Author: rejeneration, but you can call me Jen.
Pairing/Character: Logan/Veronica, Tom, Trina, Xavier, smidge o’ the Wallace Fennel
Word Count: Part V: 3880
Rating: NC-17 overall, this part PG
Summary: Love, actually.
Spoilers/Warnings: Season 2; This is FF.
A/N: A million years ago I started writing a story. Since then I have gone on to dabble over with the kids of SPN, have had a darn good time doing it, but this thing keeps nagging me. Since I’ve been getting a myriad of emails asking for more, and because you’re killing my conscience, here it is: Erosion, Part Five. This was the story I started for loveathons Epic Challenge. I know it's far, far too late to be judged, and that this community is mostly inactive now, but since it was written here, I hoped I could finish housing it here.
A/N 2: I have author noted rindee so many times, in so many places, in so many ways. She’s the wizard behind the curtain, ya’ll. I couldn’t do what I do without her. Love ya, baby.
If you’re still interested in having me finish this, you’re gonna have to holla. If not, I’m letting it go and going back to writing Sam and Dean. -grin- I do miss you guys, though.
The jet touches down on the tarmac relatively smoothly. Sixteen hours in a plane, despite spending them in the comprisable comforts of first-class, fending off the advances of nymphets Candy and Meredith, makes Logan antsy. He packs up his things, shoulders his carry on, and unbuckles his belt before they’re at the terminal. A tiny rebellion, but he’s sure neither of his girls will call him on it.
He crosses over the ramp at eleven a.m. Central European Time, Candy slipping a folded note in with her handshake, a more than friendly “Have a great day.” He crumples it up and tosses it to the ridged rubber flooring before he hits the gate. He’s the third person off the plane, and he’s damn glad for it, too, when the blinding little flash of arms and legs runs full speed ahead. “UncoLodon,” the little boy squeals and, bending himself low, Logan hoists Xavier up and swings him high, wrapping his arms around Xavier’s middle to hug the boy close.
“Hello, little brother,” Trina smirks, standing about twenty feet away from Xavier’s launch point; behind her, a tall and sculpted Paulo, grinning ear to ear.
“Hey,” he replies, sporting a genuine smile for his sister before returning his attention to the little imp in his arms. “How’s my favorite nephew. I see your mom’s helped you perfect the name.” He leans in close, eyes animate as he winks, “Don’t tell her I told you, but she had a lisp when she was six.”
“I did not!” Trina protests, crossing the busy terminal, reaching out to retrieve her son from Logan’s arms. “Besides, that’s what landed Osh-Gosh, sweetie,” she grins, pinching Logan’s cheek, then patting it twice.
“Hey, hey! Let’s keep it civil in front of half-pint, here,” Logan grins, tweaking Xavier’s nose. “You’ll make him think brothers and sisters aren’t supposed to get along.”
Trina smirks and Logan eases back in his stride, content in his family’s presence. This is not old hat for him. None of his childhood memories pull a price tag without an aggressive Aaron or a loaded Lynn. It was always one or the other, no matter how many birthday parties or Christmases he goes back down the line.
Logan hides his unruly smirk in the tufts of brown on top of Xavier’s head. No, no amount of idealization can change his past. The best he can hope for is a chance to make whatever future he has with Veronica into something better than what he had. And, as he watches Trina with her family, he thinks maybe, one day, he could have this kind of happiness, too.
“So, you’ve been busy lately, little brother.” Paulo drops the two of them off at Logan’s hotel, volunteering to take Xavier home for his nap. “Too busy to call,” Trina pouts, unfolding his rumpled shirts from his suitcase, smoothing them gently into the wardrobe.
“I guess that summer internship with Gap really paid off?” he quips, avoiding her hand before she has the chance to slap him. “I’ve just been….” Thing is, he has no idea how to explain what he’s “just been” doing.
“Let me guess.” Trina takes a step back, checking her lipstick in an ancient round mirror over the dresser. Pursing her lips, she turns around, smiling, “You’ve started cavorting with the ladies again? Decided the bachelor lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?”
Cavorting. Yeah, that’s it. Marathon sex, emergency room visits, finding out your estranged ex-lover is pregnant with another man’s child. If all that didn’t count as cavorting, God knows what did. “Something like that.”
“So-o-o-o-o, who is she? Do I know her?” There’s a stagnant pause, Trina in the middle of shaking out a pair of khakis when she looks up to meet his eyes. “Oh, God. No. It’s not---” Trina draws in an sharp breath. The look on his sister’s face is priceless. “Logan!”
She doesn’t really have to say anything else. He and Trina hadn’t gotten close overnight, but it started happening right around the time he’d lost Veronica. And in truth, it felt damn good, being so honest with someone. It was strange how he’d forgotten, or maybe never appreciated how Trina had been there for him in the past. All the times she’d driven his drunken ass home, or how she’d actually covered up and taken the blame for some of the stupid shit he’d pulled. She might not have believed him about the abuse, but he remembered times when she’d made herself vaguely culpable, just in case.
Then, of course, there was the night on the patio, when Aaron nearly killed Dylan Goran. Kinda put the whole kibosh to rest. Truth be told, Logan wasn’t far from killing Goran, himself. But, yeah, those years after Veronica, they’d talked through a lot, and it’d helped having her around. What it hadn’t helped was Trina’s opinion of Veronica.
In typical fashion, Logan had done a lot of really ridiculous bullshit after she’d left. A lot of stuff maybe Veronica had ended up catching the blame for. Still, she’d earned a little of the responsibility, if not all of it. So Logan knew the minute Trina cornered him on the subject, it’d be the grenade waiting to explode.
“Listen,” Trina sighs, tossing a pair of balled-up socks at him. “Just… be careful, okay?” Trina tilts her head, long strands of red hair falling into her eyes. Trina’s always had this expression when she’s worried, kind of like over-exaggerated resignation, and she’s doing it now as she takes his face between her palms and squishes up his cheeks. Just like a big sister.
“I’ll be careful,” Logan says, shaking her off with an affectionate smile. God, she looks good. He never would have imagined her as a mother, let alone a good one. A happy one. “I’m proud of you, you know?” It seems like the world's most bizarre thing to say, but when was the last time either of them heard it? Had they ever?
Trina grins, eyes sparking with traditional mischief, “Yeah? Well, it’s about time, brother-mine. Now, what are you planning for Xavier’s party tomorrow? Please tell me you did not get The Rock to fly to Italy again. The last time, we barely escaped the crowds. Who knew The Rock was still so popular?”
“Never underestimate the popularity of grown men in tights,” Logan smirks, flicking the tip of his sister’s nose.
Turns out, it isn’t The Rock Logan brings to Xavier’s fifth birthday party, it’s half a god-damned circus. Trina slaps him on the back of the head when the clowns get there, five of them unfolding out of a too-small car, chasing after Xavier until he’s screaming and running for cover.
Of course, the cover he seeks he finds by climbing his uncle’s leg, shimmying up his thigh like a crazy animal. “Okay, monkey,” Logan growls, swinging Xavier up into the air, tickling his tummy and listening for the high-pitched squeal he’s sure to get.
He tucks Xavier sideways under his arm and twirls him round and round until Trina stops him with a well played, “I’m not cleaning either of you up when he pukes.”
Righting his little nephew, Logan asks if Xavier and his buddies want a ride on the big elephant. As if on cue, the elephant wails, and Xavier shrieks, his little body shaking with excitement, and probably, fear. He slips his hand into Logan’s, and for just a second, Logan feels the pull from something inside. It’s the tiny fingers. The smallness of the little boy at his side. The trust he’s putting in Logan to keep him safe. The fact that in another seven months… .
Xavier looks up at him then, big green eyes. “You too, Unco Lodon?” His face is ruddy, concern tipping his lips into a slight frown.
“Me, too,” Logan says with a persuasive smile, squinting into the afternoon sun. “Just the two of us, partner. But if he squirts water on me, you’re in so much trouble!” Lifting Xavier back into his arms, he strolls over to the small area where the elephant stands, big steel gates closing the animal in, and nods to the keeper. Logan climbs into the wobbling basket first, six tons of unhappy, sweaty beast underneath him, and then the handler lifts Xavier up, Logan reaching out to tuck Xavier safely at his side.
The elephant trumpets again, Trina standing off to one side, frowning hard enough to work a worry line into her brow, but Xavier giggles and waves, screaming “Mommy! Mommy, look!!”
“I see, sweetie,” she smiles, photographer at her side snapping away. She doesn’t look pleased when her eyes meet Logan’s, especially when they start moving. But the laps they do are short, twice around, elephant ears flapping and Xavier all a-jitter with awe.
Climbing down proves to be harder than the climbing up, and Trina laughs herself to tears when Logan lands on his ass. Naturally, that’s when the elephant decides to hose him down for good measure, and he spends the rest of the afternoon covered in muck and filth, but it’s one of the best times he’s ever had.
The park is just succumbing to dark, purple-orange-red scraped deep into the sky, when the big cake is pulled out to the portico, five long sparklers shooting tinny embers over each white and blue tier. Xavier’s on his lap, his father and mother behind the cake, all his tiny friends and their parents filling in behind them. Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ has never felt as… sweet, endearing and meaningful, all the hope and happiness of family glowing in Xavier’s eyes.
It’s good. It’s really, really good. Things finally feel normal. More normal than Logan’s ever known. And it’s not fake, not about the money or privilege, it’s about not being afraid to get a little dirty, to be real, to make dreams for someone, help them realize there’s nothing wrong in reaching. No one had ever given him that. The only one who’d ever come close was Veronica. Maybe, somehow, he could have all that himself. Maybe, just once, he could let himself believe.
“Logan Echolls.” Too many times life’s chosen to imitate art, so when the B-movie cliché interrupts his breakfast, Logan leans back and squints into the sun, taking derisive note of the well-dressed man standing in front of him.
“That’s me,” he says with forged cheer, dropping his newspaper to the table with a haughty chuckle as the other man sits down. “And, please, won’t you join me?”
“So you’re the man who ruined my life?”
Under normal circumstances, Logan might feel guilty. However, the shit-eating grin spreading out across this guy’s face gives Logan a pass. “And you must be Tom.”
“She told me about you, you know?”
“Wish I could say the same,” he says, taking a humored sip of his espresso.
“The bad boy who can’t hold his liquor, or his temper,” Tom says calmly, opening his briefcase to pull out a leather portfolio. He sets it on the table between them; the first page causes Logan to bristle. It’s a clipping from the newspaper, the article about his brief foray into derelict prizefighting when he was a junior in high school. Tom flips to the next page, greeting him with two police reports.
“Ah, The Best Of.” Logan smirks, leaning back to fold his hands behind his head. “Got a pen?”
“Assault, possession, arson, an indictment for murder, all public domain. One search on Google.” Tom laughs, easing himself back in his chair, initiating a similar pose before crossing his legs. Logan’s got to hand it to Veronica; Tom’s attractive, tall, muscular, short black hair and ice blue eyes. Logan’s pretty sure it’s not the package that sold Veronica, though, it’s Tom’s command, his tightly contained pseudo-authority. He reeks of 09’er entitlement. One of Veronica’s maybe not-so-secret little fetishes.
If she hadn’t told him Tom was an investment banker, Logan would have pegged him for government – a politician, Fed, whatever. “Seriously, I didn’t even break a sweat for this information. I have to wonder how hard it’d be to find the rest of the bodies. How deep would I have to dig to find the underage sex or -?” The bells from the church clang violently, sending a flock of birds fluttering into the ageless Mediterranean sky.
“And that marks the end of round one,” Logan snarks, his lips twisting, eyes glowing with amusement. “I think we both know how easy it is to buy false allegations, but that’s the thing with trumped up charges, Tom,” Logan calmly fingers the photos in front of himself. “You have to have some sort of proof. That whole pesky “innocent before proven guilty” thing. If this is the hand you’re holding, you might want to fold.”
“Maybe you’ll like this one a little better,” Tom reaches into his briefcase once more, and pulls out a second leather case. “The funny thing is, Logan, I think she honestly thought she could waltz back in, give me those sweet, sad eyes, a tilt of her head, and just tell me it was over. Tells me she's not only leaving me for you, but she’s pregnant with my child and planning to raise it without me.”
Logan only smirks, imagining Veronica’s daring as she owned-up to Tom. “Of course, she’s delusional.” Tom opens the second file, and Logan blinks back his surprise. He didn’t think it could get much worse, but this time, Tom spreads out Veronica’s past, and it’s almost as bad as his. Different, but still awful. “What court in the country is going to award custody to this?” Tom flips the pages like a slide-show preview, highlighting Veronica’s brief run-ins with Johnny-Law. It all starts with the fake IDs, but there’s a time she got picked up for breaking and entering, five or six charges of assault, trespassing, and one for impersonating a government official.
“Look man,” Logan throws up a staying hand. “I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Veronica’s crap. Trust me when I say, no one knows better than I,” his eyebrows hitch into his hairline as he pushes the folder back towards Tom, “but you don’t want to do this. You know Veronica’s gonna be a great mother. Take it from someone who didn’t have the luxury, they’re pretty rare, especially where we come from.”
“Your mom’s suicide,” Tom says flatly, laying out more clips. “Drug and alcohol abuse, her tragic suicide. Does mental illness run in your family, Logan?”
Logan knows he’s being baited, Tom waving red in an effort to get him to react. A younger Logan Echolls would have kicked his ass already and been done, but Logan’s smart enough to know the guy's just begging for the rope to lynch him with, and he’ll be damned if he gives him a goddamned inch. “Not that I’m aware of, Tom.”
“Huh, funny. I wonder if the same can be said about Veronica’s… I mean, look at Lianne. She was a bigger drunk than your mom. The way she reappeared in Neptune after eight years, went after Celeste Kane, came damn close to putting her into a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She’s serving the rest of her sentence in a minimum-security outside of Modesto.”
“And you must have been pretty comfortable with that, back when you were still introducing Veronica as your fiancée and all.” If Logan only gets one victory, he’ll take this one. The look on Tom’s face is priceless, like he hadn’t been expecting Logan to get the jump on him. “Let me make this crystal clear. If you want to fuck up your child’s life out of spite, it wouldn’t be any kind of surprise. I’ve seen it all, and the abuse people are willing to heap on one another in this crap-pile called life is less than shocking, Tommy-boy. But you go to court with this bullshit,” standing, Logan grabs a handful of papers, flings them in Tom’s face, “and I promise, I’ll bury you with it. The suit may be Dolce, but I can smell wannabe from about five miles away, pal, and my lawyers will have you for lunch.” Logan adjusts his clothes, draws a hand over his wet mouth.
Paper still raining down around him, Tom leans back, folds his arms over his chest and laughs. Deep, dark, twisted, it’s the sound of the brokenhearted, or the heartless, Logan’s not sure which, but he thinks he remembers making it once or twice himself.
He opens his mouth to say something, but his cell starts to vibrate and really, anything at this point would be a welcome interruption. Slipping his hand into his pants pocket, he pulls out his phone, looks at the display. It’s a number he doesn’t recognize, but he’ll be happy to use it as an out. “Yeah, well, as much fun as this has been, I need to take this. Business. I assume you’ll get the check.”
By the time he flips it open, the call’s gone to voicemail, but it’s close enough for him to make it look convincing, giving Tom a back-handed wave over his shoulder. He doesn’t stop walking until he’s in front of his rental on the other side of plaza, his phone pulsating in his hand with the reminder of the message waiting.
”You’ve reached Logan with today’s inspirational message: Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning. Carl Bard.”
“Logan, Wallace. Wallace Fennel. Look, man, I know… I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but… Veronica never showed at Keith’s. I finally got her this morning, on her cell. She says everything’s okay, claims she just got delayed, but somethin's not right, man. I don’t believe her. Listen, I know you and she ... whatever, and you don't owe me anything, but can you please call me back as soon as you get this? I appreciate it, man. Thanks.”
Logan’s almost back to the hotel by the time he listens to the message. With Veronica skipping out on her return trip home, and Tom suddenly popping up in Italy in order to make introductions, Logan’s fairly sure he doesn’t need a crack team of investigators to put it all together.
But the first call isn’t to Wallace. She picks up on the second ring. “Logan,” she breathes, sounding tired, far away.
“Hey. Where are you?”
“Sitting on the couch by the deck.” Logan can tell, even without seeing her, that she’s struggling to keep it together.
“Talk to me,” he says softly, pulling into the circle drive of his hotel. He tosses his keys and a wad of cash to the valet, and makes quick time through the lobby to his room.
“He’s… he says he’s going to take the baby, Logan.”
“When was he there?” Logan’s fuming. The whole time that asshole sat across the table from him, Logan'd assumed he was the first on Tom’s tour. He should have figured Tom would have made Veronica the initial target.
“He showed up about ten minutes after you left.”
“Fuck!” Logan paces the perimeter of his room. “Veronica, I want you to listen to me. Whatever he said, just… ignore it. We’ll handle this. I promise you, we’ll deal with it, okay?” She takes a deep breath and lets go, each gasping hitch a little worse than the one before. “Veronica, shh, hey,” Logan soothes. “I know you’re scared, but I’m not going to let him hurt you or the baby. Listen to me. We’re going to fight him. I’m not going to let him get custody.” He tries to quell the hammer thud of rising panic – his and hers.
Veronica’s nearly silent in her grief, deep mournful gasps as she fights to breathe. “Shh, Veronica, come on. I need you to calm down for me. Please, just relax. I’m going to call your dad-”
“Okay, okay, not Keith,” Logan stops, looks out his window, the sky growing shadowy with nightfall. “Wallace. He called. I’ll call Wallace, I don’t want you alone right now, Veronica. I’m going to see if I can get a flight into LAX tonight, if not, first thing in the morning-”
“But your family, Logan. I don’t… I don’t…” Each sob escaping her throat makes her sound more fragile, more vulnerable.
“It’s fine, Veronica. Just breathe for me, come on. Slow breaths, okay?” Cradling the phone in his hand, he inhales, exhales, does it until she’s doing it with him. “That’s good. Better. Will you be okay while I call Wallace?”
“I’ll be okay, Logan, I don’t need-”
Logan cuts her off before she can be too typically herself about accepting the help, “It’s Wallace or Keith, your choice.” He's stern, but not too – he knows she'll agree to his help, eventually.
“Wallace,” Veronica concedes, blowing out a slow sigh.
“It’s going to be alright, Veronica. Just give me an hour. I’ll call Wallace, try to set up the flight, get a hold of Trina, but if you need me, call me back on my cell or the room phone. Whichever, okay? Just call.”
“Okay,” she says, and even though it’s small, he believes her.
“I love you.” Logan hangs up before she can respond, stands there in a shell-shocked moment. It’s obviously not a good time for spontaneity or sudden reveals, but it dammit if it didn't feel right. Even with every piece out of place in their lives, he still loves her.
“You think they’ll let me stuff you in my bag, peanut?” Logan says to Xavier as he wiggles in Trina’s arms. The little boy giggles and wraps his arms around Logan, begging for his uncle’s attention. Seven hours later, seven long hours spent trying to get him back to the States, and Trina stands with Logan outside the terminal. “Thanks,” he says, giving her a genuine smile. If she hadn’t helped with her connections, he never would have gotten the last available seat on the red-eye.
“What’s a big sister’s for?” she smirks, reaching up to pat his cheek. Her expression turns pensive, her hand sitting idle against his skin. “You’re going to be alright, yeah? A baby, Logan. It’s… it’s a lot.”
Resting his hand over hers, he squeezes her fingers, pulls them away from his face to brush a quick kiss across her knuckles. “It is a lot. I don’t think I’m even done processing it yet, but I love her. I always have. I have no idea what I’m doing,” Logan pulls Trina in with Xavier and hugs them both, “but I think it’s going to be okay.”
When she steps back, there are tears in her eyes, a drop making its way down her cheek. Logan looks lovingly at her, at Xavier, passing him back to Trina’s waiting arms. “Time for me to start a family of my own,” he says, voice thick. Trina nods and together, she and Xavier wave goodbye.