Title: Ever the Same
Word Count: 1,331
Rating: PG-13 for one naughty word.
Summary: Veronica has files on everyone. It’s how she organizes her life, lists of facts.
Spoilers/Warnings: Post-Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough but there are no spoilers.
A/N: Thanks insunshine for peeking at it.
Veronica collects information and saves it like the pieces of a puzzle that’s been separated from its box. Sure, it’s harder to put together when you don’t have the picture to guide you - but any experienced puzzle-solver will tell you that when you find the right pieces, the whole picture will fall into place.
For weeks after she kissed Logan on the balcony at the Camelot, Veronica accepted the new feelings she had for him even as they seemed to contradict everything she knew. She hated his guts but she couldn’t stop thinking about the way his lips felt on hers or the way his hands knew just where to hold her to make her feel safe.
She feels a little like that now with Weevil. They’ve settled into a comfortable routine; he calls her and asks if she wants to hang out or he shows up at her dad’s office with food. Sometimes she drives by his house when she can’t sleep and stops if his bedroom light is still on.
She’d never really thought about it before, the unspoken alliance that had always existed between them, the understanding that either would drop whatever they were doing at a moment’s notice to bail the other out. It just was. He’s always been there, in the background, a phone call away…and now it’s the same, but better.
They are friends.
She has files on everyone. It’s how she organizes her life, lists of facts.
She’s started a new list, one she’s keeping in her head for now, until she figures out what it all means. It’s nothing major…just little things, like the fact that Weevil has seen every episode of Buffy…twice…and he sings in the car…louder when he has an audience.
He doesn’t require much sleep, (or that’s what she assumes given the number of times he calls her after midnight.)
She keeps a call log to track phone calls and conversations with certain people of interest. She’s not paranoid, but those puzzle pieces don’t just pop out wearing a bow and a tag like a present. People might say things that won’t be useful for weeks or months. The little details are important.
Calls from Wallace don’t make the list.
Calls from anyone involved with the Kane family do.
Calls from Mac usually don’t make the list.
Calls from Logan do.
Calls from Weevil…used to, but it’s been a while since a phone call from Weevil warranted any sort of notation.
She can see it now.
7:34 a.m.: Weevil wants coffee. Will meet at the flagpole.
10:47 a.m.: (text message) Weevil complaining about sub in Hauser’s class.
5:00 p.m.: Dinner invite. Mrs. Navarro’s tamales.
8:13 p.m.: Weevil wants to know if I’m watching the Victoria Secret runway show on Fox. (Weevil is a perv.)
The list is getting longer.
Weevil “can’t remember” how he got his nickname and when he insists on his forgetfulness, he grins in a way that tells her he’s a big, fat liar.
He cried when he got his first tattoo.
Every other Saturday he takes his niece and her best friend to Chuck E. Cheese. (She went with him last weekend.) He eats ranch with his pizza. He is terrible at skee-ball but he schooled her in Air Hockey four of five games. She isn’t sure he didn’t let her win that last one.
He can dance.
She’s at a party at his house, a “going away” or a “welcome home”. She isn’t sure. The house is full of family – uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and kids everywhere.
“I don’t even know how we’re all related…we just are,” he’d said with a laugh.
“Must be nice.”
“Uh oh. Here comes my Tio Luis. He’s going to make you dance with him.”
“I don’t dance.”
“You’ll hurt his feelings. And trust me, he’ll give you an A for effort.”
Weevil’s Tio Luis is easily 60 years old and obviously harmless so she’d taken his hand and allowed him to lead her to the center of the patio as he’d smiled and said something in Spanish that sounded complimentary.
The song, something about a black shirt, had been easy enough to move to and she’d smiled bashfully as people around her smiled and clapped their approval to the beat of the music.
This isn’t bad.
The song ends and the DJ plays a salsa. Cheers of appreciation erupt from Weevil’s dancing family and from the look of things, Veronica is out of her league.
“That’s my cue,” she says with a smile. She squeezes her partner’s arm and thanks him.
“The pleasure was mine,” he says as she makes a beeline for the table but Weevil is waiting at the edge of the patio.
“Not so fast,” he says, taking her around the waist and leading her back into the fray.
“I can’t dance to this,” she laughs but he doesn’t let go.
“You can…just follow me.” He holds her close to his body and she does her best to keep up. She’s sure she’s committing some sort of crime against the art of salsa but Weevil is whispering encouragements in her ear and she can tell without actually watching him dance that he’s got enough moves for both of them.
He takes longer to get ready than she does.
“You said you’d be here at six,” he says as he lets her in the house. He’s in jeans and bare feet.
“It IS six!” She points to her watch. “Put some clothes on, boy.”
“I’ll be right out.”
It’s kind of dark in the living room but the bright, red heart stands out next to the plain tats in dark ink. Veronica’s heart quickens but she calms herself with a breath.
It makes sense, she thinks to herself. It’s Weevil. He gets tattoos.
She follows him into the back of the house. “Hey…wait up.”
“What’s up?” he asks as he turns around.
“Your tattoo,” she says softly.
Recognition registers on his face, then tension and resignation.
“Yeah,” he says, his voice quiet, like that would explain it all and she is quiet too.
This is how it is now, how the memories come. She goes hours or days at a time sometimes without feeling it. It’s always there…the cold hard truth, the fact: Lilly is gone, like a constant dull ache; but then the gut-level pain that takes the wind out of her appears from nowhere and Veronica misses her.
“Things are so messed up, V. There are so many things that are so fucked up right now and I feel so guilty because it all started with Lilly.” He sits on the bed and rubs his hands through his hair. “I get so angry at her sometimes.”
She’s always taken his honesty as professional courtesy, and she’s sure he knows, as she does, that people with secrets make the best secret-keepers.
But this isn’t strategy. It isn’t business. He’s crying.
She presses a kiss to his bare shoulder and rests her forehead there, silently willing him to understand that she knows. He shifts beneath her. When she looks up, she thinks that she could add his eyes to the list, the way she can always see this sad mix of pain and hope there.
He kisses her…once, and it’s a whole kiss, complete, his soft lips on hers assertive, confident; his tongue finds hers for a half of a second and it’s over. He smiles, a sad smile and she knows they are on the same page, no questions.
The night is cool and breezy and as they walk to Weevil’s car, he quietly takes her hand in his. Their fingers lace together perfectly and Veronica decides that there are some lists that aren’t worth keeping, that maybe not everything in her life is a puzzle that needs figuring out.
Maybe some pictures are already clear and it’s just a matter of looking at them the right way.