“I’m just saying, I’m bringing you to the wedding, an old college friend Mac hasn’t seen in years… that’s a great gift.”
“It’s a terrible gift. Isn’t your dad going to be there?”
“Not at the ceremony, but he will be at the reception, with Alicia.”
“And I’m guessing you haven’t told him about… this.”
Veronica twirled a strand of hair around her finger and bit the inside of her cheek guiltily.
Logan’s reply sounded more amused than offended. “I don’t think it’s a gift to Mac and Selena to have a scene between your dad and me. Unless we make it a really cool Jean-Claude Van Damme style fight scene.”
“He’s not going to make a scene,” Veronica insisted, sounding more certain than she was.
“Right. Well, I still think we should bring an extra gift just in case my sparkling personality isn’t enough.”
Veronica sighed dramatically. “Adulthood is a prison.”
Logan’s warm chuckle filled her ear over the phone and a wave of wistfulness hit her. In the six months since they had reconnected by coincidence at Mac’s engagement weekend in May, Logan had flown to New York to visit her twice, but the last time had been back during Labor Day weekend, and the stretching time without seeing him was starting to get to her. She had to head to San Diego in two days (a few days before the wedding itself) since she was part of the wedding party, to help with… whatever Mac needed, she wasn’t really sure. She was grateful for the extra time she would get with Logan, but wasn’t looking forward to breaking the news to everyone, especially her dad.
“Well, do they have a wedding registry?” Logan asked, bringing her back to the present.
“Yeah. I’ll see what no one else has claimed yet and buy that.”
“Have it shipped to my place, I’ll bring it to your hotel when it arrives. There’s no way you’ll be able to order something to get to your apartment before you leave.”
Veronica adopted her best southern drawl to tell him, “Why, Lieutenant Echolls, I do declare, you really are the perfect man.”
“And don’t you forget it when your dad learns about us.”
“It’ll be fine,” she assured.
Everyone had grown up since the last time her father had had any reason to be mad at Logan. Surely all the issues had been put to rest.
“It’ll be fine,” she kept telling herself when her cab dropped her off at her hotel two days later. Logan was still at work, but she would be dropping by his place once he was done. That really was the thought she was hoping would help her get through her bridesmaid dress fitting that afternoon.
It wasn’t that the dress was ugly. All things considered, she had really lucked out. It was a nice coral colour, and the brides had let everyone pick whatever cut they wanted. Veronica had chosen a simple knee-length skirt and a jewel neckline, paired with a pair of low black cone heels, but she hadn’t actually tried on the dress yet, since she’d had to select everything from a distance.
Regardless of how nice she was sure the dress would be, it was the idea of someone closely watching how fabric fell on her hips, on her shoulders, on her breasts, that made her supremely uncomfortable. When it was Logan casually admiring her up and down, that was more than fine, but a complete stranger, with pins in hand to stick ridiculously close to her skin? No thank you.
Wallace, the lucky bastard, had been allowed to wear a black suit he already owned, but with a coral tie. Selena had initially wanted the men in the wedding party to wear coral suits, too (much to Wallace’s horror), but Mac had rationalized that it wasn’t like anyone would mistake them for the groom, since there was no groom. And so Wallace got out of the fitting, which Veronica would have to attend with all of the other bridesmaids, who were one level of perky above her. (Or, in some cases, several levels.)
Just think of Logan tonight, she thought when she had to strip off her clothes in a minuscule fitting room.
Just think of Logan tonight, she repeated internally when she slipped the pink fabric on.
Just think of Logan tonight, she insisted silently through gritted teeth when the seamstress secured pins at her waist.
Just think of Logan when he sees how short this idiot is making the dress, she thought when the old woman started hemming her dress.
All in all, it went by quicker than she expected, and Mac arrived when Veronica had already been fitted and Taylor, one of Selena’s friends, was the one being inspected from all angles while she shifted uncomfortably.
Veronica happily put down her glass of too-sweet cocktail to get up and greet her friend with a hug.
“Veronica! You made it in time.”
“Oh, yeah, wouldn’t have dreamt of faking a big delay in my flight to get out of this. Pshh, no way. It was so much fun.”
Mac grimaced. “Yeah, sorry about that. But it’s the only way to have everyone wearing the same fabric.”
“Hey, don’t you worry. I’m sure your dress fitting was much more extensive.”
The brunette groaned. “You have no idea. She kept staring at my ass,” she hissed. “And telling me to grow my hair out because it would look better on the wedding pictures,” she continued in a normal voice. “And don’t get me started on how it was ‘a shame’ that someone as pretty as Selena wouldn’t get to reproduce.”
Veronica’s eyes widened. “To reproduce?”
“Gross, right? And to say it to her future wife? That’s just weird.”
Veronica snorted. “That practically qualifies as sexual harassment, actually.”
“Thank god we have a lawyer friend,” Mac joked.
“Always at your service.”
Taylor’s yelp brought them back to the present.
“Can’t you be careful with those things?” the tall woman admonished, tossing her long black hair behind her shoulder.
“I can’t tell which one I pity more,” Veronica whispered to Mac. “Taylor for going through the fitting, or that poor woman for dealing with Taylor’s prissiness.”
Mac snickered. “I would rather not deal with either of them, but that’s not up to me.”
“Oh, no, are we already starting now to refer to Selena as the wife and blaming all the hardships of life on her?”
“I haven’t quite reached the state of a middle-aged white man who takes weekend fishing trips with the boys and bitches about the wife.”
“I’m sure Wallace could be convinced about the fishing trip,” Veronica reasoned, and they both laughed at the thought.
“Apparently his girlfriend is very nature-y, so who knows.”
“What’s this one called, again?”
“Chelsea, I think. Or Cherry? I can’t remember. But she’s his plus-one for the wedding, so you’ll meet her day after tomorrow at the rehearsal dinner.”
“Ah, yes, the rehearsal dinner on Friday. I do love eating the same meal the exact same way twice in case I suddenly develop the inability to eat a meal properly.”
Mac laughed. “Our parents insisted. But it’s just the wedding party and their dates, so at least it’s not everyone. Speaking of, is Friday when we finally meet your date?”
“Ah, I’m afraid my plus-one had a previous engagement for Friday night. But I’ll be sure to relay all the information so he doesn’t embarrass you by using the wrong fork at the actual wedding.”
Thankfully, Logan had been to his fair share of fancy dinners, receptions, galas and weddings through his life, and the formality of it all wouldn’t be a challenge for him. He’d done pretentious Hollywood parties all his life, and formal military events in recent years, so he had everything he could need to attend a wedding. Except maybe comfortable footing in the crowd, but he had a lifetime’s worth of practice at pretending he belonged.
“So, this plus-one…” Mac insisted. “Are you, like, dating him?”
“I’m just asking because I really can’t recall, in recent memory, ever hearing you be in a relationship this long, especially without complaining to Wallace or me that he wants more than you’re willing to give, that he’s smothering you, that he should understand that your studies are more important, that –”
Veronica cut her off with an emphatic wave of her hands. “Okay, okay, I got it. What can I say, he just… doesn’t smother me. Gets what his place in my life is. He’s not pushing.” Much. “And it’s going well.”
“Veronica Mars… are you in love?” Mac asked, a bright smile on her face, half mocking and half genuine happiness for her friend.
“Can we not talk about this?” Veronica asked nervously.
“Oh, that means yes,” Mac declared decidedly.
“That means this week is about your relationship, not mine.”
“Sure, Bond. Sure,” Mac said with a wink as she slipped away to go talk to her friend Tracey, who was about to get fitted for her dress.
Okay, fine, it means that if I tell you now I’m in love and you see Logan in a few days, you’ll freak out, and so will Wallace.
At the end of the day, Veronica was glad to change into the cute clothes she had brought with her just for the occasion of seeing Logan in person again and to get into the cab to finally meet her boyfriend after over two months without physical contact.
When she knocked, she was greeted by a wide smile and within seconds, Logan had her scooped up in his arms and was kissing her urgently. And, god, it was so good. Once she had safely wrapped her legs around him, his hands gravitated upwards to frame her face, holding her to him as his warm lips brushed against every inch of skin of her face. The tingly rush of affection at the endearing eagerness of it quickly turned into a rush of lust, and Veronica took Logan’s chin between her thumb and forefinger to bring his lips back to hers. He hungrily responded to the kiss, letting his tongue roam as she extended her arms to loop around his neck and keep him close.
He groaned his appreciation when she bit lightly on his lower lip and tightened her legs around him, before twirling them around to carefully lower her on the couch. They exchanged a few more breathless kisses there, Logan hovering above, careful with his weight, and Veronica still completely twisted around him. She needed to be close to him, so close, it had been too long without him and not being able to crawl into his very skin seemed at that moment even worse than the two months without laying her eyes on him at all.
“Hi,” Logan finally breathed out, resting his forehead against hers.
“Hi,” Veronica replied, with a grin so wide she was sure her face must look like it was split in half, and she couldn’t even bring herself to care, not when Logan was looking at her like she was the Eighth Wonder of the World.
“How was your day?”
She huffed out a laugh. “We’re doing ‘how was your day’?”
Logan shrugged self-consciously. “I always want to know how your day was.”
Veronica reached up to kiss him again, but she couldn’t stop smiling, so it was silly, just lips and teeth fleetingly brushing against each other, but it communicated what she wanted to say just as well.
“My day was okay. I have a pretty, pretty bridesmaid dress.”
Logan raised an eyebrow. “A pretty, pretty dress?”
She nodded seriously. “Oh, yeah. That’s what the seamstress told me before she realised I wasn’t that kind of blushing bridesmaid.”
Logan laughed and leaned down to kiss her again, properly this time.
“And how was your day?” Veronica asked when he pulled back.
“Oh, you know, the usual. Planes, confidential, confidential, discipline, sweat, confidential.”
“I know you only keep me around for this muscle, Mars. I gotta keep it up to the standards.”
“So you’re telling me you can definitely try that thing we talked about last month?”
“Oh, baby, we can try all sorts of things,” he replied, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
It was her turn to laugh, and his wide smile returned when she hugged him close to her. “I missed you,” she confided in his neck.
Logan tightened his arm around her back to hold her closer. “I missed you too.”
“Fuck. Yes,” Veronica panted out as she fell back onto the bed, over the sheets, as Logan chuckled, walking over to the bathroom to dispose of the condom.
She was still catching her breath when he came back, climbing over her body to press kisses up her torso until he reached her lips and she grabbed his hair to hold him up.
“I think I need water,” Veronica admitted.
“Hmm, wouldn’t want to dehydrate you.”
“Yeah, I’d get all dizzy and forget where you are. Then we’d have to stop having sex, and that’s just no fun.”
He trailed the back of his finger down her cheek. “Amongst other reasons.”
She patted his chest. “Come on, I’ll go get some water.”
He rolled off of her and trailed her movements with his eyes when she walked out the door and towards the kitchen. Veronica shot him an amused look over her shoulder when she reached the end of the hallway, still amazed at the hungry way he looked at her, hours after they’d first taken the edge of two months without sex off.
She couldn’t say she was much better. She hadn’t even pretended to slip on any kind of clothing to go get water, because it was just a waste of time if Logan was going to take them off her as soon as she came back anyway. Then there was also the fact that seeing Logan’s bed, in which she was sure he’d spent a lot more cumulative time literally sleeping than sleeping with her, still evoked a visceral callback to the last time she’d been in this apartment, back in May when they’d spent practically all night, four nights in a row, having sex in that very bed.
It really wasn’t looking like this trip would change that mental association much. Logan probably had a similar association when it came to her bed in New York.
She gulped down about half of her water bottle, grabbed one for Logan, and brought both of them back to the bedroom.
“How generous of you,” Logan smirked when she handed him his bottle.
Veronica rolled her eyes and straddled him, watching the way his Adam’s apple bobbed with every swallow. It was such a ridiculous thing to get turned on about. She bit her lip and it was his turn to look amused when he put down his water bottle.
“Jealous of a bottle of water?” he teased.
“Not unless you do some seriously filthy things to that bottle of water when I’m gone.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
Veronica wrinkled her nose. “Maybe not.”
Logan surged forward to kiss her. “What about I make you forget about that, huh?”
“That could be…” She swallowed thickly. “That could be great, actually.”
The next day, Logan was already gone, off to the base, when Veronica woke up. She pouted when she noticed, stretching languidly alone in the big empty bed. Slowly, she got out of bed and wrapped herself in a sweatshirt Logan had negligently left on a chair near his bed, just so easy for her to grab and wear and never return.
She ambled towards the kitchen, her bare feet cold against the tile of the hallway, to make herself a cup of coffee. She was just rifling through the cupboards to find the cream when she spotted the note on the far end of the counter.
I have a meeting at 4 – if I get out of it, I’ll be home early, but if I don’t, I’ll be home late. Let yourself in if I’m late.
P.S. You’ll never find the cream and sugar this early in the morning. But for next time: far right cupboard, second shelf, to the very left.
Beside the message were a simple key, which she assumed was her way of letting herself in, a packet of sugar, and cream for her coffee.
She bit her lip to keep herself from smiling too wide, twirling the key in her hand. She recognized it as Logan’s sneaky way of giving her a key to his place in a manner she wouldn’t object to, but letting her know she was welcome anytime regardless.
She checked her phone for any updates from Mac about where she would be needed today – they were decorating the room for the reception, which was strangely available all of two days before the wedding itself – expecting to be put to use to threateningly call whoever tried to cancel or modify an order Mac and Selena had put in months previously.
She did not expect a text from Wallace starting with “SOS” and ending with a barely comprehensible explanation of whatever was wrong with his shoes for the wedding. She smirked, replied that she would be right over, and bit into the rich slice of banana bread she’d found on a plate on the counter. (Another one of Logan’s silent ways of taking care of her, even if she hadn’t asked, even if it wasn’t part of his usual morning routine.)
She rang Wallace’s doorbell twenty minutes later, ready to laugh at whatever was going on to make him so panicked.
He opened and ushered her inside quickly, before closing the door and turning to his best friend seriously.
“You can’t laugh, and you can’t tell anyone about this.”
Veronica narrowed her eyes in confusion, waiting for an explanation, and Wallace sighed, taking her by the shoulders to make her take a few steps back. Then he reached into the closet by the door and took out what she assumed were shoes.
But they were deformed and a jet black she was sure was unnatural. Based on the putrid smell, she was right.
“What the hell did you do?”
“I just wanted to shine them real quick before the wedding. They got dirty at graduation in June, and I never did anything about it.”
Graduation, as in Neptune High graduation, where Wallace taught physics and coached volleyball. She still wasn’t getting how the shoes had gotten to this stage of utter malformation, though.
“And instead you soaked them in tar?”
“No, I did everything it said to do! I used a brush and everything. They were drying outside because I didn’t want it to smell inside the house.”
“Right, because we all agree that’s a terrible smell. Why are they inside now?”
“A bird used them for target practice,” Wallace replied, despair on his features.
Veronica clapped a hand on her mouth, but she couldn’t help the start of a laugh that escaped her. “As in… dropping target practice? The good ol’ number 2? The –”
Wallace cut her off. “Yes, okay? Yes.”
Veronica’s shoulders shook with silent laughter. “And that’s… bird poop?” she asked, pointing at the blindingly black shoes.
“No! Then I decided to clean them, you know, from the accident. So I used a wet paper towel but the shine for the shoes hadn’t completely properly dried off and some bits of the towel kind of got stuck on the shoe.”
“So you coated the whole thing in another layer?”
“But it turns out there’s a reason you’re not supposed to use that much of it at the same time.”
“Oh my god, you’ve probably inhaled toxic fumes,” Veronica exclaimed with exaggeration.
“Stop making fun of me! I don’t know what to do!” Wallace replied frantically.
Veronica bit her lip and waited the few seconds necessary to start talking without laughing. “You throw them out, I’m sorry to say. Come on, look at them, there’s nothing to salvage. I don’t know how the hell the shape changed, but there’s no way anyone can ever wear them again. Then you ask Darrell for a pair.”
“Darrell has bigger feet than me.”
“Then buy some shoes.”
“My mom bought me these shoes.”
Wallace looked down embarrassedly. “I’ve never actually bought shoes without my mom.”
Veronica covered her mouth with her hand again, stifling her bright smile. “That’s adorable. You’re a grown man, Wallace, I believe in you.”
“Cover for me for groomsman duties today?” Wallace asked half-heartedly.
Veronica patted his shoulder condescendingly. “I’ll be the bridesmaid for both of us, little brother. Now go buy some shoes.”
Once she had dealt with Wallace’s crisis, Veronica’s day went by and large the way she expected it. She volunteered her room to store some floral arrangements until the next day – she and Logan would only really start using the room for more than hanging Veronica’s bridesmaid dress in the closet and storing the bag with items she didn’t need yet the next night, after the rehearsal dinner.
She had to talk to the baker who had sent a last drawing of what the final wedding cake would look like and who hadn’t yet clued in to the fact that Cindy and Selena were two brides and had made the unfortunate design choice to have the words “Mr. and Mrs Mackenzie-Johnson” written in calligraphy along the circumference of the cake. Then she had to talk to the florist to reiterate that yes, they had ordered yellow roses for a wedding on purpose because they were the bride’s favourite and could he just make the damn bouquet they had ordered? And lastly, she had to have a discussion with Selena’s sister Stella who probably had the best intentions when trying to place the cute little envelopes telling guests where they were seated in alphabetical order, but was somehow convinced that N was before M in the alphabet.
All in all, it had been a challenging day in terms of her patience for human incompetence, especially without Wallace to talk shit with, so she was relieved when she finally managed to slip away and go to Logan’s apartment at the end of the day.
She saw Logan’s car parked out front, but decided to use her key anyway. She kind of liked the idea of walking inside Logan’s place like she belonged there.
She started doubting whether she really belonged, though, as soon as she got inside and heard the music playing. She wasn’t even sure it could be qualified as music, honestly, and when the singer screeched out the word “assassination” for the second time in a matter of seconds, she frowned and called out to her boyfriend.
“What the hell are you listening to?” she asked, moving towards the coffee table to retrieve Logan’s phone, which was transmitting the music to the Bluetooth speakers.
She was the turning the music down, reading the song name (fittingly, it was called Chainsaw, by Skinny Puppy), when Logan answered her.
“The question is what the hell did you buy?” he called back.
She dropped her purse on the couch and made her way towards the guest bedroom (converted into an office), frowning deeper.
“What do you mean, what did I buy? It was on the registry.”
“Well, what is this thing?” Logan asked her, turning to look at her when she arrived.
“Um. Well, it’s… shit, I forgot the name. It was some kind of new-sounding name. A kitchen appliance, I think?”
“A kitchen appliance,” Logan repeated, taking a long look at the shapeless stainless-steel contraption in front of him.
Veronica tilted her head to the side, wondering if maybe another angle would make the use jump out to her. It didn’t. After a few minutes of contemplative puzzled silence, Logan leaned in to whisper in her ear, “Do you think it’s some kind of lesbian sex joke?”
“Logan!” she exclaimed, smacking his arm, and he snickered. “It’s not.” She paused for a second, doubt creeping in. “It’s… it’s not, is it?”
“What do I know?”
“Well, what do I know?” Veronica countered. “I’m not any more of a lesbian than you are.”
“I don’t know what you got up to since college.”
Veronica rolled her eyes and turned on her heel.
“Hey, where are you going?” Logan asked her, following her out the room and back to the living room.
“Getting my phone to see what I ordered recently.”
“Smart. That way if it is a lesbian sex inside joke, you can return it before it gets awkward.”
“It’s not a lesbian sex inside joke,” Veronica repeated, less sure by the minute, scrolling through her emails to find the Amazon order confirmation details.
“It’s a smart cooker,” she announced a few seconds later. “I think.”
“What’s smart about it? Can it record conversations between Russian spies?”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “If I say yes, you’ll want to keep it for your top-secret job missions.”
“Didn’t you hear, Veronica? The Cold War is over.”
She looked up from her phone and affected a shocked face. “Why does no one tell me these things?”
“So, come on, what’s so smart about that smart cooker?”
“It, uh. Well… I’m not really sure,” she admitted.
“Should we open the instructions manual to make sure?”
“Since when are you the kind of person who opens other people’s gifts? The way I remember it, since middle school, you’ve always been very territorial of presents.”
Actually, he had always been very territorial of everything. Including her, not that she was complaining. As if to prove her right, he slung an arm around her neck and brought her closer to him, encircling her from behind before dropping his mouth to her neck.
“It’s because you were giving them to me,” he replied, his voice gravelly in her ear.
Unfortunately for him, it didn’t have the desired effect and Veronica laughed out loud. “That is such a lie! You were like that with all presents.”
“Party pooper,” he accused her with a pout, but it didn’t deter him from continuing his tender assault on her neck.
“History revisionist,” she volleyed back, leaning into his touch regardless.
“Come on, you can wrap the supposedly-smart cooker tomorrow, see if Mac and her fiancée want to revise their history with it.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter! This is a very sensible wedding gift that has nothing to do with sex,” Veronica protested, letting herself be led away towards the bedroom regardless.
“If I was getting married, I would be thinking of celebratory sex, not kitchen appliances,” Logan reasoned, tugging Veronica’s shirt upwards.
“That’s already all you think about,” Veronica pointed out, but again: not that she was complaining. “Besides, you don’t need wedding gifts, you’re a millionaire.”
“Maybe I want wedding gifts.”
“I don’t know yet. I’d have to look at Mac’s registry, I bet that’ll give me ideas.”
“Oh, come on. You’re not getting married, anyway, so it’s a moot point.”
“I – well, I’m not saying I’m forbidding you to get married but I’m just saying I – um. That you…”
But she didn’t finish her sentence, not finding the words to express it without explicitly telling him she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
“Hm, okay. I’ll buy my own cool kitchen appliances, then. But if I mistakenly buy a sex swing, it’s on you. Or… under you.”
She rolled her eyes and pulled him down for a quick kiss. “I’ll go wrap the smart cooker.”
“I said you’d wrap it tomorrow,” Logan protested.
Veronica pretended to be obtuse. “Why tomorrow?”
He let out a playful growl and lightly bit her shoulder. “Because I have plans for tonight.”
“It’s like 6PM,” Veronica protested. “I can wrap it and still have time for your plans.”
“I haven’t had dinner,” she continued, but kicked off the pants Logan had pushed down her legs.
“Don’t care,” she heard muttered against her thigh.
“We need to stop your assassin music.”
“We really don’t.”
“We need –”
“What I need right now is you, naked, in my bed.”
“Oh. Well alright then.”
Veronica pushed him back, pulled the rest of her clothes off, and sauntered off towards Logan’s bedroom.
When she reached the doorway, she looked over her shoulder and winked. “So, you coming or what?”
Logan practically tripped over himself scrambling after her.
Late that night, Logan and Veronica lay in bed, discarded bowls of ice cream on their respective nightstands, facing each other while Logan idly played with Veronica’s fingers. She was happy just watching him do it.
“I have to tell you something,” Logan confessed, breaking the comfortable silence of the past few minutes.
Veronica instantly tensed, and he stroked a hand down her stomach softly, feeling the movement and wanting to calm her.
“What’s wrong? Is there…” she started, biting her lower lip to stop it from trembling. “Is there someone –”
“No! No, Jesus, Veronica, no.”
She let go of the air she had been subconsciously holding in. “Okay.”
It was ridiculous that she feared Logan leaving her, given their respective track records for instigating breakups. But it had been long enough for this go at it to be their longest one yet, and she hadn’t seen any trouble creeping up on the horizon, so she thought it was probably time for it to sour, for Logan to come to a conclusion that it wasn’t working out, that it was too much distance, too much time difference, too much of her every day. They had both changed, and she thought they were better matched now than before but nothing told her he thought so too. Maybe he just wanted the old Veronica, liked that one better, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Gently, he lowered his lips to hers, like he knew what she was thinking and wanted to tell her she was insane to think that way. “I love you, okay? I love you, Veronica. I’m not leaving you, I’m not seeing anyone, I don’t have any plans of losing you, okay?”
The way he said those things was different, too. It was less dramatic, less like the world was centered around them and he would just up and die if she left him. Less like their time was counted and they were tortured lovers who couldn’t do anything but destroy everything around them with their love. It was a calmer, fuller, more organic love. It was just as strong, maybe moreso, but it was, finally, healthy.
“Okay,” she nodded with a slight smile.
He kissed her forehead. “I’m getting deployed.”
“Deployed? When?” she asked, suddenly alarmed all over again.
“After Christmas, maybe before the New Year, maybe not. For 6 months. But these things often run long, so it could be 7, or 8…”
Veronica’s voice was small when she replied. “8 months?”
He stroked her stomach again, his fingers light on her soft skin. “Maybe.”
“We can do it. Right? We can do this.”
“Yeah. I think we can do this,” Logan smiled. “We’re doing good… aren’t we?”
“Yeah. Yeah, we are.”
“And this is… better than it ever was. And I don’t just mean in bed.”
Veronica smirked. “I know what you mean.”
“So I’ll still call you when I can… there’s Skype, emails… We’re used to long-distance.”
“I hate long-distance.”
“I know, me too.”
“And you’ll come back.”
“Yeah, I’ll come back.”
She knew he couldn’t promise such a thing, it was ridiculous to promise it. But she appreciated that he did it anyway, for her sake.
“I love you, too, you know.”
“See, that’s why I have to come back. I’ve got a hot blonde waiting for me, this time around.”
“And don’t you forget it when you’re being overwhelmed on all sides by pretty girls at every port.”
“Never,” he promised with a kiss on the tip of her nose.
When she’d sarcastically told Mac she couldn’t wait to rehearse a meal, as if that was a concept that really made sense, Veronica had been mostly exaggerating.
Now that she was there, though, she realized she had underestimated how boring it could all be. Typically, in a wedding dinner, there would be lively music, lively chatter, a celebratory atmosphere and spontaneity. This dinner had none of it and Veronica spent the evening cringing with Wallace and his mostly oblivious girlfriend. (Who was called Charley, not Cherry or Chelsea.)
For some reason, there was no sound besides the wedding planner – who happened to be one of Selena’s cousins, and that somehow made the whole thing worse – shrilly instructing everyone about everything they had to do. No one dared talk over her, and certainly no one was celebrating a wedding that hadn’t yet happened, nor would they have dared to in that atmosphere.
“I swear a bat is going to swoop in and smack me in the head if I pick up the wrong fork,” Wallace hissed at her, and Veronica would have felt bad he was clearly more interested in talking to her than his girlfriend if Charley had made even remotely an effort to learn her name.
Veronica snorted, trying not to laugh too loudly. “A bat? In this room? Don’t be thick, Wallace. It’ll be a unicorn, and she will impale you, then feed on your soul.”
“What kind of unicorn movies did you watch growing up?”
Veronica shrugged. “It’s all in the deleted scenes, my dear Wallace.”
“Oh, speaking of deleted scenes, you know who just moved to New York?”
“Who?” Veronica asked around a mouthful of pork.
“Piz? Your college roommate, Piz?”
“Yeah, Piz. I told him you were over there, too. You two could meet up sometime.”
Veronica frowned. She hadn’t thought Wallace was still hung up on the idea of setting her up with Piz. How to tell him she would rather have gotten a root canal than catch up with Piz, especially now that she was back together with Logan?
“I’m seeing someone, Wallace, remember?”
“Well, yeah, but is it serious?”
Was it serious? It had been six months, which was probably her longest relationship since… well, since Logan freshman year.
“Somewhat,” she replied. “Enough that I really don’t want to meet up with an ex right now.” Especially one Logan once beat to a pulp.
“Bet it would be a different story if the ex was Logan,” Wallace grumbled, which had Veronica bite her lip, but she didn’t answer.
“How was that speaking of deleted scenes anyway?” she asked, suddenly remembering Wallace’s weird segue into the conversation.
“He works into radio. Radio, television… deleted scenes.”
She stared at him with her mouth hanging open. “What I wouldn’t give to get inside that brain of yours sometimes.”
“That’s just ‘cause you had to call me to help you with calculus when you were off being all fancy at Stanford.”
“It was the only scientific elective that worked in my schedule, I didn’t want to take calculus, and besides the professor was terrible –”
“Uh-huh. Yeah. Right. I think you just never got over having to ask me for help in school. Usually people ask you.”
“I think you should focus on finishing your pork before it gets snatched out of your grip.”
“Ohh, that’s good, Mars. Painfully transparent deflection. I’ll let it slide this time.”
“You suggested I meet up with Piz. I’m the one who’s letting things slide, here.”
Logan arrived in the hotel room half an hour after Veronica, and she was freshly out of the shower, her hair still dripping down on the towel she had set on the bed so they wouldn’t have to deal with wet sheets.
“You showered without me,” Logan noted immediately, which made Veronica laugh.
“Nice to see you, too.”
Logan dropped his duffle near the foot of the bed and crawled over the covers towards his girlfriend, who enthusiastically looped her arms around his neck and brought him down for a kiss.
“How was flight training?” she asked.
Logan’s eyes instantly lit up the way she had only ever seen them do when he was talking about flying. She couldn’t believe she’d known him for so many years when he was still just a kid, and it was only now that he was in his twenties that she saw such a genuine, almost childish excitement in him. It spoke volumes about his upbringing and formative years.
“It was great. Everything went without a hitch for once, even with the pilots who’ll be on their first deployment. The sky was so clear, it was – it was great,” he repeated.
“Well then, I’m glad. And jealous that you got to miss that rehearsal dinner.”
“It was that bad?”
Veronica groaned. “So bad. Thank god I had Wallace, because I would have bolted right out of there if I was doing it alone.”
He kissed the side of her head. “Did you threaten anyone?”
Veronica pouted. “No.”
They stayed in silence a few moments, Logan making himself comfortable beside her on the bed, still fully clothed, while she tried not to get her wet hair on his shirt. He absently reached for her hands and started tangling and untangling their fingers together. She wasn’t even sure he noticed he was doing it, but it was one of the few of his old twitchy habits that had survived military training. She liked that one. It was like their fingers were sliding and cascading against each other, like water, an elegant dance with no end in sight, no purpose, no pause, either.
“Oh, you’ll never guess who Wallace tried to set me up with,” she spoke up, a laugh in her voice just thinking about how comical the idea was.
“Who he tried to set you up with? This I have to hear.”
“Piz? From Hearst?”
“Yep. Apparently he lives in New York now.”
“You didn’t tell him you were in a relationship?” Logan asked, and he stopped playing with her fingers, which she took to mean that the news was bothering him.
“He knew, but I did tell him again that I am very much taken,” she replied, leaning over to kiss him lightly on the lips. When he barely answered, she propped herself up on her elbow to look down at him. “Hey, come on. I was just sharing because it’s a ludicrous idea. I’m not gonna talk to Piz.”
“You can talk to him.”
“I don’t want to. And I don’t know what Wallace told him, I wouldn’t want to call and have him think it’s a date or anything. Because I have a boyfriend,” she reminded Logan, poking his ribs to get him to untense.
“That never stopped Piz before,” he grumbled.
Veronica’s mouth dropped open. “Are you… jealous of Piz?”
“I’m not jealous.”
“You’re… insecure about Piz?” Logan shrugged, so Veronica repeated to emphasize, “Piz?”
“He doesn’t have a history of holding me in high regard, or of seeing our relationship as a valid thing he should stay away from.”
“I won’t let him get into our relationship,” Veronica replied frustratedly. “I’m not even going to see him at all, what is this about?”
Logan shrugged again, and Veronica felt her anger mounting.
“Just cut the bullshit and tell me! What is so bad about this? I was just trying to share something that happened today that was funny. It was funny, Logan. Funny that Wallace thought Piz and I would have anything to talk about. Funny because I haven’t thought about Piz in years. It was funny,” she finished, but the way she bit down on the last word made it clear she didn’t think any of it was funny anymore.
“You want to know what’s wrong? Okay, I’ll tell you what’s wrong.” He sat up too. “What’s wrong is you have taken every single opportunity you’ve ever had to dump me for the closest nice fucking guy who would have you.”
“And now that you know I’m leaving for deployment soon, there’s Piz right there in New York just waiting for you to throw yourself in his arms. It’s hilarious, really.”
Veronica sputtered in anger. “So basically I’m this out-of-control slut who will take advantage of her boyfriend being off-grid to… what, have coffee with Piz? And somehow that will turn into me sleeping with him at the first occasion I get and dumping you unceremoniously? Is that it? Am I close?”
“That’s not what I’m saying!”
“Well it sounds pretty fucking close!”
“I’m just saying there’s nothing laughable about you hitting it off with Piz because you have a really great track record at dumping me for some boring one-dimensional Duncan knock-off, and there’s a golden opportunity for you to dump me right there.”
“Damn it, Logan!” she cried out. “Damn it,” she repeated, softer, tears prickling at her eyes. “I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna do that, okay? So you have to start having some faith in me, because it’s hard enough doing the long-distance thing without you having one foot out the door.”
“I don’t have one foot out the door, I’m just –”
She cut him off. “Well, one of us is planning on this relationship ending soon, and it’s not me.”
Logan visibly deflated, then dropped to his back on the bed and brought Veronica down with him, cuddling her close. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Damn right I am. I know I made some mistakes when we were teens, and I didn’t treat you as well as I should have. I know that. But I thought we were doing better this time.”
“We are,” Logan assured her.
“Good, ‘cause I love you. I’m not dumping you for Piz or anyone else, so can we just enjoy this very nice hotel room before it gets all chaotic tomorrow for the wedding?”
“Okay,” Logan agreed quietly, then kissed her cheek and nuzzled his face into her neck.
Veronica sighed in relief and relaxed against him. He was still wearing shoes, there was still a towel underneath them, but she didn’t want to move quite yet. They could move later.
Mac wasn’t the kind of girl who had a very detailed and vivid plan of what her wedding would look like. She hadn’t worn pillowcases on her head as a wedding veil as a child, and she hadn’t married all her dolls to one another on a romantic whim. She hadn’t ever pictured herself in a big, puffy, white dress or pre-picked love songs for her first dance with her wife. She hadn’t even realized she would marry a wife, not a husband, until much later in life, and by then all the girls were too cool to still add pages to their wedding dream scrapbooks, and if Mac had ever wanted to start her own – which she hadn’t – she wouldn’t have had much companionship in her enterprise.
That being said, her wedding day was a pretty darn big affair, and seeing herself in the mirror when trying on her dress for the last fitting before she headed to the church was strangely emotional. Her mother – her real mother, the one who had raised her – was going ballistic trying to make sure everything was perfect, and all the talking to herself from her mother was starting to get on Mac’s nerves.
She just wanted to go see Selena, and then she would be able to calm down. Except they had that stupid little rule about not seeing each other all day before they both walked down the aisle, so Selena was in another room, on the other end of the church, and had gotten there with her portion of the wedding party half an hour before Mac so they wouldn’t run into the other by accident.
All in all, it was very well orchestrated, nothing seemed to be going too wrong yet, and Mac was jittery. She wasn’t due to put her dress on until the very last minute, in case she tripped or ripped it or spilled anything, so while the others adjusted their clothes, she was still wearing her jeans, albeit with heavy makeup and an elaborate updo (that relied mostly on gel, given how short her hair was, but the hairdresser had managed to make it look elegant). So, as any good hostess, she decided to go have a look around the church, greet some guests, remind some old relatives to sit on the left side, not the right, that kind of thing. It would take her mind off her growing fear that she would fall on her face while walking down the aisle, or that Selena had run away with a bridesmaid, or…
Yep, she definitely needed to get her mind on something else.
The something else was given to her quickly enough, right after she had helped her great-aunt sit down in her seat, in the form of a tall, muscular man she didn’t remember inviting but who clearly had one of the invitation cards Selena had crafted and Mac had sent out, in his hands.
She walked up to him, weaving through relatives and friends with welcoming smiles. “Logan?” she asked.
He whipped around at the mention of his name, and smiled when he saw her. “If it isn’t our very own miss Mackenzie! Congratulations!”
“Thank you. I had no idea you were coming. How long has it been?”
“Ah, yes, sorry, I kind of got invited as a plus-one and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch such a brilliant business partner get married.”
Mac blushed at the compliment, but a little red light lit up in her head. There was something inside that sentence of his that was telling her something was off, something she would have to solve, but she shoved the thought aside. “Well, it’s very nice to see you, regardless of how you snaked your way in here.”
He smirked a little in response. “I’m here for the embarrassing childhood pictures slideshow, you know that, Mackenzie.”
“You’ve probably seen a lot of the awkward stages pictures. We were at school together since, what, middle school? We weren’t friends, but –”
It was then that she realized what the issue was. Someone Logan had been friends with in middle school. Someone whom he had later dated. Someone who was in her wedding party. Someone who would most definitely be thrown at the idea of Logan being here today, and oh, God, he was here with a date and Veronica would freak and she really needed to never ever know Logan was there.
Logan didn’t seem to catch her change in demeanor. “But…?” he asked.
“But it’s the same look we all had in the late ‘90s. Listen, it was great to see you, and I’ll definitely catch up with you later, but…”
“Places to be, people to see. I know how it is. It’s your wedding day. Go.”
She smiled gratefully and walked as quickly as she could back to her quarters without looking like she was running away from Logan.
Immediately, she beckoned Wallace over to a corner of the room and hissed, “We have a crisis.”
She cracked the door open and pointed to someone in the crowd. Wallace craned his neck to see his face, but when he popped his head back inside, quickly closing the door, his eyes were wide. “Is that…?”
Mac nodded. “We cannot let Veronica see him.”
“What is he doing here?”
“He’s someone’s date. I don’t know who, and it doesn’t matter. Veronica’s got a good thing going with her boyfriend. Has she bitched to you at all about him since they started dating?”
Wallace thought back for a second before shaking his head. “Now that you mention it, no. How long has it been, 5 months? 6?”
“Something like that. See, she hasn’t complained to me either. And the other day she practically flat-out told me she was in love.”
“Veronica said that?”
“I may have inferred it… the point is, I’m almost sure she’s in love, so we cannot let Logan Echolls being here with his girlfriend ruin what is clearly the best relationship V has had in a while because if someone could throw off her relationship because everyone knows she’s never been totally over him, it’s Logan. Got it?”
“That was a complicated sentence, but I think I got the gist of it. Damn it, she told me yesterday she really didn’t to meet up with an ex right now.”
Mac bunched her eyebrows in confusion. “What?”
“Yeah, I told her Piz was in New York.”
“Piz? Really, Wallace? Piz?”
Wallace shrugged defensively. “Whatever, the topic is Logan right now and he’s an ex, so the point stands.”
Mac nodded sagely, then chanced another look outside towards the room where everybody was sitting down.
“Aren’t you supposed to be getting ready?” Wallace asked. “I’ll keep V occupied, keep her away from Logan, you worry about your wedding.”
“Thanks, Wallace. You’re a good bridesmaid.”
“Bridesman!” he called out to Mac as she disappeared behind a door to go get changed.
Half an hour later, the wedding was due to start, but they’d received word that Selena’s makeup was still being touched up, and several of the bridesmaids were still taking care of smoothing their hair, applying pre-emptive band-aids to their feet under their high heels, or asking Wallace to close the damn clasp on their necklace.
Veronica, herself, put down her small makeup bag and told Wallace, “I’m going out real quick, I’ll be back before you know it.”
Before he could think it through, Wallace exclaimed, “No!”
Veronica frowned. “What? I’ll be back in like a minute, I won’t make the wedding any later than it already is.”
“But why would you go out there at all?” Wallace attempted to recover.
Veronica spoke slowly when she answered, looking at her best friend curiously, suspicious and clearly evaluating his mental state. “I forgot my lipstick. My boyfriend brought it for me, I’ll just go get it from him.”
She turned around to walk out the door and Wallace waved frantically for Mac, eyes wide to catch her attention. When he gestured to Veronica walking out the door, Mac’s eyes widened similarly and she hurried to his side.
“What is she doing?” Mac hissed.
“She forgot her lipstick and her boyfriend brought it.”
“She can’t go out there!”
“What do we do?”
“There’s nothing we can do,” Wallace said.
With one last look at each other, they hurried to the door and opened it, just enough to see what was going on outside.
“Maybe she won’t see him if she’s focused on finding her boyfriend,” Mac suggested, a hopeful lilt in her voice telling Wallace even she didn’t believe a word of it.
“Oh, yeah, Veronica Mars won’t notice her tall as hell ex sitting there.”
Mac shrugged and they watched, transfixed, while Veronica scanned the room and her gaze stopped on Logan. They could only see the back of her head, so they didn’t know exactly how shocked she was, but Wallace winced just imagining it.
When she started walking in Logan’s direction, Mac buried her face in Wallace’s shoulder. “I can’t watch. I can’t watch. This is the moment people will remember from my wedding and Selena’s mom will be so pissed and I’m already convinced she thinks I turned her daughter gay or something.”
“No, I can’t look, don’t tell me, I should have just told him to go but I was kind of happy to see him, it’s been a while and we do have a business together technically and –”
“Mac,” Wallace repeated. “Look.”
Mac raised her head. “Huh,” she remarked flatly.
Veronica was smiling. Really smiling, like actually pretty wide, like she was happy to see her ex there as someone’s date which – okay, she was being weirdly mature about it. And it wasn’t that Veronica wasn’t mature, but when it came to that particular ex, she wasn’t especially the kind to move on and pretend it was all good. And Logan was smiling too, looked really happy to see Veronica, actually, and maybe they truly were both happy and settled in their relationships.
“Are they friends now?” Mac asked. “Wouldn’t she have told us about it?”
“Given my reaction to Logan in the past, she wouldn’t have told me,” Wallace shrugged. “Good for them, though, I guess.”
“Yeah, for su – noooo. No way.”
Wallace blinked once, twice. “Did you see what I saw?”
“If you saw Logan handing Veronica some lipstick, then yes.”
“Veronica’s mystery long-term boyfriend…”
“… is Logan,” Mac completed. “That… actually explains a lot.”
As if to cement the revelation, the two of them watched, mesmerized, as Veronica stood up on tiptoes to quickly kiss Logan’s lips. He put his hand on the small of her back to hold her better as he went in for another kiss, and it was the weirdest kind of flashback. This was so exactly like college, but the two participants were older, all dressed up, and unaware that they were observed. It felt like intruding on a private moment, whereas it used to be almost public when they kissed, like the way Logan held Veronica was so everyone could see the girl he was in love with.
Veronica turned on her heels to head back to where she had come from, and Mac and Wallace weren’t quick enough to scramble back inside, so she saw them. Her answering smirk made Logan turn his head in their direction, and when he realized they had been discovered, he sent them a cheerful wave of his fingers.
Veronica smacked his arm playfully and said something Mac and Wallace couldn’t hear, before she walked towards them. She didn’t say a word about Logan as she sat in front of the vanity to apply her lipstick, and her two best friends were too bewildered to ask her anything about it.
“We should have seen this coming,” Mac murmured.
“They had us there for a while,” Wallace admitted. “We should have known they’d get back together, again.”
“We should have known Veronica wouldn’t have stayed with someone this long if it was anyone else.”
“Go call your bride to see if she’s ready yet.”
“Yep,” Mac replied, but she stayed staring at Veronica for a beat to long before she shook herself out of her funk and pulled out her phone to call her future wife.
Mac’s wedding was Veronica’s very first (and, as far as she was concerned, probably the last) walk down the aisle. She was walking with Wallace, behind Selena’s sister and her boyfriend, a delicate bouquet in her hands. (With a yellow rose in the middle, even if the florist had complained again when delivering the bouquets that morning.) The wedding was charming, an understated thing, and a surprising amount of family members were present on both sides, considering the marriage wouldn’t be legally binding.
The ceremony was coming to a close when Veronica chanced looking away from the happy couple. From her vantage point standing at the very front, she hadn’t dared look away in case someone took offense. But while the officiant started telling all of Mac and Selena’s loved ones about how precious real love was, and how important it was to work on keeping it alive, she couldn’t help herself, her gaze strayed.
She caught Logan’s eye in the crowd, and she wasn’t surprised to find him already looking at her with a smile on his face. She winked and his smile widened, before he looked down, the goofy grin still on his face, and shifted on his feet.
She found it adorable, how un-military it was of him.
Especially, she loved the tingles it sent down her spine, the idea that she could still make such a pure smile appear on his face – the kind of grin a freshman whose crush agreed to go to homecoming with him would tote. Or, it seemed, the kind of grin a decorated Navy pilot couldn’t keep off his face when he was feeling so truly happy in his relationship.
Years ago, she would have taken it as a great ego boost. Now she took it as a little check-in with the man she loved that they were still on the same page about how great it was that they’d found their way back to one another.
“Did you bring the gift?” Veronica asked her boyfriend when she sidled up to him, small plate piled high with a sample of all the appetizers in the mini buffet.
He raised an eyebrow at the size of her plate but didn’t comment, opting instead to kiss the tip of her nose. “It’s in that…” he gestured with his hand in the general direction of the antechamber in which he’d dropped the smart cooker amongst other beribboned gifts, “gift room.”
Veronica frowned. “Yeah, why?”
Logan shrugged. “It seems like a pretty basic thing to thank me for. I just brought the gift you bought and wrapped.”
Veronica tilted her head and considered. Finally, she said, “Thank you for coming with me today.”
Logan’s eyebrows bunched in confused surprise. “What’s going on?”
Veronica bit her lip. “Practicing that thing the preacher mentioned, about working to keep love alive. I know I’m not good at the whole touchy-feely part, Logan. But I know you are and I do want this to work. So I’ll make an effort, I promise.”
His face cracked in a big grin and he pulled her close by the waist to kiss the side of her head. “I love you,” he whispered against her hairline.
She sighed contentedly and rested her head against his chest.
“In the spirit of that… can I ask you a question?” Logan risked.
“Um. Sure, I guess,” Veronica answered slowly, not really seeing where he was going.
“I know we never really talked about this since… well, since ever, honestly, except a tiny dip of our toes in the pool the other night, but I think it’s a conversation to be had.”
“You really never want to get married?”
Veronica sucked in a sharp breath. “Not really, no. I mean, I’ve just seen so much shit happen. So many marriages crumble, so many people getting trapped into something that asphyxiates them. I can’t think of a single example of a successful marriage I’ve ever seen firsthand. My parents, your parents, Duncan and Lilly’s parents… growing up, all the marriages I thought were ideal turned out to be disasters under the surface. I’ve photographed too many cheating spouses in high school and reviewed too many divorce proceedings in law school to have any kind of romantic notions left about marriage. I can’t… I can’t do that, I can’t get married.”
“I understand,” Logan said softly.
She turned to look up at him. “You don’t, though,” she said softly. She wasn’t accusing him, just stating a fact.
He shook his head. “No, you’re right, I just… don’t think of that as something that would stop me. These people would be nasty to each other, cheat, kill, abuse, whether they were married or not. A shitty marriage doesn’t mean marriage isn’t a good thing, it just means those people shouldn’t have gotten married.”
Veronica nodded her understanding. “Statistics suck, though. Even if I didn’t factor in my own experience, half of weddings turn into divorces. It’s not really great odds.”
Logan shrugged. “Those people would have split whether they were married or not.”
“Are you asking me to marry you?” Veronica asked curiously.
“No,” he assured with a quirk of his lips and a quick kiss on her forehead. “Not yet, anyway.”
“I just…” Veronica sighed. “Honestly? I don’t see the perk to being married. A wedding is obscenely expensive – I mean, did you see the cost of these flowers? Highway robbery is what it is – and it doesn’t bring anything more. You’re just… legally obligated to have a say in each other’s funeral decisions.”
“That got dark real quick.”
“I’m just saying –”
“I know what you’re saying,” Logan said soothingly. “I was just asking. I will say this, though: the perk is the pretty, pretty ring.”
She smirked and kissed his cheek. “Or the pretty, pretty boy.”
“Or that,” Logan grinned.
Veronica was about to reply, but suddenly stopped. “Uh-oh.”
That particular talk would have to be shelved for later.
“What?” Logan asked, popping a small canapé from her plate into his mouth.
“My dad’s coming this way. You ready to face the music?”
Logan straightened his jacket before throwing Veronica a crooked grin. “With you? Always.”
Thank you for coming along this ride with me!
This was barely edited so I could post in time, so I’m sorry for any mistakes, they are all completely mine.
(And, yes, the second chapter was so much shorter than the first one. It just felt awkward not to break the story there, and I have a history of being terrible at having even-length chapters.)