Characters: Veronica, Logan, ensemble
Ship: Veronica/Logan, Veronica/Piz
Spoilers: Through 3.09
Words: 18,661 altogether
Summary: A freshman year at Hearst and the cyclical nature of love
Disclaimer: Not mine
Author’s Note: First foray into VM. All mistakes are mine
Their summer is as close to carefree as Veronica comes these days. As the sun wanes over Neptune and Logan gets accepted to Hearst, Veronica allows herself to daydream about what she's strived toward for so long, what kept her going through the worst of high school: College, and maybe even a fresh start.
She reads on the beach while Logan surfs in the mornings, inhaling novels and nonfiction that she's put off reading in favor of cases in the past. College is all about expanding your horizons, she tells herself. She wants to be ready.
She'll finally be free of the '09ers, she'll discuss literature and art and music over coffee, she'll meet people who aren't just interested in getting blasted five nights a week. All this, and with Mac and Wallace.
And Logan. She doesn't have to lose Logan.
Heaven, she lets herself think.
Yeah, that was definitely her first mistake. She sees that now.
Veronica lets Piz kiss her a month after she and Logan split up. They go to art shows and lectures and discuss them over coffee at Common Grounds, a funky little coffee shop right on the south side of campus. Piz likes to talk about politics and literature and Important Issues. They hang at the radio station and he plays her the songs he's working on while she cracks jokes about his Beatles haircut. Soon she's calling him her boyfriend and spending nights in his room, much to Wallace's dismay.
Her relationship with Piz is what a college relationship should be, she thinks. Chill and even-keeled and not-too-serious. Piz isn't trying to stake a claim on her. He doesn't interfere with her investigations and he doesn't pry into all her secrets. He doesn't fucking ask questions all the fucking time. Mostly, they talk about classic rock and South Park and Piz's rock star fantasies. She thinks this is better.
This is easy. This is fine.
Logan and Veronica's lazy summer melts into the bustle of the new school year and Veronica's already made more enemies than friends. But she's still surprised at how smoothly she's transitioning.
She sneaks away as often as she can. Little white lies to her father: she's crashing at Mac's after a late party, at all night study sessions in the library, accidentally fell asleep in the student union.
But she' sure Dad's caught on by now, cause the Grand is the first place he calls when she doesn't come home. He's been surprisingly good about it for a man who usually threatens her boyfriends with a shotgun and especially as the man who actually physically threw this particular boyfriend out of her house once before. She knows he's trying to let her absences go, because if they could afford it she'd be at Stanford or at least living in the Hearst dorms and he wouldn't know anything at all about her late night dalliances with anyone.
She can't help but feel guilty about wanting to be elsewhere because he's her father and he's all alone in that house but it's getting harder and harder for her to kiss Logan goodnight and leave at the end of the evenings they spend together.
It doesn't help that the bed at the Grand has the most comfortable mattress she's ever slept on. There's just no way that her twin waterbed with its little-girl comforter can compete with a queen-size adjustable pillow-top with like million-thread sheets and a warm, sleepy (naked) Logan in it.
She loves curling up with Logan at night and even though she won't admit it to herself, she misses his warmth against her side when she's alone in her own bed. Some nights she aches for his presence, considers sneaking out the window and driving back to the Grand just to chase away the sad, hollow feeling. Those nights usually happen when she's just come from his bed still smelling like sex and his cologne.
It's easier to sleep if she hasn't seen him that day, if she can separate the idea of Logan, her boyfriend, from the actual physicality of him, from his eyes and his biceps and his smell. It's easier to just be Veronica Mars, busy college student, and she can drift off while mentally outlining a paper or working through a case instead of curling her arms around her pillow and wishing it had his warm solidity.
Wanting him is anything but convenient.
But neither of them sleeps well anyway, not since that night on the roof, so she's all too glad to sacrifice her rest to see him. And on the nights when they're apart and she's sure sleep isn't coming, she'll send him a text; they both set their phones to vibrate each night and leave them on the nightstand.
'r u awake?' she asks silently over phone lines and if he's still staring up at his patterned ceiling he'll read it and smile and hit 'call.' They spend those nights teasing in hushed voices, talking about nothing until one of them falls asleep. She just likes to hear him breathe in her ear. It's silly and high school, but somehow she likes it.
They've spent too many nights this summer playing "Tell me a secret," a stupid game that Lilly made up after Veronica's freshmen year. It's 'Truth or Dare' without the dares... or the uncomfortable questions you'd rather avoid.
"Truth or Dare is so last year," Lilly'd drawled from behind her huge sunglasses as they lounged by the pool. "None of you ever ask good questions and you miss out on all my fabulous escapades." Duncan had rolled his eyes and Veronica had smiled and Logan just kept splashing around in the pool, boisterous as ever. But they'd gone along with it, and that's how she'd found out that Duncan was afraid of spiders, that Lilly'd once replaced Celeste's moisturizer with hemorrhoid cream, and that Logan still owned the entire library of CareBears priced-to-own videocassettes.
Logan had once noted bitterly that Lilly'd probably just wanted to avoid any awkward questions about cheating on him with Weevil or, you know, fucking his dad. She always liked having all the power. Veronica hadn't said anything, had just stared at him and then walked away, black heels clicking down the linoleum of the courthouse hallway.
Veronica isn't sure why they keep playing; she's starting to think that it's because she and Logan aren't good at serious or good at sharing and that somehow treating it all like a stupid kid's game makes it easier for them to tell each other things.
"Tell me a secret," Logan murmurs into her ear at 3 am on a Tuesday and the lazy smile in his voice warms her down to her toes. “I want to know everything.”
She stretches out a little in her bed, curling the phone closer to her ear. "What kind of secret?"
"A good one. Happy."
She smiles a little as she thinks. "I was wearing a thong today. Pink. With a bow on the front."
He huffs his laughter into the receiver. "As thrilling as that piece of information is, it doesn't count as a secret as I distinctly remember tossing said thong onto the dashboard during our little lunch break this afternoon."
"Ah, yes. Well, you've uncovered my clever ruse, Mr. Echolls. I'm stalling for time. You’ve already heard most of the big ones." She rolls over, contemplating her white-washed ceiling. Hmm. "Ok. Here's one." She rolled onto her stomach. "I was actually kind of disappointed when Dad brought Back-up home for Christmas. I really wanted a kitten. I was going to name it Snowball."
She hears his snort. "You've got to be kidding me."
"Nope. But Dad managed to convince me that a dog was much more useful. Turns out he was right."
"Well, a cat named Snowball wouldn't maul the denizens of Neptune's seedy underbelly on command, that's for sure. Though it'd certainly be more your size. Back-up is way too much dog for you."
His voice is light and playful, but she notes the thread of unease running under the current of his words.
She 'hmphs' a bit at the dig but lets it go because it's been a good day and she's very cozy and starting to fall asleep. "Tell me a secret. Your choice."
Logan is silent for a long moment and she bites back a sad sigh, thinking she knew this was coming tonight. Bad secrets. She felt it lurking in his touch this morning; saw it in the hollowness of his eyes when she showed up at his door for breakfast. She thinks he's been having nightmares and she wanted to ask earlier but he'd already launched into some diatribe about his Econ professor from Hell so she'd let it go.
Now that his father is dead she can see Logan starting to heal, little by little. Without the looming specter of Aaron, Logan's wearing short sleeves when its warm instead of always hiding under layers and his bad-boy jackets. He's stopped dying his hair into that streaky surfer-asshole mix that he favored in high school and is sticking to his natural brown. He's even traded in his X-Terra eyesore, moving up to a still gas-guzzling but more sedate black Range Rover. It's Logan Echolls, the college edition.
She understands what he's doing because she's done it too; the day she ran into her bathroom and hacked off her hair is still crystal-clear in her memory. She knows what it's like to shield yourself through your appearance, to create a persona no one will look past so you can hide and lick your wounds.
Clothes, hair, and attitude: they're such easy ways to misdirect. She can see him shedding his old persona bit by bit, with the new (and maybe the real) Logan peeking through more each day.
A week ago she realized her hair is nearly as long as it was before Lily died and maybe that means she’s shedding her own armor as well.
This secrets game they play feels like blood-letting: they open up tiny cuts to let the poison building inside them flow out a little at a time. She wonders if it's possible to bleed it all dry, bleed away rape and murder and betrayal til your veins run clear.
He breathes a shaking sigh over the tinny cell connection and Veronica holds her breath, trying not to shatter this moment. When he speaks, his voice is casual and she knows it's easier for him to do this over the phone because she can't see his eyes. They don't talk about this in person. It's their unspoken rule.
"One time I was home with Aaron for a couple weeks, which didn't happen all that often because he was on-location all the time. I was ten, I think, and Mom was off shooting some Lifetime cancer extravaganza. Aaron told me to go to bed but I didn't go fast enough, I guess. He grabbed my arm, knocked me around, and locked me in the pantry all night and most of the next day. In the dark. I slept with the lights on for a month."
Veronica lets the words wash over her silently because she knows that pity isn't what he needs. He needs to speak the words, to let his secrets out into the air without judgment. Maybe he's told Trina but Trina wouldn't have believed him. Trina probably laughed.
While she doesn't like to remember it, Veronica knows how it feels to be abandoned, mocked by the people supposed to protect you. Some days she thinks that seeing Lamb's face that morning in the Sheriff's office after Shelley's party is the worst thing she's ever experienced. Worse than seeing your best friend's body, worse than being locked in flaming refrigerator by your ex-boyfriend's psychotic father. There's nothing like knowing that you're totally alone with no good guys coming to save you because the good guys don't care.
Well, at least now she has a better idea of why he keeps that trippy ocean light on over his bed while they sleep.
As Logan's breathing evens over the line she offers a version of her usual benediction up into the silence. "I'm glad he's gone."
Logan laughs a little and the sound of it is strained, brittle. They fall asleep together, phones against their ears.
She'd been worried that sex with someone new would be unfulfilling, especially considering her ex-boyfriend's wealth of sexual experience and near lack of inhibition. But sex with Piz is surprisingly good after they get past the initial awkwardness. Different, but good. He’s always gentle, always sweet. He knows his way around in bed, and she's usually warmly satisfied by the time they tumble back down into the sheets.
And Piz is smoking hot. Hotter than her last boyfriend, she tells herself over and over again. He's the kind of guy you see in magazines, not like Logan, who was all long, sharp, boyish lines. Piz has movie star good looks, like a young Rob Lowe, all pretty blue eyes and strong, chiseled features. And speaking of chiseled: Piz is seriously ripped.
Yeah, things with Piz are good. He's sweet and fun and a considerate lover.
This is easy. This is fine.
They eat lunch in the union and Logan ignores her, finishing an assignment for composition that has to be handed in ten minutes from now. He's scribbling as he shoves another fry in his face, and Veronica can't help but be a little annoyed.
"How's it going?"
He grunts in response and keeps writing. She huffs a little.
"You know, maybe you should have finished this last night instead of playing GTA with Dick for like, five hours." The words actually come out sounding pissier than she meant them too, and Logan finally looks up at her.
"I know, I'm sorry." He shakes out his hand a little and runs his hands through his hair, frustrated. "But he just came over and wouldn't leave. I didn't want to kick him out."
Veronica is a little surprised to realize that she's actually kind of angry about it, so she doesn't say anything and just sips noisily at her drink even though it's all ice now. He works for another couple of minutes, finally sighing and tossing his pen down on the table in front of them.
"Best I can do," he says and then he's sweeping up all their stuff and is halfway to the trashcan before she can even stand up. They walk downstairs together so Logan can leave the paper in the professor's drop-box and then they head back toward the main entrance.
Veronica is studiously ignoring him since she's still irritated that he insisted on having lunch together and then totally blew her off, which is why she's taken by surprise when Logan stops short and she bumps into his arm. "Shit," he says and she looks up to see what's wrong.
Outside the lobby's glass doors is what is quite possibly a monsoon. Rain sheets down so hard that Veronica can't even see the other side of the quad. "What the hell?" She stomps her foot a little, because she's in a tank top since it was hot and sunny this morning.
"Shit," Logan says again, and when she looks up at him he's looking at her skirt. "You're going to freeze. Where's your car?"
Veronica groans at the realization. "The far garage, behind Benedict. I had a late class."
Logan nods and bops up and down a little, jiggling his keys in his pocket with that boundless Echolls energy. "My car's closer. I'll drive you over."
Veronica nods in agreement and thanks god for her decision to leave her laptop in the car. She's not sure it would survive the downpour. Logan starts walking towards the exit and she has to run a little to follow him. He stops in front of the door and hitches his track jacket up over his head. "Get under."
Veronica quirks a curious eyebrow at him. "What?"
He gestures in the vicinity of his armpit. "We can share the jacket; it's better than nothing."
She wants to point out that his flimsy excuse for a jacket will maybe keep them dry for all of five seconds, but instead just decides to appreciate the opportunity to get close to him. She presses against his side, wrapping her arms around his waist and he pulls the jacket over and around them. They push through the door and into the drenching rain towards Logan's car.
After five minutes they're both soaked and finally Logan pulls away, laughing. "Okay, so that actually didn't work as well as I envisioned," he half-shouts over the splatter of water against the sidewalk, and he has to wipe his face to stop the raindrops sluicing down his face. "Maybe we should just run."
Veronica shrugs, since it's not like they're going to get any wetter. He laces his fingers through hers and tugs her into a jog. As soon as they can see the car, Logan beeps the doors open and drops her hand, breaking into a sprint. She tries to hold back the laughter that bubbles out of her at the sight of Logan attempting to run in wet flip-flops and waterlogged jeans, but the absurdity cannot be overcome.
Finally, finally they're out of the rain and Logan cranks the heat up full blast. Veronica looks down at her clothes, literally sopping wet, and notes the water puddling onto the leather seats with dismay.
Logan, less concerned with the state of his upholstery, shucks off his dripping tee and starts ringing it out onto the floor. For a moment Veronica is transfixed, slightly horrified by his display of typical-teenage-boy disregard for his property, but then her gaze catches on the way his biceps move under the freckled skin of his shoulders. She touches her tongue to her lips. Her mouth is dry.
Logan finally notices her gaping at him and misunderstands. "C'mon Veronica, I'll just get the interior detailed again. No big-" and she silences him by pressing her lips against his. He freezes, surprised, and then begins to respond in earnest. She feels his lips slide into a grin and she pulls back when she ends up kissing the slick surface of his teeth.
He shakes his head, still grinning his stupid smug grin. "I thought you were pissed at me."
She narrows her eyes and reaches for him again. He dodges her hands, pressing back against the window. "Seriously though," he continues, raising one eyebrow at her. "I can end all our stupid fights just by taking my shirt off? Cause that's a really good thing for me to know."
Veronica tries to keep glaring at him, but his hair is plastered to his forehead and her blood is thrumming for him and she starts to laugh. "Well, it helps that you're wet."
Logan looks down at his torso, possibly evaluating his own attractiveness, she can't be sure, and she takes the opportunity to wrap her hand around the back of his neck and pull him into a searing kiss.
When they finally pull apart Logan leans in to nip at her neck, but she pushes against his chest. "Back seat. Now."
His eyes flash merrily at her and that smug grin is back. "Yes, ma'am!" he throws back over his shoulder as he climbs over the divider, shucking his jeans off as he goes.
Veronica pulls her shirt and bra up and over her head, silently offering up a prayer of thanks that Logan went for the super-dark tint on the windows. She follows him over the divider and he pulls her into his lap, settling her legs around him as rain beats down on the roof. He claims her lips eagerly as she wiggles closer, running her hands up his chest and tickling the sparse dark hairs.
She moans a little in anticipation as his fingers drag up her thighs , taking her skirt with them and bunching it around her waist. The sounds only seem to encourage him and he presses fervent kisses against her collarbone as she nips at his earlobe.
"What do you want," he gasps a little and he's already so hard between her legs, she can feel him through his boxers. She needs the friction and she grinds down against him. The pressure against his cock makes Logan’s hands tighten convulsively on her ass as he whines a little in the back of his throat.
"Hard," Veronica breathes against his neck. "And fast."
"Oh, Christ yes," he groans in agreement, and one hand finds its way between her legs. She tugs at his boxers, managing to get them down far enough so his erection springs free. Her fingers slide around him and she squeezes gently, making him grunt. "You are my best girlfriend."
Smiling, she bites his neck hard as his fingers push away her panties. "I better be your only girlfriend."
His forehead presses against hers, and she looks up to meet his eyes as his hair tickles her face. "Always," he says, with that intensity in his voice and his face and his eyes that makes her suddenly feel a little nauseous. His dark eyes pull her in but she's terrified of him when he's like this, so single-mindedly dedicated to her. They're too young for this, too fickle, and she's desperate to break the spell so she grinds down on his lap and leans in to press wet, sloppy kisses under his chin. Soon he is pressing inside her and her moment of panic is forgotten in the hot slide of their bodies.
She lets the muscles of her neck go loose as he thrusts into her, his hands guiding her hips as they move together. Her head lolls back and good, he feels so good.
"Christ, Veronica," he grits out, leaning down to capture a nipple in his teeth. She digs her fingernails hard, too hard, into his shoulders, her inner muscles clenching at the sound of his answering gasp. She likes how Logan embraces pain, how it turns him on.
She moans his name, low and needy, which Logan interprets correctly as a plea for more. He tilts her body back so her head rests against the front seat, changing the angle of their bodies. The shift inside her makes her whimper with pleasure. He picks up the pace, slamming into her so she slams hard against the seat every time and his fingers are brushing her clit and everywhere, and god it's incredible.
She comes, panting out his name and clutching at him as he shudders in her arms, groaning something she doesn't understand.
Afterwards he gathers her up into his arms and, Jesus, they're in the back of a Range Rover but she was up all night writing a paper and is so satisfied and sleepy and warm that she doesn't protest when he settles her against his chest, her head tucked under his chin as his hands smooth down her back. The steady splatter of rain against the windows drives everything out of her mind and she slips softly into oblivion, lips resting on his collarbone.
She wakes slowly to the sound of uneven snuffling. Confused, she has to shake herself, get her bearings. She's still sitting pressed against Logan, who's snoring softly, head tipped back against the leather seats.
She shifts experimentally, grimacing as tingling pain shoots through her lower calves and feet. Falling asleep straddling someone apparently makes for intense pins and needles. Finally orienting herself, she notices the silence. The streets outside the truck are dark and Veronica catches the soft green reflection of the dashboard LED clock in the window.
She thumps Logan on the arm as she scrambles off his lap, pulling down her skirt. "Logan." He grumbles a little, and she swats him again. His fingers circle her wrist, catching her as she's about to hit him again, and he pins her with an irritated glare.
"We fell asleep. I was supposed to be at the library over an hour ago!"
Logan blinks, still hazy and not at all caring, and rubs at his eyes. "So blow it off, you've already missed half your shift. Tell them your car broke down or something. Let's go home."
Something wells up inside her, frustration and disappointment and embarrassment all at once. It clenches in her chest and suddenly she's angry at him, really angry. For what, she isn't sure; maybe for making irresponsibility sound so appealing. Or maybe for having so much power over her that she'll jump him in the back seat of his car with little or no provocation.
Whatever it is, her hands are nearly shaking with it as she reaches for her shirt, and her mouth pulls tight in a grim line.
"You're so..." she grits out and she feels him tense next to her at the tone of her voice. She shakes her head and grabs the door handle yanking it open so she can walk around to the front seat. She slams the heavy door behind her and crosses her arms tightly over her chest. "Could you just take me to the library?"
He sits silent for a long moment and guilt washes over and through her. He didn't deserve that, not really, but she isn't quite sure how to apologize or if she even wants to. Logan gets out of the car wearing nothing but his boxers and slides into the front seat, not looking at her. They drive in silence and when the car rolls to a stop at the long stone steps in front of the building, his knuckles whiten, fingers clenching around the wheel.
"Veronica..." he starts, conciliatory.
"Not right now." She tries not to meet his eyes. "Later. I just... I have to go." She slides out of the car, jogging up the steps without a backwards glance. She pretends not to care when she hears the engine rev, instead concentrates on her silent plea to not be fired. She needs this job.
Later, as she goes methodically through the return cart, she pauses over "Walden and Resistance to Civil Government" to think.
She gets frustrated with how directionless Logan is, how he seems to just drift through college like he did through high school. He parties with Dick and Mercer and he tries to get her back to his hotel room as much as possible. He's not interested in clubs or lectures or all that college has to offer, and Veronica can't help but feel like he's dragging her down with him.
College is supposed to be different. She's supposed to hang out with professors and talk about literature, preferably while sipping coffee from gigantic, soup-bowl sized cups. People in her classes are supposed to be thoughtful and well-spoken. People are supposed to have fun without going through five kegs a night.
All that was supposed to end when she left Neptune High. No more stupid, pointless parties and shallow, vapid people.
She knows that's what college is supposed to be like, and she knows that those interesting, thoughtful people are out there. Those chances are out there. But she's never going to have those experiences if she's just hanging in bed with Logan at the Grand all the time.
Things are going to change, she decides.
Veronica knew she would miss Logan when they broke up. She's gone through it before, when they broke up the first time and again when Duncan left, and she survived. She'll get through it again and the pain will fade and she'll move on, just like people are supposed to.
But somehow, this time isn't the same as any of the other times.
When she broke up with Logan that first July, he was still there all the time. In her classes, by her locker, sniping at her and glaring across the quad. But on a big campus she really doesn't see him at all, and maybe that's why this is different.
Veronica is constantly surprised at how specifically she misses Logan. With Duncan, it was a general sort of melancholy that just sort of settled over her heart as she walked off the pier and away from him forever. But this, this is a thousand little things a day that make her think of Logan, just sort of pricking at her consciousness.
Piz's sleeves are always a little short, flapping around his wrists as he gestures expansively and, out of nowhere she'll wish they were longer, just so they hung a little over his hands.
The janitor in the library talks like David Hassellhoff and Veronica can barely contain her glee, but when she busts out her impression at lunch with Wallace, Mac, and Parker, she only gets a few raised eyebrows. Obviously, no one else appreciates the Hoff the way Logan did.
Veronica likes sleeping on her side, but Piz says it makes his shoulder fall asleep. He sleeps on his back and she has to curl up around him. She misses Logan's fondness for spooning; his breath tickling her hair and arms heavy around her waist, how he would carefully align their hips and curl against her back.
She even misses how he mumbles in his sleep, even though it always pissed her off when he woke her up in the middle of the night muttering nonsensically about ceiling fans.
This is silly, Veronica thinks. She's romanticizing their relationship. Remember the good and forget the bad, that's what people always do, right? She should just talk to him. She should be the bigger person. They can still be friends.
When Piz asks if she wants to go with him to the Pi Sig April Fool's blowout, she surprises herself and agrees. She thinks Piz looks a little surprised too, but to his credit he lets it go. She attempts to convince herself that she really is in the mood for debauchery and isn't going just to make some kind of overture to Logan, who's sure to be hanging with Dick.
So she, Piz, Wallace, Parker, and a reluctant Mac head to the house on Friday night. There's a Journey cover band, and Piz immediately drags her over to chat up the keyboardist and the sound guys, who are lounging around smoking on the patio in between sets. After learning way more about Jack, the sound board operator, and his own band that "sometimes play covers, but mostly do techno dance riffs" than Veronica ever wanted to know, she pats Piz on the arm and leaves him chatting animatedly, off in search of the bar.
There's chanting and thumping coming from the living room and Veronica follows the sound. Wherever there are loud boys, there's usually booze. The room is packed to bursting. Several tables for flip-cup are arranged around the space, and with a pang she recognizes a dark head bent over the longest, rowdiest one.
"Champagne fill-up, dudes and dudettes," Dick crows from the head of the table. "This round is men vs. ladies, so mosey those pretty little asses over to the far side of the table." He punctuates this with a playful slap to Bonnie's behind as she brushes past him, and he takes his place next to Logan, who throws a careless arm around Dick's shoulders.
Veronica debates whether or not to approach him. He looks good, happy, and she isn't sure how he'd respond to seeing her. They haven't really talked since just after Valentine's Day. Plus, judging by the way he's chugging down champagne, he's drunk and drunk Logan isn't something she wants to deal with right now. Drunk Logan is wildly unpredictable, and Veronica doesn't like unpredictable. Veronica likes to be two steps ahead.
She makes her way to the bar instead, stopping to watch the crowd on the patio go wild as the band kicks into "Don't Stop Believin," and shakes her head in amusement as a junior from her Criminology class awkwardly attempts a stage dive.
Her amusement is short-lived- a surprised shout pulls her attention back to the room, and she freezes.
Logan has a big, beefy Pi Sig pinned against the wall, his forearm pressed into the guy's windpipe. "You piece of trash," he snarls, and pulls backward in a whirl of plaid to deck the brother in the face. The entire room is still, everyone watching in stunned silence as Logan and the meathead grapple with each other.
"What the hell, man?!" the guy shouts, and Logan lands a punch in his stomach.
"I saw you slip something in that girl's drink, you fucking trash!" Logan lunges as he shouts, grabbing for him again but the rest of the Pi's have finally collected their wits, getting hold of Logan and heaving him off the guy. They look to Chip.
"Get him out of here," he shakes his head disdainfully, and the two guys haul a struggling Logan down the hallway. Veronica looks around but doesn't see any of her friends. Cursing under her breath she follows them, reaching the door just in time to see the guys toss Logan down the stairs and onto the sidewalk.
She watches from the porch as he sits slowly, coming to rest with his hands and head hanging between his knees.
"Are you alright?"
He's up like a shot at the sound of her voice, muscles strung tight. She can see now that he's shaking, practically vibrating with anger.
"Veronica Mars," he bites out. "Just in time to witness yet another of my worst moments."
She simply watches him, arms crossed against her chest as she leans casually against the porch railing. "You promised you were done with fighting."
A short, bitter laugh escapes him. "Since when do you expect me to keep my promises? I'm bad to the bone, remember? Isn't that what you always think?" His voice is so acerbic that she really wishes she hadn't come outside, but someone had to make sure he's okay.
She doesn't answer him, just watches, and he deflates a little. "You don't get to care about what I do. You dumped me this time. You dumped me and you just left me, alone, no ride, in Napa. You don't get to care."
His nose is bleeding and the contrast of the red blood and his pale face illuminated by the single streetlight makes something curl in her, low and warm in her stomach. She thinks it might be lust, and that pisses her off.
"You had plenty of money. And plenty of friends to help you out."
He flinches a little and a muscle in his jaw ticks as he stares determinedly at the ground, clenching his fists methodically as he cools down.
"You can't just go around punching people, Logan."
He meets her gaze, unblinking, and his body is finally still. "I'm always going to punch people who deserve it. He tried to drug that girl."
"You're going to get seriously hurt."
His mouth tightens into a thin, angry line and she's struck a nerve. "You know better than anyone that I'm not afraid of pain."
And then he's walking off into the inky blackness of the night without a backwards glance. Veronica stays on the porch, watching the white soles of his tennis shoes until they fade away down the sidewalk.
They'd just sort of fallen back together after Mercer was thrown in jail. Any resolve Logan might have had to stay broken up had dissolved when Veronica had shown up at his door the night after Wallace bailed him out of jail. The bruises from the attack still shone dark at her temple, and he'd helplessly gathered her up in his arms as she embraced him tightly. All Veronica wanted then was to get back to normal, and this year, normal meant Logan.
But their old problems still hung over them, dark clouds on the horizon. Veronica couldn't trust him, couldn't let him close, and Logan kept pushing, pushing, pushing, and soon enough it all came to an ugly, terrible head in the parking lot of a plush hotel in Napa where they were fulfilling the dual purpose of a taking a wine-tasting trip for Valentine's Day and surveilling a cheating fiancé for one of her father's clients.
The fight ended in Veronica telling Logan that being with him made her unhappy and that she wanted out of the relationship, and with Logan storming off to the bar. When she'd gone to find him two hours later to give him his wallet so he could get back into his room, she'd found him wasted already, flirting shamelessly with a group of girls on a trip with their sorority. He'd caught her eye across the bar and she'd seen the flicker of satisfaction flit across his face. He wanted her to catch him, was waiting for it.
She distinctly recalls throwing the wallet at him and letting loose a few choice words at his look of surprised outrage, shouting that she never wanted to see him again. Without giving him time to follow she'd stormed out of the hotel, fired up her new hybrid, and driven straight back to Neptune, squinting through angry tears. After her breathing calmed, she remembered screaming at him but it didn't feel real, faded and dreamy like someone else's memories, and she almost called him four times before she got home but something stopped her just before she hit 'send' every time.
She'd been so worked up that she forgot all her surveillance equipment, and her dad had to make a trip back up the next week to retrieve it all.
Two weeks after the party, Veronica goes looking for Parker during her lunch break. She's working a standard cheating boyfriend case for a girl in her Intro Pysch class and she just heard that the boyfriend hopped a Safe Ride cart with another girl over the weekend. She needs to find out who was driving so she can ask some questions, maybe find out who the girl was. Parker usually works the lunch shift at the Take Back the Night table, and Veronica's hoping she can hook her up.
The California sun shines brightly as she pushes through the noontime crowd on the north quad, along the crowded rows of tables set up advertising everything from blood drives to bake sales to fashion shows. After dodging some girls trying desperately to recruit her for the Women in Science club, she finally gets to the edge of the row, Parker's usual table. And her stomach drops.
Instead of Parker, Logan is manning the table, and Veronica knows him well enough to recognize when he's pouring on the charm even when she's too far away to hear what he's saying. He's leaning casually against the table, chatting with two tall, dark-haired upperclassmen, lots of eyelash action and dimples and self-deprecating grins. Something flashes in her chest, hot and angry, but she pushes it down as she strides over. She's just going to ask where Parker is, she tells herself. Nothing else.
But when she reaches the end of the table and she finds her eyes drifting to the way his tan shirt stretches over his chest, something flares inside her.
"Trolling for dates?" Veronica simpers cheerily, eyes hard and glittering. That isn't really what she meant to say, but she feels a sort of biting satisfaction when he glances up at her, mouth tightening as he shifts away from the other girls.
"Nice to see you, too," he says with that false, sarcastic smile she knows so well from the beginning of senior year.
"Seriously." Veronica says, leaning in intently. "Logan Echolls serving the greater good? This doesn't seem like your usual scene; all the community service I recall was court-mandated. What the hell are you doing here?"
The two girls titter uncomfortably but Logan ignores them, the not-smile sliding from his lips as his face clouds at the hit.
"Well, considering two of my friends turned out to be rapists, I figured I should start making amends. I need the deck stacked in my favor." He glares up at her bitterly. "Don't you have other, better things to be doing? Like ripping out hearts and stomping all over people, perhaps?"
Her whole body tenses at the acid in his voice. If that's the way he wants it, fine. She's smarting for a fight. "Whatever," she says loudly in her sweetest, most syrupy hapless blonde voice. "By the way, thanks for letting me know about the herpes. Turns out I'm clean, but that really sucks for you. It never goes away, right? Bummer." She flips her hair a little, for effect. "At least there's that pill to limit the outbreaks. You should look into that."
Veronica turns on her heel and strides off across the quad, riding the high of her verbal victory. She throws a glance over her shoulder, accompanied by a cheeky little wave. The two skanky sophomores are looking much less interested and much more grossed out.
Logan, on the other hand, is watching her depart through the fringe of his eyelashes. The trace of a dimple shadowing his smirk tells her that he's charmed, even against his will.
Just like always.
Yup, that definitely felt good.