wait- where are you going!" Her hand gripped his forearms. Her eyes peered at him and Veronica bit her bottom lip.

"I gotta take a piss, Ronica." He laughed when her eyes darted away and a smirk remained as he made his way to the bathroom. Logan was back moments later, crawling into bed again.

"Did the doctor come in?" A glance at the clock showed it was now after eleven at night. Veronica shrugged in response and he assumed that if he did, it wasn't while she was awake.

She tilted her head, studying him. Then, as if deciding something, Veronica clicked off the tv and set the remote on the nightstand. She rolled to her side, facing him, and narrowed her eyes.

Logan rolled to mirror her and waited. It was obvious there was something that she wanted to say.

"Did you mean what you said?"

Logan frowned. "You're going to have to be more specific about that."

"When you said you didn't hate me, did you mean it?"

"Oh, that. Yeah- yes. I meant it. I've been such an asshole. I don't have the right to ask for you to forgive me or to give me another chance, but yes, I meant it, Ronica."

"Why did you do it? Why did you turn on me? I was always on your side, Logan." Her eyes, usually so clear, had storm clouds, but for once it didn't appear to be with anger so much as confusion. Veronica tilted her head as much as one could while laying down.

Logan drew in a harsh breath and then let it out to the count of five. He knew if he had any chance, then it had to be with honesty. Something he didn't excel at, but for Veronica, he'd try. "There isn't anything I can say that will make what I've done okay. I need you to understand that I'm aware of that. There's no excuse for what I've done. The only thing that I can do is show you I'm sorry and can be trusted, and that will take time if you give me a chance to do so."

"My mom made me see a shrink for a while until she realized how dangerous that was." Logan shook his head and hoped Veronica wouldn't ask why it was dangerous. "I can tell you what he explained to me. About the reason I behaved the way I did. It makes sense, but still doesn't make my actions okay."

A long pause passed between the two. Logan hoped with bated breath while Veronica clearly sized things up, looking for the truth. Finally, she nodded and hesitantly reached out one hand, offering it to him. "Please tell me."

Tears welled up in his eyes with the words. He took her hand in his larger one, linking their fingers together. There was something comforting about the gesture. She used to grab his hand all the time when they talked, back when they were friends. Veronica would do it to stress a point or offer comfort. Or to grab him and pull him along when he wasn't moving fast enough toward getting the ice cream she wanted. The velvet feeling of her hand in his was comforting, steadying him. Logan promised himself not to lose this again if he could help it.

"The way the shrink explained it was that when someone is grieving and they reach the anger stage-" He paused. "Do you know about the stages of grief?"

She nodded, then started coughing. His free hand moved to her back, rubbing in soothing circles through the fit. His own body ached with each rack of her chest. Once it was over, Veronica drank some water, and he continued.

"When someone is in the anger stage, they'll lash out at the person or people they are closest to. Because no matter what, those people will always be there. It's not right or fair, but it's what happens, I guess. I was so angry and the worst thing was I wasn't even angry at you, V'ronica. I'm not sure I ever have been." Logan's breath caught, but he pushed through, needing to get this out.

"I was and am angry at Lilly for- for playing with me the way she did and for leaving the way she did, for dying. I'm angry at your dad, or rather, I was angry at him for accusing Jake Kane. Jake was- he was the only father I had growing up. And I thought he was perfect, but I've seen some things in the last few months that-"

Logan trailed off and shook his head. "Never mind, it's not important. I'm angry at Duncan for turning into a zombie and leaving me that way. And for some reason, I took it all out on you. Because you would still be here. Even if you hated me, even if we were enemies, you would still be here. We could trade barbs and insults, but you would still be there, every day. I didn't worry about you dying. I wanted to stop you from hurting me by abandoning me like everyone else. But some messed up part of me understood you would still be there. I hate myself for doing it, V'ronica. Every day, I wish I could do it over because no matter what your dad did, I wouldn't turn on you. Even with you standing by him, I wouldn't turn on you. I wish I could take it all back."

Tears streamed down his cheeks and she let go of his hand to brush them away with gentle caresses, "Shh, Logan, shh."

But he couldn't stop. Now that the dam had broken down, sobs burst from his chest, ragged and ugly while tears kept coming. Logan found himself wrapped up in her arms, laying against her as he cried in a way he never had in his life. Would never in front of his dad or friends, but it was safe with her. Her gentle hand stroked over his hair, while her sweet soft voice murmured his name, telling him to let it out and that it would be okay. Whether it would or not seemed unsure, but Logan knew in that moment, he was safe with Veronica.

Logan's head spun again and all the energy drained from him like someone flipped a switch. Veronica helped him lie back on his pillow. Then she tucked the blankets in and curled up to his side, resting her hand on his chest. "Sleep now, Lo. We'll talk some more when we wake up, but we need to sleep some more now."

Too tired to argue, he nodded before sleep pulled him under.

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A Reason To Start Over New

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The smell of something appetizing woke Logan, and his companion stirred next to him. A smile quirked at his lips, watching the adorable way she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.

Before he could even say 'good morning,' Dr. Streightman pushed open the door, a tray held in his arms. Backup rushed in past the doctor, causing him to almost spill the food. The eager pitbull jumped up on the foot of the bed, making himself comfortable.

Veronica scooted up to sit against the headboard, then made a 'gimme' motion with her hands, causing him to laugh.

"It's nice to see you have an appetite, Miss Mars. That bodes well."

Logan followed suit and sat up. The doctor placed the tray between them. It revealed two plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast and two glasses of orange juice. "Mrs. Navarro sends her love."

Both dug into their breakfast while Backup looked up, hopeful, from the bottom of the bed. Logan chuckled and broke a piece of bacon in half, giving it to their furry companion. Veronica smirked. "You're such a pushover."

"How do you say no to that face?" Logan glanced to Backup again.

It was only Veronica's hand stopping him that prevented the dog from getting the other half. "If you don't want your bacon, Logan, send it to me, not my dog."

"Sorry buddy." Logan's whisper caused the doctor and Veronica to laugh. Logan joined in after a moment.

Unfortunately, that laughter led to coughing. But unlike the previous day, the coughing fit lasted a shorter amount of time. And neither teen turned blue during it.

"You two appear to be a bit better this morning. When I checked in on your last night you were sleeping okay. And, I finally have some good-ish news for you."

"You figured out what this is and can cure us?" Veronica's eyes brightened, her head picking up to pay attention before crunching down on her toast.

"Well, yes, and no. We can identify what it is but not everything it is."

Logan's brow furrowed. "What the hell does that mean?"

"It's a virus, that much we've identified. But we've never seen this virus before. In fact, as far as we can tell, no country has seen this virus before."

There's a pregnant pause, then in a hesitant voice Veronica started, "So you're saying someone created a virus intending to give it to- well Aaron, but we got it instead?"

The doctor eyed her with some weariness. "That is what all signs are pointing to, yes. But we have every confidence that you are both going to recover. The problem is that it's a virus. Which means there isn't much we can do for you except for letting you ride it out and track your progression. I'm going to add some supplemental vitamins for you to take to help boost your immune system, but that's all we can do. Also, because we have no idea how spreadable this virus is, you will need to remain in seclusion here. Even if you're both better. You have to stay until we can no longer detect the virus in your blood."

Logan pushed his plate back onto the tray, rest of the food unappealing. "Why did Veronica have convulsions and not wake up for two days? Is there a danger of that happening again? Can you promise me that V'ronica will be okay?" He stared into the doctor's green eyes, demanding answers.

"Again, there are no clear answers. We aren't sure if it's something to do with the actual virus or her body's reaction to it. It could be it had to do with the difference between your immune systems. Or the fact that Veronica is much smaller than you. The truth is, the only way we're going to learn anything about this virus, is by observing you. By observing your reactions. And studying your blood. The hope is to even develop some kind of vaccine against this."

"Great, we're guinea pigs." Logan rolled his eyes.

Veronica had been studying both with narrowed eyes, taking in the information. "What about efforts to find out who did this? As much as I may not like Aaron Echolls-." Logan fought a grin while Veronica continued. "-Someone tried to kill him and instead could have killed Logan and myself. Where is the investigation on that?"

"I'll try to find out for you, Veronica. My focus is on taking care of the both of you, not the criminal part."

Veronica huffed, crossing her arms, and the corners of Logan's lips twitched with the urge to grin again. "Come on, Sugarpuss. You can't be mad at the man for doing his job. I'll bet when you call your dad today you can find out a lot of what you want to know."

Veronica tilted her head for a moment before a smirk took the place of her frown, nodding. "True. I know how to get all the information from him. And Logan, are you serious? Sugarpuss? We only started speaking again and you want to start with ridiculous nicknames?"

Logan shrugged, grinning, but felt the heat rush to his cheeks. The doctor observed it all in amusement. "All right, you two, you seem better. But you were coughing in your sleep. You are still running higher temperatures, so stay in bed unless it's necessary." He went over and grabbed the two water bottles he brought in. "Here's some fresh water for you, please try to drink it. And continue to rest. I'll be back in a couple hours to check in on you."

Logan and Veronica nodded in agreement, and the doctor took his leave with the empty dishes. A sigh escaped when Logan slid down to settle back against the soft, comfortable pillows. "Want to watch a movie?"

"Actually, I was hoping we could continue our talk." Veronica twisted the covers between her hands. Logan's stomach twisted, nerves fired electricity through his aching body.

"Okay." His voice came out soft, hesitant.

"Logan, if we- we're going to try to be friends again, you need to understand something because it might change everything." She focused her attention on Backup and patted the space between them for the dog to come and wiggle up. The pitbull, more than happy to move, obviously hoping it would mean pets, obliged. He tilted his head at his mistress and gave a whine, sensing something not right while doing so, though.

Logan rolled to his side, biting his bottom lip and stroking the dog's fur in gentle movements, afraid to look at her.

"I'm still investigating Lilly's death. I don't believe Abel Koontz killed her and I have evidence to back that up."

A myriad of emotions rolled through Logan. Shock, anger, denial, but deep in the pit of his stomach the feeling gnawed that she was right. Something was off. He took a deep breath. With a steady voice and eyes on her, he spoke, "Yeah. I mean- I figured. I don't think Jake Kane did it though, Veronica…"

"I don't either. But, he's also not being entirely truthful. Whether it's important to Lilly's case or not is unclear, but there is something he's hiding about that night. Even still, I can't see Jake killing her."

Logan bobbed his head up and down a few times. "When we are better, will you show me your evidence and let me help you?"

Veronica lifted her gaze to meet his, releasing a soft breath from her chest. "We- we still have to talk about some other things but, if everything goes okay, yeah. Lo, I never hated you either. Furious with you for the way you turned on me, turned everyone on me, turned on my dad yes, but, I never hated you. Even when I wanted to."

She drew in a breath and let it out. "And I wanted to. I wanted to turn off these emotions and despise you like you seemed to despise me. I wanted to be disgusted and think the worst of you but-"

Her eyes dropped to the dog between them, her voice quieter. "What I hated was losing my best friend. I hated seeing the boy I knew disappear and this new angry, bitter one emerge. A stranger I had no idea how to deal with, who did things to me my friend never would have."

Logan's teeth cut into his lower lip again and if he had more tears, he would cry. Cry for the time they had lost, for the way he had hurt Veronica. Because he hated himself for it. He wanted to take a belt to his own back for his sins. Could they move past this? Would she be able to forgive him? Would he be able to forgive himself? "I swear, Veronica, I'll find a way to fix it. Find a way to gain your trust again."

She nodded, eyes dark with indecision. He wished he could read her mind. Did she want to trust him? Did she want to run away? No matter what, Logan knew he couldn't go back to how the last year had been. He wouldn't let people hurt her anymore.

Veronica drew in a shaky breath, "Okay, Lo."

Logan momentarily lost his voice, eyes wide, heart pounding. "Okay? You'll let me try?"

"Yes. I need to ask you some questions, though, Logan, and I need you to be honest with me. If you can be honest with me about it, we can try."

"What do you want to know? I'll tell you anything!"

Instead of answering, Veronica moved to her side of the bed, putting distance between them. Backup stayed between them like a barrier. Veronica's spine straightened, and she looked up toward the ceiling, as if praying. "I need to ask you about Shelly's Christmas party last year?"

Logan's face went cold, and he felt the color drain from it. On shaky arms, he pushed himself up to a sitting position. A large lump formed in his throat and as if it hadn't already been aching, his chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it. He tried to take some slow breaths, but his body wasn't cooperating.

Backup whined and pushed his head into Logan's lap, nuzzling against his knee. Logan pet the pitbull, finding comfort in it. Then he gathered the courage to bring his gaze to Veronica's. "Okay."

He meant for it to come out steady, but it was a hoarse whisper instead. His heart in his chest pounded against his ribs, like it would crack them. "What do you want to know, Veronica?"

Her blue eyes rounded, gasping. She brought a hand up to her mouth. "Logan, do you know what happened to me that night? Do you know who raped me?"

He jerked, coming close to falling off the bed while Backup let out another whine, peering up at him. "Who, what? What are you saying? Ronica-"

Logan's whole body shook so hard he couldn't understand why the entire bed wasn't shaking with it. Bile rose in his throat, and this time he did fall from the side of the bed. He scrambled up before running the short distance to the bathroom to empty the contents of his stomach. Even then, he continued to retch and try to discard what was no longer there so hard pain shot up his back. Head spinning, he tried to make sense of the words she said, the words that came from her mouth.

Someone raped Veronica. Someone hurt Veronica. Someone, oh god, someone had taken her virginity from her. This was his fault. His fault. He made it okay to target her. He made it okay to go after her. But he never would have okayed this. Fuck, what he did was bad enough, licking the salt from her neck. He would never forgive himself for that, not as long as he lived. He doubted she would either once she found out. This was all my fault, all my fault. I hope Dad is still home when this ends. He's already pissed at me. I want him to use the belt on my back. I deserve it and so much more.

He choked and retched at the same time. The coughs were hard and terrible. His stomach twisted and wrung. He heard the sound of constant knocking on the door, but he couldn't let her see him, look at him. "Go away, Veronica. Please."

"Logan? Logan, let me in to help you. You need my help. It's obvious you didn't know anything about it. I didn't- I didn't even mean to tell you, but now it's out and I can't take it back. Please, you're sick. Let me help you."

"No." The word ripped out of his chest in a low howl, ripped from deep out of his soul. "No, this is my fault. I made it okay to hurt you. I was wrong. I can't make this up to you, I can't make this right. I can never make this right." The choking coughs took over again, and her own horrible coughs came through the door.

Several moments of silence but for the coughing passed. Logan flushed and sank back down onto the floor. He pressed his head against the cool tiles and wondered how he could ever fix this.

The pounding on the door was louder this time. "You open this door right fucking now or I will pick the lock. If I have to do that, I will make you regret it." Her voice broke at the end with what Logan thought sounded like a sob. A pain shot through his chest.

He didn't want to open the door but was well aware she could and would pick the lock. Doing so would make her move more than she should, which would cause her harm. With this thought, he crawled over to the door and flipped the lock.

When the door opened, it revealed a tear streaked Veronica, gasping softly for breaths. Veronica stood there for a moment before she sank down on the floor in front of him.

"Logan Echolls, you told me you wanted to be my friend again. I'm not letting you get out of that. We are going to deal with this and whatever it was that had you so scared to begin with because I'm not giving up on you. You're stuck with me." Veronica coughing again, coughs that rocked her entire body.

He shook his head in violent movements from side to side, moaning at the pain. "No, you'll never forgive me."

Veronica kept coughing, and he crawled to the sink and hoisted himself up. After filling the water glass, he passed it to her. Then he took his own toothbrush and scrubbed his mouth.

"Is this about the salt lick?"

Logan's eyes flew open wide, and he swallowed hard. Dropping the toothbrush in the sink, he fell back to his knees on the floor.

"I learned about it, Logan. Quite a while ago and yeah, I've been pissed off. It was a shitty thing to do and we're going to talk about it. It's not okay, but we're going to deal with it and move past it."

"Ronica, someone hurt you. I made it okay for them to do that."

"Was it your idea? Were you in the room? Did you tell them to?"

"What? No, of course not! I would never be okay with doing that to a woman!"

"Did you give me the drugs? Did you even bring the drugs to the party?"

"There were drugs involved? No- there were plans because we were going to go to a rave but we decided not to so I left mine at home."

"That's what I thought, what I've figured out so far. So, you are going to get up again and wash your face. You're going to come back to the bedroom and let Backup snuggle you and we're going to talk. It's time to deal with this, for both of our sake's, and then you can help me figure out who hurt me."

"Yes, and then I'm going to kill them, Veronica. I swear, I will kill them with my own two hands."