Pairing/Character: Duncan, Logan
Word Count: 1,575
Summary: Duncan has some residual guilt and Logan wants to be left out of the story.
Spoilers/Warnings: through 1x22 "Leave it to Beaver"
It was only because he wasn’t taking the medicine that they had prescribed (again).
That was it.
Over coffee, Veronica told Duncan about how she had asked her mom to leave. “I told her that I bet on her and I lost,” she said, sipping a cappuccino, and Duncan knew that she really had said it just like that. He knew that she had been brave and smart, he knew that her mother’s heart had been breaking, and he knew that Lianne Mars had stolen that money anyway. And if Veronica Mars couldn’t hold on to the people she loved, Duncan didn’t want to think about what that said about him. But he supposed the odds had been a little worse for him all along, because he hadn’t really bet on Logan in the first place. No one had. No one had ever expected Logan to even finish the race.
Duncan saw him in the parking lot of Starbucks, leaning against someone else’s car as if he were waiting to be photographed. Logan was tanned and his eyes were closed and his shirt was damp and sticking to his chest as if he had just finished swimming.
Duncan guessed that there was more than one way of crossing the finish line.
No one had asked Duncan to cover Aaron Echolls’s trial for the school newspaper, but he did it anyway because he spent more time in the courtroom than he did in class, and scribbling notes on a legal pad was a better way to spend his time than watching his father’s knuckles turn white as he clenched his fists.
He was always in the front of the courtroom, a strategic ploy so that the jury could see the grieving family, and Logan was always in the back, which Duncan thought would have probably pissed off Aaron’s lawyers until they had realized that putting Logan in the front would be a bad move, because Logan would spend half of his time drawing dirty pictures to flash at the judge and the other half mouthing guilty at the jury while not-so-surreptitiously pointing to his father. They put Trina in front instead so she could pull out an immense silk handkerchief every few minutes and make a sobbing noise that sounded like a foghorn.
He took off during one of Aaron’s teary riffs when Aaron got to the part about how he had only concealed his affair with Lilly to protect his son.
Logan was leaning against the water cooler when he got outside. “What an act, right?”
Duncan evaluated the cooler’s stash of cups. “Yeah.” Water in a waxed paper cone always tasted like - - waxed paper. He thought he might hunt down a coffee pot just to get his hands on something made from styrofoam.
“He wasn’t trying to protect me that time he broke my arm, was he?” He gave Duncan a big grin but his hands were shaking as he went for one of the paper cups. “Listen to Trina caterwauling up there. We’re all one big happy family, you know. Or not. Whatever sells more issues of Variety.”
“I promise to leave you out of the article for school.”
“That’s good,” Logan said, smiling. “Write me out.”
When he did come to school, Logan was always there. When he came to the trial, Logan was always there.
“It’s like you’re stalking me,” Duncan said.
Logan must not have dried off after his shower that morning because water was dripping from his hair, running down his cheek.
“Stalking isn’t the word I’d use, exactly,” Logan said.
Duncan counted the drops falling to the floor all through homeroom, and wondered if the Chinese water torture was anything like this.
“Did your dad sell your towels on Ebay to pay all the legal fees?”
Logan licked his lips, catching drop fifty-seven on his tongue. “You know,” he said, like he was continuing a conversation they had never started, “I don’t think Veronica dreams about Lilly anymore now that she knows how she died. Some people, all they want is closure. If the mystery’s solved, what else is there?”
He thought that he liked Logan the least when Logan was being a smartass, which meant that he had spent most of their friendship not really liking Logan at all.
“Fuck you,” he said wearily.
Logan held a hand over his mouth, like someone shocked a tea party, and Duncan knew that if he peeled back Logan’s fingers, there would be that shit-eating grin. “My, my, my, Mr. Duncan Kane,” he said, in a pitchy starlet voice that sounds a little southern and a lot fake, “your language. Just because the masses have resorted to such vulgarity,” and here Logan was working himself up to a crescendo, “doesn’t mean that you need do it, too. After all, if everyone else jumped off a bridge . . .”
It was a joke that Duncan couldn’t stand to hear finished. He stormed out of class and ignored the teacher’s call for him to come back or at least explain himself. If anyone demanded an explanation later, he’d just tell them that he’d felt like he was going to throw up, and it would be close enough to the truth.
If he talked about this kind of thing in therapy . . . forget antidepressants, he’d be spoon-fed Compazine in a rubber room until he was thirty. He wished someone else would understand, but chances were that no one would, and he wasn’t going to risk it just as things were starting to line up again. He wasn’t going to talk about it with Veronica because no matter how many dreams Veronica had had of Lilly, he was sure that it hadn’t been like this, not by a long shot.
It wasn’t like he didn’t know how crazy it was. After all, he had been to Logan’s funeral with everyone else, and he hadn’t been suspicious about the casket being closed, but more grateful, because he hadn’t really wanted to see what Logan had looked like after his dive off the bridge.
If he had seen Logan’s body, he imagined the Logan that kept hanging around him would be a little messier, instead of just always being a little waterlogged.
“Wet is a good look for me,” Logan said. He was stretched out in Duncan’s chair, rolling his eyes at the talk show muted on the television. “You, though - - this is pretty conservative. Just not very imaginative, Duncan. Come on. No bloated corpse all tangled in seaweed? No creepy pale hand reaching out?” He sighed, disgusted, and jabbed his finger at the television. “What the fuck is this, Jerry Springer? I’m dead and you’re watching trailer trash TV? That’s low, man.”
“What do you want, Night of the Living Dead?”
“That’s cute, Duncan. Cute.” Logan turned in the chair and put his hands behind his head. “I told you to write me out of that article, right?”
“It’ll be like you never existed,” except Logan’s existence never seemed to stop.
Miss Dent asked him once, tentatively, why he never said anything in his article about how Aaron Echolls’s son had taken a swan dive off the Coronado bridge the night his father had been arrested. He told her a version of the truth: that Logan had always hated being mentioned in press releases about his father. He’d write a separate piece about Logan, about his friend, and say mushy things about summer camp and not mention Logan’s childhood bloody noses and long sleeves. He promised her, essentially, the hearts and rainbows and unicorns version of Logan’s life, which didn’t exist. He promised to make Aaron seem tolerable, which Logan would have hated, and to make Logan seem nice, which he would have hated even more.
He never wrote the article.
Veronica made a photo collage that ate up all the color ink for probably the whole year, and that was probably good enough.
“No memorial fountain for me,” Logan said. He lay on Duncan’s bed, his soaked shoe dripping water onto the carpet. “Not that I’d want one. Some shiny phallic symbol made out of marble, on the other hand . . .”
“I didn’t go out looking for you,” Duncan said. “I was trying to keep an eye on your dad and I was trying to watch out for Veronica but I didn’t think about you.”
If Duncan had told his therapist about Logan, she would have said that this was the moment where Duncan would forgive himself for his involvement, however slight, in Logan’s death. This was the part where Logan gave him absolution and then disappeared into the mists of Duncan’s self-conscious and whatever afterlife awaited hallucinations. But Logan had jumped off a bridge to get away from people trying to figure out what he would do or had done, and it didn’t really surprise Duncan when Logan didn’t follow the rules now.
“You didn’t look for me?” and Logan said it softly, painfully, as if he were really Logan and not part of Duncan’s head made into dubious flesh. He was silent, and the only sound in the room (no, not real) was the water falling from the tip of his shoe, like a single piano key being tapped over and over again.
“You should have looked for me,” Logan said finally. “Jesus Christ, Duncan.”
Another drop of water rolled down the length of his foot and fell against the floor.
The next morning, he took the pill his mother had left for him.
Logan stood in the corner, shaking his head.