How To Hold Your Breath Underwater
by Sara

1. understand the risk you're taking

Veronica doesn't dream about Logan.

She thought she might; she used to dream about Lilly, before, and occasionally Duncan. Weird, cryptic dreams about Lilly, usually, where she was beautiful and mysterious and dead, dead, dead. Veronica doesn't have those dreams anymore, and she doesn't miss them. The dreams about Duncan were never like that at all, but she doesn't miss them either, even the ones that made her wake up sweating in the middle of winter. They were hot, sure, and Veronica feels that she of all people deserves some nice uncomplicated sexy dreams, but there are too many issues with Duncan. There have been too many issues for too long, and nothing about that situation is uncomplicated anymore.

Veronica doesn't dream about Logan, though, and she never has, so she can't even use that as an excuse for how often she gets off thinking about him.

Her mind wanders, of course; she can never focus for long on any one thought when she's working toward orgasm. So she thinks about kissing Logan, the feel of his skin between her teeth when she bites lightly at his neck, the weird pattern on her ceiling, how it's just a few degrees too hot today, Logan's hands on her thighs, his hands in her hair, how deeply fucked up things are between the two of them, how it doesn't matter because thinking about him still gets her hot, how this is a good song to masturbate to, how weird and clinical the word 'masturbate' is, how he probably does the same thing thinking about her, only maybe he finds it easier to focus. Maybe not. Maybe, in this at least, she's normal. It's not like there's anyone she can ask.

Veronica knows her body well. She knows what she likes, what gets her off, the different sorts of orgasms she can have depending on how she does it. She knows all the random little erogenous zones that she found with Duncan and Logan, and the other ones they never had a chance to find. She never did this before Duncan, but what they did together always felt so good that she couldn't help but try it out on her own. So she did, not often, but enough so that she could show him things, ways to make her feel ever better. Duncan was a fast learner. She always liked that about him.

Logan didn't need much in the way of coaching; he seemed to know his way around quite well. Probably all Lilly's doing, which was fine, a nice twisted sort of tribute to Lilly's memory that he used what she taught him to get Veronica off. Veronica always appreciated it, and she misses it now. Him. She misses Logan, the way he made her laugh, his inherent stupid nobility, the way he trusted her even as she threw him to the wolves. She wishes she could have trusted him like he trusted her.

She hasn't seen Logan in weeks.

She was there at the trial, of course, her testimony helping lock Aaron Echolls up for five consecutive life sentences. Logan was there, too, sitting quietly with Trina, or being swallowed up by reporters on the steps of the courthouse. They never got a chance to talk. Veronica tells herself it's not her fault, that she tried. She didn't try hard enough.

She thinks, sometimes, about him coming back, climbing in her window, desperate and warm and there, how he'd feel against her, how his lips would feel on hers, hot and needy. In through her window, or waiting in her car before she left for the office, or after. On her doorstep, maybe, when she gets home to an empty house, her dad out of town on a case. Somewhere. Waiting for her.

He hasn't come back.


2. breathe in deep

"Here's the thing," Wallace says, stealing one of Veronica's fries. "You're going crazy, and I don't like watching it. Go after him."

"Yeah, okay." Because it's that simple, Wallace.

"Uh-uh, no. Sorry." He's giving Veronica that look, that I'm Your Best Friend, Don't Fuck With Me look, and she feels kind of bad. "That won't work on me. And don't give me that 'oh but he's gone into hiding' thing, either. You're a detective."

"He doesn't want to see me, Wallace-"

"Yeah, because that's ever stopped you before."

"Maybe he just wants some privacy," Veronica says, but she's reaching, and she knows it, and so does Wallace.

He rolls his eyes. "Well, go talk to him, get your issues resolved, and then leave him to it. You're all messed up over this, Veronica, and you don't need that on top of everything. This is a problem you can fix."

"Have you met Logan Echolls?" she asks, arching an eyebrow at him.

"Whatever. I don't get it, I don't want to get it, but it makes you happy, or it would if you'd ever figure out what the hell- just, what the hell, I don't know, but y'all have to figure out something. At least try." He puts his hands up. "That's all I'm gonna say. Can I finish your fries?"

She lets him, because it's good advice. Even if she's not going to follow it.


3. don't be afraid; you have to just jump in

It's another week before she cracks and goes to find Logan.

That's not strictly the whole truth.

The truth is, she's been tracking Logan ever since he disappeared, since the trial ended and Logan and Trina suddenly found themselves a whole lot richer. As far as Veronica knows, Trina is living alone in the otherwise empty Echolls mansion. Well, empty except for the staff, and Trina's revolving cast of hangers-on. Logan hasn't been back since he left the courthouse, packed his bags, and drove off into the sunset. Only it was the dead of night, and he stole the gardener's car to do it, leaving the keys to Aaron's old Mercedes for trade.

She thought he'd go to Mexico, or at least out of state, but either Logan got tired of dramatic gestures or he just plain got tired, because he ended up in a small town near the state line, living in an apartment above a pawn shop on the mile-long downtown strip. That was all she knew, except that he spent a lot of time in a local bar and the rest of his time doing not much of anything. She hadn't exactly been up to calling Logan and finding out how his summer vacation was going.

Her dad left her alone on Friday afternoon, closing the office early and flying off to Colorado on a job. He wouldn't be back until Monday. Veronica hoped it wouldn't take that long.

(Thursday evening, Veronica took a long shower, leaning up against the cold wet tile wall and furiously working herself off. It took longer, this way, but with her back against the wall she could close her eyes and feel it that much more easily, see it in her mind: Logan kneeling before her, tongue pressing inside, or holding her up as he fucked her, or sucking at her neck as his fingers circled over her clit, fast and hard like she liked it. She hoped it would take all night to convince Logan to come back. She hoped it would take the entire weekend and bleed over into Monday morning, speeding all the back to Neptune with Logan in the seat beside her and stopping on the side of the road to climb into his lap and have him again.)

It gets hotter the farther away she gets from the ocean. The desert wind whips her hair into a mass of tangled blond until she braids it back, and by the time she pulls into town her cheeks are glowing red from sun and wind. It's six o'clock in the evening, and the sun is still high. She walks into the bar, taking a minute until her eyes adjust and she sees him, too skinny in a t-shirt that's seen better days and jeans held up only by a belt. His back's to her, facing the bar and even from here she can see that he needs a haircut and probably a decent meal. And yeah, almost definitely more help than she can give him. She takes the seat next to him at the bar.

Logan glances at her. He doesn't seem particularly surprised. "Well if it isn't Lana Turner at my very own neighborhood soda fountain," he says. "I don't think they sell strawberry milkshakes here, princess, try the place down the street."

"Come on, Logan, we both know my favorite flavor is vanilla," Veronica says.

He snorts. "Nothing about you is vanilla, Ronnie, let's not lie to ourselves."

"You don't seem surprised to see me," she says, smiling at the bartender and ordering a Coke. No thank you, no rum, just a Coke.

"I could almost hear the Pink Panther theme as you walked through the door."

"Please," she scoffs. "I'm far better dressed than Inspector Cloiseau."

He reaches out, flicks at one of her dangly silver earrings. "Yeah, you're more like Daphne."

"I like to think I have Daphne's style and Velma's intellect. I'm the best of both worlds." She takes a sip of her Coke, and this is easy, this is familiar. Back in each other's company for two seconds and it's like they never parted, falling back into their old routines, the banter and teasing and yeah, the tension. The tension's definitely still there.

"And now here you are."

Veronica nods. "Here I am." And the next move is his, really. She's never bothered trying to script things when it comes to her and Logan. Wouldn't be much point.

"Which leads us then to why," he says, draining his glass and then looking at it as if it might contain some answers. "Anyone who would care enough to send you after me is either dead, or- yeah, no, dead. Trina's got her share of the inheritance, so it can't be her." He taps his bottom lip. "I give up, Veronica. What are you doing here?"

"Maybe I wanted to find you."

"Well, let's see," he says. "You're generally either breaking up with me, making up with me, making out with me, avoiding me, or trying to get me arrested. Now, since you're here, and as far as I know we're not currently dating or," he looks around, then back at his empty glass, "making out, I have to ask, Veronica. Should I be calling my lawyer right now?"


"It's a fair question," he says. "What the hell more do you want from me?"

There are so many things, really, that she wants from Logan. She wants, most of all, for him to forget everything she's done, forgive that sickening panic that gripped her when she thought he might have done it, that extended moment that led to her- her betrayal of him, but she can hardly forgive herself, hardly even explain it. Lilly was the only thing on her mind for so long that finding her killer overrode every other impulse, became of such paramount importance that she let it take her over entirely. And it won't- she wouldn't do that to Logan, ever again, but there's no way he'd believe her if she told him that. She wouldn't believe it herself.

She wants to grab Logan right here, press her mouth to his until he's confused and turned on and furious, and she knows that if she did, he wouldn't say no. She knows it, knows that even after all this he still wants her. He'll barely meet her eyes but she can still see it, in the nervous way he taps on the bar so she won't see his hands shake, and feel it when she places a hand on his wrist, stilling him and catching the frantic skitter of his pulse for one long second before he pulls away. He wouldn't say no, and he'd hate himself for it, and Veronica almost doesn't care.

"You know how it was with Lilly," Veronica says. "I couldn't see anything else."

"You thought I killed her. Me, Veronica, after everything, you thought-"

"I'm sorry," she says, taking his hand again even as he tries to pull away. "I know it's not enough, but you have to believe me. I'll prove it to you."

"And how the hell are you going to do that?"

Okay, maybe she should have scripted this at least a little, thought it over before making shaky promises she's not sure how to keep. "Come back with me. Come back to Neptune."

"No," he says, and gets up, throwing a twenty on the bar. Veronica follows him out. "Look, I'm done discussing this."

She shrugs. "So let's discuss something else. I'm not leaving."

"How about we discuss laws about stalking?"

"I hear that's illegal," Veronica says, widening her stride to keep up with him without being too obvious about it.

"Yeah? Really?" He stops by the pawnshop, unlocking the nondescript door and turning back to Veronica. "I can't do this with you again, Veronica. Go back to Neptune." The door snaps closed behind him.

Granted, this was maybe not the most well thought out plan. Of course Logan is angry, he has every right to be, whereas Veronica really had no right to come here.

But here she is.

Over a burger and fries at the diner down the street, Veronica sits in a booth and thinks things over.

It's hard, sometimes, to approach people as people, rather than archetypes in the revolving cast of her world. It took awhile for her to stop thinking of Wallace as the Best Friend and actually let him become her best friend, and Logan's evolution has been stranger still, from Friend to Psychotic Jackass to Ally and then, finally, Love Interest.

She doesn't know what the hell he is now, and that's terrifying. It's one thing to be betrayed by the Boyfriend (thank you for that lesson, Troy), but another entirely to be betrayed by someone she actually lets herself trust. And she'll have to trust Logan, if she wants to get anywhere with him, if they want to have something even remotely functional.

(And that's what she wants. Of course that's what she wants. A boyfriend, a functional relationship, someone she can trust. She wants Logan to be that for her, and she knows he could be. Knows he wants to be, or wanted to be, at least, that it would be hard, but worth it. It would be worth it.

Or it could go like this: she could bang on his door until he let her in, then push him backwards until he hit something, the couch, the bed, the floor. She'd kiss him, and he'd kiss her back, because he wants her still, even after everything. She'd climb overtop him, guide his hands to where she wanted them, let him touch her the way she's wanted him to all summer, before even, ever since they first kissed. It would be easy, so easy, taking what she wants from Logan when he's so willing to give it to her.

Easy, yeah, and hot, and amazing, and everything else she loves about Logan in bed. They didn't quite make it to sex and that's truly unfortunate, but it wouldn't take long once she had him back, hard beneath her, and there's no question that he'd make her feel better than anyone ever has. All she would have to do is kiss him and he'd be hers again, ready to give her whatever she wanted, no matter what it cost him. And they could neatly skip this whole potential angstfest of a relationship and just destroy themselves and each other one fuck at a time. It would be wrong, just an all-around stupid, terrible thing to do, but sometimes late at night she can't help but think how easy it would be, how good it would feel, to look in Logan's eyes and know that he'd do anything for her, anything she asked. Even if he hated himself for it, after.)

She finishes her dinner and goes to sit in the car, parked outside Logan's building. The sun sets, and the pawn shop closes.

Eventually, Logan comes out and stares at her. She smiles and waves. "I'll call the cops," he says.

"You're not gonna let me sleep outside all night, are you?" she asks, blithely ignoring his threat. He doesn't mean it. He turns to go back inside, and she follows.

His apartment, when they walk in, is a fairly decent size, furnished well enough to be comfortable. Logan's looking at her like he expects her to demand answers or something, but it's not answers she wants from him.

"So you found me," he says, leaning against the wall, arms crossed.

"You didn't try very hard to disappear," she points out.

"I didn't think anyone would care enough to come looking."

"You know that's not true."

He shrugs. "You're the first."

"No one forced you to push everyone away."

He laughs, a little cut-off laugh that sounds like it hurts. "Veronica Mars, calling me out on pushing people away. Someone call Alanis, we've found something that's actually genuinely ironic."


"Don't you think?" he asks, in a light, sing-song voice.

"I don't expect you to trust me-"

"Then what the hell do you expect? You come all the way out here to bring me back, and for what? So you can find new and inventive ways to jerk me around? What is it?" He pushes himself off the wall and walks across the room until he's in her space, and she won't back down from this, she won't. She wanted a confrontation, and this is it. "Duncan not enough for you? He not keeping you warm enough?"

"Oh fuck you-" she says, realizing that maybe this is it, maybe there's nothing left for them but this, maybe the time for them to be anything but fucked-up has passed.

"Yeah?" he says, voice gone soft. "That what you missed? You just want me for what I can give you?"

She flushes, because all she can think of now is how she's thought of him all summer, that Logan's right, that she's a terrible person for wanting this. "Is that all you want?"

"I've given up on ever getting what I want from you, Veronica."

"Maybe you shouldn't have," she says, and it's the closest to the truth that she'll get tonight, so she kisses him to forestall any further conversation.

He kisses her back like he's been starving for it, like she's been imagining it all summer, hot and wonderful and almost, even, as aggressive as she is. He's skinner than she remembers him being, but still strong enough to lift her up and hold her there as she wraps her legs around his waist. She's almost conditioned for it, by now, having imagined this so many times that she's already turned on, squirming a little and clutching at him as heat floods her. It would be embarrassing, it should be, even, but she's never been shy with Logan and she sees no reason to start now, especially since he's hard against her and why did she wear jeans today, why?

Her back meets the doorway, because they've made it, somehow, through the living room and into the hall, almost almost to the bedroom and, "Come on," Veronica says, when Logan pulls back, when he looks at her like he might say something that will make her think about this. He says nothing, though, and her breath rushes out when she lands on the bed, already lifting back up to pull her shirt off and slide her hands beneath his.

Logan doesn't work out, he's not the type, and the flat line of his stomach is as clear an indicator as any just how well he's been keeping himself this summer. "God, Logan, do you even-" she starts, but it's a stupid question, so she doesn't finish. It's probably not even deliberate, that he doesn't eat much; his particular brand of self-destructiveness never stretched in that direction.

"I've been taking care of myself just fine, Veronica," he says anyway, like he knows what she was thinking, and maybe he does, as she traces over his ribs, digs her nails in to watch the skin redden. Her fingers skim around, searching out the marks she knows are there, the scars that always made him flinch when she touched them before. He doesn't flinch now, just presses her harder down onto the bed and lowers his mouth to her breasts, kissing where the curves meet the satin of her bra.

And she isn't- she isn't allowed to care like this, anymore, he obviously doesn't want her to. She does, she really honestly does, even if he won't believe it, even if he thinks all she wants is this- is him tugging at her pants, sliding her underwear off when she lifts up to help, meeting his eyes for one hot second before he kisses her stomach, moving downward.

"God, Veronica," he says, his fingers dragging over the crease of her thighs, parting them and just looking for a moment before moving in. The first touch of his mouth makes her gasp, push up for it, already feeling the tremors of orgasm because of all the- well, maybe not so much with the foreplay, but she didn't need it. Just grinding against Logan had been enough, the hard press of him against her getting her sensitized and on the verge and it never took much, anyway, to get her off. Certainly won't take much with Logan, his eyes closed and head bowed between her legs like if he opens his eyes he'll find out he was dreaming.

He pushes his tongue inside her, one hand rubbing almost idly at her clit, and just that gentle pressure and the fact of him being there is enough to set off one slow shuddering orgasm. She's barely come off it when he goes in deep, tongue stroking in and out and then sucking hard on her clit, sliding a finger in hard enough to startle her a little but it still feels fine, better than fine. A minute of this and she's coming again, harder than before, gasping out his name and lifting her hips, pushing against him.

She loves it like this, one after another and she knows she can keep it up, keep going until she's tired, until he is. She almost wants to try, wants to test his limits and see how much she can get out of him, but that's not fair (and by not fair, of course, she means: they'll try it some other day), and Veronica wants. She wants sex, okay, wants this even if they never do it again, even if she never sees Logan again after this. She tells herself this, lets herself believe that's a possibility because she wants it now, she wants-

"Logan," she gasps, digging her nails into his shoulder, and he moves up, sliding his hands up her body and then kissing her as she fumbles with his jeans, trying to get them off without much success until she gives up and pushes at him, hissing, "Over," until he rolls over onto his back and she can straddle him. It's easier, then, to pull his pants off, his underwear, and then he's naked, naked and scarred and oh god, she hadn't even- she'd never thought about this, about Logan naked, not in front of her, on his back and waiting. They'd always been quick, blurry little flashes in her mind of him pressed against her, under her, always touching, never just- just there, for her. She looks at him, and he raises an eyebrow at her, and it's such an irritating jackass Logan thing for him to do that it just makes her hotter, and she hopes to god he's the optimistic type because if there's not a box of condoms in his nightstand she's going to be really, really annoyed.

He laughs a little, when she finds them, and then she digs her nails into his thighs and he stops laughing, just inhales quickly when she rolls the condom over him (thank you, Sex Ed classes) and strokes him once.

"Veronica," he says, and he still isn't asking, and Veronica likes it, hates that she likes it, this new Logan who gives her what she wants without permission, without pulling back or thinking about it or talking about the past or present or anything. There's no time to breathe with him, anymore, and it's terrifying to realize that he's become exactly what she's been dreaming about, hardened into this willing beautiful stranger who knows exactly what she needs. He's still Logan, but there's a disconnect; like he's the Logan she used to think he was, before they became friends again, back when he was breaking her headlights instead of letting her break his heart.

It would have been like this, sex with Logan, if they'd done this before. He was broken in a different way then. Back then it hadn't been her doing.

She straddles him carefully, and slowly lowers herself onto his cock.

She can't help the low gasp that escapes her when he's fully inside; it's almost too much, the feel of it, but so is this entire situation. Their lives are almost too much, and this is no different. She rises up, then down, sighing, and this is so absolutely what she needed.

Logan shifts beneath her, thrusts up a little, then takes her hips and sits up so that she's straddling his lap. He runs his hands over his back, unhooks her bra and kisses her neck, her collarbone, lower. He kisses her mouth like he's afraid she'll push him away. She doesn't.

He still kisses her like Logan, still touches her with the same rough reverence, looking at her like he can't believe she's here. Maybe he can't, maybe that's why his fingers grip hard enough to mark, mapping her in red and white, the drag of his hands on her sunburned shoulders making her wince, a little. It's worth the pain, though, to see his face when he realizes he's hurt her, to feel the soft penitent kisses he immediately places on her stinging skin. He pulls her close, until they're pressed together so tightly there's nothing between them, and each thrust up makes his breath hitch, pulls sounds from Veronica she didn't know she could make.

It's almost too slow, but it's still fine, there's friction enough between their bodies that it feels good, the slow grind of Veronica's hips against his stomach sending little sparks shooting up her spine, traveling through each nerve ending. She clutches at his back, arching against him, and she hadn't thought it would be like this, warm and easy and mutedly desperate, like they have all the time in the world. Maybe they do. Maybe they will.

Logan gasps when she tenses around him, a long trembling climax that leaves her panting, biting her lip so she won't bite his skin, until she realizes she can. She sets her teeth into his shoulder, hard enough to leave a mark, and he grips her waist and thrusts up one last time, gasping out her name. They slump against each other, catching their breath, until Veronica eases off and lies down on the bed, pulling the covers up. It's a bit cold now that she no longer has Logan's body heat. It's gotten dark, too, the sunset red of the sky fading to dusk and the night's first stars pushing their way out, barely visible through the open window.

"Is that what you came here for?" Logan asks quietly, settling down onto his back.

"I came because I couldn't stop thinking about you all summer. I still can't," Veronica says, and it takes real effort to meet his eyes, to be this honest. She wonders if he can tell how much she's trusting him already, giving this up.

"So try," he throws back, but his voice cracks, and instead of sounding angry he just sounds so fucking sad, like he's resigned to this already, like whatever Veronica asks, he'll do. He's coming back to Neptune with her.

Veronica's always known that the key to controlling somebody is finding their weakness and using it to manipulate them into doing what you want. The trouble with Logan is that she's his weakness, now, and that's dangerous for them both. He wants so badly to trust her, but Veronica can't even trust herself. "I don't wanna try," she says finally.

"Then what do you want?" Logan asks.

It's been a long, hot summer. All Veronica wants is this, minus the questions, plus maybe a good night's sleep, and Logan coming back with her with to Neptune. "I don't want to go back to Neptune without you," she says.

Logan sighs, but when she turns to look at him he puts an arm around her. "Veronica," he says, and it's just one more word that means 'yes'.


4. how do you hold your breath underwater?

She spends the weekend with Logan. They order takeout, watch the Cartoon Network, and have sex. School starts in a week, and Logan is a snuggler when he sleeps. Veronica finds it endearing.

They sprawl on the couch, eating cereal from the box. Logan eats all the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms and throws out the rest, looking blankly at Veronica when she raises an eyebrow at him. She throws a tiny marshmallow pot of gold at his forehead, and he pushes her onto her back against the cushions and goes down on her all through Powerpuff Girls. They eat Chinese, and fuck their way through a Degrassi marathon on The N. They're no closer to figuring anything out than they were before, but she catches him looking at her sometimes, when she's curled up channel-surfing, or coming out of the shower wrapped in a towel, and she thinks they might be able to try. It's entirely possible that they will be normal, someday, just a girl and her boyfriend. Well, as normal as any two people can be in Neptune.

But then he'll steal the remote and they'll end up wrestling for it, and then making out, or he'll push her back into the shower and fuck her against the wall in the last drops of hot water, or he'll say her name like she's the most frustratingly beautiful thing he's ever seen, and Veronica will think that it doesn't matter if they're ever normal, or healthy, or functional, because at least she has this. At least she has Logan, however much she can have him.


5. you do it or you drown

They take off early Monday morning, leaving Logan's car keys with the bartender as a parting gift, and throw Logan's one bag into the trunk of Veronica's car. They stop twice, once at a gas station for sugar and caffeine, and again on the dusty shoulder when they realize that powdered sugar donuts and a convertible do not an ideal combination make.

Logan licks the sugar from the corners of her mouth and smiles, and maybe this is a new beginning. The desert road is empty as she climbs onto his lap, slightly jittery already from the gas station coffee. They'll be fine. They'll forget their issues, the ways they've changed, and they'll just be this, just Logan and Veronica. Whatever they can be to each other. She kisses him, pushes the seat back so she can straddle him more easily, and what more do they need than this?

The change of clothes she keeps in her trunk included a skirt, and she's grateful as Logan pulls the last of the condoms from the glove compartment. Just once more in this in-between place, where this is all they have to be. He slides into her, his hands in her hair, mouth on her breasts. Maybe they could just never go back to Neptune at all.

"Veronica," he says, and she's not sure she'll ever be able to think her name again without hearing it in his voice, the breathless desperate way he says it. From here that feels just fine.

They keep it quick, and when Veronica moves back to the driver's seat she's still shaking a little, Logan's hand on the back of her neck soothing as he strokes a thumb over her collarbone. Soothing and hot, and no, she won't stop this car again, she won't. They can wait.

It isn't riding happily off into the sunset, but soon Logan is dozing through his sugar crash beside her and the Postal Service is on the stereo and nothing feels unfixable, nothing feels really bad.

Morning is becoming afternoon, and this time, Veronica thinks, this time they're riding off into the sun.


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