Pairing/Character: Veronica, Logan (platonic, no romance)
Word Count: 2,100 so far
Summary: The five stages of grief.
Spoilers: through "Ruskie Business"
The community page doesn't mention multi-part fics, so I'll take a chance. Please let me know if your policies change! This story has five parts; I've been posting it to my LJ, but I thought I'd share the first two here. I plan to have the rest completed by the end of this week. I've been writing X-Files and BTVS/AtS fic for the past seven years, but this is my first Veronica Mars story. Hope you like it!
The View from the Cheap Seats
He calls so often that she gets him his own ringtone – "Baby One More Time". Logan would get a kick out of that if they were the kind of people who told each other jokes. But they're not, so she mentally pulls out their new phone script.
Him: "Any new leads? Was her card used again?"
Her: "No, sorry. I'll keep looking."
When she hangs up, she vows that next time she'll tell him to stop calling, it's hopeless, just give up and move on. But she's a pot and he's a kettle, and it's not like she's in any position to be calling him black.
Veronica used to think closure was overrated – a crutch for people who couldn't just get over themselves and move on. Now, though, she kinda sees the appeal. Closure is never going to be in the cards for her and Logan. Hell, the door is still wide-open, but lately it's been letting some of the air conditioning out.
And the weirdest part of all this is that Logan's almost been nice lately... at least, in his own Logan-esque way. Calling him nice still sticks in her throat, though. Even back when they were friends, he was still a jackass. "Jerk" plus "Logan" equals two great tastes that taste great together. She should probably like this new twist, but she's too busy waiting for the other shoe to drop.
He drops by the office after school on Thursday, all "How's it goin'?" like they're old friends – which, okay, they had been, but still.
She gives him the standard reply: no more leads on the case, beyond the now-ubiquitous crackpots trying to make a buck off the tabloids. His lip quivers just a little, but it doesn't fall. She almost wants to pity him for holding onto all this false hope – but that would mean pitying herself for doing the same thing, and she's not about to do that.
Then he pulls out his wallet. "I never asked what your standard rates are. How much do I owe you?"
Yeah, the money would come in really handy, but taking it feels strangely wrong. "Don't worry about it."
"God, Veronica." His voice takes on a more typical hard edge. "I told you not to do me any favors. I'm a client, damn it."
"Since when have I ever asked you for any charity?" Here comes a massive headache. "Looking stuff up for you is not a big deal or anything, but if it makes you feel better, I'll send you a bill, okay?"
"Okay," he spits back. So much for the nice-vibes.
As if on cue, Dad walks through the door. He stops short when he notices they have company. "Oh, hello, Logan. I was sorry to hear about your mother."
A long, highly-awkward silence, then Logan mutters, "Everyone's sorry. Nobody wants to do anything about it."
Then he stalks out of the room, an imaginary cape practically twirling around him. He always did love making a big show; he probably got that from Lilly.
Dad leans forward. "What was that all about?"
Veronica sighs. "Just doing a favor for a friend."
For the first fifty miles, she imagines what will happen when she gets to Barstow. The big, touching reunion of mother and daughter, accompanied by violins and tears. A perfect Lifetime Movie of the Week, if it'd been anyone else. She's all angsted-out now, but the rumble of the engine lets her appreciate a little irony.
Obsessing over reunion scenarios has never done her much good, though. Not when Mom's probably long-gone, anyway. So she thinks about other things to make the miles go faster.
A couple of months ago, Logan was sitting a few tables away at lunch. He kept squirming in his seat, and she overheard him telling a friend that he'd gotten bruised playing street hockey. But he leaned forward to grab something, and his shirt rode up to show angry welts on his back.
"Cigarette burns and broken noses," Trina had said. God. She wonders what welts and bruises he'll sport on Monday, once his dad finds out. But they're all scarred, aren't they? At least hers are on the inside.
Still, she decides to change his ringtone later.
What was she saying about getting her hopes up? Oh, yeah: don't.
The worst part is that she's caught up in this ugly mix of fear and frustration. One look at Clarence Wiedman tells her all she needs to know, and though all she wants is to grab Mom and run as far away as possible, she can't. It won't end well, to put it mildly. She has a taser, but he probably has a gun.
She's always prided herself on standing up to anything the bastards threw at her, but now all she can do is back down. Self-preservation, sure, but more for Mom's sake than anything else.
And still the fear coils through her belly, chasing up her throat until she's biting back a scream, a sob.
Wiedman leaves, thank God, but she doesn't kid herself that he's far away. So she leans in and whispers in her mother's ear: "If you need anything, call me." It sounds so inadequate, so stupid, but what else can she say? A quick kiss on Mom's cheek, too close to see her face because that would just make Veronica dissolve into a crying mess, and then she says, "I love you."
Legs barely holding her up, she starts the long walk to the cantina's door and walks through it, with one last long glance at her mother. It's all she can do, but this is far from over. She only hopes this buys her – and Mom – some time.
She holds back the tears and screams until she's twenty miles from Barstow.
When she gets back home, she tells Dad that she had a great time sleeping over at Meg's house.
After he goes to his weekly softball game, she makes sure his guns are still stashed in the bedside table and the cutlery drawer, and she maps out all of the apartment's escape routes.
It only takes a few days for things to get back to their twisted version of "normal", but she counts each moment with the pounding heartbeat in her ears, the glances over her shoulder. And she hates herself for backing down, letting go, but she knows when she's been bested. Caught between a Kane and a hard place. If she's going to take them on, she needs more ammo, more clarity of vision. It'll happen soon, and she'll be ready.
On Monday morning, she somehow manages to get a "B+" on her biology test. Small miracles, huh? Meg slides onto the bench next to her at lunch, and Veronica tries not to cringe.
"Uh, Veronica? I'm sorry it didn't even occur to me until now, but are you okay with me and Duncan?"
Deep breath. Focus. It's not Meg's fault. She's a real friend, remember?
She pastes on a smile. "It's okay. Really. Just a few residual ex-boyfriend-moving-on issues." Before Meg can try to pry into that, she adds, "But if he's going to get together with anyone, I'm glad it's you."
Meg hugs her. That feels incredibly weird. She's never had friends who hug. She thinks maybe she likes it. Maybe.
She doesn't see Logan again until after school. He's stalking through the parking lot, and all the other students give him a wide berth while whispering to each other. Schadenfreude rears its ugly head, and she's kinda glad to see him getting a taste of his own ostracism medicine. Yeah, she can be petty sometimes, despite all she's learned about him in the past week.
When she gets to her own car, her keys fall to the pavement. She crouches down to get them, then glances up to find Logan staring at her from twenty feet away. Her heart skips; he's either going to totally ignore her or start yelling. She knows a good defense mechanism when she sees one.
Except he surprises her. Again. All he does is look at her, his face neutral. No glares, no smiles. His hand twitches as if he's going to wave at her, but then he turns and walks away.
Typical Logan. That's a good sign, right?
But her heart's as heavy as her foot on the gas pedal as she speeds out of the parking lot, on her way to the office to figure out how to sort out this messy life.
(To be continued)