A.N. Thank you to VMarsTrek for being the most amazing beta and friend.

This story is for the incomparable CubbieGirl. Thank you for being such a good friend and cheerleader!


Once Upon A Christmas

By: His_Beautiful_Girl



The plane touches down, bringing them to a smooth landing. Logan's heart is heavy while he stares out at the tarmac. He waits for the signal that he can get up and off the plane he's been on for the last eight hours.

I never thought I'd come back to Neptune. What's to come back to with mom gone? Why did I agree to come and see Dick at Christmastime this year? This is going to be torture.

A heavy sigh escapes his lips as the signal finally sounds and Logan releases the seatbelt, rising from the plane seat. Grabbing his carryon and making his way out and into the airport. Making a stop to grab a bottle of water from a newsstand, he downs it while proceeding to the luggage area to retrieve his suitcase.

Logan snags his suitcase through the jostle of people when a slight body gets shoved against him hard. The other traveler eager to get their luggage pays no attention to their rude actions. He drops his suitcase on the ground and steadies the petite blond before she falls.

Her soft "Thank you" makes his jaw drop.

She turns to give him a weary smile. But when she looks up at who helped her, her blue eyes grow wide and light up, a bright smile crossing her face. "Logan Echolls! Is that you? I haven't seen you in forever. What are you doing back here? Oh my god, I've missed you. Five years and you don't call, you don't write?" Before he can react, she throws her arms around his neck in a tight hug.

Logan's arms slide around her waist, and he hugs her back. He can't help pressing his face into her hair and breathing in the scent of her marshmallow shampoo. "Veronica Mars." The name comes in a low, soft breath. Then clearing his throat he says in a stronger voice. "Veronica! What are you doing here?"

She pulls back and glances around, noticing people glaring at them. Her eyes narrow and she glares back. "Grab your luggage and go! Nothing to see here, people!" The friendly, soft voice gone, now hard and barking orders at strangers. Logan bites the inside of his cheek to stop the burst of laughter from escaping.

"One second, Logan, let me grab my case. We can share a cab and I can fill you in on life and vice versa?"

He nods, a smile on his face, but his heart aches. If anything could have made Logan come back or stay in the first place, it was the beautiful woman in front of him. A rush of emotion makes his head spin and Logan wonders if it's seeing her again or if he's still in love with her.

Veronica Mars was his best friend growing up. Lynn had gotten up the nerve to leave her abusive husband when Logan was three. With proof of abuse, she took Aaron to court for everything he was worth. But instead of buying another mansion, she made the decision that she wanted to raise her son in a more normal way. The way she herself had grown up.

Lynn bought a comfortable four-bedroom home in the lower part of the 09 district. While they had a housekeeper and a few other part-time staff, they lived an almost normal life. Lynn raised Logan herself while also making a triumphant return to the movie industry.

The Sheriff and his young daughter lived next door. Sheriff Mars was also a single parent after Veronica's mother left them when she was only a year to play mistress to Jake Kane, the local tech billionaire, and her former high school sweetheart. Keith and Lynn became friends, sharing in the experience of raising their kids.

It took Logan and Veronica a little longer than their parents to become friends. Veronica was willing, but Logan was of the age where girls carried cooties and not to be trusted. That didn't mean they ignored each other, however.

Veronica would yell at Logan when one of his baseballs would come flying over the fence dividing their backyards. Complaining of it landing in the middle of the investigation she was conducting. She had no problem instructing him on the dangers of messing up a crime scene. Standing on a ladder to see him, she would channel her father while lecturing, much to the adult's amusement.

Logan, in turn, would roll his eyes and do his best to ignore her. But not before telling her to keep the ball because it contained her germs, and he didn't want them.

In their own way, the four of them became a family, separate but also one. They spent holidays together at one or the other's house and went on outings together. Finally, around age five, Logan decided Veronica wasn't the devil. And thus their friendship began. From that moment, the two were inseparable.

She taught him about investigating, how to pick locks and even how to bake cookies as they grew up. He taught her to surf and how to sneak out of her window undetected to go on nighttime adventures. They spent hours talking about everything and nothing, sharing their deepest secrets with one another. You rarely found one and do not find the other.

Everything changed their junior year of high school. At age ten, things for Logan had started to change, and the biggest change was that he started to notice girls. Along that line, he noticed that his best friend, Veronica, was absolutely gorgeous. But junior year that changed further. He was out one night, laying on his roof and watching the stars. Logan knew if either Keith or his mother saw him he would be in trouble, but it was his favorite spot to think. And his thoughts those days tended to veer towards one subject, or person.

A noise had him looking up, and he realized that Duncan Kane was bringing Veronica home from their date. At first, he watched in amusement when Duncan kissed her goodnight. Logan laughed at the awkward movements. But when their lips finally touched, hot, furious jealousy ripped through him

Confused, he didn't understand what the emotion was, but watching their embrace, he had an epiphany. He was in love with Veronica Mars.

Thoughts turned darker as he watched the couple. He growled while hands clenched at his side. Duncan Kane didn't deserve her, didn't deserve to touch her, let alone kiss her. It should be him. He knew the things Duncan said about girls and how he thought they were there for his enjoyment. Veronica deserved better than that.

His misery only grew from that night. Veronica and Duncan became the 'it' couple of the school. Everywhere he went they were holding hands, and she was smiling at Donut like he hung the sun. He watched Veronica become less bold and more meek. It killed Logan to see her lock her personality away, to become the girl Duncan wanted her to be. She dressed in pinks and pastels, more dresses and fewer jeans. She spoke more softly, almost as if she was afraid to voice her opinion lest she receive a reproachful look from Duncan.

Junior year gave way to senior year. They were homecoming king and queen, then prom king and queen. He hated every moment, his heart twisting in pain, watching the girl he loved more every day with someone else. Watching her hide away her personality to conform to an idea someone insisted she be.

Veronica never ignored Logan, though. They continued to be best friends and maintained their friendship. But it was never more than that. Logan dated other girls, but none could hold his attention the way Veronica did. Not one of them made him feel what she did.

One night, he confessed it all to Lynn, spilling his heart out to his mom as she rubbed his back and hugged him, letting him get all his sorrow out. She kissed his forehead before telling him in a soft voice, "Don't give up completely, Logan. Keep living your life but don't give up hope. Sometimes it takes awhile for 'Epic' to happen and you need a little time to grow up first." Lynn smiled. "For what it's worth, I hope you two will end up together someday and it will be a love story for the ages."

Shortly after that night, two events happened almost simultaneously that changed fate, both shattered Logan's world. But it was the second that drove him away from Neptune.

Graduation night at Dick Casablancas' after party, Logan watched Duncan get down on one knee and propose to the girl he adored. He watched her nod yes with tears in her eyes and then smile. His heart cracked in two and the pain left him staggering away to his truck.

He may have stayed or come back after college if not for the second event.

Though Lynn and Aaron had divorced years ago, Aaron continued to cause problems. He tried on three occasions to sue for custody of Logan. When those didn't work, he tried to get Lynn to come back to him. Every lawsuit was shut down by a judge and every attempt at reconciliation shot down by Lynn. Nobody realized how deep the rage in Aaron lay. On the outside, he played by the rules. Not even Lynn knew how deep it was, despite having experienced it during their marriage.

In July 2006, while Logan was preparing for Berkley in the fall, they announced the Emmy nominations. Aaron received none once again. But Lynn got nominated for Best Actress for a gritty movie she had done portraying a drug addict. There was a lot of buzz around her performance and she was the favorite to win. It seems like that was the final straw for Aaron Echolls.

Logan and Veronica were attending a party on the beach that night. Keith Mars was at the station working on paperwork. And Lynn Echolls was enjoying a quiet evening at home, sipping wine and reading when everything shattered.

Keith was the first one on the scene. He heard the call of a report of screams from his street, and it was he who found the broken and bloody body of Lynn. There was nothing for him to do.

The sheriff in him took immediate charge. Making sure everyone at the scene treated Lynn with respect, even while collecting evidence. He kept the paparazzi far away so they could get no photographs. Sheriff Mars made sure procedures got done by the book. Through tears, he also oversaw evidence collection, so there was no hint of contamination. Keith's heart grew heavier by the second, but so was his determination to nail the son of a bitch to the wall for this.

He sent two deputies to find Aaron Echolls and bring him in for questioning. His famous gut telling him what he knew the evidence would back up. Aaron was guilty of this.

Officer Jerry Sacks went to find the kids on Dog beach and bring them home. Keith instructed him to call when he was on the way back with them and he would meet him at his house next door. Leaving his most trusted deputies, Crockett and Tubbs in charge while he went over to meet the kids.

Logan began panicking the moment he saw the lights at his house. The tape wrapping around things to prevent anyone from entering. Officers Lamb and Bradley holding the paparazzi back at the end of the street.

Veronica gripped his hand and led him into her house. Both Mars wrapped their arms around Logan, crying with him while Keith broke the news. Once Keith left to go back to the scene, Veronica continued to hold him and rock their bodies. She whispered soft words and held him through the long, cold night.

Deputies apprehended Aaron Echolls hours later. He was boarding a plane, trying to flee the country. Thanks to the diligent work of Keith Mars, they did indeed nail the bastard to the wall. A judge sentenced Aaron to life in prison with no possibility for parole. But that didn't bring Lynn back.

Heartbroken and despondent, Logan left for Berkley as planned in late August. While driving away, he vowed never to return to Neptune, California.

He stopped answering Veronica's calls and texts and ignored the sent emails. It hurt too much. He didn't want to hear how happy she was with Duncan. Logan had no desire to hear about any upcoming wedding plans. Instead, he threw himself into his schooling. He double majored in English and Creative Writing. And also managed a minor in Linguistics.

He never once forgot about Veronica, though. Every day she crossed his mind. His heart ached for his friend and he longed to pick up the phone and dial. Logan went into mourning for the chance they never got to have, for the 'Epic' Lynn thought they could be. As in high school, he dated, tried to move forward, but nobody held a candle to Veronica. It was like his heart closed the day he left Neptune and would never open again.

"Logan?" He startles at the sound of her voice pulling him from his thoughts of the past.

"Sorry, yes, I would love to share a cab. Catch up." A shy smile crossed his lips. Veronica smiles back and inclines her head.

"Good." She reaches forward and hauls a large suitcase off the belt with an "oomph!"

His eyes widen and electricity runs along up his spine when she grabs his hand and then grabs her suitcase with the other. Moving confidently, she maneuvers them away and outside toward the cabs. "Where are you staying?"

"Oh, uh- I'm staying at the house. I've kept staff there, you know. Kept it up. Could never bear to sell it."

She nods. "I never thought you would. I've been hoping you would come back." Her voice grows quieter with each word.

Logan's gut twists when they reach the cabs, and he lets go of his suitcase's handle to open the door for her. Veronica smiles in thanks, sliding inside. Then Logan meets the cabbie at the trunk to store their suitcases before joining her.

They give the cab driver the address for Veronica's house. Once they are on the road, she balls her fist up and punches Logan hard in the arm. It doesn't hurt, but it surprises the hell out of him and he yelps.

Her face screws up into a scowl, and she points her finger at him. "You're lucky that's all I'm giving you for your silent act of the last five years, Logan Echolls. If we hadn't run into each other, I'll have you know I was already planning a trip to ambush you at your doorstep."

Veronica's scowl deepens, eyebrows drawing together, eyes narrowing. "I'm tired of you hiding from me and of missing you. For that matter, I don't even know why you're hiding in the first place. We are going to talk and then you will never do that to me again. Do you understand?"

Logan isn't sure whether he's amused or shocked. His mouth drops while she rages at him. But a deep warmth fills him. It's a warmth he hasn't felt since he left Neptune and her. Now, he understands the 'his heart grew three sizes that day' line from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Meanwhile, Veronica is staring at him with narrowed, dark blue eyes, waiting for a response. "Yes, yes, we'll talk." Logan bites his cheek to hide a grin.

Right hand coming up to the back of his neck scratching and his gaze drops to the cab floor. "I'm sorry. You didn't do anything, I swear. Everything was so screwed up and when I got myself together it had been so long. I didn't think you would want to hear from me."

"Logan Lester Echolls, that is the stupidest thing you have ever said!" Veronica huffs, but her eyes relax and she takes his hand again.

"I've kept up on everything you do, you know. I've read all your books. They are fantastic, by the way. If you think I haven't used my resources to keep tabs on you all these years-." Veronica draws in a breath before continuing. "Then you have a brain tumor and we need to stop at the Neptune General and get you a CAT scan."

That's what causes the damn to break, and Logan chuckles and pulls her close to him for another hug. "Aww, V, you should have shown up. You know how stubborn I can be."

"The word you're looking for is jackass, Logan. I know how much of a jackass you can be."

Another chuckle rumbles from his chest and Logan drops a kiss on the crown of her head like he always used to do. "Yeah, that too. So, it looks like I don't have to fill you in on the boring details of my life. Fill me in on yours, then. Is Duncan flying out here at a later date?" The words leave a sour taste on Logan's tongue.

Veronica wrinkles her nose in the most adorable way, and he wants to kiss the end of it. I've still got it so bad for her.

"Hell no. I broke up with him two weeks into our freshman year in college, which you would know if you answered your calls." She levels another glare at him.

Veronica goes quiet for a moment and when she continues, it's in a softer, more reflective voice. "I'm not saying he's a bad guy, but we were not a good fit. He wanted me to be a passive girlfriend and then a wife. It was tiring to have to hide aspects of my personality all the time to please him. And it wasn't right. When you love someone, you should love them for who they are. You shouldn't try to change them."

This leaves him dumbstruck. They broke up. And if I wasn't such a dumbass, I would have known. Stupid, stupid Logan!

His mind scrambles to move the conversation forward. Logan clears his throat. "So married or in a relationship?"

"No, and no. Single, thank you." She smiles in that adorable way again.

"Did you become a lawyer?"

"I did not." A smirk takes over her face. "Can you see me in stuffy suits and arguing while having to obey rules while doing so?"

At this, Logan suppresses a grin. He never thought Veronica would enjoy being a lawyer. She would be a brilliant one, no doubt. But as for enjoying it, he never thought it fitted her. "Well, do I have to tip you over or are you going to spill the tea about yourself?" His hand squeezes her gently.

She laughs. "I went into the family business- sort of. I became a private investigator."

Logan's eyes pop open and he stares agog at her before recovering. "Wow. You always did like solving the mysteries, though. What does your dad think? Is that why you're here? Are you visiting him for the holidays?"

Her blue eyes fill with unshed tears and Logan's stomach sinks. "No, please don't say-" Anguish fills his throat and his vision blurs.

"I'm sorry." The whisper is soft and tears fall down her cheek. "I tried to call-" Shaking her head, she stops before saying more and changes tactics. Holding his hand tighter before speaking again.

"He passed a year ago, right after Thanksgiving. It was a heart attack. After you've had some time to settle in, I have some things he wanted you to have. He never stopped caring or worrying about you either, Logan. Where do you think I got most of my information from?" Her smile is wobbly.

Logan feels light-headed and his mind whirls. Unable to believe he has been so selfish to forget how much these two people cared for him. Grief forms a lump in his throat and he wants to say something but can't make the words come. Unashamed, he lets his own silent tears fall, holding her hand for the rest of the ride.

Once they pay the driver and he's pulled away, Logan's feet shuffle from one to the other. Veronica tilts her head and looks at him. "Hey, would you like to stay here instead? Your old room, I mean the guest room, it's clean and comfortable."

Letting out a long, slow breath, he contemplates. Logan glances at the house he grew up in. The same house that holds so many memories, but also tainted by a dark one. He had contemplated getting a room at The Neptune Grand before deciding he was being silly. Then he looks at the Veronica beside him, smiling. "If you're sure you would be okay with that?"

"Of course I am, you dork! Come in and make yourself at home. Then, you can fill me in on why you're here and we can talk some more.

The moment she leads him into the house, Logan realizes she still lives here. It's the same, but different. Framed family pictures are on the mantle and other surfaces. Some of young Veronica, some of both Marses together through the years. His breath catches when he sees there are still pictures of him and the all four of them together. His family.

The colors are less masculine. Gone are the dark greens and browns, and in their place are neutral shades of beige with splashes of red. The furniture is different but still made for function over fashion. A comfortable couch, loveseat and two big reading chairs made to curl up in. It all makes him smile. It still feels like home.

They make their way to the second floor to deposit their suitcases in their respective rooms. It's odd that Veronica's room is now the master bedroom to him, and a thought occurs. "Veronica? Why were you at the airport if you live here?"

Light laughter tinkles between their rooms as she calls back. "I had to go out of town on a case to help a friend. I was coming home."

"Oh, yeah, that makes sense." Glancing around the guest room, he notices that the furniture and bedding have changed. But Veronica has kept it his favorite colors of sunset orange and ocean blue. Growing up, Keith referred to this bedroom as his and fixed this room up with Logan in mind. He usually stayed with the sheriff and Veronica when his mom was on set for a movie. A smile tugs at his lips while he unpacks.

She pokes her head in the doorway, "Logan, I'm going down to start dinner. Come join me whenever you like."

"I'll be down in a minute, Ronica." His special way of saying her name slips out, causing them both to smile. She turns, and he hears her footsteps pad down the stairs.

Putting away the empty suitcase in the closet, he goes into the bathroom and freshens up before heading down to the kitchen. Taking another long look around the living room. In true Mars fashion, it's decked out for Christmas in a way that rivals his mother's decorations of the past.

A seven-foot tree sits in front of the picture window. Bedazzled with multi-colored lights and silver tinsel. Hanging from its branches is a mixture of store-bought ornaments and handmade ones by both himself and Veronica. Lights are around all the windows and tinsel garland frames each doorway. Christmas throw pillows decorate the couch and chair with funny sayings that are pure Veronica like 'Have your Elf a merry little Christmas' make him chuckle. Evergreen branches wrap around the staircase banister leading to the second floor.

A tempting smell draws his attention from the bright, warm decorations to the kitchen. Veronica smiles, looking up from making some grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Tomato soup sits in a pot on the stove, steaming and ready to be ladled into bowls.

"All settled?"

"Yep." He pops the 'p' and he again thinks of the feeling of home. A sudden thought occurs to Logan then, and his eyes dart to the dog bowls still in the kitchen. The breath in his chest catches and he's scared to ask.

Veronica looks in the same direction and then smiles. "Backup will be home in about an hour. My friend Mac was taking care of him for me. I bet he'll be even more happy to see you then I am."

They sit down to enjoy the simple but filling meal together. By silent agreement, they keep the conversation light for the rest of the evening. There has been enough heaviness for a day, and they have two weeks to talk some more.

Later that night, Logan is settling in to sleep when his door creaks open and the pitbull comes wandering in. Backup jumps on the bed, snuggles against his legs. Logan hears Veronica's "Ungrateful mutt, so lucky you're cute" from the room next door. Chuckling, he drifts off into a peaceful sleep.

The next morning, the shrill ringing of his phone wakes Logan. Without opening his eyes, he reaches over and swipes at the nightstand, attempting to grab it. "'Ello" he mumbles, still half asleep.

"DUDE!" Logan pulls the phone away from his ear at Dick's loud voice. Backup lets out a low, unhappy growl before stretching and getting off the bed.

Watching the dog, Logan knows how he feels. "Dude! You there? Hello?"

"Yeah, Dick, I'm here. What's going on?"

"What's going on is that I thought you were coming here to surf some waves with me. But I've been ringing your doorbell for the last ten minutes with no answer. Don't tell me you bailed again!"

His somnolent mind attempts to keep up with the conversation while coming awake. Logan stretches and lets out a loud yawn. "I didn't bail. I arrived last night. Ronica invited me to stay at her house instead. What time is it?"

"It's six, dude. Time to catch some killer waves. I'll be right over."

"No- it's too-" Logan is speaking to a dial down. Shit, Veronica is going to kill me. Almost falling, he gets himself out of bed and hurries to open the front door. A glance through the partial open door to V's room reveals Backup now curled against her legs.

He makes it halfway down the stairs before a pounding sound echoes through the house. Fuck.

Backup rushes past his legs, barking at the door while the pounding happens again. "Backup chill!" The dog sits but keeps his eyes trained on the door. Logan stumbles his way over and yanks it open. "What are you doing?" The words come out in a hiss and he swipes his hand over his face.

"What do you mean, what am I doing? I told you I'd be right over." Loud laughter echoes through the quiet house.

"Dick, have you always been this loud? Veronica is still asleep, be quiet!"

"Correction, Veronica was still asleep." The unamused voice comes from somewhere behind him. He turns to see her on the stairs, glaring at the blond surfer at the door.

"Ronnie, dude! How ya been? I haven't seen you since this one left town. You got smokin' hot." The shaggy blond eyes Veronica in her tank top and sleep shorts.

Logan isn't sure if he wants to let out a hysterical laugh or punch Dick at the moment. He settles for closing the door.

"I should have known you would turn up here, Dick." There's no real bite to her voice. While they weren't ever close friends, they hung out enough growing up because of Logan to be friends.

She turns to Logan, "I need coffee. If you can keep him quiet, you can bring him too." He stifles a laugh when she points at Dick, who is regarding her with shrewd eyes.

The moment she leaves the room, his friend turns to him. "Duuude. She's even hotter than in high school." He straightens up a bit before Logan's backhand landing on his stomach has him doubling over.

"Don't. Even. Think. About. It." The words come through gritted teeth, and he glares at Dick.

Tossing his shaggy hair out of his widened eyes, the surfer nods with a grin. "Got it, still yours. You gonna do something about it this time?"

Not answering, Logan turns and follows Veronica into the kitchen, Backup on his heels. Dick trails after still grinning.

The heavenly aroma of rich brewing coffee fills the air, and he takes a deep breath. Veronica taps her nails on the counter, waiting for the pot to fill. Logan gives a sheepish grin and shrugs, mouthing 'sorry.'

Blue eyes roll and she reaches in the cupboard to grab three mugs, filling them and bringing them over to the table. Nobody speaks until they are halfway through their first cup. Even Dick realizes he needs to let them get some caffeine.

Half an hour later, the blond surfer begins to fidget and Logan recognizes he's running out of time. "Let me go grab my stuff and brush my teeth, then we can go. I need to stop over at my house and grab one of my boards to use."

Without waiting for an answer, he gets up and presses a kiss on Veronica's crown. "Thanks for the coffee V. I'll be back later this afternoon. Is the hide-a-key still where it always was in case you aren't home?"

"No, I moved it. Here, hold on." Veronica gets up and takes a keyring out of a drawer, handing it to him. Her fingers brush against his as he takes Sheriff Mars' house key from her, the lump back in his throat.

"I need to run some errands, but I'll be around most of the day. If you don't already have plans, I could pick some stuff up for dinner. Dick, you could join us?"

"No can do, Ronnikins, I got a hot date tonight."

"Uh-huh. Well, more for me then." Veronica bites back a smile. "Speaking of dinners, what are you doing for Christmas, Dick?"

"Oh!" This seems to stump him into silence for a moment. "You know, I figured me and Logan could surf and drink some beers." His shoulders rise and fall. "Not like there's any family to celebrate with."

Hands move to her hips, and Veronica's spine straightens. "Nope, no way. Logan has family right here, and I'm not about to let you spend Christmas alone either. You will come here for that day, do you understand me, Dick Casablancas?" Her eyes narrow at him.

Blond head nodding, a wide puppy dog like smile spreads across Dick's face. "Thanks Ronnie, that sounds great."

Warmth fills Logan again. Though they hadn't discussed it, he hoped to spend Christmas with her from the moment he entered the house. Hearing her confirm the wish makes his heart thud a little harder and seeing her include Dick is sweet. It reminds him that beneath the hard shell of Veronica Mars is his marshmallow best friend. With a bounce in his step, he bounds upstairs to get ready to head out.

An hour later, out on the water with Dick, it doesn't surprise Logan when his friend turns to him with knowing eyes. "You're still in love with her, huh?"

"Is it that obvious?" Logan mumbles, reaching down to let his hand glide through the clear ocean.

Loud laughter has him picking his head up to stare at Dick. "It's always been that obvious. Well, to everyone but Veronica. The dumb thing? She liked you too."

"What?!" His jaw drops and he falls into the ocean off his board.

Dick is laughing while he climbs back up and steadies himself again. "Yeah, she was hoping you would ask her out, but you never did. Ronnie thought you didn't like her that way, so she finally said yes to Duncan when he asked her out."

"What- how?" Logan can't form a complete thought, let alone a sentence. His mind spins and finally he sputters the only thought he can manage. "How the hell do you know this?"

"Lilly told me. She used to get upset because Veronica was so hurt because of it. Sometimes, you and Veronica took up all the conversations Lilly, and I had. She would go on and on about how you were hurting her best friend and what she wanted to do to you. Or sometimes she would come up with these crazy ideas of how to play matchmaker," Dick chuckles again.

"You're telling me your highschool girlfriend, who was V's best girlfriend, told you this?" Dick nods. "And you never thought to tell me?"

"Dude, you had to figure it out by yourself. And after her and Duncan got together, what would have been the point?"

Logan hangs his head, dejected, scrubbing his hands over his face. "This is the biggest cosmic fuckup ever." A growl rumbles out of him and his right hand clenches into a tight fist. "First, I missed my shot in high school. Then I go and screw myself over more by disappearing for five years. Leave me out here to die, Dick. Let the ocean take me or a shark come along."

Flopping back onto his surfboard, he throws an arm over his eyes. The sudden dousing of cold water makes him sputter and sit up in an instant, though. Logan glares at Dick, who is leveling his own intense gaze back

"Quit being a fucking drama queen, Logan. Why do you think I'm telling you this now? For funsies? I'm telling you so you'll get off your ass and do something about it this time."

Eyes wide, Logan stares at Dick, who is doing an uncanny impression of Veronica's scowl.

"If you want your chance, and this might be your last one, you better take it, man. I saw the way you were looking at her. It's been five years, but I remember that look she was giving you when you weren't watching this morning."

The breath catches in Logan's chest and his heart beats faster. Do I have a chance? Is this it, what mom talked about?

"Now enough girl talk, I thought we came out here to surf." The way Dick dismisses the subject makes no sense to Logan, but he knows better to argue. He needs time to mull this over, anyway. Turning his attention to the oncoming wave, Logan flips to his stomach and starts paddling out toward it.



Once Upon A Christmas



A few hours later he gets back to Veronica's and heads up to his room to drop his stuff off, shower and change. On his way back down, the mouthwatering scent of snickerdoodles greets him. Accompanying them is Veronica singing "Holly Jolly Christmas." And to top it all off, she's wearing an elf hat and dancing around the kitchen. He pauses to take in the scene, grinning. Then pulls out his phone and captures some video before she catches him.

He's only put the phone back in his pocket when she notices him and jumps, startled. "Logan! You scared me!" Her eyes are wide and sparkling, pink colors her cheeks and she has a hand over heart. Logan finds her breathtaking. He wishes could pull her to him and kiss her.

Instead, he chuckles, running his hand through his hair, "Sorry Ronica, you looked like you were having so much fun I didn't want to interrupt. You've got a little something on your-"

Logan touches the tip of his nose and Veronica's hand immediately goes up to hers only to find nothing. Her eyes narrow and he darts over to the bowl of cookie dough, snatching some with his fingers. Before she can say a word, he swipes some on her nose and dances away laughing.

"Oh, you're asking for it, mister. Keep it up and there will be no Christmas cookies for you and I'll tell Santa to put you on the naughty list."

"But Veronica, haven't I always been on the naughty list?" He waggles his eyebrows at her in a playful manner.

When she blushes, Logan's stomach does a flip. He thought she would respond with a barb about his ego or something. Instead, she looks shy, her blue gaze darting down to the floor.

An awkward silence fills the air and Logan scuffs the toe of his shoe against the tile floor. Finding his voice again, he breaks it, "Uh- so what can I do to help? We always used to make cookies together."

Veronica finally looks up and smiles. "Correction, I made the cookies and you 'taste tested' them." She laughs, warm and joyful sounding. A sound that he wishes to hear repeated.

"Well, everything needs taste testing. How else will you know if it's any good? And isn't that what every chef on tv tells you? Taste, taste, taste!" Logan grins. "What can I do to help, Ronica? I want to spend some time with you, we still have a lot of catching up to do."

"Sit." Veronica points to the table with a smile and takes down a glass and plate. After placing some cookies onto the plate, she gets the milk out and fills the glass before bringing it over to him.

"Keep me company while I finish up. Tell me why you didn't answer any calls or texts or emails?" Her voice softens, it's not an accusation but a genuine question and he can hear the hurt behind it.

Taking a deep breath, he swallows hard. "I was a real mess, Veronica. I felt like I didn't know which way was up and which was down."

Nodding, Veronica sits and takes a cookie off the plate and breaks it in half, keeping half and handing the other to him. "But why did you ignore me, Logan? Did I do something? Say something to make you mad at me?"

He shakes his head, once again cursing himself for his own stupidity. "No, I meant it when I said, it wasn't you." Logan's hands tremble.

"V'ronica, I left because..." He's interrupted by the sound of the kitchen timer going off. She huffs in annoyance and holds up a finger.

"Give me one moment, I'll be right back." Veronica hops up and takes out the hot tray of cookies before sliding another in the oven. She sets the timer again and comes back to her seat at the table. "Please, tell me." Reaching across the table, she takes his hand.

His tongue darts out to lick his dry lips, the heart in his chest throbs in a wild, irregular beat. His gaze darts up to her and Logan loses his nerve. "I left because of a girl. I know it was stupid, but seeing her go out with another guy hurt so much and I didn't think I could handle it. So, when I left for Berkley, I convinced myself I shouldn't look back, I should leave everything behind."

Her mouth turns downward in a frown. "You- who- but how do I?" Veronica's gaze stays on the table and she lets go of his hand. Her shoulders turn inward and her arms wrap around herself in a hug.

"For what it's worth, I'm so sorry. I wish I could go back and change it. It was the dumbest decision I've ever made." Logan drops his head.

She nods. "Yeah, okay. I need a little time to process, though. I- it hurt a lot, Logan. I've missed you every single day. Every time something good has happened or something bad, all I've wanted to do is call you and I couldn't. There's been a huge part of my heart missing."

A sob lodges itself into his throat and Logan's vision gets blurry. "I wanted to call you too. Missed you every single day, I felt that same part of me missing. And I know it's my fault. I would do anything to take it back." He chokes out the words.

Veronica looks up, giving him a wobbly smile, and squeezes his hand. "Well, I found you again and I'm not letting you get away this time. There's been worse things we've gotten through together, we'll make it through this."

Logan heads bobs up and down. "Thank you for not ignoring me in the airport. Thanks for inviting me to stay here. I don't want to lose you again either."

Sniffling, Veronica rises and gives him a hug. His arms wrap around her waist and he rests his head against her stomach, letting his eyes close. They stay that way until the timer going off forces them to move again.



Once Upon A Christmas

Christmas Eve



The lights are twinkling, the only other light in the room. Logan and Veronica are on the couch and she's leaning heavily into his side, her head on his shoulder. By the even rise and fall of breaths, he knows she's asleep, but Logan doesn't move. He should wake her, tell her to go to bed, but it feels too good to have her like this, and he doesn't want to.

It's been a quiet night, but one that Logan will never forget. They had the traditional Mars' Christmas Eve dinner of lasagna. Then they moved to the living room where they have been watching one holiday special after another.

They had quickly fallen back into the closeness they had shared, as if he had only been gone a day. And over the last week, they've talked about almost everything and anything. Everything except the fact that the girl Logan was so in love with when he left was Veronica herself. And that each day, Logan is more in love with her all over again.

So many times, he's thought of taking her in his arms and kissing her until they were both breathless. Trying to figure out a way to ask if she felt the same as he does. But every time he's chickened out. Too afraid of the feeling of rejection that might come if the answer wasn't yes. Logan isn't sure if he can take that pain. Isn't it better to remain friends, to know that she will be in his life than risk it all and lose her again?

Every night, he tosses and turns over this question. Last night was so bad, even Backup wouldn't sleep with him like usual. He has a feeling that tonight will be the same.

The Year Without A Santa Claus ends and Logan turns off the television. He shifts and rises off the couch before scooping Veronica up bridal style and carrying her up the stairs. Relishing the opportunity to hold her close to him like this. Breathing in the scent of marshmallows and promises that is pure Veronica Mars.

He gets the covers down before laying Veronica into bed. Smiling while he tugs off her curly elf slippers with bells on the toes and elf hat. He's pretty sure she will be comfortable enough in her Christmas t-shirt declaring her 'Dear Santa, I've been really good this year. Mostly. Sometimes. Okay, once. Never mind. I'll buy my own gifts.' that still has him biting back a chuckle, and her yoga pants to sleep in. Logan pulls the covers up over her, tucking Veronica in.

Before leaving, he leans down and presses his lips to her forehead, letting them linger there. "I love you, Ronica. I wish I could tell you, but having you in my life as a friend is better than not having you in my life at all." One more kiss to the forehead and Logan slips from the room.

Making his way to the bathroom, he prepares for bed. Already in his own pajamas because this is the rule on Christmas Eve. After dinner, everyone gets in pj's to watch TV. He wonders if next year he'll be able to come spend Christmas with her too. Or if she might like to come spend it with him in Hawaii.

Then again, it might be time to think about coming back home to Neptune for good. As an author, he's not tied down to a specific place. The only reason he picked Hawaii was for the surfing but he has that here. And Neptune has what Hawaii could never have. It has Veronica Mars. Neptune, California is where his heart lives.

These thoughts meander through Logan's brain as he settles into bed. Backup joins him shortly thereafter, and he runs his hand over the dog's soft fur until he falls asleep.

The next time Logan opens his eyes, sunshine is lighting up the sky. It peeks around the curtains in his room. Reaching down, he realizes Backup has left him and he takes the opportunity to stretch out his body. It's then the scent of baking and something sweet like waffles or pancakes filled his nostrils. A slow smile stretching across his face.

The promise of whatever is waiting for him in the kitchen has him out of bed and after freshening up Logan heads downstairs. Bouncing into the kitchen with a loud, "Merry Christmas, Sugarpuss!" Knowing she will only shoo him away, he takes a seat at the table.

Laughter fills the air as Veronica turns from the stove, interrupting her lively rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas with specially made up lyrics. "Merry Christmas, Logie Bear!" He rolls his eyes at the nickname she came up for him at age six, but also feels warm from hearing it. She turns back to plate the last of the pancakes and then brings them over to the already set table with the rest of the food.

Veronica sits down, giving Logan a smirk, something mysterious twinkling in her eyes. Logan smiled back and reached for some pancakes. "This looks fantastic, Ronica. You didn't have to go to all this trouble."

Her eyes widen and mouth drops. She recovered herself a moment later, Veronica scowls. "Logan Echolls, you know the Christmas traditions in this household. Have you lost your mind? How dare you think I wouldn't make breakfast? Can you imagine dad's reaction if I didn't?"

Logan smiles, thinking of all the Christmas breakfasts he and Lynn had come over for. "Okay yeah, you got me there. Still, thank you, for everything."

"Oh, Christmas is only beginning, Lo. Lots of magical things to happen today. This is only breakfast." Swirling some pancakes in syrup, she takes the bite. Veronica closes her eyes and makes a low "mmm" sound that sends a shiver along his spine and has his pants tightening.

They're cleaning up breakfast when a knock sounds at the door. Veronica throws him a smile and nods at a covered plate on the counter Logan hadn't noticed. "I figured Dick would be late, I saved him a plate."

A wide grin splits his lips, and he practically skips his way to the front door, pulling it open. "Merry Christmas, Dude!"

A mountain of presents hides his face, but a boisterous "Merry Christmas!" booms through in Dick's loud voice answers back, making Logan chuckle.

"Come on in, Ronica saved you some breakfast." Logan reaches forward and takes some wrapped gifts from Dick's arms and shuts the door behind them. They deliver the gifts to their spot under the tree and make their way into the kitchen.

Veronica is setting down the warm plate of food as they enter. In a move that surprises both guys, she wraps her arms around Dick in a hug. "Merry Christmas, you big lug. I'm glad you can join us. Now sit down and eat so we can get to the good stuff! I even saved you a couple of pieces of bacon. You know, Christmas spirit and all." She grins beautifully and winks.

The shocked look on Dick's face has Logan bursting out laughing. Dick's mouth is wide open and his eyes bigger than saucers. He hugs Veronica back like he's afraid he will break her. She looked tiny in his arms, which only serves to make Logan double over with more laughter.

Veronica lets go of Dick and pushes him to the food on the table. The blond surfer digs in like he hasn't eaten in days. Both Logan and Veronica join him with fresh cups of coffee.

"Oh god, this is the best thing I've ever eaten, Ronnie." Dick gets out through a mouthful of food. Logan continues to chuckle, watching his other best friend shovel in food like he's afraid someone will take it away.

"Slow down, Dick. Enjoy it. I didn't mean you had to eat that fast." A smile quirks on Veronica's lips.

Dick swallows the food he has in his mouth and his cheeks pinken. "Sorry, I haven't had good food like this in a long time."

Logan slides his arm around the back of Veronica's chair as she reaches over and pats Dick's hand, covertly grabbing a slice of bacon from his plate. "Well, by the time you leave here today you won't be able to walk."

Dick grins and goes back to eating. Logan can't help but notice how Veronica leans into him while they sit and enjoy their coffee. He knows he shouldn't read anything into it. They have always been tactile friends. But he let his mind drift anyway.

What would it be like to make a home with Veronica? Would they sit around and linger over coffee in the mornings? Cuddle on the couch and watch TV at night? Sit in comfortable silence while reading books? Would they live here, in the Mars house, and turn it into their own. Or would they instead choose to buy something new?

The thought of Veronica coming home after a long day at the office while he writes at home makes his heart ache. He wants that life but finds himself too scared to reach for it. Logan has only found her again. What if Dick is wrong and those feelings she had for him died when he left?

"Logan?" He startles, his body jerking in his chair. Dick and Veronica are staring at him.

"Uh- yeah? Sorry, I got lost in my thoughts."

"Anything you want to share?" A sweet smile, a smile she has only ever given him, lights up her face and Logan's heart races. Dick looks at him, eyes narrowed, and he jerks his head a bit toward the blond next to him.

"Oh, uh, thinking about, you know Christmas and what it means." The words rush out and Dick throws him a dirty look. Veronica gives him a nod and another smile.

"Well, if we're done in here, we can move onto presents!" She claps her hands and her blue eyes sparkle. "I hope one of you boys remembered to get me a pony this year!"

Dick laughs. "Why don't you go ahead, Ronnie, get things ready. I need to talk to Logan real quick if that's okay."

She gives them an odd look but shrugs. "Sure, but don't keep me waiting too long or I'll give Backup your gifts!"

The pitbull raises his head and his stubby tail wags back and forth. Then turning, he follows his mistress to the other room.

Dick waits until Veronica is completely out of the room. They listen and hear her talking to Backup, gathering the presents from under the tree.

Logan startles when Dick rounds on him, fire in his eyes. Pointing a finger, blue eyes narrowed and voice a low hiss, "What are you doing, Dude? Why haven't you made a move?"

Hands flying up, fingers twitching, Logan gestures wildly while speaking. "I can't! What if I make a move and you're wrong? What if she doesn't feel that way anymore, and you only think she does? She only came back into my life, Dick! I can't lose her, not ever again. Ronica means too much to me. I can't believe I was so stupid to forget that. Because of a dumbass move on my part, I've lost five years with her. I missed the death of the man who was a father to me. I can't risk it!"

Tears cloud his vision and his heart drums a staccato rhythm in his chest. Logan feels like he's run a 5K race and is panting, trying to catch his breath. His gut clenches and a scream wants to come from his throat, but he can't let it.

"Hey, it's okay, dude. Calm down and breathe, it's going to be alright. Come on, sit down and get a hold of yourself, you don't want to let Ronnie see you like this."

Logan drops into the chair he only recently vacated and buries his face in his hands. Struggling to take some deep breaths, he closes his eyes. Dick's hand rests on his shoulder and he hears rather than sees his friend sit down beside him.

When he next speaks Dick's voice is quieter, "Logan, I'm not wrong. Veronica Mars is as in love with you as you are with her. But if you walk away from her again — if you don't take this chance then you may blow it forever. And I don't want to see Ronnie hurt like that anymore than I want to see you hurting the way you are."

Logan blows out a breath between his lips and his hands scrub his face, knowing their time is running out in the kitchen. "How do you know though, Dick? What is it that makes you so sure?"

Dick speaks in a tone more gentle than Logan thought capable. "Are you that blind you aren't noticing the way she looks at you? She sat glued to your side so close it was amazing she wasn't on your lap. I'm not wrong, dude. Sometimes we have to take that chance in life to get what we want. If we never do, it's never going to happen. Veronica is amazing and badass, but I still see that same shyness from high school when she looks at you. I don't know that she'll make the first move. Especially with the rejection she felt when you left her five years ago."

Lifting his head, Logan opens his mouth to object, but Dick cuts him off.

"I know, you didn't mean to, and you didn't know. Not to mention you were going through a shitload of stuff back then, nobody is blaming you here. But if you want her, if you want to start a life with her, then you have to be the one to bridge that divide."

"When did you get so smart, Dick?" Disbelief colors Logan's voice and he stares at his friend like he's grown a second head.

The surfer laughs and tosses his hair out of his eyes. "I don't know that I got so smart as much as I listened to Lilly on occasion."

"How is Lilly?"

A grin takes over Dick's face. "Getting married, if you can believe it. She wants me to walk her down the aisle."

"Are you going to?"

"Of course I am, she's my best friend. Ronnie is her maid of honor. I'm guessing if you play your cards right, you could be her plus one at the event of the spring season." Dick laughs again and gets up.

"Come on, we don't want to keep the blond pixie waiting. She might actually give our presents to the dog if we do!"

Logan laughs, but his stomach continues to flip-flop while making his way to the living room. Seems he has a decision to make and soon. Do I risk it all or play it safe?

They join Veronica in the living room and Logan's breath catches in his chest. She's breathtaking with all the Christmas lights twinkling around her. Her blond hair glowing and blue eyes sparkling in delight.

"Well, finally! I thought I was going to have to come in there and drag you out myself. You know, I'm looking over these presents and none of them seem big enough to contain a pony!" She purses her lips and tries to look disgruntled, but the corner of her mouth keeps twitching upward. Both of them chuckle.

They begin with the stockings. Warmth fills Logan's heart as he picks up the Snowman one that has been his since a kid. Next giving Veronica her Rudolph one that has also always been hers. He can't stop his laugh at Dick's whoop of joy when he picks up the surfer stocking and hands it over.

"Oh wow! I can't remember the last time I had one of these! Thank you, Ronnie!"

"Why are you thanking me?" Veronica blinks her eyes and tilts her head. "I didn't do anything, Santa is the one who fills the stockings."

Dick laughs and throws her a wink. "Ah yes, how could I ever forget such a thing."

They dump them out to discover their favorite candies and other little things meant for each one of them. Dick's contains Kit Kats, Sex Wax, a Blu-ray copy of Point Break, and a small book of the best surf spots around the world. Logan's has Peanut Butter Cups, gloves to wear to stop your fingers from stiffening while typing, and a gift card for his Kindle. The last item is a wallet size photo of him and Veronica taken a few days ago, smiling at each other. He doesn't know who took it or how she got it, but he's sure no other gift today can top it. Veronica's is full of different chocolates, a new digital recorder, and phone case.

"Alright, let's get to the good stuff!" She rubs her hands together, eyes glinting, and both men laugh again. She tilts her head, looks at Backup and shrugs before passing out the gifts.

Dick's eyes grow large as he unwraps his gifts from Veronica. He receives a high-quality beach towel, one meant to soak up water, take up as little space as possible and fit into a bag. That, along with some very good but expensive muscle salve. He's speechless for a moment and then reaches over and hugs her.

Veronica, surprised at first, hugs him back. "Merry Christmas, Dick."

"Merry Christmas, Ronnie. Thank you so much."

They smile at each other as they pull back, and Logan feels an irrational stab of jealousy shoot through him. Grunting, he pushes his own gifts toward Dick for him to open.

"Thanks Dude!" He grins, unwrapping the new wetsuit meant for winter months and dive watch. "These are amazing."

Logan looks down, fingering the ribbon curls on one of his gifts. "You're welcome. I wasn't sure what you needed, but I know we can always use these things."

"This is perfect, actually. I was thinking it was time to upgrade both anyway, so it's great."

Logan nods, feeling a bit ashamed for feeling jealous of the hug between his two best friends.

Logan shakes it off and laughs as he spends five minutes playing the game of "what could it be" before unwrapping the new surfboard from Dick. But it's worth it for the way he has Veronica nearly falling off the couch giggling. When he unwraps the cufflinks in the shape of blue inkwells with a silver quill, he grins at Veronica.

"Now I expect you to wear those when you win the Booker Award for novel of the year." She levels him with a serious look, nodding.

Logan can't breathe for loving her, and all he can think about is pulling her to him and kissing her breathless. But he doesn't. Nodding in return, he picks up her hand and kisses her knuckles. "I wouldn't dream of wearing anything else. But you better be there when I do." He can see Dick glaring at him out of the corner of his eye, but ignores him.

Veronica beams. "Of course I will, dummy. I told you, you don't get to walk away from me again!"

He doesn't trust himself to say anything, so he smiles at her and turns his attention to the other gift. Unwrapping it, his breath catches. "Ronica, no. This is too much, you shouldn't have."

"Shut up, Logan. It's Christmas."

"But this is a Montblanc." His voice comes out quiet while he takes the silver fountain pen out of its case, appreciating its beauty.

"Well, I can't return it, it's engraved. So unless you know another Logan to give it to, you'll have to keep it." Her voice is airy and when he looks at her, she's smirking because she knows she has him.

He doesn't want to give it back, not at all. It's a beautiful pen and he'll use it for everything. The only hesitation is he knows how much these pens cost and he knows Veronica's budget. Logan also knows that he won't win this argument, so he turns his attention to the engraving. Logan- Never forget how loved you are.

Fingertips tracing over the words, Logan feels his heart fluttering in his chest. Does she mean? No- she means this as a friend. They way they've always said they loved each other. But- but Dick said that she does love him.

He startles out of his thoughts by her hand touching his. "Hey, you're not upset, are you? I promise you, I got a good deal. I did a favor for someone who owns a store, and they gave me a great price on it. I saw this and knew that you should have it."

Swallowing over the lump in his throat, Logan shakes his head. "No, no. I'm not upset. It's beautiful, thank you Veronica." He wraps his arms around her and hugs her tight.

Over her shoulder, his eyes meet Dick's. He mouths 'I told you so' but Logan shakes his head. He doesn't know what to think or do. Clearing his throat, he lets go of her. "You haven't opened yours yet. Come on! Don't keep us waiting, Sugarpuss!"

"You and the names, seriously, Logan." But she's laughing and pulling her gifts toward her.

Veronica laughs long and hard at the shirt Dick gives her, which reads- I'm sorry, Did I roll my eyes out loud? Then she claps her hands when she sees the complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"You realize this means we will have to have a marathon, right?" Veronica grins at the both of them. Logan laughs, it won't be the first time he's done this with her. Dick claps his hands and declares himself all in for hot badass girl action.

Her eyes widen in delights when she unwraps her gifts from Logan. Both the bluetooth speaker and the key fob are covers for hidden cameras she can use on the job.

"Oh wow, Logan! These are fantastic. How did you ever find them?"

"I have my ways." He grins, excited to see her so happy about the gadgets he knew she'd love.

She throws her arms around him in another tight hug and he presses his face into her hair, breathing in the scent that is pure Veronica Mars. It fills his soul and makes his heart seem whole again. Why am I so scared to tell her?

The rest of the day passes in a flurry. Laughter and bantering while watching favorite holiday movies. Introducing Dick to what it means to celebrate Christmas in the Mars family.

Veronica refuses to let either of them come into the kitchen while she's cooking. The delicious smells that waft out drive both Logan and Dick insane. When she finally calls them in for dinner, they both stare slack-jawed at the table. It's laden with ham, cheesy potatoes, glazed carrots, salad, fresh baked rolls, and stuffing. They all dig in and enjoy the meal with gusto, eating until they are almost groaning from it

Dick and Logan shoo her out of the kitchen and take care of the cleanup, thanking her for such an amazing meal. Then they all curl up with hot cocoa and snickerdoodle cookies to enjoy National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation together.

Dick hugs them both tight before leaving. "Thank you again, Ronnie. I haven't had a Christmas like this since- well, I've never had a Christmas like this. It's been amazing."

"You are welcome here every year, Dick. You're family too, don't you forget it, okay? Don't be such a stranger."

Logan watches as Dick stares in awe at the beautiful woman with the heart of a marshmallow beside him. A moment later, he wraps his arms around Logan, and whispers in his ear, "So help me Dude, if you don't make your move, I'm going to kill you. Or should I make a move myself?"

Dick pulls back as Logan feels that sharp streak of jealousy run through him again. His hand clenches into a fist and he stares at Dick through narrowed eyes.

For his part, the surfer smiles and nods, "That's what I thought." He salutes the two of them and heads out toward his jeep with a "goodnight" before roaring off into the night.

Veronica closes the door behind them and scuffs her toe against the floor. "So, I have one more gift for you. I wanted to wait until we were in private to give it, though."

Logan chuckles. "As it happens, I have a gift for you too, Veronica. Want to change into our pajamas and meet back here in say- ten minutes to exchange?"

Tilting her head, Veronica looks up at him and nods. Pink coloring her cheeks as she does. "Go ahead, I'll be right up to change."

He bounds up the stairs to his bedroom to retrieve the small box he hid there a couple days ago. Then he changes into a pair of grey jersey pants and a black t-shirt. The sound of some scraping and movement downstairs has him puzzled. But by the time he comes back down, there's nothing to see. Backup is laying in front of the tree, tired out from chewing on the gigantic bone Santa left for him.

Taking a seat on the couch, Logan's knees begin to bounce and nerves jangle inside of him. His hands feel clammy suddenly and the somersaults are back in his stomach. It's too quiet, so he gets up and turns on the radio, letting soft Christmas music fill the room and humming along.

A sound draws his attention, and he turns. Veronica is coming down the stairs, dressed in red sleep shorts and a black tank top. It's nothing he hasn't seen her in before, but his mouth is as dry as the desert. Logan feels like he can barely breathe while looking at her.

She gives him that sweet smile. That smile she's always reserved for him and his stomach flip-flops again. "Should we sit back down on the couch, Lo?"

He nods, making his feet move, trying to talk but feeling struck dumb. She smiles at him again. "Who should go first?"

Finally finding his words, he fingers the small box in his hands. "Can I?"

"Sure." Veronica takes the box from him and unwraps it. Her breath is sharp and audible when she opens the box and finds the necklace laying inside.

His voice comes out soft. "It's called a 'Trinity Necklace.' That's why there are the three circles interlocking. One stands for fidelity, one for love and one for friendship. I never want to lose you from my life again, Ronica, not ever. This is my tangible promise to you I won't ever walk away again."

Veronica stares at the Cartier necklace, the white, yellow and rose gold circles interlocking. "It's beautiful, Logie-Bear. You didn't need to do this."

"I wanted to. Will you accept it from me?"

Swallowing several times, she finally nods. "Will you put it on for me?" She turns and lifts her hair, giving him the necklace. His fingers tremble as he draws it around her neck and clasps it. When she turns around, it nestles around her neck and drops just below her collarbone, glowing against her skin.

He brings his hand to her cheek and leans in. I'm going to do it, I'm finally going to kiss her. I need to kiss her. At the last moment he shifts and presses his lips to her forehead, chickening out.

Veronica opens her eyes and looks at him, tilting her head, and something flashes in her eyes. He thinks it's disappointment, but he's not sure. He presses his hands against his thighs and rubs the clamminess off.

With a smile, she takes the package and gives it to him. It's heavy and obviously a book, but it has him curious. Why would she want to give me a book in private?

"Go head, open it." She inclines her head toward the present and smiles again.

Biting his bottom lip, he removes the ribbons and then the paper to reveal a beautiful leather-bound book. It's thick, and he stops breathing when he reads what's on the cover. Mars Family Recipes it proclaims with a picture of a bread basket underneath. Further below that in script is says- The secret ingredient is always love.

With trembling fingers, he opens the book and sees an inscription on the first page.


Your last name might be Echolls, but you have always been and always will be a Mars. These are your recipes as much as mine. Think of me when you make them.

I love you,


He glances up into her shining eyes and then back to the book. The pages all bear her neat script. Organized into different categories and starting with the recipes she taught him to make. There are plenty of blank pages to add more recipes to the book as well.

"Veronica, this is- I can't believe you're sharing-"

"Logan, these recipes are as much yours as mine. You should have them with you wherever your life takes you." She looks away at the last words, getting up from the couch.

In a reverent movement, he sets the book down on the coffee table and gets up, walking around to come stand in front of her. "What if I want to be here in Neptune?"

She draws in another sharp breath. "I thought you never wanted to come back?" Her voice is a hoarse whisper and her right hand comes up to touch the necklace around her neck.

"Maybe I've learned that there's no place like home." His eyes search hers and it feels like his entire body is trembling.

"Are you quoting the Wizard of Oz to me?" Veronica's lips twitch upward.

"It's a classic, and it happens to be the truth." He leans in closer to her. They are almost touching now. Logan can feel the heat from her body radiating through his clothes and onto his skin.

"Lo?" Her tongue darts out to swipe across her bottom lip and she lifts her chin, looking up at him.

"Yeah?" The word is breathed out like the softest sigh, and his own tongue darts out to wet his lips

"You should know that I was awake last night, when you brought me up to bed and.. Well, look up."

Confused at first then registering her words he does. Above them hangs a ball of mistletoe. Everything clicks together then. The sounds he heard while he was upstairs and what she was doing.

Logan wraps his arms around Veronica and pulls her tight against his body. His head dips down and one hand threads into her hair while his lips slant over hers and he gives into it all. Kissing her soft at first and then deepening it and feeling his heart sing as Veronica moans soft and low, her fingers gripping his shoulders and pulling him to her.

He moves to press kisses against her jaw and down her neck and hears her whisper. "I love you too, Logan."



A.N. Whatever you may celebrate and however you may celebrate it, I hope the season is filled with love, joy, laughter and blessings for you.