“You want me to drop you off at your appointment on my way to the base?” Logan calls to her from their bedroom.
Veronica stills, rolling her eyes as she spits a wad of toothpaste into the sink. “Afraid I won’t go otherwise?” She pads over to their room, nearly tripping over Pony in the process. Their girl had been a little needy since they’d gotten back from their Sedona honeymoon a few days ago, not used to both of them being gone at the same time.
Veronica checks her hip against the doorframe with the lift of her brow, her toothbrush resting between her cheek and gums. Logan pulls on a clean black t-shirt over his muscled frame. Yum.
“Who, me?” he says cheekily, pressing a hand to the wall above her, slouching to meet her eyeline, which must be killing him. Her guy hasn’t slouched much at all in the last five years. “Couldn’t be.”
She looks up at him, smirking around her toothbrush. “Real cute, Echolls.”
“Hey.” He looks affronted. “It’s Mars now.”
She leans up and presses a minty kiss to his cheek in apology, accidentally smudging a touch of toothpaste there. “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven.” His mouth twitches and she plucks the lingering toothpaste away with the quick brush of her finger. “So that’s a ‘no’ on the ride then?”
“On that kind of ride, yes.” She winks exaggeratedly at him. “But I’m looking forward to the other kind later.”
He chokes on a laugh and she spins on her heel, whipping him gently in the face with her blond ponytail on her way back to the bathroom. “I guess you’ll deserve it after today.”
“You’re damn straight.” She rinses her mouth and thrusts her toothbrush into the holder on the sink. “Doin’ this for you.”
He’s uncharacteristically quiet at that but she hears the soft pad of his footsteps as she wipes her mouth across a towel. “Don’t do it for me, Veronica,” he says softly. She looks up and meets his eyes in the mirror, and the look in them is like a soft punch to the gut.
“Do it for yourself.”
She swallows a lump in her throat and she has to tear her gaze away from his. It’s too much, too vulnerable, and her hands shake with it. He comes closer, wrapping his strong arms around her from behind. He sighs, resting his head on her shoulder. “Okay?”
“Yeah,” she scrapes out.
He nuzzles into her neck, smudging a kiss there. “I love you.”
She rests her hands over his, their wedding bands clinking together. The sound shoots a vibration into her heart. “I love you too, Logan.”
Don’t be a wuss, Veronica. You made it through four years of psych undergrad. You can handle some bitch-ass therapist.
But she’s jittery in the waiting room, her knees bouncing as she thumbs through a magazine that’s a year old, her eyes glancing over the glossy pages without taking anything in. It’s sterile here in this room, and the lighting and the uncomfortable chairs remind her more of a hospital than a counseling center.
But to be honest, she prefers it over some woo-woo place with a meditation CD on repeat and some incense burning in the corner. Maybe a place like the one Logan goes to...
That was bitchy, Veronica.
It was. And she doesn’t think that now, not anymore — not really . But old snarky and cynical habits die hard and this one will definitely be a hard one to break.
Besides, Logan’s therapist Jane recommended this woman to Veronica, so she imagines their counseling styles or practices are similar enough for them to be friendly.
Her stomach rolls as she glances up at the clock. T-minus two minutes. She sighs, rummaging through her bag for a stick of mint gum to try to keep the nausea at bay. But what she really needs is something to take the edge off.
Probably too late in her life to take up smoking.
The intake forms are sitting in the chair next to her, mocking. She’d scribbled some stuff down, deemed it passable, but kept it vague. She knows if Logan were here, he’d call her out on it, ask her what the point of coming was if she wasn’t going to put in the effort.
Which, fair, but also if this woman is worth her salt, Veronica feels she should be able to see through her bullshit.
What kind of investigator would she be if she didn’t put it to the test?
When Logan handed her the referral card, she remembers thinking it was a little odd that the woman’s name is so similar to Lilly’s.
His warm hand lingered on hers, as if he knew what she’d been thinking (of course he had) and his bright eyes bore into hers. “Jane says she’s the best,” he promised.
Ugh. She couldn’t do this. “Logan, I don’t kno—”
“Veronica,” he tugged her closer, cupping her cheek. “You’ve fought murderers, serial rapists, gang members, Cartel thugs. This isn’t really where you’re going to draw the line, is it?”
She sighed. “No.”
“Good.” He pulled away then, frowning as he looked down at her, forcing her head gently to the side.
“I just want to remember what it looks like before it gets shrunk.” His eyes glinted in amusement.
“I’ve made that joke before,” she volleyed back.
He grinned. “I know. It’s a solid bit.”
“At least you finally admit it,” she grumbled before latching her mouth onto his to shut him up.
Veronica’s not sure what she was imagining Lila to look like, but this...isn’t it.
Okay, that’s a lie, Veronica knew exactly what she was imagining and it certainly wasn’t a late 30-something gorgeous brunette who looked like she just stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad.
The clock on the wall ticks loudly, mocking her. Who still uses clocks anyway?
Lila flips the pages of the form back to the beginning and lifts her gaze back to Veronica, pushing her glasses up through her shiny hair.
“You seem anxious, Veronica. Is there anything I can do to help make you more comfortable? Would you like some water or coffee or something?”
Veronica shrugs. “I’m fine.”
“Okay.” Lila smiles kindly. “Is there a place you’d like to start? Maybe what’s prompted you to seek therapy.”
Veronica snorts, gesturing toward the forms. “Isn’t it obvious?”
“Yes, based on the vague details you’ve provided, it seems you have had a significant amount of trauma in your history, the first of which looks like it goes back almost 20 years ago. But you’ve never sought therapy before?”
Veronica folds her arms across her chest. “I went for a brief period then at my mother’s request, but not since.”
“Okay. So why now?”
Veronica shrugs. Is it really important?
“Veronica, forgive me for being candid, but based on your body language and your responses, you don’t really seem too keen on being here today.”
Veronica snaps her fingers. “Gee, you’re good. I’d hire you at our firm, but we don’t have any openings right now.”
Lila barely blinks at her sarcasm, which kind of pisses Veronica off. She seems to just smile sympathetically, waiting for Veronica to give her more.
Veronica sighs. “I promised my boyf — ” she cuts herself off, swallowing. “My husband.”
“So you don’t believe in therapy.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“What are you saying?”
Veronica scoffs. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Veronica, I don’t want to waste my time or yours. If you don’t want to be here, I can’t force you, and neither can your husband. I’m not really sure what you’re going to get out of therapy if you’re not at least open to it.”
“Fine.” Veronica gets up from her spot on the worn couch and walks to the door, slinging her bag over her shoulder. Her hand falls to the doorknob, hesitating.
This isn’t really where you’re going to draw the line, is it, Veronica?
She sighs, leaning her forehead against the door. Logan. He deserves better than what she’s given him. So much better. She wants to be better. For him. For them -
What the hell is she so afraid of?
Veronica spins around, steeling herself. Lila remains unmoved, sitting in her chair patiently.
“I’m sorry,” Veronica says sincerely. “My dad always said I should put sarcasm down as a second language.” She walks back, collapsing on the couch that sinks under her weight.
“The truth? No, I don’t really see the point of this. You and I can talk my problems to death and it’s not going to change them. It’s not going to fix me.”
“You think you need fixing, Veronica?” Lila asks.
“That’s pretty much the understatement of the century.”
“Therapists, counselors...we’re not really in the fixing industry. There’s too much paperwork.” Veronica smiles a little at her joke. “You said that you’re here because you promised your husband. Why does he think you need to be here?”
Veronica shifts uncomfortably. “I suppose that he’s concerned that some of my behavior and coping skills are...not the healthiest.” Okay, actually, that's the biggest understatement of the century.
“Do you agree?”
“I guess.” Veronica clears her throat. “Yes.”
“Then I think you’ve come to the right place.”
Lila wheels her chair over a few feet to her desk, snagging a pen and a fresh notebook. “Let’s just start by diving into some of the details of your life now. I’d like to hear about your job and your marriage - just get a little background. Sound okay?”
Veronica bites her lip, nodding. Logan and Mars Investigations. Piece of cake.
Fuck, she’s nauseous again. She takes in a long, slow breath, willing herself to chill out. Think about Logan, Veronica. Logan.
Her stomach unclenches just a fraction. “Before I start spilling my guts, can I take you up on that glass of water?”
Lila’s eyes are warm on hers, and Veronica knows then that this woman hears what she’s not saying. She can do this. She will do this.
“Of course, Veronica.”
You'll recognize a small plot point in here from the end of Season 4 regarding how Neptune functions after the mayhem that Penn, Big Dick, and Clyde impose on the city.
Veronica feels out of sorts the rest of the day, uncharacteristically quiet at the office. Her dad is in and out all day as they get everything in order for his hip replacement surgery, so he doesn’t really get a chance to interrogate her the way he wants to after she throws away a few easy barbs he throws her way.
But he doesn’t know about therapy, and she has no plans to tell him just yet. For now, it will stay between her, her husband, and their therapists.
She’s sure Logan is dying to ask her how it went, but her phone stays silent all afternoon, and she’s grateful that he’s at least given her a few hours to process it.
Getting ready to head home, she texts him. Feel like Cho’s for dinner? I can pick it up on my way.
His response comes through just a few minutes later. How do you feel about lasagna instead with a nice tall glass of wine on the side? A photo comes through of the dish he’s preparing and it looks delicious, sending a growl through her stomach. I finished up early today so thought I’d make us dinner .
He makes them dinner much more often than she does, but she imagines he’s taking extra care tonight after her session. Despite how much grief she’s given him over therapy, he’s shown her so much grace and patience and she wants to be better about appreciating him.
It’s perfect , she replies . I love you.
Her phone dings in response and she laughs, rolling her eyes. Wow, has therapy already softened you? We’re not paying her enough.
Watch it, pal. I’ll be home in 30.
Yes, dear. Drive safe.
She walks through the front door to find Logan leaning over the stove, barefoot in a pair of worn jeans and a blue t-shirt as he assembles a pan with a few pieces of frozen Texas toast.
“Hey,” he throws over his shoulder in greeting, a wide smile stretched across his mouth. “I thought we’d really carb out tonight. Go big or go home.” He waggles his eyebrows.
He opens the oven door and slides the pan inside as Veronica tosses her bag on the counter. He sets a timer and she kneels down to pet Pony, who sits just a foot away from Logan’s feet, apparently still a little needy.
“Hey, girl,” she murmurs softly. “Are you behaving for Daddy?”
Pony cocks her head, whining softly.
“Pone, I thought that was going to be our little secret,” Logan stage whispers.
Veronica looks up at him, amused. “You were going to keep a secret from me ?”
He smirks, his eyes sparkling. “You’re right. What was I thinking? Rookie mistake.”
She chuckles but it’s thin, and she’s tired, worn out as her morning catches up with her. He notices, though, of course he does. He frowns in concern as his palm reaches down to brush against her cheek. “You okay?”
She nods, clambering to her feet so she can sink into his embrace. She rests her head against his chest, nuzzling into him as she breathes in his scent, taking in the steady beat of his heart. Lets it soothe her. His broad arms wrap tightly around her, safe, and she sighs as the tension melts out of her.
His lips brush her forehead. “I’m not going to push you to talk to me about it, Veronica, but I’m here if you want to talk, okay?”
She hums in response, her eyes fluttering closed. True to his word, they just stand there for a couple of minutes as he holds her.
Veronica swallows hard. “Does it get easier?”
He sighs, his fingers sifting through the ends of her hair. “No,” he admits. “But you get...used to it.”
She knows she barely scratched the surface today, but she feels raw, cut open for the whole world to see. All she wants is to shove everything back inside, sew herself together, and keep walking through her life.
But she has a terrible feeling in her gut that as hard as it seems right now, everything in her life would fall apart if she didn’t see it through.
When all the dishes have been cleared away, they take Pony for a walk on the beach, enjoying the last vestiges of the sun as it starts to sink below the horizon.
They don’t say much at all for several minutes, but the feel of the sand beneath her and her hand clasped gently in Logan’s as Pony walks in front of them is all she needs.
When they near their apartment again, Veronica tugs on his hand to get his attention. She nods to a spot on the sand a few feet away. “Mind if we sit for a few minutes?”
“Sure,” he replies easily. The three of them plop down in the sand, Pony as gracelessly as Veronica. Just like her mother. Veronica finds it endlessly amusing that Logan continues to be the pretty one in their relationship, and she never tires of pointing it out.
She drapes her arm carelessly over his thigh, leaning her head into the crook of his neck.
He kisses her forehead. “Hey listen, I think there’s something we should put on the table for discussion,” he murmurs.
She sighs. “If it’s necessary, Echolls.”
“Echolls Mars,” he corrects her in a soft low voice that makes her shiver in delight.
She presses a smile into his shoulder. “What is it?”
“I think we need to figure out what we want to do if they pass that city ordinance regarding rent control.”
Fuck, with everything that’s gone on, it had kind of slipped her mind. Despite stopping Penn, the ripple effect of what he’d done — along with Clyde and Big Dick’s numerous misdeeds — continued to bounce through town. Old businesses were shuttering their doors every day and Veronica had a sick feeling the ordinance was the next item on the list that would come to pass.
She groans, sliding out of the cocoon of his embrace. “I was kind of hoping if I forgot about it, it just wouldn’t happen.”
Logan takes her hand, squeezes it gently. “I know.”
She meets his eyes. “You wanna move?”
He shrugs. “I’ve loved our little place, Veronica, but I wouldn’t mind getting something a little bigger, maybe more permanent.”
Her eyebrows shoot up. “Permanent like buying a house?”
He searches her face carefully and the intensity in his gaze — the way he really sees her — makes her flinch. “Does that scare you?”
She swallows hard, wants to give him the answer that will avoid an argument. “You’re not referring to financially, are you?”
He lifts a hand to smooth a thumb across her cheek. “No.”
Veronica bites her lip, bracing herself. “Will you be mad if I say yes?”
His hand drops from her face and disappointment sparks dimly in his eyes. “Mad? No.”
But the hurt in his gaze takes her breath away, will haunt her for at least the next few days, and she has to look away from it before she lets it burn her alive. Instead, her eyes scan the horizon, the waves crashing on the shore.
“It’s okay,” he says softly.
“No, it’s not,” she says brokenly, swallowing it down as her fingers twist into the sand. Because it isn’t. They’ve been together for how long , and now they’re married, for god’s sake. And yet.
She sucks in a sharp breath, and the salt in the air catches in her throat.
“Let’s say hypothetically that I - ” she breaks off, starts again. “Where the hell are we going to come up with the money to buy a place?”
“How much of the reward is your father giving you?”
“Half. So 125,000, minus the taxes, I guess.”
“How much would you be willing to put into a home?” His hand reaches over to finds hers in the sand, wrapping his fingers through hers to loosen her grip so he can link his fingers through hers. He almost always knows what she needs. “Hypothetically,” he adds for her benefit.
She shrugs. “I don’t know. Half of my cut? I have next to nothing saved, so I’d like to put a sizeable chunk away.”
She has no savings, no emergency fund, no retirement plan. Not having a dime to her name is getting really fucking old.
“Let me take a look at some of my investments and then maybe we can come up with some kind of plan.”
“Wait. Your investments for retirement ? Logan - ”
He shakes his head. “I’m not talking about any retirement funds, Veronica. I have a few other investments, too. I just haven’t had an occasion to touch them. We’ve been living within our means and I know my money makes you…” he hesitates. “Squeamish.”
“So you hid them from me?”
He rolls his eyes. “This is exactly what I mean. I didn’t hide them from you. It’s money that I haven’t touched in years - separate from my salary, my credit, my bank accounts. It’s not a ton of money, I’m not Echolls family rich anymore, but it can help us if you can get onboard with me contributing more.”
She gets up from the sand, dusts off her hands. “I just need to think about this for a few days. You talk to your...money guy,” she says, searching for the right words. Does he even still have one of those? “And I’ll...process.”
“Are you mad?” he asks, rising to meet her.
“Mad? No,” she parrots back at him, half-joking.
She catches the slightest glimpse of that patented Echolls smirk before he’s pulling her into his arms, capturing her mouth with his in a kiss that has her toes curling in the sand. “I love you,” he murmurs against her lips.
“I love you, too.”
“What is it about the idea of buying a house with Logan that scares you, Veronica?” Lila asks her a week later.
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here, would I?” Veronica asks sarcastically, but the shiny-haired brunette doesn’t even blink.
“You two are recently married?”
Veronica’s stomach tightens — it doesn’t take a genius to know where this is going.
“And how did you feel when he proposed to you?”
And there it is.
“Angry, I guess. And taken aback.”
Veronica sighs. “Do we really have to talk about this?”
“We don’t have to talk about anything in here that you don’t want to, Veronica.”
Veronica can tell she’s being sincere, but her words irritate, crawl under her skin. Of course she doesn’t have to, but she’s not giving up an hour of her time every week (not to mention too much of her hard-earned money) to sit here and twiddle her thumbs.
“Logan and I have been together on and off since we were in high school. He knows me better than almost anyone. The fact that he asked me to marry him - “ she shakes her head. “It made me think that maybe he didn’t know me as well as I thought.”
“You never wanted to get married?”
Veronica shrugs. “When I was young and naive, sure.”
“And what? You’re older and wiser now?” the woman asks with just a touch of sarcasm that endears her to Veronica more than anything else she’s said before.
“Take your pick. Is it the losers I catch cheating on each other day in and day out? Maybe watching my parents’ marriage crumble when I was at such a young and impressionable age,” Veronica mocks.
“Your parents are flawed humans, just like the rest of us, Veronica.”
Veronica licks her lips. “I know,” she says defensively. “I just don’t understand why anyone would put themselves through that, knowing that the odds are stacked against them, knowing the pain that lies on the other side.”
“But the reasons you just mentioned - the cheating, the pain - those things can happen whether you get married or not.”
“Yes, but it complicates things.”
“And yet here you are with a ring on your finger. So what changed?” Lila looks down at her pad as she takes notes and Veronica’s fingers twitch with her inability to know what the other woman could possibly be writing.
Veronica Mars is emotionally incapable of having a close relationship with another human being.
“Veronica?” Lila prompts her again, looking up from her notes to eye Veronica curiously.
“I don’t know. I had a moment of...clarity.”
“Meaning what, exactly?”
Jesus, nothing with this woman was easy.
“I had a sex dream about another man while Logan was away and shortly after I had a close call with a case. I guess it put things into perspective.”
The way Lila pauses and puts her pen down makes Veronica’s stomach fill with dread.
“Okay,” Lila says slowly, considering her words.
“Veronica, I think it’s important to make a distinction here. These two things that happened - your dream and brush with death - did they really put things into perspective?”
Veronica frowns. “What do you mean?”
“It doesn’t sound like your views on marriage magically changed overnight. From where I’m sitting, it seems like you accepted Logan’s proposal as a reaction to both your guilt over this dream and your fear of losing your life.”
“I don’t know. Maybe they weren’t the best reasons, but does it really matter? I’m married now and Logan is happy.”
Lila lifts an eyebrow. “Logan is happy?”
“Don’t do that,” Veronica says sharply, leaping to her feet. “Don’t twist my words.”
“Veronica, don’t you think you get a say in this, too?”
“Look,” Veronica starts, closing her eyes, “maybe it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I’m crazy about him. I don’t want anyone else.”
And it’s not that she’s not happy with him, it’s that…
Well, she doesn’t know what she wants other than him. And the more time that passes, the harder it’s been for her to ignore.
“If Logan is the man you say he is, don’t you think he would’ve understood if you said no?”
“He did. He dropped it after I said no the first time.”
“So other than the fear and the guilt that we’ve already established, what happened?”
Veronica begins to pace the length of the floor in front of the couch, biting down on her lip. “Eventually, my answer would stop being enough. I would stop being enough.”
“Have you told Logan this?”
Veronica snorts. “Yeah, right. Hey, honey, remember that thing we did down at the county clerk’s office where we promised each other forever? The only reason I said yes was because I was afraid you’d leave me if I continued to say no. I can see that going over real well.”
“Veronica, I’m not saying you need to go all in at one time, but I’m guessing that one of the main problems in your relationship with Logan is that you’re not open with him. Am I right?”
Veronica folds her arms across her chest, collapsing back onto the couch. “Yes.”
“Do you regret marrying him?”
“No,” she says quietly.
“So when, if, you do talk to him, lead with that. Affirm your feelings for him so he feels safe and secure. I don’t know Logan, but I’m willing to bet you’re not the only one who feels unsteady in your relationship.”
“I don’t want to hurt him.”
“I wish I could promise that won’t happen, but it’s a possibility. But that’s the risk you take in any honest relationship. From what little you’ve told me, you and Logan have done plenty of hurting each other in the past when you’ve kept things from each other.”
“Yeah, you can say that again,” she murmurs. “But I need to understand the motivation . How does this information benefit him or our relationship?”
Lila cocks her head, smiling a little. “You certainly are a very analytical thinker, Veronica. I can see why your profession suits you so well.”
Veronica is taken aback by the compliment. “Uh, thanks.”
“Look, I’m not someone who believes in honesty for the sake of honesty. In this situation, if this was going to hurt him and accomplish nothing else, I would advise against talking to him about it. But this is a real fear you have in your relationship, Veronica, and it’s not going to go away just because you signed a piece of paper.”
Lila scoots out of her chair and walks to the water cooler in the corner, offering Veronica a cup. She shakes her head.
“You’re smart, Veronica. Maybe you can find a way to have this conversation about your fears without bringing your engagement into the fold. Take some time, think about it. No one’s rushing you.”
“I guess,” she sighs out.
“Treat it like a puzzle. Isn’t that basically what you do for a living? Approach it like that.”
Okay, yeah, maybe this woman wasn’t half-bad.
A few nights later, she and Logan drive an hour out of the way for a secluded piece of beach after sunset. Between work (including a late-night stakeout) and Veronica checking in on her dad every day since he’d had his surgery, they’ve barely had any face time the last three days.
It’s dark now but the clear sky glitters above them and it calms the rapid heartbeat that thumps wildly in Veronica’s chest.
After her conversation with Lila, she’d really had no plans to talk to Logan anytime soon, but she hasn’t been able to stop trying to play the conversation out in her head. Testing the words on her tongue, what she’d say to make them sting less. The thought of spilling her guts makes her literally want to spill her guts everywhere, but much to her surprise - the thought of keeping it to herself makes her even sicker.
Which means therapy is working or she needs to quit as soon as possible. She hasn’t figured out which yet.
“Veronica,” Logan says loudly.
She snaps to attention, turning her head to look at her husband. He lies on his back on an old cotton sheet Veronica has had for at least a decade now, relegated to the trunk of the car just for occasions like this one. “What?”
He smiles lazily, maneuvering onto his side to prop himself up on his elbow. “Were you listening to a word I just said?”
She lets out a rush of breath, turning back to face the sky. “No,” she admits. Her hands begin to twist nervously in her lap and she has to shove them down into the sand to make herself stop.
“Are you okay?”
“No.” She hesitates. “Yes.” And then - “I need to ask you something, but I don’t want to.”
“Does this have anything to do with your therapy session this week?”
“Okay,” he says patiently. “Why don’t you want to tell me?”
“Because I love you and I don’t want to hurt your feelings,” she rasps, a little brokenly.
“Can you look at me while we talk about this, Veronica?”
She doesn’t say anything to that and the silence hangs in the salty air between them.
“Jesus Christ, Veronica, you’re scaring the shit out of me,” Logan says roughly.
Great job, Veronica, you did the exact opposite of what your therapist told you to do - make him feel safe.
“Fuck, I’m sorry.” she sucks in a breath. “I’m fine, we’re fine, I just... shit. ” She finally meets his gaze again and the hollowness in his eyes swallows her whole. She doesn’t know how she lets herself forget sometimes that just because he’s in therapy doesn’t mean he’s not still a little broken, too.
He’s so steady, always grounds her, and she hopes she can do the same for him someday.
“Hold my hand?” she whispers, shaking the sand from her fingers as she wiggles them in invitation. He’s silent as he laces them together, his grip firm and steady.
She sighs. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I love you,” she says softly.
“I love you, too.”
“I know that one of the biggest problems in our relationship is that I’m not...vulnerable enough with you.”
“Veronica - ”
“Do you want kids, Logan?” she blurts out.
His forehead wrinkles in confusion. “Is this the question you’re afraid to ask me or have we completely changed gears?”
She smiles a little. “It’s my question.”
He sighs, flipping again onto his back, their clasped hands thumping to the sand between them.
“You don’t want children, Veronica.”
“That’s not what I asked you,” she says quietly.
“You want an honest answer?”
The duh sits easily on her tongue, but it wouldn’t be fair — she can’t even count the number of times she wished he wasn’t so goddamn honest all the time.
“Yes,” she says instead.
His eyes settle on hers and the rawness she finds there makes her clutch his hand tighter.
“Yes, Veronica. In an ideal world, I would love to have kids with you,” he scrapes out.
She swallows hard around the lump in her throat and she just nods in response, doesn’t know how to get the words out that she needs to.
He lifts a hand to her face, sweeping a thumb across her cheek. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I’m scared,” she admits. “I’m afraid you’re going to wake up one morning and realize that I’m not enough. That you’ll decide you can’t live without those things that I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to give you.” She chokes on it, barely stifling a sob that sticks in her chest.
“Hey, come here,” he says gently, tugging her into the refuge of his body. She tries to hide her face in the crook of his neck but he stops her, cradling the back of her head as he kisses her softly in comfort.
“Veronica, listen to me, okay?” he murmurs as he looks down at her, searching her face. “The only thing in my life that I’m certain I don’t want to live without is you.”
“But - ”
He shakes his head. “Are you sure you don’t want children? It’s okay if the answer is yes.”
“I don’t know, Logan. I haven’t pictured my life with kids in it for a long time, but I also didn’t see myself getting married either.”
“And I knew that about you when I married you, Veronica. If having kids was that important to me, we would’ve had a more serious conversation about it before. But it wasn’t a dealbreaker then and it’s definitely not one now.”
“I don’t want you to give up on a dream,” she protests.
“Marrying you was my dream, Veronica. Everything else is a bonus.”
The guilt she feels over the reasons that she married him comes in a wave over her again, but she pushes it away. It would hurt him too much if he knew, and it doesn’t matter now. She doesn’t regret getting married, and she’s figured out a way to tell him about her fears without dragging that into it.
“What about that whole ‘If I’m not what you want, say so,’ speech from before?” she asks.
He wraps his arms around her before he rolls onto his back, settling the length of her body on top of his. She shivers, her hands smoothing over the broad expanse of his chest. The lights in the sky reflect back at her through his steady gaze and she doesn’t remember the last time she felt this —
Like she’s home.
“If you believed that walking away from me would make you happy, I’d let you go. But it wouldn’t be my choice.” He gently cards his fingers through the ends of her hair. “And as long as our relationship continues to work toward being healthy, there will never be another choice for me. This is it for me.” He cranes his neck up to kiss her nose and she can’t help but smile. “You’re it for me.”
Fuck, okay, she’s going to start crying for different reasons now.
He laughs, full-bodied and rich. “Did you just ‘ditto’ my romantic speech, Mars?”
“Sorry, you’re much better at those than I am. You don’t mind sharing, right?” she teases.
“Sharing implies reciprocity. I believe the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me is ‘Yeah, why not?’ when the civil servant who married us asked you if you’d take me to be your husband.”
Veronica snorts. “I promise to work on it? I can add it to my very lengthy laundry list of things to discuss in therapy.”
Logan grins, beaming back at her. “Deal.”
Veronica shivers again, this time from the chill in the air that’s begun to creep in.
“Are you cold? We can go.”
She shakes her head. “Not yet.” She curls her arms under her, huddling impossibly closer.
“You know, this is now the second serious conversation we’ve had here on the beach in a row.”
“Huh, so it is. Eh, what can I say? The waves bring it out on me.”
He leers at her. “Oh yeah? Is there anything else they bring out in you?”
“Not unless you want to get arrested for public indecency.”
“Think they’d still have my old cell waiting for me?” he asks, almost wistfully.
She rolls her eyes. “No doubt in my mind, Mars.”
She doesn’t mean to, but it all just kind of spills out to her dad one afternoon a couple of weeks later while she’s checking in on him after his surgery.
“So I’m in therapy,” she says gracelessly as she hands him a glass of water.
He blinks at her for a minute before fishing into the cushions of the couch for the remote, lifting it to flick the TV off.
“I’m sorry, did my fix-it-all-herself daughter just say she’s in therapy?” He grasps her arm, lifting it as he makes a show of examining the rest of her. “You look fine, so it must not be physical therapy you’re talking about.”
She wrenches her arm away and narrows her eyes at him. “Ha ha. Yes, I’m seeing a therapist.”
He cocks his head. “Your head does look smaller.”
She flops down next to him. “Okay pops, you can’t make fun of me and then steal my material.”
Keith looks affronted. “ Your material?”
“Uh, yeah. I make that joke to Logan at least once every few weeks.”
And then he’d made it to her before her first session and the whole thing has really come full circle for the two of them.
“Well, yeah, it’s a solid bit.”
“That you stole from me.” She scoffs, kicking her feet up to tuck them up into her. She still has another two hours before she knows Logan will be home and it’s been several days since she spent any quality time with her dad.
“Do you want me to get a dictionary for you? It isn’t stealing if I never heard you say it, Veronica.”
She rolls her eyes. “Doesn’t make it original.”
“Doesn’t make it plagiarized either.”
"This is your takeaway from my spontaneous confession? Those interrogation skills you used to have seem to have dried up with your old age.” Her mouth twitches.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asks sincerely.
She hesitates. “I think I married Logan for the wrong reasons.”
Keith lifts an eyebrow. “Is there more to this admission?” Okay, maybe he’s retained some of those skills, after all.
“I’m glad we got married and I would never change that.” She licks her lips. “But do you think it makes me a bad person?”
“It makes you an imperfect human being, Veronica,” he says kindly, patting her knee. “Are you happy with Logan?”
She looks away from him.
“Sometimes I’m afraid he’s one of the only things that makes me happy. I’d be so cussing wrecked without him.”
“Have you talked to him about it?”
“We talked about some things a few weeks ago. We’re in a good place right now.”
“But you didn’t talk about this?”
“Other things have come up. I mean, for god’s sake, am I supposed to have a deep conversation every night?” She sighs, biting her lip. “He did make some comments during the bombing case about me being unhappy but I basically said it was bullshit.”
“And it wasn’t.”
“No. No, I’m starting to think it wasn’t.”
“It’s your life, Veronica. No one else can tell you how to live it so that you’re happy.”
“I know, and it sucks ass.”
“Welcome to life, honey. Have you talked to your therapist about this?”
“Yeah. She suggested making a list of everything that ‘brings me joy,’” she finger quotes, “big or small.” Veronica makes a face, wrinkling her nose.
“What’s the problem?”
“It’s just so cheesy, dad.”
“Yeah, well, there’s a lot of cheese in therapy, Veronica. Doesn’t mean it’s not effective.”
Veronica snorts. “How the hell would you know, Pops?”
“I’ve been seeing a psychologist on and off since you were a teenager. I started not long after your mom left us the first time.”
“Y-you never told me that,” Veronica says quietly.
Keith shrugs. “Didn’t seem relevant when you were a kid and now that you’re older, well...no offense, honey, but you’re pretty jaded for someone who hasn’t even reached middle age.”
“Okay, the snark is unnecessary.”
“One, the snark is never unnecessary, and two, it’s not snark if it’s the truth.”
This, this is something she’s never really understood. How her dad — a man who’s been doing the same job she has for longer, whose alcoholic wife left him, who hasn’t had a serious relationship since that’s stood the test of time — still has so much optimism about life. He’s seen the seedy underbelly of Neptune more than probably anyone else in the entire city and he’s still able to get out of bed in the morning with a spring in his step and a whistle on his lips.
There are too many mornings that Veronica doesn’t even know how she gets out of bed.
“You’ve seen so much shit, Dad. How…” she splutters, gesturing. Is it the therapy?
He measures his words. “The counseling helps. If you find the right person, Veronica, it’s more than just spilling your guts. Tools, exercises...it goes beyond just being vulnerable with a professional for one hour every week.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, I know this. I was a psychology major, remember?”
“Do you?” he jokes, but there’s a sincerity in his eyes that makes her flinch. “But it’s more than that, too. Surrounding yourself with good people when you’re done dealing with the filth.” He pauses. “People like you.”
“People like Logan,” she adds.
He nods. “And people like…” he trails off, cocking his head and she feels exposed, doesn’t think she’s going to like what’s coming. “Veronica, when was the last time you spent any time with your friends ?”
Her face gets hot. “Well, Mac’s in Istanbul for another few weeks, and - ”
She winces. “A month ago, I guess.”
“I think you might find when you write that list that your friends rank pretty high on it, so maybe you might want to think about prioritizing them.”
Veronica heaves out a sigh. He’s right.
The whole equation is out of whack, and that’s probably a large part of why she’s felt so shitty over the last several months.
Logan and her dad notwithstanding.
“Whatcha doin’?” Logan murmurs into the shell of her ear, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. Veronica freezes, the pen in her hand falling to the table.
Fuck, she hadn’t heard the shower turn off. Her fingers itch to spread over the page, hide it from him, but it’ll make him suspicious when he doesn’t really need to be.
“Just, you know, making a list.” Attempting a casual tone seemed like the best course of action, but the lilt in her voice is a little too forced and there’s no way he doesn’t pick up on it.
“Checkin’ it twice?” he jokes, smacking a kiss to her cheek before he slides his arms away to pad into the kitchen. He hasn’t put a shirt on — and the t-shirt he wore all day is currently sitting on her otherwise naked frame — and she’s stunned into silence as she watches the muscles in his back ripple while he pours himself a glass of water.
His body is devastating as always, never fails to snatch her breath, but in this moment, it’s his lack of interest that surprises her.
Not in a bad way...just...hmm.
“That’s it?” she asks, raising an eyebrow. She knows him — there’s no way he didn’t pick up on her being fidgety as hell just now.
She’s a great actor in her job, but she’s never been a great actor when it comes to Logan. At least not now, after all this time together.
He shrugs, taking a long sip of water and her eyes fall to a drop of water that misses his mouth to trail down the length of his chest. Fuck, has it really only been an hour since they had sex?
“Feels like longer doesn’t it,” he leers at her, waggling his brows. Damn, she must’ve said that out loud.
She snaps out of her trance, meeting his gaze, but he’s still smirking at her. He’s lucky the cockiness works for him. He struts toward her, puffing out his chest a little, the asshole —
Right. “You’re really not going to ask me about it?”
He rolls his eyes, cocks his hip out to rest against the island. “It’s not my business, Veronica. I trust you. If you want to tell me, you will.”
She looks up at him. “Just like that?”
He smiles, leaning down to kiss her nose. “Just like that, Bobcat.”
“Well, what if I want to tell you?” she asks defensively.
He chuckles throatily, shaking his head. “Then I’m all ears and would love to hear all about it.”
“You’re so annoyingly perfect,” she grumbles.
He laughs. “Tell me about it.”
She bites her lip, pondering. She does kind of want to tell Logan, even if it’s selfishly to gauge his reaction. But he always wants the words, too, even if she doesn’t always know how to offer them to him.
He leans down on an elbow, patiently waiting for her. Always so patient.
“Are you thinking about sex again?”
She laughs. “No.” Pauses. “Well, yes.” She huffs. “Okay, I want to tell you about it but can you just go put a shirt on first? I can’t focus.”
He cups the back of her neck and kisses her, smoothing his thumbs over the apples of her cheeks. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Your abs are ridiculous, sailor.”
“If I have to put a shirt on, I think it’s only fair if you put away those milky thighs,” he rasps against her throat as he nips at her neck, sending her toes curling.
She swallows hard. “Trust me, you’re going to want to have sex again when I’m done.”
He chokes on a laugh, pulling back to look at her face, eyes twinkling. “Someone’s confident.”
“If I’m wrong, we can eat at that terrible Thai place you love so much for dinner.”
“You’re on, Mars.” And then he’s gone, traipsing down the hallway into the bedroom.
“When you’re properly clothed, sit down next to me,” she calls after him.
“Yes, ma’am,” he drawls.
He returns less than a minute later, settling down on the stool next to her, a t-shirt pulled tight across his chest.
“Consider me your captive audience, my love,” he says, waving his hand with a flourish.
“I feel a poor segue coming on.”
“Speaking of cheesy…”
He snaps his fingers. “There it is.”
“My therapist gave me a little homework this week-”
“And you’re doing it?”
She glares at him with no malice behind it. “ Maybe I’ll just keep this to myself.”
“No, no, I want to hear it,” he says through a laugh. “I”ll be good, I promise.”
Veronica sucks in a breath, bracing herself for the hard part. “Do you remember not too long ago when you said I was unhappy with my life and then we had it out in the living room?”
The mirth in his eyes dims a little as he slides his hand over to settle on top of hers. He nods. “I remember.”
She opens her mouth, stutters, then closes it. She wants to say that she thinks he might be right, but she’s afraid he’ll get the wrong idea. That she could possibly be unhappy with him.
“She told me to make a list,” she says instead. “Of everything, big or small, that makes me happy. Brings me joy.” She rolls her eyes a little, but smiles.
“And that’s what you’re doing?”
“Trying to. It’s still a work in progress, but I have half a dozen things on it now.” She hesitates. “Do you want to see it?”
“Only if you want to show it to me, Veronica.”
Her hands are a little shaky as she slides the sheet of legal paper over to him, where he’ll see his name at the top, above everything else.
His eyes fall to the page and one of his hands finds her knee just as he goes still.
“You, Logan,” her voice cracks. “I know I don’t tell you enough, but you’re everything to me.” He’s speechless as looks over at her, his eyes shiny. “I think you were right. I’m not completely happy with my life here.” She swallows roughly, her mouth dry now. “But the one thing I’m sure of is you.”
“Veronica,” he chokes out, reaching over to pull her into his lap. His mouth swallows her squeak of surprise as his fingers thread through her hair, his other hand sliding under her shirt to cup her bottom. She hums against his lips, pouring everything she has into him.
This is where she wants to be.
I know it's been (mostly-ish) smooth sailing between these two for the last couple of chapters, but Veronica still has plenty of work to do that won't be conflict-free.
Thanks for following along with me!
“I don’t like it.”
“Give me a reason.”
“It’s too…” she flourishes a hand. “You know.”
“I really don’t, Veronica. You’re going to need to give me a hint, here.”
“I don’t know. It’s just too much.”
He rolls his eyes. “And by that you mean, too much money.”
“That’s not what I said,” she protests.
“You didn’t have to.”
He looks defeated as he walks away, leaving her there in the empty kitchen with the gorgeous sinks, marble countertops, and brand new appliances to talk quietly with the realtor in the hallway. She can’t make out what they’re saying, but her imagination runs wild.
Sorry about my wife, Tom. She’s incredibly picky and has this annoying hangup about being 100 percent self-sufficient. Maybe you’ve got a few 300-sq. feet cardboard boxes on the market we can redecorate?
Veronica sighs. The house is beautiful. It’s not too grand and it’s much more spacious than their current apartment. She feels like she can fucking breathe here. And the best part -
It’s not in Neptune but still close enough to Mars Investigations and the Navy base that neither of them will be grouchy about the traffic.
She knows they’re married. Even legally, it’s their money. She wishes she could explain her hangup about the whole thing to her husband, but truthfully, she barely understands it herself.
And she’s been too busy in therapy talking about other things to circle back to the money conversation.
She’s going to have to make it a priority, though, because they don’t have much time before they need to be out of their apartment.
“You ready to go?” Logan asks, interrupting her thoughts.
She bites her lip.
“Yeah,” she expels a breath.
He must see something there written on her face because his frown lines ease and he bends down to kiss her on the forehead. “We’ll figure it out.”
Veronica takes her dad’s advice and hits Wallace up while Logan heads down to the beach with Dick to catch a couple of waves.
“It’s been awhile, Vee,” Wallace says non-accusatory, taking a sip of his milkshake. Veronica called him up this morning, asked him if she could treat him to lunch at one of their favorite burger and shake haunts, knowing that even if he was a little annoyed with her for being distant that he probably wouldn’t refuse the offer.
“I know. I’m sorry. I think I’ve been a real shitty friend lately,” she admits.
He shrugs. “You been busy, I get it. No harm, no foul, you know.”
Veronica shakes her head. “No, I don’t just mean the last few weeks. I mean...in general.” She takes a deep breath. “I’m going to try to be...better.”
Wallace cocks his head. “You feelin’ okay?”
She smiles a little. “Yeah, I guess you can just say that I’ve had a series of epiphanies lately thanks to my dad and my...therapist,” she stage-whispers.
Wallace chokes on his milkshake. “No way. You?”
“I know. I gotta say I expected hell to freeze over much later than 2019, but the world’s gone to shit, so I guess it was inevitable.” She smirks.
“Seriously, though, I’m sure that can’t be easy for you. I’m proud of you, Vee.”
She flushes. “Thanks, Wallace.” It means a lot to her. She nudges him. “So how’s the ole ball and chain?”
He grins. “She’s pregnant.”
Veronica’s jaw drops as she slaps him playfully on the shoulder. “Fennel, you stud.”
Wallace laughs, practically beaming with pride. “She’s 12 weeks today.”
“That’s great. Tell her congrats for me.”
“Actually,” Veronica takes a thoughtful bite of her burger. “Why don’t the three of you come over next weekend for dinner? I know it’s a tight fit in there, but might be the last time we’ll entertain in the apartment.”
“Did your boy finally convince you to buy a house?”
Veronica swallows, licking a spot of ketchup that lingers on the corners of her mouth. “He’s mentioned that to you?”
“Yeah, he wanted a few pointers to get you to say yes,” Wallace rolls his eyes, “But I told him straight up that he was an idiot because he’s the one who knows you the best.”
“I’m kind of struggling with the whole thing. We found this perfect house the other day and I told him no.”
“At first, I thought it was the commitment, you know? The permanence of buying a house together with mostly his money.”
“But you don’t think that now?”
She throws her hands up. “Who the hell knows? We’re married now, for god’s sake, so what difference does a house really make?”
“What does your therapist say about it?”
“I brought it up once but we got sidetracked down a different conversation and we haven’t circled back yet.”
“Sounds like you should probably get on that.”
Veronica’s eyes narrow. “Gee, you think?”
“Hey, just tryin’ to be helpful.”
“You could be really helpful by bestowing your own wise and sage advice on me.” She flutters her eyelashes.
“Veronica, I’ve spent the last almost 20 years trying to understand you. And there’s one thing I’m certain of.”
“Yeah?” she asks hopefully.
“You’re an enigma.”
She throws her napkin at him. “Not helpful.”
They’re interrupted by the buzzing of Veronica’s phone. She looks down at her screen and frowns.
“Hang on, it’s Logan. He’s supposed to be out surfing with Dick.” She lifts the phone to her ear. “Hey. Everything okay?”
“Hey, glad I caught you.” On the other end, Logan sounds flustered. And busy. “I know the timing sucks, but I got called in."
Veronica’s stomach drops along with the French fry in her hand. “When are you leaving?”
“My flight’s in three hours.”
“Fuck.” She grits her teeth. “How long will you be gone?”
“You know I don’t know the answer to that, Veronica.”
“What about the apartment?” The landlord already found someone to fill their spot come the first of the month and they would have to pay through the nose to get out of the arrangement.
“I don’t know,” he says irritably.
She’s taken aback. “Why are you being salty right now?”
He sighs. “Just...nevermind. I’m tired.”
“No,” she says firmly. “Say it.” But she knows exactly why he’s frustrated because it’s the same reason she’s frustrated with herself.
“We’ve looked at a dozen places, Veronica. At least three of which I know you like.” Because he knows her, just like Wallace said.
There it is. His patience is starting to wear thin. “So much for ‘we’ll figure it out,’” she mutters.
“I meant what I said earlier,” he says quietly.
“Doesn’t sound like it now,” she bites back.
And now she’s picking a fight with him because she’s frustrated about the apartment and angry that he’s leaving again.
He’s always leaving.
“Don’t do this, Veronica.”
But she can’t help herself. She wants to yell, tell him not to go, tell him she needs him here, that she’s tired of missing him, so fucking tired of missing him and not knowing where he is or when he’ll be back.
If he’ll be back.
She says none of that. “Have a safe flight.”
“You’re not coming home?”
She swallows hard, her eyes slamming closed. Don’t do it, Veronica. “I’m in the middle of lunch with Wallace,” she says lamely. She regrets the words as soon as they leave her lips.
“Fine,” he says, his voice clipped. And then the line goes dead.
No “I love you.” No “goodbye.”
It’s exactly what she deserves.
“You started an argument with Logan before he left. Why?”
“We hadn’t fought in a couple of weeks?” Veronica jokes weakly.
“Do you resent his job, Veronica?”
“It’d be pretty hypocritical of me, don’t you think?”
Lila shrugs. “Maybe. Doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to those feelings, though.”
Veronica respects the hell out of what Logan does and he takes so much pride in it that she would never ask him to give it up, especially with the level of danger her job puts her in, too.
But does she curse the navy every day for taking him away from her? For making her heart come to a complete stuttering halt every time he has to leave?
And she has no idea what the fuck to do with that because she thinks maybe he loves her enough to give it up, but she doesn’t want that, doesn’t want him to resent her someday for taking away one of the only things in his life that’s given him purpose.
She sighs. “Yeah, I hate it.”
She laughs hollowly, throwing her hands in the air. “Christ, take your pick. The unpredictability of it, not knowing when he’ll leave, when he’ll be back.” She swallows a lump in her throat. “If he’ll be back.”
“You’re worried about him dying.”
“All the time.”
She has nightmares when he’s gone, had to start keeping a few extra sets of sheets in a drawer near their bed because of the number of times she wakes up gasping in a cold sweat.
“You’ve never told him this?”
“What’s the point? He can easily say the same thing about my job.”
“Yes, but that’s not the point.”
“Then what is the point?” Veronica snaps impatiently. Therapy has been useful for her, but fuck if sometimes she doesn’t resent the meandering and long-winded ways they arrive at a conclusion.
“Veronica, you’re picking fights with Logan because you’re angry and scared. I’m sure on some level, he realizes that. Your reaction isn’t uncommon for spouses in your situation.”
“He still deserves to know how you’re feeling and you deserve to be able to tell him. It might not be fair but emotions rarely are.”
“Okay, seriously, is there not an end to all these annoying conversations I’m supposed to have with my husband about my feelings?”
Lila’s mouth twitches as her eyes glint in amusement. “I’m afraid not, Veronica. It’s this other annoying thing called ‘life.’”
When Veronica gets home that night, she shoots him a quick email over a glass of wine and her favorite Mama Leone’s dish before she collapses onto the sofa with Pony on her chest.
She really should invest in a weighted blanket. Maybe she'll ask for one for Christmas this year.
I was an asshole (surprised?) and I’m sorry. We can talk about it when you get back, but maybe I can start by apologizing over Skype? Naked, of course.
I love you.
Her phone pings hours later just as she’s crawling into bed. She should’ve been asleep hours ago, God knows she’s exhausted, but she’s gotten into a bad habit of avoiding bedtime when he’s gone.
It’s only been four days since he left, but she misses him terribly and the bed no longer smells like him. Thank God the man loves t-shirts, so she’s got an endless supply to choose from.
She gives Pony one last pat on the head before she flicks off the lamp and swipes open her phone to find a response waiting for her.
I love you, too. Skype tomorrow at 8 p.m. your time? Not sure I can handle a Naked version of Apology Hour, though. I might spontaneously combust, which would put the whole operation at risk.
She smiles, pressing her fingers to her lips. Even when they fight, he's still her Logan.
Stay out of trouble.
When her eyes fall to the last line of his email, she snorts so loud that it startles Pony.
P.S. - Thank Lila for me.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate it more than words can say.