|His Friend Too
Author: arbailey PM
Pre-Series. When Veronica catches her best friend with an aging action star, everything falls apart...Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Veronica & Logan - Chapters: 12 - Words: 42,162 - Reviews: 235 - Favs: 124 - Follows: 177 - Updated: 08-11-12 - Published: 01-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7785037
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
TITLE: His Friend Too
WORD COUNT: 3,707
RATING: PG-13 for language
SUMMARY: When Veronica catches her best friend and an aging action hero together, everything falls apart.
SPOILERS: Pre-series that quickly goes AU but does spoil the 1st season Lilly/Aaron storyline
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars, and this story is written as a tribute only.
A/N: The good news- it only took me two weeks to get this chapter out. The potentially bad depending on how much you enjoyed this story - this is the last one. I hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as I have. Thanks so much to all of you who reviewed and followed and favorited! You guys made this an incredible first fic experience.
Chapter 12: I Want You to Want Me
In her quick exit from lunch, Veronica didn't see Logan's own hasty departure. If she had, she might not have been so surprised that he was absent from journalism. She's quick to convince herself she's happy about that. She has no desire to get into a big heavy conversation in front of a whole classroom of people interested in getting into her business. Even worse, a journalism class. The school district sponsored gossip mongers.
So as she walks out to her car feeling the psychic prickles of all the students staring at her, she is struggling to maintain her confidence. Once he was a no-show for class, she had written off seeing him on school grounds. But she had expected some sign of him though. A voicemail. A text. He's apparently run to ground. She'll have to find him.
He's not at the beach, which is the first place she checks. And somehow, that floors her. He should be right there, half a mile away, tucked up against a dune. But he's not there, and then she feels like an idiot, for having imagined they have this secret, beach-based code between them. They don't have anything between them.
Actually, scratch that. They do have something between them. A girl, one Lily Kane, who is a terrible, TERRIBLE judge of appropriate emotional responses. Why on Earth is she listening to Lily now!? Maybe - just maybe- it's a bad idea to take relationship advice from the same girl who came up with the foolproof relationship exit strategy of sleeping with her boyfriend's father...
But she keeps looking. Sort of. The Echolls and Kane mansions are more or less on the drive home, and she drives by slowly, looking through the gates for the bright yellow flash that announces Logan's vehicular presence. But she doesn't see anything, and she gets all self -conscious. If she gets pulled over by the Balboa County Sherriff's department for loitering suspiciously outside her tax bracket she will die of shame.
But Logan is not in any of the places she can legitimately look for him. He might be at some dive bar, the Styx or something, but the sheriff's daughter is not particularly welcome at such dens of iniquity. She does the next best thing and checks Rest Stop 15, a place she wasn't even aware existed until a helpful pothead told her about it when he mistook her search for Logan as a search for weed. Nada. Of course, he may have bolted for the border -again. And good old Uncle Kevin, Keith's ex-partner and current head of the department of the Chula Vista border station, will undoubtedly scoop her up within a mile of the border if she attempts to cross without a head's up from her dad.
So still sitting in her car and trying to decide where to go next, she calls his cell, unsurprised when it goes directly to voicemail. She listens to Logan blithely say, "You've reached Logan and here is today's inspirational message: The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference - Eli Wiesel." She drops the phone with a sigh and slumps down in her seat, letting her forehead rest on her steering wheel. She. Is. Such. An. Idiot.
Logan is still hung up on Lily. Obviously. He sure as hell isn't indifferent to her... Two days after the whole Aaron tasing incident they were making out in the hall! Lily is just pushing her at Logan as another distraction. And she nearly bought it! And why? Because she's lonely and pathetic and sad, and Logan is the only person who has been halfway decent to her. So Lilly knew Veronica would cling to him like the co-dependent little limpet she was. And - oh God- even Logan can tell what a desperate loser she is. He'll just keep ducking her as long as he can so he doesn't have to deal with her.
By the time she's made it home, she has worked up a pretty good head of steam. Screw Lily, and screw Duncan, and screw Logan. Especially Logan, actually, because she doesn't need his pity, damn it. So fine. She's over the whole thing. When he calls, IF he calls, she'll be so goddamned cheerful and friendly that he will feel like a dick for imagining that she was pining away for him.
So it's not until she actually parks her car that she recognizes that she has company. There's a big yellow SUV parked across the street.
His first stop is The River Styx and their selectively blind bartender. His discovery of the morally flexible drinking establishment six months ago had dramatically decreased the difficulty of acquiring sufficient quantities of alcohol, and while he occasionally misses the thrill he felt with each minor heist from his father's liquor cabinet, The Styx more than makes up in quantity what it lacks in quality. Forty bucks is a lot to pay for what is- after all- cheap well vodka, but it is also A LOT of cheap vodka, and you can't put a price on convenience. While Aaron knows exactly how much of the 25 year-old Laphroaig he has left down to the milliliter, he's notoriously hands-off with his children's spending. And Logan is more than willing to blow his father's money on getting magnificently drunk.
From there he's driving to Dog Beach because a couple of innocent drinks in the sand under the warm California sun? That's just teenage hijinks. On the other hand, drinking at home, the curtains closed tightly while you do your best to ignore the muttered Spanish curses of the household staff? That's part of a Disturbing Pattern of Self-Destructive Behavior with Potential Indications of Alcoholism. And while getting that lecture from his lush mother and her prescription drug-pushing psychiatrist is an absolute barrel of ironic laughs, he's going to skip it just this once.
Camped out of the way behind a dune and entirely alone on the beach, Logan can admit to himself that he is not handling Veronica's news particularly well. He should be happy for her, and truly he is. He admires and fears Keith in a way that he's only seen from children in sitcoms from the 50's. And he knows how important Veronica's relationship with her dad is. So, yes, on that level he is unflinchingly happy for Veronica. The problem is just that he is far more unhappy for himself. Because despite what he'd told Duncan, the kiss hadn't felt like a defibrillator shock to the brain, like a passionless attempt to jumpstart his consciousness. It had felt like a kiss, like a REAL kiss, like a beginning.
But that beginning was predicated on Duncan being out of the picture, safely tucked away in the Brother Zone – a fortress far more impenetrable than the Friend Zone. The guilt he felt over his interest in Veronica had been at least partially mitigated by the belief that Duncan was her brother. After all, lusting after your best friend's ex was kind of fucked up, but it was far, FAR less fucked up then lusting after your recently-discovered half sister. But Duncan's not her brother, he's her ex-boyfriend, and that ex designation… Well, it's a thing of the past. With Veronica confirmed as a Mars, there is nothing to keep the erstwhile lovebirds apart any longer.
The way Duncan had jumped up and chased her like an overgrown puppy spoke volumes. Hell, his own stunted conversations with his best friend had made it clear that Duncan believed that he and Veronica were completely and irretrievably over, but they had also made it clear how miserable Duncan was over that fact. And Veronica's relentless interrogations, begging for a reason behind Duncan's sudden and inexplicable freeze-out, showed that she was still equally stuck on the guy.
It isn't until this moment that Logan realizes he is hiding from her. Because if he doesn't talk to her, doesn't congratulate her on the good fortune of being born a Mars, he can pretend that there is still a possibility that he ends up with the girl. And she will be coming, of that much he is sure. She will search him out like the junior detective she is, and she'll be all rosy-cheeked and happy that order has been restored to her life, and she'll expect him to share in her joy. He can't do it. And the moment he realizes he's hiding, he realizes that the beach is a TERRIBLE place to hide. It will be the first place she looks. Because he has become painfully predictable. A quick glance at his watch tells him that he has no more than fifteen minutes before Veronica comes screaming into the parking lot with her good news, so he grabs his half empty bottle and jets back to the Xterra.
He was wrong about the fifteen minutes though. In the rear view mirror, he watches her pull into the lot while idling at a stop sign in an inconspicuous spot a couple blocks up. It only took her five. But it'll take her at least ten minutes to search the sand to her satisfaction, so he has a little time before she's on the move again. As he drives absently around Neptune, he tries to come up with a really good hiding spot. He pulls over for a minute, willing his brain into coming up with an idea of where to go. It is only then that he realizes that he has actually driven straight to Casa Mars. He parks and lets out a great sigh. His head falls back against the headrest with a thump. He closes his eyes, pained. Well, his subconscious has spoken. Time to face the music. He settles deeper into his seat and tries to come up with something that will come off as halfway genuine when he ultimately has to talk to her.
In his mind's eye, he can see her blue eyes sparkling and a small, sly smile quirking her lips. "Logan," she whispers playfully, her cheeks flushed. He meditates on that image for awhile, a contented little smile playing on his own lips.
"LOGAN!" She screams, slapping her palms against the passenger side window. His eyes pop open as he blinks across at her blearily and then glances at his watch. Over an hour has passed. She actually DOES look pretty flushed, but the similarities end there. She looks pissed off. Really pissed off. She wrenches the door open and throws herself unceremoniously into the seat beside him before slamming the door shut. Last time she did that, the night ended in a kiss that wrung him dry, but it's not looking good for a repeat tonight. Her eyes flit to the partially consumed bottle of vodka, and her expression actually gets darker.
"You're drunk?" she hisses out in astonished anger. Which is dumb, because it's not like drinking is somehow out of character for him. But Logan, never overly patient to begin with, is feeling a little bit defensive. She's had an awesome day. She's got her life back in order, once again one half of a golden couple. And what does he have? Not Lily, even though he's kind of okay with that. Not Veronica, even though he's not okay with that at all. He's got nothing but Duncan left. And since he's got some pretty serious resentment issues with his best friend right now, it's safe to say they won't be tying any more friendship bracelets for a while. And his head is pounding with achy, definitive proof that she is wrong.
"I'm not drunk," he groans, " I'm hung-over. There's an important distinction, Ronnie," he mutters as he rubs his temples with outstretched fingers, his eyes shut tightly.
"What's the deal Logan? Ducking me? Hiding? Why?" She mutters through clenched teeth, each phrase spit out and punctuated with spite.
For a flash he feels guilty. She's right, he was avoiding her, and it's going to be tough to explain why if they want to maintain even the illusion of a friendship. But then he remembers where they are, and his problems are solved.
"Oh yeah, I was avoiding YOU. By going to YOUR HOUSE," his arms cross over his chest in triumph. He breathes a little easier when he sees her pause, and her anger recedes a little.
She slumps against the seatback and curls up a little, her knees pulled in tight. "Why were you so mad at me? Why could you forgive Lily and not me?" Her voice is slow and clear when she says it, only a hint of tightness in her tone. But it might have well been said as a blubbery wail for the way it hits Logan.
He's not sure how to answer. Lily's betrayal had been incredibly painful. But it had not been entirely unexpected. He'd had to work pretty hard to ignore Lily's habitual infidelity by the end. But the idea of Veronica being in on a plot like that made him sick to his stomach. And even after she had been absolved of any wrongdoing, he couldn't stand her pity. It was far easier to avoid her, even blame her, than it was to talk to her. He had visions of breaking down in front of her, wrapping his arms around her tiny waist while he sobbed into her stomach as she watched him slack jawed and at a loss. It was unthinkably pitiful.
And she already thought him plenty pitiful. But she deserved an answer.
He lets go of a deep sigh. "I don't know. At first I was just out of it, you know, incredibly angry and not at all rational. I was just generally mad, and you happened to be in the crosshairs. But after I talked to Lily, I just couldn't face you." Her expression darkens again, and he rushes to continue. "I was an asshole, as you so colorfully pointed out, and I couldn't think of a way to fix things. God, I can't explain this in anyway that'll makes sense to you."
Veronica's eyes blaze, "Yeah, because I have no idea what its like to have one of the Kanes suddenly decide to utterly annihilate you, out of nowhere. No, I have no experience with that at all."
Logan shakes his head, exasperated. "It's more than that. You're so in control, so pulled together. I'm not like that. I knew that if I talked to you, you would finally realize how unsalvageable I was. You'd see that not only was I a dick in this particular instance, but that I was, in fact, always a dick. And you would be done with me. And I couldn't handle that. Still can't."
Veronica sighs, deeply weary, "Logan…"
But he doesn't let her say anything, hurrying through, "And then you kissed me, and that made everything so much worse. Suddenly your friendship was only a piece of this incredible thing I would be losing. It was everything. It was all of you. Everything we already had, and everything we might someday have."
He swallows thickly, but this time she doesn't object. She's just staring at him with round horrified eyes. His heart contracts painfully, and he quickly backpedals. He laughs thinly, self-conscious, "Fuck, I sound like a freak. Don't worry, it doesn't… I don't expect… It's fine- it's nothing. I know it wasn't like that for you. And I know you're back with Duncan."
His head lolls back, and his eyes shut tightly. There, he said it. Now he just has to wait for her to tell him how sorry she is in contrite tones. Now he just has to wait until he doesn't feel ripped apart by the fact that she's with Duncan. It shouldn't take more than a year… He feels like he has had the wind knocked out of him.
It takes him a moment to realize that it's at least partially because Veronica has catapulted herself into his lap.
She's wrapped one hand in the soft, short hair at the nape of his neck, and she pulls it a bit as she hoists herself up into a pretty seriously aggressive kiss. It would definitely hurt if his endorphins weren't already running so high. His hands grasp her hips instinctively as her tongue slips out and against his mouth, and he hungrily returns her kiss.
"I'm not with Duncan," she says solemnly when she finally pulls back from the kiss several minutes later.
"Good," says Logan with an idiotic grin, "Because this," as he gestures back and forth between them rapidly, "would DEFINITELY piss him off."
"But…" he continues as her forehead wrinkles a little in discomfort and Logan regrets saying anything at all. Somehow he can't stop his mouth- and it is an important question. "Why aren't you with Duncan?"
She falls against him, her eyes hidden behind a fringe of blonde hair. "He broke my heart because he didn't feel he could trust me with the truth. He made decisions for me about I did and did not have a right to know. He didn't know me at all…"
"No making decisions for Veronica, check. Always tell Veronica as much of the truth as possible, check." Logan marks off on his fingers, the stupid grin back again.
She scowls at him a bit, "That doesn't SOUND like full disclosure."
He simply shrugs and says, "Hey, forewarned is forearmed. But I have to keep a BIT of my mystique…"
She glances at him with a raised eyebrow, but his grin just gets bigger. She scoffs at him in mock annoyance, blushing a little uncomfortably, "Stop smiling at me like that, kid. You're making me nervous."
Logan barks loudly in laughter, "I make YOU nervous? You tased my dad!"
Veronica grumbles darkly, "Oh, he more than deserved it…"
Logan plants a chaste kiss on her temple, "And I love you for it…"
She stiffens almost instantaneously, and Logan inwardly curses his big, stupid mouth. It is way, WAY too early to be telling her that, even if he thinks it might be true.
Veronica pulls away from him, although she doesn't move back to her own seat, and Logan preemptively catches her around the waist. "That came out wrong," Logan says quickly. "I find you immensely interesting and entertaining. I love you like I love surfing. Or Halo."
"Wow. Like Halo. Thanks, Master Chief," she mutters sarcastically. "Glad I have so much to offer. Why do you even want to be with me?"
Logan groans pitifully and pulls her unyielding form back against his chest, "Oh I don't know… Because you're beautiful and smart, and you don't give a shit about how much money I have, you REALLY hate my dad, and you take such amazing care of me, and…"
"But you don't love me, right?" Veronica interrupts with a certain lightness to her tone.
"Okay, this feels very much like a trap…" Logan says eying her warily.
"And this isn't just about getting back at Lily, right?" she continues, far more seriously, turning back to face him, straddling his lap. "Or some insanely elaborate joke between the two of you at my expense?"
"No. Never," Logan says fiercely, flatly, and without hesitation. "Never, never, never," he whispers, punctuating each word with a kiss behind one ear, then the other, and ending on deep kiss plundering her mouth.
Satisfied, Veronica pulls away from his kiss and shifts in his arms. She kneels above him, her hands gripped tight around the headrest of his seat, and leans in close to hiss in his ear, "Good. Because I swear to God, if Lily's in the backseat waiting to dump pig's blood on me, they will never find either of your bodies."
Leaning up to lay a series of soft kisses down the long column of her throat, Logan's throaty chuckle is somewhat muffled, "God you're hot when you're making terrifying threats."
Veronica's voice is a bit breathy when she says, "I think we should keep this on the downlow for awhile. Let things cool a bit."
Logan shrugs his acceptance and smiles a little ferally. "Well, secrets are kinda hot too," he says, going in for another searing kiss.
The car door bursts opens and both are temporarily blinded by the bright beam of a flashlight. "Yeah, secrets are fun, hunh?" says Keith, his grin too wide not to be unsettling.
"Hiya Pops!" Veronica says cheerfully from her perch on Logan's lap.
"Sherriff…" says Logan, far less exuberantly.
"Honey," says Keith, smilingly, "Why don't you head into the house. I need to speak to Logan for just a moment."
Veronica leans close to Logan and says in a stage whisper, "You'll be fine. But remember, like a velociraptor, he can smell fear. I'll call you when you get home." She gives him a quick peck on the cheek and bounces out of his lap for the safety of the house.
Both men watch her walk back to the door and refuse to look at each other.
"So this is the part where you tell me that if I hurt her, you'll kill me right?" Logan says, feigning a confidence he doesn't actually feel.
"Oh, Logan," Keith chuckles kindly, "You've seen too many movies. But, yeah. I will drop you in the Carrizo Badlands, stake you out, and let the coyotes have you. It shouldn't take more than three or four days."
"That's frighteningly specific," Logan replies approvingly.
"I've been working out the details since she was four," Keith admits. "Well," he continues, clapping his hands, "Good talk. I imagine I'll being seeing you around. You have a nice evening, Logan."
"You too, Sherriff," Logan replies sincerely as he starts the Xterra, watching Veronica give him a small wave from the living room window. Not even her terrifying though admirable father can prevent the warm, contented shiver that rolls up through his stomach and then out through his limbs, appearing on his face as a soft smile. And for the first time in a very, VERY long time, Logan can't think of anything to be unhappy about.
A/N: The End. Hope it didn't disappoint. I do intend to come back to these characters, and in fact, I was considering doing a short follow-up on our favorite couple just few months down the road in their relationship. Spoiler alert: Logan and Veronica have a misunderstanding! Can you imagine? I was planning something significantly more lemony than this fic, but I may scale that back a bit in respect of 's rules. Any takers? Let me know. Review for tasteful physical affection! Oh dear, that just sounds tawdry... Anyway, suffice it to say that I will definitely be back with more VM fics. If you're interested in reading those, please follow me as an author :) FUN FACT: My grandfather worked for the Border Patrol at Chula Vista back in the Sixties. His name is not Kevin.